Fantasticoe Fall 2004

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Truth and Reconciliation

      Brett Blofield

 

      Axel slowly brought his ship down, landing ever so lightly on the grassy plain outside of his destination. He absently thought about how old his ship was; it was called the Infinite Halo, and Axel had flown her for his whole teen and adult life. It was an older model, but it was reliable and quick.

      Axel snapped back to the present, his task at hand. He looked out of the main window of his small cruiser at the castle that lay before him. The castle was still there, despite it being from the Middle Ages. He chuckled to himself, the irony of the place that was to be the final showdown between him and his old comrade, Slash.

      Amazing how far things had come, Axel mused to himself. They had grown up together, going to the same school on Mars where they were born. Just five years ago, he and Slash had fought together in the Jupiter Wars, and now Axel was going to their old hideout, their old hidden place, the place where they had spent countless hours upon hours just playing as children, or planning schemes as teens, the castle. He remembered their games, from basic hide and seek to running races up and down the whole structure while they were young. As teenagers, they had used their skills to build small machines, even small, basic robots. He could see himself with his old friend, both of them tall and lanky, bent over a table, figuring out some problem. His own black hair the same length as Slash's red mop on top of his head. Although they were both fairly skinny, they were both incredibly fit, seeing as how they sparred constantly.

      Axel cursed himself for letting his mind wander again; he had a job to do.

      He was going there to kill Slash.

      Axel glanced around the clearing, seeing no enemies, so he unlatched his safety belts and went into the back compartment of his ship. Though it was small, it had all he'd need for this trip. He picked up his two favorite pistols, one black, one white, a few clips of ammo for both of them, and two hand grenades. Axel opened the hatch to the Infinite Halo and stepped out into the clearing; he was ready.

      Across the field he went, crouching, but moving quickly. His tall six foot frame as low as he could. He had out his black pistol, Ebony, ready to use if the need arose. He looked up at the church part, and through a window he saw Slash; his red hair a sure sign it was him. Axel knew that Slash would have cronies to slow him down. Sure enough, out jumped a lackey of Slash's. They looked human enough, though their skin held a greenish tint and their eyes had no pupils; they were just white. Axel quickly rolled to the side, dodging some bullets shot at him. He quickly brought up his own gun and fired off three rounds, smiling in grim satisfaction as he watched the humanoid fall to the ground.

      Axel quickly got back to his feet and sprinted the last twenty or so yards it was to the main doors, which were conveniently open. He put his back to the wall, peering into the castle over his right shoulder. It was completely dark except for a few torches. Axel thought they were lit for affect most likely. He scanned the darkness, letting his eyes adjust, and spotted a few more of the green skinned humanoids. They were looking toward the door, but most likely hadn't seen him yet. They would have shot at him by now.

      Axel brought his head back around, looked up, and sighed, readying himself. He closed his eyes, concentrating. His eyes snapped open and he ran into the darkness.

      Immediately, the two began shooting their pistols at him, causing Axel to dive behind a pillar a few feet inside of the entrance. They continued shooting at him, pinning him behind it. They yelled something intelligible; Axel couldn't make out the words. It didn't take long for him to realize they had called for reinforcements, as more shots came at him.

      Growling, Axel pulled out one of his two grenades, waited for the shots to slow a little bit, then pulled the pin. He waited for a count of three, then threw it where he thought the shots to be coming from. He ducked back behind the pillar and waited, counting to himself. One…two…three…and there was an explosion, followed by some groaning.

      He peeked out from behind his hiding spot and spotted four bodies lying near where his grenade went off. Slowly, he made his way over to them, careful to look for any survivors or anyone who might have come running at hearing the explosion. Once he got to the bodies, he checked them for any signs of life. A few were left alive, but unconscious; any ones alive and awake were given a swift pistol whip to the back of the head.

      Seeing and hearing no more adversaries, Axel ran to the stairs; he knew where Slash would be. He would almost certainly be in the church part of the castle, and it was almost the highest point in the whole castle. That was where they spent most of their time, in front of the big stained glass window, thinking up all sorts of things or whatever it happened to be at the time. Axel drew out his two guns, Ebony and Ivory, and began to climb them.

      Up and up Axel went, first floor, second floor, and then when he hit the third floor, he met up with another one of Slash's green skinned lackeys. The henchman began shooting at Axel with his two pistols, and Axel retaliated with his own. Shot after shot, until Axel felt the hot lead searing through his side, causing him to drop Ivory. He raised Ebony again and began shooting, and watched as the green skin dropped down the stairs, grunting with every step.

      Axel reached under his shirt and felt the wound; it was deep. He brought his hand out and it was covered in blood. Axel felt the blood on his back, so at least the bullet had gone through, and apparently it hadn't hit anything vital. Still, he had to work much faster now, seeing as he would be weak from blood loss soon.

      Stumbling, he went up the last few flights of stairs, arriving at his destination. Quickly checking for more green skins, he made his way into the cathedral after reloading his gun. Sure enough, standing in front of the giant stained glass window was Slash, his old compatriot.

      The sight was one to behold. The window was of a huge cross, bright red, with a rainbow of doves seemingly flying out from it. Below the cross was a pictorial of Jesus surrounded by his disciples. And in front of the window was Slash.

      "Axel…" Slash began, smiling his evil smile.

      "Slash," Axel replied, saluting his rival with the gun he held in his right hand, holding his lifeblood in with his left. "So, this is where it ends, eh?"

      "Could you think of a more fitting place?"

      "Definitely not."

      "So, my old friend, shall we begin?" Slash asked, bringing his gun up while doing so.

      "Of course," Axel answered, bringing his own gun up, but Slash was the faster, shooting a few rounds. Diving to the right, Axel came up in front of a few pews. The bullets sailed harmlessly by, a few hitting some of the pews around him. Axel got up and ran to the right, trying to get closer to Slash, who was shooting at him the whole time. Finally, Slash had to reload, and Axel took that opportunity to fire off a few of his own rounds. Axel's old comrade launched himself behind a table, kicking it over, seemingly unharmed.

      "Axel, my friend," Slash began, "why don't we finish this like men, in hand to hand combat? It, too, seems rather fitting. I didn't use a gun when I killed your wife."

      "Hand to hand?" Axel grunted, the wound taking more and more effect on him, only his complete rage driving him on. "Throw down your gun where I can see it, and then I'll come out and kill you."

      Laughing, Slash threw his gun in the walkway between the pews. Axel did the same.

      They both stepped out, walking to the area in front of the giant window.

      "It ends now," Axel stated flatly. "I will repay you for what you did to me and my family." Slash just laughed and came at him.

      Slash jabbed with his right hand, causing Axel to duck and retaliate with a punch of his own, connecting with Slash's gut. Grunting, Slash stumbled back; Axel wasted no time, moving in, kicking Slash in the face. He fell over, clutching his nose in pain. Axel moved in slowly, stumbling from his own wound, and when it happened, he was caught completely by surprise.

      Slash lunged at him, and connected with what seemed like a harmless punch. When Axel looked down, something odd was protruding from him.

      A knife hilt.

      Axel clutched at it, and slowly pulled it out, gasping for air. Slash stood up slowly, laughing, wiping some blood off of his face. He walked over to Axel casually, grinning evilly. He leaned over and looked right into Axel's eyes.

      Whispering, he said, "You are dead, this time, forever…" and he kicked Axel through the window. "Good bye, old friend." Falling, Axel began to chuckle to himself.

      Here he was, falling to his death, and it was true; your life did flash before your eyes before you leave this world. He saw himself, with Slash, back to back, shooting at countless enemies in the Battle of the Rings in the Jupiter War.

      He saw himself with the love of his life, Veronica. He saw Slash with them both, having a good time. There was Veronica, pregnant with Axel's baby. He saw Slash, saw the gradual change that took him over the course of a few years. The distancing between him and Axel, the jealousy of Axel, and finally saw him with the Syndicate, the most powerful crime group in the west universe. He saw Slash going insane, he saw it all, and finally, the most painful memory.

      Axel arriving home, seeing his and Veronica's house in flames, and Slash standing in front of it laughing, laughing, laughing. Axel remembered the fight between them, Slash manically moving, defeating Axel. Slash standing over the broken body of Axel, bringing out his gun, and shooting him three times in the chest, then leaving.

      Axel had survived, but had spent the rest of his life looking for nothing but revenge. Axel was brought back to the real world when he heard Slash bursting with laughter.

      *      *      *      *      *

      Slash had done it, he had killed his rival, and this time he knew it for sure. He was filled with a great sense of pride, though he was also filled with a little regret; they had been great friends up until he stole Veronica from him. It didn't matter, it was done now. His whole family murdered, and now, finally, Axel was gone for good.

      Then he spotted something out of the corner of his eye, and when he saw it, all he could do was scream a scream of ultimate frustration.

      A grenade, with the pin pulled.

      *      *      *      *      *

      Axel looked up at the window, and at a count of six, the window exploded out, stained glass flying everywhere. The light reflecting off of the shards reminded Axel of the stars, and that was the very last thought he had before hitting the ground, a smile on his face.

      His job was done.


      Acknowledgments
      I couldn't have written this story without the invaluable help of my classmates. They gave me so much input that this story has changed many, many times, and I feel it has only gotten better. They, first and foremost, made this story possible, and made it the piece you just finished reading.
      I also must thank my professor Terry Heller. He guided my story when it needed help, and helped me fill plot holes. Without his help, this story would still be in its first conception, and wouldn't make it past that.