Posted by Ravager4 (1625 posts) - - Show Bio

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Apathy/Ruby, Sophie, Jeremiah Belmont, Michelle Blanchett, Isaiah Slaton, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Trance, Police Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Officer Harrow, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, Senator Thomas Greene, Agent Croft, as well as Silverstone City and all its interior locations of my own creation.

Rating: T+

Note: It's no secret that Rose Wilson hates her father. But when he sends someone to her doorstep requesting her help, she's forced to come to put her past differences with him aside, at least for the time being. Witness the final full story arc of the series, as Rose gains closure with her family once and for all. Can she truly move on from her past, and can she really bury the hatchet with her father once and for all? Read on to find out!

Side Note: So coming off my longest single part arc ever, I end up tying it with another long one. It works out well, though, since this is the final arc, so it needed to be epic. I just hope it lives up to the expectations. Just a few more follow up chapters left to go, which will tie the series to a close. I'll probably get those out some time next week, since I just really want to take a break from it, plus I have a few other things I need to work on. So, as always, please enjoy!

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Chapter #98

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Day

It all happened so… fast. One moment, the flight had been smooth, quiet. Then, a horrifying flicker of precog flashed through Rose’s head, warning of the abrupt interruption they were about to receive. Unfortunately, she had little luck in warning the pilot before the back end of the helicopter blew apart in an eruption of smoke and fire. The only saving grace about the situation is that the rocket-propelled grenade hadn’t been completely accurate. Had it hit the cabin instead of the tail, they’d probably all be dead.

Now, they’re falling. Rose tries to flip herself around in the air, to gain some sense of balance as she plummets towards the ground, but she cannot shake out of her daze in time. In seconds, her body is crashing through the jungle canopy, snapping branches on her way down. As much as it hurts, she knows it’s the only thing that allows her to survive the fall. Had they been over open ground with no trees between them and the ground, the resulting impact could have been much greater.

Regardless, air surges from her lungs when she lands, the flat of her back crashing against a soft bed of grass. It’s another small stroke of luck that prevents her injuries from being any worse. Still, she finds consciousness swiftly leaving her. She tries to fight through it, sitting up and blinking her eyes, but everything starts spinning wildly.

Sh*t… not gonna happen.

A heavy blackness engulfs her throbbing mind, and in seconds she collapses back against the ground, going limp. How the hell did she find herself here?

Int. Rose’s Penthouse Suite – Night

Thirty-six hours ago…

Rose lies back on her bed, sprawled out haphazardly above the sheets and sucking in deep, heaving breaths. A thin, yet shiny sheen of sweat glistens across her naked body, seemingly glowing in the silver moonlight spilling in from the bedside window. Becky rolls over next to her, an arm coming around her waist and lips gently tracing along her neck.

Becky: Lemme guess; you enjoyed that?

She can’t even formulate a response, not at first. Instead, she takes in several more deep breaths, eyes closing for a moment as she tries to calm her body down. She can barely even move after that, but in the best possible way. A deep, heavy exhaustion grips her body in the afterglow of their intimacy, and by god Rose has never enjoyed it more. Eventually, she brings herself to nod, puffing out a long breath of air.

Rose: Uh… yeah… you could say that.

Becky: So I guess this new strength of mine isn’t just good for beating up armed thugs, ah?

Rose: Oh yeah… definitely.

A soft, amused chuckle finds its way out of Becky’s throat. She brings her lips up to Rose’s, giving a gentle, tender kiss.

Becky: So then you won’t mind if we do it again.

Rose: Ha… if we do that again, I won’t be able to get up in the morning.

Becky: Then it’s a good thing you have nothing to get up for tomorrow, ah?

A pleasant smile slowly curls its way across Rose’s face.

Rose: Well, when you put it that way…

Reaching upward with her arms, Rose wraps them around Becky’s shoulders and pulls her close, pressing their lips together again in a deep, intense kiss. Becky is already moving atop her, pushing one of Rose’s legs far to the side. A sudden surge of warmth explodes throughout her body, tingling madly in all the right places. And as her heartbeat begins to pick up, pounding rapidly in her chest… the doorbell rings. Rose blinks, slowly pulling her lips away from Becky’s and glancing up across the room.

Becky: Maybe… we’re both hearing things?

They pause quietly, listening. The doorbell goes off yet again. With an annoyed groan, Rose drops her head back against her pillow.

Rose: Ugh, come on! It’s three in the morning for crying out loud.

Becky: Don’t worry; I’ll get rid of whoever it is.

Becky leans in to give Rose one more brief kiss, before sliding off the bed and grabbing a bathrobe hanging nearby. As she ties it off closely around her body, Rose tilts her head back again and breathes in deeply.

Rose: Hurry back.

The doorbell buzzes loudly a third time. Becky shuffles across the apartment, uttering her own breath of annoyance. She doesn’t exactly take very kindly to being interrupted at three in the morning, especially when in the middle of such an intimate moment. Throwing the front door open, Becky cocks her hips to the side and folds her arms firmly across her chest. She narrows her eyes, staring at the blond haired man in the hallway with as clear contempt as she can portray.

Becky: Can I help you?

The blonde man just blinks a couple of times, as if confused to see her. He casually leans to the side and looks further into the apartment, then brings his attention back to her again.

Man: Uh… yes, I’m looking for Rose Wilson? This… is where she lives, isn’t it?

Becky: It is… but you do realize it’s three in the morning, right? People are sleeping. Or doing other things they don’t want to be interrupted for.

Man: Oh, of course, I know. I just… sorry, this is an emergency. I really need to speak with her right away.

Becky: Uh huh… sure it is. And what kind of emergency would that be?

Man: A family emergency.

The statement brings pause to Becky’s words. Her eyes twist slightly in confusion, giving the man a closer look.

Becky: What family emergency? Rose doesn’t have any other family left… not outside her raging lunatic of a father, who you’re definitely not.

Man: Ah, not surprising. We haven’t seen each other in years… I’ve been a little busy. She probably thinks I’m dead, or something.

Becky: Uh… huh. And you expect me to buy that? You take me for loco or something?

Man: Please, just let me talk to her. She’ll clear it up.

Becky: Sure she will. But hell, if it gets you out of here faster, then fine. Rose!

Several quiet minutes tick by, before Rose emerges from the dark shadows of the apartment within. She looks down at herself, tying a sash tightly around her bathrobe as she makes her way to the front door.

Rose: I’m coming, I’m coming… this had better be import-

Her words abruptly cut off, as she lifts her gaze to see the man standing there. Her heart flutters a bit, skipping a beat and nearly exploding in her chest.

Rose: …Joey?

That face can belong to only one person, becoming even more recognizable as his lips form into that oh so familiar smile of his: Joseph Wilson, her brother. Well, half-brother to be more precise, but he’s still family, and the only family she has left that she doesn’t despise.

Joseph: Hey, Rose. How have you been?

Rose: Joey!

Her tired legs suddenly kick into motion, sprinting forward. She throws herself at him, arms wrapping firmly around his shoulders. He returns the embrace, hugging tightly.

Rose: I… damn it, I thought you were dead!

Joseph: Not dead, just busy.

Becky: Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. Joseph? As in the brother you haven’t seen in four years?

Rbose: Yeah, that’s him.

She pulls back away from her brother, bringing a hand up to close the top of her bathrobe. A broad smile forms across her face, as she glances over at Becky and places a palm to the woman’s back. With a firm shove, she pushes Becky closer.

Robse: Joey, I want you to meet Becky. She’s my… well, she’s my girlfriend.

A blink of surprise comes to Joseph’s face.

Joseph: Your… oh. Wow. Uh, well it’s pleasure to meet you.

When he extends his hand, Becky glances down at it curiously before bringing her own hand up to shake.

Becky: Yeah, uh… likewise. Sorry about giving you a hard time before, we were just in the middle of… I mean, it’s late, so we were just trying to get rid of… well, sorry.

Joseph: It’s fine, really.

Rose: So where the hell have you been?

Joseph: With Dad, mostly.

A small sigh exudes from Rose’s lips. She palms a hand to her face and disappointingly shakes her head from side to side.

Rose: Really, Joe? Still? What the hell do you still see in that man?

Joseph: I know, I know. He’s… not the best father. And a little messed up.

Rose: More than a little.

Joseph: Okay, a lot messed up.

Rose: So if you’ve been running around with Slade, what the hell are you doing here now?

Joseph: I came because of him, Rose. He’s in trouble… big trouble. I need your help to get him back.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Day

Present…

Rose’s eyes flicker open weakly, vision dark and hazy. For a long moment, she simply lies there, unable to move.

Damn it... how long was I out? Couldn't have been too long.

Ever so gradually, her muscles begin responding to her commands. Fingers twitch, limbs slide across the ground, head lifts up. She fights her way into a sitting position, dull pain throbbing throughout her body.

Rose: Becky?

Looking around carefully, she searches for signs of someone, anyone. All she sees is thick jungle and a few smoldering pieces of busted helicopter.

Rose: Joey?

She attempts to stand, managing to get to one knee before a crippling sting rips through her chest, forcing her back down.

Rose: Sh*t… where are you guys?

Movement in the trees draws her attention. Quickly, she snaps her gaze up and stares intently. Could it be Becky? Maybe Joey? Hell, even their pilot would be a welcomed sight at this point. Just as long as it isn't whoever fired the rocket that blew apart their chopper.

Ratatatatat!

The machine gun fire is abrupt and loud, and it gets Rose moving. In spite of her pain, she forces herself to her feet and stumbles forward through the jungle’s undergrowth. Of course it's the guys who shot them down, because why the hell not?

As Rose slides down a small embankment, bullets rip into the tree trunks above her, blowing apart wooden splinters into the air. Her precog suddenly goes off, forcing her to duck out of the way. A bullet fires through the air right where her head had been a mere second before. Breathing in deeply, she quickens her pace, leaping over a fallen tree and bursting through a thick tangle of vines.

What the hell did you get me into, Joey?!

Int. Rose’s Penthouse Suit – Night

Thirty-six hours ago…

Rose: Wait a minute, what do you mean you need my help to get him back? Where the hell is he?

Rose crosses her arms across her chest, staring back at Joseph in a mix of disbelief and confusion.

Joseph: Right now? In Vietnam. The jungles of Vietnam, to be more accurate. We were ambushed; bandits and drug smugglers mostly. They took him captive.

Rose: Wait, wait, wait, step back.

Lifting a hand to her face, Rose tiredly rubs her eyes, trying to process the information.

Rose: First of all, what were you two doing in Vietnam? Second, how the hell did a bunch of punk smugglers overpower Deathstroke? And third, why didn’t they just kill him?

Joseph: Uh, one question at a time?

Rose: Sure, whatever. Just start explaining before my brain overloads.

Joseph: We traveled to Vietnam because… well, we were looking for something.

Rose: Looking for what?

Joseph: I… can’t say. I wish I could.

Rose: Of course you can’t, because god forbid you make sense. Let me guess, Slade is the one who told you not to tell me?

Joseph: Yes.

A frustrated groan leaves her throat. She takes a step back, brushing her fingers through her hair. Coming up beside her, Becky holds an arm around her shoulders, trying to calm her down. It works, if only a little.

Rose: Okay, so keep going.

Joseph: As for how they beat him… it was intentional.

Rose: It was… what?

Joseph: The man in charge of the bandit group has information that Dad needs, at least that’s what he told me. So, we came up with a plan… which largely involved allowing himself to be captured so he could obtain the information.

Rose: Okay… and they didn’t just kill him, because…?

Joseph: Before he set himself up to be captured, he might have stolen a hundred million worth of drugs and cash from them and hidden it somewhere they’ll never find it, unless he tells them. So, they can’t kill him if they want their goods back.

Becky snorts out a laugh at this statement, one of her eyebrows lifting in amusement.

Becky: Seriously? Dios, Rose, your dad might be a twisted b*stard, but he’s got balls. Either that or he's just stupid.

Rose: So it would seem…

Joseph: Unfortunately, their base camp is a lot more heavily guarded than we anticipated. Even taking who he is into consideration, he won’t be able to break out on his own. Likewise, I can’t break him out by myself, either.

Rose: So you came back here to get help.

Joseph: It was our fallback plan, yes. If anything went wrong, I was supposed to come back and get you, since… well, you’re the only one we can trust.

Rose: Not filling me in on what you’re even doing over there isn’t a good way to get me to help.

Joseph: I know… but I was hoping that family might be a good enough reason.

Rose exhales a tiny, disappointed breath. Slowly she shakes her head.

Rose: We haven’t been a family in a long time, Joey. You know that.

Joseph: Yeah... But maybe we can give it another shot?

Ext. Vietnam Jungle - Day

Present...

Smuggler #1: <Do you see her?>*

(* Translated from Vietnamese)

Smuggler #2: <No, spread out and keep looking!>

Rose very slowly lifts her head to watch, as several men armed with AK-47s carefully fan out through the jungle's undergrowth. She goes unnoticed for now, buried under a collection of plants, leaves, and dirt. When she couldn't run anymore, she had been forced to hide herself from sight. For the time being, her cover appears to be working. Still, she can't lie there on the ground forever. She has to find the others.

For two solid hours, she waits patiently, remaining unmoving against the jungle floor. Though the men have long since pressed onward, she isn't about to take any chances of running into them again by accident. She wants to be absolutely sure that they're gone, before she begins roaming into the open again. When enough time passes, Rose slowly and cautiously rises to her feet, eyes darting around for any sign of danger. Seeing only empty jungle, she exhales a deep breath and limps back the way she came.

I'll have to double back first, see if I can't find the wreckage. I could reallyuse my gear right about now.

And hopefully, she can come across the others along the way, if they haven't already wandered off from the crash. Or worse...

No, can't think that way. They'll both be fine. Becky's bulletproof and Joey can always body hop to hide. I just need to actually find them first.

And hopefully not get shot in the process.

I swear, Slade, if we make it through this alive, I'll kill you myself.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite - Night

Becky: So... what are you thinking?

Breathing out a heavy puff of air, Rose opens her eyes and leans back on her hands, still sitting cross-legged on the floor. For a moment, she simply stares straight forward, then slowly shifts her gaze over towards the kitchen. Joey sits there at the counter, sipping from a hot mug of coffee.

Rose: I don't know, Beck. I really... just don't know.

Becky: Well, did you see anything?

Rose: A little. I mean, I've figured out how to have visions at will, but I can't control what they show me. I saw a bit of my dad... he was in some kind of bandit camp, tied up, jungle all around them. Saw at least fifty armed goons, too. AKs, RPGs, grenades, heavy stuff. But that's it.

Becky: You know you hate the man, right?

Rose: Of course I hate him. But at the same time...

Becky: You still love him.

Rose: Ugh, I know. In spite of everything he's done to me, and how many times he's screwed my life up... he's still my dad.

Becky: Aaaand as much as you loathe him, you're not about to abandon him to die in a Vietnam jungle.

Rose drops her head into her hands and utters a loud, frustrated groan.

Rose: How sad is that?

Becky: Very. And yet, I still love you just the same.

Rose: I hate this, though. It's only been a month since the whole Blanchett fiasco, and now I'm going to be traipsing across Vietnam? God, I hope Holly doesn't hate me too much.

Becky: You mean us. You're loco if you think I'm letting you fly off to Asia to free your psycho father from a band of murderous smugglers without me. Holly can stay with Circe.

Rose: Becky...

Becky: Nope, this isn't up for discussion. Shush your lips, and face the facts: I'm coming.

Rose: Alright, fine. You're coming.

Sucking in a deep breath, Rose falls to the floor, lying on her back and staring straight up at the ceiling.

Rose: Should be... fun.

Becky: Oh si, a real blast, I'm betting. Now, tell your brother to go find a motel, so we can get back to doing what we were in the middle of before he showed up, ah?

A small smile curls its way across Rose's face.

Rose: Best idea I've heard yet.

Chapter #99

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Day

The helicopter wreckage comes into view gradually, broken bits of twisted metal scattered along a destructed trail through the jungle. Rose comes across the tail end of the chopper first, the shaft split in half and missing its rear rotors. Climbing over a short series of toppled trees, she finds shattered pieces of the chopper's main rotors littering the ground. She pauses only briefly, looking around to make sure that her equipment hadn't already fallen out before the crash. When she finds nothing, she hurries through the dense tangle of vines and trees in front of her.

Cautiously, she pokes her face through a fern bush. There in the small clearing ahead, she sees the wreckage. The helicopter body lies on its side, smashed against the ground and surrounded by countless shards of glass and broken metal. From her position, she can't see into the cabin, and the side door is shut tight. Eyes narrowing, she scans her gaze across the surrounding jungle.

Doesn't seem like anyone else is around... should be safe.

The crash would have been the first place that the attackers checked, before spreading out to search for the survivors. It's been at least three hours since then, meaning they should be long gone. At least, she certainly hopes so. Taking in a deep breath, Rose hesitates only a moment before rushing out of her hiding spot and leaping up onto the side of the copper. Her fingers tightly grip the door handle, arms straining as she pulls. With the frame so heavily bent and cracked, however, the door barely budges.

She soon forgoes the idea of sliding it open normally, and instead reduces herself to standing and stomping down on the weakened frame. Surprisingly, the door caves inward with a single kick. She quickly jumps down into the body of the chopper, leaning her way over into the cabin.

Rose: Isaac? Hey, Isaac. You there?

He's there, alright. Their pilot is slumped forward motionless, still harnessed into his seat. The side of his head, along with most of the dashboard in front of him, runs thick with crimson. Rose bows her head at the revelation, momentarily bringing a hand to the deceased man's shoulder.

Sh*t, guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Turning from the cabin, Rose briefly rummages through the wreckage until her fingers close on a large duffel bag, tattered and beaten, but still in good shape. Kneeling against the ground, she unzips the bag to expose her Ravager gear inside. The metal faceplate stares back up at her, a sword running along on either side of it. She stares at the mask momentarily, then reaches in to pull out the armored suit. She dresses quickly, pulling off her pants and shirt before stuffing herself into the costume.

Ugh, I really need to see about getting internal cooling in this thing. It's like a heat box in this weather.

High overhead, the Vietnam sun beats down mercilessly upon her and the rest of the jungle. With such a scorching temperature and obscene humidity, these is far from ideal conditions to be wearing full body armor. Of course, if she's going to make it through this jungle alive, she'll likely be needing it. A T-shirt is a lot cooler, but it won't stop a stray bullet.

Once she finishes dressing fully in her armor, she leaps back up out of the chopper. Dull pain continues to throb through her body, but it isn't nearly as bad as it had been a few hours ago. With how fast the pain is subsiding, she can at least be certain that she didn't break or tear anything. In another hour or so, she'd be good as new. In theory, anyway.

Alright, next step, find Becky and Joey. Wherever they are.

She isn't getting her hopes up on finding them any time soon, though. The jungle is huge, and they could be anywhere by now, probably run off in a different direction. She hadn't heard any gunfire yet, which means that they haven't been discovered by the search parties. With any luck, they'd meet up again before nightfall.

The rustling of undergrowth suddenly draws her attention. Her gaze turns sharply to the left, eyes scanning through the trees. She doesn't see anything at first, but still she lifts a hand up behind her back to grip one of her sword handles. She isn't about to take any chances.

Maybe it's Becky... or Joey.

The snap of a twig slowly brings her attention behind her. She spots movement darting in between the trees.

Or maybe it's both of them...

The rapid blare of machine gun fire shatters those hopes in an instant. The first spray of bullets deflects off the side of the chopper, where her body had been just moments before. Consistent flashes of precog keep her one steep ahead, allowing her to dive back into the downed helicopter for cover. At the very least, the chopper is armored, most likely for exactly these kinds of situations. It buys her some time, but not much. It won't take her attackers very long to follow her inside the wreckage, a very narrow space that doesn't allow her much opportunity to prepare for a counter attack.

Regardless of her predicament, she quickly shifts herself into a better position, diving over the back seats of the chopper and crouching down. She draws her swords, holds them down out of sight, and then waits. Outside, she can hear the men circling the wreckage, exchanging briefly in a language she doesn't understand. As the sound of footsteps draws closer to the entrance, Ravager shifts up on her feet, poising to strike the first person dumb enough to stick his head in. What flashes through her mind, however, is far different.

Ravager: Sh*t!

Dropping her blades, she springs forward over the seat with an arm outstretched. A very live frag grenade plummets through the open space of the helicopter door, landing flat against her palm. The moment it hits her hand, she pushes forward and sends the grenade flying back out into the jungle. Several panicked screams follow, as the men outside scramble to find cover. The grenade explodes in a loud bang, sending a hot wave of shrapnel in all directions. And then...

Silence. Complete silence.

Ravager waits several minutes, then slowly hoists herself up through the open door. She gazes around carefully, eyes scanning the immediate vicinity. Three poor souls lie face down on the ground, half their bodies shredded by the grenade. A long, heavy breath exudes out of her throat at the sight.

Your own damn faults... Did you really think I was just going to eat a grenade for you guys? Not a damn chance.

Shick, shick.

Ravager immediately stiffens at the sound of a gun cocking behind her. Two seconds pass, and nothing happens. No gunfire, no precognitive vision. Very carefully, she turns herself around to see a man standing there behind the wreckage of the chopper and aiming his gun directly at her head.

Smuggler: <Hands up.>*

(* Translated from Vietnamese)

Ravager: Uh... yeah, I have no idea what you're saying.

Smuggler: <Hands up!>

Ravager: Still no idea.

The man aims his weapon higher, this time putting his eye to he sights.

Smuggler: <Put your hands up, and come out of the chopper!>

Ravager: Look, you really don't want to do that. It won't end well for you.

Shick, shick.

Shick, shick.

Two more guns cocking, two more reasons for Ravager to doubt her confidence in this predicament. Her eyes shift momentarily, looking first to the left, then the right. Two more men stand at the ready, aiming their AK-47s at her.

Ravager: Alright... now you might have better odds.

Ext. Vietnam Airport – Day

Four hours ago...

The instant that Becky pushes the doors open, leading the trio outside, her body slouches forward, head hanging. A hot, intense sun beats down from overhead, in full force with no clouds in the sky. Within seconds, sweat begins beading across her forehead.

Becky: Madre de Dios... it's so hot... why's it so hot?

Rose: Because it's Vietnam, that's why.

Joseph: Temperature averages in the eighties year round, if I'm not mistaken. Same with the humidity.

Bringing a hand to her forehead, Becky wipes away a thick coating of perspiration.

Becky: Thirty seconds out of the air conditioning and already I feel so... sticky. And not in a good way.

Rose: There'll be plenty of time for that later, Beck. First we pull Slade out of this fine mess he's gotten himself into, and then we can go relax at a nice a resort for a few days.

Becky: Only if it's got a pool. And air conditioning.

A small smile slowly curls across her face.

Rose: Nothing less.

When they manage to wave down a cab outside the airport, Rose hoists her large duffel bag into the back of the vehicle’s trunk. The cab driver gives her a suspicious look, but says nothing. Leaning close and holding up one hand at the side of her mouth, Becky speaks to her in a hushed whisper.

Becky: So, remind me again just how you managed to get all that stuff on that plane? Last time I checked, you couldn't just toss a couple swords in your bag and hop on a flight.

Rose: Same way we got you through the metal detector: connections.

Becky: Ah, right, well... fair enough.

Once the group piles into the back of the cab, the driver takes off down the busy city streets. Becky tilts her head back, closing her eyes and fanning herself with her hand.

Becky: So… where to next?

Joseph: I’ve already prepared a helicopter to be waiting for us. We’ll need it to get out to the area of jungle where the bandits are holed up.

Folding her arms calmly across her chest, Rose slowly glances over at her brother.

Rose: Isn’t flying into enemy territory generally a bad idea? Especially when they’re likely armed well enough to shoot us out of the sky?

Joseph: We won’t be flying straight into their territory, but rather the area just outside of where they usually patrol. From there, we can head in on foot.

Rose: And you’re sure Slade isn’t dead yet? I mean, we’re not walking in there for nothing, right?

At this comment, Joey turns his gaze toward his sister and gives a stern, knowing look.

Joseph: It’s Dad. What do you think?

Ext. Vietnam Airfield – Day

Three and a half hours ago…

Becky: Wait, we’re going up in that?

Approaching the chain link fence surrounding the airfield tarmac, Becky stares curiously at the large, military chopper sitting just a hundred yards away.

Joseph: Not that one specifically, but one just like it, yes.

Becky: Oy, that’s some heavy-duty stuff. I’m officially impressed. When you said we were taking a chopper, I just assumed you meant one of those tiny, commercial ones they fly around on tours in the big cities.

Rose: I guess when you’re flying near hostile territory, it pays to be prepared.

Joseph: That is the general consensus. We just have to meet with the flight coordinator first, then the pilot will take us out.

Inside the main building, Joseph leads the group up to the main desk, briefly asking the man behind the counter to meet with the airfield’s flight coordinator. They wait only briefly before a young Vietnamese woman with long dark hair, dressed in uniform, arrives to greet them.

Isabelle: <Welcome back, Joseph.>

Reaching forward, Joey briefly shakes hands with the woman, giving her a warm smile.

Joseph: <Thanks, Isabelle. It's good to see you again.>

Rose lifts an eyebrow, staring at her brother.

Rose: Since when do you speak Vietnamese?

Joseph: I picked a few things up while I've been here. What can I say? I'm a fast learner. Anyway, this is Isabelle Lee, the flight coordinator. Isabelle, this is my sister, Rose, and her partner, Rebecca.

Giving them a pleasant smile, Isabelle extends her hand forward and quickly exchanges handshakes with them.

Isabelle: Pleasure to meet you.

Joseph: Isabelle here’s been great in getting us a flight prepared.

Isabelle: Well, it not hard to be accommodating when you offer up such generous donations to the airfield. But I still do not understand why you want to go back out that way. It is… very dangerous out there.

Joseph: We know, and we’ll be careful.

Isabelle: You had better; that helicopter cost twenty million American dollars.

Becky utters a low, impressed whistle under her breath.

Becky: Let’s try not to crash it then, ah?

Isabelle: We be sending you out with one of our best pilots, so you be in good hands. If you follow me right this way, I take you to him.

Once the group leaves down the connecting corridor, the man behind the counter reaches for the phone. He looks back over his shoulder cautiously, before dialing a number and holding the phone up to his ear.

Man: <Hey, it’s me. You told me to call you when the Wilson kid showed up again. Yeah, well he’s here, and he brought friends with him. No, just a couple of chicks. Nothing to worry about. They’re heading out your way soon, though. Better be ready for them.>

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Day

Present...

Ravager stands still, arms raised high in the air. The idiots are smarter than she would have thought, she’ll give them that much. They keep their distance, as they lead her along through the jungle, too far out of range for her to make a move without eating a bunch of bullets. They’ll make a mistake soon, though, she’s sure of that. Guys like this always make a mistake.

For now, though, she marches forward with three gun barrels pointed at the back of her head. While she’s certain her suit could stop a good majority of damage from said machinegun fire, she doesn’t exactly want to unnecessarily test its durability when she doesn’t have to. They don’t seem to actually be trying to kill her right now, despite the fact that they were shooting and throwing grenades at her earlier.

This might actually work out… If they take me back to their base camp, I can find Slade and have him out before the day’s up. Then we can find the others and get out of this hellhole.

Pushing past a dense collection of undergrowth, Rose comes out to a small clearing. She pauses momentarily, taking a look at the few tents and jeeps dotting the area. Definitely a camp, but not a very large one. It’s not their base, most likely just a perimeter camp instead. One of the men leading her along comes up close behind her, jabbing his rifle barrel between her shoulder blades. She briefly considers making her move right then, but the other two keep their aim on her. Still smart, for now. Keeping her hands raise, she marches forward again to the large tent in the middle of the camp.

Smuggler: <Inside.>

Ravager: I assume you want me to go inside?

He jabs her back again with his gun. A small frown slowly forms across her face, before she finally pulls back the flap of the tent and ducks her way inside. The first thing she notices is the line of weapons along one side of the tent, everything from assault rifles to unloaded RPG launchers. On the other side of the space, a man sits casually in a chair and sips calmly from a cup of water, his feet propped up on a table in front of him. As she moves farther inside the tent, two of them men escorting her come in behind her and stand off to the sides. They keep their guns trained on her.

Ravager: Nice place you got here. Little low key, but it’s got real… homey feeling to it.

The man sitting at the table lifts a hand and motions for her to come closer, pointing specifically to the chair across from him. Ravager glances back at the men behind her for a second, then obeys and comes forward to sit in the chair.

Man: Remove your mask.

She pauses, narrowing her eyes at the man. She does listen, however, slowly reaching up to pull the faceplate off her helmet.

Ravager: Happy?

Man: Better.

Ravager: So who are you supposed to be?

Koh: My name is Jayden Koh, if you must know.

Ravager: And you’re the big man in charge around here, huh?

Koh: Of this particular area, yes.

Ravager: Which makes you the one who shot us down.

Koh: I did give the order, yes.

Frowning, Ravager leans forward, placing her hands gently on the table. The men behind her instantly cock their guns and bring their eyes to the sights. Koh raises a hand, though, ordering them to stand down. Reluctantly, they lower their weapons.

Ravager: Well, you listen to me, buddy. Nobody, and I mean nobody, fires a rocket at me and gets away with it. You got that?

Koh: I don’t believe you’re in a position to be making threats, Miss Wilson.

She stiffens suddenly, eyes narrowing.

Ravager: You know who I am?

Koh: Of course. You are Rose, correct?

Ravager: Okay, how do you know who I am?

Koh: It is my business to know these things. Your father has spoken a great deal about you and his family.

Her fingers tighten around the edge of the table.

Ravager: Where is he?

Koh: Oh, we will take you to him in good time, yes. Perhaps threatening you will finally make him talk… but first, you will tell me where the other two who came with you are.

Ravager: You say that like I’m supposed to know.

Koh: Do you not?

Ravager: I’m as much in the dark as you.

A small silence passes between them. Koh leans back in his seat, rubbing his hand along his chin momentarily.

Koh: I see. Well, that is unfortunate.

Ravager: Okay, actually that’s not entirely true. I do know where one of them is. Joey, now would be a good time.

One of the men standing behind her suddenly turns and lashes out the butt of his gun. Before the second man can react, the wooden handle smashes into the side of his head, dropping him to the ground in an instant. Koh hesitates, a paralyzing grip of shock running through his body. When he finally comes to his senses, he reaches down to his holstered pistol. His hand barely makes it halfway there before he has a gun barrel pointed straight at his face.

Ravager: Alright, here’s how it works. I ask you questions, and you answer. We don’t like your answers, and my brother here puts one between your eyes. How’s that sound?

Koh: That… is fair.

Ravager’s lips curl slowly into a pleased smile.

Ravager: Good.

Chapter #100

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Day

Three hours ago…

The helicopter sweeps low above the tree line, rotors roaring loudly as they go. Within the aircraft, Rose, Becky, and Joseph sit next to each other in the back, harnessed into their seats with waist and shoulder straps. They each wear a small headset, allowing them to communicate to each other over the noise. In the cabin ahead of them, the pilot eases the controls forward slightly, causing the chopper to rapidly pick up speed.

Isaac: How you liking da flight so far? Pretty fun, yeah?

Holding on tightly to the wall beside her, Becky slowly looks up, face contorted into an odd combination of panic and amazement.

Becky: Oh si… it’s a real… a real blast.

Isaac: You seem bit distressed. Never been in helicopter before?

Becky: Uh, no… no I can’t say I have. Do you really need to go so fast?

Isaac: I just get you to your destination faster, yeah? Everything okay, no worry.

Becky: Sure… whatever you say.

Smirking calmly to herself, Rose turns to her brother and leans in close, so he can hear him without the headset.

Rose: So, that Isabelle woman… she’s pretty cute, huh?

Joseph: Huh? Oh… yeah, I suppose.

Rose: Are you two…?

He blinks at her for a moment, apparently confused. When he finally realizes what she’s asking, his eyes go wide.

Joseph: What? No! No, we’re not… I mean, we’re just acquaintances.

Rose: Oh yeah, because I totally believe you with that reaction. How long have you been dating?

Joseph: We… we’re not exactly dating, per se, we’re just…

Rose: Mutually benefiting from one another’s company?

Joseph: That’s… one way of putting it. And if you must know, we’ve known each other for a couple of months now.

Rose: A couple of months? Just how long have you and Slade been in Vietnam?

Joseph: About that long. We found a lead that brought us here, but it ran cold for a while. Wasn’t until just a week ago that we picked it up again. I met Isabelle shortly after we arrived.

Rose: I see… don’t suppose you’ll tell me now what it is you got a lead on, huh?

Joseph: No, I still can’t. If Dad wants to tell you when we find him, then he’ll tell you. Until then, I promised I wouldn’t.

A small, frustrated sigh emerges from her throat. She bows her head, bringing up a hand and rubbing her eyes.

Rose: Ugh… this had better be worth it.

Joseph: It will be, Rose… I promise.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle

Present…

Joseph: When did you figure out it was me?

Ravager: Not long after I saw you. Everything from how you carried yourself to how you looked at me. Was the eyes, mostly. You can hop into whatever body you want, but I’ll always know those eyes. They have a certain… gentleness to them.

And yet, there’s nothing gentle about pointing a gun at Jayden Koh, the leader of this particular perimeter camp. Koh sits straight up in his seat, eying the gun barrel carefully for several moments, and then slowly turning his gaze back to Ravager.

Koh: Get on with your questions, then.

Ravager: Where’s your main base camp? Where are you holding our father?

Koh: I can’t tell you that.

Ravager: I don't think you’re fully aware of your situation, buddy. You have a gun aimed at your skull. Unless you want your tent redecorated, you’ll answer the damn question.

Koh: You shoot me, and my men will hear it. You won’t get out of here alive.

Ravager: Maybe…

Bringing a hand down to her thigh, she grips the handle of a spare knife and draws it from its sheath. With a firm thunk, she stabs the blade into the wooden table in front of her, then folds her arms calmly.

Ravager: But there are other, more silent ways of inflicting pain. So, new deal. Answer the question, or I start cutting off appendages.

Koh stares at the knife for a long time, as if mesmerized by its presence. Eventually, he lifts his gaze and casually folds his hands in front of him.

Koh: Very well… our main camp is approximately ten miles north of here, across the river. Very hard to miss.

Ravager: Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Koh: If you are done here, then leave… or at least, try to. You cannot simply walk out of this camp.

Ravager: Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that. Joey, go ahead and take him. He’ll be a lot more useful than the mook you’re in right now.

Joseph: Good point.

Koh: Wait… what are you doing?

Joseph: Nothing important. Just look at me, Mr. Koh. Just like that.

Contact.

Joseph’s real body suddenly emerges in an astral projection form, gliding out of the man he’s currently possessing and diving straight into Koh. The previously possessed man collapses instantly, unconscious, while Koh himself stiffens up straight as Joseph’s mind takes over.

Ravager: You good?

Joseph: I’m good. Now come on, let’s get out of here.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle

Three hours ago…

Isaac reaches up overhead, flicking a few switches in the cabin as he eases the chopper down to a slower pace.

Isaac: We almost there. I set you down in da clearing up ahead, yeah?

Joseph: Sounds good, Isaac. Take us in nice an easy.

Isaac: You got it, boss.

The helicopter turns slightly, tilting to the side as it glides down towards the clearing in the distance. As they grow closer, however, Rose suddenly goes rigid, a rapid series of images flashing through her head. Instantly, she unbuckles her harness and lurches forward towards the cabin.

Rose: Isaac! Bank left, now!

Isaac: What are you talking about? Sit down, please. We going to be landing soon.

Rose: Don’t argue! Just turn to the-

Before she can finish the sentence, though, she sees it: a small rocket flying straight through the air, leaving behind a long trail of thick white smoke. Isaac sees it, too, yanking on the controls and banking hard to the left.

Isaac: Hold on everyone! This could get… rough!

His actions are too little, too late. He doesn’t have enough time to properly get them out of the way, though fortunately it is enough to keep from taking a direct hit. Instead, the rocket impacts the back end of the chopper’s body, blowing the tail section straight off. With such heavy damage, and no rear stabilizers now, they begin to spin wildly towards the jungle below.

Joseph: We need to jump!

Already out of his seat, Joey pulls one of the side doors open, hanging on tightly to the frame to keep form tumbling over.

Becky: Are you loco? We can’t just jump out!

Joseph: It’s either that or die in a fiery crash! Your choice!

Rose pulls Becky from her seat and pushes her to the open door.

Rose: He’s right! And you can survive the fall better than any of us, so just go!

Becky stumbles momentarily, staggering towards the exit and looking around as the chopper continues spinning forward. A look of nausea washes over her face.

Becky: Dios mio… alright, just don’t go getting yourself killed, you hear me? See you down there!

And with that, she leaps out of the helicopter and plummets towards the ground. She instantly pushes her nanites up through her pores, coating herself fully in the shiny, metallic substance. Within seconds, it hardens into a near indestructible shell, and by the time she crashes through the tree canopy and slams into the ground, she’s completely protected. As such, she receives very little actual damage from the fall, more shaken than anything. Pushing herself back to her feet, she looks up and watches overhead as the out of control chopper pummels through the jungle somewhere in the distance.

Madre de Dios... I hope they got out in time. Please let them have made it out in time.

Wasting no time of her own, she scrambles up the side of an embankment, bursting through a thick collection of vines, trees, and bushes. If she heads in the direction of the crash, then she should be able to meet up with the others along the way, assuming they got out before the helicopter hit the jungle floor. Unfortunately, she doesn't make it very far before the ratatatatat of machine gun fire resonates through the undergrowth. Becky dives behind a tree, feeling several bullets ricochet off her hardened flesh. She stays there momentarily, listening as her attackers shout back at each other.

Smuggler #1: <Hold on, you idiot! We're supposed to take them alive if possible!>*

(* Translated from Vietnamese)

Smuggler #2: <Only the Wilson kids. The other one is expendable!>

Smuggler #1: <But we don't know which one we're shooting at yet, you jackass!>

Okay, Becky, think, think... You could run out there and deliver an epic face stomping to those guys. I mean hell, you are bulletproof and all. But you don't know how many of them are out there, what kind of artillery they have, or exactly how strong these nanites are. Sure, they're plenty impressive, but what happens if the shell cracks and falls apart, ah? Then you're dead.

Instead, she runs for it, darting through the trees back the way she came. Another brief burst of gunfire follows, before abruptly ceasing in response to more angered shouting. She glances back over her shoulder just in time to catch sight of at least five men in pursuit, some distance back in the heavy tangle of jungle foliage.

Fortunately, along with her newly enhanced strength and durability comes much greater speed and stamina, as well. In seconds, she more than doubles the distance between her and her pursuers. By the time a minute passes, she can't even hear them anymore, let alone see them. Slowing to a stop, Becky brings her hands to her hips and looks around carefully. It doesn't take very long before she comes to a panicked, frustrated conclusion.

Ay caramba... I'm lost.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle - Day

Present...

Through the dense jungle, Rose can make out the fringes of the main bandit camp, set up in a large clearing. Dozens of armed men march back and forth between numerous tents and jeeps. She makes an attempt to count them all to get a precise number of what they're dealing with, but more seem to appear each minute. She loses track after reaching thirty.

Ravager: Don't suppose you have a rough estimate on how many men they have?

Joseph, still in the body of Jayden Koh, slowly shakes his head.

Joseph: Not a clue. I watched the place for a couple days after Dad was captured, but I could never get good feel for their numbers. At least fifty, but less than a hundred.

Ravager: That's... a bigger range than I was hoping for.

Joseph: Well, sorry to disappoint.

Ravager: So how are we getting in?

Joseph: You'll be my prisoner.

Ravager: Excuse me?

Joseph: Right now, I'm one of them, remember? And they want you captured, to use as leverage against Dad to make him talk. So, I take you in as my prisoner, then we're both inside.

Rose considers the proposition, breathing outwardly and staring back at the camp in the distance. She doesn't like the idea of acting as a prisoner, but it is a better plan than trying to sneak in or commit a full frontal attack with just the two of them.

Ravager: Alright, fine. When do you want to make our move?

Joseph: Soon. We'll have to double back and head around to the other side of the camp, where the road leads in.

They wait a few moments, continuing to watch the men roaming around the camp. Joey was right; even with their dad being who he is, Rose doubts that he'd be able to escape under these circumstances. As they get ready to move out, Joseph momentarily turns his head to look at her.

Joseph: So, you and Rebecca... is it serious?

Lifting an eyebrow behind her faceplate, Rose gives her brother a confused gaze.

Ravager: Is this really the time to have this conversation?

Joseph: Just curious. You seemed to be living together.

Ravager: We are. And yes, it's serious.

Joseph: It's hard to picture, you know.

Ravager: What is?

Joseph: You, in a relationship, happy. In all the time I've known you, I don't think I could have imagined it.

Ravager: Gee, your flattery knows no bounds.

Joseph: I'm just saying, with the way Dad messed with your life -- our lives -- it wasn't exactly shocking. I mean, you were always nice around me, but everyone else seemed to rub you the wrong way almost. Seeing you now, though... it's nice, and I'm happy for you.

Ravager pauses, straightening her posture and gently lowering her arms. He can't see it, but she's smiling a very broad, pleasant smile behind her mask.

Ravager: Thanks, Joey. I've come a long way since we last met, you know. If we make it out of this alive, I have a lot of stories to tell you. Plus, you can properly meet your niece.

At this comment, Joseph's eyes go wide with confusion. He stares at her for a long, quiet moment, eventually leaning in close to her. His voice comes out in a hushed whisper.

Joseph: I... have a niece?

Ravager: Yeah, her name's Holly

Joseph: But, how do... I mean, who did you... with?

Ravager: Pull yourself together, I didn't actually have a kid with anyone. She had no place else to go, so I took her in a few years back. Just recently adopted her.

Joseph: Oh... well that's great. I mean it. Can't wait to meet her.

Ravager: Yeah, I think you'll like each other. Now, what do you say we get in there and save Dad's ass?

Joseph: Sounds like a plan to me.

Ext. Bandit Camp - Day

Joseph marches forward down the road, pushing Ravager along with the barrel of his gun pressed between her shoulder blades. Ravager twists her wrists around slightly to make sure that the rope they used to tie her hands behind her back is nice and tight. Their ruse probably won't work so well if these smugglers have reason to doubt that she's actually a prisoner. Having her bonds fall off might give them such doubt. As they approach the camp entrance, several armed men take careful steps toward them.

Bandit: <Jayden? What's this?>

Joseph: <Found one of the Wilson kids. Thought the boss might like to put her to good use.>

Bandit: <You came on foot? Where the hell is your jeep?>

Joseph: <Damn thing broke down a couple miles back. We walked the rest of the way. Get me some damn water, I'm f*cking thirsty.>

The bandit tilts his head, eying the two curiously, then turns back to one of them behind him and gives a nod. The man runs off back into the camp, presumably to get Koh his water.

Bandit: <She's not armed, is she?>

Joseph: <I don't believe so.>

Bandit: <Kind of hard to tell with that outfit she has on. A lot of places to hide a weapon.>

Joseph: <I don't really think she's hiding anything.>

Bandit: <Better safe than sorry. Untie her hands and tell her to take it off.>

Joseph clears his throat, pausing and giving Ravager a sidelong glance. Turning his gaze back to the bandit, he shifts his weight uneasily.

Joseph: <Is that really necessary?>

Bandit: <I decide what's necessary. Tell her.>

Ravager: What the hell is he saying?

Joseph: He, uh... wants you to take off your armor.

She blinks, not registering his words at first. Slowly, she turns her head and stares at him.

Ravager: All of it?

Joseph: All of it. He's concerned about... concealed weapons.

Ravager: Well tell him to f*ck off. I've only got underwear on under this.

Joseph: Somehow, I think that's the point... <What if she refuses?>

Bandit: <Then we put a bullet in her head. After putting her to some... more personal use.>

Joseph: If you don't take it off quick, things are going to get ugly.

Ravager: Well then let them get ugly! I'm not taking my damn clothes for any perverted sons of-

Shick shick.

At the sound of multiple guns cocking, Ravager glances back towards the men in front of them. Multiple guns are now pointed straight at her. Apparently, these guys don't take very well to raised voices.

Joseph: Rose...

Ravager: Alright, fine! I swear, of all the degrading... you'd better not look.

Joseph: Eyes averted. <Alright, she's doing it. Put the guns down.>

Once the guns lower, Ravager breathes out a long, annoyed sigh. She waits for Joseph to untie her hands, then calmly begins removing her armored suit, starting with her helmet and working her way down. She feels the men leering intensely at her, as she pulls the suit down past her legs, exposing the scant bra and panties she wears underneath her outfit. It makes her want to gut somebody, but she manages to restrain herself.

Rose: There, you happy? Go ahead and take a nice long look, assholes.

With that, she kicks over her costume and folds her arms firmly across her chest. In doing so, a large knife tumbles out of a hidden compartment in the armor. Joseph watches as one of the men bends down to pick up the knife, then briefly glances back at Rose. Noticing his look, she curls her lips into an annoyed frown.

Rose: What? Their concerns being justified doesn't make this any less demeaning.

Joseph: Wasn't saying anything.

Rose: But you were thinking it.

Joseph: If you say so. <Are you good, now?>

The bandit turns his gaze over to Rose, his eyes traveling over her much longer than could be considered comfortable. With a pleased smirk, he nods and waves his gun for them to follow.

Bandit: <Oh yeah, we're good.>

Chapter #101

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Day

Becky saunters forward through the jungle, body slouched over and head hanging towards the ground. The metallic shell around her body is gone now, considering she hasn’t come across another one of those smugglers in over three hours. Instead, she’s been wandering aimlessly, gradually losing hope of ever finding Rose or Joseph.

Also, it’s hot. Damn hot. She had hoped that the temperature would drop as the afternoon dragged on, but instead it just got worse. Even the humidity has risen, leaving her to soak in her sweat. By now, her shirt is drenched and sticks tightly against her body, like some kind of second skin. Very wet, very uncomfortable skin. That’s not to mention the horrible stench of body odor following her around wherever she goes. There isn’t enough deodorant on the planet to keep someone from stinking up a storm in this weather.

Oy… I’d give anything for a cold beer and a dip in a pool right about now…

Breathing in deeply, she pushes through a thick grouping of bushes, her legs already beginning to tire out. What she doesn’t see, as she lazily steps forward, is the sudden decline in terrain. Her foot never comes down on solid earth, instead dropping out from underneath her. With a loud yelp, she’s suddenly falling, crashing hard into the embankment and then rolling wildly down the hill.

She comes to a stop with a loud splash, plunging into the depths of miraculously cool water. For a brief moment, she just floats there in disbelief, reveling in the feel of cold water against her hot, exhausted body. When she reemerges from the surface, she flips her hair back, runs her hands over her head, and utters a pleasant, if somewhat confused, laugh.

Becky: Dios mio… it’s a damn miracle.

Glancing around momentarily, Becky comes to realize that she’s currently floating in a calm, shallow river that cuts through the jungle like a long wet dagger. She remains there for several minutes longer, until finally swimming back to shore and dragging herself out of the water. As great as it feels, there’s no telling what kind of wildlife is lurking around below the surface. The last thing she wants is to be attacked by a hungry crocodile or something.

But at least I don’t feel like a boiled lobster anymore.

Taking in another, deep breath, she stretches her arms up over her head and then begins casually trekking down the river bank. It beats traipsing around aimlessly in the jungle, and if she can always take a quick dip in the water whenever she starts overheating again. When she rounds the corner of a river bend, however, movement draws her attention. She turns her head sharply, instantly pulling out her body’s nanites and hardening them around her. This caution lasts only briefly, though, as instead of an armed bandit standing there, she sees a young girl. The two stare at each other for a long moment, until finally Becky allows her nanites to sink back into her skin.

Becky: Uh… hi? What are you doing out here?

The girl just continues staring, not saying anything. Becky looks past her, wondering where on earth she came from. And that’s when she notices two men standing nearby atop a small embankment, near the tree line. They give her hard, careful looks, before slowly approaching the small girl. The men position themselves between her and the girl protectively, as if expecting Becky to attack.

Becky: Hey, easy, I’m not hostile. I’m just lost. Uh… do any of you speak English?

Again, silence. Becky scratches her head, watching as the men and the girl begin to walks away back through the jungle. She cautiously follows them.

Becky: Wait a minute, can any of you tell me where to-

They quicken their pace, almost jogging now. In seconds, they disappear through a small tangle of undergrowth, leaving Becky standing there alone.

Becky: Vietnam. Why did it have to be Vietnam? Why not Spain or something? At least there, I’d speak the native language.

Uttering a sigh of frustration, she hurries up the embankment and through the dense foliage, hoping to find where the two men and the girl had gone. Maybe she’s close by to civilization, maybe even a hotel. Oh what she wouldn’t give for a nice relaxing shower right about now.

Ext. Farming Village – Day

As she pushes through the other side of the vines and trees, she comes out to a small collection of huts and shacks, spread out in front open fields. She pauses briefly, staring with confused eyes. Turning back around, she takes a moment to make sure that she had actually just been in a jungle. Indeed, dense jungle surrounds the entire village and its open fields.

Well this is... not what I expected. Looks like some kind of farming village.

Becky slowly walks towards the grouping of homes. carefully inspecting the area. She never imagined that such a place could exist in the middle of a jungle. It feels like a whole different world, almost. Turning her head, she sees an old man sitting on a small seat and staring at her. She squints back at him, slightly tilting her head. His gaze doesn’t shift in the slightest. Finally pulling her eyes away, she continues walking through the village.

I don’t think I should get my hopes up on a shower or television in these huts.

She doesn’t make it very far before she realizes that a lot more than just the one old guy is staring at her. Everywhere she turns, she spots someone looking her way. Men, women, children… everyone.

Becky: Uh… can anyone tell me how to get back to the city? Or a main road? Something? …yeah, didn’t think so.

To her astonishment, however, a calm voice in a very familiar language answers her question.

Man: You’re a long way from the city.

Spinning around, Becky comes face to face with a man standing behind her. He isn’t Vietnamese, however… actually, he looks more American than anything; tall, decent shape, scruffy blonde hair, closely trimmed beard. Not the kind of person she would have expected to see around here.

Becky: You, uh… who are you?

Charles: Name’s Charles Foster.

He gives her a friendly smile, extending a hand. She glances at it briefly before shaking.

Charles: And you are?

Becky: Rebecca. Rebecca Chavez.

Charles: Well, pleasure to meet you, Rebecca Chavez. What brings you out this way?

Becky: Er… well, I came here with friends, but… we kind of got separated. And then I got lost. And… now I’m here. But, what are you… I mean, you’re not…

A small chuckle finds its way out of his throat.

Charles: No, I’m not native to the area, if that’s what you’re implying. Came here about ten years ago from the States, ended up in this little farming village and never left.

Becky: Just like that? You just up and left your life to stay… here?

Charles: To be honest, I didn’t really have much of a life back there. But here…

He turns momentarily, looking back near the corner of the hut behind him. A pretty Vietnamese woman stands there, watching closely. A young girl stands next to her, holding on tightly to the woman’s pant leg. The girl doesn’t look as strongly Vietnamese as her mother, possessing certain other traits strikingly similar to Charles'.

Charles: …well, let’s just say I found something worth living for.

Becky’s gaze follows his closely, coming to a quick understanding of his meaning.

Becky: Oh, I see. I guess that would be enough to leave everything behind, ah?

Charles: That it would.

Becky: So anyway, you said something about me being a long way away from the city? Exactly how long of a way are we talking? I really think I need to get back and, I don't know, draw up a search party or something for my friends.

Charles: Well, you see that road over there?

He points briefly over to a small trail leading out of the village and into the jungle.

Charles: That'll take you out to a main road back to civilization... about sixty miles or so from here. Not going to get there any time soon on foot.

Becky: Oy... so you got a jeep I could borrow or something?

Charles: Delivery truck comes in once a week with supplies, but it's not due for another three days.

With a frustrated groan, Becky brings a hand up to smack her forehead.

Becky: Jueputa... I guess I'm walking, then.

Charles: I'd suggest maybe getting some rest first, maybe a little something to eat? Looks like you've been out there for a while. My wife and I were just about to make dinner, actually, if you'd like to join us.

She pauses briefly, folding her arms and looking around. By now, the other village folk have resigned to ignoring her, instead of staring. Fine by her. Eventually, she shrugs her shoulders and exhales sharply.

Becky: Sure, why not?

Charles: Great, follow me. I'll show introduce you to the family.

Ext. Storage Tent, Bandit Camp - Day

Bandit: <Tie her up in there with the other. Then come with me; the boss will want to talk to you.>*

* (Translated from Vietnamese)

Joseph pushes Rose through the flap of the tent, glancing behind him. They're watching him carefully. With a cool breath, he turns his attention back inside. The tent is a small one, mostly made for storage. Several large crates sit around the space, along with barrels of water and sacks of grain.

Joseph: There.

He points to one of the support poles, urging his sister to follow instructions and try not to make things difficult. If their plan is going to succeed, they have to play along for now. Reluctantly, Rose complies, sitting down against the pole and holding her hands behind her back. Joseph quickly snaps a pair of iron shackles around her wrists, the chain bonding her hands tightly into place.

Rose: This is wrong on so many levels...

Joseph: Just hang tight. I'll try to make it back as soon as I can.

Rose: Oh please take your time. I've always wanted to be chained half naked in a smuggler camp. It's a dream come true.

Exhaling, Joseph straightens himself and gives her one last look before exiting the tent. Once she's alone, Rose bows her head and grumbles quietly to herself.

Rose: Well, can't say that went as expected...

Voice: And how did you expect it to go?

Rose lifts her head up sharply, gaze snapping to the source of the voice. Across from her, chained to a similar support pole, is a very familiar man, beaten and bloodied. The plain white tank top he wears is shredded, barely more than rags covering his torso, while his jeans have seen better days. Though a sickening scar slashes across his right eye, there is no sign of his eye patch anywhere. Rose stiffens slightly at the sight of him, breathing in a slow, calm breath.

Rose: So Joey was right... you're not dead. Yet.

Slade: You know me, Rose. It'll take a lot more than a few punk bandits with AKs to put me down.

Rose: As unfortunate as that might be...

Pausing a moment, Slade sits up straighter and lets out a soft breath.

Slade: I'm glad you came... a part of me didn't think you would.

Rose: Really, only a part? After everything you've done to me?

Slade: The other part hoped you'd come help out your family. Looks like I was right.

A large frown slashes across her face. She huffs out a large breath of air, glaring off to the side. She can barely stand to look at the man right now.

Rose: Yeah, well, as much as I hate you, I guess I still love you, too. Like some kind of demented case of Stockholm's or something.

Slowly, she turns her gaze back towards him.

Rose: But let's make one thing perfectly clear. I'm not happy I'm here, and I don't like you. I never will. If we get out of this, I want you out of my life for good, you got it? And don't ever ask for my help again.

Slade: Careful what you wish for, Rose.

Rose: What I wish is that I didn't have to come all the way out here to rescue you. What the hell are you and Joey even looking for? And why is it so damn important that you had to go and pull this ridiculous -- not to mention stupid -- stunt of getting yourself captured?

At this question, Slade goes quiet. He sucks in a deep breath, looking away from her.

Slade: I can't-

Rose: No! Don't you dare say you can't tell me! I traveled halfway across the world to save your sorry ass! The least you can do is tell me why!

Slade: It's not the right time. I want to... but it's for the best if you don't know just yet.

Rose: And why the hell can't I know yet?

Slade: Because... it'll be easier for you to forgive me when this is over.

Lifting a confused eyebrow, Rose narrows her eyes. He still isn't looking at her.

Rose: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Slade: Everything will be made clear in good time, I promise you.

Rose: Whatever. It's gonna have to wait, though, because the first thing we're doing when we get out of this camp is searching for Becky. She's still out in the jungle somewhere.

Slade's gaze moves swiftly back to his daughter, eyes widening.

Slade: Rebecca... she's alive? But I thought...

Rose: Yeah, she got better. Go figure, right? But it's a long story.

Slade: And yet you dragged her along on this?

Rose: No, she insisted. Wouldn't take no for an answer. She's not the same as before, though, she's... well, she's more than capable of handling herself. I'm not so much worried that something will happen to her as I am of just not finding her again.

Slade: I see... in that case, we'll look for her as soon as we get out of here. As soon as I get the information I need. I just need five minutes alone with that boss of theirs, and now that you and Joseph are here, we can make it happen.

Rose: I assume you have a plan?

Slade: I always have a plan.

Rose: Does it involve pants? Because I could really, really use some pants right now.

Int. Smuggler Captain's Tent, Bandit Camp – Day

With a steady breath, Joseph enters through the double flap of the large tent. He looks around briefly, noting how much larger it actually is, almost like a small house. The floor is even raised up on a wooden platform, unlike the natural, dirt floors in the others. His gaze quickly passes over a bed, a small kitchen area, and a workstation, finally settling on the tall, well built man sitting at a desk. The man leans back casually in his chair, arms folding across his broad chest. This man, going by the name of Vinh Dao, is the one in charge of operating the sizable group of bandits and smugglers hiding out in the jungle.

Vinh: <Ah, Jayden Koh. Please, have a seat.>

Joseph walks forward across the tent, calmly lowering himself into a seat in front of the man's desk. He remains calm, collected, paying careful mind to the fact that he is inhabiting the body of another.

Joseph: <Thank you. I trust you have heard the news?>

Vinh: <So I have, and I must say, excellent work. While I would like to have both Wilson children in custody, the girl is wholly sufficient for now. I'll get to work with them soon.>

Joseph: <And what would you have me do now? Shall I return to my post?>

Vinh: <No, I have a rather special assignment I need you to take care of.>

Straightening in his chair, Joseph furrows his brow in confusion.

Joseph: <What assignment?>

Vinh: <A way to expand our reach in the jungle, as well as get rid of a few pests along the way. Ten miles south of here is a small farming village. It isn't much, but a well used road does run close by. We're going to take control of that village, and by extension the road.>

Joseph: <I see... and you want me leading the party?>

Vinh: <Yes, I feel your talents would be most useful for the mission. You can work on putting together a small team soon. Understood?>

Joseph: <Yes, sir... I understand.>

Chapter #102

Ext. Farming Village – Night

Bright orange flames flicker wildly in the night, fueled by half the wooden dwellings and rice fields of the village. Every now and then a hot ember pops, drawing the attention of the survivors standing nearby. They watch with wide eyes, lost in quiet contemplation. Too shocked are they to grieve right now, too horrified to act. The only thing they can do is stare as the growing flames spread from home to home.

Bodies lie haphazardly strewn about the village, some caught in the inferno and others lying face down in the dirt. Villagers, bandits. Men, women. Adults, children. No one had been safe when the attack began, no one's survival certain. Not even the one who had defended them all, the one who had jumped headlong into danger to save as many as them as possible. Charles kneels over her body, pressing his fingers to her neck. No pulse. His wife, Kym, hovers over his shoulder, holding herself tightly.

Kym: <Is she... alive?>*

(* Translated from Vietnamese>

Charles: <I don't know. I can't feel a pulse, and she's been hit multiple times.>

Kym: <Is there anything you can do? She saved us... there must be some way we can help.>

Charles: <I'm not a doctor, Kym. I don't... I don't know how.>

With a heavy breath, Charles sinks back against the ground, hanging his head into his hands. It's hopeless; he can't do anything to save her. She's already gone.

Charles: Thank you... for saving my family. I promise we won't forget what you did here, Rebecca.

Int. Storage Tent, Bandit Camp – Day

Four hours ago...

Rose tilts her head back against the support pole behind her. She's been staring at the ceiling of the tent now for an hour in stone dead silence, having run out of things to talk about with her father within the first ten minutes. Of course, she isn't entirely broken up about that, wanting as little to do with the man as possible. The only reason she's here is to help him escape and acquire the information he's after, so they can find whatever the hell he's looking for. Once that's done, she never has to see him again.

At least, that's the plan. Knowing her abysmal luck, Slade will be back in her life in a few years to muck it up all over again. Such is how the wheel seems to term, in their father-daughter relationship. Rose finds some happiness, Slade shows up, Rose's life gets flipped on its backside. He tries to fix things, Rose disowns him again. He leaves, Rose picks up where she left off. Lather, rinse, and f*cking repeat.

Her attention is finally drawn when the entrance flap to the tent pushes inward, revealing the body of Jayden Koh, still possessed by the astral spirit of Joseph Wilson. He takes a few careful steps forward, eyes passing between the two captives. Then, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an old key.

Joseph: Remember to act like you're still locked up, or else you'll blow it.

Slade: Thank you, son. I knew you'd come through, you always do.

Kneeling down beside his father, Joey quickly slips the key into the lock of the shackles binding the man's wrists. With a simple turn, the shackles pop free. Of course, Slade keeps his arms wrapped back around the pole behind him, to keep up the act. Joseph then brings the key over to his sister, do the same for her bonds.

Rose: You couldn't bring me some clothes, too?

Joseph: Couldn't find any. Would look too suspicious, anyway.

Rose: Of course it would...

Slade: When's Vinh dropping by for a visit?

Joseph: Should be soon, though I think he had a couple things to take care of first. You have a plan?

Slade: I do, and I'll need you there as part of it.

Joseph shifts slightly, turning his gaze away momentarily. A long, soft breath exudes from his throat, one hand coming up to absently rub his shoulder.

Joseph: I... can't be here for it.

Slade's eyes narrow, gaze locking on hard to his son.

Slade: What do you mean you can't be here for it? You're essential.

Joseph: Vinh ordered a raid on a nearby farming village tonight. They'll kill everyone just to control the road leading out of it. But if I stay in Koh's body and go with them, I can stop it. I can help those people.

Slade: That isn't our problem, Joseph. We have a clear goal here, or have you forgotten?

Bowing his head, Joey exhales deeply and shakes his head.

Joseph: No, I haven't forgotten. But I can't just stay here and let innocent people be slaughtered when I can do something about it.

Slade: Joseph, you listen to me-

Rose: Shut up, Slade. Just shut up.

Slade glances a his daughter from the corner of his eye, but says nothing.

Rose: God, you're still the same selfish pr*ck as always, aren't you? Could you stop thinking about yourself for once? You might not like helping people, but news flash, it's kind of what we do.

Slade: Rose, we don't have time to be-

Rose: No, don't talk. I told you to shut up so I can talk. You got yourself into this mess, and now you need us to get you out. You want us to do that, then we do it our way, got it? And our way says that you let Joey stop these assholes from murdering a bunch of innocent people.

For a long moment, Slade stares back at her, eyes unblinking. He's never quite seen his daughter this defiant before. Sure, she despises him, wants nothing to do with him, and has tried to kill him on multiple occasions, but the adamant ferocity in her voice right now is something else altogether, like an angry parent talking down to a child.

Rose: If you're so concerned about your plan for getting out of here, then come up with a new plan. We're more than capable of adapting. You got that?

Slade lowers his gaze to the ground, taking in a deep, slow breath.

Slade: Just be careful, Joseph.

Joseph: I will. When you two get out of here, we can meet up at the village and figure out where to go from there. That work?

Rose: It works. Go do your thing, Joey. We'll be fine.

Moving back towards the tent flap, Joey nods appreciatively to his sister.

Joseph: See you soon.

When he's gone, Slade lifts his gaze back towards Rose. He looks at her long and hard before bringing himself to speak, and she stares right back at him the whole time, never wavering.

Slade: You never cease to surprise me, Rose.

Rose: Probably because your head is so far up your ass you can't realize that I'm a changed woman. I stopped letting you walk over me years ago.

Slade: I know, and I'm proud of you for that. You're strong, intelligent, but most of all... caring, something I've never been good at.

Rose: Oh boy, you're proud of me? Gee, that means so much coming from you.

Slade: It might not now... but I hope some day that it will.

Rose: Fat chance of that. Now... let's hurry up and figure out a new plan before it's too late.

Int. Charles' Home, Farming Village – Night

One hour ago...

The dwelling is rather small, nothing more than a spruced up hut with the barest of amenities. Becky doesn't understand it, how people can live with so little. According to Charles, they've learned to live with only what is necessary and are quite happy in doing so. She, on the other hand, will take all the technological luxuries of the current era any day.

Sitting at the small kitchen table, Becky slowly shifts her gaze between Charles, his wife, Kym, and their daughter, Mai. The one thing she has been impressed with so far is the amount of care they've shown for each other. In just the short few hours that she's known them, she's found them to be one of the happiest families she ever met. Her eyes pause briefly, watching closely as Charles cuts his daughter's fish into smaller pieces. The young girl smiles, swinging her legs back and forth with a big smile on her face.

Caramba... this is what I want someday. A family to love and call my own. People like Rose. Holly, too. I don't think there's anything I wouldn't give to spend the rest of my life with them.

Mai: <Thanks, Daddy.>

The young girl turns her head and gives her Dad a quick kiss on the cheek, then returns her attention to her food. A broad smile forms its way onto Becky's face, as she watches. Her hand only absently drifts towards her plate, stabbing at the fish with her fork.

Yeah... definitely.

Becky: Thank you for the dinner, by the way. Didn't realize how hungry I was until I started eating.

Charles: It's no trouble, really.

Kym: Do yew... anjoy da feesh?

The woman's English is broken and heavily accented, but clear enough to understand. Becky gives her a warm smile, nodding firmly.

Becky: Yes, it's very good. You're an excellent cook.

Kym returns the smile broadly.

Kym: Dat is... good. Vey, vey good.

Ext. Farming Village – Night

Forty-five minutes ago...

A short time later, Becky stands outside, hands in her pockets as she gazes up at the stars. Next to her, Charles folds his arms casually across his chest, lifting his own eyes towards the sky, as well. With not a cloud in the sky, the stars are out in full force.

Becky: You really do have a lovely family, you know.

Charles: Thanks. I never imagined something so great would come out of my trip here a decade ago, but when I met Kym... well, I knew I couldn't leave. And Mai, she's my everything. An angel I didn't deserve, yet have been blessed to have her.

Becky: She really is a sweet girl, ah?

Charles: That she is. You have anyone like that? Someone you love?

Becky: Si... I do.

Charles: Then don't ever let them go. It would be the biggest mistake you could ever make.

Breathing out deeply, Becky brings her gaze down to look at Charles. She curls a small, warm smile onto her face.

Becky: I don't intend to.

BAM!

A single gunshot rings out like firecracker, splitting the quiet night air. Becky snaps her attention towards the sound, though it's difficult to discern exactly what direction it came from. The only thing she can be certain of is that it was close. Very close.

Charles: The hell was that?

Becky: I don't know, but I'd get back inside if I were you.

Quickly moving away from him, she runs down the dirt path through the center of the village. As she does, another gunshot deafens the air.

BAM!

Charles: Where are you going?

Becky: To check things out. Just stay with your family!

---

At the edge of the village, a collection of jeeps and troops have gathered, preparing to invade the collection of homes ahead. At least, that had been the plan a few minutes ago. Now, though, things have changed dramatically. Jayden Koh cocks his rifle again, aiming the barrel at the downed man's other leg.

BAM!

The fallen bandit recoils sharply, reaching down and grabbing at the fresh bullet wound. He screams, throwing his head back and squinting his eyes shut. The other man stand back, watching with wide eyes. In their minds, their leader has gone insane. Of course, that's because they don't know who's really in that body of his.

Joseph: <Let me ask you again. What are you going to do when we get in there?>

The injured man whimpers, sucking in deep, frantic breaths.

Bandit #1: <W-we're... we're going t-to... to peacefully... oc-occupy... the village. No one... no one gets h-hurt, and no one has to... has to leave their homes...>

Joseph: <That's better. Anyone else have any objections?>

A deadening silence answers his question. The other men give each other careful glances, as if wordlessly communicating their thoughts to each other. Joseph takes that to mean that his message has been understood. He turns his back, marching several steps forward and resting his gun on his shoulder.

Joseph: <Good. Now, if any of you decides to disobey my orders, I'll personally put you out of your->

Crack!

A rifle butt caroms into the back of his head, dropping him down to his knees in a daze.

Okay... that didn't go as planned. Bunch of unruly b*stards...

He knows what's coming next, though. He can feel it. If he doesn't get out of this body soon, it could get real messy. Just as several of the men standing behind him raise their rifle barrels at him, Joseph's astral form expels itself out of Koh's head. By the time his body begins to re-solidify, he's already rolling forward across the ground into the nearby brush. The apparent supernatural act takes the bandits by surprise, freezing them in place as they watch Joseph's figure disappear into the night.

Bandit #2: <A... demon. It was a demon.>

Koh: <Wasn't a demon, you morons.>

With a tired, pained groan, Jayden Koh slowly rises back to his feet, a hand pressed to the back of his head.

Koh: <One of the Wilson kids. Ignore him for now, we have a job to do. But first, who's the one that hit me?>

One of the men shifts awkwardly, slowly bringing his hand up. Koh promptly throws a whipping right cross that bashes into the side of the man's face, dropping him to the ground.

Koh: <The rest of you, get to work. I have a call to make.>

---

Becky moves cautiously through the village, eyes scanning into the darkness. There hasn't been another gunshot for a few minutes now, but she isn't taking any chances by not investigating properly. The people of this village don't strike her as the type to go out at night and fire off a couple of shots for a good time. No, something else is definitely...

Fwoom!

...wrong.

Becky takes a step back, shielding her face against the intense heat emanating from the sudden spark of flames towering out of the building in front of her.

Becky: Qué demonios?!

The screams reach her ears next, piercing out over the now roaring inferno. Becky's heart stutters. She lowers her arms and squints intently at the flames, as the horrified cries of panic growing even stronger.

Dios mio... please let these nanites be fireproof.

Forcing her legs into motion, she sprints straight at the burning dwelling. The nanites surge through her pores once again, hardening into its familiar protective shell. She pauses briefly when she reaches the scene, holding her arms up and gritting her teeth. The heat explodes in front of her, threatening to boil her from the inside out. At the very least, the flames themselves aren't burning her, allowing a small window of opportunity to get in and out.

She pushes forward, reaching out to smash down the burning wall in front of her. It crumbles with a slight touch, causing the entire structure to shift awkwardly, as if about to collapse. Swallowing hard, Becky stumbles inside and looks round. Her eyes find a young couple huddled together closely in the center of the floor, as far away from the flames as possible.

Becky: Come on, this way!

Taking a step to the side, she waves her arm back at the giant hole in the wall she just created. The couple gives her a long, surprised look before scrambling frantically back to their feet and hurrying out of their burning home. Becky takes one last look around before following back out into the night. It isn't until she's safely away from the roar of the flames that she hears it.

Gunfire. More screaming. Explosions.

All around her, whole groups of houses go up in smoke and fire. She stands there for a long moment, watching in horror as the village folk frantically run away, only making it so far before tumbling to the ground with bullet wounds riddling their backsides. Only one word can properly describe this nightmare.

Hell... Hijo de puta, this is Hell.

Chapter #103

Int. Storage Tent, Bandit Camp – Night

Two hours ago…

When the tent flap pushes open, Rose slowly turns her gaze to look at the man entering. He’s much larger than most of the others, tall with broad shoulders, and carries an air of strength and power about him. She holds no doubt in her mind that this is Vinh, the leader of the bandit/smuggler camp.

Slade: Was wondering when you were going to show your sorry face again.

Vinh shifts his eyes toward the prisoner. Pulling up a chair, he sits down calmly and folds his arms across his chest. He doesn’t say anything, not yet. Instead, he utters a loud, brief whistle, then glances back towards the tent entrance. A short moment later, no less than a dozen armed men enter the small space, surrounding them and keeping their guns trained on both prisoners. Slade straightens himself, eying the men carefully.

Slade: What’s this?

Vinh: A little insurance, is all. A little birdie told me that you might be… difficult.

Slade: Really now, and what birdie would that be?

The bandit leader pauses before answering, shifting his position and leaning forward.

Vinh: Jayden Koh.

Slade and Rose look quickly at each other. They’re both thinking the same thing.

Vinh: He told me to be wary of the both of you… which he was correct to do so, if your shackles are truly unlocked.

Rose swallows, bringing her gaze down to the floor. A cold, numb sensation begins to spread through her chest. If Koh called back to warn Vinh… then something must have happened to Joey. He might be… no, he can’t be. He can’t.

Vinh motions to one of his men, ordering him to check on Slade’s chains. A quick inspection reveals that the chains that had been bonding his arms around the pole have indeed been removed.

Vinh: I guess Koh was right. What a strange ability that son of yours has.

Slade: If you did anything to him, I swear…

Vinh: What do you swear? You are not in a good position to be making threats, Mr. Wilson. Or did you think I came here to have you talk back to me? No, I came here to make you understand something.

Slade: And what would that be?

Standing up from his seat, Vinh marches the short distance away towards Rose and pulls a knife.

Vinh: That if you don’t tell me where you hid our money and our cargo…

He brings the knife downward, running the edge of the blade slowly across Rose’s cheek, drawing a thin line of blood. She flinches, turning her head to the side and forcing down the growing anger inside her. As much as she wants to leap up and cripple the b*stard, she’d be dead before she even got a chance.

Vinh: …then I will hurt your daughter. I can cause her all sorts of pain, Mr. Wilson. Whether with the knife…

He abruptly brings the blade lower, tapping it several times over the middle of her bra, a clear threat to cut it away from her body.

Vinh: …or with something else. Either way, I will make her scream.

Rose: You even try it-

Her gaze lifts up at him sharply, eyes narrowing with white-hot ire.

Rose: -and it’ll be the last thing you do.

Slade: No, it won’t be.

Slade’s own gaze hardens on the man with anger and disgust.

Slade: Because he’ll be doing a lot of squirming, a lot of begging, and a lot of screaming of his own before I let him die.

Straightening himself, Vinh turns and slowly curls a smug grin across his face.

Vinh: Is that so? By all means, Mr. Wilson… go ahead and try.

He briefly gestures to the armed men standing around him. They keep their weapons pointed firmly on both Slade and Rose.

Vinh: See how far you get. Now, are you going to tell me where you took our goods, or am I going to have to play with your daughter?

A heavy silence exudes from Slade. He bows his head momentarily, sucking in a deep, slow breath, until finally he glares up coldly at Vinh.

Slade: I’ll do you one better. I’ll show you.

Ext. Farming Village – Night

Half an hour ago…

Becky: I said… back OFF!

Lunging forward, Becky smashes into one of the smuggler jeeps, tearing the thing in two like tissue paper. Bits of twisted, broken metal scatter in all directions as the engine explodes, engulfing her and the several men aboard in a scorching fireball. She comes out of the explosion perfectly fine, but the same can’t be said of the smugglers. She pauses only briefly to glance back at the burning bodies, then charges forward again.

All around her, death and horror erupt. Small groups of bandits march through the village, taking shots at fleeing villagers and tossing incendiaries into the dwellings. The sheer casualness of this butchery surges Becky into action, fueling her with a rage and sense of duty she never thought she could feel. As long as she still stands, she will not let this village be taken. She’ll kill as many of these murderers as she needs to, and protect as many innocents as she can, or she’ll die trying.

Becky: Oy! Pandejos! Over here!

Several armed men turn towards her, their eyes going wide at the sight of a metallic woman charging straight at them. Immediately, they raise their weapons and open fire, but it does them no good. The bullets bounce harmlessly off her harder-than-steel skin. Before they realize that their weapons are useless, however, Becky closes the distance. Holding an arm out, she keeps on running and clotheslines the first man she sees, spinning violently through the air. He hits the ground with a sickening snap, neck twisting at an awkward angle.

Turning to the next man, she throws a thunderous punch to his gut, lifting him straight upwards with astonishing force. The man’s face contorts with agony as he flies through the air, only to then crash through the roof of one of the burning homes. The third bandit backpedals desperately, eyes wide with fear. He quickly turns to run away, but tangles his feet together in his rush. With a thud, he crashes straight to the ground.

Becky: Don’t feel bad; you wouldn’t have gotten away.

Reaching down, she grips the man tightly by the leg, squeezing hard. Bone pops and splinters beneath Becky's grip, eliciting a loud, horrified scream of pain from the man's lips. Without further hesitation, she swings him around and whips him through the air with every ounce of effort she can muster. The man disappears into the jungle, crashing through the undergrowth until smashing against a tree trunk.

Becky wastes no time, sprinting back farther into the village and taking out every armed bandit along the way. As hard as she fights, though, she can’t save everyone. Every now and then, she passes the body of a fallen villager; men, women, and children alike. It sickens her, twisting a knot of nausea into her gut.

I’ll kill them all. I swear I’ll kill them.

As she rounds a corner, several familiar voices cry out over the madness. She stops, looking around frantically for the source.

Charles: <No! Leave her alone!>*

<* Translated from Vietnamese>

Mai: <Daddy! Help me!>

Kym: <Let go of her, you monsters! Let her go!>

Her gaze finds the sight just in time. One of the bandits drags the young girl, Mai, out of the doorway by her hair, then tosses her forward. She rolls across the ground with a grunt of pain, as her parents run forward to stop the crazed man from hurting her. They don’t even get halfway to him before he turns, lifts his gun, and fires. The bullet rips into the meat of Kym’s arm, dropping her to the ground. She screams, clutching at the wound tightly and shuddering, eyes already beginning to water.

Charles: <Kym!>

He comes to her side to inspect the wound, but forces himself to turn back and reach out with a desperate hand.

Charles: <Stop this! Please, don’t do it!>

But the bandit doesn’t listen, only raising his gun and pointing it straight at the girl’s head. Mai stares up at him, eyes brimming with tears.

Mai: <No! P-please! I don’t want to be shot!>

BLAM!

The gun goes off, but the bullet flies in a completely different direction, coming nowhere near its intended target. Becky barrels into him hard, loosening his hold on the gun. A hateful, rage-filled shout finds its way out of Becky’s throat, as she lifts both fists and sends them crashing down without relent on the man’s chest. The force of the impact caves in the man's chest cavity and craters the ground beneath him, as large spidery cracks rip the earth open.

Taking in deep breaths, Becky slowly raises her hands. She stares at them, at the bright crimson dripping down the gleaming silver. Swallowing a hard knot in her throat, she forces herself out of the daze and looks back at the family. Both Mai and her father kneel at Kym’s side, trying to stop the bleeding from her arm.

Becky: How is she?

Charles: It’s just a flesh wound… she’ll be fine, thank god.

Then, he looks over at her and gives a soft, appreciative nod.

Charles: And thank you. If you hadn’t… they might have been…

Becky: Don’t mention it.

Charles: You look… different. And the way you destroyed the ground like that… are you one of those superheroes?

Becky: I may be super, Charles, but I’m not a hero. I’m just doing what’s right.

That’s when she sees it. Another armed man comes around the corner of the burning home, at least twenty yards away from them. He pauses briefly, and then raises his weapon at Charles and his family. Becky’s eyes fly open. She springs up from the ground to stop him, but already she realizes that she won’t make it there in time. If she can just throw herself between them, then she can shield them. Or something. Anything.

Ratatatatatatat!

Machine gun fire goes off. For the shortest of moments, Becky flinches, heart pounding with panicked horror. She glances at the others, only to see them unharmed. When she looks back at the bandit, the man crumples face first in front of her, his backside riddled with bullet wounds. Standing behind him, with an assault rifle raised and barrel smoking, is Joseph.

Joseph: Everyone alright?

Becky: Dios mio! Joey, what the hell are you doing here?

Joseph: Same as you, trying to stop this nightmare.

Becky: Where’s Rose? Is she alright?

Joseph: She’s fine, for now. She’s with our Dad.

Becky: Somehow, that doesn’t inspire much confidence. How’s the fight coming?

Hesitating momentarily, Joseph turns his head to look around. While half the village is in flames, and dead bodies lie bloodied all around them, the mayhem appears to have died down.

Joseph: I think that’s the last of them. They hit a good deal of the village, but we pushed them back.

Becky: Oy, good. I’ve had enough of this for one night.

Joseph: I agree. Let’s help clean up here, then we can get back to Rose.

Becky: Right, let me just- look out!

When she lifts her gaze back up to Joseph, she spots a small round object falling through the air, aimed straight them. Rushing forward, she shoves Joy out of the way, sending him tumbling head over heels backwards. She catches the incoming grenade with both hands, then tucks it in against her chest. Dropping to the ground, she curls up her body to shield the others from the blast.

BOOM!

When the grenade erupts, Becky pushes out a sudden breath of air through her lips. A pained, throbbing sensation surges through her chest, but she manages to roll over and slowly push her way back to her feet. She breathes in deeply, posture slouched and knees shaking.

Becky: Everyone… ergh… alright?

Charles: We… we’re fine. Are you?

Becky: Oh sure, just peachy. I love taking grenades to the chest.

Charles: Your, uh… your skin. It’s cracked.

Glancing down at herself, Becky notices through her now shredded T-shirt that her metallic shell is indeed riddled with long, spidery cracks. It holds together for now, but is no doubt weakened.

Becky: Oh, it’s fine. I just… need a second.

BANG!

Becky suddenly staggers forward, legs buckling. Her gaze returns back down to her chest, where a rather large bullet hole pierces through the entirety of her body. The cracks grow larger, small chunks beginning to fall away.

BANG!

Another bullet rips through her body, this one bursting out the side of her ribcage. With a surprised gasp of air, she falls to her knees.

Charles: Rebecca!

BANG!

A third bullet rips through her backside, this one ripping through her body and out her stomach. By now, the nanites have re-liquefied, seeping back into her skin. That’s when the blood starts flowing, gushes of bright crimson oozing out the three wounds. She suddenly topples forward to he ground, breathing becoming short and rapid, as a thick red pool steadily grows beneath her.

Joseph: Get down!

Rolling forward, Joseph positions himself behind a small wooden cart. He peers through a gap in the boards, quickly finding the attacker. Lit up by the growing flames of the burning village, Jayden Koh stands on the back of his jeep, taking aim with a high-powered sniper rifle. He hesitates momentarily, releasing the clip from the weapon and reloading. Joseph takes the opportunity, raising his own weapon and firing. A surprised yell of pain erupts from the man’s lips, as one of the bullets pummel his left leg. He collapses over the side of his jeep, landing with a thud against the ground.

Joseph: Stay with her! I’m going after Koh!

Springing out from behind his cover, Joseph races along the boardwalk towards the man’s jeep.

She’d better not die… God help me if I have to tell Rose that she’s dead. God help us all.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Night

Present...

Vinh leads the small team of men through the dense undergrowth, darkness broken up only by the flashlight beams glowing from the tops of their rifles. The three men in front sweep their beams across the ground, lighting the way, while the three men in behind keep their aim at Slade's backside, ready to fire at a moment's notice if he tries something funny.

Vinh: How much farther?

Slade: A hundred yards, maybe less. Just through here.

Nodding forward, Slade indicates a thinner section of ferns and bushes. Vinh gives him a wary look, then gently shoves him forward.

Vinh: Go on, then. Just remember: you try anything, and your daughter pays the price. Got it?

Slade: Of course.

Keeping his gaze pointed forward, Slade moves past the front three men and heads through the bushes. His eyes shift down towards the ground, scanning carefully. When he sees a thin glimmer in the flashlight beam, he very deliberately raises his feet a little higher than usual during his stride. Once on the other side, he pauses, waiting for them to follow. The closest bandit to him notices nothing out of the ordinary, and so continues moving forward. His feet, however, do not lift over the tripwire, instead snapping it. A heavy rustling and rush of air follows, as Slade dives out of the way, disappearing into the undergrowth.

Vinh: Slade!

Smuggler: <What is that? What's->

BAM!

Two large, spiked squares of wood swing through the foliage, slamming into each other with thunderous force and smushing the poor soul caught between them. The other men jump back, screaming and firing off their weapons in panic. Several stray bullets rip through the air and into the backside of a second man; he collapses to the ground instantly.

Vinh: <You idiots, stop shooting and find Wilson! Now!>

The remaining four men quickly gather themselves, swallowing nervously and then hurrying off in the same direction that Slade disappeared. They spread out to cover more ground, a natural assumption to find him more quickly. For Slade, however, it's the biggest mistake they could have made. They don't know just what kind of man he is, or what he's done to the surrounding jungle.

The first bandit moves around the side of a tree, shining his flashlight and pointing his gun forward. When he sees no one, he takes a careful step forward. The ground instantly gives way, causing him to plummet down into a deep trapping pit, complete with sharpened wooden spikes jutting up from the ground. Miraculously, he manages to miss most of the spikes on his way down... all except for the one that pierces straight through his throat.

The next man pushes aside a large bush of ferns, as he makes his way forward. He pauses and jumps at even the smallest of sounds, spinning around wildly to aim his flashlight into the darkness. Stepping backwards, his heel comes down with a quiet click. He only barely registers what the sound means before the landmine goes off, blowing him into a cloud of bloody mist and limbs.

Cautiously, the third bandit makes his way through a tight tangle of trees and vines, very intently examining the area ahead of him. He takes in deep, steady breaths, attempting to calm himself. Little good it does. He heard the explosion; he knows they're in trouble. As his left foot comes down, a sudden tug yanks his leg out from beneath him. The next thing he knows, he's flying up into the air, hanging upside by one leg from a line of rope attacked to a tree limb above him.

Frantically, he gazes around into the shadows. His gun, along with the attached flashlight, now lies on the jungle floor right below him. A small rustling draws his attention. Turning his gaze towards the sound, he sucks in a deep breath, waiting and hoping it will go away. But it doesn't. A shadowed figure runs out from the brush and with the quick flash of a knife, cuts the man's throat.

The fourth man somehow makes his way back to Vinh unscathed, but the sheer look of terror on his face isn't very inspiring. He stumbles forward over a fallen tree log, nearly dropping his gun in the process.

Bandit: <He's killing us all!>

Vinh: <Incompetent idiots. Do I have to do everything myself?>

Bandit: <It's not our fault! The whole place is booby trapped!>

The sharp whistle of a blade flying through the air briefly interrupts them. The sound abruptly halts, at the same time the final bandit crumbles to the ground, a large knife jutting out the back of his neck. Vinh takes a quick step backwards, aiming his gun into the jungle. Over the silence, Slade's calm, cool voice speaks out to him.

Slade: Shouldn't keep your light on in the dark, Vinh. Gives away your position.

Vinh pauses momentarily, then reaches a hand up to flick off the flashlight.

Slade: Of course, now you can't see, either. Lets me do this.

Springing out of the undergrowth, Slade throws himself at the man. Vinh goes down hard, barely able to react. Fists fly, knuckles smashing into flesh and bone. A pained cry bursts from his lips. In spite of his size, Vinh is by no means a well versed fighter, and someone of Slade's caliber easily overpowers and pummels him into submission. By the end of the assault, he lies there on the ground motionlessly, his face barely more than a bloody mess.

Slade: Now, you're going to answer a question for me. Think very carefully before you speak. Where is the Jewel of Cambodia?

Vinh: Don't know... what... you're talking about...

Slade: Wrong answer.

A sharp strike to the solar plexus elicits an sharp gasp of air from the man's throat. He curls up, coughing out a spray of blood and whimpering.

Slade: I know you have a truce. You don't cross over to her side of the jungle, she doesn't over to yours. You've dealt with her before. You know where she is!

The only response he receives is another whimpering groan from the man. Slade frowns, this time driving his elbow in Vinh's side, snapping several of his ribs.

Slade: Tell me!

Vinh: Alright... okay... if you promise not to kill me.

Slade: Fine... I won't kill you. If you tell me.

Vinh: You must swear it. I know you... you have honor.... make the vow.

Uttering a long breath of annoyance, Slade rolls his eye.

Slade: Very well. I swear not to kill you, if you give me the information I require. Happy?

Vinh: Okay... the woman you speak of, the one they... call the Jewel of Cambodia... she lives twenty miles west of here, in a villa centered deep in the jungle, over the border. Heavily fortified and guarded... she does not allow unwanted visitors.

Slade: The coordinates. Give me the exact coordinates.

Vinh's hand fumbles into one of his pockets. He pulls out a small scrap of paper and pencil, then quickly jots down the coordinates.

Vinh: There... now, you let me go.

Slade: A deal's a deal... you can go.

Rising back to his feet, Slade stuffs the scrap of paper into his own pocket and steps carefully backwards, keeping his eyes on the bloodied, beaten Vinh.

Slade: Not that it matters... you'll be lucky to get very far. I've rigged the entire surrounding area with various traps, most of them lethal, others more... torturous. Lucky for me, I studied every square inch of this section of jungle; I know it like I know the back of my hand.

He pauses briefly before slipping back through the brush and disappearing into the darkness.

Slade: Question is... do you?

Chapter #104

Ext. Farming Village – Night

Joey saunters back into the village, carrying with him a large weapon: Koh's sniper rifle. He keeps his gaze pointed at the ground, as he approaches Charles and his family. Becky still lies nearby, motionless in a pool of her own blood. From here, he can't tell if she's still alive or not, but considering the grievous wounds she suffered, her chances of survival don't look good.

Charles: Did you find him? Did you find the shooter?

Joseph: No. Lost him in the jungle.

He drops the rifle onto the ground, uttering a long, heavy sigh.

Joseph: Fifty caliber... it's no wonder the shots penetrated her weakened shell. Has there... been any change?

Charles slowly shakes his head, then glances down at the unmoving body. He rests a hand on the woman's shoulder, closing his eyes.

Charles: None. I didn't know how to stop the bleeding or... or how to help her at all. Did you know her?

A long pause passes between them. Joseph turns away and utters a long breath, as he stares out at the smoldering huts.

Joseph: I personally didn't know her for very long, no. But... she was my sister's partner.

Charles: You mean like a cop?

Joseph: I mean like a lover. A girlfriend.

Exhaling a deep breath, Charles glances back down at Becky.

Charles: Oh... I am truly sorry.

Another quiet moment descends over the group. As Kym works to console their daughter, Mai, Charles narrows his eyes at Becky's body, inspecting the wounds. He tilts his head, looks closer, and utters a small breath of surprise.

Charles: Huh.

Joseph: What is it?

Charles: It's that... silvery stuff. It's in her wounds.

Joseph comes closer, kneeling down at Becky's side and focusing his gaze on the three bullet wounds across her backside. As Charles indicated, rather than blood clotting in the round holes, a shiny, silvery substance has instead replaced it, glimmering brightly in the dimming firelight.

Charles: What is it?

Joseph: I'm not sure exactly.

Charles: Does it look like those holes are getting smaller to you?

Indeed it does. The bullet wounds slowly, gradually shrink in size. Joseph leans closer, touching the tips of his fingers to one of the holes and watching in amazement as Becky's injuries begin healing with extreme rapidity, until finally they disappear altogether.

Charles: Holy... you don't see that everyday.

Jospeh: No... no you don't.

With a small, coughing groan, Becky opens her eyes. She winces slightly, a sharp pain flaring through her chest, and then calmly sits up. She glances back and forth between the two men briefly, her brow furrowing in confusion.

Becky: Why you all staring at me?

Charles: Good god, it's a miracle.

Joseph: Not a miracle. Just... one of her abilities. Must be.

Becky: Dios, what are you two talking about?

Joseph: You don't remember?

Becky: I remember ripping apart a bunch of murderous pandejos, helping Charles and his family, and then... I don't know. Feels like I took a nap.

Charles: That's a bit of an understatement.

Letting out a long yawn, Becky stretches her arms out and then stands up. She pauses briefly, gazing around the ruined village. Her expression instantly slackens.

Becky: Jueputa... you lost half the village.

Charles: We would have lost more if you hadn't been here. You saved a lot of people. You saved my family. We owe you... so much.

Becky: You don't owe me anything. Just a thank you is good enough, ah?

A small smile curls its way onto Charles' face.

Charles: Thank you, then.

Becky: And look after your family, too.

Charles: You can count on that.

Looking back to Joey, Becky folds her arms and hardens her expression.

Becky: So what's the deal? What's going on?

Joseph: I left Rose and our father back at the enemy base camp. While inhabiting one of their men, I took Rose captive to get her inside. They were working on a plan to get out when I came here to help stop this.

Becky: Oy, Dios mio... you let my girlfriend get captured by a bunch of degenerate bandits?

Joseph: It was a risky plan, I know, but there wasn't another option.

Becky: Right, of course... let's just get back there and help out. Who knows what the hell they're doing to her right now?

Ext. Bandit Camp – Night

Slade slowly marches through the main camp, keeping his gun raised and at the ready. His gaze scans carefully along the ground in front of him, where several bodies lie strewn about, their limbs twisted and broken. Curiously, he prods one of the fallen men, eliciting a groan of pain. He does the same to another with the same result. Crippled but still alive, all of them.

His glances up further into the camp. It doesn't look like a single man is still on his feet, or in any other condition aside from brutally beaten. Eyes narrowing, he quickens his pace towards the storage tent, where they'd been held prisoner. He pushes the flap inside and pokes his head in.

Slade: Rose?

No answer, only thick, suffocating darkness.

Slade: Sh*t.

Moving back through the camp, he lowers his gun and straightens himself. His eyes slowly shift around again, carefully inspecting each man he sees.

Slade: What the hell happened here?

Ravager: I happened here.

Slade spins around in an instant, training his sights on the figure behind him. When he realizes who it is, he lowers the gun again and breathes out a sigh of relief. Ravager, dressed again in full costume, sits there atop one of the nearby jeeps.

Ravager: You look surprised.

Slade: You escaped?

Ravager: They only left four men to guard me. Once I broke the chains, it was easy.

Slade: And the rest of the camp? There were at least fifty men stationed here.

Ravager: So what's your point?

A subtle, amused chuckle finds its way out of Slade's throat.

Slade: Nothing. Good work.

Jumping down to the ground, Ravager stands straight and tall, arms folding across her chest.

Ravager: Well, seeing as how you're back here, I take it the plan worked.

Slade: Was there ever a doubt?

Ravager: So you got the information you needed out of Vinh?

Slade: I did.

Ravager: Good, then let's get the hell out of here. We need to find Becky. Your gear's in the jeep, by the way.

Moving around the side of the vehicle, Ravager hops into the driver's seat and waits patiently, one hand on the steering wheel. Slade heads around to the back, searching inside until he finds the large duffel bag full of his equipment. He wastes no time in getting dressed.

Slade: We'll meet up with Joseph first, since we know where he is. Then we'll sweep the area for Rebecca. I assume that mask of yours has infrared?

Ravager: And night vision.

Slade: Good-

He takes a moment to secure his armor into place, followed by slipping a patch over his right eye. Finally, he tugs on the two toned mask over his face.

Deathstroke: -then let's get going.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Night

Thirty minutes later...

Becky: Are you sure we're going the right way?

Squinting her eyes, she tries to get a clear view on the worn road in front of them. The moon is bright, and yet barely illuminates the jungle well enough to see more than ten feet ahead.

Joseph: Yes, we just follow this road a few more miles, then turn east along another hidden path. Shouldn't take much longer.

Becky: It better not. I think I'm beginning to- wait, do you hear that?

The two pause for a moment, straining their ears to listen. The low rumble of a jeep comes in over the night air.

Joseph: Quick, off the road.

He pulls her off to the side, into the undergrowth. Hiding deep in the brush, they watch, waiting as the jeep approaches. Becky squints at the gradually appearing vehicle, barely able to make it out through the inky darkness.

Becky: Why are they driving with their headlights off?

Joseph: Could be trying to remain as unnoticed as possible. Explains why they're going so slow.

Becky: But why would those guys want to... wait a minute, that's not-

Before even finishing her sentence, she races out of the jungle.

Joseph: Hold on, come back!

But there's no stopping her. Even through the darkness, there is no mistaking the mask she sees sitting behind the jeep's steering wheel. Hurrying in front of the vehicle's path, she waves her arms wildly to get the woman's attention.

Becky: Rose!

The jeep instantly lurches to a halt, the driver's side door already bursting open. Ravager hops out of the vehicle, running forward and ripping the faceplate off her helmet.

Ravager: Oh god, Becky!

The two leap into each other's arms a moment later, embracing in a warm, loving hug. Their lips come together firmly for a long few seconds. During this time, Joseph walks over casually to the jeep and leans against the side.

Joseph: You ever expect anything like this?

Deathstroke: Anything like what?

Joseph: I mean... that.

He gestures a hand forward at the two women embracing.

Joseph: With Rose.

Deathstroke: Honestly? No. But I'd always hoped for it. She deserves to be happy. You both do.

Joseph: That's what this whole thing is about, right? Making Rose happy?

Deathstroke: That was the plan, yes.

Joseph: Still think it'll work?

Deathstroke pauses briefly, uttering a deep, heavy sigh. He watches closely, as both Becky and Ravager begin making their way back to the jeep.

Deathstroke: Provided we make it to our new destination, yes. It will.

Ravager jumps back into the driver's seat, while Joseph and Becky climb into the back next to the mounted machine gun. A low whistle finds its way past Becky's lips, as she gazes up at the weapon.

Becky: Got some heavy-duty artillery with you, I see.

Deathstroke: Always pays to be prepared.

As the jeep surges back into motion, Ravager sits straighter in her seat and glances carefully at her dad.

Ravager: So, where exactly are we headed now?

Deathstroke: West. Got little ways to go. Follow the road here until you get to a turn, then it's a straight shot through the jungle.

Becky: If it's all the same to you guys, I could really go for some sleep first, before we go jumping into whatever it is we're jumping into next.

Deathstroke: No time. We keep moving until we read our destination.

Ravager: No, she's right. I don't know about you, but we've been up now for almost two days straight, and that's not even taking jet lag into account. I'm about ready to pass out myself. We need rest.

Deathstroke breathes out a gruff, annoyed groan, folding his arms firmly across his chest.

Deathstroke: Fine. We'll find a suitable place to spend the rest of the night and head out at first light. No later.

Ravager: Whatever you say, Slade. Whatever you say.

Ext. Bandit Camp – Night

Jayden Koh limps his way out of the jungle, a hand pressed firmly against the bullet wound on his leg. He had tied off a strip of cloth to stop the bleeding, but it still hurts unbelievably.

Koh: Damn that Wilson kid...

Stumbling forward off balance, he catches himself against a crate and breathes out a groan of discomfort.

Koh: <Could use some help here!>

When he receives no answer, he squints deeper into the camp to get a better look through the shadows. That's when he sees the bodies everywhere, most unconscious and others in too much pain to speak.

Koh: <F*ck!>

He hobbles forward to one of the jeeps and leans far inside, reaching for an object below the dash. When he stumbles back out of the vehicle, he holds a satellite phone to his ear, waiting for someone from his perimeter camp to pick up.

Koh: <Li, can you hear me? Good. Listen to me closely. Wake all your men now and tell them to get their asses moving. Arm yourselves with everything you got and meet me at the main camp. We have a problem.>

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Morning

The jeep rumbles along the overgrown path at a steady pace. Ravager leans back in her seat, driving with a single hand on the steering wheel.

Ravager: How much farther?

Deathstroke: Not much. Five miles, maybe.

Ravager: And this is it? I mean, when we get here, you'll be done with this stupid search of yours?

Deathstroke: If everything works out, yes.

Ravager: Good, then allow me to get us there a little faster.

Pushing her foot down a bit more firmly on the gas, she urges the jeep as fast as is safe on the old, beaten path overgrown with tall grass. Shortly after, however, a sudden image flickers through her mind, causing her to turn the jeep sharply to the left.

Ravager: Everybody hang on!

From the back of the jeep, Becky clutches the base of the mounted machinegun and holds on tightly.

Becky: Ay caramba! What are you doing?!

An abrupt explosion of smoke and fire to their right side answers her question. A loud cacophony of rapid machinegun fire follows, bullets pummeling the side of the vehicle. Ravager floors her foot against the pedal now, lurching the jeep forward at twice the speed as before.

Joseph: Over there!

He points into the distance down the road, where several other jeeps suddenly appear around the bend, racing after them. Becky leans forward, squinting at their pursuers. She counts at least four men to a jeep, with at least five jeeps in pursuit. On the back of one of the vehicles, a man stands behind a mounted machinegun of his own, much like the one on the back of their own jeep. When the bandit gets a clear shot, he opens fire again. Becky quickly surges her nanites out of her pores again, hardening the protective shell around her body.

Becky: Get down!

She throws herself in front of Joseph, several bullets deflecting off her steely skin. Joseph crawls back, lifting up the sights of his gun to his eyes and taking a few shots. He hits only air, as their jeep again lurches sharply to the side. Becky tumbles backwards, landing with a thud against the jeep cabin.

Becky: Oy, watch it!

Another explosion goes off, right in the spot where they'd been just moments before. When Becky looks back up at the approaching vehicles, she spots another man reloading an empty RPG launcher.

Ravager: Excuse me for not wanting to get blown up!

Becky: You could do it a little more gracefully!

Grunting softly to herself, Becky pushes her way back to her feet and gets into position behind the mounted machine gun. Putting her thumbs above the trigger, she lines the sights up with the nearest jeep.

Becky: This is why I never let you drive the squad car!

She opens fire, sending out a hail of bullets. The pursuing vehicles scatter, some dropping back down the line, and others picking up the pace.

Ravager: Damn it, how did they even find us?!

Deathstroke: It doesn't matter! For all we know, they have trackers in their jeeps. Just keep driving!

Leaning out the passenger window, Deathstroke aims his weapon and takes several careful shots. Two of the bandits standing in the back of their jeeps go down, tumbling over to the ground.

Deathstroke: I told you we didn't have time to stop for a respite! Did I not tell you that?!

Ravager: Shut up, Slade! Just keep shooting!

Becky sweeps the machine gun across her line of sight, driving multiple bullets into one of the jeeps. A miniature explosion erupts from its engine, causing the entire vehicle to flip forward and crash. Another, more powerful explosion soon engulfs the wreck. Unfortunately, the other vehicles are perfectly capable of driving right around the wreckage and continuing with their chase.

Becky: Incoming!

The RPG bandit takes aim again, launching off another explosive round. The rocket zips forward through the air with a burning hiss, impacting the ground next to their jeep.

Ravager: Hang on!

She yanks the steering wheel wildly to the right, avoiding most of the blast. But she doesn't see the fallen tree trunk buried in the grass. When the jeep hits at their current speed, the front tires shoot upright, while the vehicles continues going forward. Once the front tires come down again, the entire jeep tilts to the side, wheels spinning wildly to no avail.

Joseph: Rose! Any time!

Ravager: I'm trying! I just need to-

BOOM!

Another explosion goes off, this one hitting just below their jeep and sending the vehicle flipping through the air. Ravager tightens her grip on the steering wheel to brace herself, while Deathstroke tumbles out the passenger's side door. Becky falls back, spinning over the top of the jeep, and Joey rolls safely forward before the twisted wreckage crashes into the ground.

Ravager kicks her door open, crawling slowly out of the destroyed jeep. Her head is spinning, while a very shrill ringing echoes between her ears. When she staggers back up to her feet, her eyes quickly scan the area. She doesn't see the others, though. All she sees is the rapidly approaching bandits, now no more than fifty yards from them.

Rose: Guys?

Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!

The front tires of two of the pursuing jeeps suddenly blow apart. The vehicles lurch sideways, flipping over and rolling violently across the ground, until coming to a sudden, destructive halt. In doing so, they also block most of the road, preventing the others from driving past. This slows them down, if only a little, as the men begin pouring out of their jeeps and continuing pursuit on foot.

Turning her gaze towards the sound of the previous gunshots, Rose finds Deathstroke poised against the side of their own destroyed vehicle with the sights of his rifle pressed firmly against his eye.

Ravager: Slade! Come on, we can't stick around!

Becky emerges from the thick grass, standing upright and uttering a dazed groan.

Becky: I'm with her. Those b*stards are gaining fast.

Joseph approaches from the side, clutching at his limp left arm. It dangles there motionlessly, if not broken than at least popped from its socket.

Joseph: We can lose them in the jungle if we're quick enough.

Deathstroke says nothing, taking a couple more shots. Two of the pursuing men go down, but half a dozen more take their place. They begin taking a more cautious approach, fanning out into the surrounding jungle and shooting back. A bullet ricochets off the side of their jeep, just inches from Deathstroke's head, forcing him to duck back behind cover.

Deathstroke: We won't make it far, there's too many of them and they have too much firepower.

Ravager: So you expect us to stand here like sitting ducks instead?

Deathstroke: No, I expect you to keep going.

Ravager: But you just said-

Deathstroke: I said that we wouldn't make it if we all ran. But if someone stays behind, holds them off... it'll give you enough time to get away.

Ravager pauses, blinking several times in surprise.

Ravager: But... that's suicide.

Deathstroke: Maybe. But there's no time to argue.

Joseph: Dad...

Deathstroke: You're still standing here? Get moving!

Ravager: Slade... Dad. You don't have to-

Aiming around the side of the jeep again, Deathstroke takes a few more shots at the men in the trees. One of them goes down. Moving back behind cover again, he takes in a deep breath and pulls off his mask, his gaze locking firmly onto his daughter.

Slade: Rose, if I've been anything, it's a terrible father. I know that, I admit it. I made too many mistakes to count, and I screwed your life up far too many times. But everything I did was for you. I only ever wanted you to be safe, to be happy... and yet I always failed.

Several more gunshots go off, these ones coming a little too close for comfort. Slade swings his gun around the side of the jeep and takes aim again. Two more of the approaching men go down, but before he can pull back into cover, a stray bullet rips into the meat of his shoulder, pushing him back again.

Ravager: Dad!

Slade: Rose, Joey... I'm not going to fail this time. This time... I protect my family.

She pauses briefly, shoulders slouching and head bowing. Reaching up, she rips off her helmet and faceplate. With a deep, heavy breath, she swallows a back a hard lump in her throat and lowers her gaze

Rose: You always were a b*stard, you know that?

And then, she comes forward, wrapping her arms tightly around her father and burying her face against his shoulder. He raises an arm in return, holding it around her shoulders and exhaling slowly.

Slade: I know. And I'm sorry, for everything.

Rose lets go of him finally, bringing a hand up to wipe her watering eyes. After everything he's put her through, she doesn't understand how she can possibly bring herself to shed a tear for this man, and yet she does.

Slade moves towards the back of the wreckage. The mounted machine gun that had been on their jeep lies just a short distance away in the grass. He reaches down and picks the heavy weapon up, setting it up against the edge of the vehicle.

Slade: Rebecca... take good care of my daughter.

Becky swallows, glancing briefly at Rose.

Becky: Si... I will.

Slade: Keep to the road, and when you get across the bridge, look for a hidden trail. Follow it and you'll come out to where you need to be. I'll lay down some cover fire while you put some distance between us.

Rose: Dad... where is it you're sending us? Why is this so damn important?

Slade: You'll know when you get there. Now go!

Popping out of cover, Slade pushes down on the triggers. A storm of bullets rips through the jungle, forcing the approaching men behind cover as he sweeps his sights across the tree line. The others stay low in the grass as they flee, making themselves difficult targets to aim at. Not that it matters, since Slade keeps their pursuers at bay with suppressive fire. The bandits can only advance very slowly now, lest they risk getting ripped apart.

Slade: Alright, you b*stards... Come and get me!

Chapter #105

Ext. Vietnam Jungle - Morning

Slade squeezes his thumbs down firmly on the triggers. The machine gun vibrates wildly, threatening to fly off the makeshift base he's mounted it on. But he holds it steady, repeatedly pummeling the jungle ahead of him with a hailstorm of bullets. He can't even see the pursuing bandits now hiding behind the trees and in the bushes, but he doesn't need to see them. As long as he can keep them under heavy fire long enough for the others to put significant distance between them, then he's done his job.

And then, the thunkunkunkunk of his weapon ceases, replaced by a metallic whirring sound. He glances down sharply, realizing that he's just run out of ammo. With a frustrated grunt, he tosses the gun aside and lifts up his assault rifle. Lowering his gaze to the sights, he watches and waits. It doesn't take long before nearly a dozen men pour out of the undergrowth. His first couple of bursts put down two of the attackers, but before he can take another shot, a bullet rips into wrist.

The blow stuns him briefly, but he forces himself to push through it. Just squeezing the trigger now sends a bolt of shooting pain up his arm. He fires again, a perfect shot right between the eyes. As he turns his sights onto a new target, he catches sight of an RPG rocketing through the air straight at him. Desperately, he throws himself backwards. The explosion goes off directly in front of him, catapulting him through the air.

Fighting through a dull, pounding pain in the center of his chest, Slade rolls back to his feet and scrambles quickly back into cover. A grenade explodes merely ten paces behind him, sending a cloud of burning shrapnel into his backside. Grunting deeply, he falls to his knees and pauses momentarily. His armor is barely holding up now, and he can feel the warm flow of blood oozing against his skin.

Slade: Persistent b*stards...

Sitting flat against the back of a burning metal chunk of wrecked jeep, Slade plucks a grenade from his belt and pulls the pin. He waits two seconds, listening, then tosses it over his head. Panicked screams ignite the air, as the blast goes off and shreds the two men standing next to it.

Another grenade goes off, this one on his end of things. The blast erupts just in front of the jeep, tearing open gashes in the twisted metal. A second rocket explosion follows, clouding the air with dirt, smoke, and flame. Slade huddles close to the ground, shielding his body with his arm as a cacophony of bullets rips into his cover. Yet another grenade tumbles down from the air behind him, exploding and tearing open the side of his face with shrapnel.

Slade pauses briefly, dazed from the blast. He pushes himself back to his hands and knees, half crawling and half stumbling away. The remains of the jeep that he'd been using as cover is barely more than a pelted hunk of metal now, offering very little protection. He's almost out of options.

Taking in a deep, slow breath, Slade catches sight of his mask nearby on the ground, partially shredded from the firefight. Reaching for it, he quickly tugs it on, then stands up in the open. More than half his body pulsates with sharp, near crippling pain, but he ignores it. Instead, he reaches to his holsters on either hip and draws his pistols. Then, he turns and gazes out at the approaching men.

Today, Deathstroke makes his final stand.

Another bullet rips into his side, but still he ignores it. He takes a step forward, aiming one of his pistols and firing. The shot strikes true, straight through the man's eyes. He aims again, his second shot piercing another man's throat. Two more hot, stinging jolts of pain surge through him, as another pair of bullets riddle his body. Yet still, he stands firm. In spite of the wounds, in spite of the blood pouring down his body, he doesn't back down.

He counts half a dozen more men remaining. Half that amount goes down with bullets tearing through vital organs. The other half... well, even Deathstroke isn't invincible. One of them gets in another lucky grenade toss, rolling the explosive just a foot in front of him, right before Deathstroke puts a shot through his forehead.

Boom!

Deathstroke shields his face with his arms as the grenade goes off, launching backwards off his feet and crashing against one of the jeep's loose tires. He tries to move, but his whole body goes into lockdown, crippling pain clawing through very muscle fiber. Just lifting his arm upward to aim his gun once more elicits a blunt cry of pain from his throat.

But still he perseveres, just as he always has. He gets off two more shots before his arm falls limp to the ground. Both remaining men crumple dead, and then everything is quiet. Deathstroke sucks in deep, raspy breaths, broken up by fits of coughing. Sprays of blood soak the inside of his mask, and consciousness barely stays with him, but he's alive.

Deathstroke: It takes more than that to kill me... b*stards.

No sooner than he says this, the rumble of a jeep engine reaches his ears. He holds his breath, heart skipping a beat. The jeep comes to a stop, followed closely by doors opening and then slamming shut again. Soon, a new team of armed bandits strolls into view. At the lead is a familiar man, one Jayden Koh. When their eyes meet, Deathstroke slowly lets out his breath, posture slouching even further as the pain begins to overpower him.

Deathtroke: Well f*ck.

Ext. Cambodian Jungle - Morning

The sounds of gunfire have long since been left behind, replaced by the natural ambiance of the jungle. It brings an eerie sense of calm, allowing Rose an opportunity for contemplation. She had always hated her father, and for obvious reasons. Well, not always... There had been a time where she actually liked him, although that time had been all too brief, ending shortly after she first met him. Then he decided to go and manipulate her, gamble her life as part of his psychotic schemes, make her kill for him... too much. She grew to loathe him over time, tried to distance herself from him, but he always came back into her life just to screw it up again.

And yet, through all of that, somewhere down the line he had realized how badly he had hurt her. He changed his tune, made plans to keep her safe, make her happy, not the least of which was setting her up to join the Teen Titans, even if he did go about it in one of those twisted ways of his. As long as she hated him, in his mind, then she was safe from him. Even when she had tried to kill him on multiple occasions, he always cared. He always wanted her to have a life of her own

Rose had never believed that, of course. Even if deep down she had still loved him, for the sole reason of him being her father, she always called his twisted values and reasoning as bullsh*t. He was a b*stard, he couldn't have cared. She couldn't let herself believe that he actually loved her. That is, until about a half hour ago when he stayed behind to let them escape, when he sacrificed himself to keep his family safe. He had shown qualities of himself in that moment that she never would have thought existed.

Why couldn't he have always shown those qualities? Why couldn't he have always just been a father to me? Why... why did he have to wait until now?

Things might have been a lot different. Her life might have been a lot different. She might never have had to experience so much pain and trauma. She might have even been happy.

Becky: Rose... are you alright?

A gentle hand comes down on her shoulder. Rose lifts her gaze, glancing over at her girlfriend and swallowing back a numb lump in her throat.

Rose: I'm... okay.

Becky: Dios... you're a mess.

Lifting up a hand, Becky tenderly wipes away the tears from Rose's red, puffy eyes. Rose looks away, shaking her head.

Rose: I... I shouldn't be crying for him. I shouldn't be sad for him, or feel bad for him, or wish that he had stayed with us... I shouldn't.

Becky: But you are.

Rose: God I am so pathetic.

Becky: Hey, hey...

Bringing her fingers to Rose's chin, Becky slowly turns her girlfriend's head to face her.

Becky: You're a lot of things, Rose, but you're not pathetic. He was your father... he may have been mucho loco, but that's not the sort of thing you just get over.

Rose: Ugh, why did he actually have to care? This would be so much easier if I could still just... hate him outright.

Becky: I don't think these kinds of things are supposed to be easy.

Rose breathes out deeply, bowing her head again. She stands there quietly, eyes closing and beginning to water again.

Becky: Hey, come here.

Rose feels Becky's arms coming tightly around her, hugging in a warm, comforting embrace. She sinks into the hold, bringing her own arms up and clutching them around Becky's shoulders. A tingling warmth begins to spread through her body, a sort of peace that soothes her torn heart. And that's when she realizes it.

I might have been happy? ...who am I kidding? Through whatever inadvertent series of circumstances, if my life hadn't played out the way it did... I never would have met Becky. Or Holly. Or Circe. Or Lyta. Or Palmer. Or Ruby. Or any other number of people that I've come to know and love. No, Dad... you didn't fail. I am happy.

Joseph: Uh, hey, girls? I hate to be the one to break up a tender moment, but we really need to keep moving. There's no telling how long Dad was able to hold them back.

Pulling away from the embrace, Rose slowly turns to face her brother. He stands a short distance away, holding his gun with one hand, while his other arm still hangs limply at his side. Sucking in a deep breath, Rose wipes her eyes again and nods.

Rose: Right, yeah. Let's keep moving.

Becky: We should be almost there, right?

Joseph: Less than a mile, I think. That's the bridge up ahead.

Following his gaze, Rose spots a small, rickety wooden bridge stretching over a shallow river in front of them.

Rose: What's waiting for us over there, Joey? You can tell me now, you know.

Joseph slowly shakes his head.

Joseph: Not at this point. Wouldn't be right.

Rose: Somehow, I knew you'd say something like that.

Joseph: You'll see soon enough, Rose. I promise.

Breathing out a long sigh, Rose holds an arm around Becky and follows Joey towards the bridge.

This had better be worth it, Dad... this had better be worth your life.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle - Day

Deathstroke sucks in a long, shaky breath of air, as he stares up at the men standing over him and pointing the barrels of their guns in his face. Jayden Koh stands at the front, arms folded and lips pursing. With a small sigh, he shakes his head and squats down, coming level with Deathstroke's gaze.

Koh: That wasn't very smart, fighting all of us by yourself. Did you really expect to win?

Deathstroke: Wasn't trying to win. Just trying to stall.

Koh: Of course... sacrificing yourself so your children could escape, yes? Very noble. It won't do them any good, though. We'll still find them.

Deathstroke: Go ahead. It'd be the last thing you ever did.

Koh: Was that a threat?

Deathstroke: A promise.

Tilting his head slightly, Koh exhales deeply and rubs his fingers against his chin, thinking. Eventually, he shakes his head and stands up again.

Koh: Shouldn't make promises you can't keep. When we find them, we'll do worse to them than we did to you. I think I'll start with that boy of yours. I owe him for messing around in my body.

Deathstroke says nothing. Rather, all he does is slowly drag one of his limp arms across the grass towards his belt.

Koh: Then maybe we move on to your daughter, yes? She is quite the pretty thing.

A gruff, amused laugh escapes Deathstroke's throat.

Deathstroke: By all means, try. I just hope you enjoy life as a eunuch.

Koh: Ever the sarcastic one, you are. It's almost funny... we've ll heard the rumors of the great, powerful Slade Wilson. Deathstroke the Terminator, the most dangerous mercenary on the planet. People were afraid of you. Yet, come to find...

Reaching forward, Koh snatches Deathstroke's mask off his face. He stares at it briefly, then drops the torn fabric to the ground.

Koh: ...he's just a man.

Finally, Koh draws his pistol and points it straight between Slade's eyes. The two stare at each other for a long, quiet moment.

Koh: Any last words, Mr. Wilson?

Slade: Just one...

Lifting up his hand, Slade reveals three small metal pins dangling from his fingertips.

Slade: ...boom.

Koh takes a step back in a panic, his eyes falling quickly to Slade's belt. The three attached grenades have all had their pins removed.

Koh: <Get back! Everybody get->*

(* Translated from Vietnamese)

BOOM!

Ext. Cambodian Jungle - Day

Rose holds an arm up, shielding her eyes as she pushes through a thick tangle of branches and vines. Large fern leaves swipe across at her face, blocking most of her vision ahead. Becky and Joseph follow closely behind, moving carefully to navigate through the dense jungle.

Becky: Are we almost there or what?

Rose: I don't know, the trail disappeared twenty minutes ago.

Joseph: Shouldn't be much farther, I don't think.

Rose: What the hell are we even looking for?

Joseph: I'm actually not certain. Dad said we'd know it when we saw it.

Rose: Well gee, that's inspiring.

Uttering a soft groan, she ducks through a thick collection of bushes, coming out to a clearing on the other side. When she does, she pauses suddenly, eyes blinking several times in surprise. She isn't quite sure she believes what she's seeing. It must be some sort of hallucination... the heat is getting to her, it has to be. What else would explain the elaborate and elegant looking estate sitting in front of them, in the middle of the jungle? It might actually be more apt to call this place a villa, with large dwellings, fountains, a beautifully tended garden, even a full, olympic sized swimming pool outside. Surrounding it all is a high, iron fence, outfitted with security cameras and barbed wire at the top.

Becky: Tell me I'm not the only one seeing that.

Rose: You're not the only one seeing that.

Becky: Good... for a minute I thought I'd gone totally loco. Is this what we were supposed to find?

Joseph: Must be.

Becky: Who the hell lives here? And why? It's in the middle of nowhere.

Rose: I don't know... but my dad wanted me to get here for some reason... and he claimed it was important. So let's find out.

The trio barely even makes it halfway to the gate in front of them before a rapid series of clicking sounds fill the air, the sounds of rifles being cocked and aimed at them. They freeze, slowly turning their heads to see no less than a dozen armed men standing thee, guns at the ready. Very slowly, the three bring their hands up in surrender.

Guard: <Freeze! Who are you? What are you doing here?>*

(* Translated from Cambodian)

Rose: Joey, what's he saying?

Joseph: I don't know.

Rose: What? I thought you spoke Vietnamese.

Joseph: He's not speaking Vietnamese.

Rose: What? Then what the hell is he speaking?

Joseph: If I had to make a guess? I'd say Cambodian.

Rose: Cambodian? Why is he speaking Cambodian?

Joseph: Because we're in Cambodia.

The man at the front of the group narrows his eyes, giving the trio a curious look as they quickly talk amongst themselves.

Becky: Wait a minute, I thought we were in Vietnam.

Joseph: We were. Now we're in Cambodia. We crossed the border about a half hour ago.

Rose: We crossed the- why are we in Cambodia?

Joseph: Because this is where we're supposed to be.

Rose: Oh would you stop being so mysterious?! I'm getting really fed up with the whole 'don't tell Rose anything' gag!

Guard: <Quiet!>

Rose glances back at the men carefully. They've brought the sights to their eyes now, fingers near the triggers.

Rose: Uh... okay, look. We... don't speak... your language. So... maybe we can work this out?

The guards glance quickly back and forth between one another, speaking in hushed tones. Eventually, the head guard looks back to them and takes a step forward, gesturing with his gun barrel.

Guard: You... come with us.

Rose: Oh you speak English now? Well how convenient of-

Guard: Move!

Rose: Alright, moving. Geez.

The guards keep them at gunpoint, not taking any chances with the strangers. They follow the guards through the iron gate, heading across the lush, well manicured lawn. The contrast between the villa and surrounding jungle is absolutely astounding. As they come to the main courtyard, several of the guards hurry up the steps into the big building ahead of them, most likely the main living quarters.

Rose: Where do you think they're going?

Joseph: Probably to inform the owner that she has unexpected visitors.

Rose: She? How do you know it's a she?

Joseph: Call it a lucky guess.

The guards return a short few minutes later, walking in a horizontal line. Behind them follows a figure that, right now, is unnoticeable behind their broad bodies, but her voice carries well enough across the courtyard. It's a smooth, pleasant voice, yet brings with it an air of power and importance.

Woman: <Alright, now who just happened to stumble upon my abode?>

Guard: <Just a few rodents, Miss Worth. What do you want us to do with them?>

As the line of guards parts, they reveal a strikingly beautiful Cambodian woman, garbed in an elegant green dress trimmed with gold that accentuates her remarkably well maintained figure. Her long, silky black hair coils around her mature, yet pretty face, bringing out the bright blue of her eyes. The woman steps forward, walking down the steps and bringing her gaze to the three standing in front of her.

Woman: <I see. Well for starters, you can->

When her eyes get a good look at the white haired girl in the group, her words instantly catch in her throat. She pauses, legs refusing to move in cold, numbing shock. Rose, too, stiffens straighter, eyes going wide and beginning to water in sheer disbelief. The Cambodian woman's jaw slackens, face contorting into an almost pained expression of awe and elation.

Lillian: Rose?

Rose's throat goes numb. She can already feel the warm trickle of tears leaking down the sides of her face.

Rose: ...Mom?

Chapter #106

Ext. Lillian Worth's Jungle Villa – Day

Becky slowly turns her gaze to Joseph, leaning in to speak in a hushed whisper.

Becky: Wait... did she say...?

Joseph: She did.

Becky: Then this whole time, we were actually looking for Rose's-

Rose: Mom!

She races forward across the grass, heart pounding rapidly in her chest. The guards raise their weapons in defense, but Lillian holds a hand up, forcing them to drop their aim. Rose practically lunges at her mother, wrapping her arms tightly around the woman. An explosion of emotions surges through her body like wildfire. Happiness, shock, disbelief, confusion, grief... She tries to hold it together, but it's useless. Back in her mother's arms again after eight long years, she breaks down, burying her head into Lillian's shoulder and sobbing. Right now, she never wants to let go.

Lillian: Rose... I don't- I can't believe- how is this possible?

Rose: I knew you were alive! They never found your body, and I... I always knew. I tried to find you, really I did, but... but I never could. I... I love you. I love you so much. I... I...

Rose cries harder, a choking lump knotting its way into her throat. Her mother slowly reaches up to return the loving embrace. She holds her daughter gently, soothingly.

Lillian: Shh, it's alright, honey. I'm here.

Sniffling, Rose lifts her head slightly and sucks in a deep, shaky breath.

Rose: Why didn't you come find me, Mom? If you were alive, why... what are you doing here?

Lillian: I tried... oh believe me, I tried. But they... they told me you were dead. When I found out, I... I left the States and came back here, back to my home. I can't believe this... All this time, I thought... oh god, I love you, sweetie. Now and always.

Watching the scene closely, Becky raises a finger to her eyes and quickly wipes away a few tears of her own. Joseph glances at her, lifting an eyebrow.

Joseph: You okay over there?

Becky: What can I say, ah? I'm a sucker for happy endings.

Lillian takes a small step back, holding her hands to her daughter's shoulders.

Lillian: My word... you've grown into such a beautiful young woman.

Rose smiles slightly, eyes lighting up at the compliment. Such a comment wouldn't normally be cause for such elation from her, but coming from her mother, it means the world.

Rose: Thanks, Mom.

Lillian: But Rose, what are you doing here? How did you find me?

Rose: I... I didn't find you.

She bows her head sadly, eyes drooping as a wave of sorrow suddenly washes over her. She realizes it now; she understands everything.

Rose: Dad did... he found you.

Lillian: Slade? He brought you here? ...where is he?

Rose: He... stayed behind, Mom.

Her gaze shifts to the side, arms coming up to hold herself closely.

Rose: He didn't make it.

Lillian's expression saddens, eyes filling with sympathy. She moves closer again, hugging her daughter once more.

Lillian: Oh Rose... I'm so sorry.

She wants to say: Don’t be sorry, Mom. Dad was a real b*stard after you were gone. He manipulated me, tormented me, and made a good portion of my life a living hell. I'm glad he's dead. I'm glad I don't have to deal with him anymore.

But if she did, she'd have to follow it up with: And yet in spite of all that, he cared about me... he loved me. He had a real terrible way of showing it, made me literally want to kill him on multiple occasions, and was probably the world's worst father, but he at least tried to always put his family first. And in the end... he made up for it in the best way imaginable. He brought me back to my mother.

Instead, she says far less, barely managing to force the words out of her quivering throat.

Rose: I miss him...

The two hold each other for several moments longer, until Lillian finally pulls back and looks over at the other two, Becky and Joseph.

Lillian: Who are your friends?

Rose briefly wipes her eyes dry, then forms a broad smile as she walks over to them. She stops at Joseph first, putting a hand on his shoulder.

Rose: This is Joey... my brother. Well, half-brother. From Slade's first marriage.

Lillian: Joseph? I've heard the name before. Your father mentioned you a few times when we were together.

Joseph steps carefully forward, extending his hand. Lillian takes it, shaking firmly.

Joseph: It's great to meet you. My dad, he... he spoke very highly of you.

Rose: And this...

Taking Becky's hand, Rose pulls her towards Lillian. She then interlocks their fingers and leans in close to her.

Rose: This is Rebecca Chavez. She's my...

Lillian: Your significant other, yes?

Blinking, Rose tilts her head curiously and lifts an eyebrow.

Rose: How did you...

Lillian: I can tell by the way you looked at each other. The way you hold her hand, the way you lean against her... you're not exactly trying to hide it.

Rose shifts slightly, uttering a small, quiet laugh.

Rose: No... no, I guess I'm not.

Lillian: It is a pleasure to meet you, Rebecca.

Becky: Gracias, Miss, uh... Rose's Mom.

Lillian: Please, Lillian is fine. Or just Lili.

Becky: Lili, then. It's wonderful to meet you, too.

Flashing a pleasant smile, Lillian nods appreciatively and then looks to her daughter again.

Lillian: Come, we have so much to talk about. I want to know how you've been, what you've done... everything.

Rose: Believe me, there's a whole lot to tell.

Becky: Any chance of getting a bath and a change of clothes?

Turning briefly to one of the guards, Lillian snaps her fingers. He comes forward immediately, standing at attention.

Lillian: He will show you where you can wash up. I'll have clean clothes brought to you shortly.

A big grin curls its way across Becky's face.

Becky: Ah, gracias a Dios.

Int. Lillian Worth's Jungle Villa – Day

Three hours later...

Joseph Wilson leans calmly against the railing on one of the open walkways that runs along the side of the main building. His injured arm has since been set in a sling, resting peacefully until he can get it properly treated and put in a cast. Breathing in deeply, he gazes out at the courtyard, watching one of the large fountains in particular. The sound of footsteps, however, draws his attention away.

Rose: Thought I might find you around here.

Looking to the side, Joseph watches as his sister calmly approaches. When she leans up against the railing next to him, he bows his head and exhales.

Joseph: It's quiet here. Peaceful.

Rose: One of the reasons my mom made her home out here, so she was telling me.

Joseph: Where is she now?

Rose: Getting to know Becky. They're making lunch together.

A small pause passes between them. Rose leans farther over the railing, bringing her hands together in front of her and staring straight down at the grass below. Slowly, she breathes in a large gulp of air.

Rose: You knew this whole time, didn't you?

Joseph: I did.

Rose: Why didn't you tell me? I mean... why didn't Dad want me to know that you were looking for my mother?

Joseph: Because of what you said to him the last time it came up. Don't you remember? Back when we beat those Black Lanterns, when you first suspected she might really still be alive.

Rose's shoulders droop slightly. She closes her eyes and lets out a long sigh.

Rose: Yeah... I remember. “If you even so much as Google her name, I will kill you.” Something like that, right?

Joseph: Right. He was afraid of how you would react, if you found out he was looking for her. He... didn't want to spoil it.

Rose: I never thought he'd actually go looking for her again, though. And not for his own selfish wants, either. That he would sacrifice so much to find my mother for me, just for me, something so selfless...

A subtle chuckle finds its way past Joseph's lips. He nods, understanding what his sister means.

Joseph: I know. Hard to imagine.

Rose: And you coming to get me had nothing to do with rescuing him, did it?

Joseph: No, it didn't. He could broken out any time he wanted to. He just... wanted you to be here when we finally found her. Once we realized how close we were, he sent me to get you.

Rose: While staging a ridiculously dangerous ruse to get me to come along.

Joseph: Good ol' Dad, right?

Lips slowly curling into a smile, Rose bows her head deeper and shifts her weight. A sudden revelation hits her, though, causing her gaze to lift sharply back to her brother.

Rose: That's why he was with the VRA! That's why he... why he did all that with Belmont, isn't it?

Joseph nods, straightening his posture slightly.

Joseph: Our leads were running cold, so he decided that acquiring government resources would be beneficial, even if he had to take on a shady, villainous job to do it. God knows that's never stopped him before.

Rose: Goddamn it, Dad...

Dropping her face into her hands, she utters out another heavy breath.

Rose: ...why do you have to keep making it so hard for me to hate you?

Joseph brings a hand down gently on one of her shoulders. They stand there together in silence for several minutes, listening to the calming sounds of the jungle around them. Eventually, Rose pushes herself away from the railing and folds her arms across her chest.

Rose: You know, as peaceful as this place is, I can't wait to get back home. After what we've been through the past couple days, I really need a break.

Joseph: Is your mother coming back with us?

At this question, a wide, happy smile forms across her face.

Rose: Yeah. The only reason she came back to Cambodia was because she thought there was nothing left for her in the States. Now... well, she can't wait to make up for lost time with her daughter, as she put it.

Holding a hand to her brother's shoulder, she walks with him down the hallway, keeping their pace slow and even.

Rose: But first, there's something else I need to do.

Ext. Vietnam Jungle – Day

The next day...

Rose stands there in the middle of the tall grass, gazing around the jungle road intently. It can only be described as a battlefield now, with the remains of blown apart jeeps, miniature craters formed by explosions, and dead bodies strewn about the area. One thing is certain from the scene: Slade didn't go down without a long, intense, and bloody fight.

Rose: Have you found anything yet?

Joseph looks up, tearing his gaze away from the long grass. Becky searches the area a short distance away from his, while Lillian investigates farther back.

Joseph: Not yet. Just a few mangled bandits.

Becky: Nothing over here, either.

A small, hopeful breath finds its way out Rose's mouth.

Rose: Okay, keep looking.

Maybe... maybe we won't find his body at all. Maybe he actually survived. Maybe he-

Lillian: Rose.

Rose's gaze quickly snaps over to her mother. Her hopes instantly plummet at the sight of the torn, shredded piece of fabric in Lillian's hands. It's barely recognizable with how badly damaged it is, but nevertheless she cannot mistake it for anything other than Deathstroke's mask. Swallowing a hard knot in her throat, she take several careful steps forward.

Rose: It's okay... it's just his mask. Doesn't mean anything.

Lillian: Rose... it was next to his body. I'm sorry.

She stops walking, legs refusing to move. Bowing her head, she holds a hand up to her face and breathes out deeply. Deep down, she had known this would be the case when they came out here, and yet the confirmed finality of it isn't something she had been prepared for.

Rose: Then he... he's really gone.

Her father's previous words suddenly echo in her mind, carrying a certain irony with them now.

Careful what you wish for, Rose... guess I should have made a different wish.

Joseph: We should bury him. Even he deserves that much.

Rose: No. At least... not yet.

Becky: What do you mean?

Rose: We'll ship his body back home. We can bury him there.

Sucking in a deep, shaky breath, she lifts her eyes and stares through the grass. She can just make out the bloodied form of a mangled body beyond the grass.

Rose: I... I want to be able to visit his grave.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suit – Night

Two days later...

When Rose pushes the door open, the first thing she hears is the sound of footsteps hurrying across the apartment. A familiar, blond haired girl appears around the corner a moment later, running forward and throwing herself at Rose, arms wrapping around tightly.

Holly: Mom!

Smiling, Rose kneels down and returns the hug firmly.

Rose: Hey, honey.

Holly: God, I'm so glad you're back. I really missed you!

Rose: It's good to be back, Holly. I missed you, too.

Two more figures appear across the apartment, coming around the corner. Circe folds her arms, leaning against the wall and giving a welcoming nod. Lyta hurries down the hall, arriving next to Holly and extending her hand forward. Rose smiles, shaking the girl's hand.

Lyta: Welcome back, Rose!

Rose: Thank you, Lyta.

Her gaze then shifts up to Circe.

Rose: And thank you for looking after Holly.

Circe: My pleasure. She was lovely, as always.

Then, Becky pokes her way inside, moving around Rose through the doorway.

Becky: Oy, what about me? Where's my hug, ah?

Holly: Right here!

Pulling back from Rose, Holly lunges forward and wraps her arms tightly around Becky.

Becky: Ah, gracias, Holly. It's good to see you again.

Rose: Now, um... there's a couple of people I'd like to introduce you all to.

Glancing back around the open doorway, she waves her hand.

Rose: Come on.

Joseph carefully walks through the entrance, taking in a deep breath and looking down at Holly.

Joseph: This her?

Rose: Yup, that's your niece.

Holly blinks several times, staring up at him curiously.

Holly: Your niece? But then that makes you... my uncle. Doesn't it?

Rose: That's right. He's my brother. His name is Joey.

Getting down on one knee, Joey holds a hand out and smiles.

Joseph: Nice to meet you, Holly.

Holly: Wow, I've never had an uncle before.

Reaching forward, Holly grasps Joseph's hand and gives it a firm shake.

Holly: Nice to meet you, Uncle Joey.

Joey: Uncle Joey... I think I like the sound of that.

Rose then steps to the side, allowing Lillian to make her way into the apartment.

Rose: And this... is my mother. Lillian Worth.

Circe suddenly pushes herself away from the wall, staring with amazement in her eyes.

Circe: Your mother... I thought she was...?

Rose: So did I... but we found her.

Circe: Where on earth did you go?

Rose: I'll tell all you about it later.

Kneeling down, Lillian leans forward and gives Holly a soft, pleasant smile.

Lillian: You must be Holly. It's a real pleasure to meet you; your mother has been telling so many things about you.

Holly: She has? ...only good things right? And nothing embarrassing?

Lillian: Only the best things. She says you're quite the smart girl.

Holly: Well, I don't like to brag... but yeah, I totally am.

Lillian: Ah, I'd bet you're right.

Holly: So... you're my mom's... uh, mom? That makes you... my grandmother, right? I've never had a grandmother before either.

The girl pauses, looking the woman up and down for a moment.

Holly: You don't really look like a granny.

Lillian: Yes, and I've worked very hard to make sure of that. Feel free to call me Lili, by the way. Granny just sounds... far too old.

Holly: Well, alright, then, Lili.

With a big smile, Holly reaches forward and gives the woman a firm hug. Lillian returns the smile, wrapping her own arms warmly around the girl.

Rose: And guys, this is Circe, and her daughter, Lyta.

Lyta: Nice to meet you!

Circe: Pleasure, really.

Rose: Alright now, everyone out of the hallway, come on. There's plenty more space in the living room, and there's a lot to talk about.

Lillian: I'll get dinner started, if that's alright. Holly, you can help me, if you like.

Holly: Sure! I'm a great cook. Well... when it comes to grilled cheese. But I'm learning!

A broad smile slowly curls across Lillian's face, as Holly grabs her hand and begins leading her into the kitchen.

Lillian: Don't worry; by the time we're done, I'll have turned you into a master chef.

As everyone heads down the hallway, Rose stands alone in the foyer. She takes in a deep breath, closing the penthouse door behind her, and then simply holds her hands to her hips. She can't help a large, pleased smile of her own from quickly forming.

You know something, Dad, you were a real b*stard. I'll stand by that until the day I die.

Holding her hands to her hips, Rose gradually makes her way down the hallway to rejoin everyone.

You made my life hell, did everything you could to make sure I would hate you, and you hurt too many people to count.

She stops just outside the kitchen, leaning against the wall and looking around the apartment. Becky and Circe sit back on the couch in the living room, currently engaged in conversation with Joseph. Nearby, Lyta leans back on her hands, legs sprawled out in front of her on the floor as she listens to the adults talk.

Yet, in spite of that, for what you did, for how you fixed things in the end, I just want to say...

Rose's gaze turns towards the kitchen, where Lillian is busily showing Holly how to chop peppers. Such a simple act, and yet it causes her smile to grow to new levels.

...thank you.

#1 Posted by xxYoungFatexx (99 posts) - - Show Bio

This is some great stuff. I love the fighting scenes, and I definitely will spend more time reading these chapters. Only thing that I am kind of unsure about is the breaking up of the action, and then using dialogue with the names beside them. Sometimes I just feel this slows down the overall pace of the story. I don’t know; maybe it’s just me. But either ways, this is a beautifully crafted story that definitely deserves more comments.

Also, I'd noticed a fragmented sentence on chapter #102.

- "Villagers, bandits. Men, women. Adults, children." -

This should fix it (Or you can just make another): "The victims: Villagers, Bandits, Men, and Women; Adults and even Children."

#2 Edited by Ravager4 (1625 posts) - - Show Bio

@xxYoungFatexx: The sentences were meant to be fragmented like that. They were just supposed to be brief, blunt statements to represent the horrific scene, with each one portraying two different sides of a whole, such as the two conflicting sides in the first one, between the villagers and bandits, gender in the second one, and age in the third. I know it's not grammatically correct, but it wasn't meant to be. I don't feel it would have carried the same impact if I just went and listed it like "villagers, bandits, men, women, adults, even children" or something like that. I don't like listing things out like that for some reason, just seems to drag out too long and lose its meaning.

The dialogue is done out in script form, because when I started writing this series, I did so with a comic in mind. It ended up as a hybrid between narrative prose and screenplay, so I just suck with it. For a fan fic based on comics, having to write out countless "he said, she said"s or "he replied, she replied"s after most of the dialogue lines just didn't feel right.

The break up in the action is done mostly because I wanted to shift back and forth between past and present, showing glimpses of something crazy happening that you wouldn't know anything about, and then going back to periodically see how the characters got there. It was a different method I tried out just for this arc, admittedly, because if I had done it all sequentially, the first chapter or two might have been painfully slow before picking up in the following chapters. It also wouldn't have led me to following Becky's whole side story, since it allowed me to revisit the helicopter crash scene twice, each time focusing on a different character.

And thank you very much for your comment, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it :)

#3 Posted by Project_Worm (2913 posts) - - Show Bio

@Ravager4: I'm going to try and get caught up on these... But it's soo hard. Cuz' you're so fast... And Im so lazy.

#4 Posted by Ravager4 (1625 posts) - - Show Bio

@Project_Worm: Ha, yeah, I know, it's a lot... on the plus side, it's just about over (working on the last of the three final chapters now), so at least you can't fall anymore behind xD

#5 Posted by primepower53 (5686 posts) - - Show Bio

@Project_Worm said:

@Ravager4: I'm going to try and get caught up on these... But it's soo hard. Cuz' you're so fast... And Im so lazy.

kinda sorta this

#6 Posted by Project_Worm (2913 posts) - - Show Bio

@Ravager4 said:

@Project_Worm: Ha, yeah, I know, it's a lot... on the plus side, it's just about over (working on the last of the three final chapters now), so at least you can't fall anymore behind xD

Oh. You'd be surprised...

#7 Posted by vernierhawk001 (517 posts) - - Show Bio

You know, I have to say that its awesome that you got to 100 chapters

#8 Posted by Ravager4 (1625 posts) - - Show Bio

@vernierhawk001: Thank you, it was a lot of work :)