Hateful Darkblack Posted January 14, 2014 Report Share Posted January 14, 2014 (edited) It was hardly an interrogation at all. She just walked in, sat across from me, and smiled in her weird upsetting way. One of the Nephilim had grabbed me while I was guarding an airship, and carried me across the horizon struggling and screaming to this little hidden cave, in the shadow of that giant black mountain. "Listen," I told her, "I can't tell you much. I'm just a guard. I don't know what that brass contraption was, so there's no point, in, uh, well, I don't know." I started stumbling over my words as she watched me, her bright thoughtful eyes regarding me with a confusing expression. Was she angry? Amused? Was she going to kill me? Torture me? Her facial expression just made no sense. "I don't know anything," I mumbled, "Nothing. I'm..." My words trailed off and I noticed I was staring at the ceiling. I tried to move around, but my hands were tied behind my back to my uncomfortable little wooden chair. I kept struggling -- not because I expected to escape, but because I figured she would want me to struggle a little more, and I wanted to oblige her. But why would I want to do that? Who was this woman, anyway? Why did I find myself pitying her? Why was I so deliriously happy when she frowned? Why was I so angry at myself when she smiled again? She leaned forward, across the uncomfortable little wooden table that separated us. With a secretive little smile, she whispered: "Remember." Just like that, memories rushed up. I met Margarita soon after I'd come across the Breach. She lived next door in a big, cheap, dirty industrial hotel in the city. She made her living repairing clockwork toys. I worked low wages as a bouncer at some rowdy bar. She didn't speak much English, and I didn't speak any Spanish. The only way we could communicate was through her Aethervox. She'd gotten it secondhand and broken, and she repaired it wrong. It didn't play the normal shows anymore; it just repeated what we'd said, translated between Spanish and English. She didn't know why, and she insisted wasn't supposed to work that way. I told her it was a miracle, and she blushed and smiled. Margarita had the most perfect smile. (And why was I thinking so much about the woman's smile?) She was here for the same reasons I was: walking away from a ruined life, sending money home to her family while she lived, fully aware of the danger. We grew to welcome each others' advice and companionship, and in time we fell in love. We shared a home in her apartment, talking about just about everything. I found myself getting better jobs, thanks to her support and inspiration. She started building and selling useful devices. We could only talk in front of the Aethervox. Elsewhere, all we could do is hold hands and exchange heart-fluttering nervous glances. I tried to ask her to marry me, but it didn't happen. Instead, our Aethervox sparked and crackled and stopped working. She tried restlessly for days to fix it, but no luck. It was broken forever. A few days later, Margarita came to me alongside a young bilingual man, and he told me that she'd taken a contract to work out in Promise. She said a stumbling "Goodbye" with her perfect, tearful smile. I was heartbroken and jealous and furious. I wanted to shoot that man; he couldn't love like I did. Instead, I threw myself into the most suicidal mercenary jobs I could find, and hoped nothing more than to forget her. I blinked a few times. Had that really happened? It didn't seem like a real memory, but nothing seemed very real. I noticed the woman, still sitting in front of me, watching me with that focused, unnerving smile. I felt too embarrassed to threaten her. Who was I to try to fight her? She was so powerful, so in control, and I was just a washed-up hired hand. The best I could do was to figure out what it was that she wanted, give it to her, and hope she killed me quickly. "Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it!" I shouted at her in a desperate, angry surrender. My eyes stung from the sweat from my brow. She leaned forward and her smile changed again, and I was filled with shame. She whispered: "Repent." I was working as a ranch hand in the prairies, trying to keep the goats and cattle safe. It was a losing battle. Every few weeks, we'd lose an animal to the shadows and predators. Still, we kept to make a tidy profit. Frontier colonies needed to stay fed. When a goat came back, we all flocked to it. The poor thing was terrified, weak and badly injured. They sent me to fetch the horse doctor from two towns away, and I rode like a hurricane. I really wanted to impress these people. When I got back with the vet, the goat had taken a turn for the worse. There was some kind of wicked ivy growing from the wound in its neck, all spiky and unwholesome. The vet did his best to remove the growth, cutting away with scalpels while we held the panicked goat down. Then he started screaming. A vine from the goat had lashed out and wrapped around his neck. Thorns were digging in and he was bleeding badly. The other farmhands pulled pistols to shoot the goat, the plant, and probably the doctor, but I had an idea. I picked up some gardening sheers and blustered out: "Nobody panic, I know basic gardening!" Why did I say such a stupid thing? I knew nothing, and this murderous vine was far from basic. I dove in with the shears and tried to cut the doctor and goat free. All these seasoned hands tried to get away as fast as they could, but in my clumsy exuberance I kept cutting. Soon the air was thick with tough fibrous strands and a cloud of spores. The goat died quickly. The vet took two screaming days to die, even after we shot him. We all breathed those spreading spores. We all got infected, humans and livestock alike. Half the farmhands died, cursing my name on their deathbeds. I got miserably sick, but much to my shame, I survived. The ranch owner had no choice but to burn the whole place down, and we survivors slumped back to Malifaux proper. The others wouldn't say a word to me, but I knew from their glares that it was my fault. Over my blubbering and shaking, I realized again where I was, in the shadow of that giant mountain, dignity abandoned. Had that actually happened? That woman walked behind me, knife in hand, and cut me free. I fell forward onto the table, hiding my face in my arms, shaking uncontrollably. I tumbled through my own fears and darkness there for who knows how long. She waited patiently, or maybe she enjoyed it. New ideas bombarded me - a storm of terror, dread, and shame. All I could do is shake and try feebly to resist becoming untethered completely. Eventually, I let go, and felt a sudden, thorough calm. I felt something cool touch me. Metal. The knife, brushing against my arm. The woman must have slid it across the table to me. I touched the knife, and realized it was mine. I looked up at her, my eyes stinging, my face wet with tears. "Rebuild," she whispered to me, with menace and encouragement in equal measure. I understood immediately, and I swelled with pride. I was filled with comfort as I picked up the knife; I was driven by certainty as I braced my hand and began to cut; I was screaming with hope more than pain as I saw my own thumb fall onto the table in a spray of red. I looked up from the growing pool of blood, to that woman, that woman-shaped thing, and pledged my life and my love to her service. Edited January 17, 2014 by Hateful Darkblack Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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