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Zenith Omega
Contrapasso: Side Story
Thu Jun 4, 2009 8:25pm


Molting II

Two years later

Zenith lazily twirled her kodachi as she circled in time to the female reploid across from her. Some new rookie. Antigo demanded she take a hand in her training but to Zenith it seemed a waste of time. Their argument was still fresh in her mind.

“I could be out making us money dammit!” She growled, watching as Antigo settled his breastplate over his shoulders and started buckling it in place.

“You could be. But it's just as important we get the raw recruits in top form as it is you go off on your little side jobs and squirrel away half the profits.” Zenith felt a blush burn its way across her cheeks. She had no idea how Antigo could know about her private accounts. She reacted poorly and was rewarded with Antigo turning his 'I'm-disappointed-in-you look' on and delivering it to her full force.

“I'm not mad about the money Firecracker.” He said quietly. “Everyone has a little nest egg. But you've got to do your part as one of the veterans of this organization. Synthia has the same build as you and potential. With a little guidance she could be a genuine asset to the Ravens.”

For the second time in minutes Zenith was embarrassed by her behavior. Characteristically, it made her surly. “Whatever. You want me to knock the little bint around for a few minutes then I will but I'm in no way happy about it.”

“Thanks for the heads up.”

Zenith frowned and saw Synthia hesitate, quite obviously thinking the expression was directed at her. It hadn't been but Zenith was quick to take advantage of the seconds-long drop in her opponent's guard. Swooping forward she brought her right-hand kodachi down in a feint even as she looped her left-hand sword through a liquid horizontal strike. Synthia, wielding a single beam saber, responded as best she could and Zenith had to admit the younger reploid had remarkable skill as she swept her blade up then reversed it to narrowly block the second sword. But she was hardly as skilled as Zenith. The assassin quickly brought her boot up in a knee-strike that caught Synthia just under the solar plexus knocking the wind from her. As she stumbled back Zenith stalked forward sliding her paired kodachi through a wicked series of maneuvers that gave no opening for attack. Just as Synthia's back bounced off the wall Zenith twisted her wrist and knocked the younger reploid's beam saber from her grasp then settled her second blade against her throat.

Synthia's eyes widened as Zenith leaned forward slightly and the razor-honed edge of her kodachi gently creased the flesh of her neck. Blood began to bead up along the point of contact and Synthia's heart-shaped face drained of color at the killer's gleam in Zenith's red eyes.

“Zenith!” Antigo's voice cracked through the tension in the training sim. Leaning back Zenith sheathed her swords and swiveled to face her commander. “That's more than enough wouldn't you say?”

“You don't like my training methods?” Zenith asked in a sickly-sweet tone.

“That was training? It looked a lot more like an idiotic show of dominance.”

Zenith laughed. It wasn't a pleasant sound. “What dominance do I have to prove to that?” She jerked a thumb at the rookie. She was on her knees, hand at her throat, trying hard not to cry.

Antigo ran a gloved hand through his hair, a gesture Zenith had seen a thousand times. Usually when he was trying to pack away some frustration or another and think rationally. “I asked you to welcome her into the fold. Not terrify her.” His voice sounded tired. The argument was becoming appallingly recognizable and uniform. To the point he probably could write a script of it and the supposed spur-of-the-moment argument would match up rather well.

“That was a welcome.” Zenith replied with a nasty smile.

“It was not how we welcomed you.”

The smile turned to a frown. Zenith felt the old hate and shame well up in her, settling as constricting bands over her chest. She had been weak when she joined the Ravens. Prone to emotional outbursts and a disgusting sense of sentimentality. “Maybe it should have been.” She growled, moving to stalk past Antigo. The black-armored reploid's hand settled like a vice on her shoulder stalling her completely.

“You can either apologize to that girl or take your leave of our company.” There was no hint of threat in his voice. Just plain fact. The realization sent a jolt down Zenith's spine and she turned to examine the female reploid, now staring up at the two, the small wound on her neck completely forgotten. Before she consciously considered it Zenith took a step forward and drew in breath to speak.

Then Pride reared up in her mind. What do I need from this pack of fools? I've learned all they can teach. Staying will only make me weak. Whether the thought was her own or that of some distorted personality file lurking in her cybernetic subconscious Zenith paused at it and considered what had been said. Then she turned away from the girl and stormed past Antigo. Glancing at his face as she passed Zenith felt a sadistic warmth filter through her. The commander of the Ravens stiffened briefly in shock then his face melted into an expression she had seen only rarely on his stoic features.

That of regret.

Just as she was about to break stride the mask slid back into place removing all trace of emotion from the commander's features. It stung like betrayal and her pace did not slow.


Packing away her loose credit chits on a spare compartment of her belt Zenith examined her room, eyes roaming over the clothing acquired over the years of her association with the Ravens. There was the green dress that glimmered like an emerald, bought for an assassination mission at the tail-end of the Kievan Revolution. Afterwards she and Antigo had visited the classiest restaurant in the city and celebrated a job well done.

Running her hand down the smooth fabric Zenith felt the sting of tears welling in her eyes and quickly shoved the dress aside. Then another. And another. Every article had some memory attached to it. Muttering a curse she stormed out of the room. She needed none of it. Her armor and weapons were all Zenith had ever needed.

A puff of cigar smoke smashed into Zenith's face nearly stunning her with its foulness. Charlie Witt took another drag as he looked the assassin over. “Where you goin' in such a hurry?”

“Does it matter?” Zenith snarled, glaring at the human demolitionist with eyes that nearly smoldered.

“Reckon not. Just curious is all.”

“Curiosity kills.”

“True. But I've never heard that axiom applied to friends before.” For a brief second it seemed Zenith was about to speak then she simply continued on, heading for the garage. Charlie watched her go and scratched at his stubble, careful to keep his nails away from the patch of SynthSkin still anchoring itself on his face.


The assassin settled herself on the saddle of her Land Chaser and looked around the garage almost hoping to spot Antigo amongst them. Wishing he would come and dissuade her from leaving.

Nothing stirred.

With a snarling curse Zenith kick-started her bike and roared out of the Ravens' base and into the night. She almost believed she could smell smoke and fire behind her.


Minutes after Zenith's departure Antigo pushed himself off the wall of the garage and crossed his arms, a musing expression in place. Charlie's voice echoed across the garage, startling him nearly to the point of showing it.

“Y'oughta go after her boss.” The human struck a match and was briefly illuminated by it as he lit a fresh cigar. “Girl's heading into a whole mess of pain. Dunno how she got herself all twisted up inside but it ain't gonna work well for her.”

“She has made her decision.” Antigo replied. “As I have made mine.”

Charlie snorted and started for the stairs. “Idiots. The both of ya.”

Alone once more the commander of the Ravens allowed himself a brief and bitter sigh. He had expected to be disappointed with Zenith's decision.

Not his own.

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