The Battle for New Millennium
Chapter 9: Sin
Jackson Girard awoke in a daze. His body felt like it was dropped from a building, but the pain amazingly didn’t bother him much. His vision was blurred, but he willed his eyes to focus. Hanging upside-down from chains directly across from him was the body of the man he had pursued after his failed attempt to stop the drug called Sin from entering the streets of New Millennium. Wrench-Head had too much blood pooled on the ground under him to still be alive.
“I see our friend died in the night,” Tzu Son said, entering the room where Jackson was bound. “Geist really wanted him to pay for his cowardice, and he did with his blood many times over.”
Jackson tried to ask who Geist was, but his throat was hoarse and sandy. Surprisingly, Son handed him a glass of cool water.
“I need you to stay with us, Girard,” Son said. “I still want to know why you were there. Mr. Geist seems to think that you have some connection to The Post. This would be most unpleasant.”
Jackson’s eyes scanned the room as Son spoke. If he was free, he could easily take Son in a fight. He was scrawny and short. I was his brother, Lee, that worried him. He also didn’t know how bad the extent of his injuries were. Something seemed to be keeping his body numb.
“My brother wants to speak with you too,” Son said. “Well, not speak with you. He doesn’t talk, you know. He thinks the two of you have some kind of unfinished business. He has trouble distinguishing illusion from reality sometimes. That is why he refused to take part in a scripted fight where he lost. I am sure you want to know what brought us back together.”
Jackson didn’t say anything. If he could, he would have told Son to shutup. He had no reason to hear his reasoning for being involved in the shipments of Sin into the New Millennium.
“There’s more money in working with demons than directors,” Son said. “I have the brains and my brother has the muscle. We make a perfect set. We draw one paycheck, and our bosses are happy with our results. Once they take the city, we will rule the humans among them. They remember those who help them, Girard. They also remember those who try to thwart them. You would have done better to fade into obscurity and not worry yourself with their business.”
A door opened behind Son, and a man walked in. Jackson was able to make out a silhouette bathed in the light of the doorway. “Is he awake yet?” the man said impatiently.
“He just woke up, Mr. Geist,” Son said. “I gave him some water and tonic. His voice should return to him momentarily.”
“Good,” Geist said. Son got up and walked to the other side of the room where a table was set up with various devices and containers. Jackson knew he was preparing some kind of torture for him.
“Where am I?” Jackson said, testing his voice. It was still hard. Some of his words were slurred, but he was finally regaining the use of his throat and voice.
“Somewhere safe,” Geist said. He had dark eyes and hair to match. His goatee was trimmed neat around his hard face. Jackson recognized the named. He was some corporate big shot like the Judge guy that bought up Deskue’s shares in the power grids after his death.
“Demons,” Jackson said. He was still recovering from whatever drug the put through him. “Real.”
“Very much so,” Geist said.
“The blood,” Jackson said. “Sin.”
“Demon’s blood,” Geist said. “This is true. I need to know what you know about The Post and what they know about Sin.”
“Nothing,” Jackson said. “Just the name. Nothing else.”
Geist looked into Jackson’s eye, measuring and calculating. “I wish I believed you,” he finally said. “It would make this go quicker. My counterparts believe that this city will be theirs in a matter of days, but I always exercise caution. If my counterparts fail to take this city, then I will have to continue with my plans.”
Jackson was genuinely confused. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said. “I was just trying to stop the drugs from coming in.”
“A valiant effort,” Geist said. “But there was nothing in those boxes. What you witnessed was merely a test. I needed to test some loyalties of some new associates of mine.”
“You called the police!” Jackson said, reality spinning in his mind.
“Of course I did, you fool,” Geist said. “We have been operating outside of the eyes of this city’s law for decades. Sin is already here. The only one I did not plan on testing was you. Are we ready, Son?”
“Ready, boss,” Son said.
“Good,” Geist said. “Let us see how much Mr. Girard actually knows.”
“Very disappointing,” Geist said once their Interrogation of Jackson was complete.
“I apologize for wasting your time,” Son said. His brother, Lee, stood in the corner. He ate an apple while Son and Geist held their conversation.
“It is no fault of your own,” Geist said. “The only link he had to The Post is a long dead player. At least we know they are not any closer to uncovering our plot. Not that it matters. They’ll have their hands full with Kiz and Xing soon enough.”
“What do you want me to do with Girard?” Son asked.
“He knows too much now,” Geist said. “Do what you want with him, but make sure he does not leave here alive.”
Geist left the building to go back to his tower. A smile spread across the face of Tzu Lee.
Jackson awoke when a bucket of water was dumped on his head. He was no longer bound or tied to anything, but he was aware that he’d been locked in a small room. The Interrogation by Geist and Son was quick and painful. Son had injected something into his abdomen. It felt as if some sort of creature was clawing at his insides. Whenever he lied, the creature would cause massive pain throughout his body. It wasn’t too long until Jackson was unable to tell a lie.
“Are you feeling any better?” Son asked. He placed a large cup of some pinkish liquid on the ground near Jackson’s head. “Drink this. You’ll feel much better. My brother wants you up and ready to go in an hour.”
“For what?” Jackson asked, pulling himself into a sitting position despite the protests from his tired body.
“You owe him a fight,” Son said. “Geist wants you dead, and my brother wants to do it. Seems like a good trade to me.”
“And why should I comply?” Jackson asked.
“It’s the lesser of two evils, my friend,” Son said. “Fight my brother to the death or what happened yesterday will feel like bliss. It’s up to you. I’ll tell you right now: you won’t stand a chance unless you drink this.”
Jackson suddenly wanted to throw the cup at Son’s face, but began drinking it instead. It was citrusy, but tasted as if it were heavily laden with medicine as well. The creature he felt in his stomach instantly subsided. He drank the rest down greedily.
“Excellent,” Son said. “I’ll let Lee know that you’ll be ready in an hour or so. I have another gift for you as well.” Son reached in his pocked and put a small vile of red liquid on the table. “Pull the rubber end off the top and stick the needle into a vein. You have to acknowledge that you seek and accept its power, or it will kill you painfully.”
“Is that -”
“Sin,” Son said. “I want to see a good fight. I think it’s the only thing that will give you a chance against my brother. It’s your choice.”
Son left, locking the metal door once more. Jackson got up and tested his limbs. When they didn’t betray him, he began stretching. He watched the vile of demon’s blood from the corner of his eye.
Once an hour had passed, Son came back and led Jackson into a large room. Soon looked to see if the vile of Sin was still on the table, but it was gone. He wasn’t sure if Jackson had taken it or simply stashed it away. He made a mental note to be sure to search Jackson’s body once it was all over. He didn’t regret giving Jackson the Sin. His brother was looking forward to testing his strength against someone who had taken it.
Jackson looked into the face of Tzu Lee once again. The last time he squared off agains this monster of a man he was scripted to win. Now there was no script. No director to yell cut. No hands to hold Lee back when he went berserk. It was just the two of them with an audience of one.
Jackson thought about the vile of Sin that he hid in his boot. He had seriously thought about taking it as the hour nearly ran out, but he hid it instead. He had gotten by on the martial arts circuit on his own skill and merit. He wasn’t about to ask for the help of a demon now.
“Fight when you are ready,” Son said, sitting back with his feet up. Jackson thought he would pull a bag of popcorn out to watch the fight.
Jackson focused on the intent face of Lee. Lee pointed once again to Jackson and then brought his finger across his neck. Jackson doubted that Lee knew any actual sign language, but the intent of his gesture was clear. Jackson readied his body for the battle.
Jackson lashed out first this time. He threw a jab to Lee’s chin that connected. He had gotten lucky once before with a glass-jawed opponent, but he wasn’t so lucky this time. Lee’s face went backwards, but it was staring intently at Jackson a moment later. Lee threw a jab of his own, and Jackson sidestepped it just in time. He felt the fist whiz past his ear.
Lee continued with a barrage of jabs directed towards the face and head of Jackson. Jackson bobbed and weaved out of the way, but he couldn’t keep up the pace for long. Lee was quick for someone his size. Usually with a bigger opponent Jackson would count on his speed to win the fight, but Lee was moving faster than he expected. Jackson was trained in the ways of boxing as well as martial arts, so he knew how to dodge if he was able to keep up with the fists of Tzu Lee.
Jackson didn’t move fast enough, and finally caught a jab that hit him in the forehead. His head rocked backwards, and the world blurred.
“You will not always be matched up with an even opponent,” Julian Sensei said. “Yes, in a tournament of sanctioned fight you will be divided into to weight categories, but in a street fight or underground battle this will not be the case.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever put myself in that situation, Julian Sensei,” Jackson said.
“Then you are a fool,” Julian said. “There will be occasions where the fight will come to you. Whether you want it or not.”
“Is this another lesson from The Post?” Jackson asked.
“Yes and no,” Julian said. “Most of what I tell you comes from my own personal journeys. Will you hear my lesson?”
“I will,” Jackson relied.
“You will face opponents bigger and stronger than you,” Julian said. “It is inevitable. But with greater strength or skill comes greater ego. The ego can be a great weakness if not kept in check.”
“Ego?” Jackson asked. “How am I supposed to use that in a fight?”
“Only experience will teach you the rest of this lesson, Jackson,” Julian said.
Jackson’s mind snapped back to reality as Lee was following up his jab with a devastating pump kick. Jackson turned to avoid the kick, and spun back around with a backhand to Lee’s jaw. A blow like that would normally dislocate the jaw and cause a great amount of pain, but it felt as if Jackson had hit a wall.
His ego, Jackson thought. How the hell am I supposed to use it against him?
Jackson studied the blows as the the came from his opponent. He was strong, skilled, and fast. And he knew it. Lee knew in every inch of his being that it was only a matter of time until Jackson Girard would be dead at his feet. Sin or not.
Jackson considered the demon blood once again after he dodged a haymaker and came back with a barrage of body shots to Lee’s abdomen. He could get it quickly and get it into a vein. If he accepted the blood, he may be able to turn the tables of this one-sided fight. Even if he did use the Sin, Jackson didn’t know how to activate once inside. Son said he’d have to seek its aid and accept its power.
Seek and accept…
Lee finally connected with a kick to Jackson’s chest. He felt his ribs crack, and he went down on his back. Lee shoved him back to the ground before he got up, but Jackson finally knew what he had to do. He feigned a painful groan, and pulled the small vile from his boot. He removed the rubber tip and got it ready. He normally wouldn’t have stooped to a stunt like this, but there was more at stake than only his life.
Lee paced around his victim, silently daring him to get back up. He could end this fight in one stomp, but he was enjoying himself and didn’t want to stop. Girard didn’t put up as big of a fight as he hoped. He had landed a few good hits, but it wasn’t enough. It would never be enough. Even if Girard had taken the Sin.
Jackson was back on his feet. Lee smiled and threw a punch that should have taken Jackson’s head off. Jackson once again turned and brought his hand around to the thick neck of Lee in a chopping motion. Lee felt a sharp pain in his neck. Such a weak chop shouldn’t have felt like that.
“Lee!” Son shouted. “Your neck!”
Lee reached up to where Jackson had struck him. He pulled out the bloody vile. He threw it to the ground with no regard. It was time to end this dance with Jackson.
Jackson gambled with his life and Lee’s. It was the words of Son that echoed in his head. For the Sin to work and not kill him, he’d have to seek out and acknowledge its power. He knew Lee wouldn’t ask for help or aid from anyone. He would sooner die than ask anyone help him win a fight. Even from a demon.
Lee grabbed Jackson by the throat and tossed him across the room like a rag doll. Jackson hit the ground hard and cried out as the pain from cracked ribs shot through his body. He’d taken a lot of abuse lately, and it was adding up fast.
Jackson turned and looked back at Lee. His eyes had turned bright red. For a moment Jackson panicked that his plan had backfired and Lee had somehow accepted the power of the demon’s blood. Then a torrent of blood came from Lee’s mouth, and he fell to the ground, convulsing in pain.
“You bastard!” Son shouted, getting up from his chair. “What the hell did you do to my brother?!”
Jackson didn’t waste any time. He knew is he let Son get away he wold phone Geist or some other thug contact of his. He ignored his aching ribcage, and caught Son around the neck. He dragged the smaller of the Tzu brothers into the same room where he kept Jackson locked up and tossed him in.
“Wait here for your master to return,” Jackson said. “I’m sure he’ll give you the same treatment as the last guy who failed him.”
Jackson slammed and locked the door.
Jackson staggered through the streets of New Millennium. The cool night air felt good on his aching body. He had no idea how much time had passed since the night at the docks. He could have been in that room for a day or a week. With the way they drugged him and tortured him, he had no way of fknowing.
All Jackson knew is that he had to keep moving. He no longer felt as if he had nowhere to go. He carried a case of the Sin under his arm that Son had in the small building. The other four boxes he smashed over a drain. He watched as the blood oozed away.
There was something that Geist had said during the interrogation that kept him moving. Actually, there were a couple of things, but Jackson’s memory of the whole incident was still hazy from the drugs and pain.
The first piece of information that Jackson kept with him was that Geist was fairly sure that some kind of invasion of the city was going to be happening soon. The other was a name that he mentioned more than once when he asked about The Post. It was name that Jackson knew. Jonah Judge.
Jackson continued on through the dark streets of New Millennium to the only place he felt he could go.