Previous: Chapter 2
1 AARON (???)Edit
Aaron stands on the precipice of a cliff. Above him, an ashy, apocalyptic, cloudy sky. The sky is completely obscured with nothingness. Behind him, nothing but dark canyon, unable to be seen. Below, an abyss that ends in...well, who knows? That's kind of the idea of an abyss.
Aaron stares blankly into the nothingness, unsure what he is to do next. Suddenly, a hand appears on his shoulder from behind. He turns, his knee-jerk reaction to punch out whoever it is. His demeanor and expression completely change when he regards the face.
"Filiz..." is what he wants to say. His sister delivers him a warm smile that almost confirms it's truly her standing in front of him. Aaron wants to grab her, hug her close and embrace her for all eternity, tell her how much he misses her - but instead, all he can do is stand there. "It's okay, Ronny. All you need to do is stand here and be with me." Even though he has so much he wants to say to her, those words comfort him.
"So much has changed since four years ago..." She reaches to grab his hands, clutching them ever-so-softly. "Look at you...you've grown so much in such a short amount of time." She locks eyes with his lifeless eyes. Just then, Aaron sees a horror grow in her eyes. It soon comes to encompass ever bit of her being, and her skin turns a pale white from the usual terra cotta. It's as if she can see into his very soul. She sees every deed he's committed since her murder. Aaron wants to explain himself, but he can't open his mouth.
"My god...you've changed...what have you done? Aaron...you-" Suddenly, her expression changes again, from fear to pain. His eyes track downward to see a gaping hole in her stomach, blood protruding from the open wound. Aaron wants to scream out, but again his voice is silenced. Filiz lets go of his hands and falls to her knees, blood pouring from her eyes and mouth. An obscured figure walks toward him in the shadows, wielding what Aaron believes to be a military-grade plasma rifle.
"Too bad. She was pretty hot...I could've had some fun with her. Hell, I still might - the night's young." Those words ring all too familiar, and the voice makes it painfully obvious who pulled the trigger. As if to mock him and confirm, the figure steps out from the shadows, and the sandy hair and pale skin are a sight Aaron knows. Kyle Blackwater, his former fellow serviceman makes himself known as he steps right up to Aaron's face.
"Oh well, at least you'll get to see 'er again." Just like that, Kyle lets go of his weapon and pushes Aaron off the cliff. Aaron can feel the sensations of falling, but all he can do is stare up at Kyle, who looks down at him with the face of a monster. In the last moments he can still make out his face, Kyle's face begins to resemble his own.
"Are you ready to go?" A voice calls out from the abyss. "You've suffered enough. Is it finally time for that suffering to end?"
Just then, all control returns to Aaron. He screams out in a combination of all the worst emotions inside of him as he drops down into nothingness, the world turning blacker and blacker.
- Fort Jasson, Solomon Prefecture
- Manchester Arms Motel
- 07:15 Tuesday, July 5th 400BF
Aaron's eyes open and his head cocks back into the pillow. His senses return to him, and he can control himself again. The smell of cigarette smoke and uncleaned sheets in his motel room reminds him he's returned to the world of the living again.
He'd call what he just experienced a nightmare, but he's not sure if he's living the nightmare right now or not. Not that it matters. Aaron slowly sits up and steps off the bed. In the dark, Aaron's slender body is almost skeletal in the darkness of the room as he dresses himself in his ripped blue jeans and unkempt Henley. He opens the curtains and stares out into Solomon’s capital.
The last time Aaron had been in Solomon, it was on business. The mob had hired him to silence a potential witness for the NSF. Aaron had to figure they would be coming after him hard now. He'd shut down all previous methods of contact, and they’d only known him by voice before. If he played his cards right, they would continue to not know who he is.
Aaron knew he'd gotten a bit carried away with Willow, but nothing surpassed that feeling as he was tearing into his bone and sinew with his fists. It was far more satisfying than he'd have even imagined. As much fun as he’d had, he could never get so careless again. He almost tore through his gloves, which would mean DNA evidence and a high chance the NSF would be after him. The National News Network claimed his death was a suicide, but Aaron knew this was to give the media a false sense of safety. Willow’s access to Haven Coalition files was heavily limited, but what he had gathered was useful enough. Jackson was most likely somewhere here - on a black site. Willow’s file mentioned a local militia man, Arko Miflin. He would most likely have information on how to get to the black site and Jackson.
Aaron turns on his phone and dials a number. His plan is a long shot, but it’s better than firing blindly until he hits something. This wouldn’t be like before. Arko isn’t some merc security team. He’s the real deal, and getting information from him won’t be an easy task.
“Solomon Militia Headquarters,” a beautiful voice resonates from the other side. Reminds him of Filiz a little bit and cause him to slightly lose his train of thought temporarily.
Focus, Aaron. This is how you get to Jackson.
“I need to talk to Captain Miflin. It’s about some information I think he’d like to hear…”
“I’m sorry, but Miflin will only take -”
“No, you get him on the phone right now. It’s about Jackson. You tell him that right now.”
Aaron hears a long pause on the phone. “One moment, please.” Aaron holds the receiver away from him and sighs. What if this is the end of the line and he won’t be able to get to Jackson?
No. He’s just distracted from the dream. He came this far, and if he had to search every single alleyway, every seedy bar, every crevice in this city, he would find him.
Luckily, it would not have to come that far. A ruffling is heard on the other end.
“This is Mifflin. Who are you?” Aaron vaguely remembers his voice from when he came to visit the NSF base. Gruff and gravelly as ever. “What do you think you know about anything?”
Bingo. Aaron’s focus comes rushing back to him like adrenaline. Jackson’s head is in reach, four years in the making.
“I have a file documenting Jackson’s dirty deeds in that facility. You meet me in ten minutes outside of the Frienzi Monument or I send it to every media outlet in the civilized world.”
“Bullshit. You don’t have jack shit. Whoever this is, you’re in over your head.”
Aaron has to think on his feet, but his confidence is coming back to him. “I know about the experiments with the virus - what he’s doing to those people is sick…but you’re going to put a stop to it.”
In all honesty, Aaron couldn’t care less about the experiments, the Virus or the people involved, but the passion behind his voice was very convincing. He simply had to redirect it to sell himself.
“Alright, alright. Hold on…you want to meet, we can make that happen.”
“Just you, none of your men. Ten minutes or I go forward. If something happens to me and I don’t come back, my source inside sends everything. Got it?”
“Yeah, I got it.”
“Good.” Aaron hangs up the phone and drops the phone. He takes a sigh after a long period of not breathing. It’s go-time. Arko probably would have some men come with him. Maybe even a sniper. It’s not guns that worry him - Aaron has stopped fearing guns a long time ago, and not purely because of his Gift. It’s the monsters behind the guns that give him pause.
- Fort Jasson, Solomon Prefecture
- Frienzi Plaza
- 07:23 Tuesday, July 5th 400BF
Aaron sits on his motorcycle, watching the people walk through the district. He takes a gander at the monument itself.
Frienzi was a monument to the people who died cultivating the land and making Haven into a nation. Aaron chose this spot because he considered his sister one such person. In the end, it was the savages who were supposed to be protecting the very interest of building this country that disserviced them with her death. Aaron recognized his own role in her death…but self-pity wasn’t going to help anyone.
All the CCTV cameras were already out of commission, so the militia wouldn’t have real-time information.
Aaron sees a car pull up to the plaza rapidly. Out of the car steps a rather large, bearded man with a face that says it all. Aaron somewhat recognizes him from before, but his uniform would be enough to identify him as Miflin. Aaron jumps off the motorcycle and begins walking towards him. If a sniper were lying in wait for him, this would be the opportune time to take him down.
As Aaron is about to reach him, a shot rings out through the air. Aaron feels an intense pain in his leg, and the force of the shot alone is enough to knock him off his feet. He falls to the ground, cringing in pain. Arko turns and faces the now downed Aaron as the crowd of people flee in panic. He steps toward him and kneels down at Aaron, who’s now holding his leg in pain.
“You must be the punk who tried to play me. Mind telling me who you are and how you got access to that information?” he says. Aaron says nothing, still wincing and breathing heavily, holding his. Arko cocks his head, frowning. “No matter. We’ll get it from you soon enough. Boys?” Two armed guards come out from the crowd. One guard lifts his weapon back, prepared to knock Aaron out.
“Oldest trick in the book.” Aaron grins. The pony show is over. He reveals the fake blood packet in his hand and suddenly springs to his feet, decking the soldier with an electrically charged fist and sending him several feet backward. The other soldier aims his gun and gets off a shot, which is deflected with Aaron’s EMP Shield. He delivers a powerful head-butt to the guard’s face, taking his weapon and finishing with a gun-butt of his own. He can feel the pulse of the EMP grenades the guards carry and uses it to quickly lock-on and take out every soldier nearby.
Arko is temporarily shocked, and Aaron uses this to his advantage. By now, the sniper’s probably about to take another shot at his head. Aaron’s never put his Shield to the test like this, and he’s not about to take the chance. He immediately rolls to the side and trains his eye on the sniper. The shot to his leg told him everything about his position, and Aaron’s dead-eye locked on instantly, just like a good soldier. He takes the shot and the sniper’s life is forfeit.
Suddenly, a massive wind. Aaron turns back to Arko, who’s hand is pointed to him.
“You little shit.” Suddenly, a massive gale rushes from his open hand and pushes Aaron into a nearby car.
“Ugh!” Aaron falls to his knees, coughing and holding his chest. He slowly gets to his feet as Arko begins his haughty monologue.
“So, you’ve got the Gift too? You must be the guy who took out Willow. Maybe I’ll send you to Jackson myself to find out what you’re made of.” Arko generates another gust of wind from his hand, and Aaron has barely seconds before he can get out of the way.
“You chose a public place so we couldn’t use the big guns?” Arko continuously tosses powerful wind gusts, playing whack-a-mole with Aaron as he runs. “Smart. But I’ll be more than enough to take you out.”
Arko tosses a single major gust which knocks Aaron off his feet and into the air, holding Aaron in the air with one hand’s gale. With his other hand, he builds up a deadly wind. “Alright, fun’s over. Worst case scenario, you send out those files and we debunk you as a loon. So, want to tell me how you got access to classified files or are we going to have to get mean?”
“Go... to Hell…” Aaron gasps out, the vortex sucking out his air quickly. He begins charging electricity in his hands and fires his own blast. Arko jumps out of the way as Aaron falls to the ground. He doesn’t have time to catch his breath and immediately runs toward him. A distance game wouldn’t work so well, as Aaron needed more time to charge his shots than Arko. He’d have to take this hand-to-hand, where he’d have the advantage.
Arko tosses a gust of wind, and Aaron leaps over it, continuing his charge and coming in hard with an overhead kick. Arko’s hand is there to meet it, and he grabs Aaron’s leg, slamming him into the ground.
“Nice try.” With his other hand, Arko directs a powerful gust into the ground. Aaron’s blocking does little to knock the wind out of him. Arko begins another attack, but Aaron uses this time to his advantage, grabbing his hand.
“You can say that again!” Aaron releases a huge discharge of electricity into Arko’s body, draining both him and Arko quickly.
“GYYAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAA…!!!” Arko roars in pain and stands in place, his arm charred and his fight taken out of him. Aaron slowly stands up, stepping back and holding his ribs. As Arko falls forward, Aaron catches him, not letting him fall. Aaron pushes him back, delivering a skull-rocking punch to his face, knocking him out cold. Gasping for breath, Aaron takes Arko on his shoulders and carries him towards an abandoned car.
“Now…let’s have some fun…”