Hell Beneath Clear Skies

A fallen world. Corrupt men staying in power. Never-ending wars. Circulating wealth and power amongst the uneven masses. Society has never been so blind. For some, paradise has been found. For most, Hell has been unleashed.
For two of the world's finest, Paradise is meeting again after annihilating Hell to rubble.


8. East & West

     The paper was worn away with misuse, but the order was clear: Retrieve the shipment of top-grade weaponry from an air base off the Caspian Sea's shores. Betty lowered her hand, her fingers allowing the paper freedom in the wind. A sneer spread across her face.

     Her energy was sweeping in, giving her arms a boost of strength. She grabbed hold of a tightly wrapped package, and stared at the incoming lights of a truck.


     The Caspian Sea Air-Locke Base was before the Reaper. The GPS app on his phone couldn't lie; it was programmed by the best of the world. The e-mail's subject was odd enough: Find a briefcase containing a new weapons schematic. Something about a new form of anti-crowd shotgun, for some "game" hunters. Big whoop.

    There were a couple soldiers on guard at the front gates. Unsheathing the swordgun, he rolled down the hill, being sure to blend into the shadows. Flipping beneath the body of an APC, he examined the layout of the front gate. Boxes on one side, a tall wire fence on the other. Assassination by diversion, no problem for the Master of Espionage. With what strength he mustered, he rolled out from the APC, and crawled within the boxes' shadows. He ascended from the cold asphalt, and lunged his swordgun forward. The blade pushed through the guard's helmet, exposing dripping brains on the other side. Switching to SINGLE on the firing mechanism, the Reaper shot a bullet through the head to the guard opposite him. Showers of skull shards and blood burst in front of him, as two corpses fell to the floor in a sick unison. Kneeling down, he unzipped the Kevlar from one of the corpses and placed it upon his being. A flood of brightening lights caused him to leap back amidst the boxes. What he hid from wasn't what he expected.

     An armored truck, flaming at the driver's window, drove straight into the 5-inch steel gate. A wave of confusion and screams emanated from the hole, and orders demanding the reasoning for such a commotion. Who knows what happened, but for the Reaper it was a perfect distraction. He lowered his stance and swiftly walked through the gap, climbing upon the many storage crates in the docking area. A red blink, as shiny as a sniper's laser, caught his eye. He turned his head, and noticed a peculiar sight: a brown package, taped to the back doors of the truck. And this truck was carrying a cluster of fuel barrels.

      For a split moment, he believed to have heard a woman's voice in the distance.


    "Let the fireworks commence!" Betty rolled around the rock she hid behind, and pressed the orange button on her scratched-up trigger.

     The armored truck seemed to grow wings of searing flames as its body was eviscerated into shrapnel. Where soldiers once stood near the vehicle, only ashened streaks on the floor. Others were seen thrown against the farthest wall, covering their blood-soaked ears. Very unfortunate ones landed on crates, hysterically confused at their survival. Seas of smoke rolled across the room, out the gaping hole.

     They peered into the hole, viewing streaks of light zipping from the outside, tearing away soldiers who were touched. Armor piercing rounds were being fired, and in tremendous quantities. As they threw themselves into cover, they heard the clacking noises of high-explosive grenades nearby.

     Betty emerged from the fireballs that engulfed multiple storage crates, showers of burning wood cascading around her. Delight stretched her cheeks into a malicious sneer, her Ultimax 100 gleaming with orange waves. Her speed was her greatest ally, taking her across the smoky room, firing into the crowds. She rolled into cover behind the vehicular carcass, hiding behind the flames.

     What confused her was the fact that some soldiers were experiencing signs of psychological damage. They were screaming about another presence, certain soldiers falling before her. Was somebody else here? Yes, there was! Someone was climbing upon the pile of corpses; their bootsteps pushed flesh inwards, the clanking of equipment giving away their position. Her legs straightened, she zipped upwards, and aimed her weapon at this soldier.

     Her eyes widened, for this was no soldier.

     Before her, a looming shadow held a fearsome scythe with a barrel attached. The flames illuminating the face revealed a blackened bandana, a skeletal mandible its insignia. She's heard of the rumors, she's heard the stories, but she never believed it. She couldn't believe it. He was here. He existed, and he was truly here.

     She believed in the Reaper, and he was finally here.


     "I believe...", the Reaper emptily spoke. "You are Bouncin' Betty, the Bombshell Mistress." The woman's cheeks turned pink, and she looked away smiling. "Awww, you know my name!" She giggled softly, leaping up in the air. Slowly, he descended from the corpse pile, gibs trailing behind him. "I have heard the rumors. Seen the news on the mysterious bombings. And yet...", he cracked his knuckles. "And yet I doubted your existence."

     "Awww, you thought about me!" Betty tapped her feet multiple times and hid her reddening face. "I feel so loved!" She squealed, her Ultimax bouncing against her back. The Reaper, for a long time, felt amused watching this legend behave like such a child.

     Ahh, back to business.

     He slowly lumbered to a crawling soldier, and plunged his swordgun downward, cutting through the concrete and pinning the soldier. The screams echoed through the area, in hopes of help arriving at the cry. "No one will come for you," the Reaper spoke. "Now, where...", he slipped out his phone and showed it to the soldier. "...are these shotguns? The... Crowd Buster- 86?"

     Betty's head quickly turned to him. "Heey, that's MY package!" She pouted, and stuck her hips outward. "You can't take what I've been hired to take!" In a moment, her Ultimax was in hand. "My package!" And she pressed the trigger.

     Swiftly, the Reaper's strong arm unsheathed the swordgun from the earth, and spun it around. Showers of sparks and cleaved bullets exploded from the fury that was the Reaper's blade. His eyes were empty, and yet filled with determination, dark pupils illuminated by muzzle flares. He walked backwards, warding away the bullets. Kneeling down onto the floor, he switched to BURST on his firing mechanism, and aimed at Betty. His aim true, he fired.

     All chambered rounds within the cylinder on his swordgun were dispersed. Betty bent her back, her hands touching the floor, as the deadly bullets sailed away. She rolled behind storage crates, unveiled her China Lake, and pumped a grenade into the air. "Hope ya like pinatas!"

     The grenade, twirling into the ceiling, opened up with 4 red spheres that fell around the Reaper. He braced for impact as moderate explosions rocked multiple crates straight into the air. Smoke and rubble swept across the floor, and vision was horribly obscured. Wiping his eyes clean of any debris, he looked back at where he saw a glimpse of hair.

     "You know...", his once empty voice now quivering with a stroke of adrenaline. "I haven't seen a person use explosives so suicidally." He coughed a bit. "I like it."

     "I didn't know you could deflect armored-piercing rounds!" Betty called out from the smoke. "Those were my best custom ammunition!"

    "You make your own ammunition?" The Reaper cocked his head in intrigue.

     "All the surprises you've seen are constructed by yours truly!" A sound of a grenade being chambered. "The things you do when you're bored, huh?" A pumping noise. "Kinda like your sword! You made it?"

    A shining grenade flew through the air, and the Reaper rolled from his place. A bright fireball shattered crates and corpses, flaming odds and ends raining everywhere. "Took engineering in college." He crawled around, unsheathing his swordgun and pulling out a silenced P35. "Tinkered for a bit. Visited Russia. Didn't enjoy the Ballistic Knife." He fired at Betty, who flew around her cover, the bullets striking wood. "Figured I could create the perfect hybrid of sword and gun." He leaped over his cover, and with his swordgun in hand, chopped through her cover. The two halves of the crate flew away, leaving her exposed. "Like it?"

     Her eyes ran across the blade, and onto his covered face. "I would definitely enjoy being stabbed by that sword." Suddenly, she got on her back. "But not today, please!" She pushed herself upwards with her arms, and kicked the Reaper's chest with both boots. He sailed through the air, and smacked his back onto the floor.

     The sounds of an alarm, and multiple voices, placed their minds on high alert.

     Time to leave. The supplies they've brought with them simply weren't enough. Seems like the mission was a failure for both of them.

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