The War

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The No Exit club cleared out fast. The War cracked his neck and his knuckles.

“Weird. I thought you’d be taller,” he said.

I thought you’d be prettier,” said Nobody.

“The file described you as ‘Middle Eastern Ninja’. I can see why. Did they drag you off the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark? Where do you shop, the Al Qaida dollar store?”

“Actually, the same place your boyfriend bought you those combat boots. Don’t worry, they go great with your eye shadow,” said Nobody. The War chuckled.

“I’m glad you have a sense of humor because this next part’s going to be real funny.”

“Where’s Adam Tao?” Nobody asked.

“Who, you’re friend with the weird typewriter? He’s kind of a mess right now. I wouldn’t bother him,” said The War. Nobody’s fists clenched.

“You’re done. Come quietly or they’re going to scrape you off the walls,” said Nobody.

“Take your best shot,” said The War. Before he’d even finished his sentence, Nobody closed the distance between them and struck three separate soft points that would have put a normal man down. It was like hitting a brick wall. The War shook his head, seemingly unfazed. “No no, I said your best shot.”

Nobody’s eyes flashed with rage and he socked him square in the jaw, flinging The War back into the bar.

“Tonight’s not a good night to test me,” said Nobody. He was pretty sure his hand was broken now.

“Now we’re talking,” said The War. “I’ve stepped on a lot of people to find you so please make this worth my while.”

Nobody grabbed a beer glass off the bar and threw it at The War’s face. He put his arm up to block it, but Nobody grabbed it and put it in a lock. It was like trying to bend a Redwood. The War threw him into a chair, which broke. Nobody pulled himself up using a nearby table.

“So, you’re juiced up.”

“Like nobody’s business,” said The War.

Nobody threw a bola which wrapped around The War’s neck. Caught off guard, he wasn’t ready when Nobody flipped over his head, grabbed the ends of the bola and used the giant’s calves to lock his back in a choke hold. It was an impressively elaborate stunt set up in seconds flat. The War realized that this Nobody wasn’t just any old Mask. At around this same time, Nobody realized that The War wasn’t choking. He pulled the bola tighter but it seemed to have no effect on the steel pipe that was the giant’s windpipe. Nobody heard a sound that he hoped was choking, but soon figured out was actually laughter. The War flexed his neck and the bola broke, throwing Nobody on the ground.

He tried to roll away, but The War flipped him over, grabbed his neck and started pushing him into the floor.

“No no no, you’re not going to ruin this for me. Make me sweat. Make me bleed,” The War said, breathing hard with anticipation.

“Wish granted.” Nobody stabbed the giant’s face with his hidden knife. The War lurched back, grabbing at his executioner’s hood.

“My face! Fuck!” Nobody went in for another strike but stopped at the last moment when The War started flailing wildly. “Oh you think you’re cute with your little knife?” The War pulled out a huge machete.

The club suddenly felt too small for Nobody.

“So the Order loses a few soldiers and they send you to clean it up?” Nobody asked, moving discreetly toward the exit.

“Oh yeah. They really don’t like you. When I get the call it means you fucked up real bad.”

“I’m flattered,” said Nobody.

“You shouldn’t be. I’m the clean up crew, not the guy they send to fix problems.”

“So that makes you the janitor?” Nobody asked.

“Right. And you’re the piece of shit I’m going to mop up. Which works since you’re brown and smell funny,” said The War.

“What’s the matter? Don’t like brown people? You mad we took all your jobs?”

“That’s real fucking funny,” said The War.

“Is that why you look like you live under a bridge?”

“You raghead son of a bitch,” said The War with an annoyed smile. The issue seemed to strike a nerve so Nobody pressed further.

“I don’t mean to stereotype, but if I put out a casting call for homeless vet, you’d get the part.” The War charged, swinging wide with the machete. Nobody ducked and stabbed him in the thigh. “Oh hey, Fremont called. They want their troll back.” The War ripped a ceiling fixture off and threw it. Nobody dodged it by an inch. The wall behind him exploded.

With each pass, Nobody left another mark and with each miss The War became more frenetic. This wasn’t working. It felt like he wasn’t doing any damage at all, like he was stabbing thick rubber. He needed to try something new.

The War kicked a table which Nobody expertly jumped over. The giant closed in for another swing of his machete. When he got in range, Nobody threw a small bag at his face which exploded with a flash and a bang. Blinded, The War screamed a parade of profanities as Nobody stabbed him all over, though it was more out of frustration than anything else. Enraged, he reached out and managed to grab Nobody’s arm. Then he pivoted and threw the vigilante with all his strength.

When he opened his eyes again, Nobody discovered he had somehow ended up outside. He painfully lifted himself off the ground just in time to see The War stumble out of the club, shotgun in one hand, machete in the other. Nobody limped behind the club into the parking lot. He could barely keep himself up without using the cars for support.

“Where’d you go, shit stain?” The War called out. Nobody ducked and hid next to a trunk. There weren’t many cars left, but a surprising number of people had fled the scene without them. “Come on, say something funny. Hell, just keep your mouth open so I can sniff out whatever disgusting shit you people call food.”

Nobody heard a machete dragging on the pavement. Massive feet crunching gravel with each methodical step. In the distance, police sirens blared but they didn’t seem to be getting any closer. He wondered if the Order had something to do with that. He picked up a loose pebble and waited.

The War was searching in a grid pattern, an unending stream of racial slurs emitting from his mouth. It confirmed Nobody’s suspicion that this guy hadn’t figured out his identity since none of the racial slurs were even in the ballpark. Nobody kept him in sight, sneaking around the car while the giant combed the parking lot.

“They think you’re a monster, you know. The crooks you deal with I mean. Me, on the other hand, I get the impression you’re more of a poser. A phony. You don’t have any powers from what I can tell. No spiffy gadgets. You’re just a tricky bastard with black clothes and scary eyes.”

Nobody threw the pebble right over The War’s head so it hit a car’s windshield. The War whirled and shot, blowing it out and tripping the car alarm.

“Damn, that shit fucked up my eyes. What the fuck did you throw at me?” Nobody found another pebble and repositioned. “You don’t know what a real monster is. You have no idea. I’ve served. Fought wars in places barely fit for animals let alone people. Hell on fucking Earth. I’ve seen monsters. Killed them. Killed so many maybe I am one now.” The War flipped a car over in frustration. “I looked into your eyes and I saw some freaky shit, but not the eyes of a killer.”

Nobody knew he couldn’t keep this up but his grapple gun wouldn’t reach anything from where he was and he definitely couldn’t outrun the giant in his current condition. He’d need something big, either a distraction or a knockout punch, to get away. The only things he had on him were his grapple gun, knife, one last bola, several throwing stars, caltrops, and flash powder. A plan formed in his head. The plan was risky but if he could find a good clunker it could work. His prayers were answered by a 2004 Volkswagen Dragon.

“I know you’re here. Hiding doesn’t work with me. I was in ‘Nam bitch. I can shoot you out of any fox hole you scurry in. Believe me you Taliban looking mother…” The War saw smoke. He rushed over to find his car’s fuel lid had been popped off and a flaming rag poked inside it. “…fucker.”

The car exploded with flames that did it’s name justice. Nobody booked it. He made it to the edge of the parking lot near the closest street when he heard a sound he didn’t want to hear. Crashing metal, feet pounding on pavement, racial slurs, and flesh burning. He turned and saw a giant man on fire, charging like he couldn’t be stopped by anything and looking absolutely livid.

 

Continued here

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