Everyone says that out of the seven deadly sins pride was the worst. And sure that made sense after all the hardest step is admitting when one has a problem in the first place. But I think the thing that genuinely dragged me into my moniker of a monster was most certainly wrath.
When I became a slave, and after Jasmine died I was so utterly broken. I was forced to live with all those experiences with nothing to shield me. It would have been so easy to have let despair break me. To find peace in death and end my pain. But I found something so much easier to get me past that pain. To give in to another way. I decided to turn my despair into a rage. And as soon I did that it was like a tidal wave. Have you ever felt it? Have you ever felt such rage in your heart that you wanted to world burn? Such rage that your throat feels like it's swimming in fire? Because that was what I felt every second that I hunted and killed those men like worms. Even though I used them as vessels for my wrath, it didn't die. It simply festered.
Even though I attempted to weave a plausible story, I thought of playing the part of the victim deluding myself as the savior in the back of the mind. I spit on that fact now. For those roles would never fit. I wear the face of a monster no matter what guise I was in.
I remember that I was on my way to meet my family once again. But during that time that goal felt... forlorn. Like they belonged to a different person in another life. It also didn't help that the nightmares had begun to stir. Every few days I would experience flashes of imagery ended with me waking up in a feverish sweat with only one real word to describe it: dissatisfaction. Like somehow in death "he" had still gotten a one up on me. Still, My past self rejected that thought immediately again using rage to wrap my broken self together.
I was making my way down the escalator, but suddenly a voice snuck up on me that chilled me to the very bone.
"Hello Sarah Walters, or should I say Saytan. I think we have a lot to discuss."
I turn around to see a middle-aged Asian woman with short hair. She was dressed in casual clothes and gave a bit of an offputtingly casual visage despite the statement. She then said.
"I insist you come quietly and not make a scene. I promise you I will change your life."
We were in an alleyway far from prying eyes. While to you, we could have been two friends, but for me, it was one of the most stressful moments of my life. I was facing an unknown opponent that brought with her entrance a countless amount of questions filled my mind. There is no telling how many they were, what they would do or better yet what they would throw at me. And nothing is more fearful than the unknown. Still, I don't give a single inch in fear not wanting to ever admit to anyone again that I was once a victim. The woman remained calm and casual, and she slid a couple of photos that I looked at. They were essentially photos of places I had "visited" on my pilgrimage to end Aman. A microexpression of sadistic glee overtakes me, but I quickly swipe it away. After all, this proves a terrifying truth. That my actions had attracted bigger changes than I ever wanted or hoped.
"You've made quite the splash over these past few years Sarah. The Underworld has taken notice of you and your one-woman war. And "we" are impressed."
"And who is this royal "we."
"My name doesn't and hasn't mattered for years. Plus it's not like you'll believe any alias I give you. You can call us Eclipse, and we essentially deal with the scum no one wants to deal with in the shadows. And we would like to welcome you into the fold."
That's right folks. Titan wasn't my first time (in a spy organization get your mind out of the gutter). Eclipse was yet another sin from my past and as you will come to know it was easily the worst of them all. At the time my fear turned to a swirl of confusion in which my then mystery person capitalized on.
" As soon as we discovered your existence we found out about what led you to your path, and we discovered the mission that sent you off on your path, and it seems our goals can be mutually beneficial."
Again a distant memory from so long ago resurfaces. The reason that leads me on this very odyssey in the first place. The Nexus: a mysterious group that even after two years I knew very little of.
"And what exactly is my benefit. If I even have a choice that is."
"There is always a choice Sarah that is a way of life. But for you is there really any choice? I saw what you did to those men. Broken bones, chipped tooths, 3rd degree burns, all while keeping them alive. You made them suffer before they died. You took pleasure in their deaths, didn't you? I can see it from just your microexpressions from before. There is a part of you that likes... no is addicted to punishing the wicked. That likes to get revenge instead of getting even. So what if I told you that I could give you the revenge you so crave?"
No. That's what I should have said. But no the woman who later called herself Reyna burrowed into the darkest recesses of my mind. She read me like a book. I was a soldier who had come back from a long war. A former woman turned demon who reveled in the pain of others. But still human enough to question what her place in it all. Reyna gave me everything I wanted: a target, a flimsy moral code to justify my actions and of course a purpose. So I made a deal with the devil, and with it, the worst decision of my life came into play. One that will haunt me till the day the man downstairs chats with me for all eternity.
"I'd say that I would maybe want to hear more."
She explained to me the Nexus and their purpose. Think of them as like Amazon for the criminal underworld. They make the deals and resources provided to get all the gangsters, dealers and traffickers what they want for all their needs. Naturally, such a development could in actuality increase the unity of different crime organizations together and make them more potent as a result. So potent they could potentially eclipse..Eclipse. And I was their new weapon in the fight against them.
As a combat medic, I had received only basic combat training. My training across my quest for vengeance a large portion of my time was on info gathering and sprucing up my basic skills. And what came next forged me into something even more significant. Eclipse was the real teacher in my class of assassination(Why do I feel like I referenced something). With my signing on I was given a set of conditions that made deathly sure that I wouldn't betray them. Eclipse implanted a chip into my left hand to always keep an eye on me no matter where I was and would shock me if I tried anything. They also were a bit like a cult. They employed techniques like limited interaction with the outside world, mantras, and repeated messages. Either way, it didn't matter vengeance was my only care in the world now.
Eclipse taught me about the first 2 rules of assassination through test after test. The first one was by far the hardest. For a week they would set me up in house after house in which I was forced to kill an unknown intruder. Dozens of time I had failed with a smack to the face, a throw to the floor or an axe kick to the shoulder. But despite it all, it taught me how to think on my feet and to always uphold stealth above all else. There was also forced interrogations which were used to test further the loyalty they also put me in fake interrogations designed to help me resist. They helped me show how fear indeed was the greatest weapon. I also became quicker on the draw. My loyalty was unshaken for a bloody two years filled with piled bodies. And Saytan was a name lived in infamy across the criminal underworld. The only hiccup in my day to day was that my nightmares had never really stopped. I swear in my ear I would wake up to the sound of a familiar voice. Looking back on it now I think it was not my so-called conscience but maybe Jasmine trying to tell me to move on and stop but I was too dense to listen. That was until a particular mission came by that again prove to be the biggest of bombshells.
I was tracking another target; a Nexus hacker named Misty Sinclair who had evaded capture numerous times. Enough substantial evidence to reveal Eclipse to the world. I was tasked with eliminating her and her last known location: the tech capital of the U.S.: San Jose, California. She was a bit of a cybercriminal on the side and so was relatively popular for people who need something to be covered up. I went to ever decrepit hovel I could find trying to gain info. But I didn't score until the most unlikely of signs strikes me. As when I was scoping out another bar, I'm immediately encountered with a garrote wraps around my throat! Shortly after a kick brings me on one knee. My mouth coughs and sputters, but my will forced me to pull out a small switchblade and stab his Achilles tendon. I capitalize on the opportunity and stab him in the leg again. His grip completely loosens, and I do a low sweep that knocks him down.
Now that I was in control of the situation I quickly knocked my assailant and dragged him away before police could intervene. Once when we were in a more private place, I interrogated him.
"I am a licensed medical practitioner, and I'm guessing you know where Misty is?"
"I'm not going to tell you how to do your job, but torture isn't the most effective form of interrogation."
"True, but something tells me you're still going to spill your guts. Whether it's literally or figuratively is still up in the air."
It proved to be figurative though exsanguination is a nasty way to die nonetheless. His name was Fred Ditz a former cage fighter who accidentally murdered the guy who had ended his career with a torn rotator cuff. Misty saved him as a way to have her clean-up crew. But they were personally close friends. Close enough to have him registered in the hand and eye scanner that unlocks her bunker. I tried reporting to Eclipse but the closer I got to the shelter the more the signal got scrambled. Once it opens, I find it was a pretty bare room with computers and a robust girl with bright orange hair and glasses.
"Well, Ditz how did it go? Did that Eclipse bitch get what she deserved?"
She then turned around to see me with handcuffs.
"Yeah, that bitch did get what she deserved. But she put up a bit of a fight."
I handcuffed her. In her eyes, I didn't see a challenge. So I tried to end this as painlessly as possible. Eclipse wanted me to kill her straight, but any information was useful information on the bastards that made me who I am now.
"Tell me everything you know of the Nexus, and maybe you get out of this in one piece," I said with a predatory leer.
"What the hell is a Nexus?"
"Are you seriously playing coy with me?"
"No you fucking psycho I don't know what the hell is a Nexus but if you're going to kill me go ahead. I'd rather be dead than a slave to you pricks."
"What the hell are you talking about now?"
"You don't know?"
"No I don't but if you don't tell me I'm going to to make what you did to your friend look like a mercy killing."
She explained to me a revelation that blew me away. I always had my doubts on Eclipse, but my vengeance consumed me whole. Misty explained she was a cyber criminal that had stumbled upon Eclipse: A group of mercs who wanted to control the underworld brainwash and hire exceptional people in their ranks. Turns them into nothing more than monitoring tools that will do anything for their cause. Misty wanted to reveal their information publicly to the world, but Eclipse came hard and fast.
With this news, my world was spinning. If Misty wasn't a member of Nexus how many people were also unrelated? How many people did I kill just because I saw them as a target? A tool to unleash my rage and frustration. The voices finally all click in once as my barrier finally breaks. All at once I was reduced back to the pathetic true self that I hide even now. The vulnerable girl all those years ago that spends every second of her pitiful existence trying to cover that weakness and trauma in all the wrong ways. The person who did irredeemable, unforgivable things so that she can become a monster amongst monsters. And that ladies and gentleman was my first step into how I entered my endless cycle of failed repentance. How my biggest weakness will and forever be my weakness.
But no I did try to make the bastards repent. Or help in Misty's crusade. The shock was too much to process so in the meantime I took the coward's way out: I ran, leaving Misty to her own devices. For three months I tore through each town like a storm trying in vain to hide from Eclipse leaving only more bodies and chaos in my wake. Eventually, I got tired and tried to hide in the most remote place I could find the forests of Henan as a hermit. It was the longest I was able to keep undercover. So about 3 and a half weeks. I was on my way to enjoy a quick nap before I found a couple of men in forest camo all in a formation. The good news was that I wasn't sleepy anymore. Fear and frustration were pretty good at doing that. And with the enemy fast approaching, I followed their lead and faded into the forest. The world dulled until only we remained in this private expanse. With only of the sound of the bugs and the connecting stream in the background.
The good news was I had home field advantage. Bad news, I only had a knife and garrote to my name. Using the environment that I spent hours taking note of I was able to count up to at least six enemies tensely. After that, I decided to close in on one of the stragglers. I threw a rock to draw his attention. His distraction was only for a second, but it was all I needed. I bash his head into a tree and spin him around to the ground where I quickly sever his jugular vein and left him to bleed out in half a minute. I strip his weapons and armor from him and move on to the next target. I could only listen on their comms for about a minute before they inevitably tried to trace the comm-link and change the frequency into one I couldn't hear. Still, it gave me the position of the others. Another close call overtakes me as one of the men was right behind me with only a tree separating us. I give a small sound in a way that signals and turns to where I once was. In a desperate pounce, we both engage in a quieted struggle.
Our Adrenal glands go into overtime as we wrestled for the gun with several bullets rip through the forest. But still, I managed to push the gun away and avoid an oncoming spin kick. The soldier pulls out his knife and using the garrote I managed to gain control of it and guide the blade into the femoral artery. Unfortunately for me, I took the notice of one of the Eclipse agents, and she fires. I twist myself to use my enemy as a human shield and use his sidearm to perforate her head with lead. I couldn't appreciate my rhyming talents to the fullest with the three remaining agents effectively knowing my location. Bullets meet bark as I roll my way to gain more distance from them. I curse at myself as I get winged and also receive a shot to my belly though the armor protected me. I sprinted deeper into the forest and when the time was right. In one last run, I used the garrote to gain control over one of my opponents they hesitated. Still, I was able to capitalize on that twinge of caution and kick the man straight into the other enemy, and in haste, I rolled into the position to gun the rest of them down.
My sides groaned in pain with my breathing becoming more labored from my wound. Eventually, I sucked it up enough to at least stand back up and lay on a tree branch. I thought I was relatively safe until I push off the tree to avoid a knife that planted was where I once was. Reyna appeared with a murderous look that glared right at me.
"What are you even doing Sarah? We gave you everything a rabid mutt like you could've wanted: a target and the opportunity to get off your leash every once and awhile. And yet you still bite our hand?"
"I am not your slave! Not now and not ever! The only place my soul belongs to is the devil for all the blood I've spilled! Saytan is dead Sarah Walters is dead and if we make peace this day. Not another soul will know of Eclipse and you will never see my face again."
"I intend to make peace this day Sarah. The mercy of death that I will bring to you will finally deliver you the peace you desire!"
She flashed her knife as she made her way forward as I pull out mine as we engaged in taxing slash after slash. It didn't take long for her to disarm me, but I decided to take the offensive with a little bit of muay thai. I dodged an oncoming slash to deliver an elbow to the face and a punishing knee to force her back as I raise my hands in a fighting stance with my stamina fading and side throbbing in pain. Reyna took my blows in an almost sickening stride as she smiled sadistically. However, I was a desperate beast at this point as her grimace was interrupted by weaving out of a Brazilian kick. This was a mistake as she licked her lips and proceeded onward to deliver a strong sidekick targeted explicitly at the wound that I block but it still hurts tremendously. Though I can't worry about it as she tries to stab in my head! My hands wrapped around her arm as I the only thing I could do was divert it into a small cut on my neck. She then proceeds to deliver a host of punches on my wound, further sapping my strength as she throws me to the ground. Still, I recover from it only to deal with a flurry of cuts and blows that are more savage than the last until I find myself completely drained of strength. She knew every move I was going to make plus had far more training than me to work with. Unpredictability aside it was only a matter of time before I was a broken woman on the verge of defeat.
Reyna moved on despite the few good licks I gave her approached coldly like a demon who had finally grown tired her meal. And I realize that was probably the face of all those whom I've killed before.
"You were an interesting individual Sarah, but I hope you die knowing that you were simply a pawn playing in a much larger game."
With unbelievable speed, she stabbed me in the abdomen! My scream drained the world of color as the only thing I saw was my hands that glowed red with blood. Again I realized that a just god might exist if I were to suffer before I died, but despite that, I didn't want a devil like her the satisfaction of my death. As I laid there with my life fading, I heard 20 feet down below was a coursing stream. And while Reyna is patiently stroking her gun and cocking it. I already made my descent below at the time expecting my life to end but instead entering a new chapter in my odyssey of pain. The chapter of my life that forever forged my path with the Paladin.