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Chapter 19

Banjo still struggled to get his head around the events of the cavern as he sat in the heart of the H.O.S.T craft. The sudden revelation that he had spent the last year of his life living on an actual creature, and working in the stomach of that creature made him feel physically sick. He stared at Cass who turned away from his look, and his eyes wandered to the floor in resolute misery. Lotti placed a hand on his and smiled kindly at him. Banjo tried his best to replicate the smile as he looked into her face and thought about her own personal turmoil she had experienced within the last few hours.

"Are you alright?" he asked. The smile faded from Lotti's face and she shook her head in response to his question. Everything that had happened in the last few hours had resembled a blurred dream...or nightmare which Banjo wished he could wake from. No matter the outcome, their lives had undoubtedly changed following the series of revelations concerning the planet they had chosen to colonize. The dream seemed to be fading...

Creed forced himself to his knees, blood still slowly seeping through his injured groin. His attempts to stop the bleeding had proved futile and the cloth which he held at his groin was soaked in blood. He could see no sign of either of his two bodyguards, and he could only hope that at least one of them had ran for help. He could see the container of plastic solvent that he had used so effectively on Cole earlier and he realised that may be his only option to stem the bleeding. Creed pulled himself across the floor of the dome, half exhausted from the effort, half drained from the loss of blood. A trail followed him across the floor as he slowly forced his body along the flooring, all the time thoughts of hatred growing inside him, spurring him along. Sheer determination and constant will power overcame the feelings which threatened to swallow Creed and take his life, the hatred for that damned infernal vicar...and the people who had requested his presence here.

Creed leant with his back resting against the large container and he allowed himself a moment to rest, panting heavily under the exertion of his journey across the dome. He stared upward and wished for death to end the constant pain which swelled in his body. He shook the thoughts from his head and grimaced and with bitter resolve forced his hands on the rim of the container and with his last reserves of strength he pulled the container to the floor, spilling its contents across the surface of the dome. As the liquid flowed freely from the container, Creed lowered his bleeding groin into the solvent and screamed as the liquid touched his wound and sealed the skin in a thin protective covering of plastic solution. The liquid hardened almost on contact and as the plastic squeezed and contracted over his groin, Creed slammed his fists against the hard floor in pain. He rolled over onto his back and pulled himself away from the oozing liquid as it spread across the dome, slowly hardening as it extended its grip along the floor. He lay for a moment staring at the ceiling, allowing the plastic solution to harden fully and cool as it set around his genital and breathed heavily under the artificial lighting of the dome.

The room seemed to spin as he lay on the floor staring at the ceiling of the dome and with bitter resolve he forced himself into a sitting position. His eyes cast around the inside of the dome and he focused on the blood smeared across the floor...his blood. Pure hatred turned to steely determination as revenge motivated Creed to stand, forcing his legs to support his body. He moved unsteadily at first, attempting to adjust to the new sensation from his groin as the plastic moved and contracted in conjunction with the movement of his body. He grimaced and clenched his teeth and pain seared through his body as he forced each step forward, toward the table where his trousers still lay discarded in a heap and the remains of the leather belt lay in two pieces on the floor and a visual recognition of recent events. He bent and pulled at the pieces of clothing, pulling them up over his legs and covering his plastic encrusted groin and groaned as pain from the wound. Creed lent heavily on the wooden surface of the table and pulled at the zip on his clothing, before reaching to a small drawer concealed in the side of the table. His fingers toyed and wrapped themselves around the metal knob on the drawer and he pulled at the wooden drawer pulling it free from its moorings. As it slid from its resting position, a metallic object slid into view and Creed reached into the drawer and pulled out a small revolver. He clutched the metal of the gun to his chest, closed his eyes and pulled the object toward his mouth where he planted a kiss on the cold metal.

Light shone through the windows and cast shadows across the walls of the dome. Creed stirred from his position on the floor and pushed himself into a sitting position. He stared at the gun resting in his palm, weighed it and pointed it toward the doorway. Unfinished business he thought and stood to his feet, feeling his strength return from the massive blood loss of the previous day. He sagged slightly under the weight of his own body and expectation and steadied himself on the table as he forced his legs to stand and support him. His eyes cast around the room until they hovered on the partially open door where two shadows lingered in the rectangular opening.

"Ah, gentlemen" said Creed weakly. The door opened slightly and on the threshold of the doorway stood the two bodyguards, apprehensive over their employer’s condition. Creed smiled in their direction and beckoned them inside the dome, waving the gun in their general direction and ushering them to enter. "Please...please my friends, come in". The first of the guards pushed his way into the dome and stepped into the building, glancing over his shoulder toward his colleague as he shuffled forward. The second bodyguard nodded him onwards, encouraging his comrade forward.

"Sir..." he started.

"Please...both of you, we have much to plan" Creed ushered the bodyguard further into the room and waved toward the second guard who pushed his way into the dome. Creed could see a bandage wrapped around the cranium of the second guard and pulled out a chair at the table for him. He nodded at the empty seat, "who did that?" he asked, "the vicar...". The bodyguard nodded in confirmation and stalked the chair, joining his companion in the center of the room. "Please...take a seat" urged Creed and pulled the chair from the table. The guard hesitated briefly before accepting the gesture and took a seat at the table under the scrutiny of his employer’s gaze. "Gentlemen, the secret to good business is fear" began Creed. "We have been disrespected by not only the leaders of this colony, but also from that damn vicar and his girl", his hand touched his injured crotch as he spoke and he flinched under the pressure of his own fingers. "what we need to do is install that level of respect..." his hand stroked the end of the barrel of the gun as he spoke, before he placed his hand on the injured head of his guard. "we have all been shamed by their interference...you" he stroked the bandaged head of the guard as he spoke, "have been physically embarrassed and assaulted by these people" he apologized, "and you have been shamed by your cowardice" he spun on the standing guard and raised the gun swiftly to face level and eased his finger on the trigger.

The gun exploded in the face of the bodyguard and echoed around the building. Bone and metal collided as the bullet from the gun exploded from the barrel and shattered the face of the guard, blood and bone fragments exploding in all directions from the impact. The second guard spun in his chair and watched as his comrade fell to the floor, a gaping wound opening across his face as the impact of the bullet spread a red smear across the man's forehead. Creed turned to the sitting guard before the body had fallen to the floor and paused, looking down at his employee as he listened to the sound of the collapsing man crumpling to the floor. "I can't stand cowardice" complained Creed as he fired a further two shots into the head of the guard, without looking at the body. The first bullet shattered the cheek bone of the guard and exploded in the geyser of blood and bone fragments leapt from the guard’s face. The second bullet skimmed across the guard’s scalp, taking a large chunk of skin in a cascading avalanche of blood from the open wounds on his head. Creed bent forward and whispered into the guard’s ear as he gripped the table, "don't worry...he ran, but you...you..." Creed stroked the bandage as he spoke, and the guard closed his eyes.

Creed placed the gun in the small of the man’s neck and squeezed the trigger, "disappointed me as well" he finished as the bullet thrust a path through his neck and pushed through the skin at the front of his neck in a cavalcade of blood. The guard sat frozen for a moment, staring out into the space before him, blood oozing from his mouth before slumping forward in a bloody mess of the table. Once again Creed placed the gun against the man’s skull and fired two more shots into the back of his head, watching as the skull exploded into a multitude of bloody fragments. As the blood ran from the remnants of the guard’s head Creed pushed his fingers through the man’s hair, allowing the blood his smear his fingers, "Ssh..." he eased, "it'll be alright. You won't be the last" he promised.

"I want to see" stated Cass as she sat in the confined area of the Reverend’s craft.

"Pardon?" remarked Aston.

"The creature..." commented Cass again, "I want to see"

"Well...I certainly have no objections" commented the Reverend, "Mr. Jax?" Banjo sat away from the others in the craft and stared at the ground and slowly shook his head. "Good...right then, I would suggest we leave now. I do have business to attend to and I would rather finish this as soon as possible" He stood and crossed to the shutter and turned to his companions, "Shall we?"

Creed stood outside the Central dome, a clothing bloodied and disheveled from the events of the previous day and that morning. He ran his hand through his hair, smoothing down any errant strands of follicles before entering the building.

The main reception area was quiet, paper and boxes were strewn across the table and the floor and Creed stared around the empty building. "Norton!" he roared into the empty space. "Norton!" he shouted again, "face me!". Silence greeted his response and Creed could feel the anger swelling inside him. He looked at his bloodied hands and clenched his fists, ""Michael!"

The wooden door at the rear of the dome swung open and the wheelchair bound Michael pushed his way from the confines of the outer office. "Creed" he acknowledged. He grabbed at the wheels of the chair and forced the metal bound seat out into the reception area. He faced Creed and reached for the pocket in the side of his chair and pulled a small red packet from its pouch. He pulled out an oxygen stick and thrust the packet in the direction of Creed, "Oxygen stick?" he offered. Creed slapped the box from his hand and Michael watched in mock horror as the packet slammed into the floor. He placed the remaining stick into his mouth and spoke, "that was hardly necessary" he commented.

"I haven't come here to play games" snapped Creed.

"Just what have you came here for?" demanded Michael, shuffling in his chair uncomfortably.

"An end to all of this" Creed said softly leaning forward into Michael face pressing down on the arms of the chair. "It was you who started this Michael, it was you who called in this vicar"

"I did it for the good of the colony"

"Bollocks!" snapped Creed, "the good of the colony...it’s never been about the colony has Michael, even in the early days it was always about what you can get for yourself. At least with my kind of extortion, people know where they stand, how many months have you been syphoning off funds for your own coffers? how many deaths are you accountable for?"

"Not as many as you Creed" whispered Michael.

"Your deluded" Creed straightened and rubbed his fists. "You're as dirty as I am, it’s just my linen gets washed out in public while yours is hidden in books and accounts. We're two of a kind Michael..."

"I'm nothing like you Creed!" snapped Michael. Creed threw his head back and laughed.

"Your more like me than I am!" he laughed.

"I think you had better leave!" threatened Michael, staring defiantly at Creed.

"Or what?" the question hung in the air between them like a stale smell.

"Damn you!" spat Michael.

"You were always a fool" said Creed as he leant close to Michael’s face, "and I can't abide fools". Michael looked directly into Creed's eyes and spat in his face. Saliva ran down Creed's cheek leaving a mucus trail in its wake. "That vicar will find out what we've been hiding, and when he does it will be the end of both of us...that I can promise you"

"Is that a threat?" asked Michael.

"No..., I don't make threats" his fist came down heavy on the skull of Michael, leaving a growing red mark on the side of his face. Michael dropped the oxygen stick and clutched the injured part of his face, then looked up as Creed stood over the wheelchair bound man and brought the gun down on his forehead. The metal of the weapon connected with the soft tissue around Michael’s eye and blood splashed over his face from the impact. Tiny tendrils of crimson broke the surface of his face and caressed his face as they slowly crept down toward his mouth and chin. Creed savagely struck him for a third time, this time thrusting the weapon into his mouth. Blood and teeth mixed in conjunction as Michael gasped for air.

"Dillonger..." he begged. Creed grasped at the tubing connected to the back of the chair and pulled the pipping from its moorings in the support system of the chair. Traces of blue fluid spilled across the flooring of the dome, splashing on the floor like the tiny torrents of rain which had plagued the colony for months. Michael gasped and writhed in his wheelchair, desperately clutching at the air as Creed reached for the tubing snaking into the man's body. Piece by piece he pulled the tubes from Michael’s nose, mouth and veins and stood watching as red and blue spilled across the floor, staining his shoes. "Damn you..." whispered Michael hoarsely as the life ebbed from his body.

"Hardly" said Creed and turned from the dying man. He stood in the doorway of the Central Dome and stared into the distance toward the mining area as the sun rose over the horizon.

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