The Evil Renegade in...
by Ushas the Rani
The Time Machine, implausible, impossible, impenetrable and imaginatively complex on every level was also astoundingly simple in its premise. The way was found and they were inside of it. On one level they were angels, on others demons, they were the secret sound at the heart of the world. The sound of flesh being sliced by razors, they were pain and pleasure existed as one and the same. They had come for one reason…suffering.
The Renegade never slept, or at least he was never seen to sleep by his many companions over the centuries. He sat moodily in the heart of the Time Machine, his home from home, his refuge from evil, perhaps even his one remaining link with the past. There was blood on his hands, a stain on his soul. Sometimes this pain got too much and he would sit in quiet self-condemnation and repentance.
All that he was, nomad, wanderer, vagabond, warrior, champion of Time, the last best hope for peace for those who knew only suffering, it was not enough to balance the lives he had lost. He was quite guilty of not being good enough, of not doing more, of not saving those who counted on him to save them. A single tear rolled down his left cheek and then one down his right cheek.
Then they came, like Noah's flood the tears came forth from his eyes and splattered on the dusty floor. These tiny crowns of dust and salt and water were soon lost due to the sheer volume, an eternity of tears for those he had killed in all but act and deed. Finally the tears ended, the tear ducts had run dry. A shattered howl replaced the tears as if his very soul was screaming out for each soul that he had lost.
Elsewhere inside the time machine one of the Renegades best friends woke up from a bad dream. Eve gasped when finally she wakened. Her dream had been so vivid, not a dream though, a nightmare. Terrible things that shocked even her jaded soul. She hauled herself out of her empty bed, a quiet wish that for once it might be filled with someone she could love. There was no one though, she had never met anyone who cared for her or whom she cared for. She got dressed, covering her body in the trappings of comfort and social acceptability. She looked as if she might be attending a funeral, the black frock and the boots reflected her miseries, however she brushed her hair back and tied it into a ponytail with a simple red ribbon. Finally she opened the door of her own private cell and stepped out into the brighter glare of the outside corridor. Directly opposite was Alice 's room and with a sigh she knocked once, twice, three times upon it.
Alice T. Robot , Alice to her friends, opened the door and smiled when she saw that it was Eve. She stepped back to allow her friends to enter her room. She sat down next to Eve and sensing her sadness gave her a great big hug.
Eve smiled sadly and returned the hug. "I've come to a decision Alice, you know how fond I am of you and the Renegade." Alice gasped. "You're leaving aren't you?"
Eve nodded slowly. "I just can't do this anymore, it's not me. I used to think that I was the luckiest woman in the Universe, travelling wherever I wanted to with two great friends." She paused to hug Alice again. "These last few weeks have been really depressing, there's still so much that I want to do, stuff that I can't do here. Things I must do on my own. It's been such fun but now it's too much, I…I want out."
Alice kissed Eve on the side of her head. "You're my best friend Eve. I wouldn't have made it through my pregnancy without you there to cheer me up and Molly loves her Diodemother. However I know this is what you want, I can feel your sadness and your pain. I'll miss you terribly but I know enough to respect your choices." She then put her arms around Eve and gave her an extra special hug for their great friendship.
The Renegade stood up slowly, his tear soaked shirt hanging limply with the weight of sorrow. He looked around the empty room of metal pipes, a distant laugh catching his sensitive ear. "Who's there?" He asked. The laughing grew louder and something rushed out of the inky darkness, striking his arm with the sudden flash of pain. Looking down he gasped to see a steel hook buried into the muscle and skin, blood dripping out of the entry and exit wounds. A long chain was attached taut to the hook and its other end disappeared into the darkness. "Who's there?" He repeated himself, freeing the hook with a gasp of pain.
Eve slowly stood up and walked over to baby Molly's cot. She looked down at the multi-coloured cube, kissed her fingertips and then ran them on the baby's upturned red coloured side. She looked at her fingers and stifled a scream...they were covered in blood.
Alice picked Molly up but there was no trace of blood on her baby. Then she took hold of Eve's wrist and examined the hand; there was no blood on it. "What's going on?" She asked, worried for her friend and her tiny baby.
Eve looked at her fingers, then Molly and finally Alice's sad, smiling face. Then suddenly the distant tolling of the Cloister room bell was heard. "I don't know what's going on, but it's not good. We should find the Renegade at once; I just know he needs our help.
Another burst of pain, this time in his other arm signalled another metal hook embedded in his flesh. There was a laugh, low and deep seemingly all around. "Show yourself." The Renegade shouted. "I'm not afraid of you." The laughing stopped with sinister quickness. This didn't mean his ordeal was over however when hooks buried themselves in his legs and chest and back, all pulling tight - holding him in place.
A figure stepped forward out of the darkness, Four, it might once have been a man but now it was something from out of the Old Time. A horrifically disfigured man with his lips peeled back to reveal permanently chattering teeth.
"So, you've shown yourself then?" The Renegade asked. "I know your masters, the Celestis. Your pains are wasted on me. I can block off the nerve signals you won't make me suffer."
A second figure emerged, Two, a bald-headed female, a long skewer pierced through her cheeks. "Your pain brought us, the long exquisite song of suffering that burns in your hearts."
The Renegade looked at the two hellish creatures. "How did you get here? I didn't open the doorway for you."
A third Celestis agent, Three, stepped forward out of the darkness, a hugely bloated figure with its eyes sewn shut, it was the one who's laughing he had heard earlier. It held a small golden puzzle box in its hands.
The Renegade looked at the box. "I won't open it." He shook his head. "I'm not that insane."
Eve held onto Alice as her mechanical friend sped down through the Time Machine corridors, she had transformed her external appearance into that of a go kart and now it was all Eve could do just to cling on.
The slow loss of blood began to affect the Renegade, he felt colder, tired and his concentration was beginning to slip. Pain slowly filled his soul.
"Ah there it is." The fourth and final figure, One, stepped forward out of the darkness of the chamber into the light afforded by the dim overhead light. "The quiet release of pain, the rapture of agony, the long suffering ecstasy of the soul." He was bald but long needles that drove deep through bone into softer parts studded his scalp and face.
The Renegade looked at the fourth and final figure. "You've come a long way for nothing, kill me and I'll regenerate. I'm sure I've got one more me loft inside."
"Our agonies are eternal Renegade." One whispered, stroking the helpless man's cheek and chin. "What we would do is as nothing compared to the constant self abuse you inflict upon your own soul. The guilt weighs heavily upon you; we merely offer release from this life. Your torture will be as a summer breeze compared to what you have done to yourself. At your lowest ebb you will beg to be allowed to serve the Celestis. You will plead to be allowed to be given their mark of indenture."
The Renegade stared into the cold eyes of hell. "If it's all the same I think I'd rather stick with what I know."
One laughed. "They're always defiant at first, they try to stand obliquely to the wind with their arrogance. This wind is pain and blood and knives, Renegade, it will destroy you if you do not give in and accept our most generous pleasures." Slowly he extended a hand. "Give yourself over to us."
Eve jumped off of the go-kart shaped Alice just before she barrelled into one of the four really ugly people and she rushed over to the Renegade. Gasping in horror at the hooks buried deep into his flesh she began to work the steel out of his body, the Renegade's blood covering her hands and making the work harder. "Soon have you free" she told him.
"Eve." The Renegade opened his eyes. "Please leave me, save yourself."
"Sssh." Eve put a blood-covered finger over the Renegades lips. "Soon have you free. Alice can hold them off."
Alice stared at the strange people. "Why do you have needles in your face?" She asked. "Must be a real downer if you walked near a magnet."
"Foolish creature." One pointed at Alison. "A machine that thinks it's a person, your pain is the most delightful of all. Your feeble emotions cannot comprehend us."
Alice stamped down hard on the ugly guy's foot, the heel of her shoe burying itself deep into the flesh of the foot.
"Thank you." One smiled. "Such generosity too."
"Don't you have any pain for me?" The female Celestis agent Two asked. "We have such sights to show you, and you have nothing to give in return?"
Looking at the fat guy with no eyes Alice saw that he had a strange gold box in his hands and realised that he must be a parent too. Carefully she brought out her baby, Molly."
One recoiled in the disgusting pain of goodness radiating from the tiny robot. "Get that thing away from me, it has the stench of goodness."
"My baby is not a thing." Alice shouted. "She's just gathering her strength for her first transformation."
The Renegade was finally released from the hooks and Eve half carried, half dragged him towards the exit. "Come on Renegade." She urged him. "You're too heavy for me to carry by myself."
Alice covered the Renegade and Eve as they made their way out of the room and into the Time Machine corridors. She rubbed her baby's stomach and laughed when it bleeped in laughter at her touch. "Love will defeat you." She informed the four ugly people. "Love is eternal, especially if you have good batteries." Then she transformed her outward appearance into a jeep and raced towards the console room, her three passengers safely onboard. Now outside of that hellish chamber the Renegade could hear the deep tolling of the ship's bell.
The control room was dark, the walls a dirty orange when they got inside it. Frantically the Renegade pressed button after button, tugged lever after lever and turned dial after dial. Slowly and surely the console lights came on, filling the room with a brightness that started to hurt everyone's eyes.
"What have you done?" Eve shouted over the rumbling that seemed to fill her ears.
"I've opened the Eye." The Renegade shouted back. "Only the Light of the Caldera can send those pathetic things all the way back to Mictlan."
Alice held Molly tight to her chest; she looked around the console room and saw blood running down the walls. Then one by one the circular panels exploded open, each revealing a face from the Renegade's past.
"No!" The Renegade screamed. "I tried my best to save you. I did all I could do but there wasn't anymore I could do. I'm not a god, I can't save everyone, and you can't expect me to save everyone."
The faces screamed as blood poured out of their noses and mouths. Their eyes stared accusingly at the Renegade.
"Look at them." Eve shouted to the Renegade. "Don't let them get to you. They're playing with your mind; this isn't real. It's all an illusion."
"No." One shouted, standing in the doorway to the console room. "You still have me to deal with and this is no illusion. This is the gallery of the damned, look at your victims Renegade. Look at them."
Eve put herself in front of the Renegade. "Leave him alone, he's a good man. If you want to take some one, take me."
One laughed. "So eager for the knife child? Are you willing to spend eternity suffering the most sickening of tortures?"
Looking at One, Eve just shook her head. "I've got a better idea." She reached behind and showed pinhead a gold coloured box. "Recognise this?"
One screamed in rage. "No!" He pointed at Eve. "You don't know what you're doing."
Acting quickly Eve started to open the box. Suddenly it jumped out of her hands and landed on the floor in front of her feet. As if an outside force was controlling it, it continued on itself.
"Give me the box!" One shouted.
Eve picked the box up and pushed the final piece of the puzzle home. Traces of blue light coursed over the patterns on the box before shooting out to envelop the evil agent of the Celestis. "Yes!" Eve shouted as the quintessence of darkness was sucked into the box and banished back to the nether realm from where he had been summoned.
The Renegade struggled up into an upright position. He looked at Eve, holding the box and Alice holding her cube shaped baby. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry with relief. Resting against the console he allowed them to fuss over his injuries until they were healed sufficiently. He looked at Eve; she had a terrible sadness in her eyes. She was going to leave him but she didn't want to.
"Renegade, I…" Eve started to say. "What shall we do with this box?"
The Renegade took hold of Eve's chin and lifted her eyes up to meet his. "I'll never forget you Eve, you're my friend."
Eve tried to find the words to express her friendship and love for the Renegade but settled for giving him a long hug instead.
"Steady on." The Renegade laughed. "I don't need to regenerate just yet." He patted her softly on the back. "Where do you want me to drop you off at?" He asked her once she had loosened the bear hug grip around his chest.
"Home, Renegade." Eve replied. "Take me home." In her heart though she knew 'home' was just a house and not a home. She had never known a real home, but she knew one day she'd find it.
The Renegade gave her a mock salute. "Home it is then Ma'am."
Eve hugged Alice and even kissed the tiny annoying cube that was her Diodedaughter. "Take good care of him and your baby, I expect you to sent me a postcard from time to time to let me know how this little girl is getting on." She held Molly in her arms for one last time when suddenly the tiny cube changed shape into a small pink telephone and made brief ringing noises.
"She changed her shape for you." Alice beamed with pride. "She says goodbye."
Eve stepped out of the Time Machine, holding just a single bag of clothes, jewellery and a few choice mementos she made her way back through the streets of her hometown. Everything was exactly the same way as she had left it except for the hover cars flying overhead and the large information sign, which proclaimed it as the year 3023. The Renegade had dropped her off in the wrong time. "Renegade, you got the date wrong."
"I used one of my rituals to bring you here."
Eve gasped as a five foot ginger-haired woman wearing a bat-skull mask stepped out of the shadows. "Who in the green hell are you?"
"Hello Eve." Mother Hubbard replied. "I have a story to tell and a job offer to make. Tell me, have you heard of Faction Paradox before?"
Eve followed the ginger-haired woman over towards what looked like a room full of skulls and discarded bones. "Are you lot Goths or something?"
"Something. Once you see the Eleven Day Empire you will realize it's the home you have been looking for your entire life, Little Sister."
Eve shrugged and wondered what was going on as the ginger woman started to mess about with the skulls and then started chanting. "This isn't some sort of hidden camera show, is it?" Her questions were answered as she was taken out of time and space to the home of the one-armed man whom time is turned obliquely towards. Little Sister Elvira had taken her first step into her new life…