Striking Sparks

From the Story Arc: The Wayward Spiral

Previous Story in the Arc: Riding Shockwave by Sturmfront (Tuesday, June 21, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: The Snake's Eye by Sturmfront (Sunday, July 03, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, June 21, 2005)

His body hit the ground hard. He had read the situation correctly. At least he found some solace in that. No-one in here had any access to their powers. The Freaks even had their artificial limbs removed, in as far as it did not endanger their health. They wanted their sardines canned, but safely so.

Nevertheless, they had been the first to make a move. As he had called it. They came light, only half a dozen of them. He just stared them down.

'You would not last a minute in a war zone. None of us have their powers in here, so it comes down to skills.'

' I was a soldier once, with copious lessons in unarmed combat. I notice that none of you has their eyes, ears or throat covered. Never mind the noses.'

It was obviously not the kind of reaction they had expected. They just stood, and stared.

'Take a cue from the Tsoo. They do have the skill, and even they bide their time. Why?'

'Uh, cause they cowards?' One of them, this one completely bereft of arms, hazarded a guess.

'No.' Sturmfront's reply was more than growled. 'Because they know that the first two, three will not walk away intact in some fashion. No-one wants to be in that number.'

They got the lesson. And he got to be right.

They did not come in the first night. Not in the second. Not even in the third, because everyone would have expected that. No, they came in the fourth night. He expected them in jeans and a tank top, hands wrapped in strips torn from his inmate's jacket.

Eyepatch off for what it was worth. Might as well give them something to see.

Number one was too hasty and caught an elbow to the throat that at the very least bruised his larynx -they would know whether it had actually torn in twenty minutes- and dropped him, out of breath. Number two was too close when he realize that his distraction was already gone. His nose broke soundly, slipping back into his skull as the German's forehead impacted into it.

Number three was more careful. Surprisingly, Sturmfront took the fight to him, ramming his knee into the Tsoo's underbelly. Spinning away, he launched himself at the next attacker, but by then they were on him.

Deep down inside him, something stirred.

'Did you notice that? That was your left shoulder getting dislocated. Nasty.'

'I still have one good arm. I am not beaten yet.'

'Not yet. Yes.'

'It was never an issue. I knew what I was getting into.'

'That is your weakness, Wolfgang. You consciously make the wrong decisions, knowing that they are wrong, because...?'

'I know.'

'I know, damn it.'

The laughter was subtle, but it spilled out, even out of his own mouth, much to the dismay of his attackers. It originated behind a door in Wolfgang Degenhardt's psyche. A place where he kept many things locked up.

Rage, pain, truth.


But there was only silence. No real answer.

'Fear of... what? What you could do? What... we could do?

'Fear of losing control?'

'Look at yourself, man. You are well on the way to losing your other eye. Three ribs are broken and you have already suffered internal bleeding.'

'You never were in control, Wolf.'

He did not answer, but he heard.

And he knew. He knew what he was afraid of most.

'You cannot fail when you are giving your all. But you have to try. There is no honour in letting them win.'

The voice from beyond the barred door touched his pride. A weakness he tried not to have, but tried in vain.

'I am giving all I have.'


'Alone, you will die here. Dishonourably. Because you let them.'

'And how do you propose we beat them?' He asked himself as if through gritted teeth while his actual jaw had been broken and hung slack from his skull.

The answer was more laughter.

'You said it yourself.'

And then he realized. The sudden insight washed over him. He began to understand. Everything.

'I would not be here if I was not a part of you, Wolf. Does that not make sense?'

In the cold and dark cell, something happened. It was as if time had stopped. Everybody, everything froze. Only Sturmfront, slowly picking himself up, seemed to move. At one point, the punches seemed to stop having an effect on him. The odd strike might still have bent or broken a bone, but if that was so, he did not appear to notice.

'Do you want to die?'

'No-one wants to die.'

'Do you want to die?'