- October 15, 2023
The Wolf Pack (Chapter 30)
No one needs to tell me, I know I should be the one going to rescue the team, hell, we should have just gotten all three of them instead of splitting up. I made a promise to save them and everything, but that’s not my nature it seems.
It seems my promise to come for Hundress overrules my promise to save Emily. It’s something I have to make up for… later.
The elevator doors open, and I’m walking into an episode of the Twilight Zone. One where the space and dimensions of this room don’t match what was in the blueprint. To make it worse, it’s empty, devoid of anything, even color. It’s just white, with tiles along the floor and walls. It’s not like how boring and annoying the Aegis Needle is, I feel like I’m in a plane of existence I just don’t understand. A kind of…
I stand corrected, this room is not empty. Ahead of me, at the end, lies a staircase that stretches as far as this room is wide. It only goes a handful of steps up, but before me lies Hundress, standing beside something completely inhuman, in a Hugh Hefner robe.
This thing, it’s like a being of energy, the shape of humanoid, two arms and legs, but it’s taller, lankier, and its fingers are longer than should be proportionally possible.
Its head is blank, there’s no face, just vibrating energy. At its edges there are a flurry of colors like a cartoon. When it tilts its head, the edges stay in line with my eyesight, not its form. Inside the lines, it’s a dull silver.
I continue walking towards it, but stop several feet before the stairs. I don’t have any understanding of what kind of being I’m facing so I can’t charge it like a fool.
But then again, I can’t help but reveal my surprise by asking, “What the hell are you?” It doesn’t respond, it only tilts its head as it sits in this plush red chair, fit to sit in front of a fireplace.
It puts down a tea cup at the table next to it. It looks to me and asks, “You’ve never met something like me before?”
It sounds like a man, dresses like one, and has the condescending mannerisms that we tend to have. His voice though, his voice isn’t full of static like with my helmet, but like he’s speaking through something completely different.
To answer his question I nod my head no.
“Hmm, pity,” he mumbles as he raises his hand to his face, to tap his elongated finger against his temple, “I’ve met so many like you.” He gestures to everything around him with his other hand, but I don’t take my eyes off of him and Hundress, who stays silent. He gestures and asks, “Well?”
He leans his head back and groans, behaving and moving like a human. He stands to his feet, standing nearly ten feet tall, and I get the feeling it’s not a locked-in height. He moves his hands behind his back.
He likes to talk, he wants me to talk to him, and play into the power trip of controlling the conversation.
He asks me, “Don’t you want to know anything, about my plans, this place, the Savaage, anything at all?” I stay silent, waiting to see if he’s someone who hates to be ignored. He doesn’t crack, but maybe he’s impatient, especially as he grabs Hundress’s chin and presses her cheeks together, treating her like a toy, a slave. She is a robot I guess, but it’s strange when he asks, “Don’t you want to know how after you ravaged my poor Hundress, she came back good as new?”
“She’s an android,” I answer him, letting him know that I know exactly what she is. “She’s manufactured, I don’t have to guess that you rebuild her.”
He tuts as he wags his other pointer finger. “Oh, you humans think so little, you think the simple things are complicated and the complicated things to be so simple. There’s more to us than that.”
“So, she’s not an android?”
What does he want me to do with that information?
“You’ll find out,” he interrupts, releasing her from his grasp, releasing the chain he has around her neck, “right now, I want to learn about you, to see if you warrant all the hate Samuel has for you.”
“I didn’t realize that I was midnight entertainment,” I snap at him.
“Calm down, I know what you come from, and I have to say, there are many more interesting people in your family than you.” It’s difficult even more so for me to keep from tensing up. My body reacts to the threat of being outed, and this being doesn’t miss it. He chuckles at the reaction.
“Yes, I know who you are, what you are, the immortal woman’s last descendant, the last in her line to uphold the mantle of serial killing psychopathology. I know why you do what you do,” and he leans forward with his hands over his knees, “so I have to ask you, why are you doing it from the ‘good’ side?”
He stands to his feet and tells me, “You kill because of the urge, the hunger that thirsts to feel the blood of your own on your hands, to see others fall. Why do you only kill so few? Why do you not kill whoever you want? It’s not like you can so easily be caught, there’s so much more fun and enjoyment with ‘proclaimed’ evil.”
How he knows so much, I don’t know, but he makes it sound like it’s common knowledge, like it wasn’t a chore for him to find out. He belittles and minimizes the danger and insanity that is my drive to kill. To him, it’s just a game, or something even more meaningless.
Here I go, feeling ill that I can’t process and maintain self-control without killing someone, and it’s boring to him. How shocked he would be to know that I find him boring too.
“I’ve seen evil,” I tell this monstrosity, “I’ve seen evil worse than you, I’ve seen what I’m capable of, and it’s the only thing that scares me to my core.”
When I’m beating, stabbing, shooting, or ripping someone apart, I lose myself, I don’t see the problem. It’s easy to tell myself that they’re scum… but I’m not good either. A good person would realize when an action is wrong as they’re doing it, not after they’re finished. There are so many reasons that I’ve been taught, that say why I can’t go over to the side that’s against the rules.
This being, this… thing… I see now how he can look right through me. Hearing him find himself disappointed in me, and complain, “Oh, so you’re demented, not a maniac,” it makes me feel like an open book that he’s read too many times. I’m not his damn entertainment.
“You know, the news, your friends, and even yourself, like to call you a serial killer, but you just don’t have… it. You don’t have something that you have to do, you don’t have the dream of the rush, you don’t fascinate with the way eyeballs burst in your hands or the sounds little girls make when you rend flesh from bone. You don’t stir watching things less than you twist and bend under the knife. You don’t herald your power over people, at least not in a way beyond normal mortals. You don’t even want the cred and, in fact, you seem to hate it. None of what should fascinate you does, and I thought you a fake.
“Then I saw your tapes, I saw what you were like as a a child.”
“I saw your grand imagination for the suffering of others. The puppies, the frogs, the little tricks on your sister when no one was looking, the traps for both of your parents… You had the start of something more, something that would be final.
“You had… it. What changed? What took it away… Clay?”
How does he… know me? How could he know my name and things no one alive should know? I’ve covered my tracks, not even Claire knows about what I was doing before my parents died… before everything changed.
How does he know things that there are no records of?
“I’m not going to tell anyone,” he tells me, “or at least I promise I won’t if you tell me what changed. A binding vow, I’m so curious as to how so much potential was destroyed.”
He starts walking down towards me, and with a snap of his fingers, the world turns black around us, leaving us in a void where nothing can see or hear in or out.
He bends down in front of my face, places his hand over where a heart would be, and swears in a vibrating whisper, “Cross my heart and hope to die, tell me the truth, and not another soul will know, not even Hundress.
“But refuse and I’ll tell Emily first.”
He wants the most honest answer from me. That’s what this is about.
But how would he know what’s true and what’s a lie?
“Do you even have a heart to swear by?” I ask.
Without hesitation, his hand reaches into his chest and pulls out a beating heart that’s separated from every other part of his body. It just beats their in his hand with nothing connected to it. It’s a stone that sits on its own.
“I swear,” he says, and the texture of his oval-shaped heart changes, and the marking etches itself on the surface.
He betrays nothing in his form, but his lightless skin flutters as the promise is etched there. He literally swears on his heart, and I consider for a moment that’s just long enough to believe that it’s worth it.
Who will know that matters?
“When I was a child, I had a voice in my head that proved to me that none of it mattered. Nothing we did, nothing we will do, it’ll happen here or somewhere else in another universe. It didn’t matter if I killed the frog here, it would hop around over there. It wouldn’t matter if I broke my sister’s toy, it would be fixed in a another house. It didn’t matter if I cracked Jimmy’s head open with a hammer, he’d be fine somewhere else, and I wanted to seee what would happen.
“There was a good me somewhere else.
“Then someone came a long, and showed me, that none of that was an excuse to be a cunt.”
The thing leans in close and whispers, “But…?”
“But I still like the feeling of warm blood between my fingers.”
“Ah, such a simple and easy fascination. I just wasn’t looking hard enough. But…”
He raises his finger towards me and light builds at the point.
“… you’re still boring.”
The blast was quick it sent me flying and shattered the black overshield. When I look up, the thing is sitting back down in his chair, with Hundress beside him, and me looking up from the ground.
“Have you had your fun, Ion?” she asks him.
Ion is his name?
“Yes, I think I have, please do fetch the others.”
She walks to the back of the wall and places her hand on it. The moment she touches it, the wall turns from white, to grey, with the green and blue lines of strange circuit boards lighting up, right before it begins to rise. I haven’t seen what’s behind the wall yet, but I feel my body begin to dull at the very idea.
I see their feet first, five of them behind the wall. Five villains I’ve let myself be talked out of killing, or at least some I let get away. All villains, I might add, that I faced with someone at my side. All villains who I had a plan for defeating if I came in contact with them again, plans with gadgets and equipment I don’t have.
I’ve been caught unprepared again.
Automata, formally known as the esteemed scientist, Andrea Ray. Now a superhuman with a genius level intellect, and one that is always evolving. After too many bad days, she decided to turn a dream project for the disabled into weapons of systematic destruction. It took the whole team to take her down with her mechanical arms.
“There’s only him?” she asks. With her chin tilted up at me, I can tell she’s disappointed.
Beside her is the sniveling, cowardly thief, who calls himself Dr. Magician, better known as a complete tool. This is the same thief whose lawyer tried to put me and my team on blast on national television. Evan Settleborn is his real name, and with a name like that he should have stuck to whatever festering watering hole he’s from. It’s only because of gadget he stole that he’s here. The Worldbender that can distort and control the sense of sight, and dull the others. A well-placed bullet will do the job I should have done months ago.
Dr. Magician, unlike Automata, is quite happy to only be facing me. “Heh, heh, oh you’re not joking,” he realizes with one glare from her, “are you nuts? Why would you want to fight more of them?!”
The other masked cretin pats the bird masked buffoon on the back of the shoulder. “Some of us have a bone to pick with more than just this lonely little asshole,” and with a point to me, Shadow Mask reckons, “that’s why he’s mine.”
Shadow Mask is a mercenary for hire that’s been a pain in my ass for far too long. With telepathy and shaeshifting, let’s hope Ion didn’t pay him enough to change into anything extreme.
“Get in line,” the ex-gangbanger, ex-thug, ex-leader of the Red Devils, Samuel Kendrick growls my way, clearly still bitter about the beating I gave him during questioning.
I tell Kendrick, “The scars have come in better than I expected, Sam,” touching my own helmet, tracing a line where his scars etch around his cheek, “but I can make some improvements if you want them.”
It’s easy to get into his head, made clear by how Kendrick snaps and growls, “That’s Saint Lucifer to you!”
He clutches his hand and reveals that the gloves over his priest gown are a better version of the finger blasters he had before. After I wiped his gang from the streets of Aegis City, this lowlife had nothing left but to be the Savaage’s pawn. I left him battered and humiliated, and I see that nothing has changed since I last saw that gelled head of his.
Last but not least, is the quiet and stoic, Stoneman, in his new suit. I imagine it was made by Automata. It fully encapsulates his body, the top half looking like a military EOD if it were made out of metal, and the bottom half resembling a stockier version of Dr. Ray’s own Automata suit. The dealer from the street doesn’t seem to be selling much of anything from inside it, and it seems like he’s quiet too. I wonder how far his powers progressed before he was put in his new home.
If I’m lucky it shuts him up.
Ion must be wondering why rocky David Sanchez is so quiet too, because he turns his head to ask him, saying his name with… a rather accurate Hispanic pronunciation, “David, you’re so quiet, don’t you want to say something to the man who ruined your life?”
Of all the ones here, the Stoneman might be the only one who would hate me almost as much as Shadow Mask, but he shakes his head. I watch him try and speak through the glass under the helmet. I hear him say, “Pyre… isn’t here.”
At the end of the day, even after arguably being the one to cause his transformation, it seems like David still hates Tommy.
“Well, you all know each other, you don’t need to get reacquainted. Kill him already!” Ion told them.
They all immediately come at me. Seriously about to be jumped by six people.
I should have went to the basement.