Chapter 25: An Act Of Mercy
The man nodded as she and Vaas followed him into one of the tents, where the man lay in bed, shivering and delirious. Vaas stood by the door as he watched the man in confusion and Alex bent over him.
She laid a gentle hand on the man's forehead, "How long has this been going on?"
"A week and four days, Miss Alex." Antonio said, "He got bitten by one of my pits in the arm, the bastard was smacking the dog's face. I told him not to, but he kept on. It took us a while for the dog to let go of him."
Alex blinked, and she removed her hand from the man's forehead, "And the dog? Is it still alive?"
"Yes, ma'am. But he's been growling at everyone and drooling like hell." Antonio looked in alarm as Alex sat defeated by his friend's side, "Can… can you help him?"
Alex shook her head, "No… I'm afraid not." She stood up and looked back at Vaas and Antonio, "He's got rabies, I'm afraid. And it cannot be cured… not while in this stage. I'm sorry, Antonio."
The man blinked in shock, and Vaas' face hardened, "You'll have to kill the dog, Antonio." Alex continued and the man looked at her, "We cannot have it infect anyone else. Burn the dog's body, because if anything eats it, it'll contaminate it too."
Antonio nodded, "A…alright, miss. I'll go do it right now." Alex nodded as the man left the hut, and she turned to Vaas, "Vaas… I'm sorry."
"What do you want me to do, hermana?" Vaas said, his voice emotionless, but she could see that it was disturbing him.
She sighed, "You're going to have to put him out of his misery and burn his body. The virus… it's hurting him. And if he bites anyone else, they'll be infected, too."
"Like a zombie virus?"
"Yes… like a zombie virus." Alex said, surprised at Vaas for knowing about zombies, but she figured it came from his movie collection.
Vaas grew quiet, but he sighed and drew out his gun, standing beside Ricardo's prone form. Alex stood beside him, but she laid a hand on his arm, "Wait…"
The pirate looked up at her as she reached down and laid a hand on Ricardo's feverish head, "The Lord is my shepherd…" She started, looking down at Ricardo's face, "I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoint my head with oil; my cup run over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever…. Amen."
Alex straightened and looked up at Vaas, nodding. He covered Ricardo's face with a pillow, and pulled the trigger, the pillow muffling the gun fire a little. Blood immediately pooled from under the bed as the sick man's body grew pale and cold. She took in a deep breath before turning to Vaas, who was looking at her strangely.
"What?" She asked as she turned to the pirate.
"You prayed for him, hermana." Vaas said, pointing down at Ricardo's corpse, "Why pray for him?"
She shrugged, "It's my act of mercy, I guess. I believe everyone has a soul, Vaas." She pointed down at Ricardo, "He may have killed many, and I may be the only one who has every prayed for him. But I believe everyone should have a chance of redemption to whatever God they believe in."
Vaas scoffed, "We killed far too much to be able to go to Paradiso, Alex."
"That is up to whatever gods you believe in to decide, not me." She said again, before putting a hand up and rubbing her brows. "I don't know. I guess it just doesn't feel right to me. It's complicated."
The pirate merely nodded, before looking down at her, "What about me, hermana? Will you pray for me if I ever become like… this? Near death or dead already?"
Alex remained silent, before striding in front of Vaas and looking at him straight in the eye. The pirate stared back at her, his bright green eyes clashing with her ocean blue ones, as if she was looking for something. She sighed before nodding, "Yes. I will pray for you when it comes to that, Vaas."
"I have no soul, Alex. I kill far too many people." Vaas growled at her.
"The fact that your eyes look sad right now because of Ricardo dying tells me otherwise, Vaas." Alex said, and the pirate blinked. She looked at him sadly, before taking his hand that held the gun, holstering his gun back to his hip, and turning away. The pirate looked down at the corpse of his man, thinking about what just happened. She was a little right… Ricardo was one of his sharpshooters, the best with a sniper rifle, and Vaas always took him when he needed someone to get the job done. It saddened him that such a man was gone, and he had wished the man could go to a better place.
It surprised him when Alex prayed. Other people always thought of them as a band of miscreants, drug addicts, and murderers. The fact that she believed that they still all possessed a soul, and that theirs was a soul worth a prayer, shook him to the core. She knew of the evils they had done and what they were capable of, but she was brave enough to believe that there was still something good in them.
Even though he knew deep inside of himself, that the good in him was gone.
"Goodbye, amigo." Vaas muttered finally, covering up his sharpshooter's corpse with a sheet, before heading out the tent.