Monday, July 7, 2008

Aftermath

The room they were in now was an expensive one, the kind of hotel on the Rogue Isles that caters to people with lots of other people's money. That pretty much described him and Lethane perfectly. Two people with lots of stolen green and no pants.

It did not apparently bother the blue skinned elf to walk naked into the hotel lobby. Raven still had his boxers and yet he was embarrassed all the way down to his toes, a reaction visible enough for the vicious cerulean bastard to comment on at length.

Several times.

Twice in the elevator.

Now they were in a penthouse suite with comfortable carpet, fantastic furnishings and still no clothing at all. At least the bathrooms had robes, not that he had been able to convince Lethane to wear one.

"Do you just like being vulgar?"

"Fuck yes I do."

He sighs. "How did I know you'd say that, felon?"

Leth looked up from counting a stack of bills, "Because you ain't dumb and you know felons better than you'd like to think." Then, with a wry grin, "Don'tcha, bank robber?"

That got under Raven's skin. He got up and turned away from the pile of loose cash, eye closed as he flexed his hands into fists of frustration. "Don't call me that." He knew it was futile, not to mention hypocritical. He was a bankrobber now, a criminal just like Lethane. He had crossed the line; he was a villain.

It did not matter that the funds in the safe were all just corporate overflow revenues, insured and replaceable. It did not even matter that despite his great strength and powers he had only knocked the guards unconscious or trapped them behind walls of stone. Mercy made no difference now, not since what happened... after.

"Hey, killer!" Lethane's voice rang out. "Souvenir!"

A mask hurtled across the room, thrown by the blue elf and impacting dully against his chest. By reflex he caught it. The blue and white spandex hooked in his fingers stretched as he turned it over, staring at the bloodstain over where it would cover someone's forehead.

"This...," he started to say.

Leth finished the sentence, "...is a trophy. Enjoy it. That's the hero-zero you clocked for me, big guy." The elven mauler grinned widely, showing all his fangs. "Remember, you can't make a dumbass omelet without breaking a few skulls!"

Raven was aghast, dropping the mask suddenly as if it were on fire. Was that it, really? Was that the mask off the hero he'd... killed?

His hand hurt; he still felt it. He could remember the moment as if it were still happening. They had been interrupted by those heroes just as he was stripping for that damned money bath. Before he could say anything, they opened fire. Meson beams ripped through the air, several hitting him in the chest, the face. There was pain. Anger. He did not want to fight; they did not want to do anything but fight.

Lethane had been more than willing to comply. He leaped from the tub of cash like a tiger upon gazelle. As green rained down all around him, his claws were claiming their due. There had been so much blood.

Raven had tried to end the fight peacefully, crushing weapons and slicing fuel lines with his blazing sword. Though he had caused a few wounds, nothing was fatal. These heroes would live, though they would be considerably worse for the wear. He wanted them to get away from here but since they would not leave quietly, he would have to help them out. Painfully if necessary.

And then it happened. The pain in his back, the deep sting of something actually cutting his impossibly hard flesh. What came next was like a blur, a dim memory of something that happened to someone else. Someone... evil.

He turned around, the motion pulling the hero's blade out of his back. That hurt, but there was little room for pain amid the roaring in his mind. He reached out, catching the swordsman by the face. His large hand wrapped around the front part of the hero's head, clutching tight enough to casually break his jaw at the chin. He held the wretch there, back to the wall, motionless until he dropped his weapon.

As burtual as that was, it would have been the end of things. It would not have gone any father. But then, just as he was about to let go, the hero team's leader shouted in a voice so like his own before all of this, "Let him go, you monster!"

Monster. Monster. Something in him snapped.

The rest was a haze. He only knew that at one point, the man's head came off in his hand. That was the result of using the swordsman as a club, of smashing through the room with him, battering down walls and heroes and anything else in the way. There was screaming. And the sound of crushing bone. And blood. So much blood.

There would have been more killing, so much more, but for Lethane's shouts of, "Yes! Head's up!" when the skull came free. "Good going, champ! Keep that noggin and we'll go bowling later!"

Instantly, there was revulsion. He dropped the grisly thing and turned away, running as far and as fast as he could. Scooping up money, the jeering blue slayer was right behind him the whole way, making terrible jokes about his terrible act.

Lost in this memory, Raven did not notice Lethane's approach until the elf's hand was on his arm. "Hey, Duck. I got an assload of pennies over there for your thoughts."

Raven blinked. "It's nothing. I just... I didn't mean to kill that man."

"Woman."

That turned his head. "What?"

"Woman. That swordsman was actually a bladebitch. You did the Rogue Isles a favor by ending her body count."

Raven slumped, half seeking a chair and completely failing to reach one before falling to the ground. "A woman?"

Leth rolled his slit-pupilled eyes. "Yeah. And a more vicious member of the breed you'd be hard pressed to find. Look, Duck." he said as he crouched beside him. "Slash was one of the nastiest heroes out there. You could kill from now till Christmas and not hit her kill total, that's for sure."

Raven took a long, deep breath before speaking again. "Wait." He shook his head. "That's not right. Kill total?"

"What, am I speaking Darnassian again? What word was tough, rockhead? Kill or Total?"

If he were not so distraught, he would have thrown Leth through a wall again for being just an irreverent prick. As it was, he accepted this as the elf's strange way of being friendly. Raven supposed for a homicidal misanthrope, there were worse ways the man could behave. "No, I meant the killing. Heroes don't kill."

That just made Lethane laugh. Hard. When he could breathe again, the fanged felon asked, "Are you serious?"

Raven nodded. "Of course. When I was a hero, we never killed. It was just... wrong." He said it, even though he could tell each word was just pushing Lethane closer to the edge of another hilarity cliff.

"I hate to tell you this, Duck, but you were the exception, not the rule. Even in your own team."

Raven stood up and stormed off towards the balcony. "Lies! My people were good! They believed in what we did!" Every step was a twist in his gut though, a painful echo what he knew Lethane was about to say. He did not even get to the glass door before the elf's voice called out.

He knew the words that were coming.

He knew then because he had already asked himself the question they formed. Many times, to no answer.

No answers at all.

"Really, Duck? So then how do you explain.... you?"

2 comments:

Lethane said...

So much easier to keep your morallity when you don't have to face the fact that you're the only one..

erisraven said...

That's a darn good question. It seems like his teammates are eager to keep him from finding out, too. If he makes the news as a villain, there will be quite a stir eventually...