Dedicated to two girls, the name of one’s I don’t even know and the name of the other is non of your business, who taught me that there’s nothing wrong with being yourself.
I’m your dream, make you real
I’m your eyes when you must steal
I’m your pain when you can’t feel
Sad but true
I’m your truth, telling lies
I’m your reason alibis
I’m inside open your eyes
Sad but true
(Metallica, Metallica, Sad But True)
Billy Oblivion was sitting in his apartment enjoying a kickboxing match on the trid, when the telecom beeped. “Shit,” he grunted as he went to pick it up.
“Oblivion.” He said dryly.
“Billy Oblivion?” The voice on the other end inquired.
“No, Oblivion the fucking Easter Bunny. Who do you think?” He answered.
“This is Harlequin speaking.” The voice said.
“Damn!” There weren’t too many things in the world that could impress Billy. Harlequin’s name was one of them.
“Word on the street is that you’re pretty good.” said Harlequin.
“The best.” Billy answered.
“We’ll see about that,” Harlequin said dryly. “If you can gather up your old friends I might have a job for you.”
“I’ll have them assembled in twenty four hours.” Billy answered and hung up.
“Lets see,” he though to himself. “Mad and CJ usually hang out at the Penumbra. Might as well give it a shot.”
He entered the crowded, noisy night club. After taking a quick look around he spotted his old friend CJ McQuin sitting at a table and nursing a glass of cheap beer.
“Hey, what’s doing chummer?” Billy walked up to him.
CJ’s eyes lit up as he saw Billy “Grab a seat”, he motioned to him.
“How can you drink this crap?” Billy asked as he sat down.
“Well,” CJ answered, “It helps me forget my problems.”
“What happened?” Billy asked, sensing the unspoken accusation in CJ’s voice.
“It’s Mad. We had a fight and she left me.” CJ answered miserably.
“Shit.” Was the smartest answer Billy could come up with “Are you up for a run? ’cause I’ve got a great job for us.”
CJ looked up to him with interest “What’s the deal?” he asked.
“I haven’t got the foggiest” He answered, “But I’ll say one word and we’ll see if you’re interested – Harlequin.”
“Holy shit! How the fuck?” CJ almost choked on his beer.
“He found me.” Billy answered. “Anyway, we’ve got a problem. He wants all of our old gang. Do you think you and Mad can avoid killing each other ’till the end of the run?”
“I guess so.” CJ said, not sounding too confident even to himself.
“Good,” Billy got up “You find Damn, and I’ll go find Mad. We’ll meet at my place tomorrow at six o’clock. Sharp.”
“No problem.” CJ said.
“OK, see you then.” Billy turned around and left.
It didn’t take him too long to find Mad’s apartment. He stood outside the door and listened to the sounds coming from inside for a minute. After he was sure that there was someone inside, he knocked. There was no answer. He knocked harder. Still no answer. He inhaled deeply, gathering his willpower. Exhaling, he formed it into a destructive force, blowing the door to smithereens. He went in. Mad and a man Billy didn’t recognize were on her bed, and apparently enjoying themselves immensely. When she saw him, she rolled off the bed, her hand shooting towards a pile of cloths that was dumped on the floor. It didn’t emerge with something to cover her nudity, but with her trustworthy Ares Predator.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve.” She snared.
“I’ll pay for the door,” he answered.
“You can bet your balls you will.” She answered “Now, what the fuck are you doing here?”
“I’ve got a job offer for you.” He answered. “Is there anywhere we can talk?”
“Give me a couple of minutes. Mark,” she turned towards the bed “Go home.”
“Hey,” the man said, “What the hell is going on?”
“You heard the lady” Billy said, as his own gun jumped to his hand “Go home, or I’ll rearrange your internal organs.”
“I’m going, I’m going,” he cried as he grabbed his cloths and scrambled out through what was left of the door.
“OK, would you give me a couple of minutes to get dressed, or do you prefer me to go like this?” She asked with a wink.
“Put something on.” He answered coldly.
She shrugged and got dressed silently. Ten minutes later they left the apartment.
They sat down to talk while having ordering a meal at a nice dinner near Mad’s apartment building.
“So,” Mad asked between bites, “What’s the run?”
“Haven’t got a clue.” He said, smiling.
“So why the hell are you wasting my time?” She started getting up.
“I’ll give you a clue,” He said, “Harlequin.”
“In that case,” She said, “You’ve hired yourself a Samurai.”
They finished eating silently and went back to Mad’s apartment.
“I’m going to take a shower,” She said as she undressed, “Want to join me?”
“Damn.” Was all he could say as he followed her into the shower room.
The next evening, they assembled at Harlequin’s hotel suite.
“Well,” Billy said, “Here goes nothing.” and knocked on the door.
“Come in” came the voice from inside. Harlequin was sitting at the edge of a double bed with a glass of whisky in his hand and an official looking report spread on his lap. As usual, he was dressed in the latest fashion clothes and his long hair was gathered in a pony tail. He lifted his gaze from the report to the party that just entered the room.
“Have a seat” He motioned towards four chairs arranged in the corner of the room. After they all sat down, Harlequin introduced them to a short Elven lady sitting in an armchair next to them.
“Everybody, this is lady Aina” He said. “Aina, these are Billy Oblivion,”
“I already know Billy.” Aina cut in.
“CJ McQuin, Damn Tailor, and…” Harlequin ignored her.
“Just call me Mad.” Mad completed his sentence.
“Nice to meet you all.” Aina said as she winked at Billy.
“Now that we’re done with the formalities, what’s the run, Harlequin?” Billy said.
“Well,” Harlequin started, “For the last month Aina has been receiving threats to her life. Your job is to find the little drek who’s behind this, and take care of him. Permanently. And one more thing – I want this done as discretely as possible.”
“What’s in it for us?” CJ asked.
“You’re getting old, all of you.” Harlequin said, “How many years do you think you can keep on Shadow Running? Two? Three? And then what? I’m offering you positions in my organization. Your records will be deleted, your SINs restored, and you could stop running. I’m sure my organization could benefit from employing the likes of you.”
CJ’s eyes lit up as he began opening his mouth to answer, but Billy was faster than him “You can shove your offer where the sun doesn’t shine.” His voice was like ice. “Lets go.” He said as he started getting up.
“Ten thousand Neu-Yen.” Harlequin said, causing Billy to pause. “Each.”
“Sorry to break up this little financial discussion,” Damn said from his place next to the window, “But there’s someone down on the street that seems very interested in what’s going on up here.”
“Damn it!” Billy quickly reassumed his role as the natural born leader he was “Mad, you go down there and ‘persuade’ our new friend to come here. I’ll be right behind you, but you won’t see me. Damn, CJ, cover us. If his does as mush as breathe funny – shoot him.”
Mad approached the man with a seductive smile. “Can I bother you for a light?” she asked. “Sure, babe,” He said and leant down to light her cigarette. Before he knew what hits him, Mad buried her knee in his stomach. he folded in pain. She caught his head and delivered three more knee strikes to his ribs, and another one to his head.
“Good work.” Billy materialized out of thin air. He helped Mad carry the man upstairs.
“Wake up!” Mad shouted and slapped the man tied to the chair.
“What? Where am I?” He asked, struggling against his ropes.
“I ask the questions here,” She said and slapped him again. “Who sent you?”
“I… I can’t tell you.” He cried.
“I can make you talk.” She said, five razor sharp blades popping out of her fingertips.
“No, no, please don’t!” The man begged.
“Who sent you?” She demanded, running a finger down his left cheek.
“I don’t know!” She whimpered in pain.
“Allow me to refresh your memory.” She said, moving her hand down towards his chest.
“Forget it,” Billy interrupted. “He can’t tell you even if he wanted to. There’s a mental block in his mind. The only thing I can read is the name Derek McKolin.”
“I’m right on it.” CJ said as he jacked in. After a few minutes he jacked out again, a smile on his face. “57 Lincoln and Main.”
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Mad said. “Let go pay Derek a visit.”
“No.” Billy disagreed. “It wouldn’t be exactly discrete” he almost spat the word out “if four runners just walk up to the bloke and blast him away. I’ll go alone.”
“No way!” Mad exclaimed. “I’m much better suited for this kind of a job!”
“I’m not sure,” Billy was starting to get tired of this argument. “Whoever’s put such an effective mental block on his guy must be a serious mentalist. And besides, if I get into any trouble, I can always call you up for backup.”
“OK, you win.” Mad agreed uneasily.
“You’ll need some concrete evidence.” CJ said as he drew a small camera and pointed it at the tied up man. “Smile!”
Morning. An old bum lying on the street, doped. Stench of garbage, blood and vomit in the air. Billy walked up to the apartment. He looked at the faded door with disgust and knocked. An over weight man who stank of cigarettes and cheap alcohol opened the door.
“Who the hell are you?” He asked.
“Lets step inside.” Billy answered, struggling not to throw up. “I have a business proposition for you.”
They went inside.
“Have a seat.” the man pointed at an old wooden chair. “Jewel!” He yelled. “Bring us a couple of beers!”
A young teenager, about sixteen, came out of the kitchen with two bottles of cheap beer. Billy couldn’t help but noticing that she could be beautiful if she hadn’t had a black eye, and she hadn’t wore dirty rugged clothes that covered her up almost completely.
“No thanks,” Billy said, “I never drink on a job. Have you ever seen this man?” he asked as he presented the photo that CJ took the previous day.
“What the hell are you staring at?” The man yelled at the girl. “Didn’t I tell you never to interfere when I’m doing business?” He slapped her.
“You really shouldn’t have done that.” Billy said in a low voice.
“Why do you think you have the right to walk into my house and tell me how to raise my daughter?” He asked as he drew a knife.
“Mainly,” Billy said as he arrogantly reached towards his gun, “This.” His expression turned from arrogance to disbelief when he discovered it wasn’t there.
“Let’s calm down here…” Billy started as his mind raced in several different directions looking for a way out.
“Shut up, you…” The man said as he started closing the distance between him and Billy. Before he could finish the sentence, he dropped dead, a burning hole in his back.
“What the…” Billy said as his eyes drifted from the body to the Jewel and back again. Suddenly, the understanding sunk in.
“Fuck!!!” Was the only word he could utter. Jewel was just standing there with an amazed look on her face and her hand still pointing forward, at the same position it was when the mana bolt left her finger. The magic aura was so intense even Billy could feel it.
With a trembling hand, he reached for his pocket secretary and dialed a number.
“McQuin Enterprises” A voice answered on the other side.
“CJ” Billy said, “I’m in some deep shit here. Would appreciate some help.”
“What’s up?” CJ asked.
“I’ve got a dead body and a hell of a magic field.” He said shortly.
“I didn’t know you used that crap.” CJ sounded puzzled.
“I don’t” Billy answered.
“Oh shit” Was all CJ could say. “I’ll be right over. You get out of there before the corp-slaves show up.”
“Roger that. I’m out of here. Let things cool down a bit. Get Lady Aina to a safe house and meet me tomorrow at the Dragon’s Tail motel.” He said and closed the phone. He turned to Jewel. “Have you ever ridden a motorcycle before?” He asked.
Usually, getting from one side of Seattle to the other takes about an hour. But when you drive a Yamaha Saber like Billy does, it doesn’t take more than twenty minutes. They walked into the Dragon’s Tail motel and went up to the counter.
“I need a room.” Billy told the orc receptionist.
“Isn’t she kind of young for you?” He asked with a grin.
“I really don’t have the patience for this.” He mumbled to himself as his eyes fixed on the orc. “I need a room.”
“Room 24, second floor, down the hall.” He said mechanically.
“I wasn’t here.”
“You weren’t here.” The orc repeated after him.
“There is no room 24 at this motel.”
“There is no room 24 at this motel.”
Pleased with his handy work, he led Jewel up to the room.
He opened the door and looked inside. After he was sure that no one was hiding in the room or watching it from the outside, he signaled Jewel to enter. She came in and sat on he bed. She took off her jacket, revealing all sorts of scars and bruises.
“Your father did this to you?” Billy asked, shocked.
“No one deserves to be treated like this. No one!” He grunted his teeth together. He held her head with both hands and their eyes locked. Slowly, her bruises began to heal and her scars to disappear. After ten minutes, she looked as though she had never been injured in her life.
“There, that’s better.” He said and collapsed from exhaustion.
Almost twenty four hours later, he woke up and found himself in bed. He glanced at his wrist watch. He took a quick look around. Jewel was no where to be seen.
“Shit!” He exclaimed to himself and leapt out of bed, only to discover that he was wearing nothing but underpants. “Fuck!” He cursed again. He found his clothes together with Jewel’s jacket, folded neatly on the single chair in the room with a note attached to them.
“Stranger,” It said, “You were sleeping so soundly I didn’t want to wake you. I’ve gone out to get us some breakfast and I should be back by 10 o’clock.” It was signed Jewel.
Billy took another look at his watch. Ten twenty two. “Fuck” he cursed again. He quickly got dressed and rushed out. On his way out, he passed the receptionist.
“Have you seen the girl I came in with yesterday?” He asked.
“Yeah,” The orc replied, “She asked me where she could find a grocery store. I sent her over to Joe’s”.
“Thanks.” He replied and rushed outside.
Apparently, he arrived just in time. Jewel was surrounded by a group of three trolls and a dwarf.
“Come on,” Said the dwarf. “Come party with us.”
“Leave me alone!” She screamed at him and backed away, straight into the hands of one of the trolls.
“The lady said leave her alone.” Billy said in an icy voice.
“Oh yeah,” The dwarf grinned, “Who’ll make us? You?” He and the trolls started laughing.
“If I have to.” He replied and advanced towards them.
The dwarf stepped forward to confront him. “Hey, human,” he said “Get out of here while you still can, or I’ll have your ear lobes as a hood ornament.”
Billy didn’t even bother answering him, he just punched him in the face. The dwarf fell to the ground, holding his broken nose. The trolls left Jewel and moved to circle Billy. The first one that got too close found himself on the wrong side of a spinning kick that broke his ribs and sent him to the ground, trying hopelessly to regain his breath. Billy turned around in a perfect rolling savate kick and pushed the second troll a few feet back, into the wall of the store. The last troll tried to swing a fist at Billy. Big mistake. Billy ducked under the fist and swung a low blow into the troll’s kidneys, then an uppercut, then a strike with an open palm to the stomach, an elbow slap to the side of the head and a strike with the root of the hand straight up the nose. A sickening sound was heard as his nose was pushed up, straight into his brain. He was dead before he even hit the ground.
Billy looked around for more enemies. When he saw that none were at hand, his head arched backwards and his hands spread sideways as he laughed. It was laughter, but it was also the scariest sound Jewel had ever heard. She was sure that if she could hear the gates of Hell rattling, that would be the sound they would make.
He turned to Jewel with a stern expression on his face. “This is the last time you leave my sight. Next time you do something like this, you could get yourself killed. I might not be there the next time.” Finally, he noticed what she was wearing and his voice softened “No wonder. Here, put this on.” He said and handed her his leather jacket. “But be careful with it,” He added, “It’s a present from a friend.”
Later that day, he phoned CJ.
“McQuin Enterprises, CJ speaking.” CJ answered on the other end of the line.
“Cut the crap.” Billy said with a smile. “What’s up?”
“Major fuck up.” CJ answered.
“How major?” Billy demanded.
“Very major.” CJ said. “Damn’s dead.”
“NO!!!” Came a scream from the other end, an awful sound, like the agony of a thousand tortured souls doomed to eternal damnation in the realm of Lucifer.
“What exactly happened?” Billy asked, trying to control his rage.
“We went to clean up your mess.” CJ said only a slight hint of blame in his voice, “And we were ambushed. Three shamans and a mentalist. Damn iced the shamans, and for a while it looked like we were going to win, but then the mentalist just looked at Damn and his head just exploded. We went after him, of course, but he just vanished.”
“That’s it! This has gone too far!” Billy’s rage erupted, “I want the so-called mentalist’s head on a plaque! He’s mine!”
CJ trembled from the pure rage pouring out of Billy’s voice. Never before had he heard his friend loose his nerve like that.
“OK, back to the matter at hand.” Billy finally regained control of himself. “What are we going to do with Aina? We can’t leave her at the hotel any more. It isn’t safe.”
“Way ahead of you chummer.” CJ said. “But you aren’t going to like this.”
“Why, exactly, is that?” The temperature in Billy’s voice dropped at a frightful rate.
“We brought her to your house.” CJ said apologetically.
“YOU WHAT?!” Billy nearly lost it again.
“Chill out man, chill.” CJ tried to calm his friend down. “Think about it for a minute. It’s the logical choice. You’re the only one they don’t know.”
“OK,” Billy forced himself to relax. “But I still don’t like it. Where are you now?”
“We’re at your place.” CJ said. “We couldn’t leave her unprotected.”
“OK, I’m coming over.” Billy said. “But I better not find a huge telecom bill.”
Billy and Jewel drove up to his place, a nice small house at the edge of town. Billy parked his bike and they walked up to the door.
“I’ll go in first.” He said, “I’ve got some trigger happy friends who might drill you full of holes if you just walk in.”
He opened the door and walked in. They were all sitting in his living room watching the trid.
“Hey guys,” He said, “I’m home.”
“Hey Billy,” Mad got up to greet him. She stopped half way to him. “You aren’t wearing the jacket I gave you.” She remarked coldly.
“It’s a long story…” he began. At that moment, Jewel walked in.
“Hello.” She said in a shy voice.
“Why you son of a bitch!” Mad screamed and sent Billy to the floor with a very precise low kick.
“Leave him alone!” Jewel yelled as a burst of yellow energy sprouted out of her hand and hit Mad, sending her flying to the wall.
“Hold it right there.” CJ drew his Predator. In the meantime Mad scrambled to her feet, her claws popping out of her fingers. Jewel raised her hands, preparing another spell.
“OK!” Billy shouted from the floor. “Everybody calm down!”
“Oh really?” Mad asked, exhibiting her claws at him.
“Yeah, really.” He said, moving up to one knee.
“It’s two of us against two of you, and we’re in a serious advantage here.” Mad reminded him, with a smile.
“CJ,” Billy tried to appeal to his friend’s reason. “You know exactly what I can do to the two of you. Please don’t make me do this.”
“Not this time, old friend.” CJ pointed his gun at him.
Billy sighed. Mad heard a voice starting to form inside her head.
“Does the name Christopher Carmel mean anything to you?” The voice inquired.
“What the hell are you blabbering about?” She asked Billy.
“Of course it does. Don’t you remember your first love?” The voice went on.
“Billy, don’t do this.” She gasped.
“Oh, but of course you remember him, don’t you? The voice continued relentlessly.
“Billy, stop!” She shrieked.
“You killed him! You murdered him! Your first love! The voice would not leave her.
“Make it stop! Make it stop!” Mad was twisting on the floor.
With tears in his eyes, CJ raised his gun and pointed at Billy’s head. “Stop it right now!”
Billy’s head snapped towards him “Put that down before I shove it done your throat.” He said in a cold, dead voice. “Now!” He barked the mental command.
“OK, OK,” by now, CJ was crying, “Just stop hurting her.” He limply dropped his gun to the floor. As quickly as it came, the voice in Mad’s head disappeared. Slowly, she got up, holding her head. Then she fell down and fainted.
“If anything happened to her, I’ll…” CJ started.
“I’ll take care of her.” Aina interfered. “I have a… talent for such things. Just help me carry her into the bedroom and lay her down.”
After making sure she was as comfortable as possible in Billy’s king-sized bed, CJ went out to look for his friend.
“Standing guard?” He asked.
“Trying to avoid people.” Billy answered.
“You’ve changed.” CJ said. “Once, I was proud to call you my brother. Now, I’m not sure I still can.”
“Yes, I’ve changed.” Billy answered grimly. “I assume you’ve heard about that run I had about a year ago at Tir na nOg.”
“Yeah, yeah,” CJ said, “I’m sick and tired of hearing about it. The only mortal to ever kill a demon.”
“Don’t be ridicules.” Billy said. “No mortal is powerful enough to kill a demon.”
“Rumor has it you killed that demon with your mental powers.” CJ said.
“Yes, I used my mental powers to defeat that demon.” Billy said. “But there’s no way I could have killed it. I just removed its spirit from its body.”
“Isn’t that the same as killing it?” CJ looked confused.
“No,” Billy said. “Its spirit is very much alive.”
“I’m not following…” CJ said.
“Well, I couldn’t just throw its spirit out there to run havoc all over Earth, could I?” Billy asked.
“No, I guess not…” CJ answered.
“So I put its spirit in the only place I could keep an eye on it.” Billy said. “I trapped it inside me.”
“YOU WHAT?!” CJ almost jumped out of his skin. “Are you nuts?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I am.” Billy said. “Most of the times I can control myself, but sometimes, like just now, I loose my control and things like this happen.”
They sat there quietly for a while.
“This situation is too dangerous.” Billy said suddenly. “Damn’s dead, Mad’s out cold and we’re stuck with a useless Elven corper and a wild talent mage.”
“Oh?” CJ looked surprised.
“Jewel. The girl I brought with me.” Billy explained.
“That was a mistake.” CJ said. “You’re losing your edge. She jeopardizes the whole run.”
“She saved my life.” Billy said coldly. “I vow for her.”
“OK,” CJ said. “That doesn’t change the fact that we’re up to our necks in shit.”
“You’re right.” Billy got up, the determination in his voice sharp enough to slice through the air. “This ends now.” He stormed back into the house.
Jewel was sitting in the living room and watching the trid. He picked up the remote and switched it off.
“I need you to think.” He said. “Who paid your father to hire that little prick in the photo I showed him?”
“I don’t know.” She said.
“Yes you do.” He said.
“I don’t.” She insisted.
“Trust me.” He said as he gently probed her mind. “You have to help me out here.” He told her. “Concentrate!”
Eventually, an image of an old elf dressed in white came to him. Funnily enough, he kind of resembled her.
“Ehran, you son of a bitch!” Billy exclaimed as the pieces of the puzzle suddenly all fell into place.
He picked up his leather jacket and turned to CJ.
“I’m going to finish this right now.” He handed CJ the jacket Mad gave him. “If I don’t come back, it’s yours.”
“Wait” CJ said, “I’m coming with you.”
“No way.” Billy said. “It’s too risky. And besides, someone has to handle things on this side.”
“fine,” CJ agreed unwillingly, “It’s your run.”
Billy turned towards the door and started walking out.
“Wait!” CJ cried after him. “You might need this.” He said and handed Billy his gun. “I found it in Mad’s backpack when I was looking for a stem.”
“Thank you.” Billy said, holding back the tears of a man that knows he’s going on a mission he won’t return from. He turned around and left.
Ehran, the old Blood Elf unlocked the door to his office and stepped in. To his surprise he saw a human sitting in his chair, polishing an Ares Silverstrike pistol.
“Hello Ehran,” Billy said with an amused smile. “Surprised to see me?”
“Who? How?” The ancient elf was furious. Not only did this human infiltrate his supposedly top-security office, but he also called him by his Blood Name.
“Oh, come on,” Billy’s smile grew wider. “Don’t be shy, you must remember me. After all, you did try to kill me.”
“What are you talking about?” Ehran was struggling to overcome his instinct to evaporate this insolent human.
“I want the name of the mentalist you hired to kill Lady Aina.” Billy’s look became serious.
“I’ll give you something else.” Ehran said. “I’ll give you two seconds to get out of my sight before I send you to meet The Great Maker.”
“As always, Ehran my dear,” Billy wasn’t joking anymore, “You’re forgetting something.”
Images of Jewel filled Ehran’s mind.
“Who? What is the meaning of this?” Ehran was once again confused.
“Observe the facial lines.” Billy said. “Notice especially the pointed ears. See anything familiar yet?”
“What is this trickery?” Ehran was furious once again.
“No trickery, I assure you.” Billy’s voice was like ice-cold, sharp and merciless. “A distant offspring of the daughter you abandoned half a millennium ago. If I don’t return within the hour, my associates will ensure that her death is long ad painful.”
“You wouldn’t!” Ehran gasped.
“You saw me at Tir na nOg.” Billy said. “You should know better than anyone exactly what I’m capable of.”
Ehran slumped down on the chair, defeated. “He calls himself Maple. Maple Priest.”
“Where can I find him?” Billy pressed on.
“Thirteen Downing Street.” Ehran replied.
“Thank you.” Billy said. “You might have just redeemed your soul.” He started moving towards the door. When he reached it he stopped and turned around. “Oh, and don’t try to follow me.” He said. “You remember what happened to your brother.”
Billy came up to the door at 13 Downing Street. It was a luxurious house. He didn’t notice any guards when he approached, but then again, you can never be certain. He took a deep breath and focused his mind on the heavy door. After a few seconds, the door blew into a million little pieces and the two surprised guards behind it found themselves staring at death. The first one tried to reach for his gun, but Billy’s bullet stopped his air circulation. The other one jumped at Billy only to discover, in mid air, that Billy was no longer standing there. He slammed into the hard ground, and a strike from Billy’s gun at the back of his neck put him out of his misery.
Billy found himself standing in a vast hall, with three staircases heading up to the second floor. He sent his consciousness forward to scan the area. In a corner room, he found the black rings of Maple’s mind, and something else too. Something evil beyond human comprehension. Something Billy knew all too well.
Billy picked the left staircase and started running up it, climbing three steps at a time. At the top of the stairs he encountered a man armed with a shotgun, who fired the minute he saw Billy. Billy dodged and fired three precise shots from his Silverstrike. The man clenched his chest, as if he could stop the blood of life from flowing out of him and rolled down the stairs. Billy continued climbing. When he got to the top of the staircase, he peeked down the corridor. A troll and an elf were standing guard at the far end of it. He sent his mind down the corridor, finding the two figures in the eyes of his mind. He stuck his hand behind the corner, and with one clean shot sent the troll to reunite with his ancestors. The elf raised his machine-gun and sprayed the corridor with bullets. Two of the shots hit Billy’s hand, causing him to drop his weapon. He knelt down and reached for it. The elf’s shot barely missed his head. He rolled over and took shelter behind a large vase. The elf slowly progressed towards him, firing a shot every time Billy tried to make a move. When the elf was about ten feet away, Billy made another desperate move at his gun. The elf squeezed the trigger, but instead of the loud bang of a bullet being fired, the only sound the was heard was a faint cling of an empty knocker. Billy jumped at the elf, knocking him to the floor. They both scrambled to their feet, facing each other. The elf smiled and raised his hands. Out of the back of each of his hands a set of three stainless steel retractable razor blades popped out. He slashed at Billy’s face with his left hand, but Billy ducked the attack. The elf lunged forwards with his right hand, the blades embedding themselves in Billy’s right biceps. Billy grunted his teeth against the pain and lunged with a fist of his own at the elf’s face, which caused the blades to imbed themselves deeper in his arm. The elf fell down, his blades shredding Billy’s arm as he fell. Billy wasted no time checking his injury. Quickly he kicked the elf in the stomach, the ribs and finally at the side of the head, cracking his skull.
Billy picked up his gun and continued down the corridor. At the end of it, Billy reached an armor plated metal door. The minute he laid his hand on it, it swung open. A black pentagram was drawn on the floor, with a black candle burning on every tip of it. Beside it stood a man dressed in a red cloak, holding a ceremonial dagger in his left hand.
“Maple Priest, I assume.” Billy said, a look of complete hatred on his face.
“You assume correctly, Oblivion.” Maple replied, returning the same expression.
“You understand, of course, that I’m going to kill you now.” Billy said.
“I don’t think so.” Maple looked calmer than he should. He slit his right wrist and uttered a few words in a tongue long forgotten. “Paladious Ex Demona! Perdo Ergo Sum!”
A red mist began forming in the middle of the pentagram.
“Toh!” Billy uttered a single power word, sending an awesome psionic strike at Maple, showing him into the wall behind him. The mist in the pentagram finished forming into a demon. He growled and started advancing towards Billy. Billy raised his hand end emptied his clip onto it.
“That won’t hurt him.” Came a laugh inside his head.
It really didn’t hurt the demon. He swung a punch at Billy, sending him flying to the other side of the room. Billy focused all of his remaining willpower into a single word of death and unleashed its awesome power at the demon “Dim!”
“That will just get him mad” The voice laughed.
He was right again. A huge fist came down on Billy, dropping him to the floor.
“Only I can kill him” The voice taunted Billy.
“No!” Came Billy’s mental response. “I won’t let you control me!”
Another punch came down on Billy, smashing his rib cage.
“You don’t have any choice!” The voice was becoming frantic.
As much as Billy hated to, he had to agree. The will to live overcame his sense of morality. A shout came out of his throat, partly human, partly something evil beyond imagination. His body mutated as his muscles grew bigger ripping his shirt. His hands twisted into fangs and his skin took on a hideous red color reserved only for the dwellers of the lowest most levels of hell. The demon landed a third punch that was supposed to crush Billy’s skull, but this time he was ready. His left hand raised to block the punch, and his right hand imbedded its claws in his opponent’s stomach. The demon stumbled back and the one that used to be Billy leapt to his feet.
They fought long and they fought hard, each one of them hitting and being hit, each one of them attacking and defending, each one of the refusing to give up. As the fight continued, they both realized that they could not keep this up for too long. They had to finish this fight soon. The demon opened his mouth and a cone of foul smelling fire enveloped his opponent, burning his skin, his hair, his flesh. The one that used to be Billy lunged forwards, ignoring the pain, and stuck both of his clawed thumbs into his opponent’s eyes. He pressed deeper, reaching the brain. The demon stiffened, and died. Billy fell down over him, exhausted. He had won, but at a horrible cost. His skin was burned almost completely off of him, his flesh was bleeding from a million cuts and his eyes had melted out of their sockets. Even his captive’s demonic powers could not protect him. But he had won.
He heard Maple’s voice above him.
“So you killed my demon, did you?”
Billy took a deep breath, ignoring the pain of his broken ribs and tried to clear his mind.
Billy saw with the eyes of his mind. He saw the room and the bloody dagger in the corner. He saw Maple standing above him with his own Silverstrike. And he saw what was left of his body.
“But not enough.”
He focused his mind on the dagger. At first he was disgusted from its tainted mental touch. But once again, the will to live prevailed. The dagger floated up in the air.
Maple slowly squeezed the trigger. A second before he could complete the action, the dagger flew through his head, cutting bone, flesh and brain, sending him to meet the demon he had once conjured on he other side.
Billy slowly exhaled, focusing his mind elsewhere.
“Jewel. Help. I need you.” were his last mental words before he gave in to the excruciating pain and passed out.
He woke up to find himself in a hospital bed. What surprised him even more was the fact that he could see. He slowly raised a bandaged hand to his face, and felt his eye sockets. His hand met the cold and lifeless touch of his new cybernetic eyes.
“Hey everyone! He’s awake!” He heard CJ’s voice.
He turned his head, and there they all were, all his friends – CJ, Mad, and Jewel. His gaze stalled on her.
“She saved your life again.” He heard Mad’s voice.
“This is the second time you saved my life, and I don’t even know your real name.” He said.
“Edwina. Edwina Vine.” She answered. “I think that I at least deserve to know your real name.”
“Allen.” He answered. “Allen Sky.”
He took her hand and clenched it strongly. He now knew that he had found his true soul mate. Together, he knew, they could take on the world, no matter what. He had found his soul again. He was finally free from the devil within him.