What the fuck was I doing?
Seriously, what the fuck was I doing here?!
I was a guy! A normal guy who, out of habit and compulsion, chose to beat the shit out of and kill the scum of the Earth. Occasionally that would involve tangoing with a powerful Demigod, but they were still human. Through strategy, teamwork with my sisters, and my natural fighting capabilities, I, along with my guns, could overcome anything.
Today though, the fate of a city inhabited by millions was going to be determined by whether or not Shay, who while the most amazing person and fighter I’d ever met was still as normal a human as me, and I could beat an ungodly powerful bastard whose species we still didn’t know, along with possibly an angel, and a vampire.
Shay seemed pretty sure we could handle this. As did Carter, the kid I still really wished had come with us. But I wasn’t so certain. We had the skill, the smarts, and an arsenal of weapons worth a few hundred thousand dollars.
But with how my last go with Smog went…where I lost my arm….lost Erica…I wasn’t sure that was going to be enough.
“It’s going to be okay,” Shay said, driving us toward City Hall.
I grunted, sitting back in the passenger’s seat.
“Don’t you grunt at me,” Shay said, somehow able to smile at this point.
Before I could respond, there was another rumble, the ground shaking like I’d only ever felt it doing in the South. Shay was able to keep us driving us straight, mostly, but it was still disconcerting.
Whatever, or whoever, was causing them, the quakes weren’t too strong. Hopefully they wouldn’t get in the way of Joey and the other bus drivers.
“I’m sorry, but I’m still not sold that we can actually pull this off,” I bemoaned.
“Pull what off? Actually beat Smog in a straight up fight? Babe, I know we can’t do that.” Keeping one hand on the wheel, she put a hand on my shoulder. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t think we can stop him. All of this, this whole “game” he’s been playing with you, Raina, and Carter? It’s all been about me. I’m sure of it. And if we can fight him off long enough to figure out why, we can finish this.”
“I really do hope you’re right,” I said, putting my hand on hers.
We were almost there. It wouldn’t be long now before we found out if Shay’s hypothesis was right. And if it wasn’t, we were as good as dead.
I took my hand off of Shay’s, and she moved hers back over to the wheel.
“Let’s have sex,” she said, all too casually, still smiling.
Instantly, I shot up to sit up straight, my eyes popping.
“We’ve had some shitty times recently,” she said. “And even if we win today, things are still gonna be pretty crap.” Pursing her lips, she continued to say, “But if we win today, save all these people…I think we deserve a reward.” She laughed. “Plus I’ve just been getting super horny. You know how long its been since I was with a guy I didn’t scare off.” Wow, I thought, shocked by this, my mouth wide open. “You seem surprised I want to do this.”
“Yeah, no, it’s just that none of the other women I’ve been with ever seemed like they actually wanted to be with me.”
“That’s because every other woman you’ve been with was a prostitute,” she teased. And it wasn’t untrue. “Besides, maybe you have had real relationships in the past and you just don’t remember them. You were what, probably in your 40’s when you first woke up in that crater? Maybe before you were Bang: killer of criminals, you were just a normal guy with normal relationships.” She kept her smile, but she sounded more serious, and tinge worried. “Fuck, babe. What if you had a family?”
In 14 years, that was obviously something I’d given thought to more than once. But like so many other dangling thoughts, mostly with the help of my sisters, I’d moved past it. The way we saw it, after a couple years, even if I did have anyone in the world who cared about me, they’d have already thought I was dead and mourned. No need to put them through more pain.
The past was the past, and the man I was now was all there was. Even though now, I’m really not the same person I was almost half a year ago.
“Coulda had one,” I said, almost detached. “So long ago now, it doesn’t even matter in the slightest.” Shay looked a little upset about that, biting her lip and nodding as she turned her attention to the road. “But more importantly, I’ve got a new family now. My sisters, obviously, but also…you know.”
“Yeah,” she said, smirking but still focused on the road. “I do.” A few seconds later, she continued from that point. “As many…problems as I have with some of the people who’ve become important figures in my life, I can’t deny that, yeah, I’ve found a new family too.” She shook her head. “Boy would my parents just love to hear that.”
“Considering how they treated Carter, I wouldn’t give those bastards a second thought.”
“You know,” she laughed. “I know you’re new to dating, but you do realize you just called your girlfriend’s parents bastards, right?”
Ah fuck, I thought.
“Sorry,” I said, no idea what else I was supposed to say.
“It’s fine,” she groaned. “Honestly, you’re not wrong. By all means, I should hate them, but they’re my parents, and, well, they were always good to me. Maybe it’s wrong, but it’s confusing.”
“Well, you’ll have plenty of time to sort out that confusion later,” I said, putting my arm around her. She’d been trying to raise my hopes before, and even if I wasn’t nearly as optimistic as her, it didn’t hurt anyone to act positive. “Cause right now, we’ve got a bad guy to beat!”
The rest of the drive was pretty bumpy, the ground once again shaking, but soon enough, we’d arrived at City Hall in one piece, parking a block down from the building.
“We still have plenty of time to get everyone out of the building, but that doesn’t mean we should move slowly,” Shay said as we both got out of the car. “Let’s get everyone out as fast as possible so we have time to prep for Smog.”
“Should we bring the weapons out?” I asked, stepping out into the sunny day.
“No,” she answered. “Let’s get everyone out first.”
Smirking, I said, “I’m guessing you already have an idea for how to do that.”
She responded by kissing my cheek.
If I live through today, I’m gonna get to sleep with the most awesome woman in the world, I thought, grinning. Carter was right. None of us are dying today!
Standing tall with confidence, Shay and I started marching toward our battlefield.
The building was pretty large, around the size of two average houses. Most of the exterior was gray, with the front staircase made of brick, and two large yellow columns out in front.
Half way down the block, I noticed something.
“Shay, when was the last time you saw a major street like this completely devoid of people?”
Flinching, she turned her head around, quickly observing the area.
“Fuck,” she spat, sprinting toward City Hall. Drops of nervous sweat running down my brow, I chased after her. I didn’t know what was going on exactly, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out who was behind it.
“THE CHEATERS HAVE ARRIVED!” Smog’s chilling voice shouted, though he himself was nowhere to be seen. Now right outside the building, Shay and I moved to standing back to back. One of us was gonna see him coming. “I believed I told you precisely how things were going to play out on the tape. Did you actually think you could go against those plans without me realizing it?” he laughed. “Well, I guess you’re here early, so that means you really were that dumb.”
Fist clenched, I shouted, “Where is everyone?!”
“Well I needed to punish you for breaking the rules of the game somehow. So a few minutes ago, I rounded everyone currently on this street up, and well, you know.” With the mention of mass murder, it sounded like he was salivating with joy. “And now, since you’re here, I suppose it’s time for me to kill everyone inside.”
Out of nowhere, a speeding cloud of smoke flew past us, breaking through the doors to the building with a thud, shattering the doors into a million pieces.
“Dammit!” Shay and i shouted at the same time, dashing up the staircase.
More people dead, I thought. This was my fault…just like Erica’s death.This can’t continue!
“I don’t care how aware he is of what we do or how strong he is,” Shay said. “He is not getting away with this.”
“My master “gets away” with anything he pleases,” we heard someone with a deep voice say as we reached the top of the staircase.
Once again, someone appeared out of seemingly nowhere, but this time, it was the enemy we knew the absolute least about.
Salaran, having leaped from somewhere, was now standing between us and the entrance.
Shay and I had only met Salaran once, and this was my first time getting a good look at her. Her massive amount of hair was spiked up, and darker than Raina’s, while her skin was pale as shit. Clothing also didn’t seem to mean much to her, unlike her “master”, as she was barefoot, and wore only a dark green tank top and black gym shorts. Also unlike the bastard, her physique showed. She appeared to have a six-pack on par with Shay’s, and her muscles were as large and toned as mine.
“We don’t have time for her,” I whispered.
“We also don’t really have a way of just getting around her.” Gritting her teeth, Shay sighed. “Every move we make, he knows about. All the people that were out here…that’s on us. And right now, there’s nothing we can do for the people inside.” I honestly couldn’t tell from her tone and facial expressions if she was more sad or pissed. “But we can sure as Hell avenge them by killing Smog and his henchbitch here!”
Shay launched a kick at Salaran, the motion itself barely visible to me.No way in Hell I’d have been able to react to it, but the vamp did so just by leisurely raising her right arm into the path of the kick.
Upon impact, I heard a crack, followed by Shay grunting, and dropping her leg.
“You’re continued optimism in the face of my master’s greatness is disrespectful,” the interminably scowling vampire growled.
Before I realized what was happening, Shay had been sent flying at me. We collided, her back smashing into my face, and were sent falling down the staircase.
Banged up and bruised, Shay and I now laid on the side of the street.
“You okay?” I grunted out. Without a pause, I then asked, “What the Hell just happened?!”
Before she answered, there was a high pitched scream from inside the building.
Shay smacked the ground with her fist.
“Damn Raina,” she muttered. “She said she was able to keep up with her for a bit. With that in mind, I didn’t think she’d be so fast.”
“Could be worse,” I said, as we got to our feet. “She could be as fast as Gordon.”
Spitting, Shay responded, “We don’t know that she isn’t.”
This whole time, Salaran had just been standing still, her scowl unchanging. She seemed different from everyone else Smog had at his disposal. The people he drove to rage were just that, enraged and wild, Gordon, for a bloody angel, seemed pretty casual in most circumstances, and aside from where he’d placed his loyalties, like a pretty nice guy, and Smog was pure evil, taking sadistic glee in everything he did.
I wasn’t Carter or Erica; I couldn’t gauge what someone was like like them. But just looking at her, she seemed so…empty.
“Hmm,” she sneered. “Mortals, where is Carter Myers?”
“What, your precious master doesn’t know something?” Shay quipped. “I’m shocked.”
“Insult Master Smog again, and I will eat your tongue,” she threatened. Unsurprisingly, Shay didn’t seem afraid. “He assumed Carter Myers would be with you. Where. Is. He?”
“Let’s just say that he’s not coming to this party,” I said. “We’re taking you all out.” I was trying to sound as confident as Shay. Wasn’t sure I was managing it.
“So, Carter Myers is not here.”
She was so interested in Carter. Was it because he was the other “Player” besides me? Or was something else going on?
“No bitch, he isn’t,” Shay roared. “None of you are touching him.”
“I see.” Salaran’s body started visibly vibrating, and as it did so, parts of her grew. Her arms and legs enlarged to the point they were three times the width of my head and her fangs grew to the point they were sticking out of her mouth. Her eyes were now glowing red, as opposed to just being red, and her skin was as white as cocaine. She’d become a hulking beast. “Then my master has no need to waste his time on you!”
By just stomping on the ground, Salaran propelled herself 25, maybe 30 feet into the air…and looked to be coming down right on us.
“Move!” I shouted, Shay already ahead of me, running in the direction of the car.
Upon landing, the ground shook even more than it had earlier, Shay and I being flung even further in the direction we were running, and back onto our asses.
“We need to get to the arsenal” Shay said.
I turned my head around, and looking at the monster we were up against, I doubted if our weapons would even be effective. Even worse, if they were, we’d then have to actually deal with Smog. And given Salaran’s reaction to the lack of Carter’s presence, it sounded like Shay wasn’t Smog’s focus after all. Meaning our whole game plan had just been flushed down the toilet.
Honestly, what the fuck was I doing?