Scout's Australian Christmas

The Crash

"When we save the Scout, I'm gonna kill 'im," Sniper grumbled as he folded his arms over his chest and fumed.

The mercenaries had physically recovered from the immense G-forces inflicted upon them on the rocketing Orion. Miraculously, only the Heavy managed to pass out. He sat now, revived and looking green as he stared out the window. The plane lurched and rocked in the turbulent air.

"Just make sure you wait til we get back to Teufort. That way he can respawn," Miss Pauling had replied.

A white haze saturated the inside of the aircraft. The disheveled mercenaries continued to grumble to themselves and swallow back their nausea; the Spy chain smoking at a deadly rate. They were all eager to be back on the ground again. Captain Jake had been rather quiet for the last hour except for one small asinine remark after the jets kicked on.

Miss Pauling looked at her watch. It was early evening and the sun should have been going down yet it was still as bright as noon outside. She wondered if they were truly that far south. Finally, there was a break in the overcast and bright sun poured into the cabin. Instinctively, the eight mercenaries and Miss Pauling glanced out the window and were amazed at what they saw. It was the brightest white they ever laid eyes on. The great Antarctic continent came into view in all its glory. At first, it appeared as a desolate winter wasteland; flat and void of any features. But as their eyes adjusted, they could see miles of looming mountains in the distance. Rocky coastlines were a startling black against the blinding white of never ending ice and snow. It was truly awe inspiring.

And then, just as quickly as the clouds parted and Antarctica came into view, it was obscured once again. The aircraft gave a great lurch in the air as it hit waves of turbulent air. A chorus of groans echoed throughout the cabin as the mercenaries clutched their harnesses and their stomachs. Then, the voice of Captain Jake interrupted their misery from the flight deck.

"Ok, folks! Great news! With a sturdy tailwind, I was able to shave about 30 minutes off our flight time. We'll be landing at the South Pole in about twenty minutes so go ahead and gear up. I'll update you again when we're closer."

"Thank God," Miss Pauling whispered.

"So what's the plan then?" Sniper asked, standing up to stretch his legs and fetch his rifle from the cargo hold. " in there, guns blazin'?"

"It's never failed us before," Spy shrugged.

The other mercs shuffled about the cabin, gathering their things from the cargo net and shrugging on parkas, boots, and other arctic apparel. Each held their respective weapons like talismans to their chests; as if their separation made them feel nude and powerless. And then, nerves amped with the anticipation of landing, they sat along the benches again and strapped their harnesses over their chests the best they could.

Just then, the plane gave another violent sway in the air. The aircraft sputtered and became noticeably quieter. The mercenaries peered out the window and gasped. The engines, once glowing hot yellow and orange with burning fuel were now flickering and belching thick, black smoke.

Sniper furrowed his eyebrows and threw off his harness. Miss Pauling looked at him in fear and bewilderment.

"What's wrong?" she asked him.

"Dunno," he replied. "I'm gonna go find out."

Without further explanation, he marched through the cabin as gracefully as he could, holding onto whatever he could to steady himself. He reached the flight deck and opened the door, poking his head inside.

"Oi, it feels like a bleedin' boat in a hurricane out here!" he barked at Jake. "What's wrong with the engines?"

Jake, preoccupied with the instrument panel, managed a hurried glance at the Sniper before focusing forward once more. His hands gripped the yoke tightly; knuckles white.

"Sir, I really must insist that you go take your seat."

Sniper ignored Jake's plea and sat in the copilot seat, bracing his rifle on the floor between his knees. His eyes took in the maze of buttons and levers that were before him and the awe inspiring view out the cockpit window. Jake tapped on a gauge and cursed.

"What is it?" Sniper asked.

"It's the magnetic pole," Jake answered. "It's messing with the instruments. And the cold is choking up the fuel intake."

"We're close, then?"

"Very. But I can't land without the radar. The cloud cover's too thick."

Sniper scoffed. "What do you need radar for? What could we possibly crash into out 'ere?"

Jake took a deep breath. "Crevasses hundreds of feet deep, mountains, research stations, rough ice..."

"Got it."

There was a moment of pause as the two stared out the cockpit window at the never ending clouds; so white that you couldn't tell where the sky ended and the ice began. The plane continued to rock and bounce in the turbulent air. It was then that Jake noticed the Sniper's rifle balanced on its butt between the mercenary's knees.

"Sir, might I ask you not to have that up here?"

Sniper tore his eyes away from the sky and looked at Jake innocently. "Huh?"

"The gun, sir."

"What? This thing?" he nodded at his rifle. "Don't get your panties in a twist. She ain't gonna bite y-"

Just then, the aircraft hit a particularly violent wave of wind and the plane lurched. Sniper left his seat, becoming airborn for a split second and hitting the top of his head on the ceiling of the cockpit; his hat providing little protection. He swore loudly and clasped his skull. A loud BANG! went off as he landed roughly back in the copilot seat.

Out in the cabin, the other mercenaries were startled at the loud noise coming from the cockpit and the tumultuous movements of the plane. They clasped onto their harnesses.

"What was that?" Miss Pauling exclaimed, looking at the other mercenaries worriedly.

Spy was glaring warily at the cockpit door. He unleashed his harness and wobbled towards it. Just as he was about to yank it open, Sniper popped out; his face a sickening shade of grey and the barrel of his rifle smoking beneath his shaking hands. His eyes were wide and apologetic behind his sunglasses.

"What is it?" Spy asked, sensing the urgency.

"I don't mean to cause a panic," said the Sniper. "But we have a small problem."

"What problem?"

Sniper gulped. "I may have just accidentally killed the pilot."

The Scout woke up groggily from quite a dream. He dreamt that he was back home in Boston and was up to bat for the Red Sox in the World Series vs. the Yankees. Fenway Park, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, two outs...

The ball couldn't have been pitched more beautifully as it sailed right down the middle and lined up perfectly with his belt. It moved in slow motion and he calculated every spin; saw every stitch. His bat was virtually weightless as he swung effortlessly and nailed a grand slam. The crowd went berserk. His team lifted him onto his shoulders and carried him around the bases as confetti and fireworks exploded over Fenway Park. He waved proudly and beamed as his mother blew him a kiss from behind home plate. But then, it began snowing. The once sunny park became grey and dreary with overcast. Scout looked up at the swirling black clouds and felt a deep chill overcome him. It then occurred to him that he was no longer being carried by his teammates but rather was trapped in ice up to his knees. He pulled as hard as he could but could not budge his feet.

Mom! he cried out but she began to vanish before his eyes.

The temperature dropped drastically and Scout hugged his arms to shield his skin from the pain of the cold. There was a flash of lightning and then – he was awake.

And it was freezing.

For a split second, Scout had forgotten his predicament and only shivered violently as he lay on his stomach with his arms tucked underneath his chest. Once more, the sweat on his skin had turned to tiny beads of frost. He took a deep, painful breath and exhaled forcefully; his breath a cloud of vapor in the dark ventilation shaft.

Scout wasn't sure how long he had fallen asleep but he knew it was a bad decision. The only bit of warmth he felt was the blood pooling around his hip. He cursed as the pain abruptly flooded his mind and he tried to roll over on his side. His joints were like concrete, though, and it took all of his strength but he finally managed to get his injured leg off the cold metal. Tears welled up in Scout's eyes as the sting became unbearable. Where was respawn when you needed it?

Gingerly, he placed a palm over the wound and pressed as hard as he could manage. A choked cry escaped his throat and blood saturated the bandages on his wrist. He let his head fall back against the shaft and he closed his eyes, swallowing back the pain.

"Fuckin' chump," Scout muttered to himself. At that moment, there wasn't a person alive on earth that he hated more than Nicolas Crowder.

As his eyes closed, he began to drift back into unconsciousness and so he forced himself awake with a start. He had to keep moving or risked dying from hypothermia; move too much, though, and he would succumb to blood loss. And if he was discovered, Crowder would make him wish the other two options happened instead. Scout growled in frustration and let the back of his head thud lightly against the vent repeatedly before he finally made his decision. He flopped back over onto his stomach, feeling a slight twinge of relief as the cold came in contact with his wound, and mustered his strength to pull himself with his arms. If anything, he wanted to simply find a safer place to hide until he could figure out his next course of action. He realized he had only managed to move a few feet before he collapsed back down in utter exhaustion. His perspiring forehead laid against the frozen steel of the vent as he breathed heavily. Every few minutes, he would repeat this torturous method until he finally saw the blurred light of an opening ahead.

The orange light pooling into the shaft deceitfully looked warm and inviting. Scout's appendages felt like lead as he weakly pushed with his toes the best he could; but his injuries were quickly getting the best of him. His vision blurred in and out of focus. He no longer felt the warmth of his own blood leaking onto his pants.

Don't do this. Not like this.

Scout's mind kept telling him to fight; to keep moving forward, but his body refused to cooperate. He was only a few feet from the ventilation grate when his strength finally gave out and he let his head fall down against the frozen metal once again. Grateful that the cold was numbing the pain, he relished in the floating sensation of complete consumption and let his eyes close on no accord of his own.

"What in the bloody hell do yeh mean yeh 'killed the pilot'!" Demoman screamed, face blanching.

Immediately, the nose of the aircraft began to dip downwards. Chaos erupted in the cabin; and amidst that chaos, the Medic unbuckled himself from his harness and carefully made his way to the cockpit. Alarms began to buzz and ring all over the flight deck. Dials spun manically from every gauge and the attitude was dipping well below the horizon. With the cloud cover, there was no telling how much time they had before they struck ground. A pleasant female voice pierced the flight deck, 'Pull up! Pull up!'

"Scheiße!" Medic said under his breath. Without another word, he sat in the copilot seat and grasped the yoke in his sweaty, trembling hands.

"What are you doing!? Just heal the pilot!" the Spy cried out from the cabin.

"No time!" Medic shouted back, pulling up on the yoke with all his strength. He grit his teeth and sweat poured down his brow as the aircraft tested his strength. "C'mon. C'mon!" he growled. Then, the nose of the plane began to move upward and a small, hopeful smile tugged at the Medic's lips. The other mercs were silent and on the edge of their seats.

"I zhink I have it under control-!" Medic began to say but then he realized that the white air in front of him were not clouds, but snow. He swore and braced himself before the plane collided, belly down, with the ground below. It hopped a few times, panels and tips of the wings breaking off upon impact, and skidded through the packed ice. The aircraft began to spin like a compass needle and finally, came to a stop after several hundred meters.

Scout woke up with a start as his body hit the floor. He was unsure of what happened to him, but he knew he was on his back and the bullet hole in his hip was positively torturous. Bright light flooded his senses.

"Sorry! Sorry! You're heavier than you look!" came the voice of Moesby, though it sounded like he was under water.

Scout winced and tried to peel his eyes open despite the pain and nausea that seized him. He wanted to speak but his throat was clenched tight and dry. Coherent thought was out of the question, anyway. He began to drift away again until Moesby shook his shoulders.

"C'mon. We have to move and I can't carry you," said the smaller man.

"Whas goin' on?" Scout slurred.

"Stand up!"

Moesby ducked down and draped one of Scout's long arms around his shoulder, heaving him upward. Scout, acting on pure instinct, miraculously managed to make it to his feet. He stumbled and leaned heavily on Moesby, his head dipping from exhaustion.

"That's it. Now walk. I know a place where you can hide for a little while," Moesby said in a hushed voice.

"I feel like crap," was Scout's tired response.

"You look like crap. You've been shot. Now come on. Crowder will be looking for you."

This seemed to jar the Scout enough to his senses to make him put forth some extra effort. He still relied heavily on Moesby's strength to keep him upright, but was able to take dogged steps forward. His vision still danced in and out of focus and his head felt like it in the clouds yet he followed the pull of Moesby without question. He was too tired; too delirious to argue.

It felt like they had been walking for hours when Moesby finally released his hold from around the Scout's ribs and let him fall gently backwards onto what could only be described as a blanketed cot. Scout sat on the edge of the bed, hunched over in exhaustion and shivering violently.

"It's f-f-fuckin' f-freezin' in this j-joint," he said through chattering teeth.

Immediately, Moesby reached for a thick wool blanket and draped it over the Scout's shoulders. Scout graciously accepted it and clutched the ends of the blanket to his chest like a cross, eyes screwed shut in pain. The frost that had accumulated on his skin and clothing was now melting, leaving him damp and miserable.

"You're lucky, actually," said Moesby, watching Scout recuperate. "The cold helped stop the bleeding. Crowder likes to always keep it cold in this place. You know, to match the temperature outside. You'll get used to it. He probably didn't realize that it, most likely, saved your life."

"Whatever," Scout mumbled into his blanket.

There was a moment of pause and he finally opened up his eyes to take in his surroundings. He was in a small, dim room; the size of a large pantry. A single lightbulb swinging from a wire on the ceiling gave the room the appearance of an interrogation room. The cot he was sitting on was against the far wall, opposite the door he had been dragged through. The walls and floor were concrete and in the corner was a single, small table and chair with a few papers strewn across it. It was a barren room; one not fit to be put to use in any way.

"Is t-this your r-r-room?" Scout asked.

Moesby nodded. "Home sweet home."

"Won't Crowder c-c-come l-looking here?"

"I don't know. Probably. This whole section of the compound is where all the slaves sleep. But, if anything right now, he's probably looking for your dead body in the vents."

It was good enough for Scout. He nodded and closed his eyes again, burying half his face in the blanket while he continued to shiver.

"I'm sorry I don't have any dry clothes to offer you," Moesby said apologetically. "Just keep the blanket on and you'll warm up. And we need to get that bullet out of your leg."

Scout opened up the blanket and took a good, hard look at his wound for the first time. The blood had long since frozen and dried to his pants. He hissed in pain and gingerly touched the swollen area, finding it was beginning to mildly ooze again as the skin around it thawed.

"You got anything I can dig the bullet out with?" Scout asked.

Moesby walked over to his tiny desk in the corner and pulled something out of the drawer. It was a pair of needle nose pliers. He shrugged at Scout sheepishly.

In the middle of a desolate landscape, an arctic storm raged on. Thick, grey clouds obscured the sun and ice blew about so rapidly that it could cut your skin. The only site to see for miles in any direction was white and the only sound was of the fierce wind whipping through the empty, antarctic ice shelf. For any unlucky traveler, it would have been certain death. The temperature was cold enough to kill a man in minutes. And there, amongst the blowing snow and ice, was the faint outline of the fallen P-3 Orion.

It lay like abandoned ruins; nose dug into the ice. Snow had begun climbing up its sides like ivy. And then suddenly, a shower of sparks; almost instantly dissipating in the wind. The metal groaned under the force of its own weight.

Inside the cabin, the mercenaries lay scattered on the floor or clinging desperately to their harnesses by the crook of their arms. The Pyro was the first to come to, shaking the dizziness from his head. He looked around the cabin, seeing his fallen comrades and feeling the cold seize him like a vice, even through the insulation of his suit. Blearily, he crawled towards the closest person to him, the Sniper, and gave him a wary shake of the shoulders.

Sniper groaned as he came to, automatically reaching his hands up to clutch his head. His hat had been blasted away in the impact and lay somewhere in the cockpit. A thick gash bled from his brow line.

"Oi. Pyro, that you?" he croaked.

Pyro muffled something indiscernible in return but Sniper seemed to understand. "Yeah, no kiddin'. Are we all alive?"

Again, Pyro mumbled his response.

"Alright. Gimme a minute. My head's poundin' like a jackhammer."

Pyro gave Sniper a pat on the shoulder and stood up shakily to find his flamethrower. The cabin was practically pitch black, however. Carefully, he felt around the littered bodies and finally found his weapon; sitting back and giving the trigger a good squeeze. The cabin erupted with light and warmth and Pyro was finally able to get some bearings. The person to his immediate right was the Heavy, who was beginning to gain consciousness as the warmth of the flamethrower enveloped him. Aside from a few bruises and scrapes, he was relatively unharmed.

"What happened?" he asked, blinking several times to clear his vision.

Pyro answered him the same way he answered Sniper. And then, one by one, the Heavy and Sniper went about reviving the other members of their team; Pryo lighting the way with his flamethrower.

"You alright, Miss?" Sniper asked Miss Pauling as she sat up weakly and clutched her right elbow to her chest.

"Yeah," she said breathlessly, hissing in pain. "It's not broken, I don't think. Is everyone alive?"

Sniper crouched down on his haunches in front of Miss Pauling. "Everyone but the pilot..."

Miss Pauling stopped rubbing her head for a moment to look at him in puzzlement. And then, panic struck her. "Where's the Medic?"

Sniper's mouth fell open. He sprang up and ran for the cockpit, which had crumpled under the force of the impact. He shoved several pieces of debris out of his way and clambered into the mangled flight deck.


"I'm sorry, but I can't get to anyvone. I seem to be trapped," Medic responded weakly.

The mercs let out a giant sigh of relief.

"No, you idiot! I wasn't callin' for you. I was lookin' for you."

Miss Pauling had stumbled over to the Sniper's side and peered into the cockpit, ducking under his arm. She gasped as she saw the Medic pinned awkwardly between the console and the captain's seat. His left leg appeared to be crushed under the instrument panel and his breaths were coming out in mild wheezes. Miss Pauling could see the faint trace of blood on his teeth as he smiled at her, assuring her he was fine.

"Is he alright?" Engineer asked from the cabin.


"No, he isn't," Miss Pauling said; her voice trembling. She looked at Sniper in desperation. "Help me get him out! Find his medi gun!"

The Demoman and Heavy were the first ones to reach her side, grasping onto the bulkhead and pulling with all their strength. The weakened material gave enough for Sniper to take Medic's hand and yank him out of his seat; the others releasing the partition as it snapped back towards the cockpit and cracked. Medic gave an involuntary cry of pain as he was manhandled roughly from his position. His left leg was horribly twisted and bleeding and the tibia was jutting through his skin below the knee cap; poking out from his boot. He gasped and let out several strangled coughs; the result of his chest being slammed against the yoke upon impact.

Sniper eased the injured doctor down onto the cabin floor, propping his head up with a spare parka from the cargo area. "Alright, mate. Alright. Easy does it," he said softly. "Where's your medi gun?"

Medic took a large, raspy breath as the coughing fit subsided. "I...I'm not sure. I had it up in zhe cockpit."

Sniper looked up at Miss Pauling and she nodded, dashing back towards the wrecked flight deck and searching amongst the remains. Pyro let his flamethrower die and the cabin was enveloped in a dim and eerie haze. Outside, the blizzard continued to rage and the cold was now seeping in through the body of the aircraft.

"I am sorry. I tried to land," said Medic. "Zhere vas just no time. Zhis is all my fault."

"Don't be a fool," Spy said, sitting on his haunches next to the Sniper and looking down at the Medic empathetically. "You saved our lives. And technically, this is the Sniper's fault. He killed the pilot."

Sniper scowled at the Spy but before an argument could erupt, Miss Pauling ducked out of the cockpit excitedly.

"Got it!" she said breathlessly and fell down upon her knees next to the Medic.

With Heavy's help, Medic was able to gingerly sit up and receive the medi gun from Miss Pauling. Not bothering to shoulder the pack, he flipped the toggle switch on the handle of the gun and aimed it at his leg. But when he pulled back the lever, nothing happened. The pack made a fizzled groan and went completely dead.

"Oh no," said the Medic. "Zhis is very bad, I'm afraid."

"What is wrong? Why won't medi gun work?" Heavy questioned.

"Er. It appears zhat my medi gun may need some repairs. Zhe impact must have broken it." He looked up and smiled weakly at a worried Miss Pauling. "Not to vorry. It is just a broken leg."

"You're coughing up blood," Miss Pauling responded dryly.

"Well, we are officially screwed," said the Demoman. "We migh' save the Scout, but we're gonna lose the Medic."

"I'll be fine. Go find zhe Scout. Zhe sooner you find him, zhe sooner ve can get out of here and get back to zhe respawn room, ja?"

"I'm going to stay with him," Miss Pauling said, looking up at the other mercenaries.

"Good. Where we're going may be too dangerous for you anyhow," Sniper responded. "Where's the Engineer?"

The only response he received was the crackle and zapping noise of a welder in action and a flickering blue light that illuminated the cabin. The Engineer had already cracked open his tool box and set about his parts from the cargo; welding away at the soon-to-be teleporter.

"Good man," Spy said. "Alright. Gentlemen?"

With one more wayward glance of wariness, the mercenaries pried open the main cabin door and after an assault of freezing wind, they set off for magnetic south, leaving Miss Pauling, the Medic, and the Engineer behind.

"Man, I feel like crap," Scout moaned as he finally dug out and dropped the blood-soaked bullet onto a plate with a small 'clink!'. His wound had begun to ooze again and blood fell in small droplets to the floor. Sweat beaded Scout's ashen face.

Silently, Moesby stood up and found an old shirt, ripping a sleeve from the hem and handing it to Scout to wrap around his leg and hip. With a hiss of pain, Scout tightened the fabric snuggly around himself to staunch the bleeding, giving it small tugs before he was satisfied he could stand and walk without passing out. He let out a large sigh and wiped his brow with the back of his hand, inadvertently smearing blood on himself as he did.

"You should get some rest," Moesby finally said, feeling queasy from the whole event.

"Can't. Crowder's gonna find out I'm not dead sooner or later. I don't wanna be stuck in here when he does."

"You're no good to yourself out there injured like this."

"I'm no good layin' around here, either."

Moesby sighed. He knew it was a losing battle; figuratively and literally. Everything he had done to save this young, reckless man's life would be undone the minute he walked out of the dormitory.

"I still don't think you realize what position you're in," he said with a twinge of concern. "You didn't nearly freeze to death in the vents because our air conditioning is malfunctioning."

Scout raised his eyebrows and shrugged. It meant nothing to him. Moesby rolled his eyes and continued.

"You're on Antarctica, Scout. I wasn't making this up earlier. Even if you find a way out, you'll last only minutes out there before you freeze to death. It's part of the reason I haven't been able to leave."

Scout swallowed hard. Part of him registered what Moesby was telling him but pride refused to allow him to believe it.

"My teammates'll come. All I have t'do is wait for 'em."

"Wait for them in here!" Moesby pleaded.

Scout took a deep breath and planted his hands on his thighs, gingerly pushing himself to his feet. He hissed in pain as his bullet wound stretched. "It ain't up for discussion. Come with me, man! I can get you outta here."

Moesby was suddenly caught off guard. His expression blanked for a moment. Fear enveloped him. "I...I can't."

"Yeah, you can! Stop hidin' in here like some sorta animal. My guys'll bust ya out!"

"No, you don't understand. I literally don't think I can."

Scout blinked in bewilderment. "What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"I told you before-"

Just then, there was the echoing sound of a door slamming shut out in the corridor. Scout and Moesby shared a horrified glance before they sprung into action. Without exchanging any further conversation, Scout dove into a nearby wardrobe and plastered himself towards the back of it as far as he could, out of sight. Moesby hurriedly scrambled around his small room, stooping to pick up any blood soaked rags and threw them under his cot just as his door slammed open. He straightened up and faced Crowder nervously.

"Boy!" Crowder rasped. "Where is he?"

"W-who, sir?" Moesby stuttered.

Crowder took a few menacing steps forward, looming over his slave and gripping him by the throat. "You know damn well who I'm talking about!"

Moesby clung to the hand that was squeezing his windpipe and gaped in horror. Unable to answer, Crowder threw him to the floor. He collided with the legs of his meager desk. Moesby grimaced in pain and was able to prop himself on his elbows before Crowder was upon him again.

"I know you've been helping him you little wretch! When will you learn? It's been seventeen years and here you are, still defying me!"

Moesby attempted to shield himself with his arms but Crowder stooped over and easily picked the young man up by the collar of his shirt. The rage in his eyes was positively animalistic. Baring his teeth, Crowder raised a fist. Moesby closed his eyes and braced himself. But the strike never came.

"Hey!" came the booming voice of Scout.

Crowder was only momentarily frozen in surprise before a sly smirk unfolded across his lips. He slowly glanced over his shoulder and saw the young man standing there defiantly; a scowl etched on his face.

"Ah, the coward reveals himself," Crowder said casually, dropping Moesby to the floor and turning to face his adversary. "No longer hiding in the walls like the miserable cockroach you are."

Scout narrowed his eyes but refused to cave into Crowder's goading. He clenched his fists.

"Says the guy who gets his kicks from hurtin' little kids. What's the matter? Too scared to take on someone bigger than half your size?"

It was Crowder's turn to scowl.

Scout continued, "You can talk real big when you've got your stupid, magic electric hands to do the dirty work for ya. I betcha couldn't fight like a real man if your life depended on it."

"Scout, stop!" Moesby said suddenly and scrambled to his feet.

Crowder's upper lip twitched in a menacing snarl. He turned towards Moesby and fiercely backhanded him, sending the small man back down to the floor. "You'll get what's coming to you, too, you little—!"

All of a sudden, there was a loud squelching sound as something connected with soft flesh. Crowder stood stunned for a moment, pausing his threat and staring at the wall ahead of him in shock; his mouth ajar. It took him only a few seconds to recover from the assault before he turned away from Moesby, coming face to face with his attacker. Scout stood fuming, chest heaving in rage. When Crowder's back was fully turned, Moesby could see the cause of the abrupt interruption. There, neatly embedded in the old man's back, was the pair of needle nose pliers Scout had used to extract the bullet from his hip.

Almost immediately, Scout had regretted his decision but he refused to show it in his face. He involuntarily swallowed and held his ground, watching Crowder's face contort into a monster-like fury he had never seen before.

"Like I said, moron," Scout said, trying to calm the quiver of fear in his voice, "pick on someone your own size."

The snarl on Crowder's face suddenly turned into a predatory grin. He curled his tentacle-like arm behind his back and without so much as a wince of pain, extracted the pliers from his flesh. Scout's mouth fell open and he unwillingly backed up.

Crowder held the tool in his hands, relishing in the sight of his own thick blood soaking the metal prongs. He examined it closely before his beady eyes met Scout's and he grinned like a Cheshire cat.

"Shit..," Scout muttered.

"I am going to use these," Crowder said, his voice so low it was almost a whisper, "to break apart each and every one of your fingers."

Scout hadn't realized that he was now backed into a wall. He tensed up as Crowder held the pliers against his neck and twisted them ever so slightly against his skin. And then lightning quick, the pliers disappeared and the pressure against Scout's neck was replaced by Crowder's spidery fingers. Instinctively, Scout coughed and grappled at the hand that gripped him. Moesby struggled to his feet to once again plead with Crowder to show them mercy but suddenly doubled over in pain as Crowder wrapped his hands around his wrist and delivered a lethal electric shock.

"No! Dammit!" Scout growled in frustration, watching as Moesby helplessly collapsed under the intense burning pain and became motionless seconds later.

When the assault was finished, Crowder stood over Moesby's lifeless body and panted through clenched teeth; spittle forming at the corners of his mouth. Silence dominated the room for a split second before Scout went into his tirade.

"You sick son of a bitch! I'm gonna kill you with my bare hands!"

He kicked and punched as hard as he could, ignoring the searing pain of his bullet wound, but was unable to find any firm purchase against Crowder's body. His growls of frustration were desperate and agonizing before they turned into a cry. Electricity warped down his body with nauseating force. All of his breath left his body and after attempting one more futile kick of his feet, Scout succumbed to darkness.

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