Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 21.



Episode 21 – Word Always Travels Past the Warden

Buried deep underground, like an unpleasant memory was the primary prison of Newport. It had never been given an official name, at least not on any of the recorded documents. But when you were told you were heading to ‘The Graveyard,’ you knew you were being given a one way ticket underground. Nobody ever returned from The Graveyard, and typically only the most dangerous individuals were sentenced to spend the rest of their days without even the comfort of sunlight. It was a harsh place reserved for the hardest of criminals.

Born out of necessity, The Graveyard was originally little more than an abandoned mining operation. Located a few miles down from the surface diggers struck some of the densest stone they had ever encountered. As they hollowed their way out they discovered that the resilient rock surrounded them completely, leaving only the pocket space they had cleared. The whole operation ended up going under in the endeavor and the mine was closed off.

Unwilling to waste precious resources to ferry prisoner’s off-world, the New Republic soon decided a facility located on Newport itself was needed. And with the rights to any land defaulted on reverting back to the New Republic they could further cut back on their costs to construct a suitable confinement center. It was a match made in heaven; a low-cost local site to try and lock away the worst threats to an unbalanced bottom line.

And of all the men and women ever sent down to its abysmal depths; Adrian Taurus was perhaps the most perfectly placed prisoner. It was an undisputed truth among the underworld that Taurus was at its top. He had earned for himself a ruthless reputation that nearly rivaled his massive frame. Many a man had met a grizzly end by running afoul of Taurus’ infamous temper. At least locked away in the dark it was assumed that the Red Bull himself and his rage couldn’t harm anyone again. Or at least, that was the general idea anyway.

Adrian always enjoyed the poetic irony prison provided though. Here he was, buried beneath all of Newport to make everyone above him rest easier. The truth of the matter though was that it was he who was beyond reach down here. Down in The Graveyard nobody could blame anything on the notorious Red Bull himself. He was beyond suspicion; free to run his nefarious network without any annoying irritations – like staying out of jail. In fact the only others down here with him were all loyal underlings; servants one might say, all willingly imprisoned to maintain the illusion of a fully functioning facility.

Honestly, Adrian found the whole deal hilarious. The fools had made it all so easy for him to plant his own people everywhere he needed. It was just one of those same people that he now was waiting on, and Adrian Taurus despised having to wait for anything. Patience had never agreed with him, perhaps it was something about his nature but he found the exercise of trying to do so infuriating. The need made it worse pushed his restraint to its limits – five minutes past the scheduled delivery time was unacceptable.

Already Adrian could feel his last dose of Red Blood becoming dangerously close to wearing off. Any sign of weakness could not be tolerated, and that meant that nobody could discover his addiction. Was that a tremor trying to terrorize its way up his arm Adrian wondered? A grunt became a growl as the strange symptom was silenced by his fist slamming violently into what might have been a cot at some previous point.

“Sorry boss,” spoke a hushed voice from behind him marked by the fear of seeing Taurus’s massive might mangling, well, anything. “Here is your care package sir; the delivery guy had to work around some guards. Seems they were too busy swapping news about some business going on in Redemption and he had a terrible time getting this by them without getting caught.”

“What news would that be then,” Adrian asked as he accepted his delivery with every ounce of willpower he could muster to not immediately tear into it. “Oh, yeah, that; it’s just some fresh fool who has showed up trying to play hero. Apparently the word is that he even gunned down the Bot Brothers.”

That got Adrian’s attention, and provided him just enough distraction to take his mind off having to wait – almost. “I don’t care who this joker thinks he is or what Arbiter has to say on the matter; send word to Dyzon that this guy is gone. As in instant extinction; I will not tolerate even a single fly to provide us with even a possible problem. Crush him,” Adrian ordered.

“Oh, and one more thing before you go; get rid of the delivery guy. I will not forgive tardiness, no matter the reason.” The emphasis in his tone made the meek minion quickly relocate to less hazardous environments. Once he was alone again Adrian rushed to remove a fresh vial of scarlet shaded liquid. The small tube rolled about in his fingertips and the feel of its promised pleasure made his digits dance.

There was a simple click as the crimson cylinder snapped into place in the injector. Automatically he went the familiar motions to check that everything was in order and then pressed the device to his throat. The rush was like riding a wave of raw thunder as it arced its way through his nerves. Red once more colored his vision as the drug took hold and a torrent of synthetic adrenaline coursed through his veins.

If Eris had already lost all three Bot Brothers then she had come up short with this nameless man. No matter, Dyzon would probably relish the chance to show her up anyhow, Adrian knew. And if he didn’t dispose of this drifter then he could easily arrange for his disappointments to be relocated down here with him. There was a good reason nobody ever made it back out of The Graveyard.