Court of Darkness (chapter seven): Unnatural
Posted By: Chuckles
Date: 19 April 2007, 10:24 pm
Court of Darkness (chapter seven): Unnatural
September 23, 2538; Aonia City (Planet Metioche).
Immune to the swift death descending on the humans around them, the flowers flourished in neglect; mocking their caregivers' grim fate with each colorful bloom. At least, it seemed that way to Andy. As he walked home through the corpse-strewn streets of Aonia at dusk, a warm misty rain made his t-shirt cling to his skin. Andy no longer stopped to see if the red, swollen bodies he stepped over and around were people he knew, and he'd long since tuned out the incessant cries of mourning. For two and a half months, every day had dawned a nightmare, and with each passing sunset his former life passed further away. Emotions that had once been at the surface were pushed down so far into his psyche that he'd become convinced he would never experience them again.
He was wrong.
Fear's icy fingers tickled his spine as he neared his small home and saw his older brother Tommy on the front porch. When their eyes met, Andy suddenly forgot how to breathe. He bolted for the house, but his brother stood to block his way.
"Don't go in there, Andy," he said, fighting back tears. "Beth's all but gone, and I don't wanna lose you too."
Shoving his brother aside, Andy ran through the door and into a wall of forgotten emotions. Beth, his beloved wife of eight months, lay on the couch before him. Her red skin flashed like fire against the white sofa and she was swollen to twice her normal size. Only her long blond hair, tangled and forgotten beneath her fevered head, remained unchanged. As he looked at his dying and disfigured lover, each breath became a conscious physical effort and his chest felt heavy and immovable.
"Honey?" he said, kneeling beside her and taking her ballooned right hand in his. Warm tears filled his eyes and began flowing down his face. "Can you hear me?" Beth's eyes opened—and they were as red as her skin.
"You're wrong about the flowers," she said in a painful, raspy whisper.
Beth somehow managed to smile. "They're not mocking us, honey. They're a blessing from God."
Andy's mouth dropped open. "H-how did you know about that?"
"I heard you on the way home." She squeezed his hand. "And I'm glad you noticed my hair." Red tears welled in her eyes. "I'm not all gone."
He shook his head in confusion. "You heard my thoughts?"
"Uh huh," she replied softly. "And you ... you thought my sister was cute." Her face twisted in agony as a violent convulsion shook through her traumatized body. She tried to speak but her head fell limp and her once eloquent lips produced only the sound of escaping air. Bethany Marie Navré was gone.
For some reason Andy had never feared for Beth's life. Although he had mouthed the words eight months before, it had never occurred to him that death might actually part them; or that her voice and touch could ever disappear completely. After two and a half months of disease and ruin, Andy thought he'd become familiar with death, but he now realized he'd been nothing more than a tourist. For weeks he'd thought that Death's horror lived in the reeking corpse-strewn streets of Aonia, but now he knew the awful truth. Death plunged its stinger into the living, not the dead. The tragedy was not in the streets, but in the lonely houses of those left behind.
Andy's brother walked in and stood by the door, afraid to come a step closer. He took a long, hard drag on his cigarette and shook his head as he blew out the smoke.
"I don't know. I scoffed at those weird stories goin' around same as you, but this here," he said, pointing at Beth's body with his cigarette, "has got me spooked." Andy continued to stare at his wife; too numb to respond to the crass statement. Tommy flicked ash into a flowerpot next to the door and spoke in a trembling voice. "Beth freakin' told me what I was thinkin'. She knew that me and Rona just had a fight." He looked nervously out the window and sucked in smoke as if his life depended on it. "That's unnatural."
Squeezing his lover's hand for the last time, Andy whispered a truth that was as obvious to him now as his own existence. "Death is unnatural, Tommy." He ran his hand through Beth's hair, kissed her crimson cheek and then gently closed her eyes. "That's why it feels so wrong."
By the time the virus concluded its reign of terror, it had killed every man, woman and child it infected: a staggering ninety percent of the population. When scientists were unable to determine the plague's original host, Metioche was permanently quarantined; making it the only planet in the history of mankind to be claimed by a virus. With help from the UNSC, the survivors were evacuated and the system abandoned. But Death can not be dammed up like a river and not all plagues are spread by blood and wind.
Two years later, a Harvard student made the virtually unknown plague the subject of a doctoral dissertation and, given the phenomena exhibited by its victims as they neared death, dubbed it, "The Seer's Virus." Although the paper drew scorn from both students and faculty, it caught the attention of an ambitious ONI Colonel named Stephen Black who, after pulling the appropriate strings, sent a team of scientists to conduct research on the doomed planet.
After two grisly months of grave digging and dissection, they sent back a report so incredible that neither its highly technical nature nor its dispassionate tone could keep it from reading like science fiction. Although the bodies of the victims had wasted away, the brain and spinal cord were in perfect condition and surrounded by a thin protective membrane. And, in a development that caused one of the scientist to suffer a mild coronary episode, they discovered that the brains were still active. Indeed, every time one of the researchers moved or spoke, the brains would react—even if it was behind closed doors hundreds of meters away.
ONI knew they'd struck gold; now they had to find a way to mine it.
It was a tall order, but after three years of tinkering, thousands of dead primates and several viral mutations, ONI's Biological Research Division finally had something to show Colonel Black. As of yet, only chimpanzees had been tested, but the results were undeniably spectacular. Aside from a modest boost in red blood cell production, they had managed to eliminate the harmful effects of the virus without diminishing the considerable mental augmentation. The chimps could react to one another through walls and respond to their trainer's commands—whether spoken or thought—from several kilometers away. The ONI Colonel was so impressed that, against the advice of the researchers, he had two prisoners sent over that same day for human tests.
Although the men showed no symptoms of the original virus, they nevertheless dropped dead fifteen hours after infection. When Colonel Black was told it would take years to generate a mutation that worked on humans, he began looking for a shortcut—and found it.
Following the appearance of the Covenant in 2525, ONI rewrote its rules and bylaws to reflect the growing threat. It was during that dark and desperate time that the concept of Utilis Mors, was added. It stipulated that human lives could be sacrificed on a large or small scale if the outcome was beneficial to the preservation of our existence. Mr. Black knew that large scale "testing" on human subjects would provide the best chance for a beneficial mutation. With a little luck, they could move the implementation date up years or even decades. Given the startling potential of the project, he had little trouble getting the brass to agree that it met the criteria for Utilis Mors. All that remained was choosing a planet with a large enough population and—since the military establishment at large would never condone ONI's course of action—a nominal UNSC presence.
Tethra was perfect.
In the Spring of 2544, the virus was unleashed on Lifford; Tethra's poorest and most densely populated city. Over the next few months, millions died in what came to be called the Silent Plague. Results were good at first, with the virus showing a tendency for quick mutations, but given the fact that it killed every person it infected, the plague burned out before significant progress was made. Thus, it was sent back to the Biological Research Division while the clandestine agency crossed its fingers and covered its tracks. Slaughtering millions of people drew enormous attention, and even under the rationalization of Utilis Mors, it wasn't something that could be done often. Yes, Mr. Black would be allowed to give it another try, but he would have to wait a full eight years.
Seven years and three hundred sixty-four days later, Colonel Black walked out of Tethra's largest hospital and slid into the back of a waiting limousine. An elaborate bouquet of bandages adorned the stump where his right arm used to be, and he required a steady diet of morphine to dull the pain. No matter. Tomorrow was his big day and neither Cairren O'Carrol nor an amputation-by-sniper-rifle was going to keep him from his front row seat.
Since they couldn't trust hospitals, ONI Lieutenant David Sagus had all but given Helljumper up for dead. Wiley, however, proved to be a highly skilled medic—if not a formally trained physician—and after three hours and several close-calls, he managed to stabilize the unconscious ODST.
When the assassin finally shut off the bedroom light and entered the living area of Lexicus' apartment, he found Sagus and the Spartan sitting with pistols drawn on opposite ends of an old brown sofa.
"How is he?" David asked, his eyes as cold as the steel in his hand.
Wiley's gaze was no less frigid. "He's in a coma, but his vitals are good."
"Thank you. Now spread your legs and place both hands on your head." Sagus stood, shoved his weapon into the small of his back and searched the mysterious killer, finding only a small combat knife. After tossing it across the room, he palmed his pistol and returned to the couch.
"I've been ordered to kill you," Lexicus said in a tired voice, "And I fully intend to carry out that order."
Wiley looked back and forth between the two men, more irritated than frightened. "I could've shot you both."
"Then you should've," the Spartan replied flatly. "I came to kill, not to bargain." The big man paused for a moment and then smiled. "Why did you risk your life to ask for help?"
Wiley grunted. "It'll take a while to explain."
"That's all right," Lexicus said, nodding towards his gun, "I'll let you know if I get bored."
It had been a long, busy day and though he hated to admit it, he was glad to see the last person walk out the door. Pastor Brian Fogarty usually enjoyed spending time with members of his small Protestant congregation, but the events of the last few days had drained his energy and emotions to such an extent that he could barely sleep. Brian was a firefighter as well as a minister, and ever since the terrorist attack on the condominium in the Pallisades, all he could see were the mangled bodies he carried out of the wreckage, and all he could feel was anger—and that was no way for a man of God to live.
Earlier in the day, he had tried sharing his feelings with a friend, but all it got him was a canned smile and a short lecture on how he ought to forgive the terrorists and pray for their salvation. From a strictly theological standpoint, the advice was fine, but the flippancy with which it was offered made him even more upset. Such a thing was easy to say when you hadn't watched a terrified two year-old girl writhe in agony before dying in your arms. When his friend then asked how he thought Jesus would respond, Brian answered without hesitation.
Jesus would have been furious.
Loosening his tie, he fell down on his comfortable couch and tried to think about something—anything—else. Comforted by the welcome silence, his mind began to drift when a soft knock on his front door brought him back to his ugly reality. Rising from the sofa with a scowl, he swung the door open—and his mouth dropped open. Laying face-down on his porch was the largest man he had ever seen; and if the bruises and dried blood were any indication, he'd taken a horrendous beating.
Sean Flannery lifted unfocused eyes, raised an arm towards the blur standing before him and passed out before uttering a word.
It took more than an hour, and even though Wiley's tone was emotionless and detached, his audience was spellbound. With their guns set aside and forgotten, both Sagus and the legendary Spartan felt as if they were back on Erebus.
Lexicus rubbed his right eye and sighed. "Where is the virus now?"
"It arrives tomorrow morning," Wiley replied, "And thanks to O'Carrol, it will be heavily guarded. According to Mr. Black, there'll be a couple dozen Marines and at least one Spartan."
"What about the rich?" Sagus said, leaning forward to stretch out his stiff neck. "If this plague spreads like you say, what's to keep them from getting it?"
"The Industrial Counsel learned its lesson eight years ago," Wiley said with a smirk. "This time they've stockpiled vaccines in advance."
Lexicus shook his head. "I don't get it. Why would somebody like you even care?" The Spartan's eyes narrowed. "Is somebody paying you to do this?"
"No," Wiley replied, showing a rare hint of genuine emotion. "What do I have to gain? Breaking my contract with ONI means that I lose my compensation and gain a powerful and determined enemy." He dropped his gaze to the floor and spoke in a low voice. "I'm not a monster. Killing one person isn't like killing millions."
Exploding forward so fast that Wiley didn't have time to flinch, Lexicus grabbed the assassin by the neck and slammed him violently to the floor. The Spartan shoved the barrel of his automatic into Wiley's temple and spoke through gritted teeth.
"I guess that depends on which side of the gun you're on, 'cause whether you get killed alone or go out with a crowd, you're just as dead." Sagus jumped from the couch, fished what looked like a marble-sized ball-bearing out of his pocket and shoved it into Wiley's mouth. "Swallow it!" Lexicus yelled, pressing the gun painfully into the man's flesh. "Swallow it or I'll blow your head off!" After a moment of defiance, the killer gave in and let the object slide down his throat. Lex stared at the wall clock for forty-five seconds and then turned the assassin loose.
Wiley backed away, his eyes pure poison. "What was that?"
"An explosive tracking device," Lexicus replied coolly, "And it's attached to the lining of your stomach. If you try to run or do something naughty, either one of us," he pointed back and forth between himself and Sagus, "can push a button and blow you in half. If you're a good boy, when this is over I'll type in the deactivation code and it will release and ride out of your body. If I don't deactivate it, the device will detonate on its own in one week."
Wiley sat down on the couch and unconsciously placed a hand on his stomach. "But then if something happens to you, I'll die whether I keep my word or not."
"What's that?" Lexicus looked at him like a father scolding a child. "Killing 'one person' suddenly has significance for you?"
Ever since hearing the first details about the SPARTAN program, Wiley had imagined big, programmed soldiers who had all but lost the ability to think for themselves. But sitting in that room with a bruised neck and a bomb in his stomach, he realized that he'd made too many assumptions—and it had cost him dearly.
He looked at Lexicus and smiled bitterly. "You guys aren't just wind-up soldiers after all."
"No," the Spartan replied, "But keep it under your hat. That's one rumor I like to encourage."
"Sir," Governor Don Sisson said with more than his usual humility, "do you think you should be out of bed? You lost your arm."
Glaring at the moron sitting on the other side of the desk, Mr. Black wished to God that he was healthy enough to throw a punch. "Really, Don?" he barked with as much sarcasm as he could muster. "Thanks for telling me." He adjusted the bandages around his stump and mashed a button that supposedly sent more painkillers into his veins. "I need to know how many policemen you'll have working tomorrow."
"Policemen?" The Governor wiped sweat from his brow. "For the delivery? I thought that was being handled by the military?"
"Only the escort. I need your men to keep the route clear between the airport and the Pallisades. It's nothing more than they'd do for a parade."
"Oh," Sisson replied, nodding repeatedly, "So you're driving it in. Makes sense, I guess, unless word gets out, and then you'll be—"
"Just answer the question!" A sharp pain shot through the ONI Colonel's shoulder, and he pressed the pain button again. "How many policemen do you have?"
"Well, sir, as you know O'Carrol threatened to target anyone assisting the government, and that means cops if it means anyone, so it really isn't a surprise that—"
"God help me, Don, if you don't give me an answer, I'll—"
"I'm guessing maybe ten or fifteen." Governor Sisson replied, employing the thin voice used by underlings in bad movies.
"What?" Mr. Black pulled a prescription bottle out of his jacket, dumped several pills into his hand and swallowed them without benefit of water. "Where are the rest?"
"Well, they were, uh, scared of O'Carrol." Sisson looked down at his desk calendar and shrugged. "So they quit."
Once again, the Colonel adjusted the bandages on his stump. "Okay, then you'll need to contact Major Purves and tell him to—"
"But sir, Purves is dead and most of his men with him. You were briefed earlier at the hospital."
The pain button squeaked like a dog's chew toy.
"You had me briefed at the hospital?" In an effort to calm down, he took his eyes off Sisson and fixed his gaze on a stapler sitting in front of him. "You authorized the sharing of delicate and confidential information out loud in a public place to a man so bombed out on morphine that he didn't know his own name?"
Don Sisson prayed for the right words, but God wasn't listening. The fact that the best reply might be to say nothing at all never even occurred to him, so he spoke the only thing that came to his mind. "Yes."
Throwing aside both caution and sanity, Mr. Black jumped across the table and began pounding the Governor's face with his remaining hand. And although he feared that his rash, drug induced action would result in even worse agony, his worries proved unfounded. As it turned out, mashing Don Sisson's face did more for his pain than mashing the morphine button.
And it was twice as much fun.
Sean Flannery woke with a start to find himself lying on a couch in an unfamiliar house. There were no windows, but he somehow knew that the sun had long since set, and that realization sent a chill through his body. Everything about the room seemed wrong, and a vague eeriness gnawed at his mind like a whispered curse. A single light fought to illuminate the room, but it seemed in retreat; steadily giving way to the creeping darkness. Frozen like a frightened child, he looked around the room without daring to move his head—and suddenly heard a noise that made his mouth go dry. Outside in the black, moonless night, something scraped against the house; starting at the wall behind him and moving towards the door. Sweat beaded on his forehead and dampened his clothes as he stared at the front entrance. Then he heard it again; one long, grotesque scrape marched across the wall ... followed by many, many more. Sean listened in horror as the macabre crowd gathering outside the door lifted a chant of indistinct whispers; their dead voices droning tonelessly like carolers from Hell.
A scream choked in Sean's throat as darkness flowed inside through the crack under the door and engulfed the room's small lamp like a wave dousing a flame. Now feet shuffled and scraped inside, and the whispering was no longer indistinct.
"Seannn Flaaaaaaannereeee. Chiiild killerrrr. Muuuurdererrr."
As the rotting ghouls came towards him cloaked in utter darkness and chanting the awful truth, a familiar voice suddenly broke from the others—and Sean's heart all but stopped beating. It was the voice of his dead daughter.
"Daaaddeee, you tore children to pieces."
"Honey," he sobbed, reaching out to her, but finding only darkness, "I was only trying to—"
"You slaughtered them like animals, and now I'm going to slaughter you."
Small, icy hands closed around his neck like steel, vengefully choking out his life—but he didn't fight back. His crimes were real, and the sentence was just. Death pressed in hard upon him, and he embraced it like a long lost child.
"Breathe!" a voice screamed, cutting through blackness like a ray of light. An invisible hand slapped his face, and a voice boomed in his ear. "Wake up! Breathe!" The cold hands released his throat and the whispering darkness retreated. Sean took in a deep, sorrowful breath and slowly opened his tear-stained eyes.
Brian Fogarty smiled with relief. "Praise the Lord. You were already turning blue when I came in."
Sean wiped his eyes and glanced around the room. Light seemed to radiate from every corner of the house, and he was not on a couch, but rather a big comfortable bed. It was a dream? He sat up, causing every muscle in his body to scream in pain.
"There was no little girl in here?" the big Irishman stammered.
Brian chuckled. "A little girl? No. Should there be?"
Sean shook his head and the last remnants of the nightmare floated away like smoke. "I guess not," he replied sadly, steadying himself as the blood drained from his head. "My name's Sean."
"I'm Brian Fogarty." The man grabbed a chair and sat down next to the bed. "Looks like you ran into some trouble."
Sean looked up for the first time, and his haunted eyes caused his host to shudder. "I need to speak to a priest right away."
"I might not be a priest, but I'm a Protestant minister with over seven years of seminary under my belt. And," he added with a smile, "I am unmarried. Is that close enough?"
Was it? Although Sean had been raised in the Catholic church, he'd never been that interested in religion. This was the sort of question he would've asked his wife—and the very thought of that saintly woman laid his horrible deeds open and bare. Tears began to fill the Irishman's eyes once again.
"I did something awful." Emotions brought to the surface by his dream now erupted like a volcano, and the massive Irishman began to weep. "What have I done?" Sean sobbed, his body shaking with every syllable, "I'm damned and I'll never see them again!"
Brian spoke softly. "Whatever you've done, Sean, you're not damned. Do you think Jesus went to the cross in vain? Your sins were nailed there right next to mine."
"No," he replied between sobs, "Not this."
"Do you want to tell me what you did? Sometimes just saying it can help."
Sean looked up at the minister like a man staring into Hell's fiery abyss. "I slaughtered women and children and babies. I blew them to pieces while they slept."
Brian yanked his hand off Sean's shoulder as images of mangled kids and charred bodies flooded back into his brain. "You bombed the Crown Heights Condominiums?" He asked, his face twisted in revulsion. "That was you?" As the big man nodded and dropped his head to the floor in uncontrollable weeping, Brian backed away with clenched fists. Ugly thoughts shot through his mind—thoughts no man of God should entertain—as Sean continued to dissolve at his feet.
"God made Hell for monsters like me. I don't deserve anything else." Sean's entire body convulsed in the most violent display of grief that Brian had ever seen. "I want to touch my wife's face!" The huge man slammed his fist to the floor, tearing skin and cracking floorboards. "I want to hold my little girl! I want to talk with my son! And now I'll never see them again!"
"Sean," Brian said, kneeling down and grasping his shoulder once again, "That's not true. What you did was horrible. I saw it with my own eyes. I pulled kids out of the rubble, and watched them," his voice broke, "and watched them die in my arms. So you see, I do know. It was monstrous. But Jesus died for the 'monstrous' sins too."
Lying there on the floor of a stranger, bruised, broken and without hope, Sean somehow believed what he heard—and peace flowed over his body like a warm blanket. And although his sins seemed even worse than they had a moment before, he knew he'd been forgiven. It didn't seem fair, but it certainly felt right. He looked up at the minister with a mix of surprise and relief.
"I don't deserve this."
Brian let out a deep sigh. "I know. Thank the Lord," Brian replied with more honesty than his guest realized, "not me." The pastor stood to his feet and regarded Sean gravely. "You realize that you still need to face justice. If there was any sincerity in what you said, you'll turn yourself in to the authorities." Anger flashed on Brian's face, if only for a instant. "The victims' families deserve at least that much."
"The authorities?" Sean stood painfully to his feet. "Our leaders are nothing but filthy murderers. They have no right to judge me. "
"What are you talking about?"
The big man sighed. "Sit down, Brian, and prepare to get very upset."
The delivery and its uniformed escort arrived at Lifford Metropolitan Airport shortly after dawn. With crisp military efficiency the soldiers loaded the vehicles and started for the Pallisades in a convoy of light-armored transports, guarded intermittently by Warthogs equipped with M41 LAAGs. None of them—Spartan, Marine or ODST—knew what they were transporting, but that didn't matter. They had promised Colonel Black that they'd take whatever-it-was from here to there, and God help anyone who tried to make liars out of them.
ODST Sergeant Mike Williamson would never admit it, but he was downright unnerved by the Spartan sitting next to him. The big, white-armored behemoth had barely spoken since they'd left Australia the week prior, but Williamson had nevertheless decided that this government created, genetically enhanced super-soldier was colder than deep space—and even less forgiving.
Glancing out the window, he was surprised to see that the police cruisers blocking the major crossroads were completely devoid of policemen. Why they hadn't simply flown the package directly to its destination was a mystery to him and the rest of his squad, but nobody fussed about it. Fact was, they seldom agreed with plans and strategies of the higher-ups. It was as much a part of military life as carrying a gun, and you either got used to it or washed out. His buddy's voice crackled in his helmet.
"How far to the Pallisades, Mikey?"
"'Bout Fifteen kilometers. Now quit talkin' to me and mind your gun. Remember, this is Peal's city." A huge, gauntleted hand rapped his helmet painfully.
"Save the chatting for later," the Spartan said in a cold, soulless voice. "And if you announce our position over the COM again, I'll kill you myself."
Dressed in his finest UNSC uniform, Wiley sat in the patrol car he'd borrowed from the city and inspected his equipment. Lexicus lay atop the three story building next to him, wearing his jet black MJOLNIR armor and peering through high powered binoculars.
"They're coming," the Spartan reported over the COM, "But it's not five vehicles like you said."
"How many are there?"
Lexicus looked at the seemingly endless line of Warthogs and personnel carriers and chuckled humorlessly. "I stopped counting at fifty."
"That means hundreds of soldiers." Wiley closed his eyes and silently scolded himself. It had never occurred to him that some of Mr. Black's slurred testimony might be inaccurate—and given the ONI Colonel's physical trauma and heavily medicated brain, such an oversight was unforgivable.
Silence filled the COM for thirty long seconds. "Consider this mission broken and head back to Sagus. You two are gonna have to come up with another plan, and fast. I'll buy you as much time as I can." To the Spartan's surprise, Wiley laughed out loud.
"No, if you go in, I go in with you. As long as that bomb's in my stomach, we're partners."
The Spartan smiled beneath his helmet. "You sure killing for free won't affect your aim?"
"Watch your words, Lexicus." Wiley's voice was cold as ice.
"You always this touchy?"
The assassin fed bullets into a clip and smirked. "Just remember who you're dealing with."
David took a swig of cold coffee and tapped his COM. "Sagus here."
"Wiley was wrong about the number of soldiers," Lexicus reported gravely." We probably won't do much more than slow them down."
David sighed and rubbed his forehead. "You're attacking anyway?"
"What choice do we have? If this convoy gets inside the Pallisades intact, it's all over. I guess we should've thought up a plan B."
An idea shot into David's head—and it made him wince. "Hold out as long as you can. There might be a way out of this."
Fifteen minutes later, Sagus walked into McLoughlin's Pub; alone, unarmed and with both hands in the air. Mouth's dropped open, guns were pulled and several men stood to their feet. Before them stood the man who had killed and maimed their friends earlier in the week—and this time he didn't have his scary friend.
"My name is David Sagus, and I need to see Cairren O'Carrol. She's put a big price on my head. Anyone want to collect?" Something slammed into the back of his skull, his legs gave way and he tumbled to the floor. A moment before he passed out, someone pulled a black bag over his head and tied it tightly around his neck.
"Tell me," the assassin said, peering through his high-powered scope and studying the approaching convoy, "How did you take on a hundred thousand soldiers on Erebus and live to tell?"
Lexicus grunted. "I was angry."
"You angry now?"
The massive Spartan dropped his binoculars, grabbed his shotgun and chambered an eight-gauge round. "I've been angry since I was six years old. Let's move!"