Friday, May 28, 2010

Contemplation on a knife's edge.

The sound of his alarm pierced through the veil of sleep and pried his eyes open; another bad day’s sleep. He was relieved they wouldn’t be staying in the besieged capital much longer; he needn’t adjust his circadian rhythm to living by night. Rising from bed, he winced as the fresh wound pulled against his bandages. Shot three times in two days, a new record. After his so-called morning rituals, including tending to his injuries, he headed out in to the night to find Basal waking to another day of benighted activity.

He meandered through the foreign quarter until he came to a souq. He ate a fresh sweetened meat-filled bun while he looked at the wares for sale. After 4 cycles of war, there were precious few luxuries but one stall peddling various cutlery and weapons caught his eye. Bartering is an art, one he was rather adept at. There are various steps to the process, but there are also techniques; one is switching to the sellers language for the home stretch, it throws them off and expedites the process. He got the items he wanted for a good price.

Once he had returned to his room, he lit a few candles and unwrapped his purchase. He drew out a blade and let the feeble light of the room reflect off its surface. His mind's eye remembered the candles, the hushed silence, and the vaulted gloom of the mosque in the Badlands quarter of Peace River.

His blade glinted as it emerged from the niche and found his victim’s throat. The SRID agent was calm and honest, he told the Doc that only death would stop him from tracking him down; the choice was a simple one. Since then he had killed a lot of men and women, usually through the crosshairs of a scope. But the first one, the first person he ever killed was especially intimate, a knife to the jugular. They say your first is always special.

The push-blades fit snugly in his palms; he roasted them over the candle’s flame, letting the soot darken the reflective steel. His thoughts also darkened, for a trauma surgeon, the Battle of Baja was bad, but the last two cycles in the jungles of the ESE had been worse. Oddly, it had never bothered him. In fact, quite the reverse. His detachment upset him; he wanted to feel pain and suffering so much it made him sick.

As a physician he knew there were mental disorders which explained a lack of empathy or remorse. But he didn’t meet the diagnosis for antisocial personality disorder, he wasn’t a psychopath.

He turned the blades over and over. In his mind he did the same with his notions of good and evil, wrong and right, guilt and remorse. He felt some of these things, he wasn’t emotionally despondent, but he didn’t feel them like others did. He felt guilt when life was lost to no avail, remorse when death purchased no greater goal.

He came to the conclusion that for him, life and death were commodities to be traded. He could kill without feeling if it served his larger purpose. His actions occurred in a moral vacuum, only the results mattered. He wasn’t a psychopath or a sociopath, but he was functionally callous. Still, there had to be a first time and he had never killed anyone until the mosque in Peace River, until he met Kain Delacroix.

The moral standards of society, even one warped by the trauma of the War of the Alliance, taught him murder was wrong. Delacroix showed him that killing wasn’t always murder.
Killing could be used as a tool, a means to an end. But he wouldn’t use it as a blunt instrument; he had been schooled in surgical precision. Once he was committed to a goal, he would do what was necessary to attain it, but only just what was necessary. He reflected on the tools he used, his sniper rifle, his pistol and his knives: Efficient and precise.

He had killed a lot of people in his life, too many to count – admittedly though, in his most morose state he had tried. And every time Delacroix was there: an effigy for the morally treacherous belief in killing for a cause. There was, however, one number he couldn’t forget: 358. The victims of Lance Point had not perished at the point of his knife or in the reticle of his sights, they fell prey to the sweeping ravages of his ideals.

He could feel those deaths; there was no clinical dispassion about the cost he had paid for NuCoal. In many ways those deaths were different from all the rest but for some reason he could only think of one: that was the only time Kain Delacroix showed moral outrage.

He slid the dark blades back into their sheaths, and his memories and contemplations back into the corner of his mind. He strapped them under his wrists and pulled down his shirt sleeve in concealment. In a fight he could pull them out quickly and deliver a lethal blow instantaneously, without pause for deliberation or doubt. Efficient and precise, as killing should be.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.