Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Pallbearer: The Barter System Part 2

Mercy Killing
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t really want to pull the trigger. Killing angels was starting to bore me. Particularly when they weren’t that angelic to begin with. This one was all quivering and shaking beneath the couple layers of bravado topsoil he had planted. Too bad I’d had plenty of time sifting through bullshit.

“Cassie, could you just, I don’t know, break his legs or something?”

“I’m better at pushing stuff and bursting internal organs.”

The Conduit-clone boy frowned and started sparking.

“What are you two talking about?”

“Internal organs you say Cass?”


“Pop one of his lungs for me will ya? I want to ask him a couple questions and really, I’m just not feeling this today.”

“A bit shell-shocked?”

“You know, I’m just…. Eh. Y’know? Just not feeling it. The tigers were alright but this ass is just completely unnecessary.”

There was a lightning bolt shooting past my face, splitting the air between us.

“You will pay attention when an agent of West Worthington speaks! I demand your atten…”

His voice turned into a squawk as Cassie burst his right lung. I watched it swell and pop within his chest. The clone’s electricity failed and he plummeted to the dirt with a flat thud. I sauntered over to his prone body and kicked him in the ribs with the toe of my boot.

“Hey, you still alive?”

There was a whimper and a creak that I took for a yes. He wasn’t bubbling blood just yet so he had a couple minutes left at least.

“You should tell me what you guys have been up to with The Sleepers. I might just feed you to them if you don’t behave yourself.”

“We… West Worthington… needs supplies. They have old tech. T-t-tanks and stuff. Missles. S-s-stuff we can use. Can’t use the j-j-junkyard… anymore… now that you… have it. Oh Christ, p-p-lease… let me die… It hurts bad.”

“One more question and I’ll let you go off to whatever hell you feel is appropriate. How many more of you are there? How many clones of Ol’ Sparky?”

He shook his head.

“I’m… only one that was… approved. Professor Arlee…”


He nodded.

“Yeah… Arlee made me… First success… The rest… kinks… ironing… P-p-lease…”

“Oh fine. Cry baby.”

I pulled out my boot knife and drew the blade across his throat with a flick of my wrist. The clone thing seemed relieved. Didn’t even have a name he wanted to bother sharing. How typical of West Worthington. When you can’t get anybody to lose any more of them selves for the company, just create a person from the ground up. Bunch of cheating losers.

The tiger Sleepers were fairly quiet behind me. Too quiet. That lack of noise needed to be fixed.

“Alright, which one of your is next?”

The six that had been guarding us each stepped back and the couple dozen coming out of the woods stopped in their tracks. Cassie was smirking at my side.

“Now now Neil, don’t go scaring the natives too badly.”

“Alright you lot, what was West Worthington trading you for? The little loser here just spilled that you’re getting them old military gear. What are they providing you?”

“They make sure a certain number of us make it over the wall a day.” It was the tiger that had been sitting on my chest talking. At least somebody was taking responsibility around here.


“Overworked guards, gaps in shifts, misfiring ammo, you name it. Supposedly they have a price bracket for each item. They have it broken down to how many of us can make it over due to certain faults.”

“And this sounded like a good deal?”

“It’s better than nothing isn’t it? Enough good trading got us this chunk of wall shut down so the tunnel could be dug for The Grey Pack. They aren’t the only exiles you know? Plenty of us don’t agree with what The Somnubi are doing. We just want somewhere to hide. We don’t care if the humans live. The Judges and The Somnubi and everyone else is struggling to take over or kill the humans. We just want to live.”

“That wall won’t help you do it.”


“They’re going to turn that wall back on soon. They used The Grey Pack as bait to weaken my forces so they could take back their junkyard. You all are welcome in Phoenix District but if you’re coming, I suggest you hurry up. Like I say, this wall won’t stay down forever. They want you dead too badly. Why don't you come with us? In exchange for all the stuff you've got lying around, you can have a home. Deal?”

For a moment, I felt bad. I really did. I think I about made the small pack of tiger people cry. The thought that they were about to be betrayed again just broke their little hearts.

“There are hundreds of us. If it’s like you say and this wall is only off so they could make today’s trade then they’ll have the wall operational too soon for us to make it down the tunnel.”

I sighed and my Brute body pulled a full high explosive clip from its belt and slammed it into St. George. It had been awhile since I had bothered with a full clip but it seemed most sensible. St. George looked up at the wall and started shouting.

Each shell rotated perfectly as it burst through the air, puncturing the atmosphere, leaving small sonic booms in their wake. They slammed into the wall, each one erupting in a brilliant volcano of super-heated gas and corrosive chemicals. Great weeping wounds opened in the gleaming wall. Smaller explosions shivered through the nerve-endings and gunnery rooms embedded within, leaving beautiful black smoke seeping out of the horrid scars left behind.

As I fired, I was talking.

“Get moving then. Bring your people, bring your stuff. Get your asses down that tunnel. If it’s off, it won’t be going on again real soon anyway. Now though, they’ll have problems routing power or people to the trouble spots. You should be good for…. oh… about a mile up. They can still launch missiles at you from here but that’s unlikely. They don’t want to damage their goodies.”

As St. George kept singing the gospel, I turned and kissed Cassie. It was a delicious tasting kiss, dripping with passion sauce and just the right amount of grilled newlywed heat.

“Now if you don’t mind, my wife and I will be going home. Come join us when you feel like living a little.”

Cassie and I headed down the path into the tunnel; my suit marching behind me, St. George slung over its shoulder. The tiger man was still standing there, shaking. I think he was asking what I had done but I didn’t bother answering him. I mean, if he hadn’t been listening to St. George preach, I wasn’t about to summarize such a classy sermon. That would just be heretical.

And we couldn’t have that with an angel lying in the grass now could we?

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