The sound rang out over the mid-morning air like a gunshot. Jolexx's face was twisted in a perverse grin of glee and satisfaction. The shop assistant lay below him, his neck crushed, his chest weeping blood from six shotgun holes and his workstation scorched and broken from the explosion of a stray rocket.
“VICTOLY!” he screamed as he turned to face his comrades in arms.
He was met with seven disgusted faces.
For a moment they stood appalled as Jolexx stood sipping his coffee. Then, a quiet, dry laugh rang out. From behind his rounded spectacles, Thaif's eyes glittered with amusement.
“"Haha! Vut a bloodbath!"”
Jolexx returned with a chuckle of his own: “I'm a little pumped still, I had 4, 500 mililetres of a litre of coffee.
Betty sighed deeply, his heavy battle armour seeming especially heavy today. Couldn't they go anywhere with killing someone? Was that really too much to ask?
The nine of them stood inside a burnt out corner shop, opposite the train station. The sound of sirens wailed out in the distance and in the streets there was panic as civilians fled for their lives. Later the newspapers would claim that an entire battalion of angry German soldiers had destroyed this place with rockets and shotguns for their own sick pleasure. The reality, that a madman had gutted the store before murdering the shop assistant in cold blood for asking for the rogue to actually pay for coffee, was too terrifying to even consider.
He had fought in the war, he deserved that coffee. Ok, so he had been fighting for the other side but what did that matter? His K:Dr was 147:0, he was a god. All these hippies talking about rights and peace and 'human rights'! Bah! At the end of the day, no one remembers how many you spared, how you picked the enemy out of a crowd of innocents. All they remember is the ratio. And he would be remembered...
Thick plumes of smoke and steam mingled in the air, restricting vision to a matter of meters.
“Maybe we should go” chuckled Thaif, “we have a train to catch after all. We're going to be half an hour late...”
Picking their way through the rubble, the 9 of them made their way to the station entrance. Quick, agile Antti, the quietly impressive Scout. A common name, he was distinguished by the deadly accuracy of his scattergun and his willingness to lay down his own life for his team. Stocky Anoobis, with a shock of almost anime quality hair barely caged beneath his hardhat. Tall, foul-mouthed Spanish, his long sniper rifle hanging from his considerable epeen and his villain’s veil imprinted with a semen stained image of rainbow dash. Sharp, knowing Thaif, his eyes tired with relentless contempt and disappointment, strained with lack of sleep. Strong, muscular Aaargh his left arm covered in tattoos, his right made of STEEL! A glowing green hat blazed upon his head and a delicious sandvich nestled in a lunchbox chained around his neck. Silent Rawbut, his stout Homewrecker made from smelted Axtinguishers, his hat from the skin of dropped medics. Nervous, clumsy Betty, as likely to blow the whole fucking place up as he was to create magic. He was reformed in body- he had spent the previous day pouring over books and writing diligently- but his mind still longed for the battle. Stylish, sexy Perkins, his suave exterior never once betraying the fact that he was a sick animal fetishist. Fuck me, he was hot though, his chiselled body straining against the smooth satin of his shirt, the elegant silk balaclava hiding a handsome and boyish face. God he was hot. Maybe because his head was on fire...
Betty awoke with a jolt.
“It's time” Aaargh said, his voice husky and grave.
Betty looked around, his eyes crusty from sleep. The carriage was empty, his team-mates having long since departed. Aaargh's deep blue eyes were kind and soft as he offered half a sandvich in his enormous ham sized hands.
“Thanks” Betty mumbled, his voice cracking with tiredness and nerves.
Gravelpit. This was it. They had practised hard, learned their strats by heart, fought other clans in war games here. Just last night they had destroyed the Jolly Ranchers, punishing their tryhard war mode and refusal to party with a trio of defeats. Here they would face an unknown opponent, plucked from the east and it seems blessed with a lot of luck. No one knew anything about them, they could be immense, they could be terrible. It didn't matter, we would be outstanding.
As he left the carriage he saw his team arming themselves. It would begin soon. Good. Let them come. Little did he know that as they prepared, Rawbut was being snatched from his frolicking in the meadow. Heavily sedated and desperate for his friends, Rawbut could do nothing but scream inside his head as the enemy team shit all over him. He would later break his bonds and crawl into a ventilation shaft to escape but there was no way he could help the team in his state.
As he saw what the commie bastards were doing to poor, innocent Rawbut the usually cold, calm demeanour of Perkins broke. With one swift movement he ripped his tie clean off his neck and unbuttoned his suit jacket, throwing it into the dirt. Drawing his knife and revolver from his pockets, he strode forwards, eyes blazing mouth clenched in hate. He would make them pay. In cold fury and blood he would slaughter them all.
Aaargh lurched forwards, acutely aware of what was going through his team-mate's mind.
“LEETLE MAN, NOOO!” he bellowed, holding Perkins close to his chest.
“Let go of me” Perkins screamed, his knife carving deep rents into Aaargh's arms. But Thaif stood beside them, sad but methodical, his heal beam fixed on the bear man.
With a shriek of frustration Perkins slumped back, his face wrecked with tears. Pain. Frustration. Fury.
They would pay. They would all pay. That day a grudge was born. The joy of the battle was gone. What remained was hot, ugly rage. A desire to gut them and cast their bodies into some unmarked grave.
Betty meanwhile had acquired a steam powered message drone. He sent it to the only place he knew, a small farm a few miles away where the retired engineer Semikami lived. His days of fighting were long behind him. Just once more. With hesitation he pulled on the fire proof suit Betty had sent him and prepared to aid his friends in whatever way he could.
FOR DEATH. FOR GLORY. FOR RAWBUT!
It was over. Somehow time and space had cheated them. The control of the tower had fallen. The poor man's Russians had taken the pit.
“How could this happen?”, sighed Aaargh.
“I never asked for this...” said Spanish, his usually gleeful face solemn for once.
Betty couldn't speak. He couldn't believe it. Cheated. All's fair in love and war it seems. Gentlemen no longer.
It was over, they had fallen. Bronze was still achievable but silver had slipped from their grasp. The chance to face off against the producers of the world's tastiest sandvichs was gone.
The injustice of it rankled with him. He was torn between sorrow, fury and sheer disappointment.
All over, they had failed.
Slowly the poison began to run out of his veins. The lesions leaking puss were tended to with love, care and friendship. The wounded ego given hope. A slowly building camaraderie. They were the last. They were together. The outcasts of the once glorious Tower. They were the band of brothers, the covenant. They had made all this happen.
In the mourning,
In the mourning,
I'll let you die.
But time gets bolder,
Children get older,
I'm getting older, too.
They had exceeded expectation. They had proven themselves and carved a bloody path and with it earned new respect and friends. They have proved that being a decent, tolerant, accepting bunch of people didn't mean you couldn't have fun. If any thing, they'd had more fun because they could accept one another. Whereas once they could only try to dodge the hail of bile coming from above them, now they looked down. And there was no need for resentment. They would never forgive. But they would never retaliate. Because happiness was here, and contentment too. They wouldn't let themselves be bullied anymore. The grudges would remain, old and new but they were together and they were at peace.
Next time they would rise up again to the challenge. They had been put down. Good. You have to fall sometimes, so that you can rise up: stronger, faster, more determined than ever.
Betty knew it. He would never forget. He had been lucky to share these months with such good friends. He was proud of what they had done, what they achieved, what they had overcome, what they had become. But most of all, he was proud of them. Each and every one of them. There was no shame in that defeat, no sadness. Each of them could hold their heads high and bow to no one. Pride and joy. A smile.