Blood and Whiskey: Bringing Out Your Dead
by Locue

Chapter one Equipment and all that comes in between...
Eleventh july... Elite's armory...

"Yippie-kie-yay, motherfuckers!" Cid said as he posed with an AK-47.

The armory was, to be described in very short words, impressive. Shelfs everywhere. Army deposit boxes everywhere. And lockers. Lots of lockers... And they all kept things like bulletproof vests, guns, explosives. It was fucking impressive.

"So what's it gonna be, boys?" Amanda sighed and got herself a notepad and a pen.

Cid had said a thousand "I'm sorry", which he on the other hand didn't mean that much, and Amanda had told him her story as a former agent in the Shinra army. Vincent didn't bother hearing anything at all. Mostly because he didn't give a flying fuck about others past life.

"What's the bloody point?" he had said, "life's all about getting born, living and then dying. What's the bloody point of knowing things about other peoples life when you're busy trying to get on with your own?"

Amanda and Cid had both ignored him. Tattoos are permanent, she had explained and also said that she absolutely didn't want to take it off with special laser operation. When Cid asked why the fuckin' hell not she answered that it hurt a lot more than getting the tattoo. And besides, she thought it was better to keep it hidden behind the long hair. Oh, and he could also go to hell. Everything were as normal as possible among the two.

"One bulletproof vest for Cid." Vincent said.
"Kevlar or laser?"
"What's the difference?" Cid wondered and put the AK-47 aside.
"Laser is more sophisticated. It'll take down the bullet before it reaches you."
"Sounds good."
"But it can only take down bullets from one direction so unless you are standing in a corner you are very outnumbered if you're against several enemies coming from different directions."
"I'll go for the old fashion kevlar vest then."
"Okay." Amanda said and wrote it down.
"Since Cid is... heh,,, a hotshot, he better get a bulletproof jacket too. To make sure he stays alive... Or whatever..."
"One kevlar vest, one kevlar jacket..." Amanda muttered and wrote it down.
"Give me two desert eagles too, luv." Cid said.
"Yeah. If I'm gonna kill, I wanna do it as good as possible."
"Sick fuck..." Amanda said and wrote it down.
"Fuck you! What about 'Mr I'll-rip-yer-throat-out-an'-drink-yer-blood'?"
"To hell with you, Cid." Vincent said.
"For myself..." Vincent said in a low voice, "I'll take, um... two AK-47s. One pack of plastic explosives. One kevlar bulletproof vest. And one ballistic knife."
"An' you call me sick." Cid whispered to Amanda.
"Being a vampire gives you the right to be kind of mental, Cid." Vincent said and smiled, "how long does it take to get all this?"
"Um... the plastic explosives, the knife and the bulletproof jacket will take a while. The other stuff will be ready when you are."
"Good. Plenty of time to get ready then." he said, "oh, the plastic explosives is to be detonated with a remote control."
"... Okay..." Amanda said and wrote it down.
"Get ready?" Cid wondered.
"The first thing you should do..." Amanda said, "is to get some decent clothes. This is to be a mission of stealth and we want you to infiltrate them..."
"Why's that?" Vincent asked.
"We do not want any civilians to be caught in the crossfire."
"Oh bugger..." Cid said.
"In that case, leave out the AK-47s and give me a pair of spiked knuckles. If I want any guns, I'll rip some shitkickers throat an' take 'em.
"I'm sure you were very popular in school..." Amanda sighed, "anyways... we want you to infiltrate the enemy headquarters and kill them from the inside."
"An' you say we need som decent threads for that?" Cid wondered, "ah fuck, some new clothes won't hurt I guess."
"Know any good boutiques?" Vincent wondered.
"The fuck's a botick?"
"A boutique is a..." Vincent started.
"... a fucking store where they sell clothes of the more expensive sort." Amanda finished.
"Well, fuckin' tell me that from the bollickin' beginnin'!"
"... Anyways... well, there's plenty of 'em in Dallas. You need any money?"
"Do we look like we need any fuckin' money?" Cid wondered.
"Yes." Amanda said and took a look at him.
"Yer perceptive, luv." Cid said.

Twelfth july, Rosie's boutique in Dallas...

"The hell do they think I can shoot someone when I look like fuckin' James Bond?"
"Don't ask me. And don't ask anyone else. Don't think anyone here wants to hear why we're even shoppin' these fancy clothes."

They were standing in a fancy little boutique, shortly named "Rosie's". Cid wondered why you wanted to put your name on a shop when it eventually just was to be robbed some day. The woman behind the counter didn't look like a "Rosie". Actually more like a Tanya, or perhaps a Karen? Cid claimed himself to be an expert on women, and especially their names. Vincent knew however that it was just plain old bullshit.

"I can't fuckin' kill anybody when I look like fuckin' James Bond!"
"Well, you necessarily doesn't need a smoking, Cid. There's plenty of other fancy clothes that can suit you."
"Pah..." Cid said, "only clothes that ever suited me was my ol' jeans jacket. But that's not acceptable now, is it?"
"Don't think so..."
"Ah, bollicks... Excuse me, luv?" Cid said and stopped someone that apparently worked in the boutique.
"Sir?" she said.
"Aye... eh.. hehe... such manners. You don't need any of those titles when talkin' to me, luv."
"Very well. What can I help you with?"

Vincent observed the woman, whose name apparantly was Joanne... He saw the name on a small sign that was attached on the right side of the shirt she was wearing. Red hair... almost as red as blood... Her accent was most likely european. French maybe? Suddenly, Vincent had a flashback of him and Jeanne d'Arc...

"Hmm..." he said and smiled for himself.

Joanne the redhead and Cid the foulmouthed was busy looking for something Cid at least could think himself wearing.

"Maybe this one?" Joanne said and held up a smoking.
"I've already looked at those, luv." Cid said.
"Please don't call me 'luv'. It's annoying."
"Annoying? Why, I'd be damned... I suppose there's a difference between american girls and irish girls after all. 'Luv' is a common word. Even women use it."
"But not here."
"The irish people here do." Cid said, "but please, let's continue shall we?"

Vincent observed how they started to move again after a rather long dialogue.

"Bloody hell, Cid" he muttered, "how long can it take to pick up some nice looking clothes?"

Vincent had already bought a new wardrobe, four black shirts and four white jeans since he liked seeing things in black and white. He'd paid nearly three hundred dollars for the clothes but he didn't really was caring or wondering or, most likely for the rest of us, getting furious of why the bloody hell four shirts and four jeans could cost so much. Vincent didn't care however and he didn't give a flying fuck about the other people. What the hell... if Elite was paying the bill, he couldn't see a reason to go cheap on the clothing. When Cid finally picked something you could call fancy, one black leather jacket (signed "Gnucci" by the way...), one red tie and something Vincent thought looked absoluetely obscure.

"The fuck's wrong with ME WEARIN' KHAKI?" Cid yelled once they left the boutique.
"I can't really picture you... aheh... wearing it... I mean... Well, I think... isn't khaki for women?"
"You know... you take the pants home and go berserk on 'em with a pair of scissors and then you wear 'em like... ah what's it called? Not underwear. Uh... short pants...? Ah, to hell with it... You know what I mean."
"Heh... You seem awfully competent on the subject, Vince..."
"Hey... Unlike you, I've had a couple of girlfriends, you know."
"Fuck you!"
"Yeah... Fuck it... Let's bring this stuff to Elite and then we'll go checking things out."
"Suppose yer right... For once in your fuckin' life..."
"... why did a boutique sell khaki?"

Chapter two Blasted reconnaissance...
Elite's changing room...

The men's changing room had a stench of that typical "macho man perfume/cologne" you always could smell if you ever wanted to get that close to a man thinking he's Gods fucking gift to women. Not many people want to do that. And that is mostly because of the plain reason of the good old dispute "men versus men-who-wears-cologne".

"If I catch the shitkicker wearin' this fuckin' perfume, I'll probably rip his teeth out and throw him inside a fucking phone booth. Then I'll seal the door and dump the shit in the fuckin’ ocean!"
"Think that's not enough, Cid. He have to pay for his sins, you know..."
"Aye, but it'll get too messy if I shoot 'im on the crown jewels..."
"True..." Vincent said and hanged his new wardrobe of black and white clothes in one of the lockers Amanda said they could use.
"So naturally... I'll order someone to do that for me!"
"... you shouldn't think so much, Cid. Who knows, your brain might explode or something... Cause of all the knowledge..."
"Fuck that. What's the adress of that place we're checking out?"
"Oh. Cowboy County, eh? Fuckin' rednecks?"

Vincent didn't answer that...

The mansion of Gnucci crime family, very late...

"Feelin' like a bloody peepin' tom!"

They parked their car just outside the mansion and got ready for the most weird thing they'd done, including Vincent.

"But you won't be looking at nude women now."
"Yeah... Instead I'll be lookin' my eyes on fuckin' italiano mafioso hombres going through the voodoo. Italians are christians right?"
"The hell would I know? The hell would I care? Just sit here and watch the traffic or whatever you want. Just stay here in the car."
"Pah... Why do you get all the fun? Why the fuckin' hell did Amanda want you to check things out inside the mansion?"
"Mostly because of me being immortal and you being a total idiot."
"I'm not goin' to answer that."
"Good. It'll save time."

Vincent was wearing a black, full body suit. Kevlar. Bulletproof. Very heavy for humans, a piece of cake for vampires.

"Why in the sacred Kilkenny beer does these fuckers ask us to check the mansion without killing the targets? Hey, consider me a crazy irish bastard but wouldn't it be fuckin' easy just to ring the door bell, pretend we're from the bloody scouts and blow their fuckin' brains out and just torch the place to get rid of the evidence?"
"I think they want the other families to witness what happens when you mess with the law...?"
"Oh... a fuckin' message then?"
"Suppose so."

Vincent put on a pair of night vision googles.

"Hehe! You're green, Cid!"
"Stop jokin' around an' get to the bloody point. I wanna eat somethin'... Haven't fuckin' eaten the whole fuckin' day..."
"Me neither."
"Good, that way yer gonna return faster an' we can go eat somethin'. Now scout the fuckin' place an' collect the data they wanted."

Cid handed Vincent a radio.

"To keep in touch with me an' Elite..."
"Keep it. It'll only slow me down." he said and gave it back.
"... 'kay... They won't like it."
"If they are professionals they know that sort of things are only to be used for team work. This is a harmless mission. I'll be back in thirty, fifteen minutes."
"And if yer not?"
"Then I suggest you drive back to the Elite HQ and wait for me there. Something apparently went bad and I had to eat my way out of there. I will come back none the less."
"Jus' fuckin' great... You finish the job and get a bloody midnight snack at the same time!"
"I'm supposed to avoid that... But should something happen and you start to hear people screamin' and shooting, you know it's because I'm there tryin' to put my fangs in their necks."
"Avoid it all cost. I don't want to spend the whole day watchin' ya spit out fuckin' blood."
"I'll try to grab someone on the way home, Cid. Just to make you and the janitors of Elite happy." said Vincent and got out of the car, "remember to drive away if you hear anything. I'll get back with you later."
"The curse of bein' a vampire. You always are comin' back. Could've imagine ya doing war. You would've been fuckin' perfect for Vietnam. An' later on the homecomin', you could've ripped the fuckin' hippie peacekeeping drug addicts throats and let us veterans have some respect for all the fucked up shit we were doin' down there."
"You were in Vietnam?"

Cid gave Vincent a sad look confirming his answer.

"Had to do somethin' in my life. I don't have anythin' to regret about my time down there. The army taught me all I know today for fucks sake. Have nothin' but gratitude for 'em."
"But you were in Vietnam, Cid."
"Yeah...? What? Can't figure me there?"
"No, but... Can't imagine you being part of the war."
"What do ya... oh... aheh... I didn't take part in the army. I didn't kill anybody."
"I advanced from a fuckin' G.I. to a mechanic... if ya would call that an advance..."
"So you didn't...?"
"No. I didn't. But I can't deny I did see some real fucked up shit down there, but it was nice to know I wasn't one of the reasons..."
"Suppose you have a point there." Vincent said.
"Yeah. I suppose so..." Cid said and got himself a cigarette which he immediately lighted, "you better get goin' now, vampire boy. And try not to make a mess out of it."
"I'll do my worst."

And so he left. Cid observed how the vampire scaled the wall surrounding the mansion and how he then jumped down into the garden.

"Fuckin' vampire claws." Cid muttered and opened a window to blow out some smoke, "fuckin' smoke."

Inside the Gnucci mansion... even more late...

Vincent moved through the mansion hallways and smelled the air whenever he came to an fork in the road. If he could smell anything human, he would go the other way and hope that he wouldn't pick up anymore scents.

"I hate what this does to my insides..."

He spoke with a very soft voice to keep the ones sleeping asleep and the ones not sleeping unaware of his presence. But it didn't really matter. After all, he was a vampire and should anyone see him, even though he was dressed all in black, he could just rip the little prick's throat open and have a little drink. But if he would have to do that he would be forced to kill the whole lot inside the mansion.

"Fulfill the mission at all cost..." he muttered, "reminds me of Jeanne d'Arc... Lovely lady... Very straight forward... Very tough... But very ladylike, nonetheless..."

He looked around. Now there was three paths to choose from. He smelled the air. Nothing.

"What would Jeanne do at a time like this?" he thought and smiled, "very straight forward..."

He decided to try the path that lead up the stairs... round one corner... and open the door... Bingo.


The bedroom of the Gnucci's, and someone had beaten him to it. Vincent examined the dead bodies lying in bed. A man and a woman. Probably Mr. and Mrs. Gnucci. He examined the bodies further. Shot through the head. Died instantly. Professional style.

"Who the hell would...?"

And then he saw the clock. The smile of Mickey Mouse on the nightstand. Tick tock, the clock said. And beneath it, was a bomb.


Vincent ran across the bedroom, jumped on to the window - breaking it. He fell out. Just in time. Tick tock, the clock said again. And after that, all hell broke loose. The house exploded in flames and throwed Vincent in the direction of the car, where Cid screaming things like “holy fuck”.

“What the fuck did he do now!?”

At that moment Vincent came crashing right next to the car. The vampire hit the pavement, broke the neck and said “fuck” for the very first time in his long life.

“You certainly have a way of dealing with things...” Cid said and exited the car, “come on, you pyromaniac. The cops will be here any minute now...”

“... no shit?” Vincent said and got up.

“Here...” Cid said and helped him walk straight back to the car.

Chapter three Reporting
Elite Headquarters...

“How in the hell did you two manage to screw this up” Amanda asked them when Cid and Vincent came back from the mission.
“Technically, we got the job done...” Cid said.
“A bit early though...” Vincent said.
“You could say that...”

They were standing by the entrance to Elites headquarters. Vincent were spilling blood all over the ground and Cid looked rather calm even though he hated the fact that he actually helped a bloody, literally speaking, vampire stand up.

“You need any medical treatment?”
“No.” Vincent said and spat out some of the blood.
“You sure?”
“Heh, what the fucks this? Gotten some of this “mother feelings” stuff those New Age magazines write about” Cid asked and lit a cigarette.
“Just because you never will get some “fathers feelings” or whatever” Amanda said.
“Ouch...” Cid said and dropped his cigarette, “fuck...”
“To answer your bloody question, Amanda: I’m fine. I just need to take it easy for a while. Give me an hour alone and I’ll be okay.”
“Okay... I’ll send someone to take care of you, Vincent. Cid, you’ll come with me. To report, you know.”

Cid sighed.

“Sure... but I don’t know how much help I can be at. After all, I wasn’t the one who got fucked thrown out of a window by an explosion.”
“We are saddened to hear that, but Vincent need rest as he said himself.”
“I know that, bloody hell!”
“Good, let’s get going then. Vincent, they’ll pick you up as soon as possible, let us know when you’re feeling better. We need your statement.”
“Sure...” the vampire said.

Conference Room...

Totally, they were four persons sitting in the room. Cid, Amanda, the faceless man and another man who covered his face with a red balaclava.

"What the fuck is this for an mercenary organisation? International Hippie League of Justice?"
"Insulting has nothing to do with your statement, mister... Highwind, is it?"
"No, it's fuckin' Jesus Christ yer speaking with, costume."
"Well, mr Highwind..."
"Cid... Mr Cid..."
"Fuckin' acidsniffing dimwit. Just Cid, drop the fuckin' titles for once in your fuckin' faceless life, will ya?"
"Please, calm down, Cid. We're going to ask you a couple of questions and then you are free to go" Amanda said.

Cid sighed and put a cigarette in his mouth.

"Got a light?"
"We'd prefer if you didn't smoke" the masked man said.
"Yeah? Well, I'd prefer if you shoved that fuckin' notebook of yours in your arse, shitkicker!" Cid said and lit the cigarette just to drop it on the floor and put it out using the shoe, "sorry about the carpet."
"Mr Highwind... Cid. If you cannot be of any help to us..."
"I've already said whatever I know."
"You were sitting in the car when suddenly the house exploded and your friend Vincent came crashing down just next to the car. He hit the pavement, right?"
"That's the lot."
"And you're not leaving out anything at all?"

Cid sighed.

"... for fucks sake... What more information do you need?"
"How could your friend survive the fall?" the masked person said.

Cid sighed once again.

"I see that Amanda hasn't been very kind with details..."
"She has." the faceless man said, "but Richards arrived just today to be part of this meeting. Fill him in on the details please. For the protocol."
"Up yours with the fuckin' protocol" Cid said, "you can handle it just as good as I can."
"No, I cannot."

The faceless man gave Cid an angry look.

"I don't know a thing about Vincent, except that he seems to be a man with extraordinary powers and abilities."
"The man's a mystery..." Cid started singing.
"Yeah... that..." Amanda said and coughed.
"So, can you please fill us in on everything you got about him?"
"Sure... Can I smoke?" Cid said and held out a cigarette.

The faceless man looked at Richards, the masked man who sighed and stared up on the roof.

"Give him a light..." he said and sighed.
"I can manage." Cid said and lit his cigarette using the table, "that gotta hurt, aye?"
"Just tell us everything you know."
"Vincent is a vampire." Cid said and blew out some smoke.

Everything got real quiet.

"What? Never heard of vampires before?"
"Actually... no... I mean... I've never seen one..." Richards said.
"Well, you should take a peek on 'im before he gets better then."
"Aren't they... well... you know."
"Fiction... they are creatures of fiction. Bram Stoker..."
"... was a vampire. He wrote his own little biography, everything was correct except the part when that Dracula guy dies... of course."
"I understand... Now, according to your report. He has the ability to withstand extreme damage..."
"And he's capable of healing his wounds... He's fuckin' SuperBatman!"
"Mr Highwind, I get the feeling that you don't particularly like to be here..."
"Trust yer feelings, you know it to be fuckin' true" Cid said and blew out some smoke, "this is the weirdest thing I've ever done. Reporting, like a fuckin' cop or somethin'."
"You may go now, mr Highwind. We don't have any use for you." Richards said.
"Once your friend is healed, both of you are free to go" the faceless man said.
"Wait just one fuckin' second, aye! I want to know who sabotaged our bloody mission!"
"I'm afraid not. We cannot do that."
"Why the fuck not?"
"Because it's a personal matter within the Elite... it's nothing for outsiders" Amanda explained.
"Fuckin' conspiracy! Vincent gets blown up and you won't even tell me who the fucker responsible for it was!"
"I assure you that it's for your own safety, mr Highwind." Richards said.
"Fuck the titles! And fuck my security! I want to know what's going on before I leave!"

The faceless man and Amanda turned to mr Richards.

"... okay..." he said, "but it's your health..."
"Yeah, yeah... fuckin' heard it all before..."
"Can you put out that cigarette?"
"Will you tell me?"
"Good" Cid said and extinguished the cigarette by dropping the cigarette on the carpet and again using the chair to crush it, "sorry 'bout the carpet... again."
Chapter Four The Maverick Returns
Elite Headquarters, Conference Room...

Foreword! The character Frank J. Stryfe is NOT the same as Cloud Stryfe from FF7. They are NOT related and Frank is NOT based on Cloud. Only difference is that "STRYFE" is a real name while "STRIFE" isn't. And besides, I invented Frank long before Square invented their Cloud. So if anyone is to be accused of stealing, it should be Square. But luckily, I don't want anything to do with their "Cloud"-character since I think it's one of the most awful characters in gaming history. Thank you. Now let's get this show on the road!

Richards reached for something he'd obviously had on the floor. A bag or something, Cid guessed and were corrected that it was indeed a suitcase. Richards opened it and took out a small paper. A photo.

"This is the one responsible for the bombing" Richards said and gave the photo to Amanda who gave it to Cid, "he's one of our maverick agents... Frank Joseph Stryfe"
"Stryfe. Not Cloud Strife, Cid" Amanda quickly said.
"Eh... they related?"
"Not at all."
"Ah well" Cid said and returned the photo, "any idea why he would bomb that mansion?"
"That we don't know... But Frank has a way with returnings... If he's gonna show that he's back, he usually knocks down a crime family. He did that in New York and he probably did that just now..."
"But you don't have any evidence that the lad is responsible for anything!"
"Oh, we will, mr Highwind. We will" Richards said.

Cid stared at Richards.

"Yeah? What kind of evidence?"
"Oh, we just know Frank" Amanda said.
"He'll be coming through that door any minute now."
"We warned you, you know. I'd suggest you move your chair away from the door. Sit next to Amanda. It'll be more safe" the faceless man said.
"Just who the hell is this guy anyway?" Cid wondered and moved his chair quickly next to Amanda.
"Like we said... he's one of Elites former agents" Richards said.
"And a damn good one too."
"He's mentally instable..."
"I'm sorry, sir. But it's the truth..."
"We know it's the truth, but he has very good reasons for it. You should know that!"
"It was a fucking accident!"
Cid didn't understand a thing.
"Frank was one of our best, hell - he was the best agent we ever had. If you talk bad about him, it means you talk bad about the whole organisation. He became, so called, "mentally instabile" because of you, Mark."
"I say it was an accident!"
"Frank probably won't be so forgiving, Mark" Amanda said, "you'd better get ready to defend yourself..."
"Sure as hell I will. But I still say it was an accident shooting his fiancée!"
"Frank is one the witnesses, I don't think he..."
"But you two believes me, right?"
"We believe your words, Mark... nothing else" the faceless man said.

Cid looked like a living questionmark.

"Eh, excuse me for cuttin' in 'ere but, ah... what are you talkin' about?"
"We said you wouldn't be able to understand, mr Highwind. And for your own security it's best to leave it like that."
"And why's that?"
"People that gets to know too much about Frank Joseph Stryfe usually ends up in a coffin, three feet below ground. Dead."
"Scary, but I'll take the risk. And seeing as this Frank haven't kicked down the door yet, we have a few moments left, right?"

The faceless man sighed.

"Did you notice anything while you were in New York?"
"One crime family and hundreds of top-notch mercenaries knocked down in one week. If you've read the papers, you should've known that" Richards explained.
"Well, Vincent and I only stayed one or two days before we got into Boston territory... I suppose we were lucky? Stuff like that can really screw up your day..."
"Why's that?"
"In New York, you don't want to hear stuff like that, aye? You want to hear about happy things 'cause there's too much bad things..."
"Yeah..." Cid said.
"Anyways... he'll be coming in any second now" Richards said and reached for something in his suitcase, "we have to defend ourselves..."

He put an old .38 on the table.

"Fuckin' high-tech!" Cid said laughing.
"What do you mean?"
"... nothing..."
"Good. And I might explain that the old .38 is one of the best handheld weapons ever created to be used by human hands."
"Sounds awfully logical" Cid said sarcasticly.

Richards didn't answer that.

"Any second now..."

They waited for a long time.

"... uh? Sorry, but..."
"Shut it" Amanda whispered.

They waited some longer and after a while... the door opened and someone entered the room. Black jeans, and a white shirt covered in a black coat. And with two submachine guns in the pockets.

"Hello, Frank. Enjoying your sightseeing in Boston?"
"Have to do something useful while in town..." the figure said, "other than doing something I should have done a long time ago..."

"So this was the mysterious Frank J. Stryfe everything was about" Cid thought.

"And what might that be, old friend?" Richards wondered and reached for the .38.
"Killing you" Frank said and pointed his two submachine guns at him, firing them at full burst mode.

"Not a very good first impression" Cid thought and threw himself under the table.

Richards immediately took cover under the table and fired back the exact moment the burst hit the wall and went through. Amanda and the faceless man didn't move at all from their chairs. Frank dropped the empty clips on the floor and inserted two new ones. Richards continued firing the .38. It hit Frank but didn't seem to slow him down at all.

"First rule when fighting me, Mark" Frank screamed, "always go for the armor piercing bullets!"

Mark fired the .38 under the table, hitting Franks boots, causing him to collapse.

"Second rule when fighting me" Frank said calmly, "never let me down..."

And so he fired his submachine guns under the table, hitting Richards in the head. It was over.

"Heh... Letting me down... Fucking comedy..." he said and stood up, "Cedric, Amanda... I take my leave on you..."
"So that's that" the faceless man wondered, "you take out Mark after all these years and then you get the hell out again? Is that what you do?"
"Correct" Frank answered, "and now, if you'll excuse me..."
"How could you do it, Frank?"

Amanda kneeled over the dead body of Mark Richards. Frank turned to her.

"If you knew what Richards have done in his lifetime, you would've done the same thing. I'd reckon Cedric might be able to give you the details about him..."
"But was it necessary" Amanda wondered and got up on her legs again.
"Nothing is necessary" Frank answered.

Cedric, the faceless man, looked out the window.

"And so the last drops of sunlight fades away..." he turned to Frank, "both for humanity and for heaven..."
"Keep the Freud for yourself, Cedric. I've done what I came here for and I feel no remorse for my actions on delivering Mark Jeremiah Richards to whatever afterlife awaits him... You can fill Amanda in on Marks lifetime now, I'd say she deserves that. After all, she's the only one from the old gang that doesn't know..."
"Know what?"
"As I said..." Frank said and begun walking out of the room, "can I use your medical facilities before I leave?"
"Need to dig out some bullets" Cedric wondered.
"Yes... But that's not really why. I want to read up on the medical files of Mark Jeremiah Richards..."
"That's entirely out of the question!" Amanda said.
"Fill her in, Cedric and hand me the code to the files..."
"I will..." Cedric said quietly, "it's 2123..."
"2123, huh? Nothing much have changed here, uh? Thank you" Frank said and tried to exit the room for the second time.
"Wait one fuckin' second!"

Cid stood up, pointing Richards .38 on Frank.

"Who the fuck is this" Frank said and pointed at Cid.
"That's, ehrm... Cid... We recruited, eh, him and his partner to... wipe out the Gnucci's..."
"Yeah? And?"
"Why the fuck did you blow up the mansion? Why the FUCK did you try to kill us?"
"What's this little shit saying" Frank asked and quickly kicked Cid, causing him to fall on the floor and dropping the .38, Frank quickly took care of it and pointed it now right on Cid, "what are you trying to say... Cid? I haven't blown up any mansions for a long time. I mean, I'd know that if I had..."
"Pure logic..." Amanda muttered.
"But they said..."
"Most likely everyone blames me these days. Just 'cause I left the Academy everybody thinks I'm a crazy, gun-toting vigilante let loose to put an end to crime..."
"That's not entirely wrong, you know..." Amanda said.
"Yeah, that's kind of irritating..." Frank answered, "knowing the idiots are correct... beats the shit out of you..."
"So you didn't...? You didn't blow up the mansion?"
"No" Frank answered and put the .38 on the table, "like I said, it's been a long time since I last blew up the mafia at all... Suppose I better start with it..."
"Well, wait another fuckin' second! Then who the hell..."

The alarm sounded.

"What the fuck?" Cid wondered.
"Oh shit..." Frank said.
"Base is under attack... Base is under attack..." the speakers screamed.
"Huh? Some cliché... Base is under attack..." Frank said, "why don't you switch it to "HELP! WE GOT A MURDEROUS, RELIGIOUS SUPERHUMAN INSIDE THE BASE!"
"What do you...?"
"Amanda... can you see the body of Mark Jeremiah Richards?"

Amanda turned around and looked under the table. Then she saw the line of blood stretching to the ventilation shaft... which was open.

"... no" she answered.
"Exactly. He has..." Frank took a peek under the table, "crawled away into that ventilation shaft..."
"Can some-fuckin'-body tell me what the fuck is goin' on here?"
"Probably not, but Cedric can try..." Frank answered... "I'll be back in a second..."
"You going out to hunt him down?" Amanda wondered.
"Pure logic" Frank smiled.
"I'm comin' with ya!"
"Excuse me?"
"I said I was comin' with ya" Cid said and picked up the .38, "this Richards fella seems to be rather unpleasant..."
"Uh huh... Sure, it's your health... Frank said, "I suppose I'll fill you in on the way..."
"On the way?"
"The armory..."
"He already got a vest" Amanda said.
"And two desert eagles, don't forget..." Cid said smiling.
"Two? Sick fuck..." Frank said.
"Yeah, whatever..." Cid said.

Chapter Five Recovery
Elite Headquarters

Frank and Cid moved swiftly through the corridors of the Elite headquarters.

"So I suppose you and that Richards ain't very good friends?"
"How did you manage to find that out?" Frank wondered sarcasticly.
"Well, since ya want to bloody kill 'im? What did he do?"
"... he killed my fiancée" Frank answered.
"... I'm sorry..."
"Hah... yeah, whatever. So there's actually a kind side of your irish personality?"
"Suppose so..."
"... or have you had a similar event?"

Cid stopped walking.

"What do you mean?"

Frank stopped and turned to Cid.

"You lost someone you cared for?"
"Liar" Frank said.
"No, it's the truth... Really. The only real tragic event I've been through..."
"... is none of my business", Frank said and begun moving, "let's get going."

Cid waited a moment and after a while followed Frank J. Stryfe through the hallways. After a while, Cid started speaking.

"So what's your story, Frank?"
"I might ask you the same thing..."
"But you're not going to" Cid said.
"Yes, and you shouldn't ask me. You'll get nightmares" Frank said.

They continued walking and arrived at the armory and Frank started going through the shelves and lockers. He opened a locker and picked up a kevlar vest.

"You already got one, huh?"
"Yes" Cid answered and punched himself on the stomach.
"Is it fresh?"
"Yes" Cid answered.

Frank took off his white shirt and strapped on the kevlar. After that he put the white shirt back on.

"Good... Kevlar or laser?"
"Kevlar" Cid answered.
"Good" Frank said.

Frank dropped his submachine guns on one of the shelves and opened a locker to the right of him. Grenades.

"Wrong locker" Frank muttered, "they've changed the storage..."
"What're you lookin' for?"

Frank opened another locker. More kevlar vests.

"God damn... You wouldn't know where they keep their shotguns these days?"
"Uh, no..."
"Didn't think so either... Fuck..." Frank said and opened another locker, "where the fuck...?"
"What model?"
"What model?"
"Benelli if possible. Any model will do."
"Uh... huh..." Cid said, without understanding anything Frank said.
"Ah, fuck it. I'll take the FAMAS then..." Frank said and took out a rather small looking machine gun, "these were first introduced to the french army in the eighties when they switched from caliber 7.62x51 to the new NATO caliber 5.56x45. It's got a real high firerate which makes up for what people think of 'em..."
"Uh, yeah..."
"Don't pretend you know what I'm talking about. There's no chance in hell you can see the difference between a Colt M16 A1 and a Colt M16 A2... Even if you were in Vietnam."

Cid stared at him.

"How did you know I was in Vietnam?"
"Hell, once you've been a soldier - there's no way you can ever hide it. Once you've walked like a soldier, you're walking that way for the rest of your life... Here, drop those Desert Eagles and pick up a better gun. I prefer if you could pick a semi-auto."

Cid dropped the guns and picked up a Colt M16 A1, the exact gun he had used while in Vietnam.

"I knew you were going to choose that one" Frank smiled.
"Yeah" Cid said, "but this'll probably the first time I'm firing it on a living target..."
"Don't get your hopes up. How's the grip feeling?"
"Good... Hehe, you know... it was bloody Mattel that constructed the grip on these guns..."
"The toy company?"
"Yeah, they made the fuckin' Barbie dolls and M16 grips! How bloody unbelivable is that on a scale?"
"Not unbelievable, human nature... You done?"
"Good. Let's get going..."

Elite Headquarters, Hospital Area

Vincent found himself awake, looking up to the ceiling. He smelled the fresh air and sighed when he touched his neck. A bandage. He guessed that the doctors had tried to treat him as a normal human being despite the fact that he was a vampire that only needed peace and quiet. He ripped it off and dropped it on the floor. And then he saw...

"What the...?"

The bodies of two doctors, at least they were dressed in white. They were bleeding. Vincent smelled again, the faint smell of blood mixed with the pure air was enough to make him interested. He got out of bed strapping the sheet over him, tying it to the body like a toga. It had to do.

"What happened here?" he said, examining the bodies, "bullet holes?"

A faint noise from the closet...

"Who's there?" Vincent said, gripping a scalpel from the table.

He knocked on the closets door using the scalpel. No reaction.

"Hello?" he said without any reaction coming from the closet, "I know you're in there, come out, I'm not going to harm you."

The door from the closet suddenly opened a little bit.

"Please don't hurt me..." a voice said.
"I'm not going to" Vincent said and put the scalpel back on the table.
"You promise?"
"I promise" Vincent hesitated.

The door of the closet opened up some more and a pair of eyes appeared from the narrow opening. "A womans eyes" Vincent decided.

"Who are you?" the eyes asked.
"I don't know, I just woke up..."
"Wha...? You, you're that patient that was brought in?"
"Yes, that's... pretty much it..."
"Thank god..." the eyes seemed relieved.

The closet door opened at full scale and the woman stepped out. Vincent wasn't late to take note of her beautiful red hair.

"Well, at least you have some kind of modesty..." she said and stared at Vincent.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I was the one that undressed you... You don't look so bad..."
"... yes, well..." Vincent said and tried to turn away, almost blushing.
"Your name is Vincent?" the woman asked.
"Should be in the file, shouldn't it?"
"I don't know. You could be Julius Caesar for all I know"

Vincent had to admit that he was looking rather stupid in a toga.

"Where's my clothes?"
"Are you Vincent?" the woman asked.
"Yes. Yes, I am."
"In the closet. Under V "

Vincent took out his clothes from the closet and started to take the toga off.

"Uh, I'll, uh, look away, right?" the woman said and turned away.
"Who's modest now?" Vincent laughed while dressing.
"I don't know. I mean, you don't see me undressing..."
"Sadly enough" Vincent smiled, the woman ignored him, "so, what happened here?"

The woman turned slightly to the right to see if Vincent was done dressing. He was.

"I think I like the sheets better" she said smiling.
"Thank you. Now, what happened here?"
"Isn't it rather obvious?" the woman said and pointed at the two dead doctors on the floor.
"Not really..."
"Listen, there have to be a reason to why these two are dead and why you were hiding in that closet" Vincent said.
"I don't really know..."
"Tell me what you know" Vincent said, "I really won't believe something that you like like hiding in closets or something!"
"I actually did when I was younger... but, no... Not anymore."

The woman took the sheet Vincent had dropped on the floor and pulled it over the two dead bodies.

"They didn't have a chance" she said.
"You knew 'em?"

The woman stared at Vincent.

"You knew them well?"
"Do you know your colleagues?"
"I don't have any" Vincent answered, but assumed that the answer was "yes".
"... yes, I knew these two. They were my friends..."
"I'm sorry..."
"How could you be that? You didn't know 'em. Jason with his bad jokes and Thomas with his seriousness towards everything he came across... He and Jason never got along very well..."

Vincent didn't say anything.

"I'm still in the Elite headquarters, right?" he said after a while, "that means my friend is still here..."
"Your friend?"
"The man that did this said he was your fucking friend!" the woman screamed, "he came here and asked to see you and when we opened the door he started waving his guns. I managed to hide in the closet just in time..."

The woman started kicking and punching Vincent who didn't do a thing.

"Listen!" he said in an angry, but calm tone, "his name is Cid. He's irish, about thirtyfour and have a bad attitude. Was it him?"

The woman stopped her attacks.

"Was it him!?" Vincent asked.
"... no..."
"Thank God for that..."

A few silent seconds passed.

"So... what's you..."
"Jeanne" Jeanne said, smiling.
"... nice name" Vincent said.
"I know" Jeanne said, smiling even more causing Vincent to blush.

Vincent never really had figured out the secret of talking with women, even though he'd been around since the last days of Jesus himself. Cid on the other hand, most likely knew the secret. He was social enough to have a conversation with just about anyone. When they were leaving New York, Cid was social enough to even pick a conversation with the local biker thugs in a bar. Vincent could never manage doing something like that. The only experience he had with those encounters was putting his teeth into their throats. Then again, Cid was usually the reason to why things like that happened!

"What's the matter?" Jeanne asked.
"Uh? Nothing."
"I could be wrong, but I think it's the other way around..."
"I'm wonder where Cid i..."

A gunshot echoed through the facility and broke through Vincents words.

"Oh shit" he said.

Elite Headquarters, The Archives

"You always were a failure, Stryfe." You picked the wrong wars... siding with the losers."

While Cid was taking cover behind a file cabinet, Frank and Mark duelled through the dark corners of Elites gigantic archive. They fired at each other one bullet at a time and always missed the target. Cid wondered if that was the meaning of the whole thing.

"What are you..."
"Oh come on, Frank. We're both adults and can say what we want! They used you, manipulated you into thinking that they were the good guys! The used you for bringing down everything that threatened their own power."
"Fuck you, Richards!"

Frank threw himself up on a file cabinet, firing the FAMAS around him. He could hear Mark laughing at him.

"You always were the hotshot in the group, Frank. So easily blinded by fear and anger it's almost awkward!"
"Shut up!" Frank screamed, emptying the FAMAS.

Mark laughed.

"This is so easy..." he said when he got up on his feet and pointed a Desert Eagle on Frank, firing it.

Frank immediately threw himself out of the way, hurting his knee when falling right on an open cabinet drawer.

"Fuck...!" he said and crawled behind the cabinet.
"Oh, you're bloody pathetic, Stryfe. So predictable."
"... go to hell, Richards."
"Sooner or later" Mark answered, laughing.

Cid observed the wound Frank got.

"What the hell are you two doing?"
"Foxtrot and tango if you will..." Frank said, massaging his knee, "I trust you can use that M16?"
"Hell, when on combat me and this babe was one hell of a living being."
"Can you use it?" Frank asked again.

Cid got up on his feet and fired the M16 through the cabinets.

"Hope they don't have anything valuable in this archive" he said.
"They never do" Frank said, "hold him occupied for a while..."
"... where the fuck is he?"
"Nevermind that, just keep shooting."
"Just like that?"
"If you want any action, I suppose you can advance slowly to pick him off. Just remember to pull the trigger when the ugly fucker shows himself!"
"I'm not stupid" Cid said and crouched.
"I never said you were" Frank said, "I'll cover you."

Cid moved through the archives. He followed standard procedures, which rather annoyed Frank who always though that a surprise attack was the best way of picking of the bad guy. And he was right.

"You are so persistent, Frank! You're even getting freshmen to do your work!" Richards said mockingly from his hiding place.
"Come out an' show yerself, fuckin' asshole!" Cid screamed and looked around, no sign of Richards.
"Hah! And who the hell are you to be speaking to me like that? I took out the whole facility with my bare hands! And you're saying you're gonna kill me? A pathetic loser, that's what you are" Richards replied, "but sure, I'm going to show myself. Let's see if you can find me..."

There was silence. Cid continued moving.

"You know what the worst part of being the best is?" Richards suddenly said, his voice was calm, "it's when you realize that you don't know why you even struggled of becoming the best!"

Frank started moving, following Richards voice. Cid seemed to do the same thing.

"But then again, you can say the same about living..."

Frank and Cid had found Richards hiding behind a wall of cabinets. They moved in for the kill.

"Oh shit!"
"... we all have such an easy way of dying!"

Frank stared at the Mickey Mouse-clock. And then at the bomb that was attached to it. A tape recorder was lying on the floor.

"A fucking tape recorder!" Frank screamed.
"Humans are so easily fooled"

Frank and Cid started running.

"Frank, Mr Highwind - I bid you farewell"

The bomb exploded and the archives was engulfed in flames. Cid and Frank barely made it out.

Elite headquarters, Hospital Area

Meanwhile. Vincent and Jeanne moved through the corridors of Elites medical facility. Power was out and the dead covered the floor. Jeanne kept a low profile when she tried not to walk in the red blood that was spilled here and there. Sometimes it dropped down from the ceiling on her and that gave her the creeps. Vincent didn't really mind, he was used to finding blood where he last expected it.

"Horror movie" Vincent muttered, stopped in front of a pile of bodies and touched one of their foreheads, "they're still fresh..."

He turned to Jeanne.

"So you're saying that someone named Richards did all this?"

Jeanne nodded.

"How in hell did he do it?"
"I don't know" Jeanne said, "but he had experience of doing it..."
"What do you mean?"
"He knew how to kill... both unarmed combat and weapons are superior skills to him."

Jeanne pointed in the direction of a door Vincent never could've found in this mess. It was covered in blood and the pile of bodies were blocking the entrance.

"That one leads to the medical archive" Jeanne said.
"I'll get it" Vincent said and started moving the bodies.

One of the bodies had a deep wound at the head which had probably been caused by a sharp object. Jeanne examined the wound more carefully.

"Knife?" Vincent wondered.
"He stuck it through the mouth and started cutting through the head. In the direction of the brain. He didn't use a knife. This was more like a" she paused to get some air, "a chainsaw... industrial type."
"Nice fellow we're dealing with..." Vincent said and had to sum up all his immortality not to lose his breakfast over the corpse.
"There's a toilet just over there... in case you... ah..." Jeanne looked carefully at Vincent, "... you know..."
"I'm fine. I'm used to things like this... must be..."
"It must be the medicines we used to sleep you."
"... no, not the medicines. I'm fine, I'm not feeling sick or anything. It's just that... Who the hell is this guy?"
"... it's complicated."
"Things usually are. So please try and explain what kind of person would stick a chainsaw in someones mouth and start cutting through the nose and..."
"... a psychopath?"
"Obviously" said Vincent who didn't understand the sarcasm.
"... his name is Richards..." Jeanne started.

Chapter Six Of Light And Dark
Written by Locue and AustralianAnonymous
Chapter idea: AustralianAnonymous

Elite Headquarters... Medical Archives

"He's a wandering death camp, this guy..."

Vincent and Jeanne were standing in the archives looking up Mark Jeremiah Richards. There wasn't really that much to work with.

"Started out as member of the British Special Air Service (SAS). Deployed to Middle East, 1990, as part of NATO operation targeting mobile Iraqi Scud missile launchers. Captured in Iraqi territory during Persian Gulf War, 1991. Spent approximately three years in captivity before rescue by American forces. Joined Special Force Group Elite in the year 1996, and appointed command of said unit at the year of 2001. This looks like the usual kind of God bless America-soldier. Why would he go loco on us?"
"Check his date of birth."

Vincent flipped some pages, muttering "not here" every time he flipped a page.

"Can't find it."
"Exactly. Nobody knows! It's like if he never even was born."
"Could be a error or something?"
"Within the Elite medical archives? Not likely."
"Well, what's up with this Richards fellow having not been born?"
"We're pretty sure he has been born."
"So the question is when?"

Vincent threw away the profile of Markus Jeremiah Richards.

"... no..." Jeanne hesitated.
"Well, he has to be if he's been living this long..."
"... yes, but..."
"Have anyone of you heard about the Wandering Jew?" another voice calmly teared through Vincent and Jeanne.

Jeanne and Vincent turned around and suddenly, Mark Jeremiah Richards was standing in front of them.

"The Wandering Jew was supposedly the man who offended the Son of God, Jesus, on his way to the crucifixion, and was therefore cursed by Jesus to walk the earth alone until the world ends" Mark explained, "He's sort of a medieval Ancient Mariner or Flying Dutchman."

Vincent and Jeanne stared at him.

"My name is Malchus. Or Cartaphilus, or Ahasuerus, or Ahasverus. But I really prefer Mark. It's easier to remember..."
"Stay back" Vincent screamed and got between Mark and Jeanne.

Mark smiled.

"So predictable. Hah! Protecting the weaker. Fucking pathetic, if you ask me."
"I didn't ask you."
"And that's exactly the problem, and the cause of this situation! You could've easily walked out of the facility, yet you stayed to know more about what caused this mayhem" Mark said and started walking towards them, "well, I am the cause. So what are you going to do about it?"
"I am not going to let you hurt anybody!"

Mark laughed.

"You think you can protect yourself against me? I have walked this earth for over two thousand years! You really pick up a lot of experience by walking, believe me."
"And madness..." Jeanne said.
"Hah! Madness. It was Jesus, and his father - God, that were the mad ones, giving me eternal life. They though it would be a hell for me. Well, guess what? They were oh so wrong! Now that's madness!"
"You're... you're the Wandering Jew?"
"It took a while to put together one and one, eh?" Mark smiled, "anyway, I'm going to have to get rid of you two now. Can't leave any witnesses. Standard procedure, you know."

Mark took out a SMG and pointed it towards Vincent, still protecting Jeanne.

"Thirty bullets. Enough to kill both of you in one single sweep. So if you're smart, you'll stay where you are and let the bullet go through you and kill the girl. It'll get quicker that way."
"If you're smart, you'll commit suicide immediately, rather than letting me do the work."
"Oh? Cocky, huh? Fucking pathetic."

Mark fired the SMG, burst mode. Thirty bullets teared through Vincent's immortal body, but only grasping Jeanne lightly. They both fell on the floor, lightly wounded. Vincent immediately got up on his feet to Marks great disappointment and started digging out the bullets. Jeanne was knocked out cold.

"You only got that single round, huh?" Vincent said, dripping with blood, "never met a vampire before, have you?"
"So it was true, eh?" Mark said, threwing the SMG away, "the irishman was speaking the truth."
"The irishman? Cid? What have you done to...?!"
"He might be alive, or dead. It depends whether he survived the explosion or not."

Jeanne started to wake up just in time to see Vincent dig out the last bullets from the neck. She paused for a moment, and then tried to get out of the room but Mark noticed and immediately locked the door.

"This is where the real battle begins. Only a fool relies on a weapon when the greatest weapon is our body!"
"Get the hell out of here, Jean...!"

And that was all he had time to say before Mark had kicked him right on the neck, preventing him to speak.

"So pathetic" Mark continued and launched a new series of punches and kicks towards Vincent, "you can't stop protecting the weaker, can you? What can she do to help you? She'll slow... you... down!"

Mark took a fierce grip over Vincent's head and pulled it up.

"This is what the russian Spetsnaz are training. The ability... to break one's neck... as easy as breaking a twig! Name one thing she can do to help you out of that situation!"

Jeanne observed the events from the inside of a closet. She had gotten really used to that now. Mark let go of Vincent and threw him aside like a towel.

"I'm... uh huh... not... like you..."
"Yes. I think we've gotten that pretty much pointed out. You are a pathetic excuse for something that had the potential of becoming a great warrior. With your immortality...!"
"My immortality is a curse!"
"Hah! That's a lie, Vincent. And you know that yourself. You just don't want the girl to think anything bad about you..."

Mark walked over to the closet where Jeanne was hiding. She started screaming when he opened it and pulled her out.

"Shut up!" Mark said and placed his hands round Jeanne's neck, "we're gonna play a little game with your boyfriend!"
"Let her go!"
"Stay where you are! You move, I'll break her neck!"
"What do you want?"
"As I said, we're going to play a game. The sun will be up any minute now. It'll pass through this room completely, except the exact spot where you are standing. If you don't move, you're okay. If you move, your skin starts melting off from your bones! You with me so far?"
"Good. Now, you see that I've got your precious girlfriend locked up. We're going to see how much you care for her."
"Leave her out of this, you sick...!"
"Every thirty seconds, I'm going to wound her... in any way I can think off. And to stop me, you will have to pass out in the light... or give me some answers."
"There are a couple of things I need to know..."
"And you think I know...?"
"You do. You are one of the few that actually know..."
"Know what?"

Mark laughed.

"The purgatory!"
"Purgatory? What about it?"
"I want to know it's exact location."
"What for? So you can seek out your vengeance on God? Is that it?"
"Not really. I don't feel any grudges towards God for what he did to me just because I mocked his son. On the contrary as a matter of fact! I want to thank him."
"He cursed you."
"Hah! No, he blessed me!"

Small rays of light started appearing in the room. Mark smiled.

"Sunlight... it's time."

And in a moment, the whole room was covered in light. Except for where Vincent were standing.

"Now, we can make this the easy way... or the hard way" Mark said and picked up a scalpel and pointed it's sharp point towards Jeanne's neck, "one tiny little stab here, and she'll lose her speech. If you tries to scream for anyone, but I doubt there are anyone left to hear you, I will do a lot of ugly things! You get the picture? Both of you?"

Jeanne nodded, frightened.

"Good. How about you then?"

Vincent didn't speak.

"I take that as if you understand what I mean. Okay, first question: where is the purgatory?"
"... I don't know."
"Wrong answer" Mark said and pressed the scalpel closer to Jeanne's neck.
"Hey! Listen to me, you can't find the purgatory except if you die. And even then, it's not even sure you'll find it. Most dead people don't open their eyes to catch a glimpse of Death."
"Oh really? I've met him a couple of times."
"I can imagine you have."
"... so basicly, all I have to do is die? And then I'll find the purgatory?"
"I don't know."
"Oh?" Mark said and stroke the scalpel over Jeanne's neck, "too bad."
"Hey! Fucking listen to me! I don't bloody know! I'm a two thousand year old vampire! I don't fucking know!"
"I heard you the first time. No need to be hysterical..." Mark said, "you really care for this girl, do you?"

Vincent didn't speak.

"No? Ah well, suppose we'd better get rid of her then. She'll be in our way."

Vincent ran through the room with the sunlight burning through his skin.

"Ah" Mark said, "run home, little girl. I don't need you any longer."

Jeanne ran away from Mark and observed how Vincent quickly charged against Mark, who easily avoided the attack.

"How predictable." Mark said, "I knew you'd do something like this. Sacrificing yourself to save the girl... Hah! Your skin is burning and it won't take long before the skin cancer sets in. Then it'll be all over."
"Go... to... hell..."

Mark crouched beside Vincent and smiled.

"Trust me. I've already been there."

Vincent screamed. It was the first time he ever had screamed.

"It must hurt a lot" Mark said, "but you can rest assured that you will get peace."
"Go to hell!"

Vincent tried to get up on his feet, but unfortunately his bone melted away just the moment he hardly could even think about putting it down on the floor, so he fell forward and hit the floor again.

"Your... unholy obsession of living... is admirable... tiresome, but admirable", Mark said, "unfortunately, I don't have the patience for a struggle between life and death and all that mumbo jumbo!"

Vincent's only chance was to try and make it back to the small area where the sun didn't reach him. It seemed impossible with Mark guarding him. He tried to get up again and jump one-legged to the area. Mark laughed and kicked him aside. A failed attempt, but a victory indeed. He had gotten closer.

"Richards? Fuck... you!"

He kicked Mark and saw to his surprise that he fell and hit the floor. Another victory. Now, if he only could...

"Vincent!" Jeanne suddenly screamed and ran to him.
"I got some help..."
"Perfect... would you... mind... helping me... too?"

Jeanne dragged Vincent back to the dark area.

"Why did you try and save me?"
"Because, then... you would... be the first..." Vincent said and passed out.
"Hah! Good girl. You were of some use to him after all!"

Jeanne turned around and saw that Mark had gotten up on his feet and was pointing the SMG towards her.

"Unfortunately, it didn't do any good. You'll die he...!"

Right in that moment, a bullet came flying and hit the SMG. It was knocked away from Mark's hand. Mark immediately took up an old .38.

"Don't" Frank said in the door opening.
"I was expecting you to come a little bit earlier than this, Frank" Mark said and dropped the .38.
"Do anything stupid, and I'll blow your fucking head off! Cid! Amanda! Evacutate Jeanne and that hazardly wounded man away from this area."

Cid and Amanda came into the room carrying a small bed. Mark laughed at him.

"We'll have our duel after these three have evacuated" Frank explained.
"You always were the weak one of the old gang, Stryfe. The less skilled warrior."
"Not really" Frank said while keeping an eye on Cid and Jeanne as they lifted Vincent up on the bed. Cid took off his jacket and placed it on Vincent to protect him from the sun.
"You always protected the weaker. Just like that fool over there" Mark said and pointed at the unconscious body of Vincent.
"Skill and compassion has nothing with each other to do."
"So this is just something you have to do, just because you're the hero? Hah! You didn't bother saving 'the innocent' when you were officially part of Elite."
"That was when we were a peacekeeping organisation! Not the butchers you transformed it into!"

They waited a moment until Cid and Jeanne had left the room.

"So, alone at last. No disturbing outside people" Mark said, "are you going to shoot an unarmed man?"
"No" Frank said and emptied the FAMAS and threw it on the floor, "neither you, neither me will have the time to reload it and therefore it's useless."
"So? Let's get going, shall we?"

They started fighting.

"Think he'll be okay?" Cid wondered a couple of meters away.
"Yes. Frank was one of the best. And still is" Amanda answered.

Elite Headquarters... Medical Archives

"You've grown weak, Stryfe!"
"So have you!"

The two veterans clashed into battle immediately after they both had stopped speaking. They fought for a moment, and then returned to a corner to get some air.

"Possible. I have gotten used to living this immortal life for so long now that I've stopped taking fighting seriously."
"So you just kill for sports now?"
"No. For enlightment."

And they both started fighting again.

"You however, Stryfe... What do you fight for? For what reason do you kill?"
"Survival" Frank answered and took a fierce grip over Marks head and threw him over his shoulder.

Mark quickly got up on his feet, wiped away some blood and smiled.

"You haven't lost your experience. Most warriors loses the way of fighting when they grow old. I see you still got it."
"You can bet your mother that I still know how to separate a head from a body!"
"Hah! Do you still hold some grudge against me for removing that woman? What was her name?"
"You have no right of saying her name!"
"Oh, but I do! That's my obligation to her in the first place."
"You killed her!"
"No. I removed her from you. She... was a disease... she made you weak! You should be grateful."
"You fucking bastard...!"

Amandas voice echoed through the room and both Mark and Frank turned around to see her reload the FAMAS.

"Ah. There's always someone that disturbs these dramatic encounters..." Mark said, "lovely Amanda, are you really going to shoot an unarmed man?"
"The hell I will!"

And she pulled the trigger. Frank threw himself aside to dodge to bullets. The bullets pierced through the flesh of Mark Jeremiah Richards and got stuck in the wall. But he was still standing.

"Amusing..." he said, "do you have any idea what this shirt costs?"
"You're still standing..."

Amanda reloaded again and turned the FAMAS to burst mode. Again, the bullets teared through Mark without killing him. And Frank watched the ridiculous scene.

"Oh, fucking stop already! You're messing up my hair."
"Why can't you just die!"

Another clip. The trigger was pulled. Shots were fired. Mark was still standing. He laughed at her. Frank got up on his feet and turned away from the scene. He found a scalpel. He picked it up.

"Hey Frank! If you turn this way, you can watch me kill this fucking amateur!"
"Sure" Frank said.

He turned around and immediately threw the scalpel at Mark. It hit him right on the neck. Exactly where Frank had hope it would stuck. Frank ran up to Mark.

"Hmm...? What was that?" Mark asked and got a hard grip on Franks neck.
"Say hello to Death when you meet him!" Frank said and started to cut his way through Marks neck using the scalpel.

Mark screamed.

"What separates your life from death is exactly what's separating your neck and your head!"
"Say hello to Death from me. I'll be coming his way too" Frank said, "you know... put in a good word for me!"

The scalpel forced through Marks neck. Blood flowed through the wounds. Mark was still screaming. And so it was all over. Frank stopped cutting when there was but a small piece of flesh left and you could see the bones inside the neck. Frank dropped the scalpel.

"So... it all comes to an end... Hah... such irony... you... a mortal... killing me..."
"God has a way of cursing people mocking his son" Frank said and backed away from Mark.
"In...indeed... indeed he has... You know... he cursed me to walk the earth until I had served my purpose. It's exactly what he does to every living creature. Only... I got an extra spare of years to use... Ha-hah..."

Mark slowly sat down on the floor.

"I have done my fair share of good work, Stryfe. Perhaps... it was... because of that... I turned... to what you call... evil? It'll take too long... to talk about my past lives... my identities. They are in my medical files. Under "W. J."."
"You think so? Personally... I thought it was plain... dumb. I suppose dumb things might turn smart in other peoples eyes?"

Mark touched his broken neck and felt the cold bone inside.

"You really intended to kill me... I can understand you... knew how to do it... kill an immortal man. It's not so hopeless as it sounds... You just have to figure out where to aim..."

The sunlight overwhelmed Mark Jeremiah Richards.

"It's all over now. But... you're going to see the cold face of Death yourself. Perhaps, we'll see each other after all? You were the only one that knew what I was. I... salute you, my friend."
"Goodbye, Mark. Have a nice trip."
"Hah... ha... you too..."

And with that, the soul of Mark Jeremiah Richards disappeared into the sunlight.

"Death is the only inescapable, unavoidable, sure thing. We are sentenced to die the day we're born." - Gary Mark Gilmore