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A Secret Revealed


Firestorm
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Bob having finished his conversation with the Mother Superior after the visit of Ms. Tingtagyl to the orphanage finds himself wandering in the darkness. He's alone with his thoughts, or he thinks he is alone with his thoughts, as he walks with no particular direction in mind. Years of war, killing, death, famine, and human suffering walks behind him like a legion of lost souls as they haunt Bob. Addressing them one by one hasn't worked in the past and Bob isn't about to try to do it again either. Instead he reflects on the newly gained bits of wisdom imparted upon him by the Mother Superior.

Looking back upon the legacy left behind him over the last fifteen years he recognizes a common pattern. Wars, battles, and gunfights all fought for some sort of betterment to the world around him. Not once in fifteen years did he lead himself or the men who followed him against another unless it served a purpose. The violence of killing another had never been easy for him to swallow for any reason, but he can't clearly remember an occasion that in that he killed or ordered the killing of a fellow human without a compelling reason to do so.

What haunts him the most is those he couldn't save. The slaughtered villages, the starving children, and the victims of madmen who couldn't defend himself. Each massacre he couldn't prevent had left its stain on his soul. Every starving man, woman, and child he couldn't deliver relief to had left its mark inside of him. His dreams even in the best of times were haunted by the faces of those he couldn't do anything to help. As an intensely private man this side of Bob isn't at all known except for a very few of his closets comrades who held this knowledge closely to their chest. It wouldn't be proper to say that the men and women Bob had killed by his own hand doesn't haunt him either.

Some keep track of their kills and boast of them. Bob, to the best of his knowledge, keeps the knowledge of his two hundred and fourteen close quarters kills to himself. He doesn't brag about it, he doesn't drop the number in casual conversation, and he certainly doesn't use it to impress others with. The number comes to him late at night and at times he is sickened by it. For the most part each of those two hundred and fourteen men and women were all sorry specimens of humanity. Rapists, murderers, drug runners, pimps, and other assorted villains had all earned a mark on Bob's blood soaked record for their own misdeeds.

Bob isn't so much haunted by those killed in battle. War means fighting and fighting means dying. He's long accepted this as part of war and it bothers him far less than the kills he has to his credit that he performed in his capacity as a gunfighter. The role of a gunfighter in modern war is at best a minor one. In battle he has long since taken to directing the course of battle rather than directly participating in it. This almost clinical detachment gives him just enough peace of mind to ignore the obvious consequences of war by writing off fatalities as a part of the natural course of armed conflict.

As Bob walks he is suddenly struck with a very unnatural vision as the sky around him brightens and reveals a visitor not of this earth. Bob being who he is reacts immediately by attacking. The visitor, not of human origins, meets Bob in the darkness as their bodies collide with a heavy snap. The visitor speaks to Bob in a language that is incomprehensible to Bob and then he headbutts Bob. Bob is staggered back but not at all deterred as he create the space he needs to defend himself.

With stars in his vision Bob lashes out with his hands as he attacks the throat of the visitor. He finds himself blocked by the visitor as they begin to circle each other. Bob attacks again and again with greater speed and fury to no avail. Inside of him he feels a sense of defeat overwhelming him as he begins to realize he may well not be able to beat this strange person from the heavens. It is then Bob suddenly makes the connection between the supernatural speed and strength of this visitor and the conversation between himself and Mother Superior earlier.

Bob then makes a decision to not be bothered by this sudden insight and is all the more determined to kick the behind of this visitor. Bob says, "I'm gonna go to hell for this," as he lunges forward dropping his left hand to the earth and scooping up a hand full of soil and throwing it towards the eyes of the visitor as he drives his other hand, balled in a fist, at the visitor's face.

"You have no idea what is in store for you," says the visitor as he is only partially blinded and suddenly slammed in the face by Bob's fist. Being partially blinded doesn't stop the visitor as he launches his own fist towards Bob's midsection with the intention of driving the air out of Bob's lungs with a powerful punch.

"The trail of bodies follows me everywhere," replies Bob as he diverts the punch and snaps a combo of heavy short powerful strikes at the visitors face, stomach, and throat.

"You aren't the only one without sin," the visitor says as he fends off the majority of Bob's punches. The ones that make it through sound like pieces of celery being snapped in half as the make contact with the visitor's body. The visitor drops back quickly as he clears his vision and then launches a powerful forward kick at Bob's chest.

Bob avoids the kick by diving to the side and snapping his own kick at the visitor's testicles as he asks, "How many people have two hundred and fourteen kills to their credit?"

The visitor feels the foot connect with his testicles and his promptly staggered to his knees. With a wheeze of breath laced with pain he says, "Might want to round that number up a few dozen."

Bob snarls and moves to kick at the visitor's head when he feels his own testicles explode in pain. He drops to his knees cupping his throbbing genitalia as he comes to a rest a mere foot away from the visitor. The two are eye level and they glare at each other and after a few minutes Bob finally says, "Kill me, maim me, torture me, but for gods sake please I'm asking you not to tell me what the real number is."

"You have a calling Bob," says the visitor.

"Maybe we could skip the heavy metaphysical conversation and get right to the gist of your reason for being here."

"Bob you are being called to service," replies the visitor.

"Service of who?"

"I think you know even if you don't want to admit it," replies the visitor.

"I'm not a believer," replies Bob.

"But we believe in you."

"Where were you when I was outside of Chingali?"

"Does it always come to that with you Bob," asks the Visitor?

"You ought to know why it comes to that."

"What happened outside of Chingali was a tragedy inspired by forces of human creation. We can not and will not directly intervene in the day to day affairs of man."

"That's bloody convenient," replies Bob.

"And a burden maybe you can sympathize with."

"I believe you are right about that," says Bob as he makes his way to his feet and he helps the visitor stand. The two face each other, one a man not of this world and the other a man of this world.

"You've been called to service Bob," replies the visitor.

"I can't serve someone who I don't know," retorts Bob.

"You can call me Gabriel."

"You mean the one who carries the horn that when blown signals judgment day?"

"Not literally and it's complicated."

"I believe I can sympathize with that as well. What service am I being called for?"

"Now is not the time to reveal the mission. It is important that you prepare and that you come to peace with yourself. Your guilt will cripple you when the time comes that you will be called to the service you are destined to perform."

"Am I going to have to kill?"

"That decision is entirely yours as again we aren't allowed to directly interfere in the day to day activities of man."

Bob stares at Gabriel for a long hard second before saying, "You are going to have to prove some of this to me first."

"That day outside of Chingali when it was only you left standing, all your men were either dead or dying, you were wounded in two places, and about to be wounded a third time. Do you remember that moment," asks Gabriel?

"Yes."

"You remember the man who was bearing down on you with a bayonet fixed AK-47?"

"I remember it like yesterday," says Bob.

"You remember how he seemed to falter at the last second and then turned away?"

"Yes, and I see what you are getting at. I found his body later on and only he could have known what happened," returns Bob as he sags a bit under the overwhelming feeling that is comparable to having your privates shocked with a high voltage current.

"Your weren't alone that day Bob. We were standing by you even though you couldn't see us and we were weeping at the valor shown by you and your men in stopping what would have been the largest recorded massacre had you not stood your ground. You and your men were heroes that day and yet the blood spilled ended up being twisted into some sick propaganda story for the People's Revolutionary Front that you had halted," Gabriel notes as he brushes the earth off of his white shirt.

"Wasn't any point in trying to do much about it. We were to busy surviving to care what they were saying about us."

"We cared and we still care Bob, and one day you'll be called to service. When you are called you must absolutely be resolute in your heart and not be haunted by the violence of your path when it comes time to make your decision. Should you hesitate to do what is right it is possible thousands could die," Gabriel informs Bob.

"Maybe I should find god."

"Idiot, if it isn't apparent God found you."

"Well that's nifty replies Bob as they walk away into the darkness to continue their conversation.

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