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leareth

Fire and Brimstone


He likes the sound of buildings falling, the scream of stressed metal and the rumble of stone like thunder just above his head. He likes the way the sound of explosions echo in his chest and the way the ground trembles under his feet, making him feel as if for one moment he were God calling for the earth's destruction. It's grandoise, knowing that he can bring down fire and brimstone on something so large, and it feels damn fine.

He can also bring it down on a smaller scale. It also feels damn fine.

Kimberley smiles and raises his hand threateningly.

"So," he says, and his voice cuts through the sound of battle outside in the streets. "What's it going to be?"

The man in front of him can't answer. He's a pathetic wreck of a thing, legs barely able to hold himself up. The rifle is heavy in his hands, and looks like it's about to drop. The whites of his eyes stand out in his grimed face over which beads of sweat and saliva are tracking trails like tears. In the far corner of the room, cowering like dogs, is a woman and four children. Their red eyes stare out of the darkness, too terrified to blink, the odd sob making itself heard. Weak creatures.

Kimberley enjoys every moment of it.

"It's not a choice where you get to think," he continues, voice as smooth as butter. The man with the rifle whimpers. "Either you shoot them all, or I blow you up right here and now and force your wife and brats to clean up your guts. And then probably kill them anyway. Either or. Your choice."

He twitches one finger deliberately, and the tiny jewel around his neck glows a little brighter. In the corner the children wail. It cuts like a bayonet through the man with the rifle, and he bites his lip hard enough to make it bleed.

Kimberley can smell smoke on the air, and hear gunfire and screams. Farther away there is the sound of an explosion. He's missing out.

"I'm getting impatient." Suddenly he reaches out and grabs the rifle. The man cries out as Kimberley shoves the end of it against his shoulder and swings him around to aim it into the huddling mass of red eyes in the corner. The children cry. "It's hard work, annihilating a region, and I have a lot to do. Hurry up!" He knees the man in the back, right on the spine, and the man collapses. One of the children tries to run out to him only to be dragged back by the mother. On the floor, the man curls up like a beaten dog beside the rifle and sobs. Kimberley kicks him. The man curls up more. Kimberley looks disgusted. "Ishvarite scum. Fine then."

He lifts his hand and steps towards the corner. The screaming is a little too high-pitched for his ears.

The sound of sandals on concrete is his only warning. Kimberley turns around to find the man pointing the rifle into the far corner. The man's hands are shaking, and his eyes are wild.

Kimberley smiles thinly. "How very good of you. Put them out of their misery by your own hand. I might just let you live for that—" He breaks off as the man suddenly turns the rifle to rest the end on his foot, the butt of it jammed up under his chin. For a moment he stands like that, watching the woman scream in horror. Then he pulls the trigger.

Kimberley watches the blood and brains spurt out and hit the ceiling. He is no longer smiling.

"Pathetic. Pathetic. Ishvarite dog!" He grabs the rifle from the limp hands, points it downwards, and pulls the trigger. When the smoke clears, the body doesn't have a head anymore. Kimberley spits on it. "There were only two choices."

He swings the rifle around back to the corner and aims. The remainder of the family is too horrified even to scream now.

Suddenly, Kimberley smiles again. He throws the rifle towards them, and uses his alchemy to ignite the magazine inside. The rifle explodes, sending pieces of shrapnel flying. The woman gives a thin cry — a piece of it has penetrated her eye, and blood drips over the wounded child who tries to help her. Without looking back Kimberley walks out of the room.

The skies above Ishvar are red. All around him, soldiers in blue uniform run about in organised chaos, sometimes exchanging gun-fire with guerilla fighters hidden in the darkened windows above. They advance steadily forward. Kimberley goes to join them. From the window of the building Kimberley has just left, a small sobbing shape hurls a rock at his back.

The rock strikes Kimberley's shoulder. He pauses in the middle of the war-torn street. If he listens hard enough, he can hear the terrified heartbeat from the window. Metal in the blood, and gas in the body. The stone around his neck shines.

Behind him the building explodes.

Kimberley resumes walking. As fire and brimstone fall about him, he smiles and begins to hum.

Damn fine.