Anyone read my Brief Encounters stories? Well...this is like that...collection of one shots. I'm still continuing Brief Encounters but while I had writers block...I thought it would be best to focus on a particular theme. What is that theme? The enemy within...in other words...the Seven Deadly Sins...no one is immune to it...not even the legendary figures that are the Smash Bros...Now for the first sin...the ultimate source of them all...

Pride

"Why have you called me here today?" I ask to my client.

"The same reason you are always called" he replied "to do your job."

"You don't want to admit that you are hiring me, do you?" I ask, knowing full well the answer. I could see my client flinch. I can see under those defenses he is trying to set up. I can see the fear in his eyes. I need to have this particular skill in my line of work. I need to see past defenses, physical and otherwise. "So who is the person in question?"

"It's...um...It is..."

I patiently sit back and wait for my client to finish his sentence. I can't really blame him for losing his cool. Hiring the likes of me is an action frowned upon for good reason. Only at a last resort should an assassin be hired. I've seen plenty of idiots panic and kill for no good reason...an action that comes straight back to them.

When should you hire an assassin? A very good question. Most people would answer that you should hire a killer to get you out of a financial situation. A good number of people would say that killers are needed when threatened and you fear for your own life. It is a very wise viewpoint. It is nothing more than indirect self-defense. But in my own opinion I would recommend hiring a killer only on one situation. Very few clients seem to know what that situation is.

Speaking of whom…

My client has stopped talking completely. It's just occurred to me now. It's not the fact that he is hanging around with the likes of me that is making him nervous. What could be worse than hiring a contract killer? Oh God. What have I gotten myself into?

I simply look at my client for a moment. He won't look at me. It can't be that bad can it? It is not irregular to be more scared of the target than the assassin but I myself shouldn't be any more scared than normal right? I ask him once more who he wants to be removed. He still does not answer. He points out of the window. His hand is shaking a lot. What is going on? I look out of the window. What is he--?

Oh. Mother. Of. God.

I know who lives there.

Everyone does. There is one person who lives there that I know a majority of people would rather have dead. Not just locals either. I have just noticed something that is irregular.

I am shaking.

Shaking with fear.

Because I finally have the opportunity to kill him. I have wondered when and if the time would ever come. Many people have tried before but…this is defiantly the greatest opportunity for success that has ever been presented.

Backing down is no longer an option.

"Will you do it?"

I have to do this. I have to at least try. No matter what the cost. I can see my opportunity. It still won't be easy. I am prepared…as much as possible. It is not possible to be prepared fully for this.

"Please. Will you do it?"

"Yes" I answer with not a hint of regret in my heart. "I will try".

"What is your request? What do you want in return?"

"If I get out alive…I will already have what I want…"

--

Let me tell you something about my target.

He controls everything that happens to the local population. That is not enough for him. He needs more control. He wants to expand that control. So he uses us as his tools for his quest for power.

It is all that really matters to him. We don't. Not one bit. We are a resource. It does not matter how one-sided his tasks for us are. Our lives are expendable. True. He does not care what we choose to do in our own time. He is not too choosy how we live our life…that is one advantage…but it is not worth it. Because although he does not care to stop us he also does not care to help us. The only time he interacts with his people is when he needs them…and what he has in mind for his people is enough reason to want him dead.

I suppose…that…in the end…all we have is…each other…

We can live as friends and family without him caring. He does not let us do as we please out of kindness but because he doesn't care…the only thing he punishes us for is for trying to escape the destiny he has decided for us.

Until the day comes where he sends us walking into the gates of hell…we have each other…oh god…we all know the day will come…and we comfort each other…we make the reality of it not seem as such…a bad thought…

Play with your siblings…love your partner…raise your children…look up to your parents…hang with your friends…it will all make the fear go away…enough to make it bearable anyway…

It will come. The day when all that will end. Nobody knows quite when. We all have our own expiration dates given by our lord. But I hope to stop that. I will either stop the cycle or die trying.

I have come home for the first time in years. I have aided the people there all that time but I will now aid them near the source of their troubles. Because it would seem that someone has already set the task in motion. I'm just here to finish the job.

--

A mere month ago this place was bombed. I guess it was the work of somebody who hated him as much as everyone who lives in the area. He was caught in the blast. His fortress is breached. It could be considered a miracle but I refuse to call it such a thing until I complete my task.

Getting inside is easier than I would have expected. Could it be…I could have sworn I was spotted earlier…maybe…perhaps they don't want me to stop him reaching him…they finally see the chance to leave him unprotected at a crucial moment. I guess fear can only bind you so far…because they have hope. Hope drives away fear. No matter what the odds are. The sheer thought of the possibility that it may all end is more than enough hope.

I have found the room where he is most likely to be. The interrogated guards where extremely co-operative. Hell, I don't even think I had to fight them to get my information. But there injuries would at least lower suspicion of them being traitors to the Lord. I waste no more time. I prepare my knife. I enter the room.

I see him. The tyrant that robbed my people of their peace. The one who controlled everything but our souls. That monster who values none other than himself. He is in a hospital bed now. Hooked up to an IV drip. I can hear his black heart echo through the air through the Electrocardiogram.

He looks so helpless now…this looks…impossible…It looks…unreal….

"The visiting hours are over!!"

"What!?" I attempt to cry out by instinct…but it is futile…for my throat has already been grasped. The face I see before me is not helpless. It looks far from unreal. "Decoy…" I manage to rasp through my crushed airways.

"Yup! That is indeed a decoy you pathetic little worm!!" yelled the true tyrant as he smashed me into the wall.

Aggggh!!

Damn. I can't…move…hurts so much! I can't feel the entire left side of my body! Whatever I can feel…hurts!!

"You know what I always called those decoys" he teased "the ones I scattered amongst my fortresses in the early days of war?" He does not expect me to answer of course. He wants to save that pleasure to himself. "False…Bowsers" he whispered.

"You…su…survived…"

"Of course I did maggot!!" he yelled into my face "I will always survive! That napalm or whatever it was that was sent into my window was not enough to kill me!" Bowser's face twisted into a sick smile "too bad…the others were not so lucky…"

Bowser tosses me like a ragdoll. I slam against the wall once more and concuss my head. Damn. Can't let me lose my focus! Stay awake! My vision gradually returns as I lay discarded in the corner.

"Those false Bowsers where capable of keeping the likes of Mario occupied for a long time…seven castles…in a row and he fell for them all!" he lectured "I found a single soldier of mine after the attack…he was on deaths door…that's who is in the hospital bed…I turned him into a false Bowser…"f

So that's it…Bowser self fabricated the rumors of his critical condition to draw out those disloyal to him…I gritted my teeth as I tried to focus though the pain…move dammit! I ordered to my hand. Eventually I managed to get the unresponsive limb to move very sluggishly.

"Oh no you don't…"

Bowser snatched the knife from my hand in a flash and rested it in his palm in front of me.

"You're kidding right?"

He slammed his other fist down on the knife in his palm, pounding it to scrap in a single blow.

"Now you're in trouble…"

The behemoth of a monster was closing in on my broken body that was still leaning against the wall. He raised his fist—

Agggghh!!

Bowser is experienced. His fist is powerful enough to blast me clean though the wall without any loss in kinetic energy…yet…he merely grazes me…if you could call it that.

"How do you feel?"

"Ugh!!" I respond. My throat burns as I forcibly puke out blood.

"Not to worry…" Bowser told me…with that sick grin again "you're in a hospital…"

Bowser is raising that—

"AAAGGGHHH!!"

Damn you Bowser!! He…he lets the blow miss me by inches…enough to beat me senseless still…my skull…I don't think it will hold out…

"Now worm…now that you've been pacified a little…how's about you give me a little info?"

"Go…to…hell…" I rasp out.

"That would require dying…" he laughed "and I have little intention of doing so…ever…"

Bowser placed his hand upon his mouth and breathed out. When he removed his hand he displayed a ball of fire within it.

"2000 degrees" he told me.

Before I could fully imagine what twisted game he was going to play with me he had already held the fireball in the same area of my shattered leg…it's…burning it? But I don't feel—

"AAAGGGHHHH!! Agggghhh!" I bite my lip…trying to keep my mouth clenched.

My leg…it feels…cold…colder than anything I have ever felt before…Farr Outpost's climate is nothing compared to this…there is just…I can't even feel my own body heat in that area!!

"Your nerve endings in your leg have just shut…they have been killed…" he answered my unasked question while playing about with the ball of fire some more…pondering on were to stick it next… "Why don't you save yourself some further trouble?"

I feel some blood run down my face…I try to feel the damage with my functioning hand…a long scar has been formed across my face…likely a result of the spiky bracelet that Bowser wears.

"Here is my ultimatum…" he continued "I want you to tell me just who wants to put a stop to my rule. I want you to tell me who hired you. I want you to tell me who may have helped you come this far."

I close my eyes. I know many, many people who fit that category…If I am to give Bowser their identities…I might live…

"No." I tell him.

Bowser snatches me from the floor and pins me against the wall once more. He gradually applies pressure with one hand and holds the ball of fire near my face with the other…trying to get me nervous of course…

"Why!?" he barked "I could let you live you ungrateful punk!! Reward you even!! Or won't you tell me out of some misplaced sense of pride? Is that why you came after me with a butter knife in the first place!! Out of your goddamn pride?"

I look at Bowser directly in the eye and laugh. I savior his reaction of surprise.

"You really are ignorant…" I tell him "Pride? You accuse me of being a victim of pride?"

I laugh again. Bowser looks confused and angry.

"Let me tell you the definition of pride you illiterate dumbass! Pride! The ultimate source of all sins!! Do you know what it is?" I yell "Pride is the desire to be more important than everyone else!! An excessive love on one's self!! You accuse me of pride…yet you…the true bearer of pride…don't even know the meaning of it…"

"You dare…?"

"Yes Bowser…I dare…for I have nothing to lose now…you took it all away from me…and soon I'll lose my life…" I smile at him mockingly "and you know what Bowser? You were wrong twice in one sentence…I know full well that you are damn well near indestructible…there was even a rumor I heard once that stated that you escaped from hell itself…"

Bowser simply glares at me…wondering what he can do to break me further…sap me of my confidence…

"I knew…I knew that you were powerful yet I came anyway…there was no way I would miss a chance to kill you…" I giggle to him to make him angry "still…even though you were supposed to be confined to a hospital bed…I knew a 'butterknife' as you say…would not do much…"

Bowser glared at me for a few more seconds before my statement fully sunk in. I loved the expression he put on. His pupils grew small. He was thrown off guard. Those words slipped straight past his defenses.

"You…" he begun, but I cut him off.

"That's right Bowser…even if you were relying on drips and bedpans…I knew it would still take some heavy stuff…" I pull out my other weapon from its hiding place and wave it in front of his face.

"I've seen that before…that's a…"

"Yes Bowser…a super Bomb-omb…just like the X-Nauts used…"

"But I've survived that before!"

"True…I was relying on the assumption that you would be in a critical condition…but you will no doubt survive it now..."

"Then put it down…" he ordered.

"No."

"Put it down!!"

"No." I repeated "It may not kill you…but it'll serve as a warning to those who also want to take advantage of your 'hospitalization'…your plan to draw out those who are willing to fight more freedom has failed…and who knows? Maybe it will kill you? Maybe you have a limit?"

"But this is not my limit!!" he spat "why do you insist on throwing your life away!?"

"You'll kill me anyway…" I answer "and besides…I like the idea of pissing you off before that happens…your reconstruction of this place is going to take much longer…"

"Don't you do it punk!!" he yelled "you will give me my information! You don't have the will to do otherwise!!"

I grin at Bowser and answer "you haven't listened to a single word I have said…as long as people like me exist…you will experience your ultimate downfall eventually…swallow your pride and accept that…"

"You…" he muttered with disgust.

Before he can say anything else…I trigger my explosive…without a trace of regret in my heart…

Did I achieve anything? Maybe…I got the point across…maybe…it's the actions of people like me as a whole…and it'll eventually pile up…fact is…someone had to try…and…and even if it was just to stop someone else from throwing away their life…

It was worth it.

Mum…? Dad…? Sis…?

Is that…you…?