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RS:S4 14 The Sentinel
#1   Posted 1 year ago
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Raheem sewed up Hob’s wounds as best he could. The stitches weren’t much to look at but they’d do their job. Then they stripped a cot of its sheet and wrapped it around Hob’s chest as tight as they could. Raheem Savage, Tyrone Robertson, and Michael Kavanaugh thought that this would be enough to help the poor guy.

Then they raided the stores of all the medical supplies they could find. Nothing would be left behind. Anything that wasn’t immediately useful could be traded later for food with other gangs, or so they hoped. Sean Kavanaugh left to gather a few buddies of his for the journey. They all swore they had some food from raiding the mess hall.

Twice unwanted guests showed up in the hopes of scoring drugs. Tyrone and Raheem flashed their guns and that deterred the scavengers away. But the longer they stayed in this medlab the greater the chance grew that they’d be boxed in by someone larger and well armed.

Sean and his four friends arrived with a sleeve of crackers, can of carrots, and two cans of self-cooking meat. By all definitions that counted as ‘some food’ but Raheem had had been led to assume they had more than that. He made his displeasure known.

“It was all we could grab. That fucking place had been hit before anyone had been let out of their cells!” Sean shouted. “This whole survival spiel the Giant’s spouting’s fucking bullshit! The game’s rigged. We were fucking lucky to get as much as we got before the big fighting started.”

Their supplies were added to the half dozen cans of food Raheem and Tyrone had taken in the stairwell. Raheem didn’t like it but any small amount would be better than nothing. “Strip all those beds. There’s no sheets down in solitary. And hell we could probably use them to carry other shit in,” Raheem said. He stopped and thought a bit before adding, “And find some goddamn pots to shit in while you’re at it. And something portable for drinking water.”

After thirty minutes of taking anything that could be remotely useful they set out. Each person carried as many items as they could bundle in sheets that slung around them or shoved down their clothing; all except for Patrick who had to carry Hob. Raheem and Tyrone held the least as they needed to be able to defend the miniature caravan they’d started.

Inmates had gathered around the medlab like vultures to a corpse. Raheem kept moving around taking in all the different men around them. The desperation rolled off of all them and that made each and every one of them goddamn dangerous. Their eyes grew at the sight of all the items the convoy had taken.

“Let us pass and we’ll leave you be,” Raheem shouted. “You can go in there and take anything you find. Attempt to steal from us and you’ll die. And then your goddamn friends will die. No one wants that.”

“I want that,” Sean added.

“Sean wants that. Don’t let him get his goddamn way because then he gets cocky. And I’ve got to live with him,” Raheem quickly corrected. He continued to scan the crowd. The appearance of two rifles dispersed them somewhat but due to their numbers it made it impossible to tell if they had weapons of their own.

Raheem looked over towards Tyrone. “Ty, take our rear and make sure no one grabs our ass. And if anyone goes hostile: shoot first until you shoot last.” Tyrone nodded his head and fell to the back of the convoy. Raheem led them forward with his rifle held at the ready for anything Bathurst could throw at them.

The convoy continued on its way to the elevator in silence. Sean Kavanaugh fell behind the others and walked close to step with Tyrone. “Hey, I know this ain’t the bestest of times to ask,” Sean started, “But you look familiar. D’ja work with D’Agosto’s Brotherhood, perchance?”

Tyrone continued to scan for hostiles as a train of inmates followed them at a snail’s pace. He glanced over towards Sean for a moment only to return his gaze to him in a more pointed manner. “Really? You want to do this right now?” Tyrone asked.

“I know it’s a bad time. I admitted as much.”

Tyrone rolled his eyes in disbelief. “Yeah. Who didn’t work for D’Agosto, right?”

“Right,” Sean nodded his head in a manner Tyrone didn’t appreciate. “That’s how you met your boy Raheem, I’d imagine.”

“That’s easy to imagine,” Tyrone agreed. “It’s not true though. We’d just met earlier today.”

“Yet he allows you to hold a rifle. That’s a lot of trust for someone he just met. Why’s that now?”

“He didn’t allow me anything. I took this rifle from the man that held it before me. I think it likes being in my hands more since it didn’t help him much. I killed him barehanded,” Tyrone said.

“I got your meaning. I didn’t mean to pry,” Sean said. “Just wanted to get to know my new comrade is all.” Tyrone said nothing.

They reached the elevator without incident. Raheem tried to summon the elevator even though prior experience told him this would be futile. When an elevator did not come he motioned towards the group. “Someone get this goddamn door open.” He peeled off and joined Tyrone in the defense of the group.

The followers behind them kept their distance but watched nonetheless. Raheem found himself wishing they had an inexhaustible amount of ammunition to properly put the fear of god into these bastards. But since he merely had three clips any shot at unarmed passive inmates would be a shot wasted.

“How we doing back here?” Raheem asked Tyrone.

Tyrone never took his eyes off of the men who had followed them this far. “These guys see us carrying a lot of stuff they don’t have. They don’t like us so much, Raheem.”

“I don’t like them. So that suits me just fine.” With that Raheem backed away a bit. Patrick Kavanaugh had propped Hob against the wall so he could work to open the elevator. Hob seemed conscious and could pass as normal were it not for the scar on his head. “How are you, Hob?”

Hob squinted up at Raheem. “I’ve been better,” he said in a weak voice.

“At least you sound bet
#2   Posted 1 year ago
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"At least you sound better."

“Must be all the fresh air I’m exposed to,” Hob said with a wane smile on his face. “When’s the last time you took a shower?”

“Fuck if I remember,” Raheem replied. “And I doubt I’ll have one for a while now. The showers and rest rooms must be goddamn slaughterhouses by now.”

“True,” Hob said. Hob looked around at the motley crew they had assembled. He had sobered up much during the short journey in Patrick’s arms but the drugs in his system still kept much of his body asleep. And he couldn’t tell if the general numbness he felt had been a result of drugs or Kill Doktor’s foray into his brain. But at least he could see reasonably well.

And what he saw did not inspire confidence. They were convicts, two of which were armed. And of their number Hob could only trust Raheem and even then the older mercenary hadn’t ever been the most forthright cellmate one could hope for. Three of their number had attacked Raheem and now they were all supposed to trust them and their additional four friends who hadn’t been introduced to anyone.

Then there was the matter that Hob had been functionally crippled and had to be lugged around everywhere. He’d be entirely too easy to kill. Hell, Patrick could just drop him down the elevator shaft and declare it an accident if it hadn’t been for the small bundle of food Hob carried in his arms.

So he had a rather bleak, although realistic, outlook on the whole endeavor. “Raheem,” he said in his weak voice. “What’s our chances of surviving this?”

The old mercenary looked around at his assembled group. He nodded to himself for a moment. “I learned too late in life that trying to survive alone will only get your ass killed. The only reason why people pull out of desperate spots is because they hold together as one. Everyone watches each others’ backs and everyone gets out.

“We’ll make it because we know the score. And fuck, all we have to do is outlast this siege. We don’t have to kill anyone or fight anything. We just turtle up and wait. What could be simpler than that?”

Hob nodded his head a little. “You really--”

“Attention, Bathurst!” the Giant’s voice boomed over the prison wide public announcement system. Raheem lowered his rifle and looked up at the ceiling with annoyance. “For a limited time only I’m placing a bounty on Raheem Savage and any person stupid enough to follow him. The man who kills Raheem will get an entire crate of food. If you happen to kill his friends along with him then you’re also receive some weapons to defend your food with.”

Tyrone looked over at Raheem. “You sure do know how to make enemies.”

“And I never even did anything to this one!” Raheem laughed.

The Giant continued, “And, you might find this particular bit of news exciting, one of his followers just happens to be a prison guard. Happy hunting, Bathurst.”

“Yeah,” Hob smiled wryly. “We’re totally getting out of here alive.”


Colin Krovan, the Giant of Bathurst, sat behind his desk and watched the holographic feeds before him. The crowd that had followed Raheem around out of desperation now had every incentive possible to murder him. He smiled.

“Why all this?” a hoarse voice asked. Krovan looked up to the doorway. The Ghoul stood there with anger in his eyes, although since his impromptu cosmetic surgery that’s been his default appearance.

“It’s fun,” Krovan replied. “I can control every inmate in Bathurst with the lure of food and weapons.”

“Yeah. Power’s fun.” The Ghoul limped into the former Warden’s office. His every shambling step brought a small groan of pain. “But this has to be personal.”

“It’s not personal,” he replied. The Giant sat back in his chair. It began painfully apparent that the Ghoul didn’t believe that. So the Giant sighed and placed his hands behind his head. “You look at that old man as just another old man. But that old man survived the burning of Keres, the rock lizards of Kracktos, countless large scale assaults, and even killed Marcus Fleischer with his bare hands.

“This is not a man anyone should underestimate. Especially since he’s already broken out of solitary, killed Stevens and Jacobs, and somehow gotten eight other inmates plus an invalid to follow him,” the Giant let all that information hover about in the air for a moment. “I got to the top by eliminating all possible threats. I’m not going to loose it by ignoring one now.”

“He’s not the only threat,” the Ghoul said.

“He’s not.” Krovan quickly brought up additional video feeds. “There are three large gangs forming which I’m watching. The moment they make moves I disagree with Talon mercenaries pay them a visit.” He cycled through a few more screens. “The Hurricane Creek police force has the entire mountain range surrounded by drones and gunships. I have our sensors keyed to warn me if they begin to encroach. And there’s at least one large Bulwark ship sitting above us in orbit. There’d be no advanced warning if they decide to bombard us.”

But there was one threat he did not openly share with the Ghoul. All of the Giant’s allies up in the Spire were allies of convenience. As long as they remained with him there existed the possibility of betrayal. All it would take for anyone of the gangs to turn would be a slight inconvenience; and that included the Ghoul and his resurgent Ninety Nine Nineties.

He closed all the new windows. “Until that drill finishes its job we’re surrounded by threats. But I can deal with Raheem right now. And it’ll be fun to watch him get torn to pieces.”

The Ghoul nodded his head. He took a seat in front of the desk. The Giant smiled and tried to not show his disdain at the assumption that he wanted the Ghoul anywhere near him right now. “Well, all I’m going to say, Giant, is: keep an eye on your own.”

“That’s an excellent recommendation,” the Giant returned.
#3   Posted 1 year ago
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“That’s an excellent recommendation,” the Giant returned.

“Scuttlebutt around my crew is that Sturridge isn’t all that happy with you right now. Plus, you can’t trust a mercenary especially not these. Look what they did to the last guy who thought he owned them,” the Ghoul said. Krovan found himself staring at the dry and cracked bottom gums. Somehow he’d already lost all his bottom teeth.

The Ghoul noticed the Giant staring at his gums. He opened his mouth wide to show them off. The Giant looked away for a moment. “We’re a lot alike. A tooth fell out sometime last night. I pulled all of them out this morning,” the Ghoul said. “Nothing takes what’s mine away from me.”


“You’re the fucking guard!” Sean pointed to Tyrone.

“Fuck you. How do I know one of your friends isn’t the guard?” Tyrone snapped back.

“I’ve known these boys for years. I don’t know you from Adam!” Sean shouted.

Raheem watched the other inmates who had followed them over to the elevator. The group had hardened their faces and more than half of them were whispering to one another. They reminded him of hyenas closing in on a carcass.

“Cut the goddamn shit,” Raheem shouted. He could only spare a single hateful glance before returning his attention to the others. “Now isn’t the time to fall apart over what we used to be. We’re all goddamn bastards and murderers otherwise we wouldn’t be here. So shove it.”

His attention fell back to the encroaching inmates. “How’s that door coming?”

“It’s not opening, yet,” Patrick said. He continued to try his stubby fingers in the tight fit of the elevator door. Without any real leverage to pry them open they’d stay shut.

“Then fuck it,” Raheem shouted back.

“We can’t stay here!” Michael replied.

“No,” Raheem agreed. His mind raced. They couldn’t stay here, they couldn’t retreat to solitary, and they were surrounded. The only possible course left open didn’t strike him as particularly smart. But whenever did he let something like that stop him?

“We’ve got to get to the guard nest,” Raheem said at once.

“That’s suicide!” Sean shouted.

“It’s defensible, surrounded by bullet proof glass, and will funnel fuckers for us,” Raheem said. The doubt in the Kavanaughs’ faces evaporated. They had a set course and the only thing standing in their way happened to be the scores of inmates baying for their blood. “This’ll be easy.”

Raheem and Tyrone spearheaded their efforts to move back towards the guard nest. They began to fan out more as the others formed the center. At first the inmates around them parted just enough to let them through but they hadn’t made it twenty yards before they met resistance.

All around them the inmates stood mere feet away. Some started to filter out of the group and retreat further into the cellblock, some pressed forward to surround the small group with the extraordinary bounty on their heads, and an unfortunate few got swept away by the sea of flesh and had no say in which way they moved. When the attack happened it happened nearly instantaneously.

First, one inmate lunged forward and his forehead disintegrated leaving behind only a pink cloud. Then all the others rushed forward. Raheem and Tyrone opened fire. They brought down a handful of incoming inmates but their efforts did not even slow down the tide.

In seconds every man in Raheem’s little group had to fight, scratch, and even bite in order to stay alive. The rifles Raheem and Tyrone used quickly became clubs. Patrick had to drop Hob unceremoniously to the ground so he could help his brothers fend off attackers. Their scavenged food and items were either discarded or torn out of their hands.

“Back to back!” Raheem shouted as a haymaker caught him in the mouth. He spun and fired a shot at who he believed threw the punch. He fired twice more into the mob before he had to eject the magazine. He fell back into a defensive position with the others all the while slamming the metal weapon in his hands against constant attackers. He fumbled with the fresh magazine some before sliding it into the weapon. Firepower would give him a little breathing room; for as long as he had ammunition for it.

The attackers continued to pound the small circle of defenders. They attacked with bricks, shivs, fists, feet, and teeth. The assault kept pressure up. And while the defenders fought on admirably they were merely clay hoping to turn a river.

Out of the corner of Raheem’s vision he saw Sean Kavanaugh take a hit to face. The attacker held a brick in their hand and they dashed it across Sean’s face. His check sprayed crimson and the more outgoing of the Kavanaugh brothers went down. Moments later he was dragged off into the mob --- kicking and screaming never to be seen again. Little by little the defense frayed. The remaining Kavanaughs rushed to his rescue only to be stopped by new attackers.

Meanwhile Tyrone backed further into the defensive position. While his attention, naturally, focused on the attackers in front of him -- he couldn’t help but notice Hob’s impromptu sheet-bandage under his feet. He gave the bandage little thought although he did happen to notice Hob was no longer among them. “We’re losing this,” Tyrone grimly thought.

And then finally their defense broke.

Attackers streamed in from all around. Raheem fell onto his back as at least two men tackled him. Raheem rolled out from under his attackers, grabbed a nearby man’s leg and brought him to the ground. He struggled to find his footing but kicks and attacks kept him down. He pulled on the trigger of the rifle and sprayed wildly all around him. The freshly wounded fell around and on top of him.

One of the wounded men grabbed Raheem’s head and slammed it repeatedly into the ground. Raheem returned the favor by grabbing the man’s head and twisted it until he heard an audible pop. The man fell in a lump on top of Raheem.
#4   Posted 1 year ago
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The large melee continued to swarm but they seemed to be moving away from Raheem. Dozens of men stepped on, stumbled across, and even fell on Raheem and those wounded around him. The screams of those underfoot never seemed to reach the ears of those doing the trampling.

Once the mob had moved on completely Raheem threw the bodies off of him. He looked around the hallway. Blood, medical items, bodies, and food littered the ground. Raheem forced himself to stand. Thankfully, his rifle lay mere feet away. He picked the empty weapon up and surveyed where the battle had gone to.

The mob clustered around the guard nest. Whoever still lived had made it that far at least, and they were smart enough to lock the doors. But that wouldn’t last. The Giant had complete control of Bathurst and in any second those doors would be opened and the fight continued inside.

The blood drenched Raheem stood with the empty rifle in his hands. His beard and hair were matted down to his skin in it. His bare chest had taken cuts from makeshift knives and more than a few spots had yellowed due to blunt force trauma. Still he spat mucus and blood from his throat and shouted, “Hey!”

Many of the mob turned around and saw the still living Raheem. “Which one of you fuckers wants to earn that goddamn crate of food?” He ejected the spent magazine from his rifle and quickly replaced it with his last magazine.

The mob stood apprehensively at the sight of Raheem and his gun. The old mercenary stood nearly seventy yards away from them and could kill many of them with his rifle.

Raheem ended their indecision by opening fire. He steadied his heartbeat and tried to remain as calm as possible to make each shot count. He only had twenty-six shots left and he aimed to make each one of them count. His first four shots hit their marks squarely in the chest. The targets fell and the mob surged forward.

His next seven shots hit their marks as well. But the following two just glanced their intended targets and continued back into the mob, no doubt ruining someone’s day. “Come on! I can do this all goddamn day!” Raheem shouted and fired an additional five shots.

With dozens of yards remaining between them and their target many of the inmates started to disperse. Be it from the amount of their numbers dying off or the sheer intimidation factor of a blood drenched crazy man holding assault rifle, Raheem could not tell. But to keep them from changing their minds he fired three more shots into those still coming at him.

Each shot brought men down and that broke the mob entirely. The remaining scores of inmates ran for cover or out into the cellblock. Raheem stood on a field of victory slick with blood. He started off towards the guard nest. Seventy yards with dozens of angry pissed off men staring at him. He just kept the rifle pointed in their direction.

The door to the guard nest opened and Tyrone stepped out. His prison jumpsuit had been slashed open at the top of his chest. One eye had swollen shut and his bottom lip had been ripped open. Tyrone made aggressive noises and pointed his rifle at the inmates as well providing a nice bit of cover for Raheem’s approach.

Once the older man made it inside the guard nest Tyrone closed the door. With the immediate danger passed Raheem made a headcount. Of the ten men who walked out of Kill Doktor’s medbay only Tyrone, Raheem, Michael, and two of the Kavanaugh brother’s friends remained.

“Hob?” he asked. “Hob!” He spun around hoping he’d somehow missed the man in his initial headcount. Tyrone stepped forward and grabbed Raheem at the shoulders. His eyes told him the truth long before he could even shake his head. Raheem pushed the man away.

He began to pace and looked outside the door. The bloody carnage out there had already been mostly obscured by inmates scavenging from the dead and dying; not to mention all the food and medical supplies they had carried. The sight pissed him off even more. “Goddamnit. Goddamnit.” Raheem paced the room even more. “Goddamnit! He howled as he tossed his rifle across the room.

“We should have never joined up with trash like you.” Michael Kavanaugh stood defiantly before Raheem. Tears streamed down his face. “You killed your boy just like you killed my brothers!”

“Well who’s fucking keeping you?” Tyrone pointed at the door. But Raheem’s fury made him deaf everything. Raheem rushed the remaining Kavanaugh. Tyrone moved quickly and got between the two. “Raheem! Raheem! Fucking stop!”

The old mercenary pulled back with an animalistic growl. Hatred emanated off of him like steam. “The man just lost his brothers,” Tyrone reasoned. Raheem grit his teeth and went back to pacing. Tyrone looked back at Michael. “And you. You would be dead right now if Raheem hadn’t saved you from that psychopath.”

“Yeah, this is much better,” Michael replied.

Raheem sat down on the floor. His legs seemed to give out on him altogether. His hands started to shake; so he balled them into fists to hide it from the others. His heart raced and his breathing intensified. He’d let another one die. Another person who’d made the mistake of getting too close to him. His face felt hot and his mind screamed.

“Raheem? Raheem, are you alright?” Tyrone approached the man slowly. Raheem looked up at him. Self-loathing and anger mixed well on Raheem’s face. His single working eye had gone red and his lower face and twisted in anguish. Tyrone had to think of some way to reassure him. But before he could a red light went off outside of the guard nest.

The scores of inmates outside fell down and began to seize up. “Suppression field!” Tyrone shouted. Ty and the others went to the large glass window overlooking the cellblock.

“Why are they using the suppression field now?” one of the Kavanaugh’s friends, Omar Stroud, asked. Raheem stood up. He didn’t give two goddamn shits about the suppression field. He made his way across the room to retrieve his rifle.
#5   Posted 1 year ago
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“It’s because someone’s coming,” Michael answered.

“Yep,” Raheem answered. They all looked over towards him. The old mercenary inspected the magazine; four in the clip and one in the chamber. It would have to do. “How many entrances does this place have?”

“Just the two doors down here,” Tyrone answered. “The second and third floors can only be reached from down here.” And each stairway connecting the floors had a blast resistant door sealing them off. That way these nests could be the safest possible position in the case of a large scale riot.

Raheem nodded his head. “Then why the hell are we still standing here?” The five quickly headed to the stairwell. Tyrone closed the door behind them as the others climbed up to the second floor.

“To the top!” Raheem shouted. He signaled the other three up with a wide swinging arm motion. Tyrone stepped onto the second floor and looked out the large windows. The suppression field had been shut off. Raheem grabbed Tyrone by the shoulder and shoved him towards the stairs. “Go!”

Tyrone stepped into the stairway and stopped to allow Raheem through. But the old mercenary stood his ground. “I’m out of ammo. What are we supposed to do?”

“Just get up there,” Raheem answered.

Tyrone’s face went slack. “What the do you mean?”

“What does it sound like?” Raheem bullied his way in front of Tyrone. All the anger and self-loathing that had crushed him earlier seemed to fuel the man now.

“You won’t survive,” Tyrone said. It hadn’t been a question or even the statement he’d meant to say. Yet it found its way out.

“Survival isn’t everything,” Raheem answered back grimly.

“You didn’t kill him, Raheem. You saved him from--”

“Now, goddamnit!” He shoved Tyrone hard enough to knock him down on the stairwell. “Get up there, lock the door, and barricade the stairwell with anything you can find. I’ll buy you some goddamn time.”

Tyrone stood up. The expression on Raheem’s face said it all. He didn’t expect to survive and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Raheem. He stared down at the floor before him. In that moment the crushing weight of responsibility fell on Tyrone’s chest. If he listened to Raheem then he doomed another man to death all for a slim chance of barricading themselves up. It couldn’t be worth that. Could it?

He looked back up at the older man. Their eyes met and all Tyrone could say was, “Thank you.” Raheem gave a single curt nod as the other man closed the blast resistant door.

Raheem stood there for a moment. Movement to his right caught his attention. A dozen heavily armed and armored Black Talon mercenaries came from the direction of the elevator. The sight caused his head to spin and his stomach to churn with fear.

He’d always hated the moment right before a big operation or assault. That uncertainty took a hell of a toll. And despite all those desperate situations he’d found himself in this stood out in recent memory as the worst. Five shots against a dozen armed mercenaries. And on top of it all he stood wounded, old, nearly blind, barefoot, and topless. He found himself laughing.

“Well,” he said to himself, “Let’s see how this ends.”

He heard movement on the floor below him. They were already inside. He didn’t have much more time to himself. A quick assessment of the half-shell shaped room showed few possible positions to take up. Many consoles ran the length of the windows and all of it would be exposed to the stairwell in the center of the room. In two locations there were gun cabinets although both were empty and built into the wall. But there were a few desks, personal footlockers, and cabinets positioned near the wall.

Raheem quickly formed his plan as he worked. As far as attack plans went it wasn’t anything spectacular. The whole thing would rely exclusively on surprise. He moved one of the larger metal desks closer to the stairwell, placed one of the footlockers on top of it, and hid on the opposite side facing the stairs. He squatted down low and balanced his weight on the balls of his feet.

Eventually the door below him opened. He heard a slight rustle as the mercenaries ascended the stairs. Any false movement or sound would give his position away and end the fight before it began. So Raheem held his breath and waited until he saw the shoulder of one of the mercs.

He pushed the desk as hard as could. It went over the edge and fell on top of two of the mercenaries on the stairwell. Two mercenaries stood on the floor with him, three stood on his side of the downed desk, and the remaining mercenaries were stuck on the first floor. With his opening move he’d successfully halved the mercenary force but he also blew his cover.

Raheem emptied his clip at the men standing before him. One of his rounds caught the nearest merc in the throat. With his weapon now as useful as honesty in business he dived at the dying man. A slight twist while on the ground made the man a useful human shield as the man’s former comrades opened up on them.

The general idea at this point had been to take the dead man’s weapon and open fire on the four targets in front of him. Once they had been taken out he could work his way down the stairs. Two unforeseen outcomes threw the proverbial wrench in the cogs.

The first problem had been that one of the shots actually hit Raheem. He caught the round in his forearm two inches below his elbow. The son of a bitch hurt like hell and instantly began to bleed freely. The second problem had been the fact that another serendipitous round just happened to puncture one of the dead man’s grenades. Lady Luck, being the bipolar bitch that she is, deigned it fair that this particular grenade would be a tear gas canister.
#6   Posted 1 year ago
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In seconds the foul gas filled the air. Raheem fumbled quickly with the dead man’s gear in the precious seconds he’d have vision. But the man’s rifle had fallen too far away. So Raheem instead drew his side arm and, for good measure, took his large combat knife off of his chest.

The three closest mercenaries had their heads turned away from the gas. No doubt they thought they could somehow avoid the terrible side effects by holding their breath and ignoring the threat. But tear gas does not work that way -- and besides Raheem could still see them. He brought the pistol to bear. The closest man would make for the easiest target. So he fired into the back of his knee.

The man screamed and fell to the floor. This presented the mercenary’s face as a prime target. But before Raheem could exploit this fact the furthest away target fired at him. With precious little cover to hide behind Raheem grabbed the dead man and rolled him over himself like a blanket. Bullets pelted the man’s ceramic armor which fractured but never scattered. Raheem returned fire on the man.

And then the coughing began.

Raheem’s eyes hurt. His lungs began to seize up. Mucus began to stream out of his nose in a long and sticky string. The only consolation he had was the fact that every mercenary on the floor with him had to be suffering the same fate. And if he could hear anything over his own pain he knew he would hear them coughing.

The small confined area of the second floor meant that the gas spread everywhere quickly. And its potency could not be stronger. An all prevailing fear gnawed at Raheem’s conscious mind: stay in this any longer and you’ll die. He stood up and fired blindly where he knew the mercenaries had stood just moments before. The coughing intensified greatly and soon he could no longer keep his eyes open.

Gunshots rang out everywhere. Raheem spun around not in an attempt to avoid gunfire but merely in an attempt to keep his balance. The gas blinded and choked him. The more he struggled the more it brought him down. But with threats still active he had to at least try to neutralize them. He stepped forward, where he hoped his enemies were. His gait was awkward and every second of it had him coughing violently.

He would have continued walking in this style had he not tripped over one of the mercenaries. The pistol went off the moment he slammed into the ground and whatever air remained in his lungs exploded outward as well. Still with adrenaline surging through his veins he instinctively reached out towards his enemy.

The struggle was clumsy as neither man had much strength left in them. Still the merc managed to knock the knife away from Raheem. But with a little exploratory groping Raheem found the other man’s face. All it took from there was to simply press the barrel of his pistol into the soft flesh and fire.

Two men were dead. Three remained on the second floor. Two were likely still under the desk in the stairwell. That left five more on the first floor. And despite all his unexpected successes in this battle Raheem really did not think he had it in him to take down another man.

“Emergency venting in process,” a pleasant voice chirped in over the PA. That announcement brought with it hope. Hope Raheem needed badly as he’d just curled up and began vomiting. All he had to do is remain coughing, blind, and crying on the ground until the gas cleared the room. That wouldn’t be difficult as that had quickly become his only course of action.

Slowly the gas got sucked out through numerous vents and fresh clean air got cycled into the room. Moments later Raheem could open his eyes although his vision remained less than optimal. But even in this state he could make out one of the mercenaries to his left. The man could scarcely breathe and had abandoned his weapon in the scramble for air. Raheem unleashed a hail of bullets at the downed foe and did not stop firing until he heard clicks.

Two more mercenaries were unaccounted for and now Raheem had another empty weapon. The dead man he had tripped over generously had his sidearm still holstered at his hip. Raheem exchanged weapons and looked for his next target. One of the remaining guards opened fire on him but in the merc’s state all the rounds went wide.

Raheem could barely make out the man across the room. But decided to return fire, it just seemed to be the neighborly thing to do. The two of them exchanged fire until Raheem’s pistol emptied. Neither man seemed worse for the wear. Raheem tossed his empty pistol but the weapon decided to turn elsewhere mid-toss.

Raheem scrambled around on the ground before him. A rifle lay on the ground not even two feet from him. So he crawled on his belly to retrieve the weapon. He threw his hand out for the rifle like a drowning sailor desperately reaching for a life preserve. His hand landed on the barrel just as another man’s hand gripped its stock.

Both Raheem and the Black Talon mercenary seemed completely shocked by that recent development. Neither man had seen the other in their slow sojourn on the floor. And so neither man moved until they stared directly in each other’s faces. Then both men pulled on the rifle with all their remaining strength.

Sensing that he could actually lose this contest, Raheem decided to cheat. He grabbed the rifle with both outstretched hands and pulled himself up closer to the weapon. Once he was sure he was in range Raheem stuck out his right hand and put his thumb in the opposing man’s eye. The mercenary screamed and loosened his grip on the weapon. Raheem brought but hands on rifle and easily pulled it out of the other man’s grip.
#7   Posted 1 year ago
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Raheem sat up on his knees just as the man on the far side of the room opened fire once more. The shots missed Raheem but one caught the other mercenary in the helmet. The bullet and parts of the outer helmet shattered and Raheem caught shrapnel across the face. In retaliation Raheem fired a bit more wildly than he had wanted to at the closer merc. But the end result had been worth it.

Now Raheem only had to deal with the last remaining mercenary. With a strength he no longer felt he could possess he stood uneasily on his legs. The exertion caused him to cough violently enough to double over. This had the unexpected benefit of making the mercenary’s attacks aimed for Raheem’s head to miss by feet. Once he regained his composure he began to search the room for his opponent.

The man had crawled closer to Raheem but seemed to be out of ammo. He reached for a discarded assault rifle and aimed it at Raheem faster than the older man could aim his. The mercenary pulled the trigger only to discover that the weapon had been Raheem’s empty rifle. He cursed his luck and Raheem opened fire on him.

The mercenary curled up and the remaining shots in the rifle emptied out onto his body armor. When the weapon emptied the mercenary unfolded stiffly. He had been hurt but in no mortal danger. The mercenary rolled over towards a discarded pistol and Raheem moved to another dead mercenary for his side arm.

Again the mercenary got the faster draw and again he found out he had taken one of Raheem’s empty weapons. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” he shouted.

Raheem took his new pistol and opened fire. The mercenary rolled away in the hopes of finding cover. But he stopped mid-roll on his back as his body stretched out in agony. Raheem had gotten him somewhere it hurt. Wasting no time the older mercenary closed the distance (weary of the stairwell) and came up alongside the hurt man. The pain had been incredible enough to cause him constant spasms. A bullet had pierced the man in the lower throat and done untold damage inside his chest cavity.

“Sorry, kid,” Raheem breathed heavily. He fired a single shot into the man’s face.

Seven enemies remained below him. And Raheem couldn’t take anymore. That meant he had to even the odds. He attempted to bend down but the act caused him to get dizzy enough to topple over. Again he coughed and wiped at his wet and disgusting face. For a moment he had no idea where he was or what he had been doing. But that momentarily brain fart passed and he reached for the man’s grenades across his waist.

He took two of the damn things and crawled over to the stairwell. He pulled the pins and let the damn things cook for three seconds. “Have some your own goddamn medicine,” he shouted as he threw the two tear gas grenades down the stairs. Two seconds later Raheem, with his poor eye sight and general sick disposition, learned that he’d mistakenly grabbed a prosperous and fragmentation grenade instead.

The grenades had an effect similar to that of a shotgun blast to a fish bowl. Those not immediately blown the fuck up had the delightful honor of being set ablaze. Their screams echoed up above the force and heat of the explosions. Raheem shrugged. It would have to do.

Moments later and the fire suppression system kicked in. Foam sprayed out of the ceiling and drenched the first floor. The whole thing pissed Raheem off because it felt like that took less time than it did for the filtration system to kick in; although in his agony he couldn’t say if that had been true.

As much as he wanted to sit down and enter into a light coma Raheem had to make sure the threats downstairs had been eliminated. So he went about collecting a few magazines of ammo, grabbed one of the rifles, and went to the stairwell. The desk had been moved further down the stairwell and no one remained trapped underneath it.

Not a good sign.

So he cautiously started down the steps. He reached the first floor without incident. All around him were mounds covered in foam. He scanned the room for any movement. Once he had been sure no one was waiting for him he counted the mounds.

There were six bodies buried in the foam. One of the mercenaries remained unaccounted for. He sighed. “This is goddamn exhausting,” he shouted. “Just come out and let us be done with this shit!”

No one responded. Nothing moved. And just as Raheem began recounting the mounds the last Black Talon mercenary appeared. He had exited the guard nest and hid against the wall. But instead of firing on the topless, wounded, and nearly blind Raheem he decided to take his chances in a mad rush to the elevator.

Raheem opened fire on the man. The first three shots struck him in the back but the armor he wore protected him. He continued to run unimpeded. Then Raheem decided to knee cap the bastard but his vision hadn’t cleared enough to make that shot. He fired regardless and missed as he expected. So Raheem began to jog out after the punk.

Thankfully, for Raheem that is, the man stepped on a blood coated can of self-cooking food. He lost his footing spectacularly and fell face first into a bloody corpse. He screamed in revulsion and scrambled back to his knees. But by that time Raheem had closed the distance enough to put a round through the back of his neck, just between his armor and helmet. The man fell forward back onto the corpse.

Raheem sighed. He looked around him. Every goddamn inmate in the cellblock had begun to gather around him once again. He ejected the magazine from his rifle and placed it into one of his pants pockets. He ejected the round in the chamber and let it fall to the ground. Then he loaded in a fresh full magazine and pulled back on the rifle’s action.

“Well? Which son of a bitch is next?” Raheem roared. None of the inmates moved. Murmurs flooded the whole cellblock but no one took a single step forward. Raheem scanned the area once more and happened to notice on of the nearby corpses.
#8   Posted 1 year ago
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It was Hob’s, of course. The poor guy had been beaten and trampled to death. He lay curled up with his small bundle of food still wrapped inside his arms. Raheem stiffly bent down and retrieved the bundle.

He made his way back to the guard nest. He didn’t even care enough to watch them. Once he got onto the second floor he sat down on the console and stared at the stairwell. No one else made a move at the guard nest. No other announcements from the Giant sounded. And there Raheem stayed for the rest of the afternoon and the whole night. Even when his compatriots emerged from the top floor to relieve him Raheem remained.

Sometimes he would pace, sometimes he would just stand there, and sometimes he would sit down on a desk or console. But he never took his eyes off the stairwell.

And only when dawn finally came to Bathurst did Raheem retire to the top floor. His friends took his place guarding the stairwell only now they were decked in armor and each held a weapon.

But by then the story of Raheem Savage fighting against scores of inmates and a dozen armed mercenaries had spread to thirteen floors. And many people had come throughout the night just to watch Raheem stand his vigil; a constant sentinel throughout the night.


Colin Krovan sat at the warden’s desk and watched as Raheem gunned down the last of the Black Talon mercenaries. The cowering simpleton decided to run from a wounded old man instead of trying his luck at killing him. The whole thing soured the Giant’s stomach.

He leaned forward and keyed up a Black Talon commander. “I want two squads sent to cellblock 582. Kill Raheem Savage and anyone who looks at you sideways,” Krovan said.

“Belay that order,” Kevin Sturridge commanded. The mercenary leader entered the warden’s office flanked by four other Black Talon mercenaries. His grizzled face held no affection in it.

Krovan smiled. He waved the man in with his right hand while his left hand pressed on the button below his desk. “Mr. Sturridge, please walk right in!”

“Don’t ‘Mr. Sturridge’ me!” he snapped.

Krovan kept his plastic smile on his face. “What’s eating you, Kevin?”

The mercenary leader looked outraged for a moment. Then he gained his composure and returned a slick smile of his own. “I’m here to renegotiate the terms of our employment.”

“I thought I was being more than generous,” Krovan replied.

“Shove it, Giant,” Sturridge growled. “Have you tried accessing your bank account recently? Say, since this morning?”

The Giant sat back in the chair. He brought up a holographic interface. A few dozen key strokes later and he saw the problem. The authorities, Bulwark most likely, had found Armand D’Agosto’s secret slush fund and they’d frozen the whole thing.

“For some reason, and I’m drawing a blank here so maybe you can help me understand this, you thought that D’Agosto held a bank account secret for decades without paying off the right people,” Sturridge said. He smiled but his voice held no humor. “And somehow you thought they wouldn’t remember it when their payments stopped coming, right?”

The Giant had nothing to say. His face darkened considerably. The Black Talon mercenaries around Sturridge raised their weapons. “So, like I said,” Sturridge smiled. “We’re going to renegotiate terms I think are fair.”

“Can I make the first offer?” the Giant asked. That question pleased the mercenary leader. He motioned his hand to the Giant to allow him the honor. “Nothing. Nothing but your miserable worthless lives.”

Sturridge shook his head. “We joined in your insurrection for the prospect of a fortune. In exchange for that fortune we agreed to numerous risks including imprisonment, Sturridge stopped shaking his head. He stared down at the Giant with two hate-filled eyes. “But now there’s no fortune to be had. No fortune makes running really fucking problematic, doesn’t it? So it’s time to reconsider the whole contract; after all I’m sure Bulwark would be willing to pay for a swift resolution to this situation.”

“The only thing Bulwark will pay is a few measly years off of your sentence,” Krovan corrected. “Does sixty years in prison really sound so much better than sixty-five?”

Sturridge did not like that. “You know the money made me stupid,” he nodded his head. A shark-like grin manifested itself on his face. “Stupid enough to think you were a smart guy pretending to be an idiot; instead of just being two different kinds of stupid.”

“A wise man once told me, ‘Bathurst kills,’” Krovan said. He stood up from behind his chair.

“Sit the fuck--” And before he could say another word Krovan grabbed the chair and threw it into the mercenary’s face. He stepped forward and picked up the heavy desk. With a bloodcurdling roar the Giant rushed the mercenaries using the sideways desk as an impromptu battering ram. Shots rang out in the office but nothing short of an artillery shell could have stopped Krovan.

He slammed into the mercenaries and with every ounce of his strength he pushed them back. Two of the men, on either side of the desk, managed to spin out from behind the desk. Kevin Sturridge fell through the office door while the remaining two mercenaries got pinned against the wall. Sturridge reached for the sidearm. But before he could draw it Nicholas Bahns and two of his men flanked him. Their weapons were aimed directly at his heart.

Krovan turned to his right and charged the off balanced man. He grabbed the mercenary by his throat and groin, lifting the poor bastard in the process. The opposite mercenary took aim and fired as Krovan tossed the helpless man in his grip at him. Bullets riddled the flying mercenary and wall behind Krovan. The two mercenaries collided knocking the standing man off balance.
#9   Posted 1 year ago
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The Giant of Bathurst rushed the two men. He brought his right booted heel down on the fallen man’s head with enough force to shatter the man’s skull. Wasting no time Krovan’s left hand went to the mercenary’s weapon while his right fist slammed into his solar plexus. The mercenary leaned forward just enough for the Giant to wrap his arm around the mercenary’s trachea. The Giant pulled up on the man’s neck until while bending the mercenary’s right arm around him. A pop sounded and the man’s body went limp. The Giant dropped the dead mercenary onto the ground next to his now gurgling friend. Now armed with a rifle the Giant opened fire on the remaining mercenaries.

Once all his enemies had been neutralized he tossed the rifle to the ground. He slid the desk out of his way and walked up to the down leader of the Black Talon mercenaries.

“It seems you’re now negotiating from a position of power,” Sturridge said. A weak smile crossed his face. No doubt he hoped this would dissuade the Giant from further aggression. It did not.

The Giant sat down on the mercenary’s stomach and brought his large hands to either side of Sturridge’s face. He applied compressive force to the man’s skull like a vice. Sturridge struggled in vain as the Giant forced his thumbs into the man’s eyes. Krovan pressed his thumbs deep inside and then shovelled the mangled eyes out onto Sturridge’s cheeks.

Sturridge’s screams were so pervasive and powerful that it was like no one else could display any emotion; the man’s screams spoke for all those who witnessed the act.

Krovan went about collecting Sturridge’s weapons, making a thorough search for every knife and pistol. When he had been satisfied that Sturridge no longer had access to weapons he lifted the man up. Sturridge gripped Krovan’s face in an attempt to exact vengeance but Krovan moved undeterred to the edge of the mezzanine. He lifted Sturridge over the edge and dropped him three stories to the ground. The Giant stooped down to pick up Sturridge’s combat knife. With it firmly in his hand he began to descend the stairs towards the screaming man below.

Sturridge had landed on a desk with his left leg underneath him. The leg had shattered. So the blind and crippled Kevin Sturridge fought to stand up and waved around himself in a panic to fend off any incoming attacks. Krovan walked at a deliberate pace to the prey.

Sturridge screamed all the while he flailed around. His hands balled into fists as he fought off phantom attackers. Krovan neared without making a noise and successfully struck out with his left hand to grab Sturridge’s neck.

“Leave me alone!” Sturridge cried. The Giant lifted him off his feet and carried him over to the elevator. The mercenary leader kicked with his good leg and scratched at Krovan’s face. But Krovan remained single-minded in his pursuit of goals; never even making a noise.

The two entered the elevator and Krovan dropped the man to the ground legs first. Sturridge instantly collapsed due to the pain in his left leg. The man wept crimson tears and cowered in the corner of the elevator. He attempted a few times to speak but the pain kept the words back. When he could speak he said, “What do you want?”

Krovan stood there without making a noise.

“I’m sorry. Please. Please don’t do whatever you’re planning on doing,” Sturridge begged. In the end, no matter how strong or brave, everyone begs. But Sturridge’s pleading fell on deaf ear.

The elevator door opened to the middle of the Spire, well below the Giant’s upper floors. Krovan grabbed Sturridge off of the floor. The mercenary screamed. His screams attracted the crowd. Inmates came out of the woodwork; none of them looked like people you’d want to meet in a blind alley.

Krovan set Sturridge in front of him on his two unsteady legs. He kept his left hand wrapped firmly around Sturridge’s throat in order to keep the man compliant. “This is Kevin Sturridge,” Krovan shouted to the crowd. “He was in charge of the mercenary company that kept you caged and was Warden Mercer’s right hand man.”

“No. No, please,” Sturridge pleaded.

The Giant stepped forward so that his chest touched the other man’s back. He placed Sturridge’s knife against the mercenary’s chest. Sturridge grasped at the knife greedily and the Giant let him have it before tossing him out onto the floor.

“Treat him well,” the Giant said. Krovan stepped backwards into the elevator. He pressed the button to return to the mezzanine.

As the elevator doors began to close Sturridge struggled to get back into a standing position. He swung the knife out before him and turned back towards the elevator. Laughing inmates moved in on the wounded former tormentor. And that was the last Krovan saw of the disgruntled mercenary.
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