The Union Hotel was a hotel just like any other, without anything to distinguish it from the other hotels that littered this planet that were known for its sinful human populace. It was several stories tall, with all but the first floor filled with guest rooms. The first floor acted as the lobby, with plenty of chairs and tables positioned around the room's center and a counter set against one wall where guests would sign in and sign out. In the past, the hotel's lobby would be relatively crowded (Considering this wasn't a top class hotel) with guests sitting down in chairs and casually chatting with one another, recollecting the day's events or discussing a heated topic of the time while sipping from a cup of coffee, steam rising from the black liquid as it rushed into an awaiting mouth, shooting down their throat and into their body. Many would pour more for themselves or for their friends, enjoying the day for what it was. Festivities were few and far in between, but the hotel never had the need for such an activity. A quaint and quiet place for people to stay for the night was all it was intended for, and it was successful in achieving such an atmosphere. It was for that very reason that the Union Hotel had survived for so long.
Until one night, that is.
Although the Union Hotel continued to exist beyond that night of tragic fates, it would never be the same. People no longer associated it with peace and relaxation, but murder and specters. When looking out the hotel's windows, one never saw a blue or black sky, but a red sky, the true color disguised by the hotel view that was cursed to forever see the blood that had been shed within its very containments. The lobby became barren and desolate. Chairs were devoid of the usual guests that sat upon them and empty, cracked cups stood on the tables. Even the sight of the hotel from the streets was enough to conjure frightful images. Some would imagine a disembodied head, a bullet or two nestled in its cranium as well as one of its eyes missing, sitting in the bathtub in one room. Others would imagine an innocent male sitting in the shower, enjoying the warm water beating down upon his exposed skin after going through a hard day before the curtains are pulled open, the rotting corpse of a woman standing there with her breasts sagging, wrinkled with age. She would then proceed to pull the man out and bite into his shoulder like a vampire, drawing blood to replenish what she had lost. She'd then leave his corpse behind, hobbling out of the bathroom. The Union Hotel was now considered Earth's very link to hell.
There would never be a full understanding of what had happened that night, however. Police had looked into it, examining the corpses on the scene as well as what damage had been inflicted, but nothing beyond that. After two or three weeks of deep investigation, it was dropped, and all thoughts on this horrid incident were tossed aside by the authority. No real public information besides the obvious statement of there being a murder was released. As a result, the common person could never understand what they had seen before they had slipped into darkness, what they had felt prior to their downfall, and why it had happened. On that cold night, characterized by the pale moon sitting high up in the sky, things were already looking bleak before the black man walked in. It only got worse as time passed, slowly creeping towards the ultimate climax. This was especially eminent for one man, who was constantly dwelling upon what had happened in previous days. Pain, doubt, fury, cockiness…all these emotions nestled within the soul of one man…the Hellion.
Approximately 30 minutes before Judgment Day for seven particular individuals, one of those individuals sat in room #601 with a revolver in hand, staring at the wall that stood across from him in the room. He was a pale fellow, his black hair combed to the side. His eyes were thin, shooting a needle-like gaze forward that would penetrate the soul of any ordinary man. He was particularly built in the shoulders, yet the rest of his body was rather thin (Especially his arms and legs, which were considerably lanky). What stood out about this man the most, however, was the fact that he was wrapped up in thick bandages, tied around his body and right arm. There were even signs of blood on the wrapping, but it was dry blood. However, the deep red color splattered upon his body acted as a sort of insignia…a marking that would never leave him, applying a cold, merciless feeling into his soul, not that he didn't have enough of that feeling already.
"How do ya feel, punk?"
The hand with the revolver moved through the air, and he pointed right at his forehead. If he pulled the trigger right then, right there, he would have blown his brains right out of his skull. But the thought of sending a bullet crashing into his cranium never ran across his mind. This was a tactic he often used to get his mind moving, processing thoughts quicker so he could develop answers faster than he could otherwise. But no such thing happened. Upon doing this, his stomach twisted into an uncomforting knot. His face was smothered in sweat….was this fear?
"I feel like a man who just won the lottery. I win every single time."
Was it the acknowledgment of the fact that you could never truly predict what was to happen?
"Don't think luck can get you everywhere, punk. In today's world, luck is only going to get you so far before your lack of skill rears its ugly head."
"You sure talk a lot for a lowlife shmuck."
His grip on the revolver tightened, his hands trembling. Could it possibly be that he had all along been relying on luck, and it was just now that his luck had run out?
"I speak the truth, that's all. And now…"
A gun was cocked somewhere on one of the hotel's lower levels. He felt the panic flowing through his veins. It was as if he had become a magnet to human suffering. And that was probably why he had grown so accustomed to the pain and anguish that thrived upon this world.
"…it's time for you to die."
A gunshot rang out, but there was no audible scream. He could hear the scream though. The Hellion could hear every single wail, whether it was audible or silent. Within his soul, there was a shriek that made him keel over for a second before it abruptly stopped. He sighed, and wished he could stop recollecting that incident from only a few days ago. But his mind would always reply to this wish with a raucous laugh.
It was hopeless to think he could drop it all, because the memories would always cling to him tightly, refusing to let go. He lowered his revolver, and continued to stare into space.
"You damn bastards, eat this!"
They came back in the boatloads…
"I'm already dead…you can't kill me more than once.
…so overwhelming and powerful in impact….
His mind began to wander, and with the most intricate detail, he recalled everything that happened on that day he could not forget...when they received an assignment to take care of a group of thugs that posed a considerable threat to the U.S. government. The group viewed them as the usual small fry; nothing more, nothing less. They had gotten notification that this group was residing in Miami, running a night club to appear as inconspicuous as possible. It had been advised that they made their move fast, as the thugs had some top-notch hackers to check for spying. As soon as they found out who was spying and what information had been obtained, they would most likely flee the coup, making their termination much harder.
The Smith Syndicate got ready immediately. All of them were well-armed and ready for the situation, and they were almost entirely certain that things couldn't go wrong. Dan Smith held in his hand his trademark revolver, a weapon he refused to relinquish. Kaede Smith held a handgun in her hand, one that would later on be equipped with a scope for precise aim. Kevin Smith had a pistol and a few knives. Coyote Smith held a magnum and besides him Con Smith was armed with two pistols. And lastly, there was Mask De Smith, armed with two grenade launchers in each hand, a walking tank in terms of appearance and weaponry. This might be a bit of overkill, but oh well…sometimes you'd exert too much force, but what were the consequences for the one holding the gun? Absolutely nothing, so what was there to fear? Harman Smith had other business to attend to, so he could not accompany the rest of the Smith Syndicate on there latest assignment.
It was rather cold that day, which wasn't that surprising this time of the year. The wind slashed through the air like the blade of a knife, vehemently pounding upon whatever was not safe within the containments of a building or car. It seemed odd to many people who were making a hasty retreat to their houses that there were six individuals who seemed unfazed by the chill that picked at their flesh at an attempt to strike fear into them, the fear of the elements, the fear of the almighty wind that could tear trees from their roots and level houses with one strong blow. The wind made a valiant attempt at driving fear through the Smith Syndicate, but it was a futile cause. The wind soon died down, as if it acknowledged it could not shake these mighty assassins. They could not be brought face to face with an entity such as fear.
They reached the airport, and took off for Miami. A few hours had passed, and it was almost evening by the time they arrived. The timing was perfect, for the ideal time to strike would be at night. Their night clubs might have been bustling with activity, but the thugs were elsewhere, counting the previous night's money. If the Smith Syndicate acted fast, they could eliminate the group without causing too much commotion, and then they could immediately leave.
The group split up and promised to meet up around 8:00 P.M. Dan Smith didn't really want to go anywhere, so he simply walked about the city, watching passing denizens. Dan Smith didn't talk with anybody, he simply walked along, his trigger finger itching to gun down those thugs immediately. He would have to wait, however. Such a time would come that night, in a few hours.
The most peculiar thing Dan saw during his little trek around Miami was a small merchant who sat besides a tall building, the structure's glory casting a shadow over the obviously poor man. He was dressed in a heavy poncho, the sort you see down in Mexico that makes you wonder how anybody can wear such heavy clothing in the ruthless heat, as well as a top hat that he pulled down to cover his eyes. He held a guitar in his hands, his right hand gracefully moving across the strings to produce a haunting, yet relaxing melody that drilled into Dan's mind. He looked down at the guitar case sitting besides the man, which had a sign placed in front of it that simply read "Money". That was all it needed to say, as the melody said the rest. Dan grinned and stood there in front of the guitar player, casually listening as the melody moved along without interruption. The melody went on for about three more minutes (Dan assumed he had come across this man near the song's begin), before it came to end. A few other people cheered, and coins flew into the case before the people went on their way. However, Dan continued to stand there, staring at this guitar player that had given the Hellion such an odd sensation, one that he hadn't felt in a long time. The guitar player became aware of Dan's gaze, and he returned it with his own, although it was a glazed look. It seemed as if he was looking through and beyond the assassin that stood in front of him.
A coin that had once sat in Dan's pocket went flying through the air, landing in the guitar case.
"Thank you, sir," the guitar player said as he tipped his hat.
Dan nodded, a smirk beginning to move across his pale face. "How you makin' out?"
"Oh, I'm getting by."
Dan let out a faint laugh before he reached into his pocket, scouring for something. "Hey…" the Hellion began.
Another coin was pulled out of his pocket, and this one too went sailing through the air, landing in the guitar case almost precisely besides the one he had tossed in moments ago. "Here's a little something extra."
The guitar player now looked at Dan very closely, his face lit ablaze with happiness. Dan stood there, somewhat expecting such a response. The guitar player looked as if he was about to burst into tears. He didn't do so. He simply looked down at his guitar for a second, and then looked back up.
"Here…let me sing a song for you, kind man," the guitar player began, these words piquing Dan's interest. "This is a song for travelers of different races and different origins. There are many lost cities in the world, and to those cities you must find the key…"
Then that melody started up again, and it seemed even more amazing in impact. Each time his hand stroked the strings, a rough sound came out, and yet in combination with other strokes, it moved along smoothly. Dan's smile changed to a blank expression, his mind absorbing the tune.
And then, the man with the guitar spoke up, only this time he was singing along to the melody. His voice seemed far and distant, beckoning Dan to move forward…his eyes suddenly shot a glance in every direction…now the voice was coming from everywhere…left, right, behind Dan, even from up above.
"For your tranquility…deep within. Guide to your soul, find your place, then you'll find the way…"
The melody continued, and occasionally the guitar player would hum along, but now it wasn't the melody that mattered…it were those words, resonating within his mind. Soon, the melody came to a stop, and the guitar player looked back up at Dan, who, quite simply, was astonished.
"…and if I don't?" Dan simply stated, trying hard to hide his amazement.
The guitar player chuckled. "Then you'll be lost wandering the endless roads that branch off in every direction…you will become a skeleton in today's society, filled with no life…"
Silence followed; an awkward silence that seemed to overpower the daily activity that was occurring around the two. Finally, Dan spoke up. "When I'm gone…sing that song for me. Will you?"
And that was where the conversation officially ended. Dan turned around, and walked off, not bothering to look back at the guitar player. He felt no need.
8:00 was approaching.
There was a loud 'bing' from down the hallway, shockingly close to Room #601. He was coming now, most likely loading his gun as he was preparing to take out the last of the 6. The Hellion was the only one alive at this point, and as long as he lived, this would hinder their plans...he was about to have another run-in with Death. Perhaps this time he'd meet his end for good. Perhaps he'd have his usual stroke of luck that would result in him getting the upper hand. Who knows? For once, some of the luck was being shared with the opposition.
Death got closer with each footstep…and closer…and closer…and yet the memories still came to him, strong as ever. They were all back together, a quarter to 8:00 and ready to land a bullet on the thugs when the time came.
"What's their beef, anyway?" Dan stated, making sure he had a full clip in his revolver.
"Their hackers got into the government system, and are planning to rewire the government money so it heads right into their business," Kaede said, her face devoid of any emotion just like usual
"And let me guess, they fucked up at one point or the other and made themselves apparent to the government?" Coyote inquired, his South American accent present in his speech.
"Sí, amigo," Mask De Smith stated.
"And now they're rushing to their deathbeds…sad, sad, sad," Dan said with a chortle.
The entire group stood there looking at the building that was rumored to be the operating headquarters for the thugs, where they would go to avoid the big crowds of the casino while an apprentice took care of business. They used the shadows to hide themselves, waiting for the moment where the thugs would enter the building and they would follow. It would then be the usual from there. Corner the sorry, little bastards and fill them with lead until they drop. Easy as that, right?
Time passed….15 minutes to 10…10 to 5….5 to 1…tick tock, tick tock.
TLAK! TLAK! TLAK! TLAK! The heels of the shoes came down upon the hallway floor, the whistling getting closer with each step. The sweat came down now at a faster pace, his heart slamming against his chest as if it were screaming itself.
"And just who the hell are you?" the crook said, backing away from the unexpected arrivals. He was your typical crook, who was gruff and mangy. His hair was tossed about in every single direction, and his teeth were black all over, sticking out like a sore thumb. He had one eye poked out, which was covered up by a makeshift eye patch (made out of paper), and his clothes were so messy and torn, that you couldn't even call them clothes…more like rags tossed upon his body for some decency. His comrades were no different.
Dan walked forward and cocked his gun, taking aim at the crook's forehead. "Listen here…we could end this quickly, or you could die slowly. What's your choice?"
The crook cowered for a few seconds, watching as Dan got closer and closer, gun in hand. The others of the Smith Syndicate split to take care of the individual thugs, and lo and behold, Dan now had the leader of the gang at gunpoint. Dan shot his infamous gaze at the thug's eyes, and the fear began to stir faster within the poor crook's soul.
And then something was released.
The Hellion's ears perked up, listening to the haunting melody that was now at his door. It was "Greensleeves", and though a normally harmless tune you could hear anywhere, it now held a heart-wrenching charisma that was derived from the murder and bloodshed that had broken out that night. Roles were seemingly reversed at this very moment, and it was Death who was knocking at the Hellion's door. He was next…
Dan had little time to react. A bullet went sailing through the air, smoke flowing out of the barrel of the thug's gun. It was a lucky shot too, considering how quickly and clumsily he had pulled it out, as it was aimed right at Dan's forehead. Having no intentions of dying, the assassin ducked in the nick of time, turning his head to see the bullet smash into the wall. A terrible choice for the trained killer, for as soon as he turned his attention away from his enemy, the thug delivered a strong kick to Dan's cheek, which managed to chip two or three teeth. Dan was sent to the ground with a thud, and the thug stood there, laughing.
"How about we finish this quickly?" the thug said with fire burning in his eyes, his mouth twisted into an ugly grin (Revealing the yellow and black teeth that hadn't been brushed in less than one year at the least.). "I'll end your life in a few seconds…that quick enough for ya?"
Dan wasted no time with a verbal comeback. The trained killer obeyed his impulse and scooped his revolver from the ground. He swiftly pointed the gun at that dumbass thug, but the aim was superb despite the speed of the drawing. He had been using that revolver for so long, that it had become a part of him. Proper aim was a given.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Three bullets went sailing through the air with a shriek, tearing apart at the air that separated them from their victim. The thug saw the bullets coming, and he rolled to the side to keep them from all nailing his head. He had managed to avoid one entirely, but the rest got him in his shoulder blade. He fell to his knees with a gasp, blood shooting out of his gaping maw with each horrified gasp. He was lucky to have dived to the right, though, as it was his left arm that had been filled with holes. Had he dived to the left, his gun arm would have taken the blow, and he would be unable to fight back.
Dan fired another shot, his eyes lit up with the rage that only the bloodthirsty could feel…the smell of blood, making their round trip throughout the veins of the body…what was that body of his doing, holding all of the blood within its containments? No, it shouldn't be there. It should be lying on the floor in a huge puddle, a puddle so damn huge that you could fill up half of a pond with it. He was going to see to it that the puddle would be sitting there soon enough. He was going to rip that flesh off with a volley of bullets, no matter what!
It was that very same rage, however, that ultimately led to another poor choice on his behalf. His mind had been entirely occupied with the thought of seeing that blood lying there, that he could not focus on his aim. The bullet missed, hitting the wall and sending some dust flying onto the thug. The thug winced as he used his good arm to wipe the dust from his eyes. He then took aim with his own gun.
"How do you feel, punk?" the thug asked, smiling despite the pain that was overwhelming his body.
"I feel like a man who just won the lottery. I win every single time," Dan replied, matter-of-factly.
"Don't think luck can get you everywhere, punk. In today's world, luck is only going to get you so far before your lack of skill rears its ugly head."
Dan scoffed at these words. "You sure talk a lot for a lowlife shmuck."
The thug laughed. "I only speak the truth. That is all." He cocked the gun. "And now it's time for you to die."
The bullet shot through the air with its usual shriek, slamming into Dan's stomach with a force that almost sent him toppling onto the ground. A circle of red began to form beneath his leisure suit, and for a second he thought his heart would truly stop right there, right then.
Another two bullets slammed into his left arm, and it felt as if it would fly right off, torn from his body. Dan stumbled back, and now was leaning against a wall.
"You fall easily despite your appearance, punk," the thug commented, his grin even wider.
"Don't jump to conclusions too quickly. You might forget to include the part where I blow your brain out for good, you bastard," Dan said amidst gasps for air.
The thug broke out into uproarious laughter. "Bastard? Me, the Bastard? My good sir…you're the bastard here…and now, you damn bastard, eat this!"
As the thug was about to open fire, Dan rushed forward despite the overwhelming pain he felt as he moved towards the thug. He jumped to the side to avoid the shot, and then, reloading his revolver with quick speeds, he stepped in front of the thug, kicking the gun out of the crook's grasp. The thug stared wide-eyed at the fury-driven assassin that was standing in front of him. Seconds ago when he had managed to land several shots on a skilled assassin, he felt like he had accomplished something to give his life meaning. Now, all he saw was Death waiting for him at the gates of hell. He was quite correct in assuming this.
"I'm already dead…" Dan said, pointing the revolver at the thug's forehead, point-blank range. "You can't kill me more than once."
And that's where the coherent memories ended. The Hellion remembered collapsing afterwards, but that was it. Next thing he knew he was sitting in a chair in front of Harman Smith, covered in bandages and various other wrappings meant to stop the bleeding. He was going to ask Harman what had happened, but he didn't bother to, since minutes later it all came to him in full blast. And now it wouldn't seem to leave him, as much as he'd wish for it to do so.
Had his luck run out…? He wasn't so sure. Days ago, he had a series of mistakes that he felt were unacceptable for an assassin of his caliber. And yet, he came out victorious with a new feeling…it wasn't that feeling of regret…it was that feeling of…
Yes, that was it. He had always been the reckless kind, but now he felt he could rush into anything, regardless of the odds. He may lose, he may win, but regardless, he would live on. Why did he come to such a conclusion? It was his strength, a power pulsuating within him.. He suddenly felt as if he could fight against anything that came his way. Absolutely anything. They could shoot him and presume he was dead, but he wouldn't be dead. Because he couldn't die.
The door to the Hellion's door slowly opened, the black man walking in, casually whistling that chilling tune of "Greensleeves." The Hellion looked up at this newcomer, and grinned.
"So you must be the one they call the "Bloody Heartland". You here to kill the Smiths, is that it?" the Hellion said in his usual arrogant tone. "Rule of thumb; don't set your goals too high. What do you want? What do you want, huh?"
The man simply stared at the Hellion, his expression blank and his eyes unblinking. "You…"