But that would put me in the middle of the Abandoned Zone, which is a bit of a death sentence in-and-of itself.
During his wait for the debate to resume, Proctor had leaned up against the wall, a small crowd sharing the wall with him, all in their various groups, or some standing alone, same as him. Amongst all the bobbing heads, he could see a few he recognized. They were just small time street enforcers, working on his rather skim dime. It was mostly their respect for Proctor that fueled their decision to be there, rather than the promise of a payday. The potential of hitting it big helped keep them there, too.
Trying to drown out all the bothersome noise, Proctor had taken to trying to plan an escape route ahead of time, should the need arise. There were plenty of roads and alleyways flowing in and out of the Square, but around him, most of them led to dead ends or sometimes, something worse. His options were thin and questionable at best, but Proctor would take having to fight off a few junkies in an alley, rather than whatever disastrous events could take place here.
Before he knew it, the debate was back on, and he listened to it on and off as he stopped paying attention to look around him and observe the now much more quiet crowd. His gaze casted over thousands of people, almost all of them facing the stage or the various screens around the Square with the candidates’ faces on them. The stillness and silence, at least, relative to earlier, made Proctor somewhat anxious. Now that most of the attention was turned to the stage, it’d be easier for some unnoticed crazy to pull off a dangerous stunt. Of course, the place was brimming with security, so the notion was still far fetched, but it still stuck to Proctor’s mind.
Feeling like he had scanned the crowd for long enough, Proctor turned his gaze back to the stage, across the crowd, and up to Campbell’s face, which had burst in a bloody mist and cut his speaking off. Campbell fell limp to the stage, and even more of what Proctor had registered as gunshots rang out. In mere moments, the entire Square was in a state of unadulterated chaos. Multiple security personnel had been cut down in a matter of seconds, Campbell had been assassinated, and all Proctor saw before he turned to run was a large slug of plasma strike Gatch, which surely sealed his fate.
Whatever his fate was, though, Proctor did not care, nor did he even notice, as he had quickly scrambled away from the chaos, following a large herd of fleeing Citizens. The Reclaim had come violently alive, and the air vibrated with not only the sounds of what could only be described as war in the streets, but with the shrill screams and death cries from dozens of people all over the streets. Proctor followed a portion of the crowd down an alleyway out of Central Square, but he could already tell it was going to end badly. A large pile of junk and trash lay ahead of the crowd, and Proctor could already see the beginning of a pile of humans being trampled and they fell atop the barrier, failing to get across and falling victim to the herd.
Spotting a sort of alcove ahead of himself, the sprinting cyborg stiffened his feet to a halt and slid into the small doorway, taking a second to breathe, and collect himself. His heart was beating almost out of his chest, and even though he hadn’t run far or fast enough to break a sweat, he was still heaving with inhalations and exhalations, his mind absolutely exploding in a frenzy of fear and flee instincts.
Gazing across the alleyway, through the thick crowd that still surged down the alley, he could see across, and for only moments at a time, make out the contorted, nervous face of a man in a similar predicament as his own. They were both stuck in small alcoves on either side of the alley, watching as the tidal wave of flesh and metal flew past them. Neither of them had an idea what to do next, but both of them knew their lives were nearing the end if they didn’t do anything.
That’s when he saw it. Through the bodies rushing past, in those few fleeting moments in between seconds, Proctor saw, very clearly, the insignia of Rott’s Knights printed on his jacket. Amongst the crashing waves of confusion, fear, anxiety, rose mountainous peaks of rage and violence. Here, was one of Rott’s men, in the middle of what obviously had to be Rott’s big plan, yet, he had fled and ran, same as everyone, with such great trepidation you’d think he was just another of many victims. The gall.
Proctor could feel the servos and gears in his arms and legs tighten up, not in old age or disability, but in a rising surge of anger. Anger that he had let himself believe that joining Campbell’s campaign could lead him anywhere. Anger that he had let himself become entwined once again with an enemy that he had eluded for so long. Anger at this lone Knight, who had run and fled as his comrades tore the Square apart. Anger that he was sure he was about to meet his death. Finally, he launched himself, dashing across the alley, his metal arms and legs helping him pelt people away, and shove himself through the horde of people running by. His short run was ended when his metal shoulder put a sizeable dent in the metal door that stood next to him and the Knight. Before the other could react, Proctor reached his arm out, grabbed the Knight by his neck, tightening his grip as he used his other hand to punch a hole in the door, finally reaching a metallic arm in and releasing the lock from inside, and taking them both in.
Once inside the dark abandoned factory, Proctor slammed the door shut, as to keep any unwanted guests hopefully out. His metal vice grip on the Knight’s neck tightened, and the man, who was now on the floor, yelped and moaned in pain as Proctor could feel his fingers stiffening. Pulling his machine pistol from his jacket, and shoving the barrel forward onto the Knight’s forehead, he took off the safety as he prepared to kill the struggling man in his grip.”Son of a bitch!”
The man rasped as hard as he could with his windpipe being crushed.
Feebly, the man tried to swat at Proctor’s gun, but realized the futility of it and went back to trying to pry Proctor’s hand off his throat.”Give me one reason why not.”
Proctor growled. ”You got ten seconds to give me a reason not to blow your fucking brains out.”
Proctor’s teeth were gritted, not only in his rage and anger, but also because the arm he was using to choke the Knight had locked up on him, sending a deal of pain soaring through his arm up into his shoulder.
The Knights ganger’s own metallic limb clawed against the APEX machinery pinning him back. Even in the face of his fading breath, the man seemed to stare down the barrel of the gun. Rott was always right in teaching his boys to fall honorably and fearlessly, though death was never the only option. With a pistol pressed against his head, however, the ganger was in no fighting mood. He struggled for breath, but proceeded to force forth words despite his pain.”You don’t know shit… Campbell’s team… Doesn’t know shit. We do…”
In his final exhalation of words, one could have sworn the Knights ganger showed a twisted smile, as though he’d played his gambit. He knew he had, but what followed would determine his fate. He knew his odds and played them regardless.
Only one of the fingers wrapped around the Knight’s throat had loosened after Proctor’s struggling, which drew a raspy exhale from him, with the pain in his arm calming slightly. As his suffocating grip loosened, the grip on his weapon tightened. Lifting the barrel up off the Knight’s head, Proctor took a second simply lining the bottom of the pistol grip up with the side of the Knight’s head, then suddenly rearing back and bashing the Knight savagely on the side of his head, leaving sizeable gash, which soon started leaking crimson.”You Knights aren’t built the same as you used to be. And I’m sure it’d be much more fun to give you back to your own Paladins and let them know that while they were trying to take over the whole Reclaim, one of their very own was running away with his tail between his legs.”
Proctor returned the barrel of the pistol to the Knight’s head, pressing the barrel into the bleeding gash on the side of his head, giving a twist to dig it further into the seeping skin. ”Start. Talking. Just what the fuck is going on out here, and why do you seem so scared to join in the fun?”
The eyes of the dazed ganger pierced Proctor despite their emptiness. The blows to his skull had surely stunned the man, but he was by no means ready to fall. In his moments of recovery, the Knights ganger would offer a nearly inaudible chuckle. His reason, however, remained a bit ambiguous. Perhaps he was surprised that a man like Proctor could still bring forth a certain savagery. Perhaps he knew something that Proctor did not.”I expected more from guys like you… Is this really all Campbell can offer? Psycho old men who’ve got as much information as any one of the street rats their trying to rally…”
The nameless ganger lifted his non-metallic limb to wipe the sanguine stains from his cheek as the blood ran down from the base of his skull. ”This one ain’t our battle… As much as you seniors would like to think… We’re busy elsewhere.”
A blood-stained set of teeth curled out from the man’s cracked lips.”There’s bigger players in this game than washed up thugs like you’d like to think…”
Even if more fingers had come loose and relaxed on his hand, Proctor returned them all to their tight curl around the man’s throat. His eyes bore into the Knight’s, as the thought of ending the man’s life entered the forefront of Proctor’s mind. He didn’t seem to recognize Proctor, so it’s not like he could run back and report to Jackson that the Ghost was still alive. Leaving him alive still wasn’t an option, though. Too much of a liability for Proctor to allow. What had to be done had to be done. His trigger finger slowly began to coil and squeeze on the trigger, and the Knight had shut his eyes, as to give Death a warm welcome. Just as Proctor readied his arm for the recoil, thought, something clicked in his head. His finger relaxed, and his grips on both the Knight and his pistol loosened. Just as the confused Knight opened his eyes to examine the change in situation, he received a vicious blow to the side of his head, behind his ear, knocked him unconscious nearly instantly. Just to be sure, Proctor gave another quick and precise hook along the side of the Knight’s head, with the motors and servos whirring with surging energy.
Proctor went to quickly patting him down for weapons and the sort, finding a few items of interest, such as a pocket knife, and a locked personal computer pad. Surely, something, if not the Knight himself, would yield some interesting information one way or another. Perhaps a brain augment, which Knights were known to have, or some sort of other inner computer could be found. He just needed the help of the campaign members he was , ironically, getting ready to abandon just a few minutes ago.”Della, I’ve got a live one here. I managed to catch one of these Knights escaping with the crowds, and subdued him. He won’t talk to me, but he knows more than he lets on. I figure you could have a little fun digging around in his brain.”
With the augments the man carried, he was heavier than he looked, but Proctor’s augments made the difference rather negligible. Getting him tied up was easy enough, as the Knight had enough sleeves and pant legs to make sure he was secure, but dragging him up the stairs of the building was a different task. Half-way up, Proctor finally picked the man up and tossed him over his shoulder, making every step calculated as he slowly scaled the staircase. Around every corner, his pistol went first, as Proctor felt uneasy at the possibility of the upper floors holding unpleasant surprises.
Stopping to take in his surroundings, Proctor found himself near a window facing the square, and, making sure to stick to the wall and out of sight, slowly leaned over to take a look at the chaos ensuing. Wiping some grime and dirt off the glass, he got a clear look at the square below. A lot less time had passed than he thought, as the Square was still alive with people fleeing in every which direction, and more security forces had poured out of the surrounding buildings, creating an even larger firefight between them and the Knights that were dotted around the area. He had lost sight of the monster of an assassin that descended on the debate, but he wasn’t exactly disappointed to not have to face him again.
Dozens, if not at least a hundred, of people lay limp, scattered amongst puddles off pooling blood. Left and right, Knights and Enforcers joined the ranks of their dead brethren littering the ground, but even more yet poured from streets and alleyways to reinforce the ones that remained standing. The debate stage was near collapse, and same as their assassin, Proctor couldn’t quite see either Dexter or Gatch. Spatters and pools of their blood, though, were visible, making the bile in Proctor’s gut stir a bit. Even with how often he’d encountered and dealt Death in his life, it never made the sight of it any less sickening.
Taking a breath, Proctor ducked back down from the window, setting the Knight down next to him, then he himself slid down the wall to sit on the floor. He realized he’d had his earpiece turned off, and turned it back on to listen if the team were communicating, but it was quiet for the moment.”What the fuck is even going on out there? Is this shit really happening?...”
He spoke dispondantly into his communicator, losing the vigor of his last message. Seeing for himself the mess that everything was in, and having the memory of Dexter’s face being perforated etched in his mind, really set in the dire consequences he and his fellow campaign members faced. A bit of concern finally tricked up in his chest, through the rising feeling of hopelessness.”Are any of you even left out there?”