Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Dancing with the Mara
|Posted: Sun May 14, 2006 12:24 pm Post subject: The Shooting Gallery - part one
|This one isquite violent and should probably have a '15' rating!!
Part two will follow in the next few days
The Shooting Gallery
When he was only eighteen years old, he had been shot dead. He could remember it in every detail. The bullet had smashed into his chest and burst several of his internal organs. The sudden impact had thrown him backwards, falling through the air for what had seemed like an eternity. It were as though gravity had decided to stop and savour his defeat.
The ground when he had finally hit it was wet and slippery. Or at least so he had assumed. It may have been his own leaking bodily fluids which were soaking the silver combat suit.
Above him, the indifferent sky had been framed by the broken timbers of a shattered roof. The thought had drifted through his mind; that’s what my ribs must look like.
A figure had appeared in the frame. A young man in silver and red. Arrogant and smug, a smile on his face. A little short and stocky for a gunfighter perhaps, but his every movement was precise and measured.
A series of words had drifted through his consciousness. The disjointed babble of a dying mind.
The young man had pointed his gun down at his fallen opponent. Enjoying the final act. There was an explosion of noise and Deaal had felt the pressure of a bullet against his forehead.
And then the Combat Computer had snatched him and a million others away from the final second of Deeta Tarrant’s life.
Show’s over people. Get on with your lives while we clear away the body.
The usual legal disclaimed had made its presence felt in his confused mind.
***The Teal-Vandor Convention cannot be held responsible for any physical, psychological, emotional or sexual damage resulting from participation via the Sense Mesh in this contest. Any act perpetuated as result of this contest is the sole responsibility of the perpetrator. Neither the governments of Teal nor Vandor nor the Arbitrating Force may be approached for any compensation for acts resulting from participation in this contest or damage inflicted thereof***
And then it was over. Those seeing through the eyes of the victor were allowed a few moments more, to share in his feelings of triumph. By all accounts they had been disappointed. He had been so confident that killing Deeta had been almost a formality.
For those who had shared Deeta’s defeat, there had been the inevitable sadness. Most of them had been from Teal anyway - sharing the experience with the opponents’ man was considered bad form - and knew that not only their champion but their whole planet had lost.
For Deaal it had been different. He didn’t care that his home planet was going to have to sacrifice status and territory. Such things were unimportant.
For the first time he had felt alive. Senses that he hadn’t even known existed had been born as they felt Deeta’s approaching death. And he had been denied the final moment, the ultimate experience of defeat. It was not enough that he could recall the killing bullet pressing against his forehead. He wanted to know what followed.
Instead he had been dumped back in his rooms in the lower, less prestigious floors of the Secondary Teal Habitation Tower. For a few hours he had been convinced that none of this could be real. The walls were insubstantial and the sound of traffic outside muted. He had waited hopefully for the dull dream to end and for his body to return to life. Eventually he had been forced to accept the truth. This was no dream. It was reality and it was meaningless.
He had considered killing himself. He had even bought a gun. As he had pressed the muzzle against his forehead, he had realized that it would be a stupid mistake. To kill himself would make Deaal both the victor and the defeated. What the hell kind of sense would that make? As he lowered the gun, a new idea had begun to form.
Now five years later, he once more held a gun. He looked very different . He had shed the extra pounds of childhood. The bones of his legs had been re-structed to bring him up to the desired height. His ginger hair was now permanently radio-dyed black and his face had been subtly re-structured. From a distance, someone might mistake him for Deeta Tarrant, one time Champion of Teal.
It had been expensive of course and the money had not been got through any legal means. A man with his needs did not have the time to waste on a day to day job nor the inclination to concern himself with ethical quibbles.
His opponent, Tomas, was a criminal too. White collar, of course. There was a fashion for computer fraud at the moment. Those who could break through the defences of the Teal Banking Administration were afforded the status of anti-heroes. It bored Deaal to tears.
Still, Tomas had the look of a worthwhile opponent. He a year or so older than Deaal and more muscular. He had the honest, dependable look of many unsavoury characters. Tomas was wearing a shiny red snythi-jacket. It was strange how many of them wanted to face the possibility of death in expensive clothes. Deaal was wearing silver and black. Naturally.
Still, greed was as effective a lure as any. If Tomas killed Deaal, several million credits would find there way into his bank account. And Tomas was good. He had already disposed of several enemies, or so the stories went.
The location wasn’t all it could have been though. This long room in a neglected part of the Manufacturing Complex lacked the appropriate atmosphere. Grey boxes were strewn everywhere. A faded poster of a fat, soft looking guy with curly hair was pinned to one wall. The overhead light flickered and buzzed intermittently. It had been working perfectly when Deaal arrived, but he had loosened some of the connections in the hope of creating a sense of drama.
‘Are we gonna do this or not?’ demanded Tomas languidly.
Deaal repressed a smile. He could see the barest trickle of sweat on the man’s forehead. There had been a very slight tremble in his voice that no-one else would have noticed,
‘Why not?’ he answered calmly.
The faced each other across the cluttered room. Each man held an old fashioned pistol. At least old fashioned on the outside; the barrels black and tarnished, the trigger mechanism pleasingly archaic.
Each waited for the first sign of a movement from the other, the first indication that the moment of decision was at hand.
This could be it, thought Deaal. At last.
Thomas hand moved and his finger applied the beginning of pressure to the trigger. He grinned. He was still grinning as a hole appeared between his eyes. His expression changed to one of surprise just before the percussion bullet blew his head into wet splinters.
The decapitated body toppled to the floor.
Deaal lowered his gun and sighed. This was not fair. It was getting easier each time. Thomas was the twenty ninth opponent he had killed . It seemed there was not a man on Teal who could match him.
He wanted to taste Deeta’s defeat - instead he had found that he was the best gunfighter his planet had to offer. He was reasonably sure that had he faced Deeta himself, he would have won as easily as Vinni had. It was ironic really.
Deaal looked sadly at the spreading pool of Tomas blood. A waste. A man had been killed and all his murderer had wanted was his own death. How many more rooms like this must he stand in before it was over?
The blood had reached feet now, the red liquid trickling round his silver boots.
Red and silver.
Deaal gave a sharp intake of breath.
There was not a man on Teal who was a worthy opponent. But Teal had not won the contest. Vandor had.
Why hadn’t he thought of it before?
There were no disputed territories at the moment and relationships between the two empires were better than they had been for many years. It would be easy to get a travelling permit for Vandor.
As he left the room and the corpse, Deaal muttered a single word.
The only name that could give him hope.
Everything in life is only for now.