Razorback (A Chuck Wending Challenge)

Posted: September 2, 2015 in Fiction, Science Fiction
Tags: , , , ,

This week’s challenge was to take someone elses’ character (from this challenge) and write a story. Limit was 2,000 words. I went with about 1500. I’m reasonably sure the character went in a direction the original writer intended, but that’s part of the magic of this, isn’t it? anyway, been thinking about cyberpunk type characters for a bit, which is why I’m pretty sure this turned out the way it did.

Original character sketch can be found here.

Razorback

Razorback enters the marquee, shaved head brushing against the plywood. He swivels his neck back and forth, steel eyes darting over the crowd, all prim and proper, content in their artificial worlds, so far from the violence that is his. His eyes settle on her, wearing a ridiculous hat, a discus cocked at an angle. He feels the eyes on him as he sets his body in motion, all sinew and cable. He exaggerates his movements on purpose, keeps his eyes hooded, dull.

The chair next to her is empty, and he settles his bulk into it. He senses, rather than sees, her scoot her tight little ass away from him. Yeah, part of it is because he overflows the chair, made for regular people as it is. The woman nods in his direction, murmurs a greeting. He rumbles something back, and she smiles.

The wedding service is standard, with few surprises. Razorback feels eyes on him, feels the questions hanging in the air. Why is he here? Friend of the groom? The bride? Some untoward intruder? The service concluded, the guests shuffle out of the marquee, leaving Razorback and the woman.

“I didn’t think you would come.” Her hands are folded in her lap over a plain white envelope. “I heard you retired.”

Razorback snorts, his head twitching on its own accord. “I have expensive tastes, Miranda. The day job barely covers my maintenance. You said you had an opportunity.”

She slides the envelope over, and he takes it in one massive hand. One sharpened thumbnail slits it open, and he shakes a flash drive out onto his palm.

“All the details are there.”  She stands, backs away, careful not to turn her back. She keeps her clutch held close. Razorback wonders what weapon she has that she thinks will stop him from snapping her neck.

He smiles, close lipped and vicious. “I’ll be in touch.”

Back at his apartment, he slots the flash drive into the computer. A number of image files, protected documents, and one string of text. He clicks open the target dossier. Kyrgyz. Former military, for the Russians. Connections to organized crime.  Some mercenary work in global locales. Currently freelancing. Goes by the name “Ruslan.” Razorback stares at the picture, wondering if the target’s had any work done. Probably, depending on how much he impressed the Russians.

He checks the other files. Details on the target’s location. Mentions a potential complication. A kidnap situation. Razorback’s brow furrows, feels the vein in his neck throb. That’s not the job though, not what Miranda hired him for. The child is considered collateral, but Miranda knows Razorback too well. Knew this would be what made him take the job.

Razorback opens his email. Sends a message to the email address Miranda included in the flashdrive. The message is blank, the only text in the subject line.

“Accepted.”

***

Razorback pulls up a block away from the apartment complex. If Miranda’s intelligence is correct, Ruslan is holed up inside with the rest of his heavies, a motley assortment of hired guns. The girl is inside, somewhere. He exits the vehicle, moves around to the back, and opens the trunk. He slips the webbing over his frame, feels the weapons resting with heavy reassurance in their holsters.

It’s a bad part of town, the kind of place the police have long abandoned to the rough justice of the wilderness. People still live here. Nowhere else to go. Holding on with fingernails as gangs battle for control of territory, mangy dogs fighting over the scraps dropped from their master’s table. No street lights working out here, nothing but light pollution from the civilized portion of the city.

A skinny girl comes over from the corner, dress too short and make up applied thick as plaster. “Business?” Her voice is thin, reedy, and desperate.

Razorback swivels his whole body to look at her, hand curling into a ham-sized fist. Relaxes when he looks at her. “Yes. No. Not that kind of business.” Sees her shoulders slump in despair. He fishes in a pocket, produces a few crumpled bills. “Here. Don’t let the others see. Get off the streets, all right?”

The girl stuffs the money away, scurries off the street, well away from where Razorback is headed. He smiles after her, hopes it’s enough to keep her off the streets for a few nights at least. He drapes a long coat over his massive frame, enough to keep the weapons and pouches concealed from a distance.

As he approaches the building, he compares the reality with the surveillance Miranda provided. The building is sightless, windows long boarded up, even the graffiti faded with time. In better times, the whole building would be labeled condemned. Two people stand, slouched, on the stairs leading up to the entrance. Stubby automatics slung over their shoulders. The acrid smoke from their cheap cigarettes assail his nose. They raise their eyes, then their guns as he approaches. Too late, they recognize the danger, realize they are scavengers before an apex predator.

Razorback moves quick, a quick surge of adrenaline surging through his body from the artificial pump installed in his chest cavity. Muscles augments with carbon fiber strands drive fists hardened by ceramics into flesh. Neither guard manages to fire their weapon, their heads, chests crushed before their nerves can response.

He tests the door, but it is locked. Probably barred from the other side. He gives himself some distance, executes a kick with his size sixteen boot. The door collapses in, the frame buckled. Inside, guards react, clawing for weapons. Razorback flicks his wrist, an oblong device tumbling over the floor. He slides back around the corner, the WHUMP of the flashbang still ringing his ears. He comes back around the corner, a heavy automatic in his hand, looking like a water pistol. He barely hears the gunshots as he pulls the trigger, and three men drop, bleeding out.

Wood splinters near his face, the shards bouncing off his hardened skin. Indistinct shouting echoes down the hallway, and he spins, bringing the gun back up. Bullets impact against his coat, but the kevlar lining it slows the bullets enough so it’s more like getting pelted with rocks. His artificial eyes illuminate his targets as he stitches bullets down the corridor, making his attackers jump like marionettes with handlers on meth.

Razorback ejects the clip, slams home another. He heads down the corridor, stepping over the bodies. Some of them are still moaning, crying out. They’re done though. Dead already, but they haven’t quite got the message yet. The next room is clear, so he heads up the stairway. Clears the corner in time to see one of Ruslan’s men swing around the corner, leveling a shotgun. They fire at the same time. The force from the gun knocks Razorback back, his foot slipping on the stair. His arms windmill, but his balance is gone and he tumbles backward. He keeps enough presence of mind to get his finger off the trigger, and he stops where the stairway bends. He gets back up, fluid and graceful. The man with the shotgun is down, skull ripped apart by the automatic’s bullets. Blood trickles down Razorback’s face, threatens to get in his eyes. He grabs a roll of gauze from a pouch, wraps it around tight to soak it up.

He keeps going up, sees a head come around a corner. He fires, but he’s already gone, further back into the room. Razorback follows. Inside is Ruslan, a pistol pressed against the side of the girl’s head. She’s crying, gasping out sobs that wrack her body. A dirty bit of cloth covers her eyes, another wrapped around, stuffed into her mouth. Her dress is ripped and dirty, her skin smudged black.

“Who are you?” Ruslan hisses. “Drop the gun or her brains get splattered against the wall.”

Razorback lets the gun drop, hears the muffled thud of its drop on the cheap carpet. “Just the hired help.”

“Yeah, you look like shit. And stupid too. Come in here, all guns and glory? How did you expect to both get out alive?” Ruslan swings the gun up to point at Razorback.

“Wasn’t hired for the girl,” Razorback says. He keeps his hands up, laces them back behind his head. “Asked to get you.”

Ruslan’s right eye glows green in the shadows of the apartment. “Better men than you have tried to kill me.”

Razorback wrinkles his nose, twitches his head. “Didn’t say ‘kill.’ Said ‘get.’ Understand?”

“Huh?”

Razorback moves faster than Ruslan thinks is possible. The gun goes off, the bullet catching Razorback in the shoulder, but then his big hand closes over the gun, wrenches it free. Razorback’s free hand grasps Ruslan’s shoulder, throws him to the wall. Ruslan tries to stomp on Razorback’s metatarsal, but reinforced bones and joints don’t snap that easy. Razorback’s big forearm presses against Ruslan’s windpipe. The Kyrgyz claws at the arm, but it’s like trying to wrestle a steel cable and Razorback tightens his grip, cutting off the air. Even cyborgs need to breathe.

Ruslan slumps to the floor, and Razorback gives his shin a hard stomp to make sure he’s out. He turns to the girl, now cowering in the corner, eyes wide and fearful.

Razorback slings Ruslan over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, turns back to her. He smiles, making sure to show his even white teeth. “Come on,” he says. “Your family misses you.”

The girl stands, takes his hand, and together they leave the building.

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Comments
  1. moteridgerider says:

    Superb story. I can’t believe how you’ve fleshed out the character and given him a history, motivation and personality. The pace is breathtaking and the descriptions crackle with lucidity. Good job, dude.

    • I have to admit the mechanical descriptions you went into keyed me into a cyberpunk type character, which is something I’ve been working on. My goal was to keep it as true to the vision as possible.

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