Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 07

Part Five: Complication

The attention of the community upon the gang war between the Outlaws and the Hell’s Angels kept the authorities away from me, so I fell away from their notice. I maintained contact with the few of them I’d previously befriended, but that was just to keep up appearances. Instead I turned my attention back to the facts that brought my friend to call upon me, so now I had reason to visit her. When I did, I’d found that she got moved out of the hospital room to another wing of the building due to her condition suffering a severe change. That wing was the hospice wing, and the change was financial; she no longer had any means whatsoever to justify the hospital’s continued attempts to improve her condition, and no law protected her from being denied care, so they cut her off. If not for another law forbidding hospitals to evict indigent patients—which was now the case with her—she would’ve been thrown out to die cold and alone on the curb.

The despair in her eyes was a sight so horrible that it haunts me to this day, and I knew when I sat at her bedside that I was the sole thing left in this world that she could rely upon to do right by her. I saw that, if I was to accomplish my goal, I would have to deliver retribution for this crime of arrogance, but first I needed reliable information. I spoke at length with her, letting her tell the tale as she saw it, which took considerably more time than necessary between the trauma of past and present outrages fracturing her focus and the pain of the body that she suffered as a result of them. I sifted through her words, filtering out those expressing issues other than the immediate one—which I put aside for later reference—and focusing on those involving who condemned her to this fate, how and why.

Now, at this time there was a thing called “insurance”. What people did was to take some of their wealth, commonly in the form of a currency, and spend some of it to purchase a promised service that would cover the costs incurred if a specific sort of event or crisis occurred. Different forms covered different things, and the specifics varied from one policy agreement to another. Common people, like my friend, received health insurance either directly from an employer as part of one’s compensation or indirectly through one’s husband or father because otherwise it was too expensive to purchase as one would a conveyance or domicile. Widows usually had some recourse to coverage from their deceased husband’s insurance, but that was no longer a sure thing by this time. Yet there was a flaw in this scheme.

Insurance providers ran their enterprise as a profit-driven business. In order to maximize their profits, they did everything that they could—regardless of whether or not the authorities would allow it—to deny care to those who bought policies from them. One such provider, which was one of the largest, employed a wicked and vindictive woman I once knew by the name of Mary Redalen. She had attained a position within that provider where she decided who lived and who died through choosing which policy to fulfill and which one to deny, and she denied every policy request put to her. While it is certainly possible for most such people to do such evil things as deny a helpless woman the means that she needs to sustain her life without ever knowing anything whom they victimize, this was not the case here.

When my friend’s policy request arrived at Mary’s desk, as I soon learned, she cackled loudly. You see, reader, these two women met once more—for I was once Mary’s lover, many years before—and I introduced the two as a social event. I’d believed that she forgot about my friends after her failed attempt to kill me, but now I knew that to be false. The uneasy d├ętente between us now fell away, and now I had new reason to fulfill an old vow- but first, I needed additional information.

The provider’s main office was outside of the center of town, far distant from the hospital, and like many such offices it went into a locked-down state after the traditional dinner hour. Yet workers did inhabit parts of that office at all hours, and at this time—like so many others—workers prized their convenience over any security policies. Therefore, gaining access to the building was rather easy to do; I just followed a small group of nighttime workers into the office and then split away when I could get out of sight.

It was not hard, once inside, to find Mary’s place in this office. What was difficult was figuring out what to do once I got to it, as I did not have—nor could I procure—the keys to her files beforehand. Fortunately, slovenly habits worked to my advantage once more; not expecting any such infiltration, she left files out in the open about her work-space. One of them was that of my dear friend, and she left all sorts of detachable notes to it. Many of them, as I said above, confirmed that she knew who this was and did all she could to deny care requests. The troubling ones, however, had contact information to unknown parties with things like “Owes me a big favor” and “Can buy this guy easy”. I copied it all—not easy or quick, as it is a massive file—and slipped out the way I came.

Once safely away from the provider’s office, I began checking on the contacted individuals by way of my police contacts- specifically, I used their resources surreptitiously for this purpose. This is how I learned that many of these gang members, and many others, had policies with that provider; it is also how I learned that she one apprenticed with the authorities as an accuser, and thus encountered key members before reaching leadership status in their gangs. I took a look at Mary’s career since she left public service and joined the insurance provider; several rivals and other complications to her rise suffered convenient and deniable deaths in the period preceding promotions, and she in turn always approved claims by those members or their family.

All I needed now was to somehow produce a direct link between Mary and the two gangs, and that meant proving a viable link between their communications—any contact would fall under obvious business communications between the provider and a client, so the fact that they talked is not itself any crime—and the demise or near-demise of those Mary targeted. It was at this time that I also deduced what this was really about. Somehow I became worthy of Mary’s notice once more, and she decided that I had to go. She knew she could draw me out if she did this. Now the fight began in earnest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 06

Part Four: Evasion

Man-slaying has consequences. Not all of them are immediate or readily perceptible, but a wise man-slayer accounts for as many consequences as can be done before he hunts. As I noted above, I did account for retaliation by the gangs through the use of disguise, confusion and deliberate provocation of a war between the two gangs. What I did not fully appreciate was retaliation from the authorities; they are jealous, to the point of stupidity, when parties other than themselves act to defend or avenge those wrongs committed upon them. Instead, the authorities insist that people succumb to a form of learned helplessness that results in dependency upon them to do so, and they issue rules—backed by force—to claim such a monopoly and grant themselves permission to enforce it by punishing transgressors of any kind.

This, good reader, is where the consequences for man-slaying came from first. I kept an eye on the authorities, for I—like everyone else—knew of this claimed monopoly, in case they decided to waste time on me instead of the genuine threats that they claimed (falsely, of course) to be concerned about. My prudence proved its value when I learned that the authorities became concerned about a third party possibly provoking the war between the Outlaws and the Hell’s Angels, and unlike many others I did not hesitate to act to evade this unwanted attention.

I knew that the authorities proved sensitive to attacks upon their prestige and reputation, so by attacking the public perception of the authorities responding to contain the gang war I knew that I could generate sufficient social pressure to get their eyes off of me and on to the gangs. My options were not options at all. All I could do was to take the risk of a further provocation, one that would be difficult to ignore and then put popular attention upon it. That’s three points where I could fail—the act, the result and the report—so I knew that I had to execute this properly or my entire scheme would fail. I kept all of this to myself lest the authorities; my friend knew nothing.

I did not attempt another false flag attack. Instead, using my connections with the authorities, I took the opportunity to do innocuous favors for them—getting them refreshments, fetching them food, etc.—while going about my everyday business. I made certain to deliver these items while those I aided were away from the center of the enforcer’s headquarters, usually at or near a place where they kept an eye on the gangs. Familiarity bred contempt, in this case for observing their own rules, and soon these people would let me into their hiding spots for the brief time it took to deliver the goods requested. My initial plan, therefore, was indeed working; I did not rush this phase of the plan, as I assumed the worst of cynicism of these authorities, and that patience proved correct.

Since I’d removed myself from prying eyes for the moment, I then took to observing their hiding spots in all ways. Many used mechanical locks, multiple ones, that required specific devices—“keys” we called them—to get past without undue attention during or after the fact. Using a technique that was an ancient one even at that time, I got impressions on all of the necessary keys and then made copies to use when the time came. I did this by being around often enough to be able to claim curiosity about the way that these enforcers operated, and played to their need to demonstrate their superiority when I did so; they obliged, showing me that they could access the clubhouses at any time without the gangs ever knowing of the intrusion.

Now, I said previously that plans don’t survive contact with the enemy. That maxim is not one to take literally; circumstances change and unforeseen events occur that requires one to adjust a plan or scrap it altogether. In this instance, I had the idea of inducing the authorities to act on a prejudice that would escalate the gang war by getting the authorities directly involved as a third actively-hostile party- and thus get the gangs to retaliate upon them. Now I had another idea, which was to bomb one of the clubhouses, and these hiding places would give me the means to do so without detection.

I went with a sort of bomb known at the time as a “Molotov Cocktail”, which is a mixture of a couple of liquids—one of which is very easy to ignite—put into a glass bottle or similar fragile container that one can easily throw. Put a burning rag into the top, throw at the target and watch the rag ignite the liquids; this would result in the target burning to ash or worse. All of these components were freely available, and could be gotten in quantities that would not attract undue attention.

I assembled them at home, in a building apart from my house, and disguised them as standard consumables. I kept the rag and a fire-starter device concealed on my person. Then, when they were ready, I went over to the Hell’s Angels clubhouse when I knew that those watching it were not there due to a regular shift in the watch. That would be enough time for me to sneak into the watcher’s place, get into the best place for throwing, and throw my bombs- and that occurred without incident. After I got away, I did again as I did with the first provocation: I discarded all of the clothes that I wore, and I made certain as I made my way out to ensure that no signs of my presence would be left behind. By the time I got away and to a place where I could be seen without concern, enough time had elapsed that the fire would certainly attract the attention of those responsible for putting fires out.

The next day I listened to one of the local rabble-rousers. He talked about the fire at the Hell’s Angel clubhouse, remarking about the severity of the escalation that this represented. I took the chance to communicate under an assumed name and location, and I also assumed a false diction to my voice—if you ever imitated another in your hunt, you understand this misdirection—so that I would not be easily identified. Once I got to the man’s attention, I took the time to point out previous reports regarding the authorities’ wondering if a third party is involved and then I ridiculed the waste of time this was when “it seemed so obvious” that this was a straight-up gang war and that the authorities ought to do what they say they do and take them out.

Others communicating from afar took that as a cue to express great frustration with the way that the authorities handled the gang war, which the fire-bombing of the Hell’s Angels clubhouse made clear to them, and demanded the outright extermination of both sides. This outrage quickly became a roar of frenzied rage for order, and within hours any thought that anyone else was involved vaporized.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 05

Part Three: Blood

You, reader, may or may not be a man-slayer. It is not the same as being a monster-slayer, no matter the appearance of similarity to one observing both in action. The primary difference cannot be appreciated until one becomes either sort of slayer, and most fail to achieve that state until they slay both men and monsters, for most men are foolish dullards that cannot—or, worse, will not—master such wisdom until they initiate themselves as slayers of men or monsters (or both). In this respect, it is too much like knowing the difference between loving and mating despite the appearance if similarity. (I believe that this is the Creator’s idea of a joke.)

I had already become a monster-slayer years before, for I had elder men in my family that took up the responsibility to teach me how to stalk animals, kill them cleanly and then make best use of what I killed. While this was not the sort of monster-slaying I would do after the Azure Flames, it was slaying monsters nonetheless. Before I went this far, I already shed the blood of living beings by my own hand and slew those beings utterly. I killed. That I killed animals that preyed upon others for food, for clothing—to provide—does not matter; all that matters is that I killed. Dead is dead, and killing is killing; how one dies matters not to the slain.

I had already become aware of these truths by this time in my life. It was the foundation for my becoming something of a pacifist, as I refused to kill another man out of hand. Instead, I become quite interested in the morality of man-slaying as a youth, and by then I acquired a certain useful guideline that I adhered to in deciding my actions- one that put the abusive husband above past the limit of my forbearance. Even then, I refused to shed blood until I found it necessary. Now, however, I expected that it would become necessary. The members of these gangs were notoriously violent, and did not take much provocation to go from beating and maiming to crippling or killing a victim- especially if it a victim that they saw as deserving of death. This was how I prepared for what I was to do next.

I kept an eye on the two gangs’ clubhouses, surreptitiously tapping into the authorities’ efforts, and through those efforts I deduced when each clubhouse emptied out for the night as well as when the last gang member left their respective clubhouse. I also spent time training extensively with my choice of weapons and unarmed techniques, preparing for the move. It was what I had to do to prepare myself for the task of initiation, because that is what this was- initiation into the Brotherhood of Man-Slayers and if I did so much as to hesitate—to disrupt my state of mind—I would fail, and failure meant death. I would think, reader, that you would have some ability to comprehend the gravity of my situation.

I acquired a suitable disguise and a motorcycle, and then I went forth to execute my plan. By now I found that the Hell’s Angels clubhouse closed first, though not by much, and that my best chance to successfully ambush the last man out came during the middle of the interim between when the Old World’s decadent society engaged in its rituals of ceremonial violence that they called “sport”. I went to that gang’s clubhouse when I knew that the authorities watching it took a break knowing that they’d have time to eat and drink before the last man usually left.

I knew where their watching devices lay, so I knew where and how to avoid them. I crept into position, drew my knife and waited but a few moments before my man exited the clubhouse and walked toward my position. I banished all sympathy from my mind and hardened my heart against this member of the Hell’s Angels, for I knew what monstrous deeds he’d done before and that justified his death at my hands. Once I focused my mind, he came into view and I ceased all reflective thought; I now acted on reflex, without conscious thought, and leapt upon him.

My practice and training proved its value, for I struck home and drove my blade deep into his back. That staggered him long enough for me to withdraw my knife and finish closing with him. Now so close that I could grapple him, I seized him with my free hand and using my knife I stabbed his throat and eyes repeatedly. Then I cut deeply across his throat to ensure that I’d severed the flow of his blood in his neck and instead caused it to gush forth like a tidal wave upon the soiled street at his feet. I threw him to that very street and stripped off his “colors”. Before I stole away with them, I paused to use what was once a ubiquitous device to capture that image perfectly. It all took a few long moments to ambush this man, slay him and take my trophies.

I had not yet allowed the fullness of my deeds to come to my attention. I could not, for I still had work to do. I took my trophy and return to my motorcycle by stealth, riding away without being seen. So far, my plan worked without incident, but I never assumed that it would end that way. It did not, for when I arrived at the Outlaws’ clubhouse I found that there were two there. Furthermore, I found that the authorities watching it had disappeared; a check on their communication devices told me that they got called to assist with another incident. I had to improvise, so I took a pair of rags out my pockets. I tied one about my head and the other concealing my face. I wore goggles over my eyes, and then I put on the stolen Hell’s Angels vest. Now utterly concealed, I drew the longer of my firearms and approached the clubhouse.

I attacked them both, brazenly opening fire with my weapon. I made certain to bloody both of them, so that they would not follow, and to be seen clearly so that they would make the assumption that their rivals attempted to raid their clubhouse. Then I fled, running to my motorcycle and riding away- again, ensuring that they saw my disguise. Once well out of sight, I slipped out of my disguise; I took the time, while sitting at home, to send the image of the slain Hell’s Angel member with the lost colors to a place where the Angels’ membership would see it.

I discarded the clothing, except for the stolen vest, at a homeless shelter. I held on to the weapons, as I had no reason to believe that anyone would be able to track them. As for the motorcycle, I kept it around for a while; I assumed that I should be prepared to follow-up on this if necessary, and if I did then I would need that vehicle. Satisfied that this hunt had concluded with no immediate retaliation to worry about, I slept. I learned the next day that I succeeded; not only did I become a man-slayer, I also became a war-monger for both gangs declared all-out war upon each other and the city felt it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 04

Part Two: No Return

I could not trust anyone with the fullness of my plan, not even a significant subset of it. I could not take the risk of betrayal to either the authorities or to the gangs. Instead, I spent more time on that plan, with the intention of breaking it down into individual elements that would not immediately arouse suspicion as I went about acquiring the aid that I needed to fulfill my ambitions. Once I decided upon a suitable division, I set about making contact with various acquaintances, contacts and friends to acquire those necessary skills and tools.

Within my dwelling, I cleared a space and ensured that it was sufficiently equipped for all of my training needs. I placed a man-sized pole therein, upon which I trained my unarmed and melee weapon techniques. Therein I also kept my weaponry, such as it was at that time; unlike the panoply I became famous for after the Azure Flames, at this time such weaponry was limited to a strong club, a hatchet and a pair of knives—one that I could easily conceal, and one I could not—with an eye towards getting one or more of the wondrous firearms that the Old World is justly famous for producing in such variety and quantity. In this pursuit, I relied on the recorded wisdom written down by famous figures in the world of martial arts and warfare—some within my lifetime, some within living memory, some ancient even then—and reconstructed that of their practices that worked (discarding the rest).

I also took up related practices of physical training, focusing upon endurance. I walked far more often to nearby places, and then extended that distances as my health and fitness improved. In order to do this while maintaining my other obligations, I had to reacquaint myself with the concept of time; my inherent sense of time improved as my health did, because I had to learn how to integrate this training into my greater body of activity. Because I lived in a temperate climate with changing seasonal weather, I reacquired the practical knowledge necessary to be active outside at all times of the year.

You may find this odd, reader, but this also led to my mastery of how to prepare and cook food for myself from raw ingredients; in the years before the Flames, this skill was rare—enough that one could earn quite a good living from it—and as I did not hide my growing acumen I once more became interesting company to many an acquaintance and friend who’d previously shunned me due to my disdain for conformity to artifice and illusory dogma. This too I turned to my advantage, because it let me approach people in a manner they found not threatening or suspicious and acquire the benefit of the expert knowledge about criminal science, legal theory and enforcement procedure that I needed.

I began this process in the fall of that year, and over that winter—a cold and cruel one—I made this transformation. When the snows receded in the spring of the next year, I had successfully changed myself in body and mind into a man that could accomplish this goal. My dear friend had, by then, gone home from the hospital- or, rather, to a residence that would accept her. (I had not the room, though I wished that I did, for I would have taken her in.) This took some persuasion, and in procuring this place for my beloved friend I performed a favor for an influential man—not that I knew this at the time—that would mark the moment wherein I could no longer abandon this path.

I asked one of my friends who worked for the authorities, and formerly worked for the military, if he could refer me to an expert on the use of firearms. He knew, for I—truthfully—had told him some time previously that I wanted to purchase one of the sort of firearms that those neither of the military nor of the enforcement agencies, that I wanted to learn how to effectively use such weapons for valid self-defense purposes. He fulfilled my request and introduced me to a man who worked in preparing for catastrophic events on behalf of the authorities. I befriended this man, and in time he confided to me that his sister suffered the abuse of a violent, yet cowardly man whom she foolishly took as a husband; she wanted to leave this man, but feared retribution. He appeared to be negligent about leaving about his place of work the information regarding where his sister dwelled, so I noted it down.

I found the abusive husband drinking himself into a stupor at a bar. I disguised myself as a plain-clothed enforcement agent and went up to him, asking him to step outside where we could talk privately. I assured him that he was in no trouble, but rather that I wanted to ask him about one of his co-workers whom I said was under suspicion for fraud. I sat him in his conveyance, turned it on so that the noise would drown out the conversation unless one were right next to us, and started talking to him. As I did, I helped him strap himself into the operator’s seat and get himself ready to drive away. Then I assaulted him with an electronic device that incapacitated him. With the conveyance on, I reached inside and set it to go forward; it pointed toward the river right nearby. I watched it launch forward at some speed and fly off the end of the road. I did not stay to see if it landed in the river or on the bank, lest undue attention be given to me.

By the time that I met once more with my trainer, I received confirmation that the husband did die in the apparent accident, which the authorities—after trying to find the agent that did not exist— ruled as an accident borne of impaired judgment due to the husband’s drinking. The trainer and I talked over the incident; he let on that he found it interesting that a man vaguely resembling me was the last to see him alive, and I let on that I found it interesting that a man entrusted to enforce the authorities’ rules had to break those rules to acquire the justice that his sister needed so that she could heal. We then came to an accord, which would become something more after the Azure Flames destroyed the Old World.

Nonetheless, when I did that I killed a man as surely as if I slew him by fist, firearm or flail. I slew with my mind; I slew by cunning, deception and guile as I exploited the gullibility of my victim as well as those others who could interfere. I also impressed—in terms both glorious and horrific—the man for whom I did that deed. (As for the sister, that is another story.) The only other that ever deduced what I did was my own beloved and precious friend, and to her credit she understood what happened as well as why- for she then deduced that this was to be done on her behalf. I passed the point of no return.