Ravic leaned back. The soft, flickering light from his monitors barely lit up the room. The light reflected off his bottle. Ravic's pupils contracted from the glare, snapping him out of his daydream. He pulled the bottle to his cracked lips and let the thick, sweet liquid fill his mouth. He closed his eyes and tilted hit chair back further. It was getting closer to the real whiskey he remembered from the past. He put his boots up onto the desk. Grit and loose stone became dislodged from the rubber grooves in the as they landed heavily. He took another draw of his pseudo-whiskey and exhaled. It had been an easy capture. He listened to the static fuzz of his comm-unit and the consistent pulse from his tracking monitor. The sounds grew dull and muffled as Ravic let his body relax, savouring the peaceful moment.
Ravic unhooked the clasps on his hand crossbows. 2 darts fired from the right, 1 from the left. It had been an efficient night. Ravic had set the trap with meticulous care. Relying on the death of another hunter to cause a sense of urgency may have been a cold and sinister premonition, but that's why Ravic was successful. Emotion and morals did not belong in the city. Emotion makes you slow, hesitation gets you killed. The resistance were surprisingly well organised and were not to be taken lightly. Underestimating the abilities of such highly trained assassins was a downfall of the security factions who struggled to keep the general populace pacified and calm amidst the fighting. The resistance struck quickly and deliberately. They targetted public figures and left scenes of sickening violence. They never hid the kills. They were always displays of sheer butchery, sometimes a single man, sometimes an entire family. The resistance wanted to spread fear and unease throughout the controlled zones. Without access to the communication networks of the city, the resistance would strike, then disappear, chipping away at the resolve with shock tactics. The internal conflict made bounty hunting an extremely dangerous, but highly profitable profession. While the city's communications were locked down so outsiders were not allowed in, the general public was not allowed out. They lived lives of blissful ignorance, completely unaware of the world outside their enforced utopia. Both factions were not immune from corruption and influence. The insiders paid the resistance to eliminate targets which strengthened their stranglehold on society. The insiders then offered rewards to bounty hunters to eliminate key resistance figures. There was money to be taken from both sides, no one had a clean slate.
Tonight's catch was worth a year's hunting on his own. The city wanted him dead, the resistance wanted him to join. Ravic had studied the case for a long time with dread fascination. The destruction caused by the man was impressive and over time, his bounty had increased so rapidly, a hunter could not help but dream of a better life after handing him in. One could start over, be reassimilated into society or live like a king in the dead cities.
Having followed Drakun's fast rise to psychopathic superstar, Ravic saw patterns in his mayhem. Where he had been branded a maniacal berserker, barely on the tether of the resistance, Ravic saw his actions were always deliberate. The carnage Drakun wrought was sickening, but purposeful. Both Arceon and resistance factions took casualties attributed to Drakun. However, where Arceon deaths were always public displays of mutilation and brutality, Resistance deaths were more often slower, torturous experiences. They still remained graphic scenes to warn of a horrific fate, but the deaths themselves were executed differently. Drakun was not an uncontrollable madman, he was a calculating, deliberate avatar of death.
Ravic looked back at his desk. Drakun's location marker hadn't moved. He would be out for a while longer. Ravic placed his handgun and machete onto the desk next to the crossbows. He loved those crossbows. The darts fired contained a synthetic serum based on the venom of an extinct species. It paralysed the victim's body, yet left the victim remained conscious. The only part that hurts is the dart's impact, the victim is then left in a state of suspended animation, utterly helpless, but fully aware of their surroundings. Ravic was a little surprised at how much weaponry Drakun took to his mission, or more accurately, his lack of. He examined the beautifully crafted handgun. It was light. It felt like an extension of his hand as opposed to an instrument. He looked down the sight and touched the trigger, it was soft. Very soft. Any more pressure would have fired a shot from the chamber. The clip was still full, Drakun had not fired a single shot in his mission. Ravic reminded himself to empty the clip before handing the weapon to the Arceon's emissary came to collect. The intriguing weapon was the long knife. Ravic had heard stories about Drakun's butchery, yet the knife seemed like such an elegant weapon. Superb weight, blade 2/3's the length of the hilt. There was a slight curve in the blade, but not enough to be an effective slashing weapon. Again, the weapon was lighter than Ravic expected. This was indeed a fine weapon, but seemed like a fast, clean killing tool, not in line with the devastating wounds usually attributed to Drakun's blade.
Ravic examined the knife handle. He couldn't place the material. Not wood... smoother... harder... though the blade still retained that surprising lightness. There was a carving along the hilt. It was a creature Ravic had never seen before. It had a humanoid appearance, but with slightly elongated limbs. It's lean muscular body was springing forward. It it appeared agile... fast... It was screaming as it lashed out. He looked closer. The creatures expression was that of unbound ferocity. The creatures eye was unbelievably detailed. He looked closer. It stared straight back at him. Ravic blinked, realising he now held the handle close to an inch from his face. He smiled and shook his head before inspecting the blade itself. There were a couple of blood stains down the edges, but the blade was relatively clean considering the havoc it had caused earlier. He ran his finger down the edge and felt a few grooves. No doubt nocked edges from poor maintenance. He studied each closer. There were slight red tinges in each. The blood from Drakun's target. Ravic touched a fingernail to the groove.
'Couldn't wait to get your hands all over my tool, huh?'
Startled, Ravic dropped the knife.
He was up...
Ravic swivelled his chair to face the holding cell in the back of the room.
'I was just thinking that a butcher such as yourself should take better care of such an exquisite weapon.'
'The tools do not make the man.'
Ravic picked up the blade and placed it on the desk next to the handgun.
'Is that booze?'
'Can I get a shot? It's been years...'
'I'll be good?'
'You're a brutal murderer...'
'But I'm good at it?'
'... Also true, but no.'
'Oh, come on'
Drakun stepped towards the cell bars, hand outstretched.
An intense white light burst from the bars and as a loud crackle echoed through the room.
Ravic smiled as he squinted and watched Drakun's body twitch.
The smell of burnt ozone and cooked meat assailed his nostrils.
'What the FUCK? It's electrified??'
'Only the best for you, my dear.'
'Hah, I was definitely not expecting that. Well played.'
Drakun sat on the pile of rags Ravic had left in the cell. He cracked a smile.
'Isn't that a little barbaric for someone in your position?'
'It was necessary. Clearly.'
'Electrifying my prison is necessary?'
'For someone like you, yes.'
'Where did you even get this kind of thing?'
'I wired it myself.'
'Necessity is the mother of all invention.'
'Hookers keep running out and stealing your money, hey?'
'It's okay, there's a family across the road with a rather attractive daughter, I'm sure we can hook you up.'
'She's pretty cute, I bet she's just your type too. Young enough, but old enough? How bout we go see?'
'You're a sick fuck, just be happy I didn't have the voltage any higher.'
'Now, now, no need for names. What happened to 'my dear'?'
'I think that's enough talking. Now shut the fuck up or I'll shoot you again... my dear.'
Drakun lay down on the rag pile. Ravic slumped back into his chair, putting his feet back on the desk.
'War is the mother of all invention...'
'War, fighting, killing. All recent technological advances have come from the destruction or pacification of man.'
'Bullshit, we advance technology ourselves when we change and adapt.'
'No, we become lazy, the people depend on the continuing supression of free will so they can continue to live their lives in their mindless delerium.'
'Yes. You really think you're you own man?'
'Didn't I tell you to stop talking?'
'You're an Arceon puppet, only you're so self righteous you think living in a ruin makes you different to an insider.'
Ravic turned to face Drakun, who was still lying down, staring at the ceiling.
He pointed a hand crossbow at his prone form.
Drakun slowly turned his head, the low light cast shadows across his twisted features, making him look even more frightening.
'How did such a pathetic bounty hunter like you find me?'
'I've been tracking you for weeks. They want you dead for what you've done and they are willing to pay me very well to hand you over.'
'Yet, I'm alive? Shot twice in the back, but still standing.'
'Three times. What they do with you is none of my concern, the money in my hand is all that matters.'
'What makes you think you'll get paid? It didn't seem odd to you that you were instructed not to kill me, knowing full well they want me wiped off the face of the earth?'
'I just do my job, I get paid, they probably want to savour the moment.'
'You're pathetic. The 'honourable' hunter bringing in the renegade. Dart him in the back, 1, 2. Drag the body to your love nest and call your mother?'
'Don't be so upset you were outwitted by a puppet, my dear.'
'Hardly. You're probably being watched closer than I am.'
'I do what I do because I want to. I know the purpose of my actions. You're a whore. You sell your pathetic skills to a corporation who treats you like the scum you are. I'm amazed you haven't taken your own pitiful life already.'
Ravic stood sharply, sending the chair hurtling back into the desk. He moved closer to the cell, aiming his crossbow at the forehead of Drakun.
'I do my job, I kill filth like you. I get paid for it, and I enjoy putting bullets into your pathetic resistance. The only reason I'm out here is because it's where you vermin choose to breed and hide. You call yourself revolutionaries, but you are a fucking plague in my world.'
Drakun kneeled, shoulders and head hung forward. He started laughing, a low gutteral laugh. He started coughing and gagging.
'You don't have a fucking clue.'
He retched violently, then started breathing at a calmer, slower pace.
'You've gotten too close... Ravic...'
Ravic hesitated. He had not remembered revealing his identity.'
'Too close to what?'
Drakun lifted his head. Ravic could see his leering grin in the soft light... and a small glint. There was something metallic protruding from his mouth.
Drakun spat the object at him. Ravic tried to react but the dart was moving faster than he could see. Ravic could see the tip piercing through the pupil in his right eye. The pain was excruciating and the sensation seemed to last forever. Ravic's head rocked backward. Drakun sprang forward and reached through the bars. He grabbed Ravic's jacket and violently jerked him to the cell bars.
Ravic roared as the electricity coursed through his body. His muscles burned, his blood boiled, he started to fade away. Drakun grabbed Ravic's belt and flicked a small switch on the buckle. The electricity stopped. Ravic slumped to the floor, the stench of burnt flesh wafting through the air as his body twitched. Drakun snaked his hand through to the numeric access panel. He entered the 12 digit code to open the cell.
He rolled Ravic's body onto his back with his foot, before gathering his two weapons on the desk.
'I do enjoy the darts you use, Ravic. It's such a passive way to subdue someone, or, in the wrong hands, it can be one of the most sinister tools one could imagine.'
Drakun kneeled on Ravic's chest, drawing his long knife. He stared down into Ravic's eyes. Ravic could not do anything but stare into the sockets where Drakun's eyes once were. The dull red glow of the bionic implants stared back at him. He felt helpless, he was helpless. He was staring into blackness, and death was staring right back at him.
'We are not completely alike, yet we are very similar.'
Drakun touched a button hidden in the hilt on the knife. Several hooks sprung out from the grooves in the blade. Several were still covered in gore and sinew.
'Our race is, and always will be, destroying itself. Hope comes and goes, but our demise is inevitable. It's just a matter of time.'
He held the knife in front of Ravic's remaining eye, then dragged it back, slowly twisting and tearing it through the air.
'You are blinded by your belief that you are doing good, we both serve a higher power. We are both manipulated by something greater, whether you choose to believe it or not.'
He pushed the eye of the creature in the hilt carving, the hooks retracted. He shifted his weight and knelt next to Ravic's helpless body, never breaking eye contact.
'The sooner you see the world for what it is, the sooner you can be aware of your true potential.'
Drakun moved the blade to Ravic's stomach. He plunged it up, towards Ravic's sternum, till the hilt touched skin. Ravic tried to scream, he couldn't. He tried to move, he couldn't. He tried to give up, he couldn't.
Drakun leaned in closer, saliva dripping from his mouth.
'And only when it's too late, you will understand.'
Drakun pushed the eye.