2011-01-23: A Hard Choice



Special guest - Nero (NPCed by Hosea)

Summary: Travis meets the man who is head of the group who kidnapped him, Nero.

Date: January 23, 2010

Log Title: A Hard Choice

Rating: R

Africa - Nero's Camp

Where the camp begins, all other life ends. Hard dirt with muddy puddles fill the road as it grows close to Nero's camp. This dirt road is much more commonly used than the rest. The gate is closed with cyclone fencing, and wooden watch towers look over the forest, guarded at all times by soldiers.
Inside the fence several stone buildings can be found. Trucks and LAV's move about, soldiers training at most hours of the day. Complete with running water and electricity powered by a nearby wind plant, it could be called the one trace of 'civilization' here. Nero's home away from home is here as well, a large mansion of a building with its own sets of guards to protect the warlord when he comes to visit. A helipad can even be found near the palace, his common method of entry and exit.

After the butt of the rifle, the next thing that Travis was given the pleasure of seeing was the inside of a cell. It's dirty, it's rather lonesome, though other captives are along the stone wall with him. Each of them are chained to the wall, and for Travis, that means four extra shackles had to be installed, though they are at least low enough so that the captured can rest sitting.
There's been no bathroom breaks, which might be quite a stench, but after a while, it's hard to notice when that's all you smell. There's been no food breaks, there's been no water. On top of this, there's been some sort of sedative that's kept all of the captives along this wall from being fully lucid. Four of them in all at the moment, Captive is the second in the line. To one side, the man looks like a reptile. Another mutant, clearly.
The rain is pouring down into the rainforest, seen through the barred doorway of the crude prison. Four guards have been seen at all times, one for each prisoner. It would appear that Travis is a high priority. Through the ceiling, a steady drip of water falls onto Travis' left bicep. The drugs are starting to wear off again, no doubt there will be a new dose before long.

The sedative has kept Travis from really understanding the situation he's in, which means he hasn't been able to think on how easy it would be for him to escape using his powers. Now that the sedative is starting to wear off and things are starting to come back to him. Fear, anger, disgust, shame, thirst, hunger and worry are the main things that hit him first. He looks around trying to figure out his situation and get his head on straight. He holds back a groan as his muscles are quite cramped and it is sore trying to move one of his hands to grab onto the chain. The problem is chains aren't exactly quiet.

Some sounds start to become more clear as Travis moves. There's gunshots, though no screaming at the moment, perhaps target practice. As the chains move, one of the guards points his rifle through the bars. He yells something short and angry at Travis, though it is in Hausa, not English. He doesn't seem to like Travis moving.
Something else is outside the cell. It's hard to see precisely, but as the figure passes by, it appears to have four arms, and be mostly a head. A strange creature to be certain. He gives a syringe to one of the guards before walking along. The door is unlocked, and the guard holding the empty syringe steps into the cell.

Travis narrows his eyes at the guard and responds in English. "Fuck you." He says as he knows threats won't really do much but he can be defiant and not just roll over and let these guys get the best of him. He brings his legs up close to his body and keeps his eyes on the guy with the syringe. He's planing to kick the guard with both legs if he gets close enough to do so as he's doesn't want the needle in him again.

The soldier comes close, the empty syringe in hand. He's smart enough to come from the side, making it a difficult target for Travis. "You will hold still," he says in English. He pulls a gun, pointing it at the teen's head. "We don't need you alive to take your blood, I will kill you if you fight me." He makes a move to crouch next to Travis.
In the doorway, a new arrival comes. It seems that Travis' waking has caused some attention. This black man is a good height, maybe 6' even. He is stocky, well fed, and has a horrid scar along one side of his face. Aviator sunglasses are removed and put gently into his pocket. The other soldiers seem to become a little antsy with his arrival, standing up straighter, training guns more assertively. Whoever he is, this guy is important, and his very presence is like that of a king. He doesn't speak, but folds his arms, watching to see how Travis responds.

Travis doesn't fight as much as he wants to. He isn't sure if the guy really would really kill him or if he's just threatening, but you don't question the guy with the gun. Instead he does spit at the guard to show that he's not happy. "What the hell do you guys want with us?" He asks sounding pissed but at the same time his voice is a bit rough from not drinking anything for a few days. He looks at the syringe and is pretty sure he's probably gonna get sick from lack of sterilization from the needle then some guard shooting him.

When Travis spits, the man with the scar lets out a belly laugh. "You are either very brave, or else very stupid," he says. The guard ignores the spitting, except to jab the needle into Travis a bit harder than was necessary. His blood fills the syringe, and he pulls it back out, the sample in hand, and exits the cell. The tall man steps forward, a brown military uniform adding to his fierce appearance, and he crouches, just outside of the range of Travis' feet. "What is your name, Spider boy?" he asks quietly. There's an eerie patience about him, as if he feels completely unthreatened by his surroundings. He has no fear at all, especially of Travis.

Travis does his best not to wince as the needle is jabbed into him but once it's removed he looks down to his arm to see the small amount of blood that is on his arm. "It's not Spider Boy." He says as he turns his head to look at the new man. His eyes are filled with anger and hate at the moment and his jaw is tight. "Liam." He says giving his old name as what it is now. "And your guards suck as nurses."

A grin crosses the man's face. "My apologies," he says. It's a rather Mona Lisa tone, hard to determine whether it is mocking or genuine. "Dey are better suited for other types of work." Unlike Hosea, this man's English is exceptionally good. As if he had practiced a long time. A hit of an accent is still present, but only slight. "Liam, what does dat name mean?" he asks. "It is not one dat I am familiar with." Still no introduction of his own, the tone remaining even. His eyes are studying the six-armed mutant very carefully, as if each breath, every blink of the eyes meant something significant.

"Hell if I know." Travis says as he doesn't even know what Travis means. "It's not like I'm a nameologist." He knows it isn't a real word but he's letting his anger take control so that way he's not a blubbering ball of fear. "So what, were you just lonely so you chained us here in a cell with no water or food to chat about a meaning of a name or is there some purpose you kidnapped me asshole?" He hates this waiting game because the longer he's here and the less he has answers, the more he's afraid.

Another grin escapes the man's face. "You do not know your own name?" he asks. "You must be from America. People there are very lazy. But you are a fighter, I can see that you are not like most Americans, I can respect that." He doesn't move from his crouching position. "You may not know who I am. My name is Nero. As far as you are concerned, I am God." Nero stands back to his feet, folding his hands behind his back. "You hate me, I can see that. Good. Hate gives you strength. It makes you unkillable if you have enough of it. But you are still afraid, and that makes you weak." He doesn't answer Travis' question about his purpose in kidnapping the mutant. "Why are you afraid?" The answer seems clear enough, but he wants to hear Travis articulate it.

Travis resists and eyeroll at the comment about being lazy. "No..you're not God." He says to Nero as he's not going to think of this man like that in any fashion. "And why am I afraid, I don't know, maybe cause your lackies have a gun focused on me and were threatening to shoot me." He says like Nero is 'Captain Obvious'. He's getting annoyed at what seems like a game with the man. "Seriously, get to the fucking point of this conversation."

To look at him, Nero doesn't look fast, but his motion is. He pulls a gun from his hip, and without a further explanation he fires it at Travis' center of mass. It isn't a bullet, but a small dart that launches from the barrel. The dart strikes squarely in the teen's abs, and a burning sensation can be felt coarsing through his body. Something has changed. His powers are gone. The drug continues to burn though, as if his body is on fire. Whatever this concoction is, it is most certainly unpleasant.
"No!" Nero barks. "You do not ever speak back to me. I am God. You must learn dat first!" His calm demeanor has suddenly dropped. "Now. You will try it again. What is my name?"

As the gun is pulled Travis' heart starts to beat fast and as soon as trigger is pulled he winces as he thinks he's being shot. When the burning sensation hits and he realizes he's not shot, he looks down and grimaces from the burn. He can't even take the dart out. He feels the change as his arms feel a bit heavier and even in the chains a bit clumsier. He doesn't answer for quite a bit, fighting what he wants to do and what he should do in his head. He can tell Nero likes being in charge and doesn't like that authority challenged but Travis isn't sure if he wants to make it easy on himself or not. He looks up at Nero and growls out at him. "Nero." He holds back saying anything else.

"And who am I to you?" Nero asks, his voice still agitated. It's clear why his men snap to attention when they see him. He doesn't play games, and suffers no insubordination. He paces from one side of Travis to the other, gun still in his hand. There's something in his eye that seems to almost dare Travis to disagree again.

Travis knows it would be smarter to just answer Nero and give him what he wants to hear but he can't do that. He's not just going to give in so easily. "To me, you're some guy who kidnapped me." He answers back to Nero. "You won't ever be 'God' to me."
Nero doesn't let his eyes leave Travis'. There is a snap of his fingers. He holds the gun out to his soldiers, who promptly take it and replace it with a different gun. Another soldier shoves the small boy into the cell. The one who had blown the horn the day before, maybe seven years old. The African child stumbles forward only to be caught by Nero in one hand. The pistol is cocked, and Nero takes the boy by the throat, holding the gun to the side of his head. "Who am I?" he asks.
The boy's face is of absolute terror. He can hardly breathe, he clearly doesn't understand what's going on, and looks at Travis helplessly.

Travis looks at Nero for a while before his eyes glance down to the boy. The anger seems to flare up even more at Nero. He resists anything he wants to say to him and any comments and just says the two words Nero wants to hear, even if they aren't said with any conviction behind them. They're obviously said just to shut him up and spare the boy. "You're God." He spits out bitterly.

"With respect," Nero snaps, unsatisfied with Travis' tone, his hand slides down from the boy's throat along his arm to take him by the hand. There is the snap of bone, and the boy screams, squirming as Nero grips his pinky. Nero's eyes still don't leave Travis'. The warlord will accept nothing less than total submission.

"Jesus fucking Christ dude!" Travis yells at Nero as struggles against the chains trying to get to his feet and get to him. "Leave the kid alone, I gave you what you wanted." He says as he isn't about to submit to Nero, not this easily. "Are you that much of a God, that big of a man that you gotta pick on a kid? You wanna mess with me, mess with me, not him."

Nero's face remains stern. "You are not speaking with respect!" he retorts, uninhibited by Travis' contest. He found a button and he has no inclination to release it. The chains are strong, and too low to the ground to allow a good standing position. The best that is attainable is a crouch. Snap. The boy cries out again as the next finger is broken. He starts to beg Nero to let him go in Igbo, which earns him a wrap across the mouth with the pistol. Nero barks a single word back at him. The boy goes silent, still conscious and cringing, his hand still at the warlord's whim. Blood runs down his mouth, and he looks back at Travis with tear-filled eyes, begging for help silently.

Travis still struggles as best as he can, even if it's from his knees. "You fucking coward." He spits out quietly at Nero as he can't respect a man who uses a kid to try to demand respect out of someone else. He doesn't even know how to fake respect to Nero. "You're God okay? You're God here. You're my God. Just please, let the kid go!" The problem is he can't say it an mean it no matter how hard he tries.

"You will do everything I say. Do you understand this?" Nero asks. He doesn't release the child, but he isn't breaking any more fingers. He holsters the gun, taking the immediate threat of murder away.

Travis just stares daggers at Nero. He doesn't even bother giving him an answer but it might be clear on his face. He isn't going to be going down as easily as Nero might think. All six of his hands clench into fists as he continues his stare up at the man.

"You will answer me when I ask you a question." Nero says. He pulls the gun back from his holster. There is a flash and a crack as a bullet releases itself from the chamber the round hurtling at Travis' bottom left arm. The lack of a response is not to be tolerated, and this is not a man who gives warnings.

Travis's only reaction is a cry of pain as the bullet strikes his arm. He's never been shot before and it hurts, so there is no taking it like a man. His instinct is to grab the injury but his arms are stopped by the chain. He blinks back a few tears from the pain and lightly bangs his head against the wall. He looks up and whispers to no one in particular. "Dad..help me."

Nero is not moved by the display. "You can pray to whatever you like," he says, "But you will answer to me. If you do not, you will die, and so will this boy." He releases the child's hand, who quickly huddles into a ball on the ground, gripping his deformed fingers. "You will kill when I say kill, or you and the boy will die." He raises the gun and points it at Travis. "When I speak to you, your only response will be 'Yes Master' and you shall do it. Do not call me God, it is too formal." Almost as a tease. He was willing to do such terrible things to get the title of 'God' from Travis, and now he casts it away again as if it were the wrapping of a package. "If you fail, you and the boy will die." The barrel is pointed directly at Travis' chest this time. "Do you understand me?" he asks, expecting one response, and one response only.

Travis shakes his head and can't do anything to hide the tears. "No." He says as he can't hide the fact he's afraid anymore. "I'm not killing for you. I guess you just have to kill me." He closes his eyes and the tears don't stop. In between shuddered breaths he says one more thing. "I'm sorry Mom."

Nero arches his brow. It's not an answer he's accustomed to receiving. "Hah, you are a strong man," Nero says. He walks up to stand over Travis, and lightly wraps him on the head with the gun. "Or maybe stupid. Why would you rather die than kill?" he asks in a softer tone. "What is it about a stranger's life that makes it more important than this child's life?" he indicates casually to the boy. "Or your own life?"

Travis flinches as his head is lightly hit with the gun but he doesn't stop crying. "No ones life is more important than another's." Is all the answer that he gives, there is a deeper reason but he's not about to tell Nero something that personal. "I'm not a killer." He's not expecting to survive the night by denying Nero. "I'd rather die with my morals then live without them."

Nero's god complex goes beyond simply killing. If Travis dies now, he wins. "You just killed your first person," Nero whispers into the Barnes student's ear. He steps away, walks back to the boy, and fires again. The range is close enough to cause flash burn, a spray of red blood bursting from the boy's side. He lets out a truly unearthly shriek, wriggling in agony on the dirty ground. The smell of the gun's smoke fills the air, and the warlord continues past. It is as if he did nothing more significant than swat a fly on the wall. He doesn't give Travis another look. The gate is closed behind him.
There wasn't even the decency to put the bullet in the head to make it painless. The boy can barely cry, his blood forming a pool around his body.

"Nooooooooooo!" Travis calls out in a frantic panic as he starts scrambling again to get to the boy. "Oh god, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." He says to the kid over and over again as he's left alone. The only good thing about not having anything to eat in days is that Travis doesn't have any food in him to throw up, but that doesn't stop him from dry heaving and expelling any little thing that might be in his stomach.

The chains keep Travis back, unable to even get to the child. The boy looks up at Travis, and there is no secret that he doesn't have long left. The brown eyes are filled with tears. His breaths are short, and he struggles futily to get back to his feet. "F-f-f" he tries to speak. He swallows hard, and there is a groan from inside of him. "Fogif," He doesn't know much English, now never will, but forgiveness is one concept that has been taught well to him in that little village, sometimes the youngest can understand the best. There are a few more labored breaths, and he falls silent, eyes staring out aimlessly. He's home now.

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