Chapter 26: Three Pointed Back [Unedited]


[Keys] "So how does this work?" That voice. "You just run your metallic fingers through Mahagony's hair as everybody falls asleep in each other's arms?" The disdain. "Then the reader suffers through intimate concerns about them rusting while in the shower?" No! #Constructs3

[Keys] "How the fu--? Can she hear you?" I ask. Fate appreciates the irony of the situation and moment, "Wouldn't that be fun? Anyway what part of 'immediately' did you and Sweet Charles not understand? You thought my enemies would wait for you to decompress?" #Constructs3

[Keys] "Come on," I plead, "this shi- couldn't wait until the morning?" More and more, she controls my life due to calculated happenstance proving her namesake to be utterly apropos, "Some mercenaries do their best work at night." I glance at the window and door. #Constructs3


[Keys] "What about other mercenaries?" Why am I feeling more comfortable around Fate after this continuing ordeal she's putting me through? Her response, "They're going after Sweet Charles," is terrifying, "and you have ten seconds before your shadows break in." #Constructs3

[Keys] Shadows are supposed to trail - not engage. They jiggle the door handle to see if I left it unlocked. I don't even know why I'm trying to gently rouse Mahagony because, according to Fate, "Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four," the shi- is about to go down. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Three, two," the mercenaries' caution tells me they don't want their operation to wake the entire building, "one," or not - that door is shredded by a boot and splinters off its hinges! The crash jolts Mahagony out her slumber. Fate is prescient - unfazed. #Constructs3


[Keys] If I'm facing the doorway, it leads into the living/dining room (where we are) in the forefront. To my right, a pair of hallways point to two bedrooms on either side of them and a kitchen sits in the center. Only one way into the apartment means no way out. #Constructs3

[Keys] Normally the sofa would go against the wall on the left, but I insisted on the ghastly furniture being in the center. My peculiar choice of interior design suggests a taste in subtle paranoia and overt preparedness. It takes that shotgun blast like a champ. #Constructs3

[Keys] I pulled Mahagony to the floor right before a sofa chunk propels over the top of us. "What did you do?" She accuses. As much as a couple's spat would be comical, there's nothing funny about how the shotgun was used to get me out of position - off balance. #Constructs3


[Keys] Now it should be pointed out I am not a Crimson Red Belt, specialized in black ops, some vigilante, or an Ethereal. As mentioned earlier, I'm a carjacker or otherwise labeled a coward just like everybody else who preys on people who can't defend themselves. #Constructs3

[Keys] In other words, what I am is fu--ed. The mercenary is quick to trample atop the sofa surveying his catch. He may brandish a shotgun, but that's just for show and initial effect. Its primary effect is to prop up the double-edged scimitar attached to it. #Constructs3

[Keys] The mercenary savagely tugs at a screaming Mahagony and yanks her out his way for what appears to be the opening he needs to impale me specifically. I glance at Fate for guidance. After all, isn't my life predetermined to carry on doing whatever she asks? #Constructs3


[Keys] Perhaps that's the way to finally defeat Fate? Our connection means she has to do whatever's necessary to keep me on path which also means I can ultimately control her! By veering off it just enough, the ensuing course correction can be of my choosing. Ha! #Constructs3

[Keys] Fate stands with crossed arms as a noticeably smug demeanor sifts away to irritation. "Typical," she says, "but you've got our 'connection' reversed. And for being an as-, I'll demonstrate it by messing up your good thing. Take Mahagony as a Human shield." #Constructs3

[Keys] I oblige. I can't do otherwise as I lurch for my lady friend and pull her back toward me - between me and the mercenary. He shouts in Fate's direction, "You have no honor!" She argues, "And you have no spine for this." I'm stunned, "Wait you can see her?" #Constructs3


[Keys] "How could you?" Mahagony is more surprised than distraught. "He's honorable," I try to explain why I put her in harm's way to save myself, "and won't go through you to get to me." This sets my lady friend off as she exclaims, "That's completely horrible!" #Constructs3

[Keys] The mercenary pulls back and explains, "Your man is under the powerful influence of another." But Fate refutes that, "Don't lie to her. You know how this works. Nobody can make anybody do anything they don't inherently want. I simply made the suggestion." #Constructs3

[Keys] Dejectedly I turn to Fate, "But you said to?" She disagrees, "This time, I didn't twist your arms. Is your behavior so far-fetched for a carjacker? Is it in any way out of character?" She's right. Selfishness and self-preservation are my best qualities. #Constructs3


[Keys] The mercenary adds, "Which is why you should set the woman aside and allow me to finish this." That's not happening, but he is quite accommodating, "Let me end your suffering," in a nurturing, homicidal kinda way. It's like I'm a danger to the universe. #Constructs3

[Keys] And Fate's smirk returns as if to express a reserved giddiness from the realization of me finally getting it. Oh shi-, I am a danger to the universe! Although nothing I've done to this point measures up, what I will do is seen as a harbinger and an affront. #Constructs3

[Keys] If ever there was an irony to destiny, I'm facing it. To assure the continued propagation of existence as we've come to know it, I must fall. But my reality as I've come to believe (my own bullshi-) is winning is more important than normality or decency. #Constructs3


[Keys] Instead of living in fear of a reckoning that may never come (if I can outrun it), I choose to embrace Fate. For now. And I know my soliloquy is music to the clairvoyance of her prying, metaphorical ears. In the end, every good sociopath needs an enabler. #Constructs3

[Keys] We already know I'm a fu--ing scumbag, but what does it say about Fate and her allies to sponsor somebody like me? How morally bereft must they be? What's going on in their lives for them to identify with my crazy as-? Start there. I am not the problem. #Constructs3

[Keys] In justifying the means, I just happen to be the solution to them reaching their ends. I've adopted the calling that co-opted me and Mahagony senses my infidelity. As I haul her up, there isn't much resistance. She must notice my touch is different too. #Constructs3


[Keys] Something's not right. Facing away from the doorway, I keep Mahagony between the mercenary and me as we tread backward, but her heart's not in this. Despite tracing my every movement for any hint of an opening, he seems more concerned with how she's doing. #Constructs3

[Keys] Certainly more concerned than I am. Mahagony'll be fine. The mercenary won't do anything to harm her. Two meters to the door, I loosen up on my grip and consider shoving my lady friend further into his line of sight to buy a couple more seconds to escape. #Constructs3

[Keys] A shotgun can't do shi- at a distance, and the scimitar always was worthless. Mahagony rakes my arms away, and I allow it because this is where we part ways. She turns to face me. I follow her eyes down to my fingers before they're diverted past my ear. #Constructs3


[Keys] I'm so twisted, taking mental victory laps, I honestly deluded myself into believing only one mercenary would come at me when the first is bait. My attention switches to the silent advance of this big motherfu--er through my door I'll forever be haunted by. #Constructs3

[Keys] Mahagony, for her part, is proving to be quite useful in the personal survival department. As she backs away from my potential demise, I'm continually struck by the compassion the mercenary with the shotgun shows. He pulls her down prefacing, "Don't look." #Constructs3

[Keys] Eight feet tall and from what I can tell, all muscular - it's a wonder how he even fit in let alone stealthily advanced through the doorway. And that's before the reveal of a ten-foot hook staff. Shrouded in dark black cloak, the grim reaper can't be real. #Constructs3


[Keys] "For somebody so cynical," Fate opines, "you're incredibly naive." She doesn't leave me to wonder what was meant by that, "Ancient legends of the Grim Reaper were patterned after him," before finally stepping up to swoop in and become an active participant. #Constructs3

[Keys] How the fu-- old is this guy? Anyway the hook from his staff flays outward transforming itself into a full-on scythe complete with harsh accents of an unknown polymer and resin but otherwise sharp as he-- and its ridiculously-serrated underpinning of teeth. #Constructs3

[Keys] Yep that'll make the anime crowd happy but also a mess of me if it connects. And he's not going for my head as seen by the ease at which the staff twirls irrespective of the encumbering cloak to settle on a prime level for swinging - razing my torso's flesh. #Constructs3


[Keys] His intent is to maim with the eventual intent to kill. The angle makes this attack impossible to duck while the trajectory makes it difficult to shirk. Although I'm not that spry. Honestly I'm frozen with fear. He's a centuries-old mercenary, and I'm me. #Constructs3

[Keys] Fate steps in front (using her key cutting palms to catch the sharp side of the scythe as her fingers wrap around the jagged edge) not to assist me but to spite him, "A bit hypocritical to eviscerate my herald when you've become the Pillorians' lapdog, no?" #Constructs3

[Keys] The force by which she intercepts his attack explodes outward since they both remain unmoved in offsetting stances of power. That energy had to go somewhere, so it decimates my apartment blowing anything not nailed down (read: everything) back including me. #Constructs3


[Keys] And Mahagony. And the first mercenary who catches sight of me, rakes her aside, and lunges after me to the tune of my disheartened, "Ah shi-," before I push off the wall as a starting block and against the preternatural current to an unartful forward roll. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Shouldn't the enemy of your original enemy be a friend?" Fate coos, "I want to be your friend, Goliath - certainly more than the Ethereals who retain your services at present but intervened to cheat you out of that bounty so long ago." Sling and the stone? #Constructs3

[Keys] If what she says is true, Goliath was the real underdog in it. Despite a stoic tone, he speaks with the powerful projection befitting his innumerable experience, "They were never my original enemy, but your master was, which makes you no friend." Holy shi-. #Constructs3


[Keys] That story always seemed a little dubious at best, and I'd have to say highly suspect at worst with how Goliath is standing in my apartment without his head chopped off. Talk about being on the wrong side of history. It wouldn't be the first time for me. #Constructs3

[Keys] "I don't do this for him," Fate disagrees. She remains deceptively deadlocked with Goliath and yet shows little to no exertion nor speaks with any exasperation, "He does this for me." As the first mercenary bears down on me, her stall tactic becomes clear. #Constructs3

[Keys] Picture this: An apartment ransacked. A dazed woman off in the corner. One guy, on top of another, bringing a shotgun around. The front door is obliterated. This eight-foot behemoth is holding a scythe. And it ain't Halloween. The police are like :/. #Constructs3


[Keys] Of course, the police can't see Fate or her part in this which is why (when she hurls Goliath at and through the connecting walls that form the part of the corner above Mahagony's head) backup gets called in to possibly assist with the unexplained phenomena. #Constructs3

[Keys] It must be pretty unsettling to be a mercenary with a conscience, so the first one doesn't hesitate in dropping me to whisk my lady friend away from the structural damage that's beginning to crumble atop her and soon to cause this whole place to come down. #Constructs3

[Keys] Now the police believe there's a hostage situation to go along with the paranormal occurrence. Mahagony and the mercenary are effectively pinned inside the instability until this gets sorted out, but theirs aren't in my best interest, so I don't look back. #Constructs3


[Keys] It's fu--ed up, I know. And I'll miss Mahagony. There was a time when men were gentle and would remove their hats before entering public places. I'm not quite sure what happened to that era or how this caveman chivalry came about, and I really don't care. #Constructs3

[Keys] Of more immediate concern to me is the thought I don't quite know where Goliath landed and fact we all realize being forcefully expelled through the side of a building isn't going to be enough to put him down any time soon. In that, the night is a deception. #Constructs3

[Keys] As I bound down the stairs, the once taut railing wobbles in accordance of the building continuing to buckle under the strain of itself. The police are getting quite a workout this evening with cars on site and one banging on my downstairs neighbor's door. #Constructs3


[Keys] First responders are everywhere, so I'm quick to wave off (with sleeves pulled over my hands) complimentary medical examinations. I don't need to be caught in the back of an ambulance with EMT's asking about my fingers and my arm stuck in a sphygmomanometer. #Constructs3

[Keys] I am not home free. If anything, I'm free of a home and have no place to crash - to run too, but the first mercenary isn't done chasing. The disheartening crackle of gunshots pale by comparison of a shotgun's wail. Instantaneous, my flinch seems delayed. #Constructs3

[Keys] The series is meant to keep at bay while the purpose of the blast is to disperse. One police officer is thrown up against the rickety railing in an effort to dodge while the other loses footing when trying to duck. The mercenary barrels through the window! #Constructs3


[Keys] He has Mahagony cradled in the clutch of his left arm, and she looks totally unharmed by the feat. These people I've met tonight are on a different level of powerful. It's like the glass and impact dare not harm her on account of him willing the outcome. #Constructs3

[Keys] The building begins to cave in upon itself. The mercenary kicks the police officer who had slipped down the rest of the stairs and then suggests to the other, "I'd jump if I were you," before rolling himself over the railing to the tune of a one-story drop. #Constructs3

[Keys] In a landing as soft as it is strong, the mercenary's plunge concludes within a balanced, partial crouch braced by his right hand still holding the shotgun and with Mahagony slightly hoisted in his left arm for her to not feel any of the shock upon touchdown. #Constructs3


[Keys] The police officer's landing leaves little to be desired, but it's more favorable than the alternative as the stairs and railing give way in a crackling and slamming precursor to what's coming up next. There's no shortage of support to attend to the bruises. #Constructs3

[Keys] I'm counting the distance as I back away while keeping my eyes peeled with frequent turns of my head so Goliath can't sneak up on me a second time - totally indifferent to my lady friend actually being alive while the building collapses without her inside it. #Constructs3

[Keys] I'm also counting on the buffer the authorities are providing between myself and the mercenary with their weapons drawn. He admonishes them for it, "You're interfering with Death Corps business," while pointing at me, "and his death is sanctioned under law." #Constructs3


[Keys] For those who don't know, Death Corps is a venerable guild of mercenaries - a longstanding mercenary frat if you will. To the police, whose jurisdiction this type of organization frequently tramples on, they're a bunch of rogue killers. To me, I'm honored. #Constructs3

[Keys] But unlike the mercenary who believes he's above the law, I prefer to follow the path of those who are constantly allowed to get away with wrongdoing and without ever being held accountable by hiding behind the law. My getaway car streaks by with a door up. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Get in!" Sweet Charles calls through the opening offered by the passenger side door being up as he slams on the breaks after locating me. I hurry off the front lawn, hop in, and we're on our way. His unease is apparent as he nervously checks the mirrors. #Constructs3


[Keys] I ask, "What's wrong?" He replies, "What isn't?" Not one to allow the understated to slide, Fate (who's now in the back seat) leans forward and inquires, "Do tell." We don't even question this shi- anymore. She's as powerful as her scent is intoxicating. #Constructs3

[Keys] Or is it Fate's power that's got my nose open? Wait, where are these thoughts coming from? My lady friend was almost killed. Our apartment is demolished. And mercs are on my as- led by perhaps the oldest-known and a possible immortal from religious texts. #Constructs3

[Keys] She's convenient in allowing me to use her as the exculpatory justification for my heinous actions. This all feels like one giant mindfu-- though. But how can Sweet Charles also share in Fate's manifestation if I'm at all to blame? Shi-'s too complicated. #Constructs3


[Keys] "This shi-'s getting complicated," he echoes. "Getting?" I push back with ten keys for fingers raised and fluttering. "I stand corrected," Sweet Charles cleans it up before launching into his story, "anyway I left here and headed straight for The Spot." #Constructs3

[Keys] "So what's 'The Spot'?" Fate is genuinely interested. "It's a chop shop for hard-to-move foreign cars," I explain. She's quick to put it all together, "You steal my car, I let you borrow it as a company perk, and you decide to have it stripped for parts?" #Constructs3

[Keys] "See what had happened was," he backpedals. My metallic fingers help create an interesting facepalm. Fate snipes, "Keys' disrespect didn't work so well for Mahagony earlier." This is news to him, "Mahagony's dead?" I clarify, "Ha no, but I'm dead to her." #Constructs3


[Keys] With curiosity sated, Sweet Charles shrugs off what I said as normal relationship problems and confesses to Fate through the rearview mirror, "I didn't think you'd miss it. Besides it's not like we're on the payroll for whatever you're about to have us do." #Constructs3

[Keys] "I appreciate your candor," Fate says, "but you know what they say about when you assume: You make an as- out of you..." She points to him while I finish her sentence, "...and me." I'm finishing her fu--ing sentences now! The hold is becoming pervasive. #Constructs3

[Keys] As Fate beams an approving smile toward me, Sweet Charles catches onto my powerlessness, takes internalized heed of the warning as only a puppet mistress can convey it, and humbly albeit fearfully acknowledges, "I see." She urges, "Don't mind me - continue." #Constructs3


[Keys] He continues, "I pulled into the garage at The Spot and noticed Batxt Eledcz, Blondie DeFrang, and Damian Bonillas were all on duty. They'd gathered at a table trying to fix the world's problems with deep discussion as we so often do when it gets this late. #Constructs3

[Keys] As usual, Batxt had the topic, 'Do you find it peculiar how those who lecture about what's patriotic or disrespectful, as it applies to kneeling during the anthem, very rarely have anything on their social media about the incidents precipitating the protest?' #Constructs3

[Keys] 'The first time I ever saw somebody die was on television during one of those videos,' Blondie chimed in. 'Yeah and instead of focusing on what is being said,' Damian added, 'these false patriots dwell on how it was said. To me, that's a lack of empathy.'" #Constructs3


[Keys] "Batxt a Slorg, Blondie the wheelwoman, and Damian our muscle - in a chop shop discussing politics. Sounds like the start of an inappropriate joke. But this is the rest of our crew. I greeted them the only way I knew how - by adding to the conversation. #Constructs3

[Keys] 'I think you nailed it on the empathy thing because that's the biggest problem with our country - he-- the planet,' I said, 'but what's the solution?' They welcomed me with exaggerated yet warm pronunciations of my name plus hugs and hand pounds all around." #Constructs3

[Keys] "It's kinda funny to hear Batxt talk about 'us' and 'we' and 'our' with everybody knowing da-n well he's not even from this planet," I tell Fate, "but it's cool. It's love." Sweet Charles concurs, "And he's a da-n good mechanic too - pincer claws and all." #Constructs3


[Keys] Fate mentions, "He must realize Earth is a planet of opportunity." There's always something else more timelessly sinister behind her words though. I move on to describe, "Blondie can do things with a car in snow most people can't do during dry conditions." #Constructs3

[Keys] "It's like she's one with the machine," Sweet Charles compliments, "but her love for all things vehicular is unmatched." Fate questions, "Are you sure Blondie isn't also from another world?" Thing is, that's a very good observation. It makes me go, "Hmm." #Constructs3

[Keys] "Then there's Damian," Sweet Charles calls out. "Yeah he can't aim worth shi-," I admit, "but I never met a thug who could." Fate bleeds skepticism, "An illegal alien, a person you know nothing about, and security that shoots more innocents than targets?" #Constructs3


[Keys] "That's the crew," Sweet Charles declares proudly. "Yes," Fate agrees with an adequate amount of snark, "that's something. Take a left up here." As the turn signals click, I ask, "Where to?" She responds, "We'll start easy: Indian Trails Public Library." #Constructs3

[Keys] I know this is probably one of those tomayto/tomawto things to her, but I'm still only a carjacker - not a cat burglar. My skill set isn't really a skill set at all. It's gutlessness in the face of a can't-lose proposition where cars are not worth lives. #Constructs3

[Keys] We pull into an empty parking lot. "And that puts us officially on camera," Sweet Charles alerts. "It's not your car," Fate reminds us again, fu-- we get it - da-n, "so what does it matter?" I add, "Our faces." She smiles, "Have I ever steered you wrong?" #Constructs3


[Keys] All three of us walk up to the sliding front doors. "Maybe they'll think we're returning a book?" Sweet Charles hopes. "You don't suppose any of these would work?" I ask about my fingers. Only Fate keeps walking, "Stop being so melodramatic," on inside! #Constructs3

[Keys] There probably shouldn't have been any doubt the head of some shady universal network would have a connection at the library to leave the door unlocked and security most likely off. "I'll check upstairs," I offer. That's where all the good stuff is located. #Constructs3

[Keys] "And what are we looking for again?" Sweet Charles inquires. "You'll know it when I see it," Fate explains or dismisses - I'm not quite sure, "but we're headed downstairs to the underground cellar." That's news to me, "There's an underground cellar here?" #Constructs3


[Keys] The large, prominent staircase leading upstairs is well-known to all who've ever been to this library. Historically the higher reading level literature resides up there. As we pass by that iconic fixture on our left, the multimedia section comes into view. #Constructs3

[Keys] Inside the area, Fate halts our progression then raises her left hand to softly cup her lips and chin in a pensive pose as she searches around. A sense of familiarity in placement guides her to the target she points out, "Move this bookcase." More orders. #Constructs3

[Keys] Fine, Sweet Charles and I are on it ushering a bookcase of children's stories out the way. Only a couple books fall from its shelves in the process. He goes chasing after those while I'm much more concerned with the formerly hidden compartment in the floor. #Constructs3


[Keys] Feigning sincere urgency, Fate nudges me aside and crouches to examine what we've found. She then turns with a hand extended downward in symbolic invitation toward the locked cover and purrs, "You may not quite feel it as I do but sense your part the same." #Constructs3

[Keys] True. Now I wouldn't say this is like a drug calling out to me because I've never experienced 'it' before, so an addiction can't quite compel my behavior as of yet. But there's a reason (involving cats and curiosity) I used purrs instead of some other verb. #Constructs3

[Keys] Upon kneeling before my destiny, I feel Fate's embrace as her arms wrap around me - captor and guide. Noticeably absent, "It's the last chance to turn back," Sweet Charles interjects, "because she'll have your consent after this," but those aren't his words. #Constructs3


[Keys] I now know why Fate embraced me. The pleasure is full-bodied like a wet cotton-tipped swab hitting the right spot inside an ear. Her hold tempers my collapse to me melting in her arms from the free first hit. "You almost had him," she says of her prize. #Constructs3

[Keys] I now know why Fate embraced me. The pleasure is full-bodied like when a wet cotton-tipped swab hits the right spot inside an ear. Her hold tempers my utter collapse to me abjectly melting within her arms from the habit-forming bliss of the free first hit. #Constructs3

[Keys] "You almost had him," she says of her prize. Pulling back from the lock reveals an alchemic transformation of metal to flesh as my right index finger re-forms. I'm all hazy, but the disdain on Sweet Charles' face is as clear as his approach is unmistakable. #Constructs3

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