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CHAPTER 2:

WATER FOR BLOOD

 

            “Hey, there’s my favorite drinking bud!  Burke, double time!  Double shots,” yelled the drunken, blue-and-red leather clad hero, holding up two fingers to the bartender.  “Make it bourbon, and snappy!”

            “You kidding me?  I just arrived, and you’re already drunker than an Irishman!  Thanks, bub,” said Burke as he downed the first shot of the night.  “How’re things in merry ol’ Paragon?”

            “Pssh, same ol', same ol’.  Yesterday, I had a tussle with some Malta goons that ended with me blowing up their little base.  Now the neighbor of the warehouse is threatening to sue me for damages to his house!  And I says to him, ‘hey look, if you didn’t want damages to your precious property, then you shouldn’t have lived next to an abandoned friggin’ warehouse,’” hiccupped the drunk.  “I swear it’s all a Nemesis plot!”

            “Listen, Blue, I’ve got this couple who--”

            “‘The Blue Barrage’, I suppose” interrupts Mistress Araqua.  The hero turns sluggishly in his stool and stiffens at the sight of the Night Widow and her Crab Spider husband.  Blue’s face becomes stiff and gray as rock.

            “What the f&*k do you want, eight-legs,” hostilely spat the Blue Barrage.

            “Blue, please listen to what they have to say,” said Burke.

            “I don’t give a crap for what they have to say.  Arachnos are the enemy, remember Burke?”

            “Amazing.  That’s record time from drunk to sober,” joked Araqua.

            “You wanna go itsy bitsy spider?  Let’s take it to the pit, see who’s laughing then,” grimaced Blue.

            “We are not Arachnos, Blue.  We are not your enemy,” said Mistress Araqua.

            “Today’s not Halloween, but you’re dressed like Arachnos,” accused Blue.

            “We are not Arachnos,” Mistress Araqua firmly repeated.  Blue studied the Widow for a minute, then the Crab Spider.

            “Spiders are spiders in my point of view,” concluded the Blue Barrage.  The hero placed a twenty on the bar and started to walk away.

            “289-477465-963308,” stated Mistress Araqua.  Blue stopped in his tracks.  “That will disable all outlying Arachnos defenses in Siren’s Call.  That is only the tip of the iceberg for all the information both Araqua and I possess based on Arachnos.”

            Blue turned on his heels, and slowly walked back towards the villains.  “Araqua,” he pointed towards the Crab Spider, “and his mistress, I presume?”

            “That’s our names, don’t wear them out,” said Araqua.

            “I’ve heard about you two.  Funny I haven’t run into you to, considering your area of expertise and my area of expertise,” grinned Blue.  “The legendary Araquas: specially chosen by Lord Recluse himself along with a few other Arachnos operatives.  Trained in aquatic combat, both of you excelling beyond all other candidates.  Not only attaining an honor—you may say—equal to becoming an Arbiter, but also becoming the Arachnos’ most feared married couple through the program.  The pride of Recluse himself.”

            “And the bane of Recluse himself,” added Araqua.  The Blue Barrage turned to Araqua with surprise.

            “Oh?  Do I sense resentment in the utterance of your master’s name?”  Mistress Araqua took a seat on a stool, closing her eyes in pain and sorrow.

            “It was four months ago.  We were assigned the destruction of a secret Longbow training facility on an island 20 miles off the Coast of Peregrine Island.  It was supposed to be simple: level the base and leave behind no witnesses.  We were trained to kill, but it wasn’t that simple.  The trainees,” paused Mistress Araqua.  “The trainees were children.  Being a mother and father of our only son, Robert Lanlock, we couldn’t bring ourselves to kill innocent children, even if they were the enemy.

            “Well, as you probably already guessed, that did not go over well with Recluse.  The night after our suspension, Recluse and his Blackguard invaded our home.  He made us watch as he…as he,” choked Mistress Araqua.

            “He killed Robert,” Araqua completed.  Mistress Araqua broke into heavy sobs.  Araqua leaned over to comfort her with gentleness unthinkable to others.  “It’s okay Jennifer.  Recluse will pay for what he did,” Araqua turned to the Blue Barrage.  “Don’t you see?  We could never serve that monster ever again, not after what he did.  That is why we’re here: we need your help to take down Recluse and the Arachnos.”  Blue studies the situation for only a brief moment.

            “I don’t buy it for a second.  You eight-leggers are known for being deceiving, and my gut tells me that story was just bait, and I ain’t falling for it,” said Blue, turning from the mourning couple.  Araqua bolts up, pointing at Blue.

            “That’s because your guts have sh*t for brains!  We lost our only son, you son of a--” yelled Araqua.  Before he could confront Blue any further, Mistress Araqua placed a hand on his arm.

            “Please, Mr. Barrage, our story is not a fake.  We are not secret agents with a mission to deceive and destroy, or anything of that nature.  Please believe us, all we want is to see justice be served,” said Mistress Araqua quietly.  Blue turns back around and studies her, especially her eyes.  When all else fails, Blue always returns to the eyes.

            “Fine, I will help you try to take out Recluse.  I’ve already tried once before with help from Statesman, but I hope things will turn out better this time around.”  Blue felt that all too-familiar feeling in his stomach.






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