Seriously, I’m not that evil. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Fen, how dare you be such an asshole as to threaten to shoot the girl who may have saved you that one time, is hot and totally needs help’. But I never planned to shoot Cat. Pulling the gun was just an insurance policy to make sure she didn’t shoot me when I said what I was offering. I truly meant it when I said I wanted her out of this alive and with her brother.
Still, didn’t mean she had to like it.
Cat looked at me with blank terror and confusion in her eyes, as well as the bitter hardness of betrayal. I tried not to think about what I had just done to the poor girl’s already weak mental state and instead focused on the more pragmatic issue of making my offer.
“So, mayor. I’m guessing you would like the guns we have on us, maybe even were planning on killing us and taking them, but I have a far better solution. Agree to my terms and I will take you to the place where we got them.”
“Fen, please no” pleaded Cat, realising what I was doing.
“It’s a bunker, nice and out of the way, out of contact with the surface for five years. The people there are hard, probably military, and well-armed, but no doubt sloppy after years of hiding in a concrete vault. I’ll show you, and whatever army you fancy, the way to it if you agree to my terms. Personally, I would go for a subterfuge method of entry rather than simply attacking the place. Oh, and I’ll help – the idiots kept me hostage for three days”
“That’s my home you’re talking about attacking” whispered Cat, as if expecting me to show any mercy. Sorry, but I liked this plan too much – it gave me a chance to find out why I had been locked up down there, not to mention demonstrate why locking me up anywhere was an incredibly bad idea.
The mayor, after initially looking worried at my sudden gun-pulling, then relieved when he realised I wasn’t aiming at him, considered my offer. “So, you’re basically planning to use my army to get revenge on some people who locked you up?”
“Yup!” I said, giving him a winning smile. “But there’s quite a lot in it for you. For one thing, I have no interest in looting the place, so you get all the weapons, equipment and food you find there. For another, the place has working electricity”
“Electricity?” He said, giving the face of someone who was already won over. Well, that was easy. Still, the leader of any town would take this offer with no hesitation, so it was hardly surprising.
“I suppose you already know that I will have you killed slowly if you have lied to me?” he asked, a trace of suspicion in his voice.
“Naturally” I replied. “Hence why I actually told the truth for once”
“Well then. I agree to your terms. I’ll get you a bed here in the palace and mobilise the army. I assume from the way you’re holding a gun to her head you would like this girl removed?” the mayor asked, fat jowls wobbling.
“Take her weapons and lock them up somewhere, but don’t hurt her” I told him, one of the guards disarming a fuming Cat at the nod of the fat man’s head before tying her hands behind her back. “And a room would be lovely. Please one without poisoned traps, slave servants or ugly paintings”
Seriously, nothing I hated more than ugly paintings. Well, that wasn’t strictly true. There were plenty of things I hated more, just ugly paintings bugged me. I also wouldn’t put it past this guy to take me somewhere and torture me until I gave up where the bunker was, so I had to be wary of that.
The mayor gave me a flash of irritation. “You’ll get your room. Lock the girl up somewhere”
“Aren’t you forgetting something…?” I reminded him.
“The slavery thing”
“Fine. Spread the word that the law has been changed, all slaves are to be freed at once on pain of banishment and slavers have 24 hours to get away from the city” he ordered. An orderly rushed off at his word.
“How amusing that the path of righteousness should be fuelled by greed…” I muttered.
Cat struggled as she was dragged off and I glared at the guard, making sure he understood not to hurt her. I mean, I wasn’t going to make things worse for the poor girl. Probably. Why did I even care? I shouldn’t.
One of the orderlies returned and gestured for me to follow. I did, weapons hanging easily at my sides. The mayor watched me go, a look of thought on his face. Probably planning the attack and wondering whether or not to kill me, although I doubted he would until I showed him the way to the bunker. Killing me beforehand would be a waste of good resources.
The room he led me to was nice enough, with a view over the city, no slaves that I could see and a lack of annoying artwork. I hoped the cells here were equally as comfortable, but I doubted it. Dammit! I really needed to forget the girl. Just forget her. How hard could it be?
‘You’ve forgotten worse things’ I reminded myself. Perfect. I was going to continue to ignore the consequences of my actions and keep going with what I was doing. It had worked so far, so it should work now.
The thought popped into my head unbidden and I immediately pushed it out. It was not time to pull the pin on that grenade and it never would be. I didn’t have feelings! Why was I suddenly being overwhelmed by them? Screw it, I was going to take a good long psyche course when I finally got killed and made it to hell.
Anyway, the view from my window was good enough for me to see the army form up outside. It seemed a bit ragtag and disorganised, made up of mostly citizens of ‘New Beginnings’ with the town guard acting as sort of leaders. There must have been only a hundred people, but a hundred was a lot when you thought about fighting them.
The mayor did a nice little speech for them about happiness, prosperity and other crap the bunker would offer, making the people nice and motivated to go and quite probably die against other people with machine guns. Some of them didn’t look impressed, so he fired up the helicopter and landed it in the town square. Then everyone was on his side. Seriously, it’s really easy to motivate people. Just use greed.
I sat in my room and watched, laughing at how stupid they all were. Really, they had no evidence I was telling the truth and yet they were still preparing as if it was. The fact that I hadn’t been lying was an added bonus. Maybe these people had made such a nice little society here that they weren’t used to other people trying to trick them into dying horribly.
Either way, I was turning up at the bunker with an army at my back, so that was a plus. I wondered what-
Okay, looked like I was going to keep thinking about Cat for a while, so maybe it was time to convince both her and myself that I wasn’t being entirely evil. The mayor’s building was fairly simple to navigate (the dungeons are always down), so I got up and left. See, I can’t spend two hours in a comfortable room without getting cabin fever, but will happily lie on a roof for half a day without complaining. That’s how weird I am.
Cat was in a tiny jail cell with a shoddily welded metal frame daubed in a mixture of concrete, grease and paint. I had been right about the accommodation at least. Still, it wasn’t as bad as my nice little bunker one. For one thing, Cat wasn’t tied to the wall and for another she actually got furniture. A tiny cot and a rotting chair, but furniture nonetheless.
“You fucking bastard!” she yelled when she saw me. “Why? Why would you do that?”
Oh. Well, she was certainly pissed. Her nice dress was smudged with dirt from the grimy cell and her eyes were red rimmed. Oddly, she had weird marks down her face and it took me a second to realise it was what remained of if you cried with make-up on. Make-up. Of all the things… so she’d been wearing it the whole time and I’d never even noticed. Eh, her face was beautiful anyway, even if it was contorted with rage and sadness.
“Sorry about that” I apologised, in the most sincere voice I could muster.
“You just killed my whole family!” she cried. “Sorry doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface!”
Obviously not sincere enough. “Would it help if I explained?”
“Explain!? It’d better be something good. It’d better…”
“Okay. Basically I ordered the freedom of all slaves in this area, including your dear brother. I also ordered for him and you not to be harmed. I kept my end of the deal”
“And you ruined everything! We were going to go back to the bunker and live there safely and happily! None of this insane hellhole where people die like flies and the dead try to eat you!”
“Sorry, but this is the world. The sooner you face up to that, the easier it will be”
“You’re despicable” she whispered, in a voice filled with loathing. “Did you just come here to torment me?”
“No, I came here to apologise” I told her. It was partially the truth. “I didn’t want to hurt you”
“Well you fucking succeeded! I hate you, you emotionless bastard! I hate you and I always will! You may run and hide, but once I get out of here I’m going to end your miserable, shitty existence forever!”
Now, that’s more like it. Threats I could deal with.
“That’s my girl” I smiled.
The look she gave told me that maybe I should find a new country to live in before she was let out. But hey, at least I would stop feeling bad about her now, right? Right? I wasn’t going to regret my decisions. Not ever.
I already was.