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THE RETURN part one
Posted By: Chuckles
Date: 10 July 2004, 8:13 AM

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Pain, at least the greatest pain, is a commodity of allies, not enemies. The power of betrayal resides forever beyond the reach of our greatest foes, and yet sits in the lap of our closest friends: locked, loaded and deadly accurate. It can walk into an impenetrable fortress, or dump the invincible at his enemy's feet without a fight. But users beware: betrayal is a single-shot weapon that cannot be reloaded. When it fails, it fails to the ruin of the traitor. In order to betray, days, weeks and years of trust and friendship must be turned into a deadly poison that mocks as it kills. And if it kills, well and good.

And if it does not . . .


He had thought the idea rash from the beginning, but somehow the rest of the team saw it as genius. Pile red team's remaining six players in two hogs for a massive assault on blue? To Simjanes, who regarded subtlety as his greatest weapon, this plan seemed loud and messy. The vote, however, was five to one on a team loaded with captains, so he would go along with it. This was his team, and these were his friends. Had the decision been to assault the gates of Hell, he would've ridden shotgun.

They checked their weapons as they rounded the bend towards the enemy. Gunning the engine, the driver stayed to the right of the small hill that divided the canyon floor, and slammed the warthog to a stop directly in front of the base: out of sight of either entrance. Hogg was driving, and he would not make the noob mistake of stopping in front of a doorway. The other hog stopped beside them, and red team leapt out of the vehicles. Simjanes rounded the doorway, saw Chuckles, lifted his pistol—and was thrown to the ground from behind.

A foot slammed against his back, holding him firmly down as a shotgun was pressed against his head. "Grab his weapons!" Simjanes heard his fellow red team captain Turpertrator bark. "And don't forget the grenades." Strong arms lifted him, and Ydnar bound his hands behind his back. Too shocked to comprehend what was happening, Simjanes remained silent. The two teams stood facing each other, weapons in full view. Chuckles and Lexicus stood across from him, smiling beneath their helmets. Behind blue's two captains stood the newer members, some of which had only heard of Simjanes and his deadly skills. Lexicus broke the silence.

"Bring him forward." Turper shook his head and pointed to the back of the base.
"The flag first. And remember our agreement: you can't kill him. I don't care what you do to him, but no execution." The terms of betrayal woke the betrayed from his shock.
"You're a real hero, Turp" Simjanes said in a voice colder than space. "You got my six, huh, right? Cut me a real deal with these guys, did you? Don't worry, I'm sure Chuckles will make sure I don't get hurt, seeing as I put his brother in the grave and all. I think he'll treat me square, don't you, buddy?"
Turper was silent. Stepping forward, Hogg put his hand on Simjanes shoulder, "It's not like that Sim, we--"
"Don't touch me" Simjanes spoke with quiet force, jerking his shoulder away. "Give me to Lex and Chuck; I know where I stand with them. I prefer them."

"You heard him," the Clown said with mock emotion. "Give'em the flag, Freedomman, and I'll show the gentleman to his accommodations. After all," he spoke staring at red team, "he prefers us."

The traitors left silently as Chuckles and Lex carried Simjanes to a room in the rear of the base. Simjanes had never been in this position before: a position of weakness. He lived or died by his own skill, come what may. His friends, his team had taken that all away from him. He was now at the mercy of Chuckles, and if that wasn't playing Russian roulette with a fresh clip, it was as close as it gets.

"I'm good to my word, Simjanes" the Clown said as they put him down on a chair. "I won't kill you. I am only going to send you away; so far away that you will never return. Well, you might return, but my guess is that you'd burn up on re-entry. Pity." Then for the first time he spoke in a voice that was nearly sincere. "I was against this deal, did you know that? I always wanted to be the one who fragged you. A warrior ought to die on the battlefield." The Clown's head lowered a little as he added quietly, "Bojo did. Oh well, life stinks, eh? " The last thing Simjanes saw at blue base was Chuckles' fist slamming into his helmet.

Roaring, shaking, lifting, heat. Simjanes awoke. He was still in his MJOLNIR armor, his hands and feet unbound. It took him only seconds to realize that he was in the payload bay of a small rocket. There was room for him and little else, but he was able to move his hands and feet. The Clown was kinder than I thought. This particular model, he remembered with hope, could be steered from the inside. Opening the panel, he found that the mechanism had been removed. In it's place he found a little toy clown with a small note that read, "A memento". Across it's little shirt was written "Bojo", the name of Chuckles' brother: the one Simjanes had killed. He absentmindedly stuffed the toy into his pocket. Only one choice now: bust his way out and hope for the best. If he left the earth's atmosphere, there was no hope.

He kicked at the side of the rocket with all his strength. Nothing. He continued to kick desperately over and over as the rocket climbed dangerously high. Finally, a crack appeared, and an instant later the craft completely disintegrated. His shields flashed and disappeared as extreme heat flowed over him like invisible lava. Flying unprotected through the boiling atmosphere, betrayed by his friends and abused by his enemies, he received the only mercy afforded him that day: he blacked out.

To be continued

C.T. Clown