Chapter 22: Hate is Every Where
The three combatants eyed one another closely. Justice breathed in slowly and deeply. The freelancers on the other hand breathed erratically. Washington stretched his shoulders saying. "Okay, so you are pretty good."
"Pretty good would be an understatement," Epsilon interjected activating the healing unit for Carolina. Justice looked at the female freelancer who was getting ready to go for another round. She could not comprehend why they tried so hard even though her suit was superior to theirs, in combat ability they were somewhat equally matched and that she held the advantage of knowing their surroundings better. Justice just could not understand what pushed them this far in their struggle. "Why do you still fight?"
Carolina ran straight for Justice. Wash tried to stop her but she was already out of his reach. Swinging a firm left hook, she followed it with a falcon punch. Justice blocked the left hook, and she managed to block the follow up with her elbow. Simple fighting tactics won't work against me. She punched Carolina in the chest, took her by her left arm and swung her over her own shoulder. With a loud echo Carolina lay still on the floor. She felt her whole body tremble with pain, but her drive kept on pushing her forward.
Wash leaped in from the back and pushed Justice away towards Carolina. She took a tight hold of Justice by her abdomen area, raised her into the air and pushed her onto the ground. Sitting atop the New Order warrior, she began to punch the helmet violently. "Why won't you feel any pain?!"
"Is it blind rage that drives you?" asked Justice as she took a tight hold of Carolina's fists. She head butted the military soldier knocking her to the ground. "Or is it the simple desire to be the strongest?"
Washington came in swinging from the back, but he was quickly stopped by Justice as she spun around and stopped his punch. Balling her metallic hand, she delivered a heavy blow to Wash's stomach. She could hear him squeal in pain much to her pleasure. She was performing at high efficiency to achieve their desired results after all. Justice began to make small strides towards Carolina, her interests leaned more towards the female freelancer in this fight. She had met driven people determined to defeat her before, but never any as persistent as this one. Usually the others would give up after a few hits only to meet their demise shortly after.
Washington slowly picked himself up and unsheathed his hidden blade. If I am going to put those knife skills to use, now is as good a time as any. He quietly straightened himself out and prepared to throw the knife. Justice however caught whisk of such actions amidst the air sounds. As Washington raised the knife, Justice could hear the subtle sounds. She turned around to find the grey soldier ready to throw the knife, and throw it he did.
The knife bounced off of her armor without making so much as a scratch. It just bounced off? Wash wondered in shock with his shoulders slumped. That has got to be the worst knife throw ever of all time. Justice looked at the puny knife by her side and smirked at the pitiful attempt. "Want to give it another go hot shot?"
She inched closer by the second and he began to panic. What the hell do I do now?! He looked all around or any suitable weapons and found a metal rod. This has got to do something, right? Swinging from his left, he made hard contact with her ribs. But all that the rod did was just budge her a little. "Huh, how about that?"
Justice let out a small laughter as she took the rod in one hand and said. "Yeah, how about that."
She pulled the rod closer to herself and kicked Wash away. Swinging the rod from left to right, she bashed him on his legs. Epsilon looked at the struggle Wash was in and urged Carolina to get up. He kicked her healing unit into high gear and began running a few calculations through a series of subroutines. "Come on Carolina, get up, he needs our help."
She stared at the ground, her whole body felt numb and her mind weary. I am so tired. Epsilon appeared close to her left ear saying. "This is the final push, get up Carolina! Do you want Edward's and Elsie's death to mean nothing? You are so close to finishing this!"
Elsie's smile flashed in Carolina's mind. I can never escape her death now, can I? Carolina began to pick herself up slowly. I brought so much tragedy onto a whole village. Those people were just trying to go about their lives and live a peaceful life. But we took that right to life away from them just by being there. Epsilon appeared in front of her eyes and firmly stated. "Then go get the bastards who killed them. They are responsible, not you."
She pulled out the compact device from behind her back and pressed the only button visible. It loudly extended into a small harpoon alerting Justice. She kicked Wash in the side and caused him to curl up in pain. Carolina ran towards Justice who raised her shield and studied the tip of the harpoon. The metal at the tip, it seems to be heating up. "That is a fascinating weapon you have obtained. May I ask from where?"
"What does it matter to a woman who is about to die soon?!" Carolina shouted retreating the weapon and again thrusting forward. Justice studied the top right of her interface and noticed a red blinking light. Her shield levels were depleting fast. She looked all around and found just the thing she needed in that moment. Fighting you directly is too dangerous as long as you have that thing. Justice held out her pistol and aimed it to her left.
Wash slowly stood up and noticed the enemy's form ready to shoot. He looked at where she was aiming and suddenly made a break for it. "Carolina, get behind some solid cover!"
Epsilon suddenly appeared asking why. He calculated her bullet's trajectory and with a gasp he muttered. "Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me. Carolina, move now!"
The bullet destroyed a little box containing a red button. It was only to be used in emergencies when something needed to be evacuated to space. And that something was here right now in Justice's eyes. The whole room depressurized. Justice activated her gravity boots as did the others. She eyed her comrade's bodies flying out into space with sad eyes. Taking note of Carolina's and Washington's persistence, she shot off a few clamps holding down a few vehicles. Two ships headed for the freelancers. Exactly as planned, after all, I am the one with the superior knowledge of our surroundings. The two were caught off balance with a heavy blow to their heads.
"Oh shit, hold on Carolina!" Epsilon shouted drilling some sense into her. Before she could drift any further towards the exit, she smashed her fist through a ventilation grate. Washington had already regained his balance and was on his feet. "Epsilon, I need a way of shutting off that rupture."
"Give me a second Wash. Scanning room, now."
"We don't have a second!" Carolina argued seeing even more objects fly out into space. Epsilon appeared beside her frustrated at the interruptions and shouted. "Then why don't you try doing this? It's not like I can access one simple subroutine and presto done! Now give me my second!"
Carolina felt her grip loosening on their only weapon that could see them through this. "Hurry Epsilon!"
"Got it! Wash, see that panel above the wall that was ruptured?" Epsilon pointed to a red box with a glass cover and a huge button inside it. "Shoot it and the opening will close."
This had better work. Washington raised his gun, but he could not get a clear shot. Justice seemed to be making her way over to them slowly. He looked back at Justice who was even closer now. Oh god dammit! He looked back at Carolina and contacted her over the radio. "Hey Carolina, I am about to try something really crazy here. So if it doesn't work out, be sure to kick her ass real good for me, okay?"
"Wait, what do you mean?" she asked and he deactivated his gravity boots. Epsilon stared at the grey freelancer shooting away towards the button. "You crazy bastard!"
Washington was nearing the point of no return. He quickly shot off the gun. Please hit. The shutters closed fast just as Washington was about to begin crossing over. Oh thank my lucky stars. He fell with a loud thud, but this pain was much welcomed compared to the worse fate of dying alone from suffocation in space. Carolina lay still, she felt her body completely numb out. Just hanging on forced her to rely on every fibre of her strength. Justice looked quite displeased with yet another failed attempt at killing them. They really do have a guardian angel. I suppose there is no other way to be thorough than to strangle you two with my own hands, burn you and throw your ashes out into space.
Washington got up and activated his jets. He managed to stop Justice in her tracks through his momentum and began to push her back. "Get up Carolina!"
Killing the jets, Wash swung his left arm landing a blow to the side of her helmet. He swung his right arm, and followed it up with a knee to her stomach. None of these seemed to have an effect on her. These suits are a resilient nuisance. Just as he threw a barrage of punches, she ducked underneath, and with her metal hand she punched him once in the stomach and watched him fall to his knees. She is too strong for us to fight like this. We need to use that weapon now. Wash looked towards Carolina who held it tightly in her hands. "Get up…Carolina!"
Washington stood up, swung around with a roundhouse kick for it to be swiftly blocked by Justice and deliver a counter punch to his leg. Washington held the point of impact tightly. It was the same leg that Pure broke before. Ow, so much for kicking. He looked towards Carolina and was growing impatient. "Epsilon, talk some sense into her now!"
"Carolina, he needs our help!" Epsilon argued doing his best to send various signals of distress to her. She lay still on the ground, her eyes half open and strength completely drained. I can't, I am too tired. I just want to rest now. I don't want to do anything else. Please, just leave me alone. Epsilon was starting to become impatient with her. "If you don't get up, you will lose another person you care about!"
Carolina's eyes shot wide open at the realization. She slowly tilted her head upwards to see Washington struggle against Justice's tight grip around his neck. Epsilon, why was it that I survived when everyone in the village had to die because of me?
The fragment did not know how to deal with her survivor's guilt. He could only say things he thought were the right thing to say, but he could not fully comprehend the feelings she would experience from such words. After all, words are just as powerful as bullets or medicine depending on the effect they have. "I don't know why we survived. It was maybe because the whole village looked out for us till the end, especially when Ben came to evacuate us. But I know that we can do something for them while still alive. Those who killed them should not be allowed to get away with their crimes!"
I thought I was prepared, but I am still weak. Carolina rested one hand on her knee and the other onto the ground. She looked down with disappointment in her own abilities and reached for the harpoon. Epsilon could understand this helplessness. From the recordings he was left behind, he knew that she has experienced this many times before. "Carolina, I don't know if you are stronger than her, but sometimes you just have to have faith. Maybe that will be enough to see you through this."
Washington threw a great many punches at Justice and landed several. Dammit, if only I had that harpoon! He butted her with his shoulder and kicked her down to the ground. But she quickly recovered and just as quickly he had put her down, she had him in a tight hold by his neck and arm. "Ow, you don't give up do you?"
She remained quiet and applied more pressure to the arm. He could feel it slowly coming to the point of snapping. Uh oh, not good. Washington eyed Carolina kneeling and gritted his teeth holding back the pain. "Carolina, tag in, tag in!"
"Get angry Carolina!" Epsilon demanded. "Use that anger against her! Even if it means fulfilling that revenge then fine, but get angry and bring her down!"
Carolina could feel something snapping. Something was slowly unravelling from deep within her mind. The locks placed on the gateway to her anger were slowly coming loose. She breathed heavily and felt her mind slowly go numb. Epsilon's words echoed in her mind. You are not responsible, they are. She looked up and held the harpoon tightly in her hand. Epsilon looked to his side to see the sudden flare in Carolina's anger and attitude with wonderment and a sense of shock. "Hold on tight, I am going to run your speed unit. When I activate that, go in for the hit."
Justice was not ignorant to this however. She released Washington onto the ground and drew her sword. I suppose I should rid them of that contraption. Justice thought as she eyed the harpoon. Swinging her sword around and stretching her arm, she took a defensive pose. Shields are at one-hundred percent, good. Epsilon counted down with his fingers and pointed towards Justice. "Now!"
Carolina ran forward too fast for human eyes to follow. But Justice was no stranger to such speed as her helmet's software helped her keep up. Carolina came in from the side with the harpoon pointed forward. It pierced through the air and with every second gone it greatly increased its force. Carolina looked at Wash who was ready to ambush Justice from the behind but held him off via a subtle hand sign. Justice activated her shield from the front, sparks flew upon contact and Carolina motioned for Washington to come up behind their enemy.
What is this one up to? Justice pondered as she saw Carolina raise her arm into the air. She threw the harpoon towards Washington. Justice's mouth dropped open and quickly turned to activate the shield on the other side. But she was too late. Carolina had her in a tight lock by her arms. Washington straightened his posture and aimed for her abdomen. Piercing the harpoon right through her suit, Carolina could see the blood splatter onto her armor and the ground. They could hear the painful grunts of the enemy. Justice bit her lip in an effort to hold back the scream. She wobbled around with the harpoon still inside her. The heat, the heat, it burned her insides. She could feel her whole body burning up from the area she was pierced into.
No, not like this. Justice looked up with a glare and activated her sword. Just as she was about to cut the harpoon in half, Carolina jumped in and restrained the arm. "Pull it out now Wash!"
"Gah!" she could not hold back. Her voice let go. She screamed at the top of her lungs just as Wash pulled out the harpoon. He prepared for another attack, but Justice reacted quickly by kicking him in the shin, head butting Carolina and swung around her sword to cut the female freelancer in half. Unexpectedly, she was blown away a few meters by a sudden dome of a protective field. Carolina stood up relieved and thankful for Epsilon's quick efforts. "I'm glad I kept all that equipment installed in my suit."
"Yeah, don't mention it. Now go kick her ass," Epsilon stated swinging his arms quite confidently. Carolina activated her speed boost again and approached Justice whilst picking up the harpoon midway. The enemy fighter avoided the harpoon thrust and ducked beneath Carolina's arm. She swung her sword wide only to have Washington jump in last second and move Carolina out of the way. Damn interruptions. But her irritation slightly lifted at the sight of dripping blood from the cyan armored freelancer. So that made a deep cut, good. She began to widen her grin and limped towards the two.
Epsilon studied the area of impact doing his best to gather a quick analysis. "Wash, could use a little help here. Keep her away from us."
Right, I'm sure this will go well. Washington wondered as stood between Justice and Carolina. Justice was in no mood to deal with this. She swung wide and wildly in the hopes of scaring the grey freelancer away. But Wash persisted and showed his own special set of close quarters combat skills to her. Thanks to her injury, she was significantly slower and had less power in her attacks now.
Washington dodged her short swing and came in from the back. He hit her damaged area and caused a sudden sting to spread throughout her body. Just as she was about to swing again, Wash held her arm and looked towards Carolina slowly standing up. "Carolina, do it now!"
The female freelancer slowly stood up with shaky legs. Epsilon did his best to support her with his words but in the end it was all down to willpower driven by her growing thirst. Revenge waited to be fulfilled. She began limping. She tightened her grip on the harpoon. She began walking. She held up the harpoon. She began running and she aimed the harpoon!
Tearing through the armor materials, the intense heat managed to pierce Justice's prosthetic robotic arm that held the sword. The metal melted clean off weakening the structure around the hole. The arm broke off. With a loud echo in the room, Justice was left with only one usable arm now. She however didn't intend on surrendering. Dodging the other thrusts, she managed to tackle Carolina away and kicked Washington in the stomach. She ran the best she could for her sword, but she was tackled down to the ground at the very last second.
"That sword is quite the hassle when an enemy is using it," said Washington as he punched her helmet to the right. Justice let out a tired grunt, her body had enough. She could barely keep her breathing calm and rhythmic. Instead it was growing out of control and becoming too erratic. The injuries were beginning to take a toll on her body. He got off of her and motioned for Carolina to walk over. "Let's make this quick for her."
Justice retracted her helmet surprising the two freelancers. What is she up to? They both wondered. Justice grinned to herself as Carolina raised the harpoon in the air. "You won't even look me in the eyes with your own set of eyes when you kill me? To deliver a killing blow to an opponent in a worthy duel from behind a visor is a sign of a coward."
Carolina knew she was no coward. Instead right now she was a wild warrior, fighting only to avenge and to satisfy her bloodlust. She removed her helmet and stared into Justice's eyes. Everyone in the room knew that this was the end for Justice. The enemy fighter smiled in understanding. "So that is what drives you, revenge. I finally have my answer."
"Don't judge me with those eyes when you do the same," Carolina argued raising the harpoon into the air again. "You have done far worse things than I ever could in life. You deserve every bit of death headed your way."
"But your actions are based on hatred just like ours," Justice contended looking at the grey freelancer. "All of you fight because we purged that village and killed people who grew close to you do you not? Then how are you anymore noble than us?"
"We are nothing like you," Washington answered stepping forth and placing a reassuring hand on Carolina's shoulder. "We don't fight for selfish reasons unlike your lot."
"Maybe you don't," Justice said turning to stare into Carolina's gaze. "But she does. Her eyes tell me that hate covers every inch of her heart. Can you really claim this victory for your perceived sense of noble reasons then? In the end, nothing remains pure. The only difference between us is that while I control my hate, you have let yours hate control you. You are pitifully weak."
Carolina gritted her teeth in animosity. Her hands tightened around the handle with her mind in a typhoon of hatred. The faces of all the villagers she knew flashed one by one, their grievous faces as they burned alive. The beheaded head of Elsie lying still before her feet and the cold corpse of Edwards near the head. I just have to do this, and then I will have my revenge. Then I could maybe finally move on!
Carolina breathed deeply and muttered. "Enough, you will die by my hands you fucking monsters!"
Carolina swung down the weapon and it thrusted through Justice's chest. So, this is it. Justice pondered just as the tip pierced her armor. I'm sorry Equal. It seems I won't be able to keep my promise to you after all. The harpoon broke through her skin and punctured her heart along the way. It exited the other end leaving her to struggle in her own agony. She could feel her muscles contract at the sudden pain, and her heart struggling to maintain itself. The pain, it was too severe, almost as though she was having a heart attack! Her body began to grow numb and her eyes slowly closed. Her whole body lied still in the face of her two opponents.
If there is such a thing as after life, then maybe we will meet there again Equal. With those last thoughts she felt her consciousness fade from this world into the final destination of death. Wash bent down to check her pulse and looked back with a nod. "It's done, she is dead."
Carolina bent down and began punching Justice's corpse in the face. Left, right, left, right and repeat all over again! Wash looked at her for a moment, shocked and frozen from inaction. She beat her face to a pulp, causing blood to spill to both sides and her fists covered in the crimson red. "This was for Edwards, Elsie, Walters, Ben and everyone else you killed you bitch!"
"Carolina!" Wash sternly called out to her as he held her by her arms and tried to stop her. "She is already dead!"
"What does it matter?! She still deserves to experience more pain!"
"Listen to yourself! Are these the words of the Carolina I know?!"
She froze at the inquiry. He was right. She looked at her fists covered in red. Releasing my hatred felt so good, but what did this bring me in the end asides from revenge? I can't bring them all back now can I? They are gone forever. Carolina collapsed onto the floor and stared at Justice's corpse. I really am no better than the New Order. She was right. I did let my hate control me. Epsilon looked back and forth from everyone worriedly but felt her heart rate calm down. When Carolina closed her eyes, she could still see the corpses lying before her feet. The dead remain dead, and no amount of revenge and hatred could ever bring them back. This was reality and she finally had to face it.
"So," Epsilon interjected in on the moment. "What do we want to do about the sword?"
"You keep it Wash," Carolina muttered unable to accept such an artifact with such an impure heart. Wash tried to argue against it but he was stopped short by Carolina. "You deserve it more than I do. Right now, I am no warrior, I was just a woman driven by blood lust for selfish reasons. I can never accept such a symbolic artifact with how I am."
"Plus, aren't you like the resident badass with the knives?" Epsilon asked pointing to the knife on the ground. Washington picked up the knife with a smirk. "Maybe."
"Then you could become the badass with the sword to probably," Epsilon pondered with his arms crossed. "But best not show Tucker up, after all he does take pride in being the badass sword space warrior."
"Yeah," Wash thought out loud picking up the sword and activating it. I suppose it is better for us to keep them safe than to let anyone else have them and potentially abuse them. Wash stored the sword safely to his side and helped Carolina settle down. She looked out towards the damaged they caused and felt it resonate with her chaotic mind and heart. I still need to grow a lot more. This is not good enough. I need to be better than this to be the best.
A/N: And so comes an end to Justice's life. Now only the head honcho remains. Look forward to the next chapter where Equal continues his battle with the BGC.
Also, what did you think of the chapter? Feedback is appreciated.
Thanks for reading and support! :)
~ Monty Mason