AS 127 - Vox versus Ace Stevens versus Vega (EOL)

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  1. Monster Amongst Men

    Monster Amongst Men Here we go, 10 in a row!
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  2. Infinity

    Infinity Starving (Martial) Artist

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    " You either detach from mayhem and chaos or get lost in it. " -Vega


    Don’t murder me.
    I beg of you, don’t murder me.
    Please, don’t murder me.



    These lyrics welcome us to the scene while the late April sun is doing it’s best to keep the winter’s cold away as we slowly creep into Spring. Union Square Park in downtown New York City is busy with people taking advantage of one of the first sunny days it has seen this year. On the steps to enter the park stands a man playing an acoustic guitar while singing the words to “Dire Wolf” by The Grateful Dead. He has his guitar case open on the ground in front of him. Inside are a handful of dollar bills scattered amongst some coins.


    I sat down to my supper, it was a bottle of red whiskey.
    I said my prayers and went to bed. That’s the last they saw of me.

    Don’t murder me.
    I beg of you, don’t murder me.
    Please, don’t murder me.



    Just then, a crisp hundred-dollar bill gently floats down into the guitar case, resting comfortably on top of the faded singles and loose change. Wide eyed and elated, the street performer breaks from the melody to offer his gratitude.


    Wow, thank you!


    He watches the donor barely even acknowledge him while continuing to walk into the park. It’s Vega, wearing a fedora with a feather tucked into the side and a long grey bohemian style sweater that hangs loosely from his frame, allowing only his faded brown boots and the bottom of his black jeans to show. His eyes are hidden behind his black Ray Ban’s as usual. Next to him is Priya, also wearing her usual circle lensed John Lennon style sunglasses along with a red turtleneck sweater and dark denim jeans tucked into her high heel boots. She holds her long white support cane out in front of her as she blindly navigates through the city with Vega.


    He sounded happy. I’m guessing you gave him more than just a dollar.

    It’s a good song.



    Priya smirks at Vega’s simplistic reply as they approach a park bench. Priya finds it with her cane and the two take a seat.


    Has anybody ever said that to you?

    Said what?

    “Don’t murder me.”



    Vega smiles as he allows his mind to reminisce of happier times while Priya folds her cane up and places it next to her on the bench.


    It’s usually “don’t kill me.” And with a lot more crying involved.

    Have you ever listened?



    He shakes his head.


    Never.


    Vega reaches into the pocket of his black denim jeans and pulls out his pack of Camel Menthol No. 9s.


    But, I’m no murderer.


    Priya takes a moment attempting to decipher Vega’s logic.


    What do you mean?

    Murderers kill for personal reasons. Assassins kill for another person’s reasons.



    Vega opens his box of Camels and pulls out a single cigarette. He places the menthol between his lips while putting the box back in his pocket and pulling out his lighter.


    I’m no murderer, I was just eliminating targets.


    He flicks the lighter and ignites his cigarette.


    But these “targets,” they haunt you… don’t they.


    Vega holds in a brief chuckle.


    No, they don’t…


    He takes his first pull from the cigarette, enjoying the dose of nicotine while the smoke gently rises from the lit ember.


    …and that’s what haunts me.

    What does?

    Normal people see their victims in their head for the rest of their lives, unable to cope with the fact that they ended someone else’s existence.

    And you?

    Me?



    Vega exhales, releasing a large puff of smoke into the air in front of him.


    I barely remember their faces. I’ve collected more victims than you collect shoes, kiddo.

    How are you able to detach yourself like that?

    You either detach from mayhem and chaos or get lost in it.



    Vega takes another hit of his Camel and then holds it out towards Priya. She senses the cigarette and reaches out for it. Her hand touches Vega’s before she gently guides her fingers to his, and eventually the cigarette. Priya enjoys a drag herself as Vega exhales his.


    I wish I could remember their faces. Perhaps it’d make me feel more human.


    Priya scoffs, letting smoke escape from her lips in the process. Vega looks over in her direction, a bit taken back by her visceral response.


    You know, there are typically only 2 species that suffer from obesity in this world; humans, and whatever humans feed.

    What’s your point?

    My point is human beings are bad at being human. We ruin everything nature has perfected.

    I suppose I’d be "Exhibit A."

    Maybe… but I think you obsess over this notion of wanting to be “good” far too often.

    Shouldn’t I strive to be a good person? Shouldn’t everybody?

    Good people can do bad things, Will. Often “bad” is psychologically stronger than “good.” People dread loss more than they desire gain. Criticism hurts more than praise. The fact that you barely remember your victims… it’s probably a good thing. Some sort of evolutionary advantage.

    Truth is, I do remember them. I remember all of them… I just don’t give a damn about any of them.

    But you wish you did.

    Sometimes, yeah.

    Well, you remembered Ace Stevens.

    He’s no victim.



    Priya takes another drag from the cigarette before holding it out in front of her. Vega reaches for it while she releases the smoke into the air.


    Ace… he’s someone I have no issues remembering. His face is etched into my mind unlike any of my victims. Ace has never been a victim, he’s always been a fighter… and I remember the fighters.


    He takes one last drag from the cigarette before flicking it away. Red embers escape the cigarette as it dances across the concrete before coming to a rolling stop.


    He’s unlike any other target that has ever been placed in front of me. Even though I’ve defeated him multiple times in the past, he still returns to me unphased, undeterred and always ready for more. It forces me to go to a place I thought I never wanted to return to.

    What do you mean?

    When I first met Ace Stevens, I was in a place in my life where I embraced the darkness. I thought I was leaving that part of my life behind recently, but then the powers that be have made sure our paths crossed again. 2 weeks ago, when I stood face to face with him, I felt something I hadn’t felt in over 5 years. Suddenly, I didn’t care about good or evil. I saw his face and only cared about eliminating the target.

    And did you?

    Almost. See, our paths are about to cross once again, except this time there will be another person caught in the middle.

    Who?

    Vox.

    Who is Vox?



    Vega shakes his head.


    I’m not certain Vox himself could answer that question right now. When I see Vox, I don’t see the same things I see in Ace. I see a façade. I see weakness. I see-

    A victim?



    Vega smiles as he nods.


    He doesn’t belong in the same warzone as me and Ace. See, Ace and I are about to enter another battle… a battle I know Vox is not prepared for. He’ll simply be collateral damage as I continue on my warpath. And once I’m done… Vox will be another victim I lay to rest. Another face trying haunt me, another face that fails to make me feel human. Ace has forced me to return to a place I swore I’d never find myself in again. I’m back in the shadows embracing darkness.

    All I see is darkness.



    Vega looks over towards Priya, her blind eyes hidden behind her sunglasses.


    You once told me that you find beauty in darkness.

    That’s right.



    A relaxed smile creeps across Vega’s face.


    I’m beginning to understand what you meant more and more.


    Priya smiles as well, enjoying the fact that Vega may slowly be accepting her line of thinking.


    Let’s get outta here.

    Sure.



    Vega nudges Priya’s knee as he gets up off the bench. She receives his signal and stands up while unfolding her support cane. They walk by the street performer once again causing Vega to hesitate. He turns around while reaching into his back pocket for his wallet. He smiles at the singer and drops another hundred-dollar bill into his guitar case. The man’s face fills with glee, but before he can say “Thank You,” Vega makes a simple request.


    Play it again, man.


    With a huge smile across his face, the street performer obliges. Vega and Priya walk away as the words echo out behind them.


    In the timbers to Fennario, the wolves are running 'round.
    The winter was so hard and cold, froze ten feet 'neath the ground.

    Don’t murder me.
    I beg of you, don’t murder me.
    Please, don’t murder me.

     
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