[Mock-Fiction] III - In Amore et Bellum

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Protest piece. Third in the series after 'I - Requiescat in Pace' & 'II - Memento Mori'. Enjoy x

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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13. Eleven - Justice is Served

When an axe spiraled through the barred windows and buried itself in one of the soldier’s heads, the others jumped and stood back to back. Javed Singh stared at his dead comrade, not sure how to stop looking at him. He had the same happy, unaware smile on his face when he’d shot the fellow with the funny hair, now blood was streaming down his jolly face and into that gaping mouth. A woman in a leather coat stepped in through the ruined window, her leather boots crunching on the broken bits of metal, and she stared at the four. They faltered for a moment, and then lifted their guns towards her. She walked towards them, her boots echoing in the silence.

 

“Don’t take another step!” order the squad leader.

The woman continued to move in, taking long, slow strides at an unbroken rhythm.

“Stop, or we’ll shoot!” he reloaded his cartridge, and the other four did the same.

She continued to walk.

“Fire!”

There was a dull thud as the soldiers shot blindly in the direction of the woman in black. After their bullets ran out, smoke rose from the site – splinters and ash. A table had been brought down, ragged bullet holes ripping across the solid wood. The soldiers relaxed for a moment, their shoulders sagging.

 

And then the woman rose from behind the toppled table.

 

They all took a step back, fiddling with their packs, frantically looking for cartridges. She bared her teeth at them, and drew two daggers from her belt, and threw them with deadly accuracy. A soldier to Singh’s side crumpled, a dagger buried between his eyes, and another was caught in his throat. The man burbled blood, choking and falling to his knees as gore spilled onto the polished marble floor.

 

Rogue drew the bayonet knife from its makeshift sheath, and held the weapon between her hands. She closed her eyes, taking a moment to sniff the blade, and then opened them, her pupils contracting, recognizing Singh.

“You,” she rasped.

Singh took a step back, still looking for the cartridge. The other soldier dropped his gun and raised his hands in surrender.

“Wise man,” she said, taking the same long, slow strides towards them, “You will have a quick death,” she slashed the knife across his throat, and left him to writhe in the agonies of death.

 

Singh whimpered as Rogue slapped the gun out of his hands. She clamped a hand around his throat and slammed him against a wall.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t just smash your skull in and throw you in a pit for the buzzards,” she said, growling.

Singh’s head spun, the blood in his temples pounding, “I… I… um…”

Rogue saw movement out of the corner of her eye, and smashed Singh’s head anyway. He crumpled, unconscious for the moment.

I’ll deal with him later, she thought.

 

Rogue turned, and her heart skipped a beat.

“Dann…?”

He was sitting upright in a corner, a shaky smile on his face. There was a bullet-hole in his shoulder, and another just below his ribcage; his white shirt blooming red.

“That was… amazing,” he said softly.

Rogue walked up him, unable to say anything. She knelt beside him. The pallor of his skin indicated that Rogue was looking at a dead man.

She gulped, “You didn’t leave,” she said, tears brimming in her eyes.

“Well, someone seems to be in a hurry to get rid of me,” he replied, with a sad laugh.

Rogue rubbed her eyes, and didn’t say anything.

Dann frowned, “Oh, cut it out, Midnight. You know this had to happen some time.”

“Not now. Not like this.”

“Listen… Midnight,” he shifted a little, a pained expression crossing his face, but then disappearing – probably for Rogue’s benefit.

 

For my benefit. He’s the one that’s dying, and I’m the one that needs comforting, though Rogue miserably.

 

Dann swallowed, “I’m… I take back what I said about… leaving the Brotherhood.”

Rogue stared at him.

“I mean…” he paused, “…don’t ever stop what you’re doing. I know… I know you want to go back to living a normal life, but… but I just had a taste of what you do every day… in a nut-shell, of course, but you know…” Dann coughed, and blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth, “The feeling… your life… it’s very… fulfilling…” Rogue took a moment to wipe the blood off his face, but still did not say anything, “Your life has purpose, this way,” Dann finished, “The rest of us are mindless zombies… just doing what everyone else is doing.”

“Dann, stop,” said Rogue.

“I just thought you should… know.”

Rogue cried again. She didn’t know what to say. She’d never known what to say when someone was dying. It was strange, for someone who dealt with Death so often.

 

“I’ve always wondered… what it was like to die,” said Dann.

Rogue nodded, “I think everyone wonders, once in their lifetime. But the general idea is that it isn’t nice.”

“Oh, I disagree with that train of thought at this moment,” said Dann smiling, “Sure, it hurts, but… I’m… excited about what I’ll find on the other side.”

Rogue laughed – she couldn’t help it – but it was a sad laugh, “So typical of you, Dann.”

Dann looked content, “It is, isn’t it?”

Rogue gulped, and nodded, “The one journey that no one’s come back from to tell the tale.”

Dann didn’t reply. Something glinted in his eyes. What was it? Sorrow? Fear? Both? Rogue couldn’t tell, but she felt the need to hold his hand. It was cold and clammy, but she kissed it softly.

 

“Midnight…?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t know anything any more. I’ve seen so many people die, that I should have gotten used to this by now,” she sniffed, more tears running down her face and soaking into her clothes, “But, no. I wonder what I’ll be like when I die. How cold and lonely that grave they put me in will be. How I’ll hear the footsteps of those that bury me fade away. I’ll be crying my eyes out, begging Death: Put me back!! But he’s not like that. He doesn’t go back on his promises, like stupid people do.”

“…You think you’ll still be able to feel and hear?”

“I… I think so. Though, not like we feel and hear now. In a different way, you know?”

Dann nodded, grateful for the ironic conversation, “I get it.”

 

There was a pause, and then Dann said, “Midnight… I’ll meet you on the other side.”

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

When Javed Singh woke up, he found himself tied to a chair. Funny, really, because he thought he was dead. One of his arms was sticking out in front of him, and Rogue had her fingers on his pulse.

“Morning, sunshine,” she said, tersely.

The room had been cleaned: the debris swept away, the blood wiped off the floor and the walls. His dead friends were all gone, as was the man with the dyed hair.

 

Singh shivered a little and said, “What’s going to happen to me?”

Rogue tilted her head to a side, “What do you think?” Singh noticed that her eyes were puffy, “You betrayed the Brotherhood, got me imprisoned, tortured, caused the deaths of five mercenaries, and allowed the killing of an innocent man just because his hair was a different color. What do really think I’ll do to you?”

Singh shuddered and whimpered something incomprehensible.

Rogue sighed, frustrated and flustered, and then said, “Do you know what happens to your pulse when you lie?”

Singh shook his head.

“Your pulse rises. Shudders almost. Your heartbeat quickens and, even for just a half-second, it can easily be detected,” Rogue paused to let the information sink in. Singh was staring at his out-stretched arm. Rogue nodded, “I’m going to ask you some questions, and you’d better give the right answers; ‘else I’ll hurt you in so many ways you won’t know how to scream any more. You got that?”

 

Singh nodded.

 

“Right, then,” Rogue took out a dagger and placed it on the floor beside her, “Now tell me: Why would a fool like you invite me here, to get kidnapped by the Queen’s goons?”

Singh gulped, his mouth pressed into a thin line, and remained silent.

“Do not try my patience,” said Rogue, “I’m running low on it.”

“The… the Queen ordered it. She told me to,” said Singh.

“But you don’t work for the Queen. Last time I checked, you were the head of the Brotherhood here in Bengal.”

“Plans… Plans changed.”

“Who’s the head of the Brotherhood now?”

“I don’t know.”

 

Rogue put the dagger to Singh’s chest, and drew a diagonal cut. Blood spilled from the wound, dribbling down his shirt. Singh gasped.

“Try again,” said Rogue, gritting her teeth.

“There is no Brotherhood here anymore.”
“You eradicated the Brotherhood?” Rogue’s eyes widened.

“Me and a few others.”
“Name them.”

“What?”

“You heard me: Name them.”

Singh hesitated, but noticed the cut on his chest, and spilled the names of the traitors. Rogue nodded, noting each name mentally and trying to remember if she could put a face to those names. Some she recognized; others, she didn’t.

 

“That’s all?” asked Rogue.

Singh hesitated.

“Who are you keeping from me?”
Singh looked at Rogue pleadingly, “I… um… she’s special to me.”

“That’s not my concern.”

“Please, please understand. I cannot betray her.”

“You betrayed me. You betrayed the Brotherhood. You caused deaths of people, Javed. And this ‘special’ person helped. I need a name. Now.”

“Promise me you won’t kill her.”

Rogue stared at him, looking away momentarily, and then said, “I’ll… I’ll see if a compromise can be made. But I don’t make promises with traitors.”

Singh nodded, and gave the last name reluctantly.

 

“One last question: Why did you do it, Singh?”

Singh lowered his eyes, “We didn’t see change happening… And the Queen offered us good financial prospects…”

Rogue nodded. She could understand that. But that didn’t justify anything.

“Have you anything else to say?”

Singh’s eyes widened, “You’re going to kill me anyway?”

Rogue stood up and took out the bayonet knife, “An eye for an eye. That is the law that I live by. You killed not one, but several. You are a traitor, a perjure, and a murderer. There is no redemption for that, save death. Call the law whatever you will, this is it.”

 

Singh closed his eyes and lowered his head; allowing the knife to slice through his spine. Rogue left the body slumped in the chair. She would have buried it, like the others, but she didn’t have time.

Rogue next destination would take some time to reach: Chittagong.

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