A/N: Sorry for the Neglect when it come's to updating! I was on vacation recently and didn't have much time to write while i was away, however i did manage to come up with this. This one is lengthy - it's sitting at just of 4,500 words and there would've been more (but i'll explain that after this chapter) but i figured it was best to not make it obnoxiously long.
CRYO 02 - CHURCH IN THE SLUMS
When Vox awoke – he wasn't entirely sure that he'd actually awoken. From what he could (unfortunately) remember, he'd been shot in the chest by one of the most beautiful woman he'd ever met in his life and then been left to bleed on the pavement.
But it wasn't awaking that startled him. It was the fact of who he was awaking too, or rather, whose face. Not only had he awoken from a wound that surely should have been fatal but he'd awoken to the grim looking face of the woman who'd shot him in the first place.
Lovely. Just goddamn lovely.
On top of everything she still had that bloody pistol in her hand too! And by the look on her, she obvious meant business, especially with the cool barrel of the gun pressed against his temple as he struggled to make his vision focus.
God damn it all.
He braced himself for impact – assuming that since he'd survived her first attack she obviously meant to shoot him dead his time, and prayed to whatever god's there where that existed in this strange and cruel new world that he would be blessed enough to reach the kingdom of heaven if not at least be stuck on this hell with a woman who was clearly a flower from its depths.
"Eve," came a voice to his far right, in the direction of the only light source in the area from what he could tell. "I understand that you've had a bad night, but that's no way to treat our new guest."
Eve, as he suppose this mysterious silver haired bitch's named must've been, seemed to ignore the calm cool command on the male on the other side of the room and cocked the gun at an angle. Placing a slender finger on the trigger once more, her face once more being overwhelmed with an almost demonic fear. He hand trembled slightly over the gun, and Vox, though still only semi-conscious could feel the vibrations coming from her hand, as they caused the gun to wobble against the side of his head.
"Eve," came the voice again, and Vox finally registered it as that of a male, probably not much older than 20. "Could you please just at least let the brute talk before you shoot him senseless? Doesn't he even deserve a few last words?"
Vox grinned proudly from his prone position on what he assumed must have been a down filled bed. Finally at last, somebody in this word was on his side, and wasn't trying to kill him!
Eve huffed, pulling the gun from his head and toting in a black leather holster fastened to her waist. Her boots creaked against the cherry wood floor as she sat in the dark-most corner of the room, tanned skin blending in perfectly with the lack of light making her hair the only part of her that remained visible.
"People of his kind," she said nonchalantly. "Are undeserving of such simple luxuries."
"Now, now," the voice on the other side of the room argued, Vox was begging to have trouble keeping up with this conversation, but was relieved that at least he no longer being held at gun point. "I am not as experienced as you are with the different classes of humans at this point in time, but as far as I am concerned I see no reason to obliterate whatever you find on the street corner ever other night without at least hearing its side of the story."
"Uhhn, yeah! What he said!" Vox struggled to sit upright, slowly taking in the scenery before him. A room, dark aside from the two gigantic stained glass windows, each depicting the virgin, letting in a magnificent glow from the outside. All of the other windows appeared to be covered by large scarlet drapes, tasselled together with golden thread. As he braced himself against the backboard of his sleeping pallet he realised, that he was not sleeping on a bed, by rather a plush wooden bench, the type commonly found in churches. After taking in the multitude of benches and vast grand altar at the head of the building, crowned by the statue of a crucified Jesus Christ he realise, he was in a church.
"Well I'm glad to see your awake, friend." Vox turned to find that on the sill of the right-most window was a boy, with dark dishevelled black hair, and splitting blue eye's. He small little mouth was curved upwards into a grin that almost seemed big for such a small looking face.
His entire appearance was rather small, from the way he black jean shorts hung just over his knees to red shirt he worse loosely over his chest. Judging by the way they where shaped, his small little golden shoes couldn't have been much larger than a 6 in size; he looked less like a man and more like a young boy. But his deep warm voice spoke of otherwise.
"Where am I?" was Vox's first question, ignoring the welcome he was given by the small little man. "And how am I still alive?"
The man's smile was not hindered by Vox's disregard for its owner, and instead shone brightly as he took to his feet.
"A church, friend!" he said gleefully giving a small little dance on the red-carpet isle in front of the altar. "You're in a church!"
Vox pouted. "I can see that, but would you tell me how I got here? I mean, the last time I was awake hell girl over there had shot me in the chest!" he jerked a thumb towards the far off corner of the church.
The other male quirked and eyebrow. "Who are you pointing at?"
Vox whirled to find that the corner of the room he had pointed at was no longer occupied, and that the space in front off him was.
"My name," she said, staring at him directly in the eye. "Is not hell girl."
He shivered as she passed, the look in her eye's was cold, uncaring. Something so completely un-human it didn't seem to fit on her face. And yet, he could vaguely remember seeing that blood curling gaze before, as if it had belonged to someone else. It was creepy, that stare was, enough to freeze him where he stood. Which reminded him of that awful cold he'd been experiencing earlier, it was odd how it no longer tugged at his limbs like it had before.
"No it's not." The little man said with a deep chuckle. He extended his hand to Vox's, cracking into a large smile once again. "My name's Rasler and this is my companion Eve."
Vox took his hand, gripping it firmly in his own, shaking it and returning the smile. "Nice to meet you!" he took a glance at Eve's disapproving scowl. "I think."
Rasler grinned, plopping himself down onto the soft cushions of the nearest bench. "Well now that we've all been introduced - tell us your story!"
There was an awkward pause.
"Me?" Vox said finally realising that all eye's where on him, even Eve's who stare neither lightened nor moved from his forehead. Rasler nodded excitedly.
"Yeah! I mean where did you come from?! All Eve told me the night I brought you in was that she'd found you wandering the downtown core around 2 am and shot you on suspicion of being a Cryo!"
"Wait what?" Vox said, lost and confused. "What's. . . What's a Cryo?" He had to be sure they where talking about the same Cryo that he was thinking of. Could he possibly be talking of the Cryo Soldiers formed by the AkRanti organization?
Rasler looked taken aback. "You don't know, friend?" He studied Vox's bewildered expression, and seemed to assume that the answer 'no' was hanging in the air.
"Look, about the Cryo, about 14 years ago there was this organization. I don't know too much about it, it's been almost completely erased from history!" he shrugged. "This organization monopolized the entire planet, and therefore controlled almost everything."
Vox nodded, taking a seat opposite of Eve, who had pulled a packet of cigarette's from her pocket and was smoking one between pursed lips. Rasler's description did sound much like the AkRanti.
"But they didn't control everything, the Government still controlled the basic necessities of this country, which in turn denied this organization of all of the fund's the could access. In order to gain control of the country they need to over-ride it-"
"What?!" Vox interrupted, sitting upright and throwing up his hands. "That's a lie! The AkRanti never wanted anything more than world peace! The government wasn't corrupt and was offering protection to its citizens from outside forces!"
Rasler tutted. "War doesn't lie my friend." He shot the other male a look, Vox took it to mean that there was more to this story, much more.
"In order to gain control of the country they needed to override it. They only way they could do that is obviously to create a massive army. But even the most massive army cannot stand against the ready trained militants that had been stationed around the country at the time, nor could it stand against the citizens who still remained very loyal to there government despite hardship."
It was Vox's turn to tut. All he was hearing was an organized amount of anti-AkRanti propaganda. He had heard of this sort of nonsense long before he'd joined the Cryo.
"The only way they could create a strong enough military to challenge the governments own was too super-enhance the trainee's they found into bio-weapons – people of mass destruction."
"Okay, okay," Vox hotly interrupted. "Pretending that just for a moment I believe you, what exactly does any of this have to do with a war?"
Rasler grumbled and mumbled something nearly incoherent about people 'always treating him like a kid'. Eve snorted through her cigarette and blew a large smoke ring.
"The bio-weapons," Eve said slowly, starring a hole straight into the floor beneath her feet. "Were manufactured and trained too kill, then they where released into the world from the organizations facilities to seek and destroy the government and all those connected too it – therefore putting the organization into power, and into a position where no one on the planet would be able to overthrow it."
Vox raised an eyebrow. "And what did that have to do with war?"
Eve scoffed, and took another puff of her smoke. Rasler took over.
"When the bio-weapon's where realised they didn't just attack the government, they attacked everything and everyone. Naturally, it sparked a war, people don't take to well to being killed by super humans my friend."
"Anyways the organization, who's name I still don't know, stood behind its creation and allowed them to run free since for the most part they didn't attack there creators."
"In the end, most of the Cryo where destroyed. That was three years ago." Interrupted Eve. "But those who remained either went back to the labs they came from or continued to stalk the streets, searching for human prey to kill."
"And that's why you have us!" Rasler shouted excitedly, jumping from his spot across the room to wrap Eve in a rib crushing hug. He smiled at Vox as he nuzzled his cheek into Eve's soft locks. The silver haired girl made no intention of returning his affections, she only rolled her eyes and blew smoke out her nose.
"We are the Cryo hunters!" Rasler continued. "We scope out the remaining Cryogenic bio-weapons and destroy them on sight! Protecting the city from the monsters that roam it's underbelly! That's us!"
Vox smiled. "So I guess that makes you mercenaries then?"
He was scared, terrified even. The two of them where obviously some sort of deranged futuristic bounty hunters arching for people like him to rake in some cash. He figured that right now it was probably not a safe idea to let them know that he himself had joined the Cryo armies. For now it was probably best to play the part of an innocent civilian and just try and find his was home. Eve, the exotic beauty from the pits of hell that she was, had already had a gun on him twice now with the intent to kill. He was sure by now, that if he gave her a reason, she would have it against him a third time and this time, she would make damn sure that he was dead. Rasler seemed friendly though, almost childlike with his adorable happy go lucky attitude, and seemed to be very kind. It seemed that despite the height difference and seemingly physical power difference between the two mercenaries, Rasler was the dominant of the two. He supposed that eventually he could get Rasler to spare him if his secret identity was somehow leaked out, but for now it was just safer to continue the stupid act and pretend that he new nothing.
"Yes!" Rasler yelled excitedly, leaving Eve to jump around in circles excitedly, coughing a bit when he passed through the cloud of smoke that encircled her. "We are mercenaries, the two of us!" he smirked "That's two questions of yours that I've answered friend, now its your turn to answer the first question I asked you today."
Vox shrugged, it couldn't hurt. "Repeat the question."
Rasler grinned. "Where did you come from?"
'Shit.' Thought Vox as memories of his lovely wife and sweet little daughter passed over him. 'How am I supposed to explain that without giving away the bit about cryogenics?'
Quickly he drew up the best lie he could possibly come up with that would still get him through this strange little city he was in.
"Well I'm from a city called Coventry, I've been away from it for a while on business so I don't know if it's still the same. Have you heard of Coventry?"
Eve snorted. "What the fuck did you think this city was called then? This church is on the outskirts of Coventry."
Vox huffed, he knew that bullshitting wasn't full proof but how the hell was he supposed to know that he was in the same city he'd started out in when he was first frozen? He known he'd come out into Coventry, after all the lab he'd been frozen in couldn't move, but for the love of god he'd been shot! How was he expected to remember where the bitch had carried him after she tried to kill him?
He decided that arguing with her right now wasn't going to help him, so he continued filling them in on his past address as best he could.
"Well in Coventry I lived in a district called Lilith, have you heard of that?"
Rasler raised a hand to stroke his chin and seemed to be deep in thought, tapping his foot against the wooden flooring.
"I can't saying I've ever heard of it friend!" he turned to his companion. "What about you Eve?"
The hell flower dropped her spent cigarette to the ground and stamped it out with her boot, blowing out the last of the flame.
"Yeah, they renamed that place about 10 years ago, it's called 'The Eight Sector' now." She shot Vox an odd look. "You've been away from this City for a long time." Vox gulped
Rasler , ignoring the tension between his companion and his fellow male, beamed, and ran to pat the earlier of the two on the back. "Good job Eve! I can always count on you to know the info I don't!"
Eve snorted. "Don't count on it."
Rasler laughed and then turned to Vox. "So then Vox! If we take to sector eight will you be able to give us your address so we can get you home?"
Vox nodded. "Of course, assuming the street hasn't changed name's either."
Rasler shook his head. "I doubt it, those street names have been there since the 1800's. There ancient! Besides friend, don't think so negatively! I'm betting you have a wife and maybe a few kids waiting for you at home right? How would they feel if you never came?"
Vox nodded and smiled thinking of his lovely daughter Isle and her sweet little face. "I do have a wife, and a daughter. A cute little girl she was, only four when I last saw her!"
Rasler smiled. "So I bet you wanna hurry home to go see her then?"
Vox nodded. "Yes! I'd do anything to see my baby again!"
Eve stood up and strode smoothly to the other end of the church, throwing open the marvellous gigantic oak doors with a strength that didn't seem normally for someone of her build.
"Lets go then," She said darkly. "There's no point in wasting time."
Vox and Rasler struggled to chase after her as she took off through the doors.
It turned out that 'the eight sector' was as far away as Vox had thought. The church had been placed at the very edge of the city, pushed into the corner that separated sector nine from sector eight – and where the city met it's vast wrought iron gates. Vox wanted to ask when and why the gates had been erected but he thought it better to wait until a later time. For now at least, he was satisfied with the answers he'd received about this strange little city that seemed to be his old hometown.
They passed through a darkened alleyway, lined with large dumpsters and various litter as the last street Vox could remember had been. It was only now that he realised that the alleyway was positioned between two steel buildings -probably skyscrapers - that stood impossibly tall. Vox strained his neck and leaned as far back as he could and he still couldn't see the top of the things they must've been hundreds of stories high. He shivered at the thought of falling out or off of one.
Within moments there Trio moseyed there way onto what must've been a residential street, and for the first time Vox really took in the future he was in. Even in the dim glow of the of the street-lamps, as night had passed over them during there journey, he could clearly see just how different things where.
Both sides of the street where lined with egg-shaped houses, each seemed to be made of thick opaque glass. Some of the glass was clear and transparent, Vox supposed they must've been windows as in all of the houses they where covered by the curtains. Each house was illuminated by a street lamp – or rather a street pot-light.
Rather than being placed on poles above the ground, each brightly shining bulb light up the street from a space in the asphalt cut sidewalk. It appeared that the lights must've been covered by steel eyelids during the day – as some of them on the each of the street where half-covered, or broken.
A few house had car's parked on the lots, but they where junk cars, small and compact but bent up and rusty. Though a few of them still had the bodies intact – most of them where so beat that they where hardly recognizable as cars. The front lawns of these houses where small, most of them consisted of a cement walkway leading to the house, a metal fence and a small flower bed. Vox supposed they where in the area slums, but he was still fascinated by the place. His blood churned with the excitement of seeing the more upper-class areas.
They came to a halt at the end of "Endling Street". Rasler turned to Vox again, with a smile.
"So, recognize where you are friend? Nah, I'm kidding it doesn't matter – what's you street address? It's time to get you home!"
Vox smiled, the place looked a helluva lot different, but he could never forget Endling Street, nor could he ever forget the gigantic hill that bore in front of them.
"See that hill? That's Endling Gate – at the top of that hill is cluster of five houses, and that's where I live."
Rasler grinned, taking after Eve who had gone ahead. "A view to overlook the desert, eh friend?! I've heard about the view at the top of that place, but I've never been there!"
Vox grinned and gave chase, he was just glad to be finally going somewhere familiar, though his home probably looked much different now.
"You'd love it! The view is amazing, you can see the desert for miles and miles!" he smiled remember his daughters sweet smile as she looked out into that desert from her bedroom window. "My little girl, she used to wake me up to watch the sunset."
Rasler turned to him as they made there way, huffing and wheezing the whole time, up the hill.
"You quite fond of your daughter aren't you friend, she must be beautiful – what's her name?"
Vox waited until they came to the top of the hill – dragging a hand across his brow as he bent over against his knees.
"Her name's Isle – she was five the last time I saw her."
Eve stopped dead in her tracks, turning to look at Vox with a strange look in her eye, it almost seemed slightly curious.
Vox nodded. "Does it ring a bell." He hopped it did, if Eve new his daughter then it make things a lot easier.
Eve shook her head. "No, it's just. . ." she trailed off.
Though still curious, and ready to ask Eve what she meant, Vox was silenced when they came to a dead stop at the last house on the block.
"Is this," he choked out. "Is this number 7 Endling Gate?"
Rasler nodded, giving a small shrug. "That it is my friend."
Vox had to resist the urge to cry at the horror that stood before him. The house that had once been a home was merely rubble now. Charred and black, only one wall remained along with a few posts and a small portion of the roof. Clearly a large fire had over-taken the property and burnt the place to the ground.
"No," Vox said putting a hand to cover his mouth as he struggled to take in the image before him. "No, there's no way, this can't. . . How?! When?!" he bit his tongue in an attempt to swallow back the tears that threatened to over-take him.
"Years ago," said Eve, put another cigarette between her lips, drawing a lighter against it's tip. "They say the gas-tank in the basement exploded due to lack of maintenance."
"Are – are you serious?" Vox choked out. "What happened to - ?"
"To the family who lived here?" Eve asked coolly taking a drag. "Everyone died in the fire – except for the husband, who wasn't at home at the time."
Vox shook his head, he couldn't accept it. His family, his life, his dreams, everything he had ever worked hard for was gone – destroyed by what was clearly an accident. It hurt him to the bone, to the core. His wife, the woman he had loved since he was a teenager, and his daughter, the little pride and joy of his life that had billowed sunshine and laughter wherever she went where gone. Dead, and gone.
Part of him was gone – a shred of his soul, a piece of his existence erased forever. And he was left here to rot, forever, in this strange future he'd never known. He gasped and fell to his knee's clutching at his heart through his chest. Nothing made it better, not the tears that fell proudly from his eyes, nor the shock of the sobs that rattled through his form. His family was gone – all he had ever loved was gone. There was nothing left.
"What happened to the father?" he ground out slowly, clutching and the gravel with his remaining hand. He might as well here the end of the story.
Eve made a face that seemed to be half-smirk and half pout, and reached her left hand towards the holster at her thigh. "He ever came home," she replied, voice cool and but yet holding the tinniest tinge of some foreign emotion that Vox couldn't quite name.
"Never?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
"Not ever." Eve replied, retrieving her pistol and drawing it upwards. "But you know what happened to him? Why he never came home?"
"Eve." Came Rasler's distant voice, soft, and quiet as if he felt guilty.
"No," Vox replied slowly, angrily, because hell he was getting pissed now! Someone's lack of attention-span on the job had caused the death of the most important people in his life! "What happened to him huh? What happened to the idiot who left his family behind?"
Eve gave a fearful looking smirk and Vox looked up at her raising the gun to point at his head.
"Eve!" Rasler's voice was quicker, desperate. "Eve, don't do this! Think this through!"
Her fingers locked on the trigger.
"The sick bastard went and joined the AkRanti. He abandoned his bloody family to become a Cryo and never came back."
"I didn't did I?!" Vox growled not caring how she took it, because he new it was true. "The biggest goddamn mistake of my life!"
Eve shook her head her eye's widening considerably. "No, the biggest mistake of your life was ever coming back here." And with that she pulled the trigger, with the barrel pointed directly between Vox's eyes.
It all happened in a fraction of a second then; the unbelievable immense amount of fear that crossed Eve's face as she fired the round, Rasler's ear-splitting scream as he launched himself forward as if to stop her, and the strange satisfaction that as soon as the bullet cracked through his skull it would be over.
The hissing of the bullet as it passed through the guns chambers was obnoxiously loud, even as Vox closed his eyes for what he hopped would be the final time. If it would just end here now, perhaps by some chance of luck he would be re-united with his beloveds in the afterlife, in peace.
For the briefest flicker of a half-moment, Vox could feel the pain in his skull, Eve's satisfied sigh, and Rasler's heaving gasping cries. And then in that instant he fell backwards onto the pavement – but by this point in time it was over, truly over. He hadn't even felt it.
A/N: So yes, Eve really likes to smoke and shoot the shit out of things. Nasty little combination isn't it? I love it. Especially since Vox ends up as her target repeatedly - it a beautiful relationship i think. Eve's gun and his body.
So length-wise i was actually shooting for 3,000 words and got a bit carried away. Then i figured i'd shoot for 4,000 instead and leave a little room to touch on #149 again. After i got to the end of what you've just read i realised that i would be (literally) shooting for 6,000 - 6,500 words. Wich is way way to long in my opinion. To much for the readers to chew yes?
Anyways i finally got to give Vox the shock of the loss of his family - though not in the way you'd expect. :D
The next chapter will touch a little bit on the fire and possibly (i'm not 100 sure on this yet) a quick visit into what i call "Isle's Diary". Till Next time!