Ren: Chapter 19
Chronicled by: Ren
Petra sat at the table in Ren’s room, It had been two weeks since he had vanished and Petra hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him. His lab had been his means of escape, he had taken the five small orbs with him, along with the canisters of Vision. The door had been melted through using either acid or a high powered torch. Logan was nowhere to be found. In the bathroom they had found a bowl of red liquid, the same that Ren had used to draw on the wall with. It turned out to be dye made from the petals of a flower. Mira had been turned over to her people, where she was to be dealt with using “the law of the tribe”.
The Authority’s delegation was little more than ten miles off, and in time Petra would have to deal with them also. Petra decided to go for a walk, to get some fresh air to clear her head. She walked out of the front gates and kept walking. She didn’t really have an intended destination, but before long she arrived at the shack where Ren kept his horses. She opened the gate and stepped inside the corral. The horses were still there, well fed and watered, their stalls recently cleaned. Petra wondered if Ren had stopped to clean their stalls as he left. But even if he had, it had been two weeks, surely the food and water wouldn’t have lasted that long.Petra glanced down and noticed something: footprints. Definetly made by military-issue combat boots, heading beyond the corral. Petra trudged onward following the footprints after about a mile or so petra came upon an oval shaped pile of soft sand about six feet long. Around the border of the oval was scattered a light green powder that was obvious against the brown sand. Petra lifted some of it to her nose and sniffed. It smelled both sweet and spicy. The smell was familiar to Petra, yet she couldn’t place it.
“Petra” Mech’s voice made her jump “our, um, visitors, are here early”
“I see”, Petra spoke over the radio, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Petra hustled back to the base to check the status of the preparations. The Authority’s delegation was lined up on a nearby sandbank.
“Give us Michael Ren” The commander spoke
Ten minutes later Petra and every soldier stood facing the might of the authority.
“Michael Ren has left Haven, he resides here no longer” She yelled
“Give us Michael Ren” The commander repeated
“You want me, well here I am” Ren voice yelled
He sat about thirty feet off the left flank on horseback. He wore no obvious weapons, only a simple kevlar vest and his usual camouflage pants. A single, foolish, warrior rushed him at random and a wide grin split Ren’s face. He galloped down the side of the dune and raced towards the warrior. It seemed that Ren intended to run him down but they never found out. The man seemed to realize that Ren wasn’t going to stop, jumped sideways. Ren rode forward, coming to a stop at Petra’s side. From his saddlebags he withdrew his trusted blade Orgetorix, grasping it by the scabbard he offered the hilt to Petra.
“Hold this” he said abruptly
“Um...Okay” she replied “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to improve our odds” Ren’s eyes shone with life, he looked almost like a regular person.
“Should I be worried?” She asked tentatively
“Come on, this is me you’re talking to.” He said with a charming smile
“So I should be extremely worried” her voice dripped with sarcasm
“Just hold the sword!” Ren said exasperatedly
Petra grasped the hilt and drew the sword. The perfectly balanced blood-red blade glinted in the sunlight, the razor sharp edge gleaming hungrily. It was a beautiful weapon, no doubt, but it was beautiful in the way one might find a wolf or a jackal beautiful: absolutely gorgeous, but best admired from a distance. Ren handed the reigns to a soldier and strolled forward at a leisurely pace, stopping between the two groups of soldiers.
“So this is who they send to take the most highly trained assassin ever to walk the earth by force. Your leaders forget the things I have done. I do believe that time has diluted my uncle’s memories of my skill, but no matter, he will remember soon enough.” Ren chuckled
A commander crested the dune, obviously female, her hair was candy red, her eyes an unnatural shade of crimson, her skin unusually pale. She carried a revolving rifle in her hands and a six-shooter at her side. When he saw her, Ren paled.
“You!” He looked like a man who had seen a ghost
“Hello, Michael” said the commander “It’s been a long time, too long, in fact.”
“No, no, no, no, no” Ren said quickly “You shouldn’t be here, you should be dead, you’re supposed to be dead. They told me you were dead!”
“And yet here I am” Said the girl “when their first choice for Project Orion ran away, well, they had to find a substitute. I wasn’t dead, they told you that to break you, and from what I hear, it worked, a little too well to be frank. It shattered what little of your sanity was left, drove you off the cliff that you had stood on for years. So yes, I became the Orion, and it worked pretty well, though it did have some...unforeseen, physical effects, but it was worth every bit of struggle.”
“No, it’s not you. You’re not her. It’s just a mind game, a mental tactic” Ren said quietly
Petra had walked over to where Ren stood.
“What’s going on?” She asked gently
Ren pointed in the direction of the commander and Petra too grew pale.
“It’s him” Petra whispered
“Him?” Ren asked “What do you mean ‘him’? They took my dead girlfriend and turned her into some kind of genetically modified monster because I left them!”
“REN” screamed a voice behind him
Ren turned to see Mira running towards him.
“It’s okay!” she yelled “I’ve changed my mind.”
Ren stepped towards Mira and closed the distance.
“Here” she said thrusting a gas mask into his hands “Back when I was a spy I gave them the chemical formula for that gas you created. They modified it and tweaked it a bit so you see your worst nightmare. Put this on and it’ll all be good.”
“You’re helping me? Why?” Ren asked
“I’ve changed my mind, I did a lot of thinking and you were right. It would be better to die a hero than to live as a traitor. I’m sorry” she replied
Ren donned the gas mask and looked back to the commander. He was actually a young man with frost white hair and a beard. He looked back at Mira to see Tarazedwalking to join them.
“You and I have had our differences in the past” He spoke in a thick accent “I hope we can put that behind us and become brothers. Brothers in war.”
Ren grasped Tarazed’s forearm “This is a good day to die.”
Tarazed roared with laughter “A good day to die indeed!”
Tarazed also donned a gas mask and Ren hefted his chain.
“Now” the commander screamed “Get him”
A soldier who was either very brave or very stupid rushed them with a sword in each hand. Ren swung his chain sideways, lashing around the man’s ankle. As soon as the small orb touched the man he vanished, his swords falling softly to the ground.
“How did you-? Is he-?” Petra stammered
“Dead? No, he’s simply trapped in a pocket dimension.” Ren explained
The soldiers finally got a grip on themselves and charged as a group. Ren and Tarazed stood back to back like they’d fought together for years, Ren swinging his chain in a figure eight in front of him defensively, Tarazed wielding the fallen soldiersdual blades. The enemy surged forward surrounding them as the Haven Fighters held back, staring in awe. Ren’s eyes locked ahead of him as he swung the chain, directing the pocket dimension towards any who came close enough. He had to make sure to keep the enemy at bay while keep the orb from touching him or Tarazed. His forehead beaded with sweat from the strain of the effort. He was vaguely aware of the clashing of swords behind him as Tarazed covered his back. Enemy after enemy fell before him for what seemed like an eternity until he was rushed by a soldier wielding a trident. Without thinking he swung the chain towards the man. The chain twined around the prongs silently. With a triumphant smile the man twisted the trident as Ren attempted to yank the chain off of the prongs. With a small clink the chain snapped, the orb flying off to the left along with a foot of the chain.
“Please don’t,” Ren pleaded, “I don’t want to hurt you. No one needs to die, just put down the trident. Walk away. Join us. The authority won’t find you, they’ll never hurt you or you’refamily again. Please, just drop the trident.”
Fear flashed in the man’s eyes and just for a second he hesitated, his trident lowered a fraction of an inch. Ren smiled encouragingly.
“Kill him,” screamed the commander “No mercy, kill him now and prove your worth to The Authority. You’ve seen the things he’s done, kill him now and do the world a service. He wouldn’t offer you the same chance!”
The man’s eyes hardened and a look of determination overtook his face. He leveled the trident and lunged, driving the points towards Ren’s chest. Before he could react his instincts took over. He sidestepped the trident and lashed the chain, swinging it sideways. It wrapped several times around the man’s wrist, Ren yanked, effectively stopping the attack .The man fell to his knees gasping in pain.
“I’m sorry I have to do this” Said Ren, dropping the chain “But I think you’ll find it better than the alternative.”
With one of his beautiful roundhouse kicks he planted his boot against the side of the man’s head, knocking him out cold. Ren picked up the trident and turned, only to see a swordsman already almost on top of him. The man swung his sword and in an instant Ren knew what would happen. The man wouldn’t miss, Ren had no time to defend, he would die right there on that spot. Ren closed his eyes, preparing to embrace the inevitable, when the man screamed. Ren opened his eyes and almost couldn’t comprehend what he saw. The man was lying on the ground the shaft of an arrow protruding from the inside of his thigh. Ren winced sympathetically before turning to find the shooter.
Daphne sat on Prince’s back, bow in hand, a quiver slung across her back, a single arrow clenched between her teeth.
“Need a hand, Mr. Professional Soldier?” she asked sarcastically
“Not in the slightest” Ren answered “Although a ride could be useful. By the way, the arrow versions of Aeon Darts are very nice.”
Ren jumped onto the horse's back in front of Daphne and steered them through the hordes of soldiers. He finally found Petra standing at a table directing squads of soldiers via a radio, using a hologram to map the battlefield.
“Petra” He yelled “sword”
Petra ran over carrying the sword.
“Here” she said, offering him the hilt.
Ren grabbed the sword and from his saddlebags he drew a tomahawk. He slid from the horse’s back and handed the reigns to Daphne.
“Try not to let him get killed.” Ren directed “I’m rather fond of him.”
Ren brandished his sword above his head and screamed, raising a loud cry from the Haven Fighters.
“Don’t run in there. We’re overextended, we need more men.” Daphne told him
“More men? Ask and you shall receive!” Ren smiled and pointed
There, off the right flank, four hundred men rode down a sandbank on horseback. Their faces were painted a variety of colors and they carried an assorted collection of weapons ranging from clubs to javelin rocket launchers. The fighting almost entirely stopped to watch the charge.
Ren ran towards the horses and as they approached he extended his arm upwards. A lone man rode by and grabbed his forearm. The man swung him onto the back of his horse and they rode into the thick of the battle. Dabih turned and grinned at him.
“There will be much pain today, Algorab” He spoke calmly
“For our enemies maybe.” Ren yelled
The Nikitari whooped and yelled as they rode through the battle, disrupting enemy lines, picking off snipers, and causing general mayhem. The field was complete chaos, in short it was Ren’s favorite kind of battle.
“There!” Ren pointed and yelled
Dabih steered his horse towards a small pocket of fighting where Tarazed had almost been overtaken. Ren jumped off the horse and rolled. When he came up he was standing a few feet from the largest soldier in the group. The soldier’s sword was inches from Tarazed’s face.
“Hey you!” Ren yelled
The soldier didn’t even look. He ignored Ren completely and Ren didn’t like being ignored. He pulled his tomahawk from his belt and whacked him in the back of the head with the butt of the handle. The soldier collapsed solidly on the spot.
“He won’t be fighting anytime soon” Tarazed smiled
The commander began making his way slowly down the sand dune. As he approached his soldiers stopped fighting, moving behind him as he passed.
“It appears that the old saying rings as true as ever” The commander said “If you want something done properly you have to do it yourself”
He approached Ren at a leisurely pace, sword in hand.
“You know, I could have just taken you out from up there, but from what I understand you prefer to fight up close and personal. You probably don’t remember me, I was just a low ranking guard at your uncle’s house when you tried to kill me. You gave me this.” He indicated a long scar that ran diagonally across his face, “When your uncle asked for volunteers I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see you again. I have orders to bring you alive, however if you resist, I will be forced to resort to more, shall we say unpleasant, means.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to allow you to be unpleasant” Ren said dryly
With the tomahawk in his left hand and his sword in his right he stepped towards the commander, crouching slightly. They circled each other, looking for an opening. Ren, growing impatient rushed forward, blocking a strike with his tomahawk and swinging his sword. The two dueled back and forth. Time seemed to slow as the battle progressed, both swordsmen skilled beyond anything seen before. It was unapparent who had the upper hand for several minutes. They appeared to be evenly matched but Petra could see Ren tiring, his reflexes were slowing. Even with his practice, Ren wasn’t used to fighting enemies who matched him in skill. Finally Ren jabbed clumsily and the commander caught the strike on the guard of his sword and twisted. A cloud of dust rose as Ren’s sword hit the ground. Petra could see where this was going. Ren was a great warrior, but compared to the commander he was out of practice, and even then he was best with a sword. The tomahawk would provide some defense, but for how long?
“Tarazed, help him” Petra screamed
“I am not allowed to interfere” Tarazed said calmly “A man must fight his own battles, a duel must be won or lost by the merit of the competitors. If this were open combat, that would be different, but to interfere would dishonor myself as well as Ren.”
“Ugh, you people” Petra huffed “Your ‘codes of honor’ are going to get him killed!”
Suddenly there was a yell from the direction of the battle. Daphne had tackled the commander from behind and locked her arms around his throat. The commander flailed his arms trying to dislodge her, throwing her over his head. She fell into a sand dune in a crumpled heap. Ren crept forward to retrieve his sword while the commander’s back was turned, but he was too slow. The commander spun, lashing out with his blade. With a loud cracking noise the head of the tomahawk flew past Petra’s face and Ren stood before him holding the splintered handle, his sword held firmly in place under the commander’s boot. The commander smiled cruelly as he slashed downwards. Instead of ducking Ren lunged forward grabbing the commander’s wrist. They fell to the ground in a cloud of dust as they wrestled for control. When the dust cleared Ren had the commander pinned to the ground with his knee, his hands gripping the collar of the commander’s chestplate. Ren smirked slightly before turning his head slightly. His eyes widened and he rolled sideways pushing the commander behind him. He roared in pain as an arrow sprouted from his exposed shoulder. Daphne, in an attempt to end the match had tried to shoot the commander. Ren’s shoulder took the arrow destined for the commander’s head. She had accidentally shot Ren and given the commander just enough time to gather his wits. Ren lay on his back, the arrow sticking out of his shoulder, his lip bleeding slightly. The commander’s boot held him in place as he grinned wolfishly as he placed the tip of his blade over Ren’s chest.
“So this is how the mighty assassin falls” He shouted “This is how Haven ends”
Ren smiled weakly “This is hardly the end, merely the beginning of yet another chapter”
“What do you mean?” The commander narrowed his eyes suspiciously “I’ve got you, you're finished, you’ll die by my hand here and now.”
“I don’t think so” Ren chuckled “See, you’ve been played”
Ren held up his closed fist and a piece of metal flew up in the air, landing silently in the sand. A grenade pin. Ren’s closed fist began to glow, and less than half a second his entire arm was enveloped in light.
“Surprised?” Ren asked “Well so am I!”
Petra ducked her head inside her jacket as a wave of heat rippled over the dunes and the grenade exploded with an almighty WHOOOOOM! When she looked up again Ren and the commander were gone. A fifty foot crater of fresh glass marked the spot where they had been. Petra walked to the center of the crater where Ren’s sword still lay glittering in the harsh light of the desert. Petra turned to the Authority soldiers.
“Michael Ren is dead” She yelled “Go; carry this news to your leaders. Let his memory rest in peace”
The squad leaders marshaled their forces and they slowly migrated back the way they had come. Mech placed his hat over his heart as Marius hung his head and a tear slid silently down Daphne’s face.
“Today” Petra said to the Haven soldiers “Ren has gone on to be with the Lord. In his death, I hope that in only encourages us to fight harder to ensure that his death was not in vain. He was a great asset to the Haven cause and will be remembered as a war hero.”
They stood in silence as they took in the idea that a man who once seemed invincible was dead. After several minutes they trickled back inside leaving Marius, Mech, Petra, and Daphne standing at the edge of the crater.
“We should probably get inside” Petra said eventually
They walked into the base silently together, the events of the day still sinking in.
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