Fate is a fickle thing. A man can get into something with the best of intentions, only to realize one day that he's become a monster; likewise, that same man can act out of greed or malice and wake up a hero. I've played both parts--monster and hero--but now, I'm just a man. I was a cop, back in the day; my father was one, as was my grandfather, so I suppose it was just assumed that I followed in their footsteps. It was good, for awhile anyway; I did what I could to keep the streets of Lowtown safer, deriving what idealistic satisfaction I could out of it. I eventually met Carol, the perfect woman, and wound up marrying her. She soon gave birth to our son, Toby, and for a short time, I was living the dream. Unfortunately, dreams are hard to hold onto. As the years went by, the dream started to fade, and the reality of my life began to sink in: I was working a fruitless, thankless job, earning barely enough money to support my family; my marriage had grown callous and hollow and I was like a stranger to my son; I spent more time at the bars than I did at home, and I felt more comfortable with a bottle of gin than I did with my own family. In short, I was miserable. I guess it doesn't matter how I started down that long road to corruption--I don't even remember anymore. What matters is that I got in way over my head. What began as a few innocent bribes turned into full-blown "favors" for the Syndicate; I told myself that the ends justified the means, that it was all for my family, but that was bullsh*t. How could I call myself my father's son, knowing that my kid's new bike was paid for with the blood of some poor schmuck I should have been protecting? I think I was actually relieved when they finally busted me. There wasn't enough evidence for a conviction, but they had plenty to get me kicked off the force. My wife left me, naturally, and took our son with her; she had no trouble convincing the judge that I had become a verbally abusive husband, a distant, emotionally unavailable father, and a blatant alcoholic. I wish I could say that it wasn't all true. But it was.
It all started out as some sort of pathetic joke, a mockery of everything I had originally hoped to accomplish as a cop: armed only with my father's old magnum and a shovel, I went out and initiated a half-assed, uninspired, one-man war on the criminals in Lowtown. I'd like to say that my intentions were purely noble, but they weren't; simply put, I was broke, desperate, and extremely pissed off. They had wads of ill-gotten cash and I had a pocketful of spare bullets--it was a perfect match. For months this went on: each night I'd go out for a spin in my old Pontiac Firebird, and each night I'd come back with a few more bucks and a few less bullets. At first I just went after the criminals I'd known from my days as a cop, goons who I'd never been able to convict. Eventually, however, I had to start actively hunting for trouble--not a hard thing to find in Lowtown. Maybe it was some woman getting mugged or a convenience store being robbed; whatever the situation, I did what I could to help and then took what I could for my troubles. That's how I eventually came to discover one of the greatest perks of my "profession"--rescuing women got me laid. Seriously. There's an incredible intensity in screwing a woman whose life you've just saved; the fact that they truly NEEDED me was probably as invigorating for me as it was for them. I guess that's how I got involved in a series of intense, but generally unhealthy, relationships--most of them were hookers and/or junkies who had somehow managed to latch onto me. I suppose I enjoyed their dependancy, but those relationships never ended well; I lost count of how times I came home to find my flavor-of-the-month OD'ed or packing up her belongings in a hysterical rage, screaming at me as she stormed out the door. One of them even stabbed me on her way out; grim, but such was my life. Still, in those first couple years I accomplished far more than I ever had during my entire career as a cop. And then I met Sharon.
Anything You Need (Lust)
Weapons Creation: Superior
- Ranged Attack Only
- Area Affect
- Ranged and Melee Attack
I'd been doing the vigilante thing for a few years when I met Sharon for the first time; by then, I'd gotten pretty damn good at what I was doing. I'd been killing all the wrong people and making connections with all the right people, earning myself a wonderfully notorious reputation along the way. Before long, my contacts had contacts; aside from the healthy "salary" I was earning off the corpses of dead scumbags, I had arms-dealers who owed me favors and information-brokers who owed me their lives. There's wasn't much that I couldn't get my hands on--my garage had been turned into an armory that held an arsenal that would've made the NRA proud. In short, I was damn content. And then Sharon came into my life. I met her at the Bashful Tortoise, a bar on the edge of Lowtown. I had actually heard of her before then; she was a cop, after all--Internal Affairs, no less--and reputedly a damn good one. And she had most definitely heard of me, thanks to my earlier inditement and my more recent noteriety as a vigilante. Still, she didn't mind my company and was actually fairly receptive to conversation; we had a few good talks and shared a few good drinks. She was pretty, but certainly not jaw-droppingly gorgeous; I'd had better-looking gals before. Nevertheless, there was something about her that I found incredibly appealing. She was by no means perfect--she was another struggling alcoholic and seemed to have a knack for getting involed with the wrong type of men--but she had a certain wit and substance to her that singled her out. I asked her if I could take her home. She said yes. Things just grew from there. I hate to say that we fell in love--"love" is a word that's thrown around far too casually these days, and few people even understand what it truly means--but we definitely...understood one another; even better, we accepted one another, flaws and all. Sharon hated what I did, but she loved me for doing it; I don't think you can ask for a whole lot more from a woman.
Do Unto Others (Greed)
Iron Will: Supreme
Some things are just too good to last--life is one of them. It wasn't long before Sharon and I were practically living together; I say "practically" because although I had my own place (mainly because all my gear was stored there), I kept most of my clothes and spent most nights over at Sharon's. I usually showed up long after she had fallen asleep, for one reason or another; sometimes "work" kept me out, sometimes the bars did. The night they came for us, it was the bars. I remember stumbling awkwardly up the stairs to her apartment, a silly, drunken swagger to my walk. I hadn't taken two steps into her apartment when someone shot me in the chest; that sobered me up pretty quickly. There were five goons in her apartment, their attire marking them as Syndicate mobsters. I could hear Sharon off in the bedroom--I didn't need to see it to know what those bastards were doing to her in there. I just lay there on the floor for awhile, hugging my chest, writhing in agony as I tried to clear my thoughts. It didn't work. A few minutes later, they dragged Sharon out of the bedroom and threw her onto the floor. I got one last look at her before they calmly put a bullet in her head. No last words, no goodbyes; she was just gone. It was so sudden, so violent, I didn't even know what had happened at first. When the realization finally sunk in, I bit back tears and slowly rolled onto my stomach. I knew that I was next, but I wasn't about to let that happen--there were now far too many people out there that needed killing. The bastards were pros, but they were cocky--they hadn't even frisked me. I guess they figured I wouldn't be fast enough to get a shot off before they put me down for good; they were probably right. Too bad I wasn't searching for a gun. Carefully, I eased my hand up toward my coat's inner pockets before my fingers finally found what I was looking for: a fragmentation grenade. I pulled the pin, waited for a brief second, then dropped the grenade to the floor and darted for the window. As I had hoped, the goons' instincts to live overpowered their instincts to kill; they got off a few clumsy shots before they ran for cover, some running out the door, others diving into the next room. I ignored the sudden sting in my side as I crashed through the window, bathing myself in a shower of broken glass before plummeting four stories onto the hood of my Firebird. I still can't believe that fall didn't kill me. I blacked out for just a moment before I slowly rolled off the hood and onto my feet, my body smothered in broken glass. I then crawled frantically into my car and started it--it was miraculously still working--before driving away.
Retribution, Pt. I (Pride)
I managed to get myself over to a street doctor I trusted who did a pretty good job of patching me up. Once I was in working order again, there was only one thing on my mind: payback. I did some digging and discovered that the hit squad hadn't been there for me at all--they'd been after Sharon. Apparently she had been getting too close to some crooked cops and they wanted her investigation terminated. I knew that the Syndicate was also somehow involved, which meant that I had to be extra cautious; I couldn't just run in, guns blazing. So I did my homework. For the next few months, I spent all my time piecing together the inner workings of Lowtown's criminal underworld. I had names, dates and addresses all memorized; I knew who did what, when they did it, and where they took it. I knew who everyone answered to and who everyone was afraid of. I knew how the Syndicate operated better than most people working for the Syndicate did. After that, it was just a matter of putting together a plan. I gave myself only one night to enact my revenge. One night. But it would be a night to remember.
Retribution, Pt. II (Wrath)
October 24th: that was my night. Lowtown burned that night. The flames that consumed the district were ignited by vengeance and fueled by bloodlust. From sundown to sunup, I was a busy man. One by one, I killed anyone and everyone I could find that was involved in Sharon's murder--and then some. There was no man too big or too small for my attention: I knocked off Syndicate lieutenants, crooked cops, and small-time scumbags indiscriminately. I torched mafia-run brothels, bombed illegal casinos, even reduced a Syndicate-owned office building to smoldering rubble. Never had I killed with such passion, such satisfaction; each bullet spent was payment for every drop of Sharon's blood they had shed, every second of agony she had suffered at the hands of those bastards. Eventually, the Syndicate got wise and sent their hit squads after me; they must have put at least half a dozen slugs into me, but that didn't matter. There weren't enough bullets in the world to bring me down that night. I was a madman, cursing and screaming as I wrought death into their seemingly endless numbers, a trail of spent bullet casings marking the path of my vindictive crusade. My ears bled from the deafening cacophony of gunshots and explosions. My fingers throbbed from the incessant, murderous release I found in the trigger's dance. My soul ached from the weight of Sharon's death. I wept tears of blood that night--the blood of a hundred heinous men. That was my night.
Status Quo (Sloth)
I don't know what I was expecting would happen, but honestly, nothing really changed after that night. Good didn't triumph, evil wasn't vanquished, the world wasn't saved--a lot of men died, and that's about it. Within months, it was like it didn't even happen; business was still thriving for the Syndicate and the force was still littered with corrupt cops. I shouldn't have really cared, though--after all, I'd only started the whole "hero" gig to look after my own interests. But somewhere along the way, I'd been infected with the same ridiculous idealism that I'd had as a rookie cop. So I did care. But I finally realized the essential futility to what I was doing; after everything that I'd done, all the men I'd killed, I really hadn't accomplished anything. I was just as ineffectual as I had been as a cop--I just got to kill a lot more people. I had reached the peak, the zenith of my career as a vigilante; from that point, there was no place to go but down. So down I went.
To Dead Lovers (Gluttony)
Closed Mind: Standard
The last few years have been a blur plagued by inertia. I still knock off a thug or two every once in awhile, but usually only when I need some quick cash; I usually spend most of it on booze. The Bashful Tortoise has become my new home--I'm there almost every night. I still think about Sharon a lot, but I've tried to move on. I've had a few flings in the past couple years, but none of them worked out; I guess we aren't all destined for love. So I spend most of my time at the bar just drinking and thinking; I think about lovers lost, enemies killed, and family estranged. But all that's behind me now. Everything's behind me. Which leaves almost nothing to look forward to. Grim, but again, such is my life.
Down Memory Lane (Envy)
After hitting the bars, I'll usually take the ol' Firebird out for a spin--maybe cruise through Lowtown, for old time's sake. I rarely have any particular destination in mind; I usually just drive for the sake of driving. Sharon used to say that in life, it didn't matter where you were headed, just so long as you were always moving. Only now do I fully appreciate her words. It's a morose car to drive in, loaded with memories and emotions: bullet-holes riddle the frame, while bloodstains mar the seats like rust on metal. There's even still a dent in the hood from where I landed. Occasionally I'll come across a bit of trouble--again, it's not a hard thing to find in Lowtown--but usually I just ignore it. Not my concern anymore; never should have been, really. And yet, every so often I'll find myself yearning for "the good old days," yearning for that silly idealism. Sure, I wasn't really going anywhere back then, wasn't really accomplishing anything significant--but at least I was always moving. Maybe it's time to back in the driver's seat and start moving again. One last time.