A Phantom of the Past

From the Story Arc: A Lust for Vengence

Previous Story in the Arc: INTERCEPTED MESSAGE by Jaguar 7 (Friday, September 03, 2004)

Next Story in the Arc: The Back Alley Showdown! by Jaguar 7 (Saturday, September 11, 2004)

(posted Saturday, September 11, 2004)

Jag thought about the cryptic letter he was given by the stranger. Finally he would have some of his questions answered. He recalled what the letter had said-


 


Dear Cyriss,


            Meet me at the Gates of Hell, I am waiting.


                                                            Your dear friend,


                                                                                    Alex


 


Jag flew through the skies of Galaxy City half delirious, half exhausted. Flashbacks crept into his mind, hammering his concentration. This was the beginning of the end. Galaxy City was where it all started. Someone screamed and he turned. Behind him a superhero was just cut down by a Rikti warrior. Jag punched his helmet and shouted, “Get a hold of yourself, they’re not real!” The explosions and cries for help vanished. He flew down to Gemini Park, landing softly


 


He walked down the eerie and silent park and noticed a man sitting on a picnic table. The man stood up and waved to Jaguar calling out, “Welcome back to the gates of Hell, old buddy!” It took all his strength to keep from shooting him, but Jag grit his teeth and walked over. The man did not resemble Alex at all…he wore large bulky armor and had a rifle; nothing close to the lightweight armor and energy claws Jaguar 8 used.


 


Jag stopped about several feet away from the man and groaned, “Who the hell are you?”


 


 The man stood up and stretched, “Alex is dead, I killed him.”


 


 At this remark the man began to laugh hysterically. Cyriss broke down; confusion flooded his mind and he felt dizzy. The man stepped closer and whacked Cyriss in the back, “You son of a bitch, just as gullible as ever I see.” Cyriss looked up and a kind of uncontrollable grin spread over his face,


 


“You psychotic basterd-”.


 


He was hit again in the back as well as interrupted, “God I love this place!” Alex said as he walked away, “You can still smell the corpses of all the hero’s that died here. Remember Cyriss? This is where the carrier crashed, this was the beginning of the end!” he howled in laugher again, while Cryiss, picked up his gun and fired.


 


The shots zipped forward sure to strike Alex directly in the head, but they didn’t. With the kind of grace a ballet dancer possessed, cracks appeared in Alex’s suit, and his armor seemed to eject. Something escaped from the expanding shell as the bullets struck an empty carcass. Cyriss turned to look for Alex and found him bowing right behind, as if waiting for applause. There was no mistake, the man bowing was Alex. Though he had some modifications to his equipment, Cyriss could still see the original Jaguar team costume


 


Cyriss aimed again but Alex stood up shouting, “Easy there cowboy!”


 


Cyriss blinked and queried what the hell that meant.


 


“Oops, pardon my French did I say that out loud? Now who did I steal that from…your dear General...I know, it was Kostyak!” Alex laughed again and Jag nervously shuttered. Alex caught his anxiety and comforted him, “Don’t worry; if it makes you feel better, my spy in the Red Brigade is someone that has no strong feelings whether your alive or dead.”


 


Cyriss shouted a curse and raised his gun but Alex was no where to be found. So he turned halfway and felt the scrapping of a blade against his neck. Cyriss ducked and swung his arm where he thought Alex was, but Alex grabbed him by the shoulders and jumped over him. Cyriss reached for his shoulder and grabbed Alex’s right arm. Before Cyriss could do a thing, Alex arched and twisted his body, drop kicking Cyriss in the chest. Already off balance, Cyriss landed hard into the dirt and looked up.


 


Alex was standing over him waving, and then saluting. Cyriss groaned, “God damnit you’re fast…” Alex laughed again, “You slow pile of shit. No wonder Crey almost killed you with that poison. Where the hell did all your training go? You were much better then this Cyriss.”


 


Cyriss picked himself up and asked about the poison, “What? How do you know about that…Were you in charge of that poison!” Alex laughed and grew serious, “Me?! You moron, I’m the one that saved you, that doctor that cared for your sickly ass those many weeks was hired by me! I told him what to do! I told him what to tell you! I told him where the secret base was!”


 


Thoroughly confused, Jaguar asked Alex why he did it all. Alex did not answer but walked over to the picnic table instead. After propping himself up comfortably he answered, “Why did you leave us Cyriss, you were the best! Aside form me of course, but what happened!”


 


Cyriss turned and shouted, “You jackass, you’re the one that killed everyone! You and Crey!” he grabbed the closed thing near him and whipped it at Alex. The rock sped toward Alex and hit him. The rock actually hit Alex in the chest. There was a bit of silence and Alex seemed to be convulsing, over taken by seizures. He gripped his side and fell off the table and screamed, “You basterd! You hit me with a rock! God…how did I miss that one…” His laughter echoed down the valley below; Cyriss couldn’t help himself, he leaned back and cried in laughter. They both removed their helmets and looked at each other. Aside from what has happened, neither really changed that much.


 


“Cyriss, just remember I spared your life, don’t think for a second I didn’t notice you in the corner of that room. If anything, our captain is the one that tried to kill you.” Cyriss remembered the dying words of the captain and shook his head, “You liar, he was trying to kill you.” Alex propped himself back on the table and pulled an apple from a nearby tree, “Regardless, he tried to kill you…what kind of captain kills his own men? I mean, have a little faith, but apparently the captain must have thought you didn’t have what it took to bring me down…otherwise he would have said something like…Cyriss, kill that rat basterd, or, Give him one up the ass for me!...well maybe not that.”


 


Cyriss grew silent and stared forward. “Look, Cyriss, come back to Crey, we could use you…anyone who can put a dent in our operations like that is more then worthy to join us. We’ll forgive you.” Cyriss laughed and wiped his forehead; Alex continued, “You’re with the Red Brigade aren’t you?” Cyriss nodded as Alex bit into the apple, “Rook, I know rou’ve bee having rubble with fighting us. Ow many times have you bee knarked out?”


 


 Alex swallowed and waited for an answer, but none came so he continued instead, “The Red Brigade is smart, they know how much Crey…is displeased with your actions…and you much you hate them. But they continue to let you die? I mean, if I were a General or Commissar or whatever, my men…or women…would come first. But Cyriss man, I got people who don’t know how to use guns telling me they’ve downed you. Cyriss…They don’t give a damn about you, But I still do. Come back Cyriss, whatever happened in the past was fate, but that’s it…its all in the past now.”


 


Cyriss reached for his helmet and put it on. Then quietly he grabbed his gun and loaded it; Alex sighed and put his helmet back on as well. “What about Jaguar 3,” Cyriss said as he stood up, “was it fate that she died as well? God is the one that killed her?”


 


Just then a voice called from the end of the park, “Comrade, are you well? You looked serious when you left!”


 


Alex had just fastened his helmet and called to Cyriss, “friend of yours right? Petrograd…you won’t miss him…”


 


Cyriss turned but Alex was already a blur in the sky, “Shit! Petro! Get out of here!”


 


There was a small explosion and the crackling of energy blasts. Cyriss took off praying Petro could survive at least ten seconds. Petro dove and turned to fire back, but Alex was toying with him, “Over here big guy! Ahhh, missed…here? Too slow,” just then he spotted Cyriss about to literally, fire back, “WHOA! That must come in handy when your RB buddies have a cookout!” Alex shouted to Cyriss who was saturating the air with napalm.


 


Petrograd! Get the hell outa here!” Cyriss called to Petrograd, who saluted in acknowledgment. Petrograd backed away, but came toward Cyriss instead. Suddenly he heard a whisper from behind him, “You guys got Tall Tales where you’re from?”


 


Alex easily clung to Petro’s back and drove his claws into Petrograd’s armored side. Sparks flared out, and then seeped from the wound. Petrograd began to fall and any moment he would crash.


 


Alex swung his legs around until he was sitting on Petro, “This is Wild Bill, I’ve been hit, I repeat, tornado is going down, I repeat, tornado is going down! YEEEEE HAAAAA!”


 


Petro swung his body around and blasted Alex off with all the power he had left. But by then it was too late to avoid the ground. Petrograd smashed into the dirt and skid a remarkable distance, until bouncing with a hard thud, still sparking and smoking. Cyriss dove for Petro but stopped abruptly as Alex appeared from nowhere, right in front of him. Before Cyriss could utter a breath, Alex drove his claws into his stomach.


 


His hand penetrated Cyriss’s thick armor but only so far. Alex looked down at his claws, “Damn…that’s some 6-pack you got there, what…find a 2 minute AB Video or something?” Cyriss managed to cough, “I’m going to get you mother fu-”


 


Alex dug another half inch into his stomach, then pulled his arm out with difficulty. He made a motion to lick the blood dripping from his blades but laughed, “How the hell do they do it? It’s so unhygienic…” Alex laughed and backed away slowly, “Oh, and Cyriss, who said Jaguar 3 was dead?”


 


He laughed again and it echoed through the park. Cyriss looked down at the blood, but when he picked his head up, Alex was gone.


 


Cyriss fell to the ground clutching his stomach still thinking of the last thing Alex had said. He wandered over to Petrograd, who unlike Jag, showed no sign of pain. Unable to actually make it, Petrograd came to Cyriss instead. Petro radioed for assistance and Cyriss took off his helmet.


 


“Damn Petro that was close.” Petrograd inspected the stab wounds he and Cyriss had obtained and answered back, “Da who was that, thing?”


 


Cyriss bent over in pain again, “A ghost, someone who died a long time ago. You watch yourself Petro, either I’ve turned sour or he’s become a god.”


 


Petro inspected his wound again, “I can bandage mine comrade, but your wound looks bad.” Cyriss moaned again and laughed, “Oh God I’ll be fine, just make sure someone comes…quickly.”


 


Cyriss sat down and let his gun fall away; still holding his stomach Cyriss asked, “Petro? How did you find me?” Petrograd sat down next to Jaguar 7 and turned, “You are not giving much credit to comrades are you?” Cyriss watched Petrograd take out a small healing device and smiled, “No Petrograd…I guess I’m not…”