[Present Day — Baltimore, UCAS — 2075]
Its been a week since the incident on the ship occurred, yet it still feels like its that morning. I haven’t gotten much sleep this last week. I constantly toss and turn in bed and wake up screaming in a cold sweat. The last few nights have been the worst. I was caught in a dream where I relived the event over and over and over again, the same as it has been the previous nights. The dreams always end the same way, me slumped next to the body of the Yakuza sobbing uncontrollably. But the body stood up and leered over me, the katana still buried in his chest … and laughing at me. Laughing at me for killing him, laughing at me for crying, laughing at me for deeds that I have done and yet to do. In the last one, the dream replayed me flinging the katana in his chest again and again. Each time, he stood up and laughed at me. It startled me awake and I found myself flinging the katana into the wall. Rabbit was sleeping on the bed by my feet and barely notice the fact that I flew out of bed.
I cant go back to sleep … not now. I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water and stood in front of the floor to ceiling windows, in just an oversized t-shirt, overlooking Baltimore and the harbor. As I stand there drinking from the glass, it occurred to me. Good thing the building has mirrored windows … Then theres the face that appears. The light toned skin with a slightly unkept beard. The brown eyes … The spiky hair … His smile All of it, its all there. Its like he is laughing at me because of my actions. What shadowrunner has ever just dropped to her knees and started crying because she … killed someone. A wince of pain shoots through me as the fight replays through my head again. Rabbit decided to get up apparently and I felt him rub up against my leg. I reached down to pet him. Wait … thats not Rabbit, he isn’t that big. I looked down and there was a wolf there. I didn’t feel any fear when looking at it, but a sense of … understanding? I ran my fingers through the rough fur of the wolf and thought of Walker, the wolf shaman from Havoc Squad, again. I turned back to the table by the couch and grabbed my commlink. When I turned back, the wolf was gone. Its late, but I decide to give him a call anyways. I punched in his commcode and he answered after a few rings.
Walker groggily picks up his commlink, sighing as he sits up in the bed. “ergjff, hello?”
“Walker? its Duchess. Do you have time to talk?”
“What? Oh, yeah. Yeah. I got time to talk, kid. You doing alright?”
“no” she somberly says as she is close to coming to tears
“I was on a run and …. how …. I dont know how to deal what what I have done”
“Hey, hey, hey.” Walker lowers his voice a bit, calmer and gentle. “Just breathe kid. It’s alright. Just tell me what happened.”
A moment or two and a few deep breaths pass. “We were on a run to get a crate off of a van that was on a cargo ship. While we were planning it, we caught sight of another team shadowing us Figured we were after the same thing, so we moved on it faster. It ends up they were a Yakuza hit squad, but they were after the crate as well. We got into it with them and stuff, but ….. I killed a few of them. Its not the death of them that bothers me, I have seen that before, nor the fight itself. But when Kira went down during a sword fight with one of them, I flung her sword into the chest of her attacker and then into another one of the Yakuza. Moments later the fight was over and I went to Kira to check on her. ” Sobs are now becoming more noticeable “and I saw his face.”
“I literally had to be carried off the ship to complete the run”
“I know you have killed people while you were a merc and a runner, how do you deal with it?”
“How do I deal with it…?” Walker went silent for a moment in thought.
“…Honestly? It’s a bit of a pick and choose. There are some deaths I can never get over, Duchess. Some that still follow me around even now. Others, I tend to forget them. Wolf guides his warriors, and a warrior can’t dwell on every man killed in battle. So, for me, I suppose Wolf is my comfort or even Black Cat. Someone to speak to.”
“I saw Wolf just before I called you. I haven’t been able to sleep really in the week since it happened. I woke up earlier and found myself flinging a katana into the wall … still not really sure where or how I got that. My dreams are filled with replaying everything over and over in my mind and all I see is his face and he is smiling at me. I talked to Raccoon and he helped to comfort me, but the furry little trash panda kept on about how I need to accept this and move on. Only, I don’t know how to accept it. I took his life. Yeah, he was a Yakuza, yeah I am sure that he knew death was a part of his job, just like us, but he was still a person. He was the son of a mother and father. He may have been someones brother or someones …. father. What if I created another orphan just like me. ” Sobs turn to crying …
“Duchess. Duchess. Don’t do that to yourself. You can cry over the fact you took a life. But don’t do it over these ‘what-if’ scenarios. Do you think someone like that would have felt bad for killing you? A teenage mage on the middle of a run that went against them? The way to acceptance is that you have to realize that they made their choice. Everyone is someone’s child or parent or brother or blood. But everyone has a choice. You chose to save your friend, despite the consequences. Was that wrong?”
“No, defending Kira was not wrong and I would not second guess doing that again. Hell its happened numerous times with you guys, but I have always just knocked them out or had a spirit assist us. I never had to take a life and worse, I didnt really even realize that I was doing it. It just … happened. I seen her go down and he stood over her with his sword. Soren already hit him with spells, but it wasnt enough. So I just used Kira’s sword to finish him. Also without a second thought, I flung it over into the other Yakuza. It was like I wasnt myself. I hear of Eternal talking about how Beserker sometimes takes over, but it didnt seem like that either. I knew what I was doing, but seemed sorta out of control.”
“You’re seeing Wolf now. Maybe… Maybe you got a warrior within you yet, Duchess. Adrenaline in battle can make one do crazy things despite their own coherence. You were protecting one of your own. That comes with it’s own instincts.”
“So … is this something that should be embraced? It scares the drek out of me. I dont know if I could handle killing someone again, even if it was to protect someone.”
“…Duchess. All I can say is that if you’re going to continue in the shadows, you’re going to have to make these choices. I wouldn’t say you should embrace it. Few people can really embrace the taking of a life. But, you can learn to accept it. There is nothing that says you should massacre every enemy that you come across. It is up to you to choose how you will continue on.”
“Accepting it is the hardest part, but its what both you and Raccoon keep telling me. I think I just need to do that in some way … somehow …. I know its late, but I really appreciate taking the call. You were the first person I talked to about this because I knew you would understand. Hopefully, one of these days, I can get a good nights sleep and deal with this somehow. For now I am going to step out of the shadows for some time. Thank you, Walker and I hope the puppy is doing good.”
“Yeah. He’s doing great kid. Growing. Just like you are… Call me if you need me alright? Maybe I’ll even come down at some point to see you. Take care of yourself, Duchess.”
“Thank you.” And she hangs up.
Walker returns to bed, rolling over to see Wolf at it’s edge, sitting next to the slightly smaller wolf pup. “Look after her.” Then, he goes to sleep.