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[SR4 Fic] The Awakened World

Marko Cain

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...the bullet wounds in his chest burned with a searing pain as the muscle and tissue contracted around the lead pellets. They were in his lungs and any sound he tried to make was nothing more than a crimson gurgle as he choked on his own blood.

The night was dark and rain fell heavily soaking him and everything around him in muddy droplets. Buildings burned and the sounds of battle rang out all around him. Suppressed full auto gunfire echoed lightly as he watched defenseless women and children mowed down in a hail of gunfire as they fled for safety.

Invisible tears were, dashed away by rain and mud, streamed down his face as he watched his beloved cornered by her adversaries taken to the ground and kicked and beaten until she no longer had the strength to resist only to be kicked and beaten some more.

"... this is Delta-1 to Tac-Com," one of the men said standing close to him. "Fish in a barrel, sir and we're doing a Rain Dance."

"Roger that Delta-1," he heard an audible reply modulated by the unit's commlink. "This is Storm Cloud, we're gonna make it wet in the kill box, E.T.A. forty-five seconds."

His eyes closed and the world grew hazy and filtered. A large ogre of a metahuman picked up the woman they'd beaten to death and hurriedly ran of into the darkness of the night along with all the other armed men.

When the choppers came he could barely open his eyes. They hovered for a few moments before a rain of fiery missiles launched from their wings and obliterated the landscape and decimated every building, garden, and monument. Not far from where he lay one struck the earth and a concussive blast of air sprang forward followed by a ball of fire.

His eyes grew wide as it drew near and if he could have swore he would have. Engulfed in the concussion he was swept up into the air and thrown through a tall bamboo wall and cast down the side of the hills and mountains he used to call home.

Broken and bleeding in a cool stream far below the hell that happened above, he waited for death to claim him.

A cry out into the night reverberated through out Chunin's small apartment as he sprang up from his sleep coated in sweat and gripping his gun. Frantically he struggled to gain his bearings but the nightmare kept it's grip even in the awakened world. He aimed at the closet, the door, the small kitchen all in hopes of targeting the imaginary threat his mind had brought to reality.

His breathing was heavy and expanded the scars on his chest that had healed long ago. Content that he was safe he set the gun, a matte black Savalette Guardian, back under his pillow and swept his legs over allowing his feet to pad down onto a cold hardwood floor.

With controlled breath Marko Cain ran his hands through his short damp hair and forced the painful memories to go back where they came from.

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"Mark-O!" A loud, deep voice called out to him from across the gym as he entered. A massive African American troll approached him, over eight feet tall and five feet in width, all of it muscle. "Ma nigga with a trigga, s'up," He looked at the human and cocked a trollish eyebrow. "You look like hell bruh, you doin' alright?"

Marko sighed and rubbed the thick stubble growing on his face. "Been good Brick, thanks, haven't been sleeping well lately though." He locked hands with the troll and greeted him, leaning in to pat him on the back.

"Andrea riding the skin off the lil' shinobi or what?" Brick laughed.

"Shit, I wish." He tried to chuckle, but was too tired. "That little freak been around?"

Brick stomped his was through the gym past the workout machines and the mats and the fighting ring. "Nope. She texted me earlier in the week, said yo' ass bettah reach out and touch a sistah soon, or she's done wif ya."

"Whatever, she says that every time I turn my comm off." Marko sat down and took off his shirt, leaning back he grabbed the bar of a set of 20th century weights. "Spot me, will ya? Make yerself useful."

Brick stood there and pretty much just made sure the claimed ninja didn't choke himself. The accumulated weight Marko was lifting was little more than a paperweight to the giant, ebony skinned troll. "How the hell do you go days or even weeks without your commlink on bruh? Shit dog, even the Amish are using AR now, gotta be better than rolling over next to that tragedy they gotta bang every night."

Marko tried to remain focused despite the trolls pearly white grin forcing him to acknowledge his joke. "I went half my life with out one Brick, I was trained not to trust my eyes and rely on my other senses. Switching off my commlink gives me time to reflect on the world that is, not what the one they want us to see. Besides, the Amish reproduce asexually, everyone knows that."

"Yer fuggin wif me, right?" Brick asked, again his eyebrow cocked.

The iron bar rested again upon its perch and he smiled wide. "Yeah, I am. I forgot to put it on the charger."

"For eleven days?" The trog's skepticism was obvious.

He stopped and looked at the large man. "What the hell, you and Andrea have a 'Marko Calender' or something? You just mark off the days you go with out seeing my face or something? You're smothering me Brick, I don't think this is going to work out between us."

"Nigga, hush." He flicked the Caucasian man upside his head with a meaty hand. "Look, you know you mah dog bruh, but Andrea worries about you even if she doesn't show it ninety nine point nine percent of the time." The behemoth of a man folded his arms. "She told me about the Vory."

"What about em'?" Marko said, irritation rising to the surface in his voice as the impact from the trolls hand nearly gave him a concussion. "Damn, why you gotta hit?"

"All of them Cain?" The troll was almost scolding him at this point, luckily there wasn't anyone close by to hear them bickering at this late hour. "How many is going to be enough, huh? You've been offing muthas like flies around here the past eight years dog, an you ain't found shit but a few names and metric fuckton of enemies. How many has it brought back?"

"Huh?" Marko looked away, thinking.

"How many has it brought back, huh? Friends, family... how many has it resurrected because I sure as fuck don' see any lil' ninja runnin' about up this bitch." He waved his hands about to draw attention to their surroundings.

"First, if you saw them, they wouldn't be very good ninjas." Marko eased a smile into his reply. "Second, you don't understand how it works, I have to do this. Third, the Vory were had nothing to do with my vendetta, that was business. They crossed me."

"I call bullshit."

Sighing Marko leaned against the wall and folded his arms. "I was hired to wet a guy. I did. They refused to pay me because his wife and daughter were still alive, despite not being part of the contract. I wouldn't have accepted it if they had been. They sent some of their own guys to finish the job, and they don't pay me to boot."

"But, fifteen bruh? C'mon."

"He was protected, I wanted him, the man who crossed me and sent his men to kill an innocent woman and girl. If he had any honor he'd have met me where I told him, alone, to accept his fate. Instead he chose to hide." Marko shrugged. "You know the rest, and I didn't kill them all. I booted one out a third story window while he was coming out of the crapper."

"I couldn't imagine a living a life like all you runners, it'd blow my fuggin mind." The trog laughed. "What made that guy so lucky?"

"Killing is easy, man." Marko shrugged again. "Especially asshole Vory. He'd have had an easy way out, dying right there... but kicking that dumb russkie out the window with belt still undone and Tee pee still sticking to his shoe, he's gotta live with that, and the stutter he gained from the impact, for the rest of his life."

Brick was at a loss for words, he simply pointed and said, "Dat's some fugged up shit, bruh."

Marko smiled and shrugged. "Sometimes, it's the little things we learn to cherish most."

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