• Published 10th May 2016
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The Titan's Orb: Rising Storm - Old Man Dusters

While Callum and the Mane Six continue their quest to find the shards of the Titan's Orb, their path ahead grows only more deadly as they are now stalked by a relentless shadow that will stop at nothing until they are vanquished...

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Chapter Eleven - The Taste of Blood

It was the eighth of January, tomorrow was my birthday and I had very easily wormed my way into the Blood Family; I had taken out three raiding parties to various villages and had brought back more supplies and captives than any previous raids over the past five years. The Blood Family had come to view me as the answer to all of their problems, as if I were a godsend, but how wrong they were; I intended to see Bunnie on my birthday and so tonight was the night I would slaughter them all. I knew very clearly that it would be no easy task, but my regained strength brought me confidence.

I was in the middle of eating lunch in the court room, when a finger touched the back of my neck and then traced along my jawline in a seductive fashion.

“So, Callum. What’s the plan for today?” The Mother asked.

“Today’s plan, is that there is no plan.” I replied.

“Do explain?”

“The key to a good raid is to be unpredictable, and so far we have launched one raid every day; each of the different villages around talk to one another and know this pattern, and hide all their goods accordingly.
If there is no reported raid today, everyone will be confused and assume they are safe for a while, making the next raid easier than squishing ants in a garden.” I explained.

The Mother sat opposite me and began to laugh maniacally.

“Oh Callum why didn’t you come to us sooner? Your brain matches my ferocity and has brought strategy to my slaughter! I must admit I am enjoying planning attacks more than sending random raids anytime I please. I certainly hope you’ll stay around.”

At this, I smirked.

“Well so far, my time in the Blood Family has been very beneficial; so until there’s a change of plan, I may end up staying here for the rest of your life.” I said warmly.

{HA! I get it! Because she’s not going to live very long!} Conscio yelled.

The Mother stood up and walked over to me and grinned.

“I very much like the sound of that, Mister Horncastle.” She whispered, licking her jagged teeth.

Without warning, she sat on my lap and put her hands on my shoulders.

“Besides, I’ve been waiting for a real man to show up.” She hissed.

{The fuck? We’re a day from turning seventeen, we’re not exactly a MAN.} Conscio thought.

She looked in her late thirties, which was a little grim to imagine myself with her, she was old enough to be my mother. While I loved Bunnie deeply and had no interest in The Mother, I played along to ensure she trusted me.

“Well, I’ve never met someone on my level until now.” I grinned.

She bit her bottom lip and I winked at her, she giggled and stood up again.

“I’ll be seeing you later tonight.” She told me.

“Oh no my dear… It will be I, that will be seeing you.” I teased.

She laughed and made her way out of the room, and left me to finish my lunch.

A few hours later I made my way to the fighting pits, where young Blood Family members would learn how to fight and kill through various ranks of training.
It was quite simple, there were five stages before being allowed to be considered a raider or a guardsman.
The first stage was with padded clothing, nobody was killed in this round. Ten people entered the pit, and beat one another to a pulp, the last three victors were allowed to enter the next stage.
Stage two was the same principle, but with one on one.
Stage three was identical to stage two, except it was a fight to the death; last man breathing was the winner.
Stage four was the same but with ten people and various weapons were thrown into the pit, axes, machetes, knifes, it varied.
The fifth and final stage is where victors would fight the Pit Champion, a drug infused nutcase called Guntar. This hulking monstrosity was off his tits on steroids and almost stood seven feet tall. Guntar was quite simply, a very angry bear.
Three victors fought him at a time, last man alive was deemed a true raider.

As I arrived at the fighting pits I heard the thundering roar of Guntar as he was mid-combat with three contestants trying their luck at passing the trial. I made my way through the crowd and watched as the contestants made constant attempts at striking Guntar with their machetes, but anyone who drew close were instantly scared back by a mighty swing of Guntar’s sledgehammer.
One contestant got cocky and made a jab for the monstrosity’s leg, only for the sledgehammer to meet the side of his head and created a scene that I could only describe as a modern art masterpiece.
Imagine a watermelon getting hit by a wrecking ball at sixty miles an hour.

One of the others ran forward and was able to cut Guntar’s arm, it wasn’t a very good strike and didn’t cut very deep and only enraged Guntar. He dropped the sledgehammer and grabbed the man’s head in both of his enormous hands and squeezed with all his might. The man screamed at the top of his lungs before his head was crushed like an egg, blood sprayed in all directions as his skull imploded.
The third contestant dropped his machete and urinated himself at the sight before him, luckily he was the last man alive and was allowed to leave the pit, while Guntar wiped the blood from his hands.

“Callum Horncastle! It’s Callum Horncastle!” A man yelled from the crowd, spotting me.

Everyone turned to face me and I dipped my head in respect to my onlookers. A thin, tall man covered in piercings approached me from the crowd. This was the Pit Lord, the guy in charge of all the training in the Blood Family.

“It is an honour to see you in the flesh, mighty Callum.” The Pit Lord said kindly.

I shook his hand and looked past him to look upon Guntar.

{Callum you are a genius.} Conscio muttered.

He’d figured out my plan.
Guntar was without a doubt the most lethal person in the entire town, he was as dangerous as Vladimir back in Brazil and would pose a very big problem if for some reason I was detected later tonight.
So I thought I would deal with him now in open combat, just to get the hardest enemy out of the way early.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” The Pit Lord asked.

“I have heard very promising things about Guntar, I thought I’d see for myself.” I told him.

“You’ve heard correct; he is the most dangerous man alive!” He replied.

“Well I don’t know about that; he hasn’t met me yet.” I said smugly.

“You wish to challenge him?”

“Obviously.” I answered.

At this, the Pit Lord laughed and turned to the crowd, still watching Guntar parade around the fighting pit with one of the mutilated bodies.


The crowd, even those who did not speak English, knew what he meant, and went absolutely wild.

“Any preparations before entering the pit?” He asked, turning to face me.

“We begin immediately.” I replied.

I made my way down some stairs and took off my new Guardsman gear until I was wearing nothing but the dark brown bush trousers, I wanted to be as light as possible, Guntar was strong enough to crush me like a bug and I knew it would be pointless to block any of his attacks.
Just before the entrance to the pit was a weapon rack, with all sorts of barbaric instruments, from jagged bone handled axes to clubs covered in Iberian wolf teeth, a good hit from that could easily cave someone’s head in.

“Any weapon of your choosing, Master Horncastle.” The Pit Lord asked from behind me.

I merely tapped Kroksbane as it sat comfortably in its sheath against my waist.

“Your knife? That is all?” He asked, shocked.

I nodded, and turned to the pit, and walked through the wooden gate.

The Pit Lord stood at his podium above me, and shouted to the crowd.

EVERYONE! Todo mundo! The greatest fight you’ve ever seen! A maior luta que você já viu!
The most dangerous man in the world, fighting the most dangerous BEAST in the world!
O homem mais perigoso do mundo, lutando contra a BESTA mais perigosa do mundo!

The audience went absolutely mental, people all across the town came to the pits to witness the fight, including most of the guardsmen, people were eager to see if I lived up to my name, and I didn’t aim to disappoint.

I buried my bare feet into the sandy dirt, and felt its soft coolness around my toes, I heard Guntar let out a loud war cry and started to punch his cage door on the other side of the pit.
I knew he was trying to intimidate me, but I highly doubted anything would scare me again after the things I saw in Chernobyl; the Deathclaw, the mutated monstrosity of Elephant’s Foot, and the hordes upon hordes of irradiated zombies that roamed the fallen city.
And I didn’t even want to think about Nah’Lek, the demonic creature that was stalking me and the ponies; even though I’d only seen him in dreams and visions, he was still the most haunting thing in existence, I hoped to never see him in the flesh for as long as I lived.

My cage door opened first, and I walked out into the pit. The dirt out here was warm thanks to the sunlight, and a lot of it was clotted together due to the amount of blood that had been previously spilled.
I knelt onto one knee and scooped up a handful of dirt, and proceeded to rub my hands together; this was both to dry my hands that had begun to sweat, but also as a symbolic gesture to the many people that had previously died in these pits.
Guntar’s door was raised and he grabbed his sledgehammer, before angrily stomping towards me; I stood perfectly still as his stomping became a charge. The hulking mass of steroid infused muscle roared and approached me at an alarming rate, and yet I remained perfectly calm, and didn’t move in the slightest.
I heard the crowd gasping and yelling at me to do something, but I blocked out their cries and waited for Guntar to reach me.
He raised his sledgehammer above his head and I put my hand on Kroksbane’s handle, the moment he brought the sledgehammer down I dodged to the side and gripped his bicep with my left hand, I swung myself around onto his back and plunged Kroksbane deep into the back of his head, severing his spinal cord and killing him instantly.

Guntar fell to his knees and I jumped back and landed very neatly in the centre of the pit as he planted his face into the ground.
I took a rag out of my pocket to wipe the blood off Kroksbane, I then placed the bloody rag on Guntar’s head and took a bow to the audience, before walking back to my cage.
As the door closed behind me, the crowd started screaming and applauding, they went absolutely wild and all began to chant my name; I sheathed Kroksbane and took a stretch while the exit was unlocked.
I stepped out and put my Guardsman gear back on, taking a quick moment to dust off my feet before putting my socks and shoes on.

I climbed the steps and walked outside where I found at least three hundred people waiting for me, they cheered and hollered my name as they rushed towards me and tried to speak with me. I ignored them and merely walked through the crowd and reached the Pit Lord, who was still on his podium staring at Guntar’s body in the pit.

“There a problem?” I asked.

He turned to look at me, his eyes wide.

“Guntar has been champion for the past ten years, nobody has ever come close to defeating him, and you killed him with a single blow, how did you do it? How?” He asked, clearly in shock.

I took a breath in, before shrugging.

“You know, you’ve just got to keep the elbows up and the shoulder’s loose-”

“I have seen many men in my time, I have seen hundreds of violent people who were born for war; but you are something very different. I just watched you kill a monster like it was a beetle beneath your boot.
You are no man; you are something greater.” He spoke.

“What do you mean?” I asked, curious.

“No ordinary man could kill Guntar that easily, I believe you have a god’s blood in your veins.” He told me.

“I highly doubt that, I’m not a religious man.” I replied.

“Believe or not, there is something very special about you. But either way, you have successfully defeated the Pit Champion, people will be informed of your new title shorty.” He told me.

I thanked him and then made my way to my personal quarters, Rahim’s old house.

I sat on the end of my bed and sighed, despite all current occurrences, I was bored; well, more irritated than bored. I just wanted nightfall to come and to get this over with, I missed Bunnie and didn’t feel like she was safe without me. Paulo hated her and would most likely punish her while I wasn’t around, I needed to get back to her.
To pass the time I took out my phone and used the biometric body scanner app, I let the phone analyse me and display that I was healthy, besides depression being present, but dormant.
There were no traces of the Fel, my mental illness had completely eradicated it after fooling the death magic into thinking I was already corrupted, such irony.

After a while of sitting alone with my thoughts, I thought it would be a good idea to send a text to Twilight and see if the group was alright, it had been almost two weeks without contact.
I went to my messaging app and found the previous caller ID, which was simply displayed as a load of zeros, but due to the phone’s enchantment it automatically made instant contact to Twilight.

[Just checking in, how is the group, are you all safe?] I texted.

I hit send, and waited.

Five minutes later, the phone buzzed.

[Safe now, but the group are shaken.]

My eyes widened.

[Why? What happened?] I replied.

[We were spotted by a group of men while crossing a road, they got out and started chasing us.]

“Oh shit…” I murmured.

[What happened then?]

A few minutes went by, before the phone finally buzzed again.

[I don’t remember, but the others are scared of me now.]

[Twilight, what did you do?]

[I said I don’t remember. But the others, they have this look in their eyes, like I’m a monster.]

{Well, you kind of ARE.} Conscio grumbled.

“Not helping.” I grumbled.

I looked back at my phone and sighed, I knew what Twilight had done.

[I’m close to finishing my tasks with the gang I’ve infiltrated, I’ll be able to escape in a couple of days and we’ll be back on track, just stay safe until then.] I typed out.

Without warning, I felt the barrel of a gun being placed to the back of my head, I froze solid and dropped the phone. The device clattered on the concrete floor and I gulped nervously.

“Say nothing.” A voice spoke.

The voice sounded tinny and almost robotic, as though it were spoken through an old radio; I remained perfectly still and looked down to see a round box being placed into my lap, it was about the size of an ordinary clock and was made out of black leather, the handle however was solid metal.

“Make sure you are both wearing them when the time comes.” The voice ordered.

The gun was removed from my head and I turned around to find there was nobody there, the mystery person was gone. I sped into the other room to follow him but there was no trace of him, he had completely disappeared as if he wasn’t even there in the first place.

“Who the heck was that?” I mumbled.

{No clue.} Conscio replied.

I went back to my bedroom and opened the box, inside were two metal collars, one was black and the other was lavender purple, I assumed it was intended for Twilight due to the colour.

“You don’t think-”

{The sniper from Chernobyl…}

It made sense, back in Chernobyl the sniper was wearing a full suit of metal which would explain the tinny voice, he wore a futuristic helmet that would most likely distort anything he said, how could it NOT be him?
Who was he? How had he found me here in the Blood Family?
I was left bewildered, but was glad he was on my side, I thought he was on my side anyway.
I also wondered WHAT he was, while he appeared mostly human, I was still unsure as he had a pair of wings on his back. The way he fought the mutated Elephant’s Foot with such agility and relentless strength was simply incredible, perhaps he would be able to help me fight Nah’Lek if the time ever arose?

There wasn’t much point wondering too much about the matter at this point, as I still had to focus on killing the Blood Family and later kill Paulo to rescue Bunnie. I put the box under my bed and decided to take a nap before nightfall, I needed as much energy as I could spare. After taking off most of my gear and getting into bed, I took one last look at my phone in case Twilight had replied, and then closed my eyes and let myself drift off to the question of who the man in the suit was.

I awoke to the sound of gunshots and men shouting, I sat up in my bed and looked out of the rectangular window to see the Blood Family guardsmen all running towards the front of the town, yelling loudly. The sun was beginning to set and everywhere was coated in an orange glow. I heard footsteps rushing towards my house and my front door being barged open.

“Callum! Callum!” A man yelled in a thick Portuguese accent.

“What’s going on?” I called from my room, getting dressed.

The man entered my room hastily, sweating like a pig.

“We are under attack by Hoyt’s men! We need you at the gate!” He screamed.

He turned and ran off while I suited up.

The town was in chaos, Hoyt’s men had surrounded the town and were throwing Molotov cocktails over the walls, engulfing various buildings with fire. At the main gate stood about fifty of the Blood Family guardsmen, shooting at Hoyt’s men on the other side of the gate which had been rammed down by a jeep. There were already bodies littered around the place.
A Molotov landed a few metres away from me and I was almost caught in the burst of flame that came with it, I swerved to the side and continued to make my way to the gate, I crouched by same man that had come into my house.

“What’s the situation?” I asked.

“At least a fifty of them, heavily armed!” He shrieked, ducking down as some bullets came whizzing our way.

I thought out a game plan, and decided the best course of action was to take out all the surrounding men to stop the fire bombs.

“Hold this position!” I commanded.

The man nodded and I ran through the town to reach the back wall.

I clambered up onto a pile of boxes and then jumped up onto the roof of one of the buildings so I could see over the wall, to see a man in full tactical gear, with a yellow band on his right arm. I quickly aimed my UMP at him and took him out with two bullets to the chest. I vaulted the wall and landed with a roll, I picked up his lit Molotov and made my way around the wall until I found the next guy, I threw the bomb at him and watched as he went up in flames like tinder wood.
I continued going around the town, picking off the bombers one by one until I got close to the front gate, where I lay down and used the various bushes to cover myself from their vision. The sun was now out of sight and everywhere was rapidly getting very dark; I stealthily crept to the back of the battalion and made sure none of the attackers were behind me. Using the sound of the gunshots as a camouflage, I withdrew the Karambit knife I’d won in the poker game to silently dispatch of the gunmen; the curved blade made for very quick kills when it was stuck into the neck at almost any angle, and it was only a matter of time before I’d slaughtered over twenty men without anybody even noticing.

"Knife to meet you..." I chuckled as I shivved someone in the lower back.

Eventually somebody turned around and I shot him with the UMP, he hit the ground like a sack of spuds and I went back to killing the others with my knife. I eventually grew bored of this and simply used the UMP to mow down the men in front of me, by the time they had turned around to see me they were dead.

The men before me weren’t expecting an attack from behind and I was able to cleave through them like a scythe through a wheat field, the attack was over almost as quickly as it had started and I called out to the remaining guardsmen.

“They’re dead! It’s me!” I shouted to the guardsmen.

“É Callum, pare de disparar!” One of them yelled.

The shooting came to a halt, and I stood up from my cover to meet them at the gate.

“You killed them all?” One of the men asked.

“Most of them, there are a couple on the West side of the wall, but otherwise, yes.” I answered.

“Ceifador…” Someone whispered.

Suddenly, loads of the Portugese speaking guardsmen started muttering the same word while looking at me.

“Why are they calling me that?” I asked the first man.

“They say you are Ceifador, the bringer of death… In your language it is called the Grim Reaper, yes?”

{Hey Grim, care for a game of limbo?} Conscio teased.

{Ha! Billy and Mandy, good one!} I thought back.

“I can live with that title.” I replied merrily.

I heard men shouting to my right, and figured the Molotov bombers on the West side of the town were making their way to the gate, they were in for a big surprise when they arrived. I ordered the guardsmen to set up a firing line along the road leading to the town, and the moment all the fire bombers came into sight we opened fire on them, turning them all into Swiss cheese.
We went on a looting spree and harvested all the weapons and ammo from Hoyt’s men, before leaving all of their bodies outside the town walls to rot, the Blood Family had no respect or care for the dead.

Once that business was taken care of, every single member of the Blood Family was called to gather in the courthouse where The Mother was to start a celebration for the victory. It wasn’t long before alcohol was poured and the entire courtroom became a party. It was almost quite incredible to see such ruthless and violent people become so happy and merry in such a short period of time.

An hour had passed, and nobody had any intention to leave the building, except for one person.

“So, your place?” The Mother cooed from behind me.

She pressed her body into my back and put her arms around my waist, before slowly easing downwards towards my crotch. I turned around to face her before she could put her hands on the goods.

“I was wondering when you’d ask.” I teased.

She grinned and took my hands as we left the room and went down the stairs together.

“My men spoke very highly of you today, first you become the new Pit Champion, and then you singlehandedly kill most Hoyt’s attackers tonight.” The Mother said as we made our way to Rahim’s house.

“I like my titles.” I simply replied.

She laughed and we entered Rahim’s house, and in seconds she threw herself at me; before I knew it, her lips were against mine and her tongue was in my mouth.

{Intruder alert! A red spy is in the base!} Conscio screeched.

I very reluctantly kissed her back just to ensure her trust, but I was most certainly NOT enjoying the experience; the only person’s lips I wanted on mine were Bunnie’s, but I didn’t really have a choice here.

“I want you Callum. I want you to become The Father of the Blood Family.” The Mother hissed seductively.

I took off my guardsmen gear and slowly began to take off my shirt, and she very quickly did the same, stripping down to her bra in a matter of seconds, this bitch was horny.
Little did she notice in the low light that I had secretly taken the Karambit knife out of its sheath while I undressed, and I was more than ready to kill her here and now.

“I haven’t been with a man in years, I want you to fuck me like it’s the last night of my life.” She growled.

I stood up straight and held her waist with my empty hand, and kissed her passionately; we made out for a few seconds before I thrust the knife into her throat, she jolted and tried to scream out in pain, only for a hoarse whisper to exit her lips as the curved blade severed her windpipe.

“I’m afraid it is the last night of your life…” I muttered.

I pulled back and looked her in the eyes as she went into shock, her body started to tremble as blood began to drizzle down her chest and foam from her mouth.

“I’m sorry sweetheart, but I’m not really ready to become a father figure.” I told her before pulling out the knife.

Blood poured from her neck like a waterfall and she stumbled forward before smacking into the floor. I left the Karambit knife by her body, I wouldn’t need it anymore. I got dressed again and took the box of collars that the mystery man had given me. I then left the house, and made my way back to the party.

On the first floor of the courthouse, all the salvaged equipment from Hoyt’s men had been put into crates, thankfully there had been an abundance of leftover Molotov cocktails and numerous grenades. In total I counted thirty-eight fire bombs and sixteen other explosives, definitely enough to set the courthouse ablaze.
Hoyt’s attack had been a blessing in disguise, as every member of the Blood Family had all gathered in one room to party and get drunk, nobody was on guard duty as the attack was supposedly over; their arrogance was about to become their undoing.

I cracked open all the Molotov bottles and started to pour the highly flammable liquid all over the floor of the courthouse’s lower level, when the entire downstairs of the building was coated, I had four bottles remaining, so I crept up the stairs and poured the remaining liquid into the hallway, along with tossing all the grenades towards the main courtroom’s door, right next to the party.

With all this done and dusted, I headed back downstairs, (making sure not to slip on the liquid), and grabbed one of the many lighters lying around that were mainly used for cigarettes. I took all the rags that I had previously taken out of the Molotov bottles and rolled them into a ball, the fabric was rather moist from some of the liquid and would easily catch light. I clicked the lighter and a few sparks jumped out, but no flame. I tried a second time and a lovely orange flame sprouted up and began to flicker. I held it to the rag ball and it instantly caught alight, I threw it into the courthouse door and growled in pain as a small patch of liquid had caught my hand and slightly burnt me.
In seconds, the whole lower floor began to glow a bright orange. I made my way out of the town to the sounds of men shouting as they discovered the fire in the building, but at that point, it was far too late.

I took one last look back to see the entire building on fire, and burning men were jumping out of the windows and dying as they hit the ground; the screams were intense and full of agony. I took no pride in the act, but it sure as hell made me feel good to know this part of the job was over and I could finally get on with rescuing Bunnie.
Without warning, all the explosives in the court went off and the entire building burst into a humungous eruption of fire, smoke and debris, and the odd body part. The explosion was enormous and would be seen for miles in any direction, admittedly I felt like an absolute badass for creating such a big boom.

“I guess I blew my load…” I said with a smirk.

I hopped into the jeep that Hoyt’s men had used to ram into the gate, turned on the engine, and made my way back to Paulo’s compound, my mission now accomplished.

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