“Grey has no agenda… Grey has the ability, that no other color has, to make the invisible visible.” –Roma Tearne
“Again, fire!” Rogue commanded. The six prone mercenaries, armed with high-powered rifles, obeyed without hesitation. Just as the explosion of gunfire erupted from their barrels, half a dozen scattered soldiers simultaneously dropped dead on the pass below them. Zaria stood from where she was laying in the dirt and dusted off her desert camouflage pants.
“All units dead and accounted for, sir!” Zaria saluted the blonde soldier whose jaw was locked in concentration.
“Stay here, Zaria. Murphy, you and Jackson cover me with Zaria. The rest of you come with me. Do not take your sights off the bastard until I give the order to move,” Rogue said levelly.
“Aye aye,” the Irishman nodded from where he laid, sights still locked onto the dusty canvas curtain of the transport vehicle. Rogue span on her heel and set off at a steady jog down the crumbling overpass with her three comrades in tow. Zaria sighed sadly before retaking her position next to Murphy.
“Don’t worry kiddo. She’ll relax once this is over. Old Yellow-Eyes is just trying to keep us safe,” Murphy grumbled through his scruffy beard. Zaria smiled appreciatively.
“Thanks Murph. Keep an eye on my girl, you old leprechaun,” she replied.
Down below, Rogue had drawn her chrome pistol from her thigh holster and had it aimed steadily at the canvas flap in back of the transport. The three men that she had accompanying her were spaced out to open fire at the drop of a hat. Rogue’s left hand extended nervously, took hold of a handful of canvas and tore it from its place. Seated inside with a pleased expression on his face was a man that Rogue knew all too well. His dark hair fell down to his shoulders, framing his pallid slender visage. His nearly black eyes, cold and calculating didn’t waver under the venomous yellow of Rogue’s own.
“Azrael, so good to see you again sweetheart. How long has it been? Three years?” His smooth, gentle voice crooned. Instead of answering, Rogue grabbed hold of the man’s hair and dragged him head first from the vehicle. A grunt of pain escaped his mouth and brought a pleased smirk to Rogue’s lips.
“I know two men that are going to very pleased to see you, Seraph.”
Zipping a pair of thick, yellow zip-ties around his wrists, Rogue shoved Seraph back into the rear of the vehicle transport and waved for Murphy and Zaria to head back to camp. Turning back to her team, Rogue beckoned for one of the men to take the drivers seat before clambering into the back with their hostage, her other companion, Conner following in behind her. The transport rumbled to life once more and was soon cruising down the broken and destroyed highway of the Wastelands.
Rogue’s eyes flitted over Seraph’s figure quickly and critically. The yellow venom of her stare flicking back and forth each time the dangerous man twitched in his seat. His color was pleased and interested in Rogue. Seraph quickly licked his lips and moved his gaze from Rogue’s to Conner’s.
Conner, a young man in his twenties was immediately consumed with fear and Rogue’s stomach churned with nausea at the sudden transition.
“What’s your name my friend?” Seraph asked in his smooth, honeyed voice. Rogue stood from where she sat and lunged forward, clutching Seraph’s throat in her fingers.
“Shut your mouth,” Rogue snarled, “You have nothing to say to him. I don’t want to hear your voice!”
Seraph’s color flared with joy at Rogue’s outburst, but a faint pout permeated his features.
“Oh Azrael, what became of you my child? You used to smile so beautifully at the demise of the weak,” Seraph crooned. Rogue’s hand shook with rage and her fingers hovered over the knife latched around her bicep. Every ounce of her being screamed for her to slit Seraph’s throat then and there, but she couldn’t, not yet. She owed that to Tanner and Virus. Rogue let out a slow breath, forcing the mysterious black veins to recede back into her skin.
“Whatever death I could give you pales to what They are going to do to you,” Rogue smiled wickedly.
“Oh darling, Virus and Tinman are going to have to wait,” Seraph grinned. Rogue’s breath caught in her throat and the blood drained from her face. In that moment she tasted the red aura on the overpass above them as the transport truck drew closer. A rifle round pierced through the driver side of the vehicle. The thin beam of light that followed was quickly accompanied by a trickle of blood pouring from the driver’s skull. Rogue dove to the side and wrapped Conner in her arms as the truck jerked and rolled. End over end, the metal death trap tumbled down the road several dozen yards before screeching to a halt in a cloud of dust and scattered debris.
Blood trailed down Rogue’s scalp from a large gash on the top of her head. Conner grunted beneath the weight of Rogue’s body that pressed down on his chest.
“Fuck,” Rogue hissed. She looked up from where she lay on the trucks upturned roof to the dusty sunlight beaming onto the canvas and slowly began to crawl towards it, dragging Conner with her. The young man was groaning and Rogue could feel his dislodged shoulder as she clawed forward. Reaching the exit, she hauled their bodies out into the wasteland and gasped for fresh air. The cold winds chilled the sweat that now clung to her body from her exertion.
Footsteps. Rogue rolled straight back and drew her pistol. At the end of her barrel stood a squad of soldiers, rifles raised on their dangerous prey. Beside them Seraph stood dusting off his dark clothing. When his eyes met Rogue’s, they were no longer filled with joy, but a cold stoicism had enveloped him that set Rogue immediately on edge.
“Azrael, put that pathetic weapon away. Come with me and I’ll let your human friend live,” Seraph ordered as his armored and well armed men in black tactical gear moved in on her. Rogue felt Conner’s hand grasp her ankle and she looked down startled.
“Rogue, he won’t,” Conner pleaded. Rogue nodded and her yellow eyes began to fill with cold black tendrils.
“Let’s move, Azrael,” a soldier ordered, placing his hand on her shoulder. Rogue smiled at Conner. Turning, she drew her knife from her bicep and whipped the blade across the soldiers arm, slicing through the tendons. In the same motion, Rogue raised her pistol to the side of the soldier’s head and fired a round through his skull. Snapping her gun arm toward the remaining soldiers, Rogue fired a round through the protective shielding of the furthest soldiers helmet and through his eye socket. Gunfire erupted from the soldiers as they attempted to bring Rogue down, however neither were skilled enough to harm her. Rogue’s body shifted and danced around the target areas their colors attempted to hit as she closed in on them. The blonde assassin stomped a steel-toed combat boot into the kneecap of one man. Catching his head as he fell, Rogue snapped the soldier’s neck with a fluid flick of her wrist. Using the man’s body as a weapon, she flung the corpse into the remaining soldier, sending him tumbling to the ground where she strode over to him and fired a round through his skull.
To her side, Seraph clapped his dusty hands together mockingly, a sneer gracing his angular features.
“Well done, Azrael. I’m pleased to see you still maintain your ability to kill. Now, enough playing. We’re leaving.” Rogue laughed and beamed a feral grin.
“Oh, and are you going to take me alone Seraph? You couldn’t then, so what makes you think you’re able to now?” She prodded.
“Who said that I couldn’t handle you myself? Fenris? Oh darling, you and I both know how much of a fool that boy was.” Rogue jerked to the side as a blade cut through the air near her head.
“Where did that come from?” Rogue thought in a panic. She raised a timid hand to the side of her face and felt the warmth of her own blood trickling downward from a small incision. Seraph smiled broadly and took a casual stride toward her.
“Rogue, if I had truly wanted you dead, you would be. Everything is under my control. Even you…. Even your sweet, gentle Zaria is just another of my toys,” Seraph taunted.
“No!” Rogue screamed. Her right fist snapped forward, meeting nothing but air as Seraph easily side stepped the strike and smashed the back of his fist into Rogue’s jaw, followed by a swift punch to her chest that sent her sprawling into the dirt. Chips of asphalt and jagged glass burrowed into her palms on impact. Each tiny, jagged shard leaked steady crimson tear drops.
“You cannot win, child. You will return with me whether you choose to do so of your own free will or not.” Seraph’s black shoes clicked loudly across the asphalt until he loomed over Rogue’s petite frame that shook with pain. She had taken a beating before, but never so swiftly or with such force. The way that he’d taken her out, she should have been able to handle. Why did she feel so fragile?
“Was there something on that knife?” Rogue realized in panic. Her body felt as if it were growing steadily weaker and the idea of poison being involved solidified in her mind.
“Fuck you,” she spat, glaring through venomous eyes. She shifted on the balls of her feet and lunged, knife in hand to stab Seraph in the stomach, however the blade never reached its mark. Seraph caught the blade wielding hand in is own and snapped it to the side, shattering the fragile bones beneath Rogue’s skin. Rogue howled in agony, dropping the knife into the blood stained dirt.
“So, against your will it is,” Seraph scorned. With a single quick jerk of his leg, the dark haired man crushed his knee into Rogue’s nose, crushing the appendage with a jet of blood and knocking her into black unconsciousness.
Seraph turned his gaze from the bleeding young woman at his feet to the single sniper sitting with her feet dangling off of the overpass above.
“Nakir, call in the helicopter. We have what we came for,” Seraph ordered. He then smiled at the injured Conner that was attempting to crawl to Rogue, his palm filled with dirt and shards of broken glass as he inched his way over to his only chance for survival.
“Rogue, wake up. Please Rogue, please!” Conner muttered as he used his single good arm to reach for her.
“Now now, boy, she can’t hear you. But I promise, when I’ve finished with her, she’ll be far better than she is now. It’s a pity you won’t be alive to see just how much of a monster she’s capable of becoming,” Seraph chuckled. The size twelve, steel-toed boot that crushed his skull immediately silenced Conner’s whimper.
“You know, Azrael sure has gotten weak. I can’t believe she let that soldier touch her,” Nakir mused over the communications link. Seraph frowned and leaned against the overturned vehicle.
“Nakir, how angry do you think Azrael would be if she heard you saying that about her?”
“You’re right father, I’m sorry. I just missed her is all,” Nakir sighed, her high voice falling in sadness.
“Well we’ll have her back to her old self in no time. There’s no need to worry, darling,” Seraph promised. The dark haired man placed a fresh cigarette between his lips and lit the end with a silver lighter from his pocket. He released a cloud of white, toxic smoke into the air and laughed a deep, raspy laugh that came from somewhere deep in his stomach.
“Rogue. What an interesting choice of a name.” The whir of a helicopter’s rotor droned overhead and Seraph stepped away from the vehicle to lift Rogue over his shoulder. Nakir, a small, pixie like girl with short black hair and a large rifle slung over her shoulder sauntered her way to where the jet black helicopter was lowering itself down onto Seraph’s position. She wore desert camouflage pants, a loose fitting dark brown shirt and a shemagh wrapped casually around her neck that churned and contorted in the chaotic winds that the helicopter stirred from its rest.
“Father?” Nakir started, a concerned expression furrowing her soft features. Seraph stepped onto the helicopter and lowered Rogue into a bit of canvas netting before looking back at his daughter expectantly.
“Won’t they come after us? After her? Virus and Tinman are no amateurs.”
Seraph smirked and took a seat in the rear of the helicopter as Nakir clambered in and took her position on the machine’s mounted fifty caliber.
“They’ll come, but not until something other than Azrael’s disappearance pushes them. Virus is far too predictable,” Seraph answered confidently. His low voice was brimming with anticipation.
The helicopter lifted from the earth as its blades slashed through the air. Seraph turned his acute gaze over Rogue’s still form as glass, pushed out of her palms by her healing capability, clinked onto the metal floor of the helicopter.
“She’ll be awake soon. Perhaps she’s not as weak as I had initially thought.”