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THE RETURN (part 3 of 3)
Posted By: Chuckles
Date: 20 July 2004, 7:01 AM

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Bad dreams are mere thoughts, ineffectual, fantastic and benign: real nightmares, the devils, demons and shadows that measure us only for good sport and burial, they are for the waking.

THE RETURN (part 3 of 3)

Carrying a corpse is like hauling an awkward, long, heavy sandbag: if that bag is a friend, it can be a lot heavier. The earth doesn't know it; the ground doesn't sink further, and the rocks don't give way. It can only be weighed in the hearts of the bearers. Lexicus watched as two of his Spartans entered blue base--carrying the weight of the world. No hurry, no surgery, no emergency, no chance. Slowly, they put the fallen soldier on a table in the rear of the base. What was left of the helmet was removed, and a single sightless eye fixed on the blue team captain. Lex nodded, bent down and whispered into the deaf ear, "Get ready, he'll join you soon."

After carefully closing the eye, he looked up at KrustyKlown. "What happened?"

The deadly young Spartan gathered himself, though Lex could see he was still shaking. "Chuckles grabbed me and Freedomman after we heard a shotgun blast up somewhere near the transition. We had just gotten to the top of our side of the tunnel, when we heard another shot. Me and Freedomman slowed, but Chuckles just went faster. When Free and I emerged from the tunnel we saw Chuckles kneeling over Turpertrator's body just a few feet to the left. Someone was directly behind him with a shotgun aimed at the back of his head."

"Someone?" Lexicus asked, impatiently. "Any idea who?"

"I thought it was Simjanes, but it couldn't have been: we all watched that rocket blow. But that was who it looked like. My God, that is who it looked like! We yelled a warning to Chuckles, but before either of us got a shot off . . . he was so quick, too quick." He stopped a moment and then continued, "Before we had a chance, Simjanes, or whoever, raised the shotgun and blasted Freedomman in the head. Free flew backwards and knocked me to the ground. When I got up, only Turper's body was still there. Chuckles was gone, and I couldn't raise him on the COM."

The blue captain hung his head. "Yes, it was Simjanes."

"You really think it was him?" Krusty said. Fear lived in his voice. "That rocket exploded. We all saw it. Nobody, not you, not Chuckles, not Simjanes could have survived that. Nobody."

"But it is Simjanes" Lexicus replied flatly. "Chuckles left the body of a fallen teammate, turned off his COM and vanished. He doesn't want our help and he doesn't want us to know where he is. It's Simjanes, and he wants him all to himself."

The shotgun blast had rattled Chuckles' skull like a depth charge. He spun, fired, missed and saw his enemy disappear over the ledge. His enemy. It happened so fast that he never questioned that he saw who he saw. And since it was who it was, Chuck wasn't about to follow blindly over the cliff. Leaping to his feet, he ran into the tunnel leading down to red base. Sorry Krusty and goodbye Free; I've got unfinished business with this ghost. Chuckles found the enemy base empty, save for the bodies. Stepping over Darkboones' corpse, he entered the warp. He emerged, looked, and could barely repress a cruel chuckle. Standing not five feet away, facing the opposite direction and aiming at God-knows-what with his sniper rifle, was Simjanes. Quietly he crept up behind him, raised his shotgun and slowly sqeezed the trigger.

Life is a gamble. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you break-even. Bottom line: you play the hand you are dealt. Sometimes, however, the cards are marked, the game is fixed, and your mom is the one who fixed it. Sometimes you are dealt the perfect hand. Chuckles was staring at five aces and pot full of money: naturally, he bet it all . . .


. . . and nearly lost his shirt. Misfire.

Simjanes spun around with his sniper rifle, but the Clown caught the barrel with both hands, yanked it away from his enemy, and tossed it over the cliff. He moved away slowly, his back to the rock wall, Simjanes' back to the cliff's edge.

Rising behind the canyon, the crimson sun reflected off the high clouds, painting the sky with blood; casting them in shadow. Warthog engines sat silent and cold, the air was still, and the birds were not singing. More than a year had passed since Simjanes had put a sniper round through Bojo's skull, but Chuckles' anger was still fresh, his love for his fallen brother still strong. After all this time, it had come to this. Here it would finally end.

Their pistols hung at their sides, but this wasn't the old west, and they were not gunslingers. They could both absorb two shots in the head without taking any damage. No sudden move, lightning draw, or super weapon was going to kill quickly right now. When the fight began, it would be brutal.

Moving slowly, Simjanes reached into his pocket and grabbed the toy clown that Chuckles had left in the rocket. Written on it's little shirt in bright red letters was "Bojo". He held it up like a model advertising a product.

"Quite a toy you have here, Chuck. A gift of mercy, am I right?" He unscrewed the head, and looked into the top of it. "Well, am I? You thought of poor Simjanes floating through space just waiting die a slow, horrible death, and you just couldn't handle it, could you? So you put this little clown toy/flask in there, and filled it with poison for me. I gotta tell you, I was touched. And it was fitting too, because that little brother of yours was pure poison."

"Yes, he was" the Clown replied, knowing that Simjanes was actually complimenting Bojo.

"Well, that sealed it for me: I had to come back. What, with you caring so much about me and easing my pain, I felt obliged to come back and help ease yours. So I've returned to end your grief, to reunite you and your brother. I can't very well bring him to you, can I?" Simjanes was twisting the knife.

"No, you can't" Chuckles clenched his fist.

"Of course not. What I can do is bring you to him, and of course we all know where he is."

"You put him there" the Clown replied in more of a whisper than a voice.

Simjanes laughed as he replied, "Hey, even worms have got to eat."

If the Clown had a weak spot, it was the death of his brother. Simjanes had found it and kicked at the wound until it was gaping and bloody. He had, however, kicked it one too many times. Chuckles rushed forward in a blur of speed, grabbed his shotgun off the ground, and swung a blow to his enemy's head so hard that the gun shattered. As Simjanes stood stunned, swaying like a tree, the Clown dealt a wicked kick to his stomach, nearly sending him over the ledge. "Nah, falling would be too easy, c'mon!" Chuckles grabbed his enemy's leg, spun him like he was throwing a hammer in the Olympics, and sent him flying into the wall. Nearly sensless with pain, and one blow away from death, Simjanes primed a grenade, and tossed it deftly between Chuckles and the edge of the cliff.


As planned, the Clown had no choice: he had to run away from the grenade, and toward Simjanes, who pulled his pistol and fired at the Clown's head. Shields dropped to half, dropped to nothing . . .


The blast hurled both of them into the rock wall. Simjanes was shielded from the grenade by the Clown, so he suffered only minor damage. Chuckles, having borne the brunt of the blast was hurt extensively. His right arm was twisted grotesquely behind his back. His left leg was barely connected below the knee, and his right leg had shattered like glass. The breaks, combined with the incredible pressure exerted by the MJOLNIR suit, created pain that would have killed anybody but a Spartan.

Simjanes pushed the Clown off of him, and stood to his feet. He removed Chuckles' helmet, and winced. His enemy's face told a story of unimaginable agony. Kneeling down he took out the little clown flask/toy, unscrewed the head, and looked into the eyes of his fallen enemy. "There, there: I've got just the thing for that pain."



First built in the late 21st century, space elevators have enjoyed a safety record unparalleled by any other form of transportation. For a system that includes a gigantic cable reaching into space that is counterbalanced by a captured asteroid, this is remarkable. Though they are by far the largest man-made structures, mystery surrounds them. The massive cables are made of material known only to those at the highest levels of security clearance . . .

As of this time, not a single death or serious injury has been attributed to their use. But this may be due more to government ownership and cover up than . . .

. . . may have been as many as ten who died that day. Eyewitness accounts were stifled, and all involved apparently died from injuries. "No comment", the mantra of government obfuscation was heard . . .

". . . we began to sway, and then this thing fell through the roof of the elevator. It looked like a huge man in a suit that was shiny, and sparkling. The heat was horrible, and this poor man was too close and . . . I am sure something struck the cable . . . It stood up, and it must have been over seven feet tall . . ."

C.T. Clown