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October 17, 2005
A Story, Bit-by-Bit
Superego: Part 45 - An End
* * * *
An EMP blast; that's something I had always prepared for. My blasters, which had just fallen from my limp hands, had dormant backup circuitry that could be manually enabled to give them partial functionality. Also, I had an electronics free revolver in a holster on my right ankle - a simple gunpowder based firearm given to me by my father... probably the same model he just shot me with.
As I dropped to my knees staring at him, I realized exactly what he did. He set off the EMP bomb just as I spun around to catch me off guard. He destroyed the power system in most of the city just to get a clean shot on me face to face.
Experience beat youth, I guess.
The natural inclination is to fall forward, but I leaned my weight so I fell backward, propped up a little so I could keep my eyes on my father. He face more lined than I last seen him, his hair grayer, but no new scars were visible. He lowered his gun. The one bullet he put through me that currently had me leaking at both ends was enough.
"What it means," my father said, referring to Dip's question before the EMP cut him off, "was that Morrigan was given a tip by someone who knows you well." He looked to the dead body beyond me. "I liked her; she had potential... among other things." He smiled. "You were way beyond her league, though, so I thought I'd give her a little information so you didn't gun her down too easily."
"I told her that when you winged her way back when you first met, it was only because you meant to wing her. I think that cut through her arrogance and kept her from underestimating you."
"I still got her."
He smiled again. "Of course you did, Rico. But the higher-ups were sending her to her death putting her against you... though neither them nor her knew it. I just tried to even things up a bit even though I was certain who would prevail in the end. Thatís why Iím here."
I pressed the wound in my front, but I was still bleeding out the exit wound in my back. I couldn't tell what organs had been hit, but judging from the entry wound in my chest, it was probably organs I needed. So I was dying, which left little time to satisfy my curiosity. "Do they know you're here?"
He stopped smiling. "No. I knew this would happen, but they wouldn't listen to me. They've always been scared of you, but I knew you'd never betray us unless we forced you. Now they thought they could give you what they considered an honorable death, but you made fools of them all. I couldn't save you anymore, so the only thing left to do was clean up their mess."
I laughed, but it hurt. "I guess this could lead to you finally moving higher into leadership."
"Noting personal, Rico. I don't want to profit off the death of my son, but they pushed you to a point that someone had to take you down. Now everyone looks the fool except me." A tear streamed down his eye. "For what it's worth, you always made me proud... being what you are, that is. I knew you'd figure out something was wrong because you're smart, and I thought you deserved to at least know why the people you trusted were turning against you. I also thought you deserved to die being shot in the front, and, well, that sure wasn't an easy thing to do without getting shot back." He smiled weakly. "If they only listened to me, we could have put you to so much better use. Most men have to go through a lot to become remorseless killers, but you were born that way. Tough kid to love, but I tried."
"I was always fed; I didn't know what else to expect," I answered truthfully. I never thought about my childhood much. Spent most of it away from other kids.
"Your mother just couldn't understand you; she loved that dog more than you, but, in her defense, it was capable of showing more affection. At least she wasn't able to hear what you said when you saw her die."
It took me a moment to remember. My brain didn't seem to be reacting well to the loss of blood. "'Who will cook now?' That's what I said."
"You did love her cooking."
"I eat mainly bland foods now." Or should I have used the past tense?
"You never did ask why I killed her."
"I assumed you had your reasons. If it were my business, you would have told me."
He looked sad again. "You always trusted me... trusted the organization. Sorry they didn't return the trust. Sorry it had to end this way."
We were silent. I guess there wasn't anything left to say. Still, someone spoke. There was the cocking of yet another revolver, and a voice saying, "This ending isn't yet written."
My father laughed. "You didn't kill her?" he asked me.
I could see a look of determination on Diane's bruised and battered face as she held the gun on my father. As always, she had no idea what she had gotten herself into.
"Drop the gun!"
"It's a dangerous universe," my father answered, putting the gun away under his jacket, "I think I best keep it."
"You're under arrest!"
My father took out a cigarette and lit it. "For what? I just happened to be in the area and stopped a dangerous murderer. Seems I should be commended."
"You set off an EMP blast, killing who knows how many. You're not walking away from this."
"She's cute; I see why you like her, Rico." He never did turn to look at her.
"Diane, let him go," I told her.
"Poor Rico is dying," my father said, "Best you spend your energies there." He turned to leave.
"You stay right there!"
"Diane!" I shouted, and it hurt quite a bit, "You don't understand! He's a Corloni."
"I gathered," she snapped.
"No, his name is Anthony Corloni," I said, struggling to prop myself up further, though the energy was draining from me.
"It's true," he laughed, "I think I might have a blood relation with those suspected criminal leaders of that crime syndicate."
"You arrest him," I warned her, "and they'll slaughter everyone on this planet just to make an example out of it. I know you want to stop the criminal syndicates, but you're aiming too high at this juncture."
"He cares about you, girl," my father told Diane, "So why don't you tend to his last moments here in this universe. Now, I'm off to go work on some completely legal enterprises." He began to walk away, Diane still pointing her gun at him. Before going fully out of my view, he turned and said to me, "See ya in hell, Rico."
Diane put her gun and ran over to me. "Okay, I have to stop the bleeding." She said frantically.
"I've shot enough people to know when a man is dead," I told her, "No hospital to take me to, what with that EMP blast. Plus no vehicle to get me there. The EMP would have disabled the car behind me. How'd you get here anyway?"
"I landed through the destroyed roof of the auditorium. I guess that vehicle won't be working either." I could see she was mulling over a tough decision. She then quickly took off her jacket and then pulled off her shirt, leaving her torso covered by just her bra. She then began to rip up her shirt to make bandages.
"Thanks for the treat," I laughed. That hurt too. I could clearly see the bruises on her face. After my little speech trying to throw her beliefs back in her face, I pulled the trigger and nothing happened. Apparently in the scuffle, I forgot to remove the safety, something I do automatically on a normal draw. She gave this little smile, and that was too much. I was so enraged, I slammed her in the head with the gun Ė I normally donít treat my guns like that. Now that she was unconscious, I couldn't make her despair, thus killing her lost its point.
"Just save your breath and concentrate on staying awake," Diane said as she struggled to bandage me.
"I'm glad I didn't kill you, ya know," I told her. My vision was blurring, and I knew I was reaching the end. "I think I should tell you I'm attracted to you... and I'm not just saying that because you're nearly naked right now. I mean, because of other things than just your woman features. I know women get insecure about that sort of thing, so I thought I'd tell you." As it was getting harder for me to think, I was left to reacting off emotions, and Lord knows I don't have many of those to work with.
"Just be quiet, Rico," she said, her voice breaking up. It was hard to see, but I could make out tears in her eyes. "You need to fight this."
"I'm going to hell, now, right?" I asked, "Not much doubt in that. No reason God would give extra to help to save me when so many less deserving people got killed today."
"You still have time, Rico. Keep fighting." It was harder to see her, but her voice was breaking up more than mine.
"I wonder if I'll at least feel something there. If it's punishment... well, I've seen that... uh... emotions can..." Breathing was getting harder. "...torture people worse than pain."
I think she was still working on my bandages. All I could make out was her crying. So many died today, and not just criminals now that an EMP bomb had gone off. But here she was, wasting her tears on perhaps the most murderous psychopath in the universe. Of all the people to care about, this her Christian "sensibilities" were making her waste her good sense mourning the most prodigal son who was never coming home... never would have even if he had life left in him.
It was funny in a way, but, for some reason, I was crying too.
Well, that's life.
Or, at least, it's one of them.
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