Anecdote LIII. Fall of the Unknown Soldier

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Lask watches people. It’s what he does. His life’s greatest work is the watchtower, and he spends long hours moving its lenses to observe both his friends and his enemies. His ability to peer through time and space is what has no doubt kept him and his family alive, and allowed him the necessary edge to win when it counts. While a few individuals have been trained to operate the tower for recon and safety, no one knows how to use it like Lask, and no one knows exactly what Lask sees.

Regardless, it was obvious he watched Barrett. Perhaps it started as simply wanting to look after the man who had spared him an awful turn, and given him instead the talented Quinn. It was odd for Lask to share a child with someone he had only met once, and exchanged only the briefest and most essential correspondence. I don’t know at what point Lask realized Barrett carried the other half of the Heart, or if he knew all along.

As the summer of 2015 rolled on, Lask watched Barrett more and more. He began preparing a room for him in the house, and speaking in concerned murmurs with Stefin about their numbers, weaponry, and defenses, and what Stefin know about Moloch. When the Demon asked why in the world Lask would consider facing an Ancient Demon like Moloch, for whom Barrett’s Demon form worked, Lask replied,

“Before the autumn, Scott will be discovered, and Barrett will fall. Moloch will take vengeance for his treachery.”

“You know this for certain?” Stefin asked.

“It is set,” Lask replied. “I cannot stop it. I can only hope to rescue him.”

Stefin gave no more resistance, and instead threw himself into bolstering their numbers, and conquering as many Dark places as he could find with weaponry his forces could steal. Lask left most of the logistics to the Demon and Giemm, instead pouring his time into research in the Library, peering from the watchtower, and trying to haul Wyatt off the ground.

“Why I gotta keep standin’ here for you to grab like a damn fish out of the river?” the gunslinger groused.

“Because you’re the closest size to Barrett,” Lask grunted, locking his arms around Wyatt. He wings flailed in the air, struggling to lift them both. He tightened his grip, and managed to get them a few feet of the ground.

“Don’t you drop me,” growled Wyatt.

“Wouldn’t dream of it, dear,” Lask replied, and let his feet rest back on the ground.

“Can’t ya just draw a door,” Wyatt asked, as Lask backed away to line up another pass.

“I don’t want to risk it. The place is already well-warded, and Moloch’s armies will no doubt have magic to prevent escape. They’ve used it before; I’m certain he’ll be angry enough to use it on Barrett’s place.”

The gunslinger just grunted hmph, and let Lask drag him off the ground again.

 

Recorded December 12th, 2015– when Barrett finally felt like talking.

August 26th, they captured my vessel.

August 27th, our captors’ attempts to contact the U.S. fail. One of the last NOCs, nobody would be coming for us. They beat the shit out of Scott to vent their frustrations.

August 28th, they water boarded Scott for most of the morning. Scott refused to cave. I took turns switching off with him, so he could have some relief by not being on the surface. They didn’t notice the switch. There wasn’t time or air for me to talk to them. The locked him in a cage when they were done. Occasionally, men would come by and strike him with the butts of their guns through the bars. There was no water, and no facilities. We spent the night in our own waste. Scott kept his composure, but was wrecked with anxiety inside.

August 29th, they water boarded Scott again in the morning, but he still refused to cave. In the afternoon, they hung him upside and peed on his face. They left him upside down for two hours, then came back to break his nose. With so much blood rushed to his head, I worried he might bleed out or drown in his own blood. They let him bleed for nearly an hour, then dragged him back to the cage.

August 30th, they pulled out his fingernails. It took them six hours. When they weren’t pulling nails, they were breaking his ribs and his feet. They took a sledge hammer to his feet. Scott told them nothing. A woman brought him water and a bit of food that night. We think she had probably been forced into marrying one of the officers.

August 31st, there was an air strike nearby. They didn’t have a lot of time for Scott that day, but he was in bad shape. His feet had swollen to the size of footballs, and infection was starting in his fingers. His face was so swollen he could only see out of one eye. They gave him water, but it was laced with antifreeze. I wouldn’t let him drink it. He cried uncontrollably. They mocked him for it, and shot off two of his toes. His foot leaked blood, clear fluid, and thick yellow ooze.

September 1st, they dragged him into one of the torture rooms. He couldn’t walk, so they dragged him. They hooked him up to a car battery. Occasionally, they would throw water on him, and he struggled to get some into his mouth. It was all he had to drink that day. I wondered if he would die of dehydration. His mind was dominated with pain, fear, and thirst. Sometimes it was like he could hardly hear me.

September 2nd, Scott was so weak, they didn’t bother taking him to the torture room. They grabbed his leg and pulled him out of the cage. He was too weak to struggle. Infection had spread. He was burning with fever, and shook with chills. They took a power drill to his leg. I pushed him out of the surface, and endured it for him. As they pushed the bit into our leg, I told them my name was Barezo, and that I was Luminari. I told them to tell Moloch I woke every morning laughing at him. I thought maybe their spirits would be satisfied, and our captors would lose interest, but they finished what they started. They drilled holes in our shins and knees. Our throat was bloody with screams. I had never imagined such agony. Scott was thoroughly broken, but I would not let him back to the surface. I would not let them see him that way. When they were done, they told us America had abandoned him and he would die in the morning.

September 3rd, Scott was scared, but peaceful. I’d spent the night holding him. We talked about home, about Scott’s family. He regretted not being able to attend his father’s funeral a few years back, and regretted his mother would never be able to have closure– there would be no body sent to her, no honorable funeral. There would just be some uniformed man on her doorstep, telling her the son she hadn’t seen in years was dead. We talked about Julia and Steve. It seemed we talked about everything. When morning came, they dragged him outside. I went with him and told him not look at anything, to keep his eyes only on me. He did. He told me to run when it was over, told me to go back to the Light. They made him kneel– he could hardly bear it because of what they’d done to his legs. He fell over twice, until one of them grabbed him and held him steady. The sun was just coming up. It was beautifully golden. I stood so Scott would be able to feel its warmth on his face as he looked at me. I knelt in front of him, and held his face in my hands. I told him to look at me, to keep looking at me. I told him I loved him. He told me he loved me, and wanted me to live. He told me to go home to my boy. They beheaded him, and his face fell through my hands. I screamed. I’m sure it was a horrible sound. It felt like something tore inside of me, like something was ripped out of my chest. They dragged his body and kicked his head into a grave nearby. I fled. Moloch’s armies were already at my gates.

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