Gw Temp

Menu

Article - 'The Chain Story' by Guest

An item about Miscellanious posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

Written by several members of GamingWorld, the Chain Story took longer to complete than expected. But here it is: the completed story.

Body

This is a chain story, written by several members of GW. Each had a week to write their section, but some never did manage to write. Anyway, here are the writers who actually participated:

Woman
Real
Xanqui
Finality
Turtlebuster
Shinan
Mr. Bigglestaff
Ekquiman

And here is the story:


Jaran was running. An endless hallway stretched out before him, its gray steel walls echoing his footsteps back to him. There was screaming, some woman was screaming. Jaran sped up, he had to save her, had to do something to stop whatever was happening. “I’m almost there,” He thought. “Just hold out a few more minutes.” There was suddenly a loud crack of bone, and the screaming stopped. Jaran dropped to his knees and cried, cried because he wasn’t able to stop the death. A loud beeping was filling his ears as he cried. His eyes snapped open.

Instinctively, his hand reached for his bedside table to shut off his alarm node. The beeping still enduring as he sat up. Tears were still in his eyes, and his blanket had fallen to the floor along with his alarm node. He groaned and reached down for the node and shut it off. Jaran’s friend and fellow partner Selvi peeked through the door crack separating their quarters.

“Everything okay? I heard you screaming from my room,” she asked, her cybernetic eye focusing on Jaran’s face.

“Yeah, yeah, just another bad dream.” Jaran muttered back.

“Corridors again?”

“Yeah, but this time I heard some girl screaming.”

“Well, you might as well get up, Davis will be here any minute.”

“Ah crap.” Jaran muttered under his breath. Davis is owner of Building H-31, the place where they live, no doubt arriving to pick up rent. It didn’t help matters that his credstick was tapped either; he’d be paying through the teeth for this one.

Jaran stood up from his bed, stretching his muscles. They twitched abnormally, what with all of the implants he’s gotten over the years, it was normal. He walked into the kitchenette of the small apartment in which he and his partner lived. It was dank and humid; the dark walls only succeeded in making it more depressing.

“Here.” Selvi tossed an MRE to Jaran.

“That’s all that’s left in the storage, don’t bother looking for anything else.”

“Great, my favorite, spaghetti, vomit style.”

Jaran tore the corner of the MRE off, spitting the useless plastic out. Then, he pulled the small plastic spoon out of the package and began eating it, flinching with each swallow. He poured himself a shot glass of scotch, and gulped it down. Just as he finished eating the MRE, there was knocking on the door.

“VANDER! Get your ass out here, I want my fragging rent!” It was Davis obviously.
Jaran poured another shot and opened the door.

“Why, hello Davis.” Jaran downed his drink and walked away from the front door. Davis quickly followed.

“Don’t you hello me Vander! You god damned know your rent is due!”

“Davis, I told you I’ll have your money next week.”

“Next week isn’t good for me Vander, next week doesn’t pay for your water, next week doesn’t pay the electric bills, next week doesn’t keep me from foreclosing on your apartment.”

“Whoa whoa, let’s not do anything hasty, I just-“ Jaran was cut off in mid sentence as a credstick smacked him in the head.

“There’s the money, Davis.” Selvi walked into the main room. Jaran rubbed his head gingerly.

“What was that for?” He asked as Selvi approached Davis.

“Because you’re stupid, I told you I’d handle it last night.” Selvi slotted her credstick into Davis’s CVS and typed in her pass code. There was a small click, then a whirr and the CVS spit the credstick out. Davis gave Jaran a dirty look and made for the front door.

“Yes, well, I’ll see you both next month... Oh and keep your nose clean, Vander.” He closed the door behind him.

“Glad that prick’s gone.” Jaran said to Selvi.

Selvi did a half grin, half smile while placing her credstick back into a small, flat box, then putting it in her back pocket. “Now, Jaran, prick or no prick, he still owns this place and without him, we’d be out on the streets. You know what Davis did for us.”

“Well let’s just give Davis a round of applause. Geez, Selvi, any guy could do what he did for us! Any guy!”

Selvi made a face at him that Jaran knew he could not surpass. “Jaran…”

“Yeah, yeah, okay. He’s a good guy. But he’s still a prick.” Selvi laughed at that.

“You’ll never change.” Jaran walked over to the messy counter covered with endless junk and slop to place his scotch glass down-- if he could find a spot, that is. Looking around endlessly for a setting to put it, his eyes wander across the clock.

“Jesus, Selvi! Were you gonna let us be late? Our boss is going to kill us!”

“Relax, Jaran. Boss called in last night. I talked to him while you fell asleep watching TriVid shows.”

Jaran nearly leaped through the air at Selvi to get pass the cruddy floor piled up with clothes and such. “What did he say?”

“He said not to bother coming in to work early. He has an assignment for late this afternoon. Some new guy, it seems.” She began filing her fingernails, just to do something with her time as she talked on. “I think he said his name was Mario Cocopelli. Not sure who that is. He’s not in my directory.”

“Ah yes… Mario Cocopelli.” She stopped filing.

“You know him?”

“Know him?” Jaran almost choked. “He was a huge time jerk back in the days of school that I actually took. I hated his fat guts. I bet he hasn’t lost a pound, if not gaining one.”

“Well, here’s your chance to get back at him. He’s our next quarry.” If you haven’t figured it out yet, Selvi and Jaran are prime bounty hunters. Assassins. They kill people for money. Sure it sounds like a cruel way of living, but this is about all these two are skilled at. And it pays good if you do it right. But obviously, from seeing their budget, they haven’t been doing it right. Well, with this next quarry, things will change. And it’s a big change.

Later that day, outside Naroko Point, 7:30 pm.

“Okay, why am I freezing my ass off again?” Jaran said, holding his coat shut as tight as he could. His buttons are no longer present.

“Oh, stop your bellyaching. The boss said this job will pay good. Top notch. Mario Cocopelli happens to be one top gangster in these parts.”

“I was there, I heard him!” Jaran snapped. “Sorry. It must be the cold weather. It’s getting me a bit touchy. It’s the middle of July and it’s about ten degrees out.”

“Well, no worries. We shouldn’t have to wait much longer. Mario Cocopelli will be driving through here under this bridge at any time now, not expecting a thing.”

“I don’t know,” Jaran said through chattering teeth. “I don’t feel good about this job.”

“It’s probably because he’s your old rival.”

“I don’t trust it.”

“You’ll see. Everything will be fine.” As the two discuss the matters of the case, a car manages to drive at top speed down the road at them, a gun flaring right at their direction.

“Get down!” Jaran cried as he reached for Selvi’s shoulder. As he ripped her back with one hand, he pulled the pistol from the holster on his belt and pointed it at the dangerously fast vehicle. Jaran fired several bullets before Selvi landed behind him. As soon as his clip was empty, he dropped backwards and landed on the top edge of the small hill on top of Selvi.

The two rolled down the hill together; constantly changing who was on top. When the finally hit the base of the hill, it was Jaran on top, with his pistol pointed at Selvi’s face. “Would you mind not pointing that thing at me?” Selvi asked. “And need I remind you, I’m the one who usually protects you. I’m impressed you actually came forth for something like this.”

“Are you hit?” He asked as he looked into her eyes. Her pale skin and faded lips reminded Jaran of his wife, who was the basis for this machine named Selvi. But he noticed that Selvi was not smiling at the fact that he was on top of her, but had a rather annoyed expression on her face. Though the android looked and sounded exactly like his late wife, Jaran could never think of the android in the same mindset.

“I’m fine. You did more damage to me than they did,” she said as she sat up. She glanced up the hill, then looked back at Jaran. “Well that was a rather lousy rendezvous point. We’ll have to find another. Boss said Cocopelli was headed for the power plant.”

“Not that I’m complaining, but what for?” Jaran asked.

“Who cares? All we need to do is kill him. No questions asked. Besides, you won’t need to worry about freezing your ass off there.”

“You mean you want to set the rendezvous point inside of the power plant? People will see us kill them. The whole idea of murder is to get away with it, not suffer the consequences.”

“Don’t worry, I’m downloading the blueprints for the building as we speak,” she paused. “Or more like as you speak. Come on, we don’t have much time.” She reached over and grabbed Jaran’s arm and pulled him up quickly. Jaran’s arm twitched and made strange mechanical noises as it recovered from what would have been a pulled muscle.

“You really need to stop doing that. I’m sick of having to replace the wiring in my shoulder.” He massaged his arm for a bit, then noticed Selvi staring off into the distance. “What’s wrong?”

“Is it normal for a machine to have bad feelings?”

“I suppose,” Jaran said, confused.

“Then I do have a bad feeling about this. Did you notice something just now?”

“No.”

“Look at the city,” she said, pointing upwards at the buildings. “Not a single light shining from any of them. It’s night, Jaran. Aren’t there supposed to be lights on at night?”

Jaran looked up at the city, realizing that something horrible must have happened. “Didn’t you just say that Cocopelli was heading for the power plant?”

“Yes, but he couldn’t have reached the place yet. It’s thirty miles East.”

“But the car was headed West,” Jaran said as he looked down at the device on his arm that showed things such as his GPS location, time, and his incoming calls. “Your bad feeling was definitely right, Selvi.”

Selvi stretched her right arm out in front of her and used her left hand to press a button beneath her right armpit. The skin in her wrist peeled open, revealing a small pistol. A small machine inside of her arm pushed the gun out and into her right hand. “We have to go, now!” she yelled.

Jaran and Selvi ran up the hill together, armed with their pistols. The streets were empty, the city powerless, and there wasn’t a single sign of life anywhere. Suddenly, a call came in on Jaran’s wrist device. He tapped the screen and static appeared. For a moment, he thought it was a dead call, but then he heard the voice of a man his age speak in the vibrating device on his eardrum, connected to the wrist device. “I know who you are, and what you are trying to do to me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t kill you the way I had originally planned.”

“Mario Cocopelli?” Jaran asked.

“Yes, your boss has been after me for six years. But it was seven years ago that your wife was killed, and replaced by that damned android. You two alone have caused more trouble in this city than me! But I was planning on ending that tonight with a bang. Not only would I have taken you out, but all eight million residents of this town. But all I could manage was to knock out the power for a while. Either way, you have one hour to get the hell out of town.”

“We can’t get out of this town in an hour,” Selvi said, looking at the screen. Although only Jaran could hear the voice, Selvi translated the static on the screen for herself into a perfect video capture, complete with voice. “Not without a bus of some sort. But what are the chances of you finding an idiot and a damned android in a massive city like this?”

“Oh, you don’t think I’d waste the time to search for you, do you?” Cocopelli asked. “Rather than one massive explosion, I figured one million small explosions would suffice. Look, it’s your choice whether you get out of town or not. I’m merely giving you the message. All I want is to get you two the hell out of town. Go harass other innocent people, not mine.”

“But you’re going to kill the people you want to-” Jaran thought for a moment, “kill,” he completed. “There won’t be any harassing left to do for you.”

“Fifty-eight minutes remain,” Cocopelli said. Selvi could see the cheesy grin on his face. Then, the screen shut off.

“He’s not kidding,” Selvi said, worried. “I’ve just received a notice that a few thermal nuclear bombs were discovered in a coffee shop, restroom, trunk of a car,” she continued on with the list, and Jaran stared in disbelief.

“How the hell can you get one million thermal nuclear bombs into a city without being noticed? How do you pay for that?”

“Mario Cocopelli must not be leading it,” Selvi said. “Maybe they’re using him to provoke you. After all, you do hate his guts, don’t you? They want you to go searching for him while they trap you.”

“What makes you think that?”

“It’s just one of the many possibilities I calculated. It seemed likely. However, there’s also the possibility that they just want you to be their friend, but I figured that stating that would have been useless.”

“It was,” Jaran said. “Well, we’ve got less than an hour to get out of this city.”

“It’s not possible. Even if we did get just outside city limits, the explosion would still kill us. We would have to be at least one hundred kilometers outside of city limits in order to survive the blast. But we’d have to be at least three hundred kilometers away in order to avoid any radiation problems. This is going to be the biggest explosion this planet has ever seen, except for maybe the explosion that killed off whatever species existed before the humans.”

“Then they’re not planning on killing just the people in this city,” Jaran said blankly. He could hardly believe what he was hearing. “They’re planning on wiping the human race off the face of the planet.”

“What do you suggest?” Selvi asked.

“Wait, that can’t be right. Why would they place all the bombs in one city? Let alone this one. Why not one more populated?”

“Perhaps it wasn’t quite one million bombs?”

“Exactly. Just two or three would be enough to wipe this town out. And they could be hidden very easily. Either they’re wiping out the human race, or they’re planning on something much, much different.”

Daylight was fading fast and without any electricity throughout the city, their search would be a random scramble in the dark. Jaran watched the sky in a trance, trying to quickly think of a plan. Yet, nothing in his mind seemed realistic or logical.

“We don’t have the time to spare trying to think up of the best course of action,” Selvi blurted out breaking Jaran’s concentration.

“Then that do you except us to do?” Jaran asked with a sarcastic tone in his voice. “You want us to run around and try to find Cocopelli with no lead?”

“That’ll be more helpful than just standing around here wasting valuable time!”

Jaran looked off to his side before speaking again, “Fine, it’s not smart to spilt up in this type of situation, but we’ll cover more ground I suppose.”

Selvi nodded as Jaran continued to speak, “Alright, first I’m going on ahead to the power plant, you have to track where Cocopelli was calling from.” Jaran began jogging away from Selvi as he yelled back his last instructions, “Contact me when you find out his exact location.”

His heart was pounding heavily as he continuously gained speed running downhill. Jaran tried to clear his head as fatigue continued to press on, but in the back of his mind he knew it would be impossible for him to reach the power plant with any time left. He came to an abrupt halt and inhaled air to replenish himself. However, something caught his eye. It was to the far right of him, a badly damaged automobile. The vehicle was past its time, and it looked abandoned. Jaran glanced around in the dimming sunlight as he moved closer to the vehicle.

“Damn, how old is this thing?” He whispered to himself as he tried to figure out how it operated.

A small needle ejected out of his wrist device and easily picked the lock of the door. Jaran hesitantly sat in the driver’s seat as he examined the interior some more.

“Wait,” Jaran thought to himself. “I’ve seen this type of vehicle on some antique car show... damn, this must be at least a 1995 model.”

Jaran quickly figured out how to operate the aged automobile and in no time was able to start up the car with the same lock pick in his wrist device. Luckily, the car had a few gallons of gas left in it and still operated. It wasn’t a pleasant ride there, but he was able to reach his destination in approximately 35 minutes. On his way to the power plant, Jaran noticed how dark it really was without the streetlights, and something he also found unusual was the entire city seemed deserted.

Jaran quickly forgot about these oddities as he stood outside the gates of the power plant. Yet, something else was strange about the environment, there was a back-up generator that was underneath the power plant. It was to keep the power plant itself working at minimal rate when at a lost of electricity. Jaran didn’t notice it until now, but the city would have had some power due to the secondary generator. The only way a total blackout such as this one could occur is if the entire power plant was manually shut down, which meant there had to be a huge amount of people inside to overtake the power plant’s security. As soon as Jaran infiltrated the entrance, an incoming message was displayed on his wrist communicator.

“Jaran? Jaran?” It was Selvi’s voice covered with static.

“Yeah, I can hear you.” Jaran whispered in return, trying to avoid being heard.

“I think I found out where Cocopelli’s calling from, inside Main Generator Section 7.”

“Got it, I don’t have time to spare, so get the hell out of this city as quickly as possible.”

Seeing Selvi was about to disagree with him, Jaran shut off the link between their communicators. He then shut down his device to prevent Selvi from calling back with her arguments. By now, Jaran had lost track of how much time before the detonation, so he made his way into the main building as quickly as possible.

His expectations were correct, the building had quite a few men standing guard. Jaran ducked in the corner, and glanced over the edge every so often to see if anyone was approaching. The guards continued to stand their post, so Jaran took the risk to swiftly crawl towards the nearest door. He was inches away from the handle as he heard a guard’s voice from behind. “Who the hell is that?”

Jaran’s instincts forced him to push the door open and stumble in. Unfortunately, he fell flat on his face and took a moment to recover from the impact. Before him was an ocean of monitors and a huge control board that seemed to be the security system of the entire plant.

Jaran soon felt a sharp pain from the back of his head; it was the hilt of an assault shotgun. The metal plating in his skull absorbed most of the force and allowed Jaran to roll over still conscious. His eyes met with those of a guard who was getting ready to blast a shell into Jaran’s chest. Almost immediately, Jaran reacted to guard’s movement by reaching for his pistol and putting several bullets into his adversity’s revealed throat. The armored figure fell dead to the ground, landing besides Jaran.

“Hopefully nobody heard that little confrontation,” Jaran contemplated.

He was correct, the silencer on his pistol made the shots almost unheard by any of the patrolling sentinels. Jaran striped the fallen guard of his attire and equipped it; it was almost like SWAT guard, full body armor that was meant for heavy abuse. Jaran put on the helmet and slid the bulletproof glass shield down to conceal his face. Once again, something caught his attention: the interior system was fully operational. It never hit him until he realized the monitors were working and security board was lit up.

“Something’s not right here...” Jaran cut himself off as he saw a stumpy, fat man in one of the monitors. It was Cocopelli...

“Hurry the hell up! God dammit!” Cocopelli screamed to men who were moving huge crates along the floor. “The coke was supposed to be moved out of here an hour ago! Those bastards think the bombs are gonna go off any minute now and now I have to wait another hour more before detonating them?!”

Jaran’s eyes lit up as he heard those words. It all made sense to him, Cocopelli wasn’t trying to destroy the human race, he was using the bombs as a distraction to smuggle drugs out of the city. While the police were busy, this left so many ways for crates to be shipped out unknown to the authorities. The timer was also a way for him to scare Jaran and Selvi away from the city, which would have assured him victory. With the bombs on manual detonation, this gave Jaran a huge sense of relief. No longer would he have to worry about time. Jaran began to speak in his communicator, in attempt to reach Selvi... but there was no response.

“She probably left the city by now... yeah... that’s got to be it.” Jaran assured himself before leaving the small room.

He calmly walked down the catwalk with the assault shotgun in hand, acting as normal as possible until he heard a familiar voice. His eyes turned to the center of the huge area, and below was one of the main generators labeled “7”.... Besides the huge machine was a fat man screaming at his minions. Jaran couldn’t believe it... it was Cocopelli standing there with his back to him.

“I have to take opportunity,” Jaran whispered.

The air was still, it seemed as though time froze for those few minutes. Jaran’s senses rose as he leaned over the railing with the weapon in hand. Every sound was being played in slow motion to him, every movement lasted an eternity. His breath was getting louder with each passing second and his nerves were being tested as well. The twin barrels of the shotgun were soon lined with perfectly with Cocopelli’s body and Jaran’s finger rested on the trigger. He knew he only had one shot to give, after that the guards would be swarming him. Jaran’s finger twitched as he watched his pray go on with his activities unknown to the assassin above. One shot... that was all he had...

He fired and all hell broke loose, Cocopelli fell over with a couple of shotgun slugs in his back, the people who had been moving the crates quickly took up their cheap automatics and fired at the place where Jaran hid behind a concrete pillar. Cocopelli lay on the ground spitting blood barely moving, he pulled out his minicomputer and entered his personal code, he was about to trigger the bombs, knowing that he would die anyway.

Above him the firefight continued, Jaran was trapped, there was no way he could get out of there without being shot by the smugglers, there were at least twenty of them and one of him. He tried to contact Selvi to check where she was and if she could help her. No matter how attached to her he was, she still was an android with all it meant, there was no response though. He had to manage this on his own.

That was when he saw what Cocopelli was doing, not a moment too late, Cocopelli was in the process of putting in the second activation code when Jaran noticed him. There wasn’t much drama though, Jaran just took his shotgun and a slug went straight in Cocopelli’s head, brain substance coloring the floor red. The guards who had been shooting at Jaran now also loaded up the last of the drugs while keeping an eye on Jaran, there was a lot of money in the drugs and they could mourn their leader later, after all, these people were professionals. With his improved eyes Jaran saw a shadow somewhere in front of him, then he noticed the red dot on his chest.

“Oh dear God” was all he said before jumping out of the laser-sight’s way, right out in the open where the guards who had been watching him pointed their guns. The following fight was no beautiful sight, though the guard’s automatic weapons weren’t that exact and more shots missed than hit in their bursts, some shots hit Jaran and blood and flesh flew around the place. His implants saved him from the majority of the pain though, as the installed pain blocker that would keep him conscious even after worst of wounds, was activated. Some of his implants also served as armour for more vital parts that, if ruptured, could have killed him instantly, instead only some parts ceased to work. With the last of his efforts he got himself out of the open, hiding behind barrels. He quickly checked what wounds or damage he had got, the pain blocker still worked fortunately, unfortunately his wrist communicator and his cybernetic eye did not work anymore so he couldn’t know whether he was in mortal danger or not. His legs certainly didn’t look pretty though, he would be surprised if he could walk.

Suddenly there was a loud bang and flash that blinded Jaran for a moment, fortunately for him he was behind the barrels so the full effect of the flash grenades hadn’t reached him. He heard shots and then he saw his lovely android, Selvi.

“Get up. We have to get out of here.” She gave him her hand and pulled him up “The police are coming, I tipped them off.”

“Why couldn’t I reach you?” Jaran asked confused.

“The cops disturbed most of the communications when their bomb-squads saw that the bombs were remote-controlled, only simple analog communications work.” Selvi answered, while she helped Jaran to walk, the guards were still confused but wouldn’t be so for long, they had to hurry out of the building.

Outside a couple of police vehicles had turned up and Special Forces teams were about to enter the power plant. Most of the guards inside seemed to have forgotten about Jaran when the police started shooting at them. Jaran and Selvi managed to get out from behind unseen by the police and then they went down the road towards the black city, where power started coming back and the neon lights blinked again and as if the whole landscape were relieved, and the rain started pouring down. Selvi and Jaran checked in to one of their boss’ shabby hotels while communications slowly came back to the city and eager hackers went all around trying to find out what had happened. Selvi contacted the boss and patched up Jaran as much as she could, Jaran’s pain blocker was still at work.

In another part of the city the lesser drug lords found out about Cocopelli’s fate, the rumors spread, some said the cops had made a raid during the blackout, other fingers pointed at assassins hired by some opposing gangster, eventually rumours spread all the way up to Cocopelli’s boss. Orders were issued and as quickly as information could spread it was known that whoever caught the assassins would get a hefty reward.
If there were assassins that had killed Cocopelli they were to be taken, dead or alive. Through the city’s underworld this spread like a disease and within virtually no time at all mercenaries where hunting for someone they didn’t even know existed. There were many muffled deaths in the shadows that night but Jaran and Selvi knew nothing yet.

In the hotel the boss and two bodyguards came to see his employees. The boss was a man that seemed to be in his forties, he was of average build and had no implants at all. The two bodyguards with him were the usual thugs with heave cybernetics all over. They were made to look intimidating and in they were good at it.

“The rumours in the city say you completed your mission.” The boss said to Selvi and Jaran, Jaran was still in bed slowly regenerating the damage he had got. “However new problems have arisen” he looked at them “every bounty hunter in the city is looking for you, there’s a price on your head you can’t imagine. I have your reward for the killing but I suggest you leave the city as quickly as possible, I have a branch in Hong Kong that could use your services, there has been some problem with the Triads and the Yakuza there.” He signaled and one of his thugs took out a credstick. “There’s one million nuyen there.” He handed it to Selvi. “If you want to get out of the city quickly I can send a chopper to the roof.”

“Yes, please.” Selvi said “By the way do you know who gave the order that we should be hunt down? Aren’t you the one that actually should be in trouble?”

“That is not something I want to talk about here” the boss answered, “I must leave now, you will get further instructions in Hong Kong, the chopper is on its way.”

Selvi and Jaran nodded and put the credstick where it would be safe and after the boss left there was a moment’s silence disturbed only by the sound of rain against the window.

“We should get to the chopper” Selvi then said “Can you walk?”

“Yes, I think so, the auto-repair seemed to have done what it can to make my implants functioning again. It will take a real doc to repair them completely though.”

The two took the elevator to the roof where a black chopper was waiting for them outside it stood two guards with machine-pistols, one of them walked toward Jaran and Selvi.

“Are you the ones to be taken to Hong Kong?” He asked them.

“Yes that’s us” Selvi nodded.

“The boss sends you his greetings” the guard said and raised his pistol against the forehead of Selvi and pulled the trigger. A thin coat of blood and some chemicals shot out of her head as she fell on the roof.

Jaran watched closely as Selvi fell to the ground. The android who he had known so well had saved him a million times and this time there was no one to save her. In this split-second all his memories with her passed before his eyes, and he started to cry.

“Selvi!!” Jaran shouted as the tears rolled down his cheeks. The guard aimed the gun at Jaran but he quickly threw himself to the ground, pulled out his gun from the holster and fired a few well placed shots at the guards head. He reloaded his gun as the other guard started shooting at him. A rain of bullets flew towards Jaran. Two of them hit him in his right arm sending several pieces of wire, some metal and blood out of his arm. Another one shot his trigger-finger on his right hand off. Jaran dropped his gun and fell to the ground in pain. Curling himself into a ball.

The guard walked slowly towards him and pointed his gun directly at his head. He made a wide grin as he was about to pull the trigger. Jaran shut his eyes tightly, waiting for the finishing blow.

Jaran heard a loud noise, like a gun being fired. But he felt no pain or anything. Even so, he was too scared to move.

“Wh.. what happened?” He whispered as he slowly opened his eyes. “Did he miss?”

The guard was lying on the ground before him. He wasn’t moving. Jaran could see the blood coming out of his throat.

“What the hell?” He looked around him and saw Selvi lying on the ground with a gun pointed at the guard.

“Selvi!?” Shouted Jaran. “You’re alive!?”

She looked at him, smiled warmly and fell to the ground again. Jaran quickly rose to his feet, ran towards her and kneeled by her side.

“I… I’m okay…” She said with her last breath. “Don’t worry about me… just go kill that son of a bitch…” Selvi closed her eyes, her head rolled over on the side and she exhaled for the last time.

“Selvi…” Said Jaran slowly as his hand softly touched her cheek. “Selvi!!” He screamed loudly and began tearing out pieces of his hair.

He rose to his feet, ran over to the guard who shot her and started kicked him hard in the face.

“You asshole!!” He cried while he kicked the corpse with such a power that the head made a cracking noise and the tore itself off the neck. Jaran didn’t care. He just kept on kicking it until it flew off the roof, which made him scream and hit everything instead.

But suddenly the helicopter’s rotor started to spin and it tried to take off.

“The pilot!!” He screamed, angry with himself.

Jaran grabbed the decapitated guard’s gun and started running towards the helicopter. He fired a couple of warning shots at the pilot. Signaling him to not to take off, or else. But the pilot ignored him and only thought about getting the hell away from him. Jaran again fired some shots at the pilot, but this time they weren’t warning shots. The window broke and the pilot’s blood and brains dyed the window red.

The helicopter started to spin uncontrollably and fell down to the roof again. Jaran ran towards the helicopter, jumped inside it and positioned himself in the pilots seat.

“I’m going to do everything I can to kill you.” He muttered full of rage before he took off. Making one last look at Selvi. Regretting that he was about to leave her there.

Seeing the chopper wasn't high off the ground he was able to get back into the chopper and start it up, still weary about what just happened. He started to ponder if his boss was trying to kill him for the profits. Maybe someone overheard the conversation and decided to lay a hit on Jaran. He didn't know. Nor did he care to find out just yet.

After removing the corpse of the pilot, he got in and quickly familiarized with the dash. It seemed like the brief three years as a military chopper pilot paid off and he got the SR-38C7 into the sky and out of sight in a matter of moments.

"Damn it!" He said aloud to himself, "Those bastards; they planned this to run out of gas over the middle of the ocean if I did get into the chopper, almost as if they schemed the entire operation, planning my death." He thought for a moment, then asked himself, "What's the point? I'm in the middle of the ocean, the objective of it doesn't seem right. Once the chopper falls into the ocean, whether I survive or not, I'd-" He was interrupted by the LOW FUEL flashing orange light and the loud alarm-like sound.

Without thinking, he undid his harness, pushed the hatch open, and jumped out over the ocean and one of his many pain killer implants activated. He landed in the water at a deadly speed. Whether it was water or a brick wall, it would have still caused just as much damage.

He screamed in an agonizing tone as he pulled himself up the ladder to the platform. “What did it matter anyway?”, he thought. He had lost his wife, his adversary, and killed, or at least tried, for a living to be a mercenary. But it all meant nothing now. He laid, crying, half dead, hardly noticing the silhouette coming out of the mists, and hoped they mutilated him now, feeling like it was his own hell.

Then he remembered the credence he made with himself.. he recalled it to go "No life, no death, no trying, no giving up, once in, always out, and once he holds on, to never let go until his heart bleeds." He used it as a motivation, he rolled over, and quickly wielded a retractable blade weapon and spun in seemingly random directions, killing the people he could barely see, even though he didn’t know who they were. Before he managed to off the last two, he put his weapon away. Two men with projectile weapons came out of the haze so they could easily be seen. Both wore brown trench coats, with brown leather shoes.

He tried to say something, but shook so much he couldn't speak. The anxiety was taking him over, but finally he managed to quiver out, “What the hell do you want with me?! What have I ever done?! I killed a man that was doing harm and was a threat to us all!”

"Oh, I know." came a starling voice from the background, "It was my executive, he was making sure everything was where it was suppose to be. He just managed to send me a message before he died. Being back on from him, you couldn't tell whether it was myself or another one, let alone not seeing me for some quite compelling years." by this point Jaran realized this was Cocopelli mouth running off from his ego.

Jaran closed his eyes, full of rage, anger, and hate. “I’ve hated you since we were children, Mario. Why did you have to get involved with my life again?”

“Correction,” Cocopelli said, “you came into my life.”

“Why did you set me up, of all people? What did I ever do to you?”

Mario leaned his back against an idle truck. He pulled his pistol out, and began stroking it softly with his fingers. “Think about it, Jaran. I’ve got an amazing drug ring running, as you’ve probably noticed by now. But a bounty on your head doubles my profit. I have supporting evidence to claim that you were the one running the drug ring in the first place.”

“I don’t know the first god damned thing about smuggling drugs,” Jaran said.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter. You see, I have the money from the drug ring, plus the bounty from your death, and I’m the new richest man in the city. But you know what the best part about it is?”

Jaran didn’t answer.

“Not only am I getting revenge on my childhood nemesis, but I’m going to get away with it.” He lifted his gun up, and aimed it towards Jaran. “Normally, I would feel bad about doing this. In just a matter of a few hours, I’ve completely destroyed your life.” He pulled back on the trigger, but only a small flame came out of it. He pulled a cigar from his pocket, sniffed it, and lit the cigar with the gun. “Do you know how much these cigars cost? Roughly three thousand credits a piece.”

Jaran began to laugh. He pulled out his gun and aimed it at Mario. “What? Did you think I wouldn’t have the guts to fire?”

“I’m not a stupid man, Jaran. But I know that you have absolutely no reason to kill me. Who says I have to kill you? No one knows what the hell you look like, and you managed to off several of my men. They’ll be Jaran for a day. I wouldn’t let some childhood problems take control of me.”

“What!” Jaran yelled as he stepped forwards, keeping his aim on Mario.

“What would you gain by killing me?” Mario asked. “I didn’t kill Selvi, and I didn’t decide what they would do to you. I merely needed a scapegoat to get these drugs out of the city. Come by and visit sometime. I’ll be living in a mansion.”

Jaran lowered his gun and then lowered his head. “God…damn you.” He couldn’t bring himself to lift the gun again, and dropped it onto the cold ground.

Mario tossed his cigar onto the ground and stepped towards Jaran. “I’m not the little kid you knew all of those years ago. I’ll get you another Selvi, and I’ll make sure you get a cut of your bounty. You did well, Jaran. I’m glad you’ve become such a man since you were such a little brat.” He put his hand on Jaran’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”

Three Weeks Later

Jaran sat quietly on his bed, facing the white wall in front of him. His eyes were red, and his eyelids were stiff. None of the maids could begin to comprehend what he was thinking.

The new Selvi lie on the floor on the opposite end of the room, long tired, and had given up trying to help Jaran. Mario was gone, and so were all of Jaran’s problems. He would never have another worry as long as Mario was living well.

His gun rested in his hands, but only a single bullet had been loaded into it. Selvi wondered if the bullet was for himself or Mario, or if Jaran was even in the state of reality to know that it was in his hands. But Jaran was lost within his own mind.

“We should be mercenaries,” Selvi said. “We need the money, and it’s win-win. We’re helping other people, and we’ll get the tools to stay several steps ahead of the police. I’ll protect you, Jaran. If they kill me, I can always come back. I love you, Jaran. I want you to be happy. Don’t worry about me.”