The Innocent Chapter 16: The Line

The Innocent

Chapter 16: The Line

 

Wolfsky listened intently as Xander laid out his plans to throw Havenville into chaos. It was simple plan, but one that would probably prove to be extremely effective. They’d use a riot to cover them long enough to get into the guards closets and grab as many weapons as they could carry. They’d get as many rifles or concussion and smoke grenades as they can into the hiding place that Tajiri will procure ahead of time. There was a washer that was loose that would make the perfect cover for a cache of weapons. They would have to lay low for a while since the guards would be searching for the missing weapons. If they aren’t found they’d be able to get them from the wall behind the washer in time.

“A riot?” Leonard asked. “Could you be any more cliche? They do that in every prison movie!”

“If we engineer this riot correctly it will make the perfect cover,” Xander said. “We focus the bulk of the riot in the mess hall drawing most of the guards there. You and I could lure away any stragglers while Wolfsky and Tajiri gets the weapons.”

“Wouldn’t I do better with Tajiri?” Leonard asked. “I know what we need.”

“I need you by me,” Xander said. “I need you to use a well placed smoke bomb or any other tricks you can hide up your sleeves. Also, Wolfsky can carry more. At this point we should be more concerned with quantity over quality. We can go through our take later and figure out what we can do with what we grab.”

Wolfsky nodded. He was impressed with the plan. He had seen four riots since he entered Havenville, and had taken part in two of those, but none of those riots were as intense as the one that Xander was planning on starting. The one thing Wolfsky hadn’t done was help engineer one. “How do we start this party?” he asked.

“We don’t,” Xander says. “We have the Neo-Nazis attack the Ten of Clubs in the mess hall. The tensions between these two is high, and neither one will back down from an all-out battle. While they’re brawling, El Niño and the Chicanos will cause enough anarchy to get the rest of the place rocking. I’ve already talked to him, and he’s chomping at the bits to do this.”

“He’d rather be chomping at your bits,” Leonard said chuckling.

Xander sighed. Wolfsky knew it exactly why El Niño was so willing to help, but Xander wasn’t going to comment on it. “The guards will be mostly concerned about the Ten of Clubs and the Neo-Nazis,” he said. “If all goes to plan, Tajiri will have all the time he needs to get into the lockers and get the weapons out.”

“It’s an extremely risky plan,” Tajiri said. “We may not be able to get anything, and we will have wasted a perfectly good riot. We won’t get a second chance at this.”

“I know,” Xander said. “Luck is going to have to be on our side.”

“Luck,” Wolfsky said softly to himself with a dry chuckle. The others turned to look at him in silence. It was very out of the ordinary for Wolfsky to react that way. Wolfsky looked at the other’s faces as they watched him. “The problem with luck is that it eventually runs out.”

“That’s worse than one of my jokes,” said Leonard.

*

The weeks ticked by as the group planned their attack. There were days in the yard where Xander discussed strategy with El Niño or Leonard would reluctantly deliver messages to the Neo-Nazis. El Niño listened to the plans intently as the Neo-Nazis gave Leonard the impression this would be the last favor Leonard would perform. It concreted Leonard’s assumption that before long he’d be making weapons for them based purely on the threats from them instead of in exchange for protection.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to me when this is all over,” Leonard told Xander over breakfast the morning before their planned riot. “I asked too much of them, and it’s going to be time to pay the piper soon.”

“We’ll watch your back,” Xander said. “You know that.”

“I know,” Leonard said. “But there’s more of them than there is as us. Sometimes I hope the plan goes awry and the Ten of Clubs take out the Nazis. This way I’d be free and clear when its all over.”

Xander said nothing. Ever since Leonard, Tajiri, and Wolfsky offered to help him overthrow Havenville and kill Warden Greene, he felt guilty in his acceptance of their help. Now that FBI Agent Peter Frost was dead and gone, he had nothing to offer. Leonard took the biggest risk of all now that the Nazis had targeted him. If he could help it, Xander wouldn’t have asked help from such a despicable group of people, but there was little time and such a small pool of allies to choose from. Xander found himself hoping for the same outcome as Leonard. That the Ten of Clubs and the Neo-Nazis would someone take out each other and leave them with no worries other than the Warden.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you safe,” Xander said. “Even if it costs me my life.”

“Don’t get all melodramatic on me, Xander,” Leonard said. “This isn’t some comic book. Whatever happens happens. If I fall you need to move forward. Also, I’d look damn good with a shaved head.”

Xander couldn’t help himself. He started laughing over his tray of food. Leonard started laughing too as Wolfsky and Tajiri entered the chow line. They wouldn’t be able to sit with Leonard and Xander, but Xander knew that their appearance meant they were done scouting the routes they would use to the weapons storage. It was no surprise they were done so quickly since they have scouted it on four separate occasions. Now that they were on the eve of their engineered riot everything had to synchronized. The smallest error on any of their parts would mean disaster and possibly their deaths.

*

“So they’re planning their riot for tomorrow?” Warden Greene asked Kit Marshall. Marshall had informed him of Xander Zane’s planned riot over a week ago, but he was hard pressed to find out more information.

“From what I hear,” Marshall said. “I don’t know what their reasons are. Maybe he’s just trying to make your life hell.”

“I doubt it,” Warden Greene said. “Zane isn’t rash or foolish enough to put together a riot for no particular reason. If he’s going through the trouble there has to be a reason.”

“I haven’t been able to find that out,” Marshall said. “My snitch in the skinheads just gave me the dates and very few of the details. I have no idea what their intentions are.”

“Chaos,” Dr Dean said breaking his silent observance. “He’s causing you chaos for the sole purpose of doing so. I warned you to kill him and be done with it. No good can come from toying with a man like Xander Zane. Especially with the men he’s chosen to align himself with.”

“I’ve had enough of your lip, Dean,” Warden Greene said. “It doesn’t matter what Zane’s intentions are or who he’s aligned himself with. Lockhart and I have had a plan in motion for sometime now, and this riot will be the perfect opportunity to implement it.”

“What should I do with the guards?” Marshall asked.

“Nothing, you fool,” Greene said. “They need to react as if they have no knowledge of the riot. Let it play out. Watch from afar as my life’s work is finally realized. I need to go to Max Lockup now. Lockhart has been waiting for quite some time.”

*

The morning of the riot Xander awoke after a restless sleep. He was up due to anxiety a number of times throughout the night. He wasn’t as disturbed as he should’ve been at Wolfsky’s restfulness, but nothing ever seemed to disturb Wolfsky as much as it should have. It was almost as if Wolfsky somehow had a sense that everything would work itself out in the end. 

“Is it me?” Wolfsky said opening his eyes.

“The Neo-Nazis make their move near the end of breakfast,” Xander said going over the plans more for himself than . “The Chicanos will wait for the start and begin riling up whoever is in the blocks. I’ll direct the action with Leonard. You and Tajiri rush the opposite way of the guards and grab what you can.”

“There’s no turning back now,” Wolfsky said.

“No,” Xander said. “There’s not. They’re the ones who drew the line. It’s time we crossed it.”

*

For most of the general population of Havenville Penitentiary, there was nothing out of the ordinary at breakfast that morning. Inmates dressed in orange came and went. The guards stood their silent vigil over the mass gathering of convicts as they ate runny eggs and stale bread. The Ten of Clubs sat at their normal tables against the walls where they kept to themselves and surveyed the rest of them. The skinheads gathered together in their normal huddle as if to keep away one of the inferior races. Barely anyone paid attention to the four men that sat near each other barely touching their food. Only a few were aware of the signal when it came.

A cup of water fell from a short man wearing glasses with mousey hair. It clattered on the floor spilling the water across the floor. The plastic cup was on its first bounce when the skinheads got up and plowed their way towards the Ten of Clubs at their round tables. They were barely aware of the attack when the skinheads were on them pummeling them and breaking bones.

The guards acted swiftly. They raised their stun guns, but didn’t know where to fire first. With such a huge brawl erupting there was no way to quell it with a single shot. They needed something bigger. Without conferring with the others, a guard rushed to the outside wall fumbling with his keys. He jammed it into the lock and opened the metal box that housed a large red button. He forcefully pushed the button down that would douse the mess hall with tear gas.

*

Days before riot Xander talked to Tajiri and Leonard about the tear gas in the mess hall ceiling.

“Once the riot starts the guards will release the tear gas,” Xander said remembering the short conversation he had with the now deceased Ginger Rapist. “We need to figure a way to make that work to our advantage.”

“I’ve been up there before,” Tajiri said. “On the rafters. I can shut them off. When the guards hit the button nothing will happen.”

“I have a better idea,” Leonard said. “Give me a little time and I can whip up another little surprise for the guards.”

*

Tajiri crawled on his hands and knees over the darkened mess hall. There were twenty gas canisters in all, and he was feeling fatigued before he was even halfway done. Last time he had come up here it was to bleed off one of the canisters in order to get a pipe fitting that Leonard needed for a nail gun he was tinkering with. Tajiri was pleased to see that the particular canister was never repaired. It was one less for him to break now.

Tajiri finished shutting the canisters down by two in the morning and went to work with the second part of Leonard’s plan. He took the small device that was hidden in his black outfit and attached it to the wires that fed down towards the button that would trigger the gas. The device was about the size of his fist, and Leonard thought ahead and included some ties to attach it to the pipe. He aimed it downwards towards where Leonard was sure the guards would be standing, and snuck away. With luck he’d be able to get a couple hours of rest before the sun came up.

*

Havenville guard Johnston pressed the button down waiting for the gas to fill the mess hall. The other guards already had their masks pulled up and their goggles on so they wouldn’t feel the effects of the gas. Johnston pulled his mask up around his mouth right before there was a loud and bright explosion. At first he thought it was some kind of firework going off, but the sparks that flew to the ground were still burning bright. The guards that were ready to stun the crowd were covered in brightly burning flames. They beat at their heads and chests to put the fires out. 

Johnston ran for a fire extinguisher as the cell blocks began to erupt in violence as well. He watched in horror as the Chicanos began running rampant throwing bedding and people over the railings to the floor below. Fires began to break out as crudely made Molotov cocktails were tossed onto the piles of bedding. The inmates were running in pandemonium, and Johnston didn’t even notice the pair slip past him in the direction of guards quarters (which was now empty as they tried to calm the riot in the blocks and mess hall).

Johnston grabbed the fire extinguisher and ran back towards the riot mess hall that was becoming loud enough to drown out the riot that was going on in the cell blocks. The extinguisher was taken from him in an instant and he was on his ass on the floor. He was vaguely aware of an extra large inmate using the extinguisher to blast the crowd of inmates that were pouring out of the mess hall and having a good laugh about it.

Johnston tried to pick up his stun gun as something hit him in the back of the head. He fell to the ground face first and blacked out.

*

Xander and Leonard left the mess hall quickly once the the fighting started. They were moving back towards C Block when the the guards were showered in red sparks. Their clothing were on fire, and Xander was only vaguely aware that Wolfsky and Tajiri had made their flight in the opposite direction towards the guard’s weapons cache. Hopefully they’d be as lucky as Xander needed them to be.

“What did you do to those guards?” Xander asked with a look over his shoulder.

“Just adding a little more anarchy,” Leonard said. “Call it payback for sending rapists after me. The flames won’t last long. It’s a dumbed down version of napalm. I don’t have the ingredients to make the real thing. The fire will only burn for a moment before going out.”

“Just enough to buy Wolfsky and Tajiri a little more time,” Xander said.

“Exactly,” Leonard said.

“Remind me to stay on your good side,” Xander said. “Pass me a smoke bomb.”

Leonard reached into his shirt and pulled out a small smoke bomb. It was a mini version of the bombs he used to distract the guards on the day they burned the chapel. He handed it to Xander. Xander pulled the pin out and tossed it behind them down the middle of the cell block. Within seconds it started spinning and spraying thick, gray smoke. After another moment it exploded blowing the smoke outwards.

Xander and Leonard were surrounded by insanity. There was fighting and rioting everywhere. Xander had never seen anything like it. Fires burned and bodies fell. Men were screaming and the guards were retreating. He knew the backup would arrive soon with stronger weapons than stun guns, but for the moment lunacy and anarchy ruled Havenville Penitentiary. 

The smoke bombs served their purpose. The Chicanos took notice and moved the action towards the smoke. It also worked to intensify the confusion and intensity of the rioting inmates as well as the guards. Xander and Leonard made their way towards the other end of the C Block where they planned on riding out the rest of the riots. 

The wall at the other end of the C Block suddenly blew inwards towards them. Xander shielded his eyes from the dirt and mortar falling in. He tried to look through the dust to see what had caused the collapse of the wall. He looked in horror on what was coming in.

“Come on,” Xander said as he grabbed Leonard who was trying to rub the dust from his eyes. “We need to get out of here. Now!”

*

Leonard ran back from where they came from confused as Xander steered him by the shoulder. The smoke from the last smoke bomb stung his eyes. He rubbed them furiously aware that he wasn’t going to help the situation with the dust. He’d have to go blind for the time being, and was glad that Xander was steering him.

With as much force as running into a wall Xander suddenly stopped while still grasping Leonard’s shoulder. He opened his stinging eyes to see why they stopped. Through the haze he saw a group of men standing in front of them. There were first blazing behind them so each man appeared like a shadow.

“Give us the geek,” a gruff voice said. “He belongs to us now.”

Leonard knew the voice well. It was Buford McGill from the Arians. They were apparently ready to collect him.

“He’s staying with me,” Xander said.

“Be smart,” Buford said. “We just lost two members fighting that group of niggers at his request. He works for us now. We stitched you up once before, Zane. We can break you back open just as easily.”

“You don’t understand -”

“SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!” Buford bellowed. The others around him started chattering and walking forward. “We’re done killing niggers for this little shit and his buddies. He comes with us and he makes his weapons for us. End of story.”

Leonard felt the hair on his arms start to stand up. There were loud footsteps behind him. Without warning Xander pushed him to the side, and he fell sprawled out in front of some cell. He had enough sense to look up from the ground and saw Xander dive to the opposite side of the block. With the smoke starting to dissipate thanks to the huge hole that was blown in the wall moments before, Leonard could see what Xander was dragging him away from.

“Who the fuck are you?” Buford asked. He stepped up to the huge man that stood in front of him. Leonard was a short man, but Buford was easily seven feet tall and nothing but taught, tattooed muscle. The man that stood in front of him seemed to tower over him. His skin was dark black and a tangle of dreadlocks went down his back.

“He’s big,” one of the Arians said in a flustered voice. “We should go.”

“We don’t back down,” Buford said. “He may be the biggest moon cricket I’ve ever seen, but there’s six of us and one of him. Who wants the first cut?” Buford pulled a knife out of his boot that Leonard recognized as one he fashioned some time ago. Buford lashed out at the big man as his friends crowded behind him to back him up.

What happened next couldn’t possibly be called a fair fight. There was a flash of white and a smell of ozone in the air. When the flash cleared Buford was ten feet in the air and likely already dead. The big man swung a huge mallet of a fist taking two others out in one punch. He swung his other first nearly beheading another. The last two Arians standing tried to run off, but the man reached out and got one in each hand. Sparks flew from his hands as the men twitched and convulsed. When they were finally let go their smoking corpses fell to the floor still smoldering.

Not caring about the piles of bodies he just created, the giant turned to Leonard. His white teeth gleamed amidst his ferocious grin.

*

Xander watched in shock as the monolith of a man took down the entire hoard of Neo-Nazis without breaking a sweat. Even after hearing the stories and reading the files on what Warden Greene was up to in Havenville, he still couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. It dawned on Xander for the first time since emerging from The Hole that he was in over his head.

And he had the sinking feeling that he was only seeing a very small example of the horrors that Greene was capable of committing.

Xander saw the dreadlocked head turn towards Leonard who was backing towards the wall of the cell he had tossed him near. He urged Leonard with his mind not to corner himself, but Leonard was acting more out of fear than common sense. Xander couldn’t sit and watch Leonard suffer a painful death like the bodies of men that littered the ground still bleeding and smoking. He reached into his boot and pulled out the pair of throwing blades he hid there. He threw at the beast. It found its mark behind the shoulder and stuck like a sign post. Blue sparks emanated from its end.

“Come on you gorilla!” Xander shouted as the beast-man turned to eye him. It didn’t even move to take the crudely made blade from its back. Xander threw his other blade, and it didn’t try to swat it away or dodge it. This one lodged itself in the mammoth of a man’s abdomen, and the same blue sparks came from the end.

“You want a fight?” Xander said. “Come get it.”

The beast-man charged, and Xander ducked and rolled past him. He briefly noticed small metal plates on the beast’s knuckles and wondered what would happen if he took a direct punch. He recognized the look in its eyes and the movements. He noticed it once before when he had to escape the Quarantine Wing with Tajiri. This beast must have been from that bunch, but it was more disciplined than the others he faced.

Xander heard a loud pop and noticed Leonard, still on the ground, holding a smoking pipe in his hand. He had lit the fuse while Xander was distracting the beast, and he let loose a barrage of nails from the end of the pipe. He briefly saw the side of the beast’s face as he turned to Leonard once again. The entire right side of his face and neck were covered in nails. There was even one protruding from his eye. Blue sparks jumped form nail to nail as he moved back to Leonard who had at least gotten enough sense in him to move out of the cell, but there was nowhere to go.

Leonard threw the red glowing pipe into the beast’s face, but he didn’t flinch. He moved slowly towards Leonard as blood dripped from the smoking mess on the right side of his face. Xander jumped on the beast’s back to try and pull him away from his prey, but was pushed way from the force of an electric shock. He flew backwards and hit the ground hard. Before he blacked out he felt the guilt wash over him that Leonard was going to die for him.

As his vision faded he only hoped that Leonard’s death would be quick.

*

Leonard backed away from the injured beast. He knew Xander had the best intentions when he attacked from behind, but it was stupid. The shock had blasted Xander back at least ten feet. Xander was now unconscious or dead. Either way, Leonard was screwed.

More sparks and smoke rose from the side of the beast’s face where Leonard had fired his nails. The small nail gun only had one shot, and it was Leonard’s trump card. Now that it was spent, he had nothing else that would even come close to fighting off something like this. 

Leonard attempted to make peace with whatever deity was watching over him when two figures came rushing out of the smoke. They both moved quickly and deftly, and took the beast by surprise. Wolfsky grabbed the back of the beast’s hair and pulled with all his might. The Beast staggered, standing on his heels. Leonard was thankful that the electricity that flowed through the beast-man’s body didn’t extend to its hair. The other figure rushed to the front brandishing a ten inch sword (which Leonard had made from some scrap metal from the machine shop). The sword raked the front of the beast-man’s chest and sparks flew as his skin was cut. Leonard meant to yell out for Tajiri to stop before he could be shocked like Xander, but he didn’t need to worry. He used an entire roll of electrical tape making the hilt of Tajiri’s small, curved sword.

Tajiri jumped back at the sight of the sparks issuing from the beast-man’s chest. The beast-man swung his body and landed a backhand on the side of Wolfsky’s head. Leonard counted Wolfsky lucky that the beast-man’s balance was thrown off by the surprise attack. If he hadn’t been, Wolfsky would likely be killed by the shot. As it was, he only fell a few feet away unconscious on the ground.

Tajiri’s rage was immediate. He rushed forward again concentrating on his footing. He dodged the attacks that would normally seem too fast for someone of the beast-man’s size. After each dodged attack Tajiri would mount a small attack of his own. A cut to the abdomen. A slash to the thigh. A cut across the cheek. Each cut and slash seemed tiny compared to the size of the beast-man, but Leonard knew what Tajiri was doing. Eventually the injuries would add up, and the beast-man would not be able to take any more abuse.

Or so Leonard would have normally thought.

The beast-man didn’t slow. His attacks were just a ferocious and fast as when he first appeared. Leonard noticed that the tempo of Tajiri’s attack was slowing as the fight went on. Tajiri kept up with his cardio workouts on a regular basis, but even his finely tuned body would wear down before too long. Leonard didn’t even know what Tajiri and Wolfsky went through before coming to his rescue.

Xander was out cold or dead. Wolfsky was knocked out. Tajiri was wearing out and would soon make a misstep that would cost him his life. The only one who was in any kind of shape to beat this beast-man was Leonard.

But what did Leonard that could beat him?

Then it came to Leonard like a flash of lighting. The one thing he had that was stronger than the others. His mind. It was what made Xander choose him for this team to begin with. He could make just about anything when he put his mind to it. Now he tasked himself with the responsibility to save the only three men on the planet that he considered friends.

How do I do it, Leonard thought. How did Spider-Man ever beat Electro or Shocker? Water! Didn’t he douse them with water? But that was stupid. Those were comic books he read when was ten or eleven years old. How was that supposed to help now? Then he looked about and saw a guard laying on the ground. Someone had knocked him out and taken his rifle. He must have been reloading it when it was taken since a shell was still in his hand. Leonard recognized it as a round of those salted pellets the guards used to disrupt fighting inmates. 

Leonard’s mind went to work as Tajiri dodged and attacked. Another cut was made on the beast-man’s left thigh. Leonard picked up the shell from the guards hand. Tajiri barely dodged a sparking first that was aimed at his head. Leonard took the half empty canister of mace that was clipped to the guard’s belt. The small sword flashed past the beast-man’s face missing its mark. Leonard took the pipe that used to house his nails and crudely and quickly tied the canister of mace to the end using the guard’s belt. The beast-man swung downwards hitting the ground inches in front of Tajiri’s feet, spraying him with bits of the ground. Leonard jammed the shell into the other end of the pipe and positioned it between the bars of the cell door as best he could.

“Tajiri!” Leonard shouted. “Tuck and roll!”

Tajiri didn’t question the order or hesitate following it. Instead of attacking after his dodge of a haymaker, he rolled under the arm of the beast-man and came out the other side. He then headed away from the beast-man who turned confused.

“HEY YOU UGLY FUCK!” Leonard shouted. The beast-man turned to the sound of Leonard’s voice with a bloody, one-eyed snarl. “SUCK MY FUCKING DICK!” Leonard swung a piece of debris towards the shell jammed into the pipe and prayed he wasn’t about to blow off his hand. The result was immediate. There was a loud bang as the shell fired a spray of mace and salted pellets into the beast-man’s face. It bellowed with rage as both his hands went to his eyes and face-wound. 

“NOW, TAJIRI!” Leonard shouted.

Tajiri once again obeyed without hesitation. He nearly flew towards the front of the beast-man, swinging his blade violently. The beast-man clawed at his burning eyes as Tajiri attacked again and again. Blood and sparks flew from the fresh wounds that Tajiri made.

Leonard moved quicker than even he believed he could. He grabbed a pillow from bottom bunk and stuffed it into the toilet. He flushed three times, and the water from the steel toilet over flowed and splashed the floor. “TAJIRI, MOVE!” he shouted.

Tajiri moved out of the way as Leonard threw the pillow towards the side of the beast-man’s face that was riddled with nails. There was the sound of the wet pillow smacking his face, then the white flash seared Leonard’s eyes as the beast-man screamed. 

The beast-man fell to the ground with a thud, and the smell of smoldering flesh filled the air. “I can’t believe that worked,” Leonard said laughing. “Fucking Spider-Man.”

*

Images swam in Xander’s mind as his mind drifted in and out of consciousness. He knew his body was lying on the ground of the C Block of Havenville Penitentiary, but here he was wandering through a foggy graveyard. I don’t have time for this, he thought. The others need me.

Somehow, Xander moved forward through the graveyard in his mind. None of the graves had any words on them. He heard a river bubbling to his left, but turned to see nothing. He followed the sound until it ended. Suddenly he was looking at the faces of two graves.

The first one said HERE LIES WENDY FROST: KILLED FOR HER HUSBAND’S DUTY. Xander moved his gaze to the second grave already knowing what was written there. HERE LIES CHRISTIAN FROST: KILLED FOR HIS FATHER’S DUTY. Xander stepped back from this macabre sight and tripped over a root in the ground. 

Xander turned, rose from the ground, and dusted the dirt from his sore legs. He realized he was in front of three graves. One for Wolfsky, Leonard, and Tajiri. Each one was etched with the phrase KILLED FOR A STRANGER’S DUTY.

“I’m dead,” Xander said looking around. It wasn’t a question. As if to confirm his assumption a grave appeared from the haze in front of him. He started at its inscription. HERE LIES PETER FROST: KILLED BY XANDER ZANE.

“War is coming,” a soft and calm voice said in the distance. Xander looked up a hill and saw an old man sitting in the throne of metal. Wires were protruding from his head and rose into the sky where the disappeared amongst the clouds.

“Who are you?” Xander asked.

“War is coming,” the old man repeated. “Your role in is set in stone now. The foul game is almost over. Havenville is almost over. Only you can end it.”

“What do you mean?” Xander asked.

“XANDER,” a booming voice said off in the distance. He looked towards the sun that was dim through the haze of thick clouds and fog. He turned and saw the form of the old man in the throne fading into the fog. “XANDER!” the voice in the sky repeated.

“Who’s there?” he called.

“GET UP, XANDER!” the voice called.

Xander squinted at the distant sun. There was something familiar in the voice. He looked at the sun that was now swelling in size.

“XANDER!” the voice boomed. “THEY’RE COMING!”

*

“Get up!” Leonard yelled slapping Xander hard in the face. His eyes opened and he looked up into the grimy and sweat covered face of Leonard and was happy to see that he was still alive. He turned and saw Tajiri crouching next to them breathing heavy. He looked worse off than Leonard and was bleeding from a cut under his eye.

“Where am I?” Xander asked. “I was just in this place -”

“Enough, Dorothy,” Leonard interrupted. “The guards are coming. We have to hide.”

Tajiri dragged Xander up by his armpits, but he was able to move on his own accord. He followed Leonard to an empty cell and behind a small fort of overturned mattresses. Xander noticed the huge corpse that was still smoking in the middle of the block.

“What happened to him?” Xander asked.

“Later,” Tajiri said.

Xander stopped talking as he heard the many footsteps coming towards them. The silence throughout Havenville meant the riots must have ended. He nearly asked how many weapons Tajiri and Wolfsky got but remembered it would have to wait. Then he realized something.

“Where’s Wolfsky?” Xander whispered.

“We couldn’t get him up,” Tajiri whispered. “He was too heavy for us to drag. He’ll be OK as long as he stays out.”

“Shutup,” Leonard said. “I can see them.”

Xander looked through the small space in between the bedding that concealed them. He watched as Kit Marshall led a group of guards armed with shotguns and thick padding. 

“There’s probably some more stragglers in here,” Marshall said. He briefly observed the upheaval that was Lower C Block “What the hell happened here?” he shouted.

“We got a body here,” a guard said approaching the downed guard. He took off his glove and checked his pulse. “Still alive.”

“Get him to the infirmity, stat!” Marshall barked. “Someone check the big one in the middle.”

Another guard reluctantly stepped forward. He walked around the mass of smoking meat that was the man-beast moments ago. He knelt next to his dreadlocked head and checked for a pulse. There was a loud crack, and the guard was on his back on the floor. He didn’t breath for a moment, but then started gasping for breath.

“Don’t touch him!” Marshall barked needlessly. Nobody stirred to try and check him again. 

Xander noticed movement from the corner of his eye. Wolfsky was beginning to stir back into consciousness. Xander hoped Wolfsky would take notice of Marshall or the guards and resume remaining still on the ground, but he started to pull himself up dazedly from the shot that knocked him out. The guards turned on him suddenly and he had four stun guns aimed at him as well as three more shotguns for good measure.

“Someone’s still kicking,” Marshall said with a dry laugh that jiggled his belly. “That’s good. I want some answers.”

Wolfsky stared down Marshall and said nothing. 

“What did you do here, Wolfsky?” Marshall said as if reprimanding a naughty child. “How many did you kill today?”

Wolfsky again started into Marshall’s eyes silent and unwavering.

“You will tell me what you did here,” Marshall said. “What did you do to the man on the floor?”

Again, Wolfsky kept his statuesque stare with Kit Marshall. The guards around Wolfsky began to shift nervously.

“I’m surprised you could kill someone so big,” Marshall said. “I thought you enjoyed killing children, butcher.”

Wolfsky lunged at Marshall and was shocked by the nearest guard before could get to Marshall. He fell to one knee and stayed there staring into Marshall’s face.

“You could take a lot of punishment, can’t you?” Marshall said smiling. Wolfsky began to pick himself back up again. A second shock was delivered and he went back down to one knee. His gaze never left the face of Kit Marshall. “I’ll take care of you myself, butcher.” Marshall pulled a telescopic rod from his belt and extended it. He cracked Wolfsky in the side of the head who went down once more. This time for good.

Xander tried to rush forward from his hiding spot, but Tajiri and Leonard subdued him. “Stop,” Tajiri whispered in his ear. “They’ll shoot you as soon as you rush out. All they need is the excuse.”

Once Xander realized he wasn’t getting out of the hold Tajiri had him in, he settled back down and returned his watch of the horrific treatment of his friend. The helplessness of his situation made the bile rise in his throat. He wanted nothing more than to knock Marshall out and strangle him.

“Toss this one into Max,” Marshall said collapsing his rod and stuffing it back into his pocket. “I will not tolerate this kind of violence in my prison!”

He turned heel and marched away. He said something about flushing out the rest of the rats before his voice was gone as well. Two guards tied Wolfsky’s wrists with zip ties for good measure before rolling him onto a stretcher and wheeling him off to where the others couldn’t get to him.

When the coast was clear the trio emerged from their hiding spot not knowing what to say to each other. The guards were beginning to usher anyone left standing around into random cells and locking them in. Before Xander, Leonard, and Tajiri were tossed into a cell of their own while the guards sorted the mess out, Xander noticed the crowd of people on Upper C. They were all silently watching. 

 

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