No rest for the wicked.
Or at least that’s what they say. Looking at her half-empty bottle Caprice wondered, was she one of the wicked?
Her ribs still ached and because of her unnatural constitution, the alcohol was only slightly dulling the pain. Blowing her platinum bangs out of her eyes, she took another swig from her bottle when she heard the door to the bar open and then close behind her.
“Alright, give me a pan of all of the hunter-killers and then … hang on,” she heard a woman’s voice say.
Sitting the bottle down, the veteran bioweapon rolled her neck, causing it to pop. Damn reporters had been showing up like an infestation of blood sucking fleas recently. Whatever had happened, it had been big and Biocorp must have been in trouble.
“Excuse me, you’re a Beta right?” the woman’s voice asked.
Taking another quick drink, Caprice sat the bottle down and nodded, “Yeah,” she sighed. “Why?”
Talking made her ribs hurt worse.
“The Betas I’ve talked to have more of their memories back than the Gammas, do you have a little time to talk to the National News Network about what’s happened to you here on Charon and how you got here?” the voice asked.
Caprice didn’t look through her bleach-blond hair to see who was talking to her, “Whatever,” she groaned, taking another drink.
“I’m joined with another Beta Unit …” the woman’s voice started, but Caprice interjected.
“Racist,” she barked, motioning for the bartender.
“What?” the woman’s voice responded.
The bartender, a burly man named Harvey, handed Caprice another bottle as she turned to face the reporter. Caprice looked her over quickly; a skinny little blond that was showing a little too much cleavage and a maliciously ambitious gleam in her eyes.
“My name is Caprice Parker, not Beta Unit,” Caprice said flatly. “You wouldn’t call your cameraman Black Guy would you? We have names, we’re people.”
The woman paused for a moment, considering what Caprice had said. She wasn’t confused. No, that woman wasn’t dumb. She was just mulling over some new information.
“I remember that I used to work for Biocorp until I got a divorce,” Caprice took another quick drink. “Can’t say as I know what or who I was married to, but I signed up for the hunter-killer program. I got here, stayed alive for a while and when they came out with the Gamma Units I was promoted to trainer. That’s about it.”
The woman had recovered quickly, “Are you excited to be going home?”
“Ms. Parker!” a soldier yelled from the other side of the room. “We need help!”
Groaning, the platinum warrior stood up slowly, “I guess you’ll have to ask someone else,” she chuckled.
She met the soldier in the middle of the room with the reporter and her cameraman in tow, “What’s up Sergeant?” she asked.
“It’s …” he panted, evidently winded from running to the bar, “One of yours Ma’am. He’s killed five men already and has a hostage.”
“So shoot him in the head,” Caprice shrugged over the whispers of the woman behind her.
“Snipers can’t get a shot Ma’am, he knows what’s going on,” the man was catching his breath. “And we can’t take him up close. We need you.”
“This is only the third recorded time this has happened,” the woman whispered to the camera behind Caprice.
“Dead or alive?” Caprice asked, starting toward the door.
“Alive if possible,” the soldier responded.
A short drive in the transport took Caprice to a closed warehouse surrounded by soldiers. Looking at their formations, Caprice chuckled. The sergeant had been right, they weren’t ready to try to take on a bioweapon. They were all too close.
Hopping out of the transport with the reporter and camera behind her, Caprice patted one of the soldiers on the shoulder, “Get your people back, if this comes out of the warehouse you’re all too close.”
Shoving the camera back, Caprice approached the closed rolling door and grabbed it by the handle. With a grunt, she broke the lock and, entering the warehouse, closed the door behind her.
“Caprice!” the bioweapon in the center of the room gasped.
It was a tall man, a Gamma, with long brown hair and striking eyes. He held a woman next to him on her knees, his sword on the back of her neck.
“Okay Ron, drop the sword and let’s go,” Caprice said, holding her hands up so he could see she didn’t have a weapon in her hands.
Ron had been one of Caprice’s success stories. She had trained him from the day he arrived on Charon and he had gone on to save hundreds of people. She had been so proud of him, felt so great to have taught him. He might have actually been the closest thing she ever had to a real son. But now he was shaking and sweating next to a terrified dark skinned woman.
“I … I can’t Caprice,” he stammered, blinking back tears.
“You’re going home, now drop the sword,” Caprice said flatly.
He was broken. Not physically, but mentally. It wasn’t the first time she’d seen it either. The stress of the constant nightmarish fighting on Charon was more than anyone should have to endure. Only the people that eventually hardened their heart so much they didn’t care about life or death were the ones that lasted.
“I can’t go home Caprice … I’m …” Ron was nearly panting while trying to keep from crying. “I’m a murder back there.”
“So?” Caprice shrugged, “Stay here then.”
“I can’t take it any more,” Ron began crying, “No more death, no more …”
“Ron,” Caprice approached him, her voice as deadly serious as it could be, “There’s only two ways this can end Ron.”
Ron nodded his head. He dropped his eyes, not wanting to look at Caprice.
“So which is it Ron?” Caprice asked, lowering her hand to her own katana.
“Do you know what Seppuku is Caprice?” he asked.
Caprice’s heart sunk into the pit of her stomach. She wanted to vomit and cry. She wanted to run away, but both the woman and Ron needed her.
Drawing her wakazashi, Caprice nodded. Handing him the small sword, handle first, she bumped the woman with her foot.
“Don’t watch this,” she told the woman.
Obligingly, the woman scooted out of the way and covered her ears while scrunching her eyes tightly shut. Caprice was glad she obeyed. People didn’t need to witness death to understand it happened, especially violent and upsetting deaths.
Drawing her katana, Caprice stepped behind Ron as he dropped to his knees. Holding the wakazashi in both hands, he turned the blade toward himself.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered
Ron drove the blade into his gut without so much as a grunt. Gritting his teeth against the pain, the warrior ritualistically sliced through his abdomen, disemboweling himself. Before he could grunt or cry out, Caprice decapitated him with a single smooth stroke of her blade.
Pushing her sorrow into her gut, the blond veteran approached the former hostage. Taking one of her hands, she helped the woman up.
“Come on,” Caprice grunted. “On your feet.”
As she lead the woman out of the warehouse Caprice was greeted to cheers and clapping. Several cameras were trained on her, recording her every move.
She was a hero … again. And heroes always cried alone.