Back and forth, back and forth. Keep fighting huh? Keep bleeding. Keep dying. That's the purpose of a war, isn't it? To win land by the sacrifice of the people? Throw bodies into the grinder, see what comes out the other side. The dreamers think it's going to be profit, new land and plenty of money to make use of. Borders broken. Chains cut. They think everything's going to be alright in the end.
But guess what comes out of a meat grinder? F*ckin' ground-up meat.
Mr. Harvey understood that better than anyone. He had friends and family in this war. Everyone was a brother or a sister to him, a son and a daughter, maybe even parents and grandparents. They each had their stories. They were part of something greater through the Black Masks. Mr. Harvey learned a long time ago that you could only pay someone to do something for so long. There had to be trust, and commitment to that trust. In the end, over a period of twenty years, he had established a relationship with plenty of people. People that wouldn't have made it alone. People that came to him, people he came to. He made it a point to emphasize that the Black Masks weren't just some mob wannabe. They were family, and family looks out for their own.
"The Rumblers are just like us," he grunted, watching it all unfold from somewhere outside Gothic City's limits. He could see every direction that was pulled or pushed, caring little if anything for the larger powers at work. While the gods played their games, these were the trenches the men fought and died in. They fought in blood, dirt, and concrete, for blood, dirt, and concrete.
"They won't give up as long as one of 'em is still alive. Same for us. We're here because the f*cks started 'cleaning' up the streets, and that just so happened to include some family here. I knew 'em too. George and Martha, family-owned business. Pizzaria. Smuggled guns in for the Black Masks here, ran that operation for a decade. Rumblers lit their store on fire with them inside, locked and barricaded the exits. Cooked 'em," he lowered his head, offering a quiet prayer to the fallen.
"But I didn't start this because they killed some friends of the family. Or because they killed our brothers and sisters here on the East Coast. If that were the case, I would have left by now. Nah, this is a message. The Black Masks are awake,"
And we're angry
"God damn," Antonio hissed, his legs taken out from underneath him with a quartet of perfect shots. He couldn't walk or stand up, that's for sure.
"You know, there are better ways of getting my attention,"
He sat there, on his blasted-out kneecaps, execution style. What was the Rumbler going to do? Kill him again? He saw what happened to the whole damn block. Surely he was smarter than that. Taking a glance behind him, Antonio saw just the man he was waiting for. The Ace? All the way out here? And here he was trying to hunt him down. That was a job for the Doberman, for Jason even. Antonio had better things to do. Demolition, mostly.
He could see Ace's eyes, and how much he hated him right now.
"You can't kill me, you idiot, not unless you want to end up like them," he cocked his head to the side, motioning towards the piles of dead Rumblers crushed underneath street rubble.
"I wish I could contradict, given all the Black Masks you've killed. Put the gun down," Carlos interjected from behind Ace, pointing the AK-47 into the small of the Rumbler Lord's back. Ricardo, his skin still bleeding from the fresh cracks given the napalm he ate earlier, limped into the fray on Teresa's shoulder, both of them holding 9mm pistols at Ace's head and neck. Any move he made would be met with any of the three of them shooting or Antonio doing something surprising.
"But Mr. Harvey wants you alive. Seems like we get a Christmas bonus if we make you suffer. Funny how it all turns on its head huh?" This being the last thing Carlos would say before Ricardo sat down, Teresa circling around and attempting to pistol-whip Ace into a temporary coma.
Jason and the Doberman
It's going to be a hit sitcom, just watch!
The Doberman was used to death, actually. He had met with the Grim Reaper tons of times before just coming back, as good as new. It's always a cheap tactic, he admitted, but it worked. Only, headshots were extremely effective at putting him down for good. At least, that's what he said to himself.
Curious thing about the Doberman's brain is that it contains an extra section, completely harmless but still agitating as all hell. Somehow or another, it allows him to see glimpses of what might happen. Sure, curiosity got the better of him and he just went with it to see if it was real. But most of the time, like 99% of the time, it happened just like in his little pseudo-predictions. His own personal zodiac, a fortune for every second of the day if he wanted to. This evolved mental projection caused him to start carrying around those medi-shots in case something might go horrifically wrong.
In one possible future, he was just gunned down then and there, the sitcom he always wanted destined to never be aired. Maybe Jason did it out of memorandum. Alternate universe theory is weird. But in the reality he chose, he moved his head and body as soon as the blood and teeth splattered against his designer glasses.
"F*ck! That's gross man!" ducking out of the way, he heard the telltale blast grazing just inches away from his ears. Disorienting, yeah, because guns are loud as balls, but still - he was alive.
Nobody was allowed to see him with his glasses off, so he cleaned them quickly using a dead Rumbler's jacket, only to look back up and find two things. One, the Rumbler he had been squaring off with had retreated into a crowd of about fifty and growing. Two, Jason was there too.
"Jason? J-Pop? What's happenin' broski! Lefty loosy righty tighty!"
Without skipping a beat, absolutely ignorant to the fact that they were surrounded for a split second, the Doberman initiated their specialized handshake perfected through about twelve years of putting up with each other on a professional level. At its conclusion, he turned back to the Rumblers, putting the European-style sword in its sheath in favor of a katana and a washizaki sword - but not before putting his fist to his crotch and jerking it back and forth in a disrespectful pumping motion.
"Yeah, come get some! J-Pop and the Dawg, ready to bust some heads and bust in your girls, boys! Better give up now! Just walk away! Just walk away,"
He doubted the Road Warrior reference would go over well at this point, to which he just launched into melee combat, completely focused now. Bullets ricocheted off the smaller washizaki, perfectly timed to the Doberman's almost-perfectly accurate future vision. What he couldn't predict came a few steps down the road or what he couldn't explicitly avoid, like when he got clocked in the face with a pair of brass knucks like he did the lucky bastard who vanished earlier. That, however, spared him from being shot in the chest by someone pointing a pistol at his shoulder blade.
Turning around on a pivot, he took off that boy's hand as well as part of another Rumbler's face. While Jason no doubt calculated trajectories with frightening accuracy, the Doberman became a whirlwind of violence, scattering body parts like a butcher at lunch time. For some reason, they were idiots apart, and they were still dumb as hell together.
But for some reason, they were scary together. Scary enough to be a serious threat, and that's why Mr. Harvey paid for the bundle.
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