Category Archives: Bizarro

Respawn, Pt. 10

Anausa pounced upon Brick right as the larger man’s hands were occupied throttling a mantid. His daggers rose and fell in an inhuman frenzy, his movements as wild and violent as the mantids’ own flailing. The points found their way between the plates of Brick’s armor. They slid through muscle and struck against bone. They slice through veins, tendons, arteries, and the noise of the crowd fell away, the shrieking of the mantids, the pain of his wounds. There was nothing but the look of surprise, then pain, then fear, and then nothing upon Brick’s face.

The last thing Anausa heard before the world went dark was a voice screaming, “This is the Butcher! This is the Butcher!” for the horrified crowd to hear. But if it was Brick or it was himself, he couldn’t say.

* * *

Anausa opened his eyes to find himself covered in a sterile white blanket, lying on a bed in the infirmary. He raised his head and looked around the room, looked at the matching beds that either had patients who had been regenerated like him or else were awaiting them. He sat up with a grunt, his hand moving to his chest, to his face, where he still felt the pain of the wounds Brick had inflicted on him. Was his heartbeat irregular? Had his body regenerated with the mantids’ poison somehow an essential part of it?

That was impossible, of course. Memories of a past life playing tricks on him. He heard footsteps approaching. A doctor that wanted to check on him, to go through the steps necessary to acclimate to a new body, but he waved the woman away. So long as he never set foot outside of the infirmary, it was like he really did have a new life, one where he wasn’t a killer. One where he wasn’t surrounded by other murderers every waking moment. One where he could leave this backwater planet, build a loving family, live peacefully. That was what he truly wanted, but he never got it.

They just gave him the old life over and over again.

The end! I feel like this one got kind of meander-y. But the year is still young, and I’m still settling back into the swing of things. Check in on Monday for something new!


Respawn, Pt. 9

The creatures surged forward and Brick yelped and stumbled backwards in a blind panic. It would have been comical if the insect-like beasts hadn’t also surged towards Anausa, indiscriminate in their hunger and their bloodlust. The duel was forgotten, combat a distant memory as both men scrambled to avoid the ravenous maws and snapping pincers of the insect-like beasts.

As the two men separated from each other, Anausa eyed Brick with a cool detachment. The mantids seemed to be favoring chasing after the larger man, doubtless because they were attracted by the scent of his wounds, and Brick seemed aware of this. Even as he batted the creatures away, fighting them off with his bare hands, he stared at Anausa with a growing anger. For a brief moment, Anausa felt relief, relief that the mantids were apt to settle the battle for him, but then there was a glint of light and a dull thump against his chest.

Anausa staggered backwards and looked down to see the hilt of his own dagger sticking out from his body. Faster than his eyes could follow, Brick had torn the remaining blade form his own back, and thrown it with unerring accuracy at Anausa. And the fact that he didn’t feel any pain, only a spreading numbness, meant that the thing must have gotten covered in one of the mantids’ poison.

If he pulled out the blade, he’d bleed out. If he left it in, the poison would surely find its way to his heart and kill him instead of knocking him out. Anausa stared down at the blade dumbly, for the first time in his life as a soldier and as a pit fighter utterly uncertain of what to do. He simply didn’t know what the appropriate response was. Conscious thoughts wouldn’t form inside his head.

Some deeper, more basic instinct took over. Before Anausa realized what he was doing, he was charging towards the spot where Brick fought against the mantids, both daggers in his hands, blood streaming from the open wound in his chest, a snarl upon his lips. Maybe he would die, but Brick would die, too.


Respawn, Pt. 8

When god speaks, the faithful obey. The artificial intelligence that controlled the environment of the arena responded to the crowd’s chant instantly. The ground underfoot shook as machines buried underneath the arena’s floor shifted into position and activated. A pack of a dozen mantids poured out of a hidden trapdoor behind . The creatures hissed and chittered, snapped at each other with their pincers, their iridescent carapaces taking on an indigo shade of confusion and caution. They were social creatures, attacking threats to the pack as one. Underneath the floor of the arena, they would have been starved and taunted in preparation for the fight. They wouldn’t prey on humans normally, but in their agitated state, they’d pounce upon anything that came too close to them.

“And they’re poisonous,” Anausa thought. “One bites you, and you start to tire. A whole pack bites you, and your heart will stop.

“If they don’t tear you to shreds first.”

Brick gave a bow and a wave to the crowd, then spun on his heel and charged towards Anausa. Brick would be able to alter his course to intercept him if Anausa tried to run. With the mantids at his back, Anausa had no choice but to stand and fight.

The blows rained down mercilessly upon them. He dodged what he could, but Brick advanced with every swing of his fists, and the sheer force and weight behind his punches was leaving Anausa a little more tired with every attack he was forced to block. His hands came up slower, his feet grew more uncertain, and the hissing of the mantids grew louder with every passing seconds.

“I’m going to die,” Anausa thought. “I’m actually going to die. I can’t fight him hand-to-hand. I need a weapon. I need–

“The daggers.” They were still lodged in Brick’s back. The soldier’s instinct kicked in and Anausa dropped his guard. He let Brick him, but instead of collapsing to the ground or standing and taking the full force of the blow, he let the giant’s momentum move him. He shifted around behind him, watching with grim satisfaction as a look of surprise overtook Brick’s face and the brute stumbled, suddenly off-balance. Brick’s shoulder slipped past Anausa’s vision, and then the gleaming metal of a dagger. He reached up, twisted, and pulled it free. Brick roared in pain, but the noise was drowned out by the snarl of the mantids, their burning hunger stoked as the scent of fresh blood filled the air.


Respawn, Pt. 7

Anausa rolled to the side, quick but not quick enough to completely avoid Brick’s punch. It caught him on the side of his head, the metal knobs and spikes on his glove tearing open Anausa’s flesh. Anausa ended his roll on his belly, began to push himself off of the ground, but the voice clamped around his ankle and found himself tumbling through the air, the world spinning around him. He landed on the fresh wound Brick had left on his face, and for a moment darkness overcame his vision, the pain he felt surging from something sharp and hot into a dull roar that drowned out the world with its insistence.

But Anausa was a veteran of the arena, and in another life (A life Brick knew about, but how does he know, how does he know) Anausa had been a soldier. He was no stranger to pain, and he was no stranger to fighting through it. “Get on your feet,” he thought to himself. “Get on your feet before he kills you. He got caught off guard earlier, but now he’s going to press the attack.”

The attack never came. Anausa found his footing, but Brick was where he’d left him, playing to the crowd once again. “Coward! Cheater! Is this what you all came to see? A sniveling worm without honor?”

As one, the crowd roared its displeasure. The arena shook with the cries of outrage. Brick had his back to Anausa, his daggers still embedded in the giant’s hide. “To Hell with honor,” Anausa thought. “Close the gap, grab a dagger, slit his throat. End this.”

Before Anausa could advance, Brick turned to face him, grinning. “No,” he said, still addressing the crowd even as he kept his eyes locked on Anausa’s own. “You are good people. Fair people. And I think a cheater should be punished, don’t you?”

The crowd screamed, a god gone hungry for blood once more. Anausa let his eyes run across their faces before snorting in distastes and turning his attention back to Brick. “Fine,” Anausa thought. “Keep talking. If you’re too dumb to realize that you should just charge me rather than give me time to plan, so much the better.”

As if he could read Anausa’s thoughts, Brick’s smile grew wider. “How do you punish a worm?” he asked the crowd. “What do you do when you see a worm?” His eyes narrowed, pig-like in his glee. “Why, you unleash the mantids, of course.”

MANTIDS MANTIDS MANTIDS


Respawn, Pt. 6

Anausa spun on his heel and lobbed the drone’s core at Brick’s feet. The brute’s eyes went wide as the makeshift weapon sailed towards him. He turned and tried to run, lost his footing, stumbled, scrambled away. Anausa advanced cautiously, uncertain how great an explosion to expect, unwilling to risk Brick surviving the blast. If it killed him, fine. If it weakened him, Anausa would finish him off with his knives. If he was knocked off-guard, Anausa would press the advantage. And if he was utterly unharmed and ready to fight, then Anausa would adapt and overcome.

The core detonated with a wave of heat and sound that shook the thoughts from Anausa’s skull, but his training was too great for that to stop him. Battle was a part of him. Instinctual. Programmed into the very core of his being. As the crowd gasped in surprise and cheered in delight, as Brick roared a litany of curses, Anausa drew a pair of knives and leapt into the air. He came down on Brick’s back and sunk them to the hilt into the monster’s back. “Arrogant,” Anausa thought. “All that armor on your front and nothing here? Did you think you were invincible? Did you–”

A hand clamped around Anausa’s throat, fingers digging into flesh like a vice, cutting off his breath. He barely had time to register shock or pain before he felt himself go flying through the air head over heels, his back slamming into the ground. Above him, the beast roared in fury and pain, gauntleted hand curling into a fist and drawing back to come crashing down upon him.


Respawn, Pt. 5

Anausa liked to think of himself as being completely in control of his emotions. The things he had seen and done in his life had affected him, of course. He was not so arrogant as to think himself immune to all outside influences. But he could control how he reacted to external forces, and he prided himself in his cool, clinical detachment. He never felt anything he didn’t want to. Now he felt rage bubbling up within him, threatening to consume him, to spill out of him uncontrollably.

He didn’t want to feel these things. He couldn’t stop himself from feeling them. He grew angrier still. Brick’s ugly grinning face filled his vision, even from across the arena.

“Stop it,” he thought to himself. “Anger’s not useful now. Anger makes you stupid. He wants you to lower your head and charge like a bull, so don’t. Think. What’s the last thing he would expect now?

“That I would play to the crowd. That I would match his act with one of my own.”

Anausa looked to the sky and gave a wave of his hand and a snap of his fingers. A drone flitted down and trained its camera on him, broadcast his face for the entire arena to see. The crowd didn’t know how to react, half of them roaring their approval, half of them whispering to each other in confusion, in surprise, in excitement. This was something new. Anausa the Immortal never played to the cameras in his matches.

“Closer,” he said, his voice a bark. He cast a single glance towards Brick and saw a look of animal confusion and stupidity on the other man’s face. Good. It was working. “Closer, damn you!” Anausa snapped a the drone, and the little machine darted within arm’s reach. Like a striking snake his had snapped out and grabbed the thing by its rotors, held tight as it struggled to get away from him.

He ignored the shocks the machine gave him as it attempted to free itself. He ignored the cuts its rotors put on his hands, his arms. He snapped it in half and rooted around in its inner workings to pull out its battery. Perhaps Brick was telling the truth. Maybe he knew the reality of Anausa’s past. But Anausa was still smarter. He recognized the drone as repurposed military hardware, powered by a core that would output enough energy to last for years.

It would make a fine bomb.


Respawn, Pt. 4

Skull Lord died messily. Anausa decapitated him and nearly took his shoulder off with the follow through. Anatoma put up a good fight, but she couldn’t match Anausa’s endurance. Anausa persisted as he always did, cold and detached, fighting cautiously and patiently, avoiding injury.

And then he fought Brick.

Even over the roar of the crowd, Anausa could hear the bellow of the man’s taunts. “Hello, Butcher.”

The man towered over him. He normally fought bare-handed and unarmored, like some kind of an ancient gladiator, but tonight he was wearing thick leather and crude metal plates. Wearing the synthetic fabrics and smart metals of modern combat armor was against the rules of the arena, but nothing forbade the use of “antique” gear. It was considered more a costume than anything else, but Anausa understood its purpose right away.

It’d be hard to pierce. It’d be difficult to cut. It would make bleeding and wearing down the big bull of a man all but impossible. Brick wasn’t an intelligent fighter, but he wasn’t a stupid one. He’d know better than to chase a quick and nimble enemy around the arena. The longer the fight took, the smaller the arena would get as the walls were pushed in by death traps. And the closer the two of them had to fight, the more likely Brick would be able to win simply by catching Anausa and choking the life out of him.

“No? Nothing to say, Butcher?”

“Don’t call me that,” Anausa said, his voice the hiss and rattle of an angry serpent. Brick’s lips split like a wound into his sharp-toothed shark’s grin.

“I’ll call you whatever I want. I was there, Commander. I know what you are. I know why you ran. And once I kill you, everyone else in the system will, too.”

Brick raised his hand and a camera drone flew done to film him up close. His sneering face appeared on the vid screens, five stories tall, every pore and scar and drop of sweat broadcasted for all to see. The crowd went wild. “I am Brick!” he bellowed. The crowd roared. “I am a warrior! I am a fighter! I am a killer!” He paused, licked his lips like he was savoring the words he was about to speak. He pointed at Anausa. “But that man, Anausa, Anausa the Undefeated, Anausa the Immortal, is a monster! I tell you, he is to be hated! He is a creature more evil than any that has ever fought in the arena! And before I tear his head from his body, he will tell you himself of his sins!”


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