the Spectre - Episode III:
from behind folded arms at Jude, meeting the angry youth’s indignant glare.
The room was small and stifling, the words that passed seeming to drown
in the unspoken abyss of mutual distrust and bitterness that had been building
up between them for months.
hell can you kick me out? You need me, goddammit! I’m the oldest!
They look up to me!”
comment on`na accuracy of dat last comment,” GAVAL said from behind clenched
teeth. His face was red enough to have been a boiled ham. He
wasn’t just struggling to control his anger. He was having to fight
hard to hold back the anger, the insatiable rage that constantly
set him upon edge, whispering dark thoughts into his ear…dark thoughts
about launching himself into a Rush and destroying things for little or
ridiculous comment itself helped GAVAL to hold himself back.
I don’t get along with some of them -”
like all of ‘em,” interrupted Lothos, who was standing about a foot and
a half behind the seething GAVAL. “Y’see, we were hoping that by this point
some sort of group dynamic would have formed, and we’re pretty sure it
has: they would all rather land you a swift kick to the gonads than let
you watch their backs again.”
what you pulled, Ah’m thinkin’ that trusting you in the first place was
our mistake,” GAVAL said.
in the Catacombs was an accident!” Jude shouted. “You were the one
who dragged us down there in the first place, and you blame me because
the operation got reamed?”
blame you because you’ve been an ass toward us since we brought you on
board a few mont’s ago, and in bein’ an ass down there in the Catacombs
you damn near got Sasha liquidated!” GAVAL thrust a finger at the younger
Slayer. “Dis has gone way beyond a personality clash, Jude! This
is as real as it gets, an’ someone nearly died because of this horseshit
problem of yours!”
back down. To his way of thinking, he couldn’t. “Oh, I nearly
got someone killed, huh? What about you, GAVAL? What about
the last bunch of recruits you took off on some crazy mission?”
years in CWAL meant that Lothos has a particularly well-tuned sense of
when a situation was about to go from ‘bad’ to ‘someone go get a stretcher
and a mop’, and he instinctively tried to step between the two of them.
“Not a good thing to bring up, mate…”
the hell up you…you fucking lapdog!” Jude snapped, looking past the hulking
Death Knight to look GAVAL straight in the face. “I read the report, ‘boss’!
About what happened up in Canada last year! You an’ that lame idiot
Redneck friend of yours sacrificed them all to the Zerg! Was that
an accident too? Huh? C’mon, answer me, you…”
could even flinch GAVAL had sprung across the room, his eyes ablaze with
a lavender light. Jude’s weight smashed against the wall as a grip
more powerful than he could ever have imagined pressed against his throat.
He gagged in vain for breath.
mind, the whispers grew to shouts as the dark Rush threatened to consume
him. Do it!
Snap his neck and be done with it! No, I can’t do that, he’s
one of us. He’s nothing like us! We would all be dead if
it were up to him! That’s not true! He’s already proven
he doesn’t understand what we’re trying to do! Maybe, but still…
it! DO IT NOW!
A bead of
sweat trickled down GAVAL’s forehead as his enraged grip tightened.
A hand clamped
down on his shoulder.
Lothos’ voice rose up over the din and rage, a flush of tranquillity. “Don’t
do it. This isn’t the way.”
part of GAVAL knew that he was right. It wasn’t the way.
the grip on the terrified Jude’s throat, the anger funnelling out of him
and taking all of his strength with it. GAVAL put out a hand and
braced himself against the wall as the telltale light within his eyes faded.
out…” he said, breathing heavily. “Get
de hell outta here and don’t come back. Sooner or later even de ASG
will be fed up wit yer crap and you’ll be no one’s problem but yer own.”
and feeling like a frightened child, didn’t argue. “You….Rushed….on
command….and it wasn’t blue.” He turned away as GAVAL seemed to grow
even more fierce at his words. The door slammed violently, sending
a shudder through the old walls of the abandoned school.
know that they knew about that…” GAVAL murmured, slowly sliding down the
wall until he was seated on the floor. Lothos leaned down at a safe
but companionable distance as well.
nodded wearily, his Cajun accent coming out thick in the sudden fatigue.
“Only a couple of `em died dat day. Ah thought the report woulda
been buried what wit’ all of de casualties from the Great Holy War.”
He buried his head. “Ah led a bunch’a recruits against a superior enemy
just because they were gullible enough to follow me. Dat day dey
got slaughtered by Ravil’s bunch…” GAVAL looked up at his friend. “They
were just kids, Lothos. Kids! Just like our bunch here,
an’ ah led `em to dere deaths! What’s to stop me from doing it again?
got to get a grip on yourself,” Lothos said, grabbing him by the shoulders.
“That’s ages behind you! We’ve got to focus on what’s going on around
us heah and now!” GAVAL remained silent, swamped by the waves of
horrified memory. Lothos took a deep breath. “Remember what you told
me when we first stahted hunting Plague-Sever? You said that somebody
had to do this, had to hunt this monster down, and that it was going to
be you, because this all stahted with it following you. You care
about these kids, Gav, and that makes the difference. You may have
a responsibility to them, but they aren’t being duped into anything.
They know what we’re up against.”
really?” GAVAL asked from behind haunted eyes. “This time it’s worse than
de Zerg, Lothos. The Spectre won’t just kill you…it’ll strip you
of who you were, who you thought you were. Dat’s worse than
anything a Canuckalisk could do. Dey call Diablo the Lord of Terror,
but this thing...this ghast is terror.”
Lothos said quietly, a hint of danger reinforcing him, “is why we have
to stop it.”
slowly drizzled its way through the room, dispersing the clouds of anger
that had been coalescing for so long. From the next room came indistinct,
angry voices as Jude exchanged some final words with the other recruits.
Then another door slammed, and it was done.
Cajun sighed. “I almost killed him, didn’t I? Jude.”
you well enough. You wouldn’t have, even if I hadn’t been here.”
maybe not. But the scary thing…”
thing is that I thought about it.”
solemnly and extended a hand to his friend. “Come on, comrade. We’ve
got a spook to catch. And we don’t know where this floor has been.”
and clasped the Death Knight’s hand, rising back up to his feet and brushing
himself off out of habit. The back of his jeans were dirtier than
if he had been standing next to a Chimneysweep. “You’re right. De
Spectre won’t wait for us to stop twiddlin’ our thumbs. And now with
Jude gone ah think we’re ready.”
agree with you more.”
a hollow knock on the door. A second later Garland stuck his head
inside, the sounds of several excited young Slayers and the television
drifting in from the larger adjacent room.
to interrupt whatever you were shouting about, but there’s something we
think you should take a look at.”
“A few hours
ago there was a…a plane crash in Switzerland,” Garland said, a combination
of dread and excitement etched into his words. “Flight originally came
from Los Angeles.”
Not bloody terrorists again?”
seem like it…” he replied. “But…it doesn’t look like it was an accident,
Lothos looked at one another, then followed Garland out the door.