Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta battle. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta battle. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 11 de enero de 2017

Strong woman

   By then, she had become a professional. She knew every single trick to travel, no matter if it had to do with packing her suitcase or buying the best hygiene products for herself. She knew which airlines offered what, the amount of room she had on any plane and the time she had in every single flight to work, sleep and relax. You could say she was a little bit to rigid with her life but Christine would have answered that she was just very well prepared. And that’s why her bosses loved her.

 Not only she was very practical in her travelling life, she was also like that with work. She travelled around the country and to other parts of the world, helping companies with their problems with technology and innovation. Christine went everywhere to hold meetings and conferences to anyone interested about how a company could survive in the new digital era. She knew about every single new development and was very well versed in the finance world too.

 Some people saw her as a danger to their way of doing things, specifically those people that were just corrupt and had arranged the system to work for them instead of working for everyone. During her fifteen-year experience, she had been responsible for unmasking a very high number of corruption scandals on many different companies. No matter if they produced video games or handled supermarkets, there was always someone trying to make more than the rest.

 That possibly was why so many people hated her too. In her world, in her order of things, there was no such thing as personal interests. She couldn’t understand how someone could put themselves in front and leave everyone else behind. Granted, she was not the best to speak about group efforts as she never did them herself, but she knew the value of having a good team to make a company go to directions no one else had ever gone. She tried not only to make them all win money and be successful, but Christine also wanted them to have a heart.

 That made her enemies very angry and that’s why many companies that had once asked for her help, suddenly rejected her and even campaigned against her actively in order for her bosses to be tempted to fire her or something but that never happened. Not only because she was really good at her job, but also because they feared her. They knew that if she was so good, she must have had something on the company she worked. It was only natural that she did, to protect her own interests.

 But that was where they didn’t understand her. She didn’t have anything on anyone in the company. She had even checked on that. And it was because she believed a relationship based on trust was much better than one based in fear. So from her side, everything was just fine. From their side not so much, but she had decided long ago that she couldn’t be worried about things she had no real control over. There was no way she could convince them that she wasn’t going to turn on them one day.

 Real problems came the day her enemies, people that had robbed millions, sued her in court with allegations of her work being unethical and, also, for receiving money in order to help improve conditions in some companies and not in other. They said that she refused to help their companies because she was under orders not to let them have any part in the business. They were very specific in their statements and even presented evidence of every single thing they were claiming.

 Christine would have wanted to laugh and she did when she got home but certainly not in the courthouse, where everyone’s eyes were fixed on her. She tried not to make any telling expressions and only limited her words to denying what those men in suits were saying. She was very calm and one could even say she didn’t care much for having to loose time there when she could be doing something much more interesting. Her rivals even pointed that out but the judge seemed not to mind much.

The actual trial was set to begin two months later. She would have to keep working until then because she had many prior commitments. But her company had asked her to please hold any engagements until after the trial was done because they didn’t want any of their clients to feel they could lose not only money but also their prestige in the business world. Of course, she understood perfectly what they were asking of her. So the day before she went to trial, was the same day she finally stopped at home and realized how her life would change now.

 The trial was very well publicized because many people in the media had been bought by the owners of the companies that were suing her. So it was obvious what their position was. They wanted her to be turn to shreds by people too, which was very hypocritical as those same companies were the ones that robbed everyone of their savings and their hard won money.  She had some big lawyers on her side too but the ones in the other side were particularly vicious. So much so that, on the second day, they even dared to attack her personal life, which was preposterous.

 Her lawyer told her not to say anything about that and she didn’t but it was the first time she seemed out of control. She wasn’t happy, at all, that her enemy was so visibly desperate that they wanted to find a weak spot wherever they could see it. Their questions and allegations hovered around the fact that she was an unmarried adult woman that lived her life travelling around. They called her irresponsible and immoral, which was perfect for the always religious people in juries. There’s always a couple.

 The trial went on for weeks. Whenever she thought they had been discredited by her very well built case, they came again with claims of bribery and corruption. It was then when she really got tired and decided not only to do her own defense but also using their own tricks. She would go personal and to the facts they were attacking on her. She was very tired and she had never felt that way. Christine was a very strong person but know, for some reason, she was beginning to feel the weight of years of work.

 The first day, in which she defended herself, she attacked them head on with proof of their own corruption. She had the papers and the data, which she always kept on her records to bring them down. One by one, one by day, she destroyed their credibility in front of the judge. Of course, they came against her hard with more personal questions and other attacks but Christine was ready, she had prepared herself thoroughly for that occasion, so she had brought the big guns.

 Did they want to talk about hidden children, lovers, weird fetishes and many other things? Fine, she went there with proof. During her years as a woman in business she had also made a lot of good friends, friends with enough talents to actually uncover things about people that they would have never thought no one would ever know about. But those good friends, many of those owed a lot to Christine, came to help in her hour of need. They really did the best they could to help her win that damn case.


 The day she actually won, the papers suddenly went silent and she went back to work. She decided to work now for smaller companies in order to help them be bigger and better. Christine wanted no more juggernauts in the game. Instead, she wanted to help where she was really needed. And she knew that they would let her do that because now she was a big name. Now they knew who she was and what she could do: bring empires up or down to the ground. There was clearly no one better in the game and Christine knew it very, very well.

sábado, 27 de agosto de 2016

Ravaged coastline

   As he climbed the staircase towards the top, the storm outside raged even stronger than before. The lighthouse’s walls seemed to shake at the sound of thunder. When he reached the top, he realized the machine that operated the lighthouse was still working despite of their best effort. Fast as he could, he grabbed something from his backpack and stuck it against the control panel that was lit with a variety of colors.

 Outside, the storm seemed to be getting worse every second. The waves were hitting the coast hard, as if nature was intentionally trying to bring the lighthouse down. But working with erosion would take too long so that’s why Miller volunteered to go to the top of the lighthouse and plant a bomb to destroy it from inside it. On the ocean, there was a sound louder than the one of the thunder: two ships seemed to be attacking positions in the ground and they did it all thanks to the help of the lighthouse.

 Once the bomb was planted, Miller ran out of the building, into the storm. From a certain distance, he saw how the lighthouse collapsed into itself. The sound of the explosion wasn’t really that strong because of all the scandal the storm was causing but what mattered was that the mission had been accomplished. Miller ran down the hill towards the beach, were the forces of his country were supposed to be. He didn’t find them there and he was afraid something bad had happened.

 Fortunately, he found their camp still set up where it had been that morning. Only a few tents remain though, because of the storm. The soldiers there said the attack from the ocean had been way too strong and that, even with the lighthouse out of their way, the enemy had known where to attack and how. So most of the army had moved south and, apparently, so did the battle.

 Miller had an obligation with his people, to defend his land until his death but he was very tired from running from one place to the other so he decided to have some rest with those wounded soldiers and wait for good news from all the battalions fighting the enemy. There was no food there, which was a shame, but one of the soldiers had a small flask with a very strong alcohol. Although forbidden, it helped Miller be aware until he fell asleep just before sunrise.

 He only slept a few hours. The storm had finally stopped or almost stopped as it was still raining after all.  He decided to grab one of the transports that hadn’t been destroyed and follow the army down the path. The vehicle had four wheels but seemed like one of those cars you use at the beach or somewhere where war is not an issue. It had no doors, no real protection but it had to be enough.

 As he travelled south, Miller was not very happy about what he saw. Because he saw nothing. There weren’t any bodies on the beach, or coming form the sea. He tried to get to high ground but there was nothing to see on the ocean. No big ship destroyed or trying to attack anyone or anything. The ocean was deprived of any life forms, at least on the surface. And the beaches were the same. Even tracks of other vehicles were difficult to find. Miller would only find the occasional boot print every so often.

 The first day following his army was a waste. Miller only stopped driving at night, when he stumbled upon a former fisherman’s village that had been abandoned by its inhabitants. The most likely scenario was that they had left the town because of the impending attacks of the enemy on the coast. Those people that had lived of the ocean for so long, now had to move to the far away from it, leaving everything they had known and loved behind. It must have been very hard for them.

 Miller left his vehicle next to a house that had clearly been attacked but was still standing after it all. He walked around as clouds in the night sky moved and revealed the full moon. The white light from it helped Miller look for anything he could use such as a small tank of gasoline and some bullets for his handgun. There were also nets and fishing rods but he left them there, as he wouldn’t have time to do anything with them.

 He slept inside the abandoned house that night. Nature or man had removed part of the roof, so the light of the moon illuminated his room. It was filled with sand and smelled a lot like fish. However, he slept in an actual bed that he tried to clean up the best he could. It was very strange to feel such a soft matters and the sheets really smelled like fabric softener, after such a long time of having been abandoned there.

The next day, he charged the gasoline tank of his vehicle and moved on with his search. It was until the afternoon, several kilometers from the fisherman’s village, where finally found the bodies of some soldiers. Unfortunately, they were not only dead but they seemed to have been scorched alive. Their bones were practically pieces of coal, forming strange angles by the ocean.

 It looks as if they were two soldiers or maybe they weren’t even soldiers. It was difficult to tell as the clothes had burned too. Something bad had happened there anyway and even if it didn’t have anything to do with the fighting, it was worth taking note. Maybe the people were going crazier than anyone had anticipated.

 A huge explosion was then heard just beyond some sand dunes. Miller left the vehicle behind and run up the dunes in order to see what had happened. A column of smoke could be seen easily as his feet sunk into the sand, trying to run as fast as he could in a place were running was not very practical. When he got to the tip of the dunes, he saw something horrible. It was the army, his army. They were all dead. Their bodies covered the stretch of sand between the beach and the tree line. There didn’t seem to be a single spot without a dead body.

 The smoke was coming out of some sort of gun near the center of the agglomeration of bodies. It was artillery and was pointed towards the ocean. Miller tried to look for anything there to indicate what had killed all of those men and women but there was nothing. The weapon had maybe overloaded and that’s why it had exploded. It meant that Miller had missed his peers for a very short time, maybe even only hours.

 It was awful to see all of those familiar faces rotting under the soft rain and the pale sunlight that filtered through the very thick clouds. He didn’t know what to do with them. Leaving them there would not be according to their code but burning each corpse would take him forever. And then, there was the gun. He decided to walk among the bodies, towards the weapon, in order to check if any information could be saved from its intelligent software.

 He tried not to step on any hands or legs but it was very difficult. He tried to look forward instead of downwards. For a moment, tears began pouring out of his eyes. It was just too much for him. After all, he was just a young guy that no many months ago had ben trying to turn his life around after been a thief for all of his life. He had tried to learn a trade and be good at it and then the war happened and now he was stepping on bodies.

 When he reached the artillery post, he sat on the chair of the gun and clicked some letters. The machine was still working. The shooting capabilities were out of order but he could check what they were firing at moments ago. An image appeared on the small screen and he had to get closer to see it fully. When his eyes focused, he thought he was looking at the worn image or maybe he had done something wrong.


 But the image was not the wrong one. Understanding the danger he was in, he ran stepping on every body towards the dunes and reaching his vehicle fast. He had to leave for the inland, where the inhabited cities were, in order to tell them what he had seen. They wouldn’t believe him but he had to tell them that a monster was out there. Maybe it was the enemies, or maybe not, but it seemed to have come straight from hell. As he drove, he checked his mirrors every few seconds, afraid of the ocean.

martes, 29 de marzo de 2016

From the gutter to the sky

   Grant Tower used to be a gigantic building located in the limit between downtown and the industrial districts. It had been abandoned for many years until it was bought by a mysterious person who recuperated its former splendor. In a city filled with strange things happening everyday, the destruction of Grant Tower did not go unnoticed. After all, it had been Captain Incredible the one to destroy it during his battle with his arch nemesis, Doctor Perdition.

 The battle had taken place all over the city. The superhero and the villain were able to fly, so they moved from one area to the other and the destruction was palpable all over the place. Captain Incredible had promised it would be the last battle to fight in the city as, according to him, every other gang and criminal organization had been dismantled. Only Doctor Perdition stood in the way of a pacified city. So every single person affected by the last battle, tried to understand what was as stake.

 Many inhabitants of the city fled beforehand, others just locked themselves home (if they had a basement). The battle took several hours and affected every single inhabitant in the same way. They knew what they would get in exchange, but many were already pissed at both the bad guy and the good one because for years and years, their battles against the other side had caused devastation once and again. People were tired of all of it and Captain Incredible knew he was risking a lot by saying that was going to be his last battle.

 Inspector Paulson was the first one to arrive to the site of the former Grant Tower. The battle was still going on but it had moved to the port, where they could be less damaging to the people. Pieces of the tower had fallen all over the neighboring streets and some of the neighbors were attempting to move the pieces by themselves. Others were looking for objects to recuperate from the destruction.

 Delia Paulson put on her gloves and entered the destroyed building. Only a couple floors were still standing. All the other seventy floors had disappeared. She used a mask to walk inside and join two men of her team who had gotten there before her. Neighbors had told them that a sound could be heard coming from the building, from below the ground. So they had to look where it was, probably a bomb made by Doctor Perdition.

 Inspector Paulson descended towards the lower levels of the building, that had received no damage, and encountered the noise was coming from a boiler room. The machine that used o heat up the water from the tower seemed to be about to explode. A rapid move by one of the policemen, helped to bring the pressure down.

 When he moved away from the boiler, with a face of triumph, the policemen pushed a pipeline that changed positions. But not only that, it also opened a door on the wall, just in front of the boiler. The inspector told everyone to be on the lookout and entered first; illuminating her path with a flashlight she took from her long coat.

 She walked slowly, covering her face because the air was charged with dust particles, probably because of the violent movement suffered by the building when it had been destroyed. It was a long corridor and then a path that seemed to descend in a spiral, down into the ground. Paulson ordered one policeman to stay at the entrance and was only joined by two of them, one being the one that had stopped the boiler from exploding.

 They walked slowly through the narrow passaged until finally they could see artificial light. They arrived at a massive room, carved into the natural rock. It was very humid but there wasn’t as much dust as there was above. They could breath at ease and not feel trapped anymore. The policemen were visibly scared because they remained just behind Paulson and she didn’t say anything because she was scared too. What was that place? Why was it there?

 On the wall, there were dozens, hundreds of screens showing different TV channels and also some footage from closed circuit cameras. Paulson saw the inside of the Central Bank, the security cameras from the police department building and the mayor’s office. It was all live. Someone had them all cornered and they hadn’t realized it.

 One of the policemen attracted her attention to one of the screens. It was a news channel reporting that the battle between the superhero and the villain had ended: good had one versus evil. The two men cheered but Paulson did not say anything. The existence of that room was proof that things did not stop with Doctor Perdition. She kept walking to find more clues and all she saw were plans of every building in the city, including Grant Tower, weapons of every kind and a diary hidden on the drawer of a work table.

 She started reading and, at first, it didn’t make much sense. It was all about a boy telling his sad high school stories. Apparently he was mocked because of the way he dressed and the way he looked. He hated people for laughing at him but would only find solace in one friend he had away from school, another kid. Paulson kept on reading as the policemen looked around, still happy that the last evil plaguing their city had finally been defeated and was dead for good.

 Paulson kept on reading and realized the diary belonged to no other than Doctor Perdition. She then raised her head and told her men to stop walking round and touching everything. She did so just in the moment were one of the weapons fired a set of arrows against a wall, piercing the wall with incredible strength. The men decided to get closer the inspector, who told them to bring their scientific team in order to bag every single thing in that lab.  She told them they had probably gotten the big prize of the night.

 The two men went back upstairs but Delia stayed behind to wait for the science team and in order to keep reading. She didn’t excuse Doctor Perdition for what he had done; after all he was a felon that had served time after killing people and doing the most unspeakable acts of violence. But she kind of felt sorry for him, as she read more and more of the diary. Apparently, he was the only son in a family of only women and he had been mistreated by his parents because he wasn’t the man they wanted him to be.

 He also hated his family. Paulson wondered if he had them killed at some point but the diary didn’t say. It only spoke about his childhood and the most beautiful pages, because they actually were, were dedicated to his encounters with a friend that shared his vision of the world. He was a bit younger but seemed older than him because of his convictions. He was a strong believer that people that did wrong should pay, no matter what is was that they had done.

 She stopped reading and looked for more diaries in the drawer but it was the only one. When the scientific team arrived, she ordered them to scan the room for hidden compartments and traps. They found a small hiding space beneath a huge metal table, which the inspector moved by herself. There, covered in dust, she found something else. There were no diaries but papers that assigned this property to the kid she had been reading about. If the kid was Doctor Perdition, the building must have been his. He was the one to renew it, all those years ago.

 There was also an electronic book, which could be turned on but had a password to protect it. A member of the scientific team helped Paulson bypass the password in order to read whatever it was she had on her hands. And when she was able to read it, she almost dropped it on the floor. Because what was in that book was not only a diary or some legal papers. There were pictures, and statements and videos and text that talked about that other kid, the one that had been Perdition’s friend when he had been bullied in school.

 That friend had helped him seek revenge, which had resulted in the death of at least two children and it had been Perdition who had put a stop to it.

 That kid… That kid was Frederick Edwards AKA Captain Incredible.

viernes, 8 de enero de 2016

Bathhouse

   The place was full of steam and very humid. The columns that divided one part of the baths from the others appeared to be sweating, as everyone else in that place. There were mostly men, as the women baths were located separately but some women came in, naked of course, and served the high-ranking men. Prostitution was forbidden in the baths but business in that field was done there anyway and the act would be performed somewhere else, so that way the owner of the baths wouldn’t have any problem with the authorities.

 Many military loved the baths; especially after the long campaigns the emperor sent them too. The ones that came back, successful or not, were considered better than normal men so they received every single kind of gift and appreciation possible by the general public. For example, there was this general in one of the pools, enjoying the hot water, but also caressing a young man he had taken an interest for and eating with that boy many tropical fruits that were only accessible to the most important people in the empire.

 The fruits were served cut and ripe in a large plate. This was all done by men as women were believed not to be “good enough” to serve such powerful and important people. Women were always entertainment or responsibility, never anything else. Some of them resented that and claimed that women should also be treated like gods and so on, but the response was always that women did not go to war, so they had no idea what real sacrifice was or how loyalties and strategy worked.

 The baths were a men’s world.

 The hand of the general went up and down the young men’s leg and the only thing he could do was to smile. His family had been the one to send him against his will to the baths. He didn’t wanted to be there but had to as the general promised a very large sum to his family in exchange for his company. This meant that the poor boy had to be around the general every single day, at every time and everywhere until the older men just decided he liked someone else or until he verbally declared the boy was not suitable anymore.

 The boy knew it was cruel to think that way but he wanted another boy to appear soon and be more of the liking of the general. He didn’t cared what happened to that other boy, he just wanted to be replaced in order to go home and become a scientist as his parents had once promised him. He had only attended a few lessons with a known master of the city when he was picked up by the general in a crowded street. He had gotten lost going to class and that had been his downfall.     
 But not all were anxious to be rejected. In another pool, a younger man was been honored with the most delicious wine and a nice ration of roasted boar. He was the young son of a general that had become an official too in Northern Africa. He had combatted a tribe there that had tried to liberate some slaves. The man had won, making his father and the empire very proud of him. So he had chosen a boy too to accompany him but the difference was they had agreed on all of it before.

 The boy was not from Rome. He wasn’t a kid with a family or with any prospects. No one really knew this, but he had been one of the many people captured in Africa to become slaves. His skin was dark but not as dark as to draw looks from everyone he encountered. He was beautiful and that was an advantage in a society were beauty was so important. The young military had seen that and liberated him with the condition that he should remain on his side as long as he desired.

 Strangely but not uncommon in these exchanges, the two men formed a very tight and deep relationship. They travelled together from those far lands to the capital and in the process got to know each other and taught one another things about themselves and about their worlds. The father of the young military man was not thrilled by his company but decided not to do anything about it because he was too proud at the moment to spoil his boy’s happiness. But he felt something had to be done in the long run.

 In the baths, the boy and the young military were side by side, holding hands and telling stories to the group that was around them. Everyone listened and laughed and sobbed in the right moments, asking questions and being curious in the most charming way possible. Of course, many of them were spies and others were poor trying to infiltrate the higher levels of society. But no one really cared because even there, with everyone naked in hot steamy water, people were still not fully themselves; they still hid some of their secrets and real feelings.

 No one would ever see any of those men do more with the boy than touching. That was all that was permitted in the bathhouse, by law. It was in their homes, their private dwellings, were every lie was shed and only the truth remained with all these gods that dressed like soldiers. And they did believe they were gods, or almost at least. They knew that they were better than others, smarter and much more valiant. They didn’t have the necessity to do anything else than be. That way people honored them everywhere they went and applauded their every thought, word or act, just because of they were. And their companions, boys or girls or women or other military men, were glad to be there to see it all.

 But not everyone was happy. In another pool, three military men cared only for the warm water and the food. They had no one tending to their needs or asking them to tell stories. That was because they had yelled away anyone who got close to them from the first day they had came back from the field. These men were a group that battled barbarians in the northern borders and had been together for many years. They knew each other from their first training and, although one could not see it, they were glad to be together and alive.

 However, there was no real happiness as many of their men had been killed by the savages. It has to be understood that in that group there was a head, a men with grey eyes called Decimus, but every decision was agreed on by every single member of the group. When they left the capital, they were seven men from the best families in the empire, ready to do what was needed to defend their land. But in the process of defending that land, four had died in the hands of the enemy. Their deaths had been atrocious and laid inside the brains of the three many that steam tried to relax.

 The women that brought the fruit often let some skin be seen by the men so they would initiate business with them. But the group of three man didn’t care at all about breasts or legs or anything else than their troubled memories. They weren’t seeking young boys like the others and had no mind to be thinking in romance or sexual pleasure. They just wanted to be left alone with their sore bodies and their ghosts, who were all there with them, reminding them of every single moment of the battle, again and again and again.

 They had refused real medical attention and also the presence of healers that would care for their wounds right there in the bathhouse. They just didn’t want to talk to anyone. They were voluntarily sinking in their own nightmares, feeling that they did not deserve a better luck that their friends that had died in battle. They felt that real justice by the Gods would have been to kill them all on the field, leaving all with the honor of having defended the empire and all that it stood for.

 Yet, they were soaking in a bathhouse, feeling the pain of something that would never happen. The pain was stronger because the bond between those seven men was too strong. It was friendship but it was also love that linked one to the other. Forever they would feel the presence of the others and the ominous feeling that something else should have happened and that their lives should have ended in a different way.


 The steam of the bathhouse had that peculiarity, of making everything possible and impossible at the same time.