Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chain of Command

Shemo

Shape-shifting was the best power, ever, as far as she was concerned. She had wings she needed them, the ability to lift herself above all the petty mortal problems and soar to the heavens that would never accept her. She had claws when she wanted to feel flesh submit to her whims as she tore gaping gashes in those who opposed her. She could even have fangs if she wanted to savor the coppery flavor of her enemies' defeat. She was a badass killing machine, and it was awesome.

Until she ran out of things to kill.

There is something unsettlingly serene about being the only living person in a room, a scene made all the more disturbing when the survivor's outfit was little more than copious amounts of blood in varying degrees of coagulation. It was almost poetic, like an illustration of Darwin's Law in action. Survival of the fittest.  

Once she ran out of combatants, either willing or otherwise, Shemo's morbid glee was stripped away as effectively as her talons removing faces. Something was very, very wrong with this picture. She had been too wrapped up in the slaughter of their foes to notice when it happened, but now it was painfully obvious. 

Rani's scent was gone.

"Guys, we have a problem. Rani's gone." Just saying the words made it reality, and the reality was painful. Rani died the last time he went missing; she couldn't let that happen again.

"What do you mean he's gone?" Shemo could hear it in Donut's voice - he was fighting the wave of panic threatening to rush over him, too. This was bad, this was very fucking bad. This was worse than dinner when ex's parents that always hated her, after the break up. This was worse than peanut brittle.

 Sabine

Shit, another of Rani's half-ass plans failing. It shouldn't have come as a surprise to her; nothing ever went according to plan for them. And yet here she was, dragged into Rani's mess that would probably get them all killed. It was times like this that she was thankful that Rani hadn't knocked her up. She didn't have to be here. She could still leave.

"He probably left without us to confront the big bad and save the day." It was the type of stupid, melodramatic heroic Rani would do. He was always trying to take on the toughest roles himself, so desperate to make himself a martyr. When they were younger it was almost cute. Now it was just annoying.

"That wouldn't take away his entire scent trail." Shemo argued, always the dutiful supporter. Those two needed to just hook up already, no other woman would stick around through all of Rani's chaotic misadventures. Maybe Shemo was okay with this wild fantasy, but Sabine needed stability. Reliability. She was too old for this bullshit. "Something happened to him."

No shit, Sherlock. Something was always happening to Rani. He said it himself; the worst experiences make the best stories. And everything had to be a story with Rani. The reality Sabine offered him apparently wasn't good enough; he decided to stay on total drama peninsula.

 Sure, she could rush off in some suicidal rescue mission. There was no impending danger left looming in the backroom, she had secured that with relative ease despite her rocky start. There was no real need for her to continue guarding the exit, as the enemy resistance appeared to have dispersed. But that didn't mean she had to go looking for more trouble. With no immediate threat left, there was no reason for her to stick around and watch the scene implode. 

"Maybe he lured them all off somewhere. Maybe all the blood and sweat is masking his scent. From where I'm standing it looks like we're the only ones left. Let's just get out of here before more arrive and call it a day. Rani will turn up after he's saved the day."

"But Sabine, where did they all go? No one has left the building since we hit it." Why was Sky even here? Sabine understood why Donut was devoted, and even Shemo, but she didn't even know who Sky was. Clearly she was someone that important to Ray at some time to be included, but it was weird that Sabine didn't know anything about her. Then again, it had been a long time since she paid any attention to what was going on outside her own life. Every time she met Rani he was a different person, and every time he had a different group of followers. Shemo and Donut were the only alumni that stuck around. Hell, Donut had seniority on her.

"It doesn't matter. We don't need to be here. If Rani needed us, he would've taken us with him." She was through with this story, and everything it entailed. She was through with Rani and his heroics. This wasn't her life anymore. He wasn't her life anymore. And maybe that was best for all of them. He had his chance. It was all or nothing. He made his choice. "I'm out. If you're smart, you'll leave before you fall deeper down the rabbit hole."

Donut

The situation was unraveling, it was time for someone to step up and take charge. With Rani out of play, that meant it was time for Donut to get some play. After he saved Rani's ass, of course. Unless Donut had a chance to take a break to get some while pulling Rani out of whatever proverbial fire he had fallen into. It was time for alpha mode.

"Alright, new plan. Sky says no one left the building, so the action is still going on here somewhere and that means Rani is probably in the center of the shit storm. Rani was going to search the cash office at the front of the store, and the ammo storage back here. Sky and Shemo, you two take the cash office. Hit it like an angry quickie and report any resistance or sign of Rani right away. Sab, you're going with me to check the ammo room. The mission isn't over yet, and you're staying to finish the job." It was time for decisive action; they had wasted enough time talking. It was time to get back to stabbing and slashing with the vortex sword.

"Sky, why are you listening to this? Rani got himself into this mess. He can get himself out of it. We're both too busy to entertain this charade and pretend that we give a damn. We have our own lives; we don't need to be a part of these shenanigans." Donut had forgotten how difficult Sabine could be, and now he remembered why he never harbored any attraction for her. Aside from her history with Rani, he had no time or patience for difficult women. He preferred them easy.

"We don't have time to chat. We're going to finish the bloody mission, find Rani and deal with his damn gingerkin." Assuming command wasn't working out as well as he had hoped.

"Screw you. I'm done." So much anger, clearly she hadn't been screwed in a while. Maybe that was why she was so mad at Rani. If he had just given her the D, she might be more willing to save his A. 

"This changes nothing. Sky and Shemo scope out the cash office and I'll take care of the ammo room."

"I can't; Sabine's right. I'm sorry."

Donut imagined this is what it felt like to be fucked sideways. By Hodor and Deadpool. At the same time. Why couldn't Ray just write erotic fiction starring him, was that too much to ask for?

"It's just you and me, Shemo. We'll hit them together, ammo supply first since we're both here, and then the cash office. We'll go radio silent, no point in keeping them on if it's just the two of us."

Divide and Conquer



“Having fun yet?” Rani couldn't see the speaker in the dark; he didn't need to.



“If you're going to kill me again, hurry up and do it. It beats watching her die.” Rani was surprised how clear his voice was; he expected it to be little more than a hoarse rattle. How long had he been stranded in nothingness?



“That was my first choice: killing you before you could cobble together some clumsy wrench to throw into the plans. My partners, on the other hand, thought a slower and more thorough destruction was in order. That means watching your friends die one by one, after they've all abandoned you.” Rani didn't recall his murderer being quite so chatty the last time they met. Then again, the swift nature of his execution left little time for conversation. A quick death was certainly starting to look like a gift if it meant not having to listen to the fiend.



But, he couldn't help his friends while dead.



“Amd of they refuse to abandon me?” Rani had to keep him talking long enough to figure out a way to get back in the fight. He was useless now; he couldn't help anyone from the dark zone.



“Most of them have already left you. Ray's just too slow progressing this little story. Hell, even the friends he was adding to the fray will be long gone before they're officially part of this tale of your downfall. In the end, all you'll have left is me. Then, once you've hit rock bottom, I will kill you. And you'll have nothing left to come back to.” How he could deliver such a melodramatic threat with a monotone, Rani had no idea. This guy was over the top on the villain scale of wickedness. Then again, the story had always been a parody composed of caricatures.



“What if I die of boredom?” Rani couldn't let his weakening resolve seep into his voice and betray him. He couldn't let the stranger know that he felt the cold sting of the truth. His friends had either left him behind or were in the process of doing so. The story was meant to be about his team, and they were all gone or leaving. Some team he put together; he was the de facto leader of no one.



“No need to worry about that. Things are just getting interesting. Let's see how your old buddy Salem is doing. He must be going through such hell right now.”



*** 

Mr. Salem Norongachi




Salem was in heaven, or he would be if he though such nancy nonsense existed. His situation was as close as he would ever get to the magic bollocks land in the sky. It was the version of heaven that wasn't fiction – and had adult content.



He had everything: a cushy gig running the Nerd Addiction website, a girlfriend that fancied Jessica Rabbit in all the right ways(which was all of them), and all the alcohol his battle scarred liver could take. If this was a dream, he didn't want to wake up. The groove in the couch fit his arse perfectly, and the groove in the bed fit her back perfectly, he had no intention of going anywhere else.



So, of course, the bloody fecking phone would start ringing from somewhere in the cavernous depths of his luxurious shag pad.



“Feck 'em, if it's an emergency they can call Scotland Yard.” Did he really just say Scotland Yard? Ray had heard him say 'cops' and 'police' numerous times; there was no excuse for such blatantly ignorant writing.



Wait, why was he thinking about that lousy dole signer?



“It's Rani calling. Do you want me to pick up?” oh he wanted her to pick up something, but it wasn't the stupid phone. And not with her hands.



Why had he thought about Ray while Rani was calling? He hadn't thought about him in ages. Not since that incident at the farm. Not that he could remember what happened that day. Booze and memory have a funny way of not seeing eye to eye on anything.



This was starting to damage to damage his calm.



“Hell with Raniboy. If he wanted to talk to me, he would've called sooner.” It was too late to mend that bridge; it had been too long without contact. Rani was dead to him.



*** 



“That must have hurt.” They were out of Salem's head and back into the emptiness. “After all you've been through together, all those years you two were thick as thieves, and now he's gone. Just like all the others. They all leave you.”



“They always come back.” Rani knew he sounded weak. He was losing and he knew it. Losing to an enemy he couldn't see or fight.



“Except when they don't. They don't care anymore. Maybe they never did.”



Maybe they never did.