A/N: Well, what do you know, I'm living and learning. :)
I didn't add the author's notes in the last chapter, because I didn't know how to do it (because I'm thick). Anyway, I've finally gotten around to writing the second chapter to this story. I had a great deal of fun with this concept but found myself a little lost and lacking in confidence, I got to work on the second chapter but due to Alevel exams and other things I didn't find time to focus on this second chapter.
Fortunately, that's given me a chance to think on this a lot more and I've made a number of improvements to my original plan, so it's not exactly time lost. Thanks to those who read the first chapter, regardless of this.
If you do read this story, even if it's just one chapter, please leave reviews and feedback as it really helps me improve my stories and characters and it's nice to know that what I write provokes some thought, even if that thought is 'that is one big pile of shit.'
Anyway, I decided to do something a little different to explore Hamilton's character in this chapter and to set the scene for his upcoming rise to power.
Hope you all enjoy.
"I finally have you…"
Thomas turned around and stood at the center of his tent, one of many large tents in the disaster relief outpost. Before him stood a woman, holding him at gunpoint, her Colt 1911 shook violently as she fought her natural desire to give in to her fear. The woman's hands were shaking, more so by the second as she pointed her Colt 1911 pistol at her target. Her target, Thomas Hamilton, didn't even flinch; he just stared at her, waiting for her to inevitably give in.
"A-After everything you've done? The atrocities you've committed? You c-can't just walk away…" She hissed, taking a deep breath before raising her pistol and wrapping her finger around the trigger. The woman wore a Merc Troublemaker outfit, a long, sleeveless leather coat, with arm warmers, held down with small straps and leather fingerless gloves. Her hair was lifeless; looking like it hadn't seen water in months and her face was plastered in dirt.
Thomas just smiled at her, a dark grin, which showed her that he knew that he was in control here. It was so obvious…
This woman had, had days or even weeks to plan this hit, it was obvious that she was uncomfortable with the thought of killing, because her fingernails were short and jagged and her lips were flaky, from where she had been biting them. Even with the dirt, plastered to her face, she was unable to hide the fact that she was pale and ready to throw up with nerves. She wasn't Hamilton; she couldn't just kill a man, especially after looking him in the eye.
"I think that you should put that down…" He whispered, his throat was dry and anything that was louder than a whisper would come out as a horse groan. The Slaver looked to his right before looking back at her again. Her whole arm began to shake and the gun rattled, revealing that it was cheap and falling apart. She was no longer looking down the sights but at her own hands…
Though shalt not kill…
She cursed her own commandments for being so vague, 'though shalt not kill?' What if the person you're killing is a monster, quite literally? Thomas Hamilton was not human, he may wear clothes, he may speak and drink but there is nothing human inside that man. You could tell by looking in his eyes…
The Slaver took his first step towards her, prompting her whole body language to change as she abandoned any pretence of confidence. She backed away and began to look around, seeing the man's belongings, scattered along the floor. There were books that he'll never finish, a bedroll that will be stained with his blood and some food and water, which will never be consumed as she would never take from a man that she had just murdered.
"S-Stay back!" She snapped, pulling the slider back and pointing it at her target as he took another step closer towards her. From the sound of her voice, she was of Russian descent or perhaps east European, it was irrelevant, however.
"You aren't going to kill me…"
"Aren't I?" She asked, stepping forward and placing her hand under the pistol, to support her aim.
"No, you're not… You don't have the stomach for it."
There was a long pause as she took that in, he was right of course, it couldn't be more obvious that she was terrified at the thought of pulling that trigger, she simply wanted to throw her gun away and leave but she couldn't, she knew that.
"You don't know what I'm capable of!" The Woman informed him, though her trembling voice made her look even weaker.
Thomas ignored her and took another step closer, then another and another, until they were face to face, practically sharing the same breath as he gazed into her eyes. The Slaver had the power to turn her veins to ice, freezing her on the spot in a state of fear induced paralysis, she rested muzzle of her pistol under his chin, breathing heavily into his face.
After a few moments of staring her down, Thomas gently wrapped his hand around the barrel and slowly took the gun away from her. The woman's stomach sank and her hands trembled in the air, her fingers were pale and purple at the tips, from where the circulation had been cut off, due to her tight grip.
What had she done?
To her surprise, Hamilton pointed the gun away from her, at the right hand corner of his tent, as he examined it. The weapon was worn, to say the least, as most of the barrel was rustic and the grip had been worn away from abuse and overuse. One would normally assume that the gun had just been found, presumably in a trash compactor but Thomas knew better, he noticed how she was still flinching, like she wanted to lunge at him and take it back. The agitation in her facial expression showed that she wasn't doing this out of a want to kill him or even to preserve herself but, because she wanted her gun back.
"This gun…" He began, slowly pacing around the room and stepping closer to the light of an old oil lamp that was running on fumes. "It… Means something doesn't it?"
The woman looked at him; her defeated eyes glanced away, unable to look at him as she accepted that she didn't have the strength to kill him.
"Y-Yes… It has been in my family, since before the war…"
Thomas nodded; somewhat impressed with its age as he continued to study it, he noticed that a bit had been chipped off of the hammer. The weapon was most likely hidden in a draw somewhere, never to be used on a living person, perhaps it was a service weapon, an old relic, in a new age. It didn't matter; he turned back to the woman and let the pistol hang by his side, the woman found herself staring at it, he eyes shimmered as the weapon became the center of the room, all eyes were on it.
"H-How did you do it?" She asked, earning herself a confused look from the slaver as he raised his head and his eyebrow.
"K-Killing, I mean… How do you just…?"
"I'd refer you to your user's manual…" Thomas smirked, turning around and walking over to a desk, which he leant on, pinning the gun against it.
"Point the muzzle at the enemy and shoot…" He chuckled to himself, pouring himself some whiskey, in a glass.
"I meant from an ethical perspective…" The woman interrupted him, wearily.
"Even you must have had ethics once."
The Slaver just laughed at this, swirling the drink in his glass before knocking it to the back of his throat. He lowered the glass and looked at it, intently as if there was something inside it, which gave him an answer.
"Ethics…" He chuckled, throwing the glass to one side and letting it slide along the table as he stood up again and he dragged his gun off of the table and let it hang by his side.
"Take a look outside, stomp around, until you find a skull to crush, under your boots and gaze longingly into its eyes, because you're looking at the only ethical people left in this world. The rest of us? We moved on, transcended our weaknesses and evolved into a new species of survivors. Evolution didn't end when we grew opposable thumbs, that was only the beginning…"
"S-So… You think that… You think that everyone will be like you one day?" The woman asked, confused by what the slaver was talking about.
Thomas shrugged as he took another step closer, it didn't bother her this time as he hadn't made any threat towards her. If he was going to kill her, he would have done it by now, he couldn't enslave her, because he lacked the facilities to do so, she was still in danger but there was no immediate sign of what danger she was in as Hamilton was capable of a lot of things.
"It would be stupid of me to think that everybody will be like me one day but the strongest people in this world? Asher, Tenpenny, Eulogy Jones… They all have something in common, right?" Thomas took note of the weight of the pistol, it wasn't fully loaded. The Slaver would be surprised if the clip was half full.
"They… Are all wicked…" She answered, glancing away and looking back at him, with a look of hatred.
"Th-They kill, enslave…" Her list was cut off as Thomas nodded in response, showing that he was satisfied with her answer. The oil lamp began to flicker as the fuel inside it was on its last legs and the light inside was ready to go out at any minute.
"Like you…" She whispered, looking over to the lamp as Thomas flickered like the flame, vanishing into the darkness and reappearing as the flame struggled to illuminate him. The Slaver nodded, keeping a cold, hard stare on the woman. She wasn't a young woman, must have been in her thirties, she looked tired and beaten and this wasn't just from her recent journey. Her life had been long and hard, leading up to this moment and yet she faltered.
"Why did you come here?" Thomas found himself asking, he knew that the answer was to kill him but there were plenty of reasons that he should die and he was wondering which one had summoned her.
"I…" The woman paused, hanging her head and reflecting on her journey, the people she had met, what she had seen and done as she travelled across Maryland, all building up to this moment.
"I wanted to stop you, from hurting anyone else." She answered, truthfully, getting a nod in return.
"Who did I hurt before?"
The woman looked up him, the light from the lamp reflected in her eyes as they shimmered from the tears, which built up behind them and bled their way through, falling down her eyelids and cascading down her face.
"M-My sister…" She swallowed and looked away, straightening her back, to keep herself strong.
"You and your people killed her…" She gave a faint laugh, though it wasn't from amusement, rather nerves of the pain resurfacing.
"We tried to escape, from Paradise Falls. Me and my husband made it through the fence but… They saw her, trying to escape… She told us to run and went back, she had her hands in the air and your men hit her with a baseball bat!" She sniffed and dragged her sleeve across her face, wiping the snot and tears away, clearing the way for more. Thomas folded his arms and leant back, listening to the story intently and absorbing every detail.
"They beat on her and beat on her, until she was near dead! She was on the floor and they carried on, just hitting her and hitting her, she surrendered and you had her beaten!"
Thomas just nodded, he remembered the incident. Truth be told, it didn't faze him, not even at the time but hearing it from her perspective gave him something to think about.
"Th-Then you came out… In your black suit, like…" She choked on her own words, gagging slightly as she met his eyes.
You stood over her, just… staring at her as she lay there, on her back wheezing and choking as she lay broken and bruised and…"
"She said; 'fuck you." Thomas finished, solemnly, hanging his head before nodding. Though he didn't seem very sympathetic.
"Then I shot her, in the head…"
The woman looked away, as if he was breaking the news to her. She began to sob, hugging herself with one arm and supporting her head with the other. She didn't expect him to remember it, the incident but he knew it better than she did. Her sister had made the ultimate sacrifice, so that she, her husband and her son, who was yet to be born, could escape and she had thrown that gift away, by tracking down and holding the man who killed her at gunpoint. She no longer cared about him dying, she just wanted to go home, to see her son and husband and live what life she was given.
"What was her name?" Thomas asked, looking down on the gun and getting the woman's attention once more as she swallowed her tears and cleared her throat.
"Elena… M-My sister was Elena…"
Thomas' eyes glanced up at her, she met them and saw that they were still the same, no tears were inside them, no sign of regret or sympathy or empathy.
Thomas Hamilton was not human…
"And you are?"
"Marcia…" She whispered, weakly, bringing her other arm down and wrapping it around her waist.
"You said that you were a mother?"
"What's your son's name?"
She looked up, somewhat insulted by his curiosity; he didn't care, did he? He must do, on some level, because he wouldn't ask, if he didn't.
"Mathew…" She whispered before smiling, finding herself laughing a bit.
"The greatest gift that God has ever given me."
Thomas smiled in response, he wasn't religious but he appreciated the sentiment, even he wasn't especially sentimental himself.
"What about your husba…?"
"What's with the questions!?" She finally snapped at him, wiping the smile from his face.
Thomas gave her a look of disdain as if he was sore from the fact that she refused the play along, he lowered his gun, making sure that he was pointing it at her.
"I'm trying to figure out, whether or not I should kill you…"
Marcia's eyes widened at this, her mouth was agape and she instantly glanced at the gun's barrel as if she was expecting him to fire. She shouldn't be here, she made a mistake, she could just go home and pretend that none of this had ever happened.
Thomas narrowed his eyes as he focussed on Marcia; everything around her became blurred or dark. "You see, you're just one woman. A stupid woman, who thought that she could kill me, when she doesn't even have the guts to pull the trigger on her gun, even when it's a life or death situation."
This caused the woman to look away, bringing her arms up and folding them as she tried to suppress any indignant outbursts that stemmed from being called 'a stupid woman.'
"You came here to kill me but you can't… I have your gun now and the choice of who lives and dies falls to me. Now the fact still stands; you did come here to kill me but, as I said, you're just a stupid woman, who will most likely run home to her boy and her husband and have a good cry, the second that you walk out that door." He gestured to the tent flap with his gun but he hadn't given her permission to leave yet.
"I could shoot you, right here and now, with your own gun." He paused, to raise his gun, pointing it at her head and holding her forehead in his sights, the perfect spot, where she would just see the muzzle flash before the bullet tunnelled inside her skull, through her brain and out of the back of her head.
"I've done it before, more times than I can count, it doesn't get any harder." The Slaver informed her, shrugging to his left a little, whilst twirling his wrist, momentarily losing his target before locking back onto it. "Or… I can let you go, I would say that I would be 'taking my chances' but there's no way in hell that you'll get this chance again."
Marcia gasped and stepped forward as she felt herself hollow out, she looked to the gun as if it as the one that made the decision.
"Th-Then let me go!" She stammered, frozen on the spot.
"I-I don't have to die here… You can keep my gun and I'll go home, nobody has to know!" Marcia begged, her gut ached, longing for the embrace of her son and husband, her head felt hollow as her brain accepted the inevitability that she wasn't going to feel them in her arms again.
"True…" Thomas noted, though he didn't seem to change his behaviour.
He continued to point the gun at her head, wrapping his middle, ring and pinkie around the grip and digging his fingers into it as his index finger curled around the trigger. Marcia closed her eyes, silently praying to herself as a man, who was more savage and amoral than Mephistopheles himself, decided her fate. Despite being told it many times, she wasn't stupid, she knew who Hamilton was, she knew that he was capable of many things and none of those things were mercy.
Thomas, making his decision, jerked his index finger back and pulled the trigger. Marcia heard the gun open and her eyes shot open, to see the muzzle flash, it was spontaneous and bright and it momentarily blinded her before the bullet hit its target.
The light retracted as the doctor switched off his flashlight, allowing Thomas to see again. The Doctor threw the examination torch onto a table, with several operating tools.
"I told you, I'm fine." Thomas protested, taking a tighter grip of his chair as he grew more and more frustrated at this zombie's need to coddle him. He began to regret giving him the money for the examination now…
"Well, you've been on the road for several months now Smooth Skin. You can never be too careful…" The Doctor replied, stepping away from him and letting him out of the chair.
"It's just your foot blisters, they'll swell up and pop in a few days, once they do don't pick the skin off of 'em or you won't have anything to protect the sore." The Doctor insisted, causing Thomas to roll his eyes.
"Yeah, I know, I'm not fucking stupid…" The Slaver grumbled as he got out of the chair, hobbling over to retrieve his gear. He bent down and gathered his bag, slinging it over his shoulder and looking back to the Doctor.
"So, what happened to the people who used to live here? Were they exiled or slaughtered?" He asked, though he didn't seem to care as they weren't any less putrid than the ghouls, in his eyes.
"You don't know?" The Doctor asked, adjusting his horn rimmed glasses, which were tied to his head, with a piece of elastic, due to the absence of his ears.
"Roy Philips had them all executed, stripped them of everything and threw 'em in the basement."
Thomas nodded, not remotely surprised, it was an inevitability and the only other outcome was for the ghouls to be shot, stripped and dumped in the basement. The Slaver didn't really miss any of the people as they were so devoid of empathy or even humanity, that most of their 'good qualities' were things that didn't require them to be alive, Tenpenny's pay checks, Burke's contracts, Primrose's food and Lancaster's body. He missed those things but he didn't miss the cretins, who provided them.
"So, there's nobody left?" Thomas asked, again, more curious than worried as he'd rather have them all dead, than have a few survivors, who he loathed.
"As far as I'm aware, no." The Doctor began looking to him sympathetically.
"Did you… Know any of them?"
Thomas shook his head, showing that he cared little for their loss; he might have done it himself, one day.
"Not really but Roy Philip's little purge has made me homeless…" The Slaver grumbled, glancing away as his hand shook, he resisted the urge to draw his gun and start shooting, to take it back.
"I er… I see… Have you tried to appeal for it?" The Doctor suggested, removing his rubber gloves and washing his hands.
"Council's different than it used to be, you might have a shot…"
"To what? Beg like a little bitch to move back into my own home?" Thomas grumbled, hobbling over to the doorway and taking hold of the doorframe to relieve the pressure on his feet.
"I'm trying to help you, Smoothskin…" The Doctor reminded him, wearily as he didn't know why anymore, due to his attitude.
"It's worth a try, just… Ask for a meeting and explain what happened, they might make an exception for you and let you move back in…"
"I thought that it was someone else's home…" Thomas pointed out, narrowing his eyes as he looked back in disgust at the Doctor, his intense brown eye was fixed on the ghoul as he bumbled about, trying to find an answer that would appease him.
Unfortunately for the Doctor, his efforts would appear to be fruitless as there were few words in the world that would appease Hamilton's anger, least of all the suggestion of sitting before a group of squatters and begging for the keys to his home. Though it was tempting for the Slaver to clean house and take the former hotel room back, he did admit that without tenants, this place would be incredibly difficult to maintain. As he leant against the door, he dwelled on it a little; the machine in his head was kicking into gear as he began to form a plan…
Perhaps it would be better to appeal, for now at least. Get his home back and use this place as a base, until he could hook up with his old crew at paradise falls. Then they could come back together, him, Eulogy, Forty, Flak and Ymir could quite easily crush the pathetic excuse of a security team that these ghouls have desperately thrown together.
Then they could enslave the rest and make their first job mopping up the splattered brains of the fuckwits, who failed to protect their freedom. Though ghouls weren't the best slaves, few people would want to fuck one, so you can't use them as whores, their brittle bones make them inadequate labourers and they look hideous and smell like rotting flesh, so you wouldn't want one as a servant or a butler, going anywhere near your food.
Still, they'll have to do until they can get a hold of some good livestock…
"Well, that's why it'll be difficult… But it's worth a shot, the worst that they can do is say 'no." The Doctor shrugged, now staring at Thomas through his stylish, horn-rimmed glasses, he seemed hesitant as he noticed that Thomas was edging to leave.
"Yeah and send me out to die in that shit hole of a Wasteland…" Tom grumbled, knowing how it was. It was the same elitism here that Tenpenny had established, the management had been changed but it was still the same bullshit, only he was in the firing line this time.
Well fuck them, they had their chance, they had their chance to justify their existence, to prove that they were better, that they weren't worthy of his scorn and contempt. They are exactly the same as the 'bigots' who came before them and considering that they saw fit as to exterminate the lot of those 'bigots' for their ignorance, Thomas felt inclined to do the same.
Either way, the followers of Roy Philips wouldn't enjoy this life of luxury for long, whether they were willing to give him his house back or not and this tower would soon be his.
Along with the rest of Washington DC…