"I feel like a prisoner."
Vaas held up his hands and rattled the shackles cuffed around his wrists. "You know this isn't the first time I've been locked up like this. Two times actually. The first time I was in Egypt, and I was so fucking young and stupid." He laughed fondly, his chest vibrating under Citra's head; she laying sideways so her head rested on his chest, quietly listening to him. "I fell pretty hard for this Egyptian boy, he was actually the one I was supposed to do the dealing with at the ports. He sold guns, I sold la mari-ji-juana. Simple stuff you know?"
Citra clenched her jaws, but no, no now wasn't the time to let petty jealousy ruin this precious moment. Vaas was actually mellow. He woke her up very early, the sky outside still dark, and started talking and talking about nothing and everything. It was out of the bloom, and she loved it, craved it. He was talking to her, talking of the period of his life that remained a wonderful mystery to her. So she didn't dare interrupt him, or get mad. She desired this.. this lost connection. It felt so nice she could cry.
How did they become so estranged?
"Turns out he was a she, Nadira.. that was her name, and she was already married to this Brazilian mercenary fuck, Marty or something I don't fucking care." He trailed off, raising his hand to shape a finger gun, and pretended to shoot something up at the ceiling. "Anyways Nadira was part of this rebellion group, she had a lot of enemies. She got framed, I happened to be around and got pulled into the shit fucking mess and then I found myself locked up sitting in piss and shit, mostly from the rats. I think god was flipping me off cos her fucking husband broke us out, saved my sorry ass." He groaned, as if the memory still bothered and embarrassed him to this day.
"And the second time?" She chirped.
"Mmmh that, that was somewhere in Africa. Some fucking idiots thought I was a merc for the other team, so like the dumbfucks they are, they locked me up, and took all the diamonds I was supposed to get for Hoyt. Funny enough, I was only in there for two days and then someone started a prison break. After that.. I dunno, I don't really remember. Next thing I know is that I wake up in this church that smelled like rotting balls, got told by Father Maliya I was all kinds of fucked up cos of malaria.. fucking mosquitoes."
"Church? Like.. Christianity?" She hasn't been to a church in years. Well she only went once, when there still was a church, and it was only because Vaas was curious and wanted to check it out, and she... she just wanted to go wherever he went. It was one of there mini adventures, a fond memory she treasures. The church is burned down now, maybe from the pirates or the Rakyat, she didn't know.
He snickered, "Nah, the old fart was Catholic. I holed up there for a while, great place to lie low. Only downside was he talked my ear off 'bout the bible and sweet, sweet Jesus. He said the usual stuff priests say and shit. You're a lost child, come to the light side we have cookies. Batshit crazy religious fuck.." He said smiling. "Kinda reminded me of the priests back home. You know I always wondered how much they had to smoke to believe in the crap they preached."
Citra frowned, "It's not.. crap Vaas. It's real."
Vaas threw his head back and barked with laughter. "Six? Seven, years now and you still haven't changed, huh. Grow up Citra, stories like that are just stories for kids. We're not kids anymore."
"It's not just a story!" She said, sitting up. "It is real. You are proof of it."
"Proof of what? The 'great warrior'? I thought Jason was your so called warrior?"
"He is- he-" Citra couldn't form the words inside her head. "He is- he just.."
"No." Vaas cut her off. "I think.. me, yo, and fuckboy snow white, we aren't the warrior in this game. You were." Citra shook her head, confused, and that made Vaas smile. "Yes you are."
"I'm not. You are, you always were from the start. It was always you." She said.
"And that wasn't fucking fair to you." He whispered. "No... can't you see? The,'giant', is a.. this symbolic generalization of fucking outsiders trying to take over your fucking pond. And guess what little sister you fucking chopped their heads off." He made a quick movement of his hand like a knife cutting across his throat, a broad grin stretched on his lips.
"I don't.. understand." Citra said faintly, staring at him like he's lost his mind.
"You got Jason to get rid of me, then Hoyt, and when it was only him left, hermano was gonna rule the Rakyat. Just like fucking Hoyt, he, Jason, a fucking outsider, was going to take over your pond, and you the 'great warrior', well fuck him right? Literally maybe, but still, fuck him. Can't you see Citra? You slayed the FUCKING giant and 'saved' the Rakyat!" Vaas was giddy with excitement, like he just discovered all the secrets in the universe. "You are a FUCKING HERO! Like you always wanted!"
"Stop!" Citra yelled, getting off the bed to pace around the room, suddenly very agitated and anxious. "You speak nonsense!"
Vaas laughed, and started to vigorously scratch the sides of his head. He stopped after a second, moving on to rubbing his arms. It was like he couldn't sit still, always moving his hands or something, anything.
"No, no, no it's OK. It is, OK. You will see." He said, his voice shaky. "You will see. The truth will set you free Citra. I should fucking know. I wish I didn't, but I do. And I'm flying, flying way up in the clouds like Jason and his little friends, and nothing can touch me up there because I AM FUCKING FREE! And I'm not gonna fall this time."
She was hit with a mixture of emotions, so complicated and scattered and she didn't know what to do, what to feel anymore.
One word was calling out to her.
She needed to get away right now. Far away right now. This room, the very air was suffocating and her head hurt hurt hurt like someone was dragging their nails against her skull, etching deep marks into the bone.
No no no nono it was Jason she knew it was him! He was trying to get in her head, they all were! BUT NONE OF THEM UNDERSTAND. NO ONE DOES.
YOU KILLED ME!
Citra cried out in utter terror, hiding her face behind her hands.
"Citra... Citra.. Citra." Vaas crooned from his relaxed position on the bed. "Bring me back a souvenir, kay?"
Slowly, Citra removed her hands from her face and stared bug-eyed at her brother. It was then she realized the sky was brightening outside, meaning that Yalung and the rest of the group was waiting for her at the beach.
"He's waiting for you. Bye bye." Vaas said, giving a little wave.
Citra was a mute, and somehow she left his room, watched herself prepare for the trip and found herself exiting the inner temple, all in an odd daze. The waking dream was broken when someone spoke up behind her.
"Citra, I need to talk to you."
She halted and turned around to see Dennis behind her, a worried look on his face.
"What is it.." She asked, not really looking at him, more like gazing off in an indirect location.
Dennis gulped and breathed out. "I can't let you go to the southern island. No, I won't let you."
That snapped Citra out of whatever trance she was captive in.
"You won't.. let me?" She repeated, the tips of her lips pulling upward out of pure disbelief.
"That's right." Dennis said, and he sounded so determined. "I won't let you go because you are pregnant. You are carrying your future son or, or daughter! And if anything happened to the both of you I don't- i won't be able to forgive myself knowing I let you go!" He stepped closer to her and cupped her cheek, his other hand settling on her arm. "I love you, Citra. You and the child."
Citra stepped back away from his touches. "You forget your place, Dennis. Defy me again and I will make sure the sharks eat happy tonight." She turned on her heels to leave but he snatched her arm. Dennis let go like he just touched fire, and Citra spun around.
"Citra I'm sorry I didn't mean-" He stuttered, his eyes wide with fright.
"You test my patience, old friend." She said, her voice steady but livid. "Do not forget I am the one who accepted you into the Rakyat. Kept you and did not discard you when you were no longer useful to us. Do not forget that." She left it at that, once again turning back to walk away.
"You talk like I'm not one of the Rakyat but I am just as much of a warrior as they are!" Dennis said, making her halt and face him again. "I am part of the Rakyat. I am part of this tribe! I am a warrior!"
Citra laughed, shaking her head. "A warrior? And who, tell me, believes that too?"
"The tribe do." Dennis said, and Citra stopped smiling. "I've been fighting with them side by side, commanded them while you stayed inside the temple. You weren't out there, fighting against the pirates. I was, and the tribe sees it too."
"I was injured. Healing." Citra said between gritted teeth, remembering the bullet wound in her upper thigh.
"Yes, you were." He agreed. "But you never came out of the temple Citra. The people rarely got to see their Queen, the one person who gave them hope when looked upon. You stayed in the shadows, and the only time you actually showed yourself was when I brought Jason to the temple. You barely talked to anyone. No, you did, but... to yourself."
"You.. told me to stay inside." She said, closing her eyes, her head aching. "You all did.. told me it wasn't safe out there."
"We didn't tell you that Citra. I tried to talk to you but you wouldn't listen to me. You wouldn't listen to anyone!"
"NO." Citra bellowed, silencing Dennis. "No you- you are lying. All of you! You're all against me!"
"No we aren't!" Dennis shot back helplessly. "Citra we are family. Did you forget that? I'm with you!"
"My family is dead." She spat, and if it were possible, she could feel her heart crack. "I have no one."
No one no one no one. Just one left and she needs him more than he needs her and that breaks her apart.
End. Done. She doesn't want to be here anymore. There are more important duties to be dealt with.
"You would go to Yalung then?" Dennis said, and Citra, Citra felt the need for blood intensify. "He is not one of us! We can't even trust him!"
"Don't! Let petty jealousy cloud your mind." She seethed, getting tired of this whole situation. "Yalung is the Rakyat's ally. He has proven himself to be trustworthy and I won't have you ruin this alliance because you cannot control your own emotions!"
"Just an ally?" Dennis scoffed, "I am not blind, Citra. I see the way you look at him. It was the same way you looked at Jason and I- I can't stand it. They don't deserve you!"
"Enough! You are wasting my time! I have an island to liberate, and you will stay here and wait for my command." She left no room for a response, and left Dennis, not once glancing back.
Citra was fuming. Dennis was out of control. He was forgetting his place in her tribe. Among her people! He needs to be dealt with, but there was nothing she could do now. But she won't forget to. Dennis was a threat to her position, her leadership, and if he dares try to usurp her, she will take him down.
The designated team had to pile into one patrol boat to get to the submarine. The top of the underwater vehicle was visible, and Yalung hopped onto it, opening the latch and helping the others inside. She was the last to get on, except for the driver of the boat who was going to return it to shore. She placed one foot on the side, the demon gently taking a hold of her wrist, and pulled her up. She was about to enter when Yalung spoke up.
"Wait." He said, and fiddled with the vest on his chest. He took it off and handed it to her. "It's thin, but it'll stop close and far range bullets but it won't do much help against a SPAS-12 and an AMR rifle."
In the back of her mind, she noted that Yalung must of attained that knowledge by getting shot himself with the guns.
"But don't you need it?" She asked, albeit grateful, slipping on the bullet proof vest that did not weigh as light as it looked. How did Yalung move around in this thing? No less run and jump.
"You need it more than me." Was his response, and she knew he was talking about the baby. Even though the vest concentrated protection at the chest area, it did have coverage for the stomach and back. The vest was thin, and she found it very hard to imagine this stopping a bullet.
He probably saw the look on her face and said, "Don't worry. It's filled with non-Newtonian fluids. It can take the heat."
"Thank you." Citra said, placing a hand on his shoulder. Yalung gave a curt nod and gestured her into the submarine, closing the hatch behind him. Inside she expected it to be dark and dank, but surprisingly it was lit by two long electrical lights, and at the wheel was a huge glass panel that allowed the occupants to see what's in front of them.
"Alright let's get this puppy started!" Hurk said, rubbing his hands together. He and Yalung went off to fiddle with the panel at the front, while Citra and her men gathered at a table connected to the floor. A map of both the islands were laid out, though they only focused on the southern one. They were discussing peculiar matters in hushed voices until there was a deep thrumming and from the glass panel she saw them descend underneath the water.
"There's a cave somewhere here on the island that connects up to the land." Citra said when Yalung and Hurk joined them around the table, pointing at a place on the map. "We can get there unnoticed."
"Oh!" Hurk gasped, "Wait, hold up uno momento. I remember that, that's uh, that's the port the Privateers use for shipments and new recruits and stuff. I don't think it'll be empty, brah."
"A port? How do you know about this?" She demanded, looking at him suspiciously.
"From my German pen pal dude. I found this random shortwave radio transmission a while ago repeating this coded message on a loop. I only understood it because it was basic U.S spelling alphabet. I got the thing translated, and it was all like, fuck yeah America is the best, ja! If you agree go to these coordinates, so I went and it was super secretive and shit, had to dive off a cliff and swim through this tunnel thing into an underwater cave, like the Batcave, but there weren't any bats which was kind of a let down.."
"Get on with it." Citra snapped.
"OK, so there was a radio there and I used it and this guy with a thick German accent comes on thinking I'm this Willis guy. I think he was disappointed when it was just me but anyways he introduces himself as Sam. This guy, no shit, is part of the C.I.A, and he told me he lost contact with his group and he's like going undercover working for Hoyt. I mean, how fucking cool is that, like James Bond cool." He said.
"The C.I.A are here?" Yalung spoke up with sudden interest. "Are you sure?"
"Whoa dude, yes? Don't worry, no one here is a P.O.I." Hurk joked, and when Yalung didn't share his amusement Hurk's smile dropped. "Oh.."
"Old friends of yours?" Citra asked, leaning against the table crossing her arms.
"Acquaintances." He bit, revealing nothing more, and instead asked Hurk, "How do you know about the ports. Sam told you?"
"Yeah actually he.." Hurk shoved his hand inside his sweatpants and it took him a while to pull out a white folded paper. "Aha! Right here, he left me a diagram of Hoyt's island." Hurk unfolded the paper which turned out to be a map with neatly simplistic drawn areas of specific locations with x,y coordinates, and on it was the docks. The man child laid it next to the map she was using.
Citra examined it, and glared at Hurk. "You purposely withheld information from us?"
"What? No, no I just forgot. Well I lost it one time because of damn Gilbert but I got it back so no worries. Kept it safe and warm." He grinned, patting dangerously close to his butt. Citra pulled her lips back in disgust, making a mental note not to touch the map.
"Then we have a way onto the island." Yalung said, heading back to the wheel. Citra accompanied him, standing beside him gazing at the endless sea of blue.
"There might be Privateers there. We will get caught." She said.
"They won't expect anyone to come that way." He replied, starting the engines. "It's our best option."
Citra bit the inside of her cheek. "It's our only option but.. I trust your judgment."
The time waiting to reach their destination was spent studying the diagram, and when she grew bored with that she sat with her men in silence. Thankfully Hurk was too busy talking to Yalung, which was more of a one-sided conversation, and didn't bother her. She went through the plan again in her mind. They didn't plan specifically, but they had a general objective. Sneak onto the island, take out the outposts stationed near the shores, making it possible to allow access for the rest of her army to come without getting blown to bits, and destroy whatever organized structured group that is keeping the Privateer together. It sounded impossible with only eight people, but Citra believed quality beats quantity. And Jason single-handedly brought down Hoyt's empire; they can do the same with a band of mercenaries.
Jason... The conversation she had with Vaas came back to her, and she thought, truly thought, would she be OK with Jason ruling the Rakyat. If Vaas was.. dead, then would she let Jason take her mantle as tribal leader of the Rakyat? Maybe... yes, no, she didn't know. Jason was so similar to.. Vaas?... no... herself. That was why.. Jason caught her interest, because his older brother was killed, taken away from him and the fire in his eyes reflected hers. She wanted Jason to rage, rage rage and she wanted vengeance.
She wanted to right the wrongs done to her through Jason.
you took him away from me
where is he? THE where is my brother
you're no better than Hoyt and I... little sister you chopped their fucking heads off
I see potential in you. You have the same passion your TRUTH mother had. A will to move the people. To lead them. I see that in you. You are strong. And one day I know you will lead our people to better days. But you WILL cannot let whatever infected your mother get to you. Do you understand, Citra?
do you understand Citra?SET
do you understandunderstandUNDerSTAnd
could not save your mother you took her away YOU TOOK HER AWAY YOU TOOK HER AWAY MY MOTHER MY MOTHER
the warrior? made for kids we're not kids anymore you can't recreate the past
a cycle we're stuck we're actors in different bodies bodies bodies I'm in the wrong body escape FREE
"What do you see?"
Yalung's voice rang clear in her head, like a pin drop in a silent room.
"Uhmm well we're heading straight into the tunnel." Hurk replied, looking through the periscope. "Aaaand we're in."
Citra got up from her seat on the floor and stood next to Yalung. The glass panel showed that the sandy sea floor was gone, replaced with bumpy raised rocks, and the natural light from the sun was gone, leaving them in darkness. They could barely see what's in front of them.
"Tell me when to stop." The demon said to Hurk, decreasing the speed of the submarine.
"Uh.. oh, oh that's not good. Stop, stop now." Hurk said frantically and Yalung cut off the engine, leaving them hovering in the dark.
"What happened? Are we at the docks? What did you see?" She asked, a bit disturbed with being in a mechanical beast underwater. Hurk pushed the periscope away and scratched the back of his neck.
"Yessir. The only thing is we're not alone."
Citra pursed her lips. She expected this, hoped it wouldn't be proven true, but now they have to deal with it. The only thing is they cannot be seen. No alarms, no flare guns, and no survivors to escape. This part was crucial. They have the advantage of obscurity, and to waste that opportunity meant definite failure of the plan. No, first they have to take out the alarms, and she knew of one person who is stealthiest enough to do so.
"Yalung, can you disarm all the alarms without being discovered?" She asked. He had his gun out already, checking the chamber and slapping it shut with a resounding click. He put it back in its holder and took control of the wheel and slowly raised the submarine.
"When you hear gunshots, get ready to fight." He said, and climbed up the ladder, noiselessly opened the hatch and disappeared from sight.
"I bet ten minutes." Hurk sniffed. Citra ignored him and motioned for her warriors to be prepared; standard AK-47 strapped around their shoulders. She herself only carried a regular pistol, but she favors the long jagged edge knife hanging from her skirt. They waited for what felt like an eternity, and Citra was already sweating with anticipation.
Hurk let out a battle cry, raising the gun in the air, followed by the warriors and- The sounds around her faded into the background, like someone was covering her ears. Everything seemed to go in slow-motion, and she watched as Jason, literal in the flesh Jason, walk past her.
The world came rushing back to her, and she found herself climbing up cold bars and then she was outside, sucking in fresh air. She wasted no time running across the submarine, leaping through the air and grabbing the edge of a wooden dock. She pulled herself up with more effort than it should of taken due to the armored vest. Gunshots echoed throughout the cave, accompanied with angry yells and screams of pain. Citra took off in a random direction, passing dead Privateers, searching for live ones.
The short path lead into a larger space, where she counted at least twelve mercenaries, two she noted were heavies. Instinctively she grabbed a bottle and chucked it at the enemy closest to her. It shattered in a rain of glass, and the yellow-clad merc clawed at his body as flames erupted from the broken molotov. In a burst of speed, she flew to the merc beside the burning man, and shoved a knife up his throat, using him as a human meat shield when a spray of bullets fired at her afterwards. Citra grit her teeth and dragged the body back until she found a safer coverage, which was behind stacks of crates. It was the Rakyat on one side, and the Privateers on the other.
"Say hello to my little friend!" Hurk yelled like a maniac, appearing out of nowhere with a rocket launcher on his shoulder. Citra gasped and pressed her body flat against the wall, covering her ears. It didn't help, the explosion leaving a ringing in her ears and the very ground shook underneath her. Something bumped against her and it was Hurk reloading the missile.
"No!" She snatched the rocket launcher from him and threw it away. "Are you mad? We're inside here too!"
"It was cool though, right?" Hurk laughed and she groaned in frustration, leaving the cover to get away from him. Bullets whizzed past her, and she cursed Hurk; he didn't even get all the mercs. She slid behind a ridge in the wall, chunks of rocks blown off right next to her head. They had her pinned, and she could only do so much with a pistol before having to hide again. The ongoing assault of bullets was suddenly interrupted, followed by a loud bang; smaller than a missile launcher so it must be a C-4.
Peeking around the corner she saw Yalung emerge from behind enemy lines and tossed another C-4. It exploded mid-air, achieving a triple kill. With renewed force, Citra charged forward and hopped onto a merc, stabbing him in the shoulder. He grunted and threw her off him, the knife still sticking out of his shoulder. He pulled it out and flung it aside and aimed his gun at her.
Citra twisted her body and kicked the gun from his hands. She was on him in a second, tackling the merc to the ground. They rolled around, kicking, punching, biting- though that was on her part. They rolled once more and he was on top, his fingers wrapping around her throat, cutting off her airway. Citra's eyes bulged, and she desperately felt around for something, anything!
Something burned her fingers at the touch, and she grabbed it and slammed it against the merc's head. It turned out to be a simple lantern, but it did the trick. The Privateer withdrew his hands to clutch his head, giving her the chance to shove him off. Scrambling up, she retrieved her knife and pounced on the merc letting out a fierce scream, ready to end his life.
"Stop!" Yalung shouted from across the room. Despite herself, she froze, the tip of the blade pinching against the skin of his neck. 'Don't kill him. We need him."
"For what?" She barked, pressing the knife down, her instincts urging her to kill, kill, kill!
"Information." He answered. Citra didn't remove the knife, didn't want to, but taking a quick sweep of the room, she noticed that the merc underneath her was the only one still alive.
"Lucky fool." She hissed, getting off him. The merc let out an audible sigh of relief, rubbing his neck. Yalung marched over to them and pulled the Privateer up non-gently and threw him against the wall.
"Ow, fuck!" The merc cursed, clutching his newly broken bloody nose.
"That is the beginning of your pain. Treasure the memory, it will bring you comfort." Yalung said, and yanked the merc back, pressing a gun to his back and ushered him to walk. "Tell your men to scout the area, find anything useful." He ordered over his shoulder, forcing the merc to a different section of the cave. Citra repeated the order to the natives in their natural tongue.
"My stomach can't handle gore, you do you guys. Imma be over here." Hurk announced, and rubbed his hands together. "Alright now where did they put the explosives..."
Citra followed Yalung through a tunnel and out onto a rusting metal dock that stretched out into the water. The cave was actually a large sinkhole, stairways attached to the walls of the sinkhole spiraling around it leading up the surface. There was already a chair on the dock, and Yalung forced the merc to sit on it.
"Put your hands behind the chair." He ordered.
"Fuck. You." The merc spat, giving the demon a shit-eating grin. He received a sharp back-handed slap in response, the merc's head whipping to the side from the force of the blow.
"Put your hands behind the chair." Yalung repeated again, and it was slightly unnerving that the demon sounded so.. indifferent.
The merc glared daggers, but did as told. Yalung produced handcuffs from his belt and cuffed the mercs wrists to the back of the chair. Citra blinked in surprise when the demon punched the Privateer, and by the looks of it, hard enough to almost knock the man unconscious, his head rolling from side to side. She understood the reason for that when Yalung cuffed the merc's ankles without a struggle from said man. The demon moved away and crouched, pulling out a rolled up pouch, and laid it out.
Citra approached idly, looking over his shoulder to see what he got. At first glance, it looked like a tool pouch that a mechanic would carry around, but the use of the tools were for a more sinister purpose. Her eyes widened when Yalung started tugging off his gloves. This is the first time the demon has removed any article of clothing, and her heartbeat sped up.
Pale skin. He had pale skin. And there were prominent scars etched on his hands in a distorted pattern. The thing that caught her eye were the two black fingers on his right hand. She examined them more carefully, the index and middle finger, and it dawned on her that those weren't actually his fingers; it was fake, the prosthetic fingers attached to a mechanical device wrapped around his hand, and she watched fascinated as it moved so naturally, like real fingers.
Yalung chose a pair of pliers and stood up. He turned to Citra and said, "It is better if there is no one else present. He will look to you for hope."
"He won't get any hope from me." She replied and waved her hand. "But if you need privacy then I will leave."
She headed back to the cave, catching Yalung's last words.
"The amount of pain you will experience, will be determined by you. Comply or resist, the end will be the same either way. It is all up to you."
The screams lasted a good hour or so. By the time it died down, Citra and the group turned the cave into a temporary base of operations. They piled the corpses into a corner, and stashed weapons, explosives, and med-kits into separate piles. Everything seemed to be in conditional order, so she left to check up on Yalung.
She found him crouched by the edge of the walkway washing various tools. The merc sat slouched on the chair, his shirt ripped open exposing bare chest, and his pants were pulled down along with his boxers. His unblinking eyes stared up at the sky, maybe wanting to see something beautiful for the last time. She was surprised to see his face was left unscathed except for bruising when Yalung hit him. Same can't be said for his body.
Patches of his skin were sliced off, and by the knife-work it was done with skillful fingers. There were small and long cuts on his chest leading down to the inside of his thighs, and.. even some on his genitals. The meat around the knee area was stripped away, exposing milky white bone and squishy cartilage, and the nails on his hands and toes were ripped out.
"You won't kill a pirate because of your ideals, but you would torture a man to death? Is this a humane death to you?" Citra asked, using two fingers to get a better look at the merc's neck. There was a small incision on the side, and a steady stream of blood flowed from it. So Yalung wasn't entirely ruthless. A mercy kill, a cut in the external vein jugular. A fast, almost painless death.
"Mercenaries aren't human beings. They're just guns for hire." Yalung said, wiping dry a medical knife. "The only thing they care about is the next quick buck they can make. They don't think about the pain they've inflicted on other people as long as they're getting paid." He said it with such bitterness that she would of thought he had some personal vendetta against the group.
Citra nodded toward his hand. "What happened to your fingers?"
He had unclipped the prosthetics and laid them down next to his feet to wash his hands. His two fingers were gone from the knuckle up, just stumps with faint scarring. It looked years old, no longer requiring stitches.
"A honey badger bit my fingers off when I was eight. It wouldn't let go, even when it was getting punched." He said, scrubbing off dark blood.
"Did it eventually?" Citra laughed, taking a seat next to him, dipping her feet into the water.
"It did, along with my fingers."
"That almost happened to Vaas, too." Citra said without thinking, followed by an awkward pause when she realized what she just said. What did it matter, it's not like she was keeping it a secret. "He is.. he was my brother."
Though he wore a mask, she could feel his eyes on her.
"War tears families apart." He said, putting on the fake fingers, giving it a flex or two.
"He chose his path, and so did I. Our paths just went separate ways." She muttered, looking away. The conversation died down, Citra staring off at nothing swishing her legs in the water. Life was made up of decisions, Tane told her that. Maybe if she were a better sister, then Vaas wouldn't have left her. Maybe if she were a better daughter, her father would have paid attention to her for once. Maybe if she were a better person, then Jason wouldn't be.. Choices, decisions, actions. She's made so many mistakes.
"What happened?" Yalung asked, rolling up the tool pouch.
"Vaas. His fingers." He clarified.
Citra blinked and stared hard at Yalung. She couldn't tell if his curiosity was genuine, or done out of politeness. Why would he care? When Yalung sat down facing her, Citra finally let herself believe he was truly interested. It was weird, talking to someone else about Vaas. Not only that, but just talking to someone else that isn't Vaas, or about non-personal topics.. was just weird.
Friend is a foreign word to her. Friends meant allies. A true friend meant Vaas. There was nobody else, or not that she could remember. The girls in her tribe were far away creatures, unable to communicate on a friendship level. The boys she felt didn't like her, and she suspected it to be solely based on her gender. It was Vaas who she could feel like herself around. He didn't treat her like a girl, or a boy, or anything. They were just kids playing in the dirt.. and sometimes under the sheets.
Innocence. They didn't have a worry in the world. And then they grew up.
Vaas into a man, and Citra into a.. woman.
The boys started liking her then, but she didn't want them too. Don't get her wrong, she longed for their acceptance, to be a part of the group just like Vaas was, but not this way. She wanted... to be just like them. To be just like Vaas.
"Vaas used to be a wild child. Reckless." She said, smiling at the memory of a grinning young boy that sported a bruise or a cut everyday. "He never had any self-control. One day our Father and our Uncle caught a komodo dragon and put it inside a cage. Vaas stuck his hand in there, he wanted to know what it felt like. Luckily our Uncle came back to check on the animal, and pulled back his hand before it could bite him." She shook her head smiling. "And then years later he goes putting his arm in crocodile mouths because of some dare." She says it now like a joke, but back then when it actually happened Citra was truly terrified. She even cried, though nothing happened, and Vaas called her a cry baby, his way of comforting her.
An unfamiliar sound came from under his mask, and Citra realized he was chuckling. It was so bizarre to hear. She thought the demon didn't have the ability to laugh, usually so stoic and emotionless. It sounded distorted with the voice-changer, but it was a laugh either way.
Yalung slipped on the gloves, and the human underneath disappeared. It was back to the demon now. He stood up and so did she.
"Did he have the information you wanted to hear?" Citra asked, looking towards the corpse.
"Jason Brody destroyed Hoyt's satellite dish, but they didn't have just one." He replied. "Hoyt kept a second one in a storage building, and they're going to use it to call for reinforcements, the ones who are still loyal to Hoyt that is."
"Where is it? We have to destroy it immediately." Citra said, alarmed at the fact that the Privateers can get in contact with people overseas. And then she thought, in the back of her mind, that Yalung would of been sent from where ever he came from to help Hoyt. In another universe, if Jason didn't destroy the satellite, they wouldn't be here, sharing stories and fighting together. Yalung would be on Hoyt's side, just like Vaas was.
"They have it, but they can't use it. Their communication systems were destroyed by Brody." Yalung said. "But he missed the radio tower at the airport."
"Then we go there and get rid of it!"
"It's not as easy at it sounds." He uncuffed the corpse and lifted it over his shoulder. "Since Hoyt died, the Privateers disbanded. They no longer have a leader, or the funds tying them to this island. You and your men are the only thing stopping them from leaving. Forced under conditions like this, it's only natural for some of them to step up and take control. Don't mistake it though, mercenaries don't take orders from anyone without cash, but they're organized now. The only good thing is that they're not unified."
"Why is that a good thing?" Citra asked, walking beside Yalung as they entered the cave.
"Two forces grasping for power tend to turn on each other, rather than focus on the real enemy." He explained. "Frank Bilders has a faction of the group siding with him. They want to stay on the island and use the satellite to call for help. He thinks the next guy in charge gets to take Hoyt's place, and all the profits that comes with becoming the new boss. He doesn't understand that everyone else has the same plan in mind."
"And the other one?" She asked, watching him throw the body onto the pile of corpses. Yalung's entire demeanor changed, from the slight stiffening of the body to his hands balling into fists.
"Nasreen Davar." He answered, like the very name itself was some kind of curse. "She's the one that can be a real threat. She's smart, she knows there's nothing left to salvage from Hoyt's empire. It's better to get out with as much money you can take. It's safer that way, less risky."
"How do you know that is her true intentions?" Citra asked.
"Because it's what I would have done. The satellite dish and the radio tower are at the airport, and since your man Brody burned down Hoyt's compound, they moved all their forces there. It's their main base, and it will be hard to get into. We need to lessen their power, liberate the outposts near the beaches, or at least the ones North so your men can come by boats undetected."
"Then we can take the airport?"
"It won't be easy. We need at least a small army. Though they are small in numbers, these are mercenaries. One Privateer is five pirates, and they are better equipped than us. We are playing on their turf, they have the advantage." He said, and she could see the wheels turning in his head. He motioned with his hand to the piles of corpses. "Tell your men to change into Privateer armor."
"Why?" Citra gasped, rearing her head back in disgust. What in the world would compel the demon to say such a thing? They hated the Privateers. Wearing their armor is unacceptable.
"There will be check ups, and they will notice the pile of dead bodies. Put two of your men dressed as Privateer's at the entrance to greet them, pretend everything is OK done here." He said, walking over to the pile of guns.
"Wouldn't it be better to kill them?" It has the same result, and two less Privateers on this island is always a plus.
"No. They have to report back to someone, Nasreen maybe, and their sudden disappearance will be suspicious. We can't afford to raise any alarms, not yet." He examined an assault rifle and tossed it at her. "You know how to shoot a gun?"
It took her a moment to figure out how to hold it correctly. "I'm familiar... with pistols." He had been examining another gun, and put that down, striding over to her.
"It's not so different." He lifted her arms so she would now be aiming the rifle, and tapped her trigger finger. "Never put your finger on the trigger unless you're aiming to kill." She nodded in understanding, and he continued. "You look through the scope, and where the green dot is that is where the bullets will go." He stepped back. "Shoot the wall."
"It will be loud." She warned.
"Shoot the wall." He repeated.
Breathing out, she slowly squeezed the trigger. She fired fast rapid shots, the gun surprisingly sturdy in her hands and didn't shake with the force of the bullets. The best part was that the gun barely made a sound; must be due to the sound suppressor clipped at the barrel.
"Good. Now shoot that bottle." He pointed to a beer bottle placed innocently on a table, right next to where Hurk was standing, looking between a C-4 and a mine.
A small smirk formed on her lips, and she didn't waste any time shooting the bottle. It exploded, and Hurk jumped in surprise dropping the explosives, letting out a frightened squeal.
"Hey now that was uncalled for. You heard that girly scream? Yeah well that was my super saiyan scream. I was going super saiyan, so y'all better watch out!" Hurk said, bending down to pick up the explosives. She let loose another torrent of fire near his feet, making him jump from foot to foot yelling. Laughter filled the cave, and Citra felt a tap on her shoulder.
"Get your men changed and stationed. Meet me outside when you're done." Yalung said.
She did as told. Her men were, reluctant, in putting on armor from dead bodies, but they do what they must. She chose two from the group who were the best at English, and took them up to the entrance, explaining their job on the way.
As promised, Yalung was outside, standing a little ways down the dirt road. She went to him, and they walked off the path into the wide grassy plain hills. It was so different here. Citra never set foot on the Southern island, and she expected it to look like her home island, but it turned out she was wrong, extremely wrong. While the Northern Island had towering peaks of mountains filled with jungle so thick it was impossible to drive through with a car, the Southern island was a complete opposite. There were soft rolling hills, wide grassy plains, and everything here was more... spacier. Barren compared to the jungles.
"Where are we going?" She asked, brushing her fingers gently through feather soft grass.
"I want to check out the airport. Get a better sense on what we're up against." He replied.
They walked for quite a long time more in silence. The sun bore down on them mercilessly, and underneath the vest Citra could feel herself sweat. She glanced at Yalung, at the concealing clothing he wore. It must be so hot in there, she thought, especially under that mask. The grassy plains ended, and they entered a small forestry area. The sound of rushing water relieved Citra, and when they came upon a waterfall she wadded into the water, splashing her face and arms cool.
"Drink this and refill it." Yalung said, handing her a bottle of water. She uncapped it and drank down the contents greedily, her parched throat relieved of dryness. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and looked around.
"With what? This water?" She kicked her foot, splashing the water. "It is unwise to drink from rivers."
"The bottle is a purifier. Wait an hour and the water will be clean." He said, gazing up at the top of the waterfall. "The airport is just over this. We can get a better view up there."
She handed him back the refilled bottle. "Vaas and I used to climb the mountains back home. This is nothing." She strolled right up to the wall and examined it for the best place to start. Running footsteps, and above her Yalung jumped and latched onto a crack in the wall, his body swinging with the momentum. The demon eventually found his footing, and started climbing. Not wanting to be left behind, she felt around for a crack to slip her fingers in, and lifted herself up.
She hasn't done free climbing in a long time, and it showed when her muscles started to burn, and her breaths came in short frequent gasps. Despite this, she was enjoying it. It felt good, like a release of the soul. Vaas was always faster than her, always got to the top first, always won... but she made some excuse of him having longer legs than her. And if she weren't in this body, then she could win for once.
By the time she made it to the top, Yalung was already waiting for her. He outstretched a hand to help her up, but she ignored the offer. After catching her breath, she joined Yalung where he was, looking through a pair of binoculars. He handed it to her when she crouched down next to him.
She's never seen anything like this before. The soft ground of earth was gone, miles of it, replaced with concrete. Big metal birds stood on small wheels, and bunkers large enough to house the planes lined the port. Construction vehicles and technical trucks moved this way and that. It was an ants nest of Privateers.
"Do you see that, way in the back." He pointed beyond the bunkers, at a wooden radio tower. The thing looked new, sturdy, and tall, at least 80. "That must be their new communication system."
"Where is the satellite dish?" She muttered, scanning the area.
"Maybe in one of the bunkers. They want everything close and secure. I doubt it's somewhere far." He answered.
Three trucks pulling up into the airport caught Citra's eye. More Privateers climbed out, nothing unusual, until a man dressed in different attire got out. That man was approached by another group of mercs, and at the head was a woman.
"Look, down there." She said, and Yalung slung a sniper rifle from his back and used that to get a better view.
"That's them. The man with green jacket is Frank Bilders. The woman is Nasreen."
From where she sat, she could make out what they look like. Frank did sport a bright green jacket, unzipped to show he wore Privateer armor underneath. He looked aged, maybe in his early 40's. Compared to Frank, Nasreen looked younger, and shorter, but size and age didn't matter; you can still kill a man. The two seemed to be in a heated argument, Frank waving his hand at the radio tower.
Yalung slapped the floor suddenly, startling her.
"I can kill them right now. I can kill her right now." He growled, his grip on the rifle tightening. Even under the mask, she could hear his distorted breathing.
"Then kill them." She said, as if it was the most simplest thing to do. "What's stopping you?"
"Getting rid of the people in charge won't end the war. There will always be someone else, someone else to take their place. To continue their work!" He said, slinging the rifle over his back and getting up. "No, no we have to hit the sickness at its source. Isolate it, already done. They did it themselves. We can't wait for them to destroy each other." He spoke fast, and she had a sneaking suspicion he was talking more to himself than to her. "We have to destroy them all."
"And you will." Citra said, giving him a small smile, taking his hand in hers. "You can free this island."
The demon slipped his hand away. "We should head back."
They went back to the edge of the waterfall. Only one way down.
Their clothes dried in no time on the trek back to the ports.
"I'm going to check out Thurston Town." He announced, "You remember the way back?"
"I do. Yalung!" She called after his retreating form. "Return to me, to us, soon."
The demon left without a response, jogging off in a different direction. She made her way back to the port, and nodded a greeting to the two natives standing in position at the entrance, dressed as Privateers. It is a clever idea; with the helmets on Citra could barely make out their faces, and the tattoo's were covered up nicely.
Stepping off the winding ramp, she went straight into the cave to take a look at the maps again. Turning around a corner, she strode into the room and stopped abruptly. Her lips parted in confusion when she saw all five of her men on their knees, Hurk alongside them. Something grabbed her arms roughly and shoved her down, her knees scraping against the hard floor. She glanced behind her to see the two Privateers at the entrance, and that's when things clicked together in her head.
"Seems like we have a bug infestation on our island boys!" Frank Bilders exclaimed, emerging from the shadows. "It's a good thing we're exterminator certified."