Knox Pashaa: Chapter 13

The Ventoshi leveled his rifle down at Knox. He was trapped now, between true death and the closed metal door. There was no path left. No escape.

“You made me chase you,” the Ventoshi said over his rifle. His fangs showing as he spoke, his grey hair slicked back and a single wide eye trained on his quarry. The other eye was behind an eyepatch. Knox squirmed against the door as though pressing against the metal with his back would magically open it.

“You know what happens to prey that makes me chase them?” He said, advancing nearer in the red fog. The Ventoshi swiveled his rifle on its strap behind his back and produced two knives, one in each hand, gleaming red in the light. “They get the fangs.”

“You- you don’t wanna do this. I haven’t done anything to you!” Knox said squirming against the door.

“Ohh, but I really do want to do this. See I don’t get paid unless you die, so I have a lot against you right now. Not to mention you’re a mangy Mirrani.” The Ventoshi stopped advancing when he said this. Knox wondered to himself why he had stopped there.

“You don’t have that freaky eye thing do you?” The Ventoshi said with both daggers readied.

Knox had quite forgotten himself, after so many years of medicating himself with his third eye he had forgotten it could impose visions on beings besides himself for greater purposes than soothing his depression. He tried opening it, feeling the muscles in his forehead twitch, but no amount of effort forced the lid open. He recalled now that he had done so recently in the elevator down; too soon to use again. But the Ventoshi didn’t know that.

Knox assumed a more obstinate pose. “We’re pretty high up,” he said. ”If you keep after me, the guilt of your brutish livelihood might get the better of you.” He looked over the edge of the railing to the ground below. “A tumble might be the only way to escape your shame.”

The Ventoshi’s good eye blinked. Then he laughed.

“You’re bluffing.”

“Oh yeah?” said Knox “Try me.” With that, he began to walk towards the Ventoshi. Against every fiber of his being he walked towards his would-be murderer and smiled.

The Ventoshi winced slightly but held his ground.

“So do it then? What are you waiting for?”

“I’m not a killer,” said Knox. “I don’t want you to do anything rash like suicide if I can help it.”

“Grr, you’re full of crap!” The Ventoshi narrowed his eye and lunged forward. He knocked Knox down with a knee to the chest. Knox hit the floor and was suddenly met with daggers in his face.

“Go ahead, Mirrani! DO IT THEN!”

Knox lay there looking up at the pointed death and the grizzled face of the Ventoshi. This was it, his bluff had failed, this Ventoshi was willing to play the odds that he hadn’t used his third eye today and Knox knew full well that he had, it was over. His last card.

“I’M GONNA TEAR OUT YOUR TWO NORMAL EYES FIRST!” He said, “THEN I’LL TAKE CARE OF THAT THIRD EYE!”

Knox ‘s gaze was locked with the Ventoshi’s. That one cold, blue eye had murder in it. This was it. So much for life.

Tears formed in Knox’s eyes.

“Don’t kill me, please!” Knox’s voice had lost all air of surety and was now broken and ragged through his sobbing. “Please don’t kill me over some stolen credits. I need to live, I need to feed my family!”

The Ventoshi halted his strike and squinted down at Knox with his features softening.

“What?”

“I didn’t want to rob that man, I-I didn’t want to! I told the other two- told them to stop beating the old man, I tried to protect him, he-he was dying and I was the only one who cared, I was holding that dying man in my hands as they kicked him and beat him. Look at me! They cut me and sh-shot me to get to him! I may be a thief but I’m no murderer, I just wanted to feed my wife and child PLEASE!”

Knox’s sobs overwhelmed him, in part from his demise and in part from what a pathetic life he had lived and what an ass he was to everyone on the station. He had no friends and he ignored his only parent as best as he could through all of it. He guessed now that he would never see his Ma again, but he used the sadness, he used all of it, all of himself to lie, lie through his teeth. If only he knew what would turn the Ventoshi’s blade he would have said anything, but he didn’t know this Veen. So he would lie and continue to lie with that last glimmer of hope on the other side. Then his words became resolute, feeding all of his fears into this false story.

“Veen! It’s Veen, right!? That’s your name! I don’t know what’s going on, Veen. I thought you were a cop or something. Not that I’m one to judge someone’s profession. If you’re a bounty hunter, I’ll go easy! I’ve been a thief down here all my life and I’ll serve my time if I need to, but not this. I don’t deserve this! Do you know what it’s like to hold a dying man in your arms? To feel his life drain from him with each kick, with each wound, and take some of that murder for yourself? It was just for the gods-damned money!”

The Ventoshi blinked. “What are you talking about?”

“You don’t know! Well, I’ll confess, I was part of the burglary on 7th street. The one where that old human was killed. But I swear I didn't want to get involved like that. It was them who were the hardened criminals. I tried to keep them from beating him, and they shot me in the shoulder and they cut my face, and bruised me to get to him! Book me, arrest me, I give in! I’ll go to jail, I’ll serve my time, just don’t- DON’T KILL ME!”

Knox lied with all his heart, he believed it himself that he was at that made up store, protecting some old clerk from two nefarious criminals. He lied through his true sobs and fears, looking at the knives and staring into that eye of the Ventoshi’s.

And then a voice came to him. It was the Ventoshi’s voice, but his mouth did not move by any mark of Knox’s.

“What if this is a different Mirrani, not the same one I was told to kill? Did I just chase a phantom? Perhaps Riza did make good on his part to blow him up. Wait, no, ANOTHER albino Mirrani? That's like two identical snowflakes, one in a billion, there’s no way, he’s got to be lying.”

Knox felt a dizzy spell compounding with his imminent death. It was a familiar feeling, one he hadn't felt since he was a child on Mirraa. These were his thoughts. Knox strained to think.

The Ventoshi spoke, “Is your name Knox Pashaa?”

Knox didn’t need to think before answering this.

“What? Who? No, my name is G-Gaddin. I was born on this station!”

“But you’re an albino Mirrani. That’s supposed to be rare, most of them have black fur.”

“Both my parents were white of fur, please, just do what you must, but for the gods' sake just do it by the book officer!”

The Ventoshi lowered his blades and stood.

“It'll be kind of bad if we kill the wrong guy, but can I take that chance?” Knox could hear his thoughts and a real indecision. “On the other hand, it would cover my bases if I killed him and there were no extra albinos to worry about.”

Then Knox thought if he could hear his thoughts why not plant one?

Hearing Veen’s thoughts he had an idea himself, willing it to be in Veen’s own head with a concentration motivated by fear and his own worthlessness.

“It’s not him, I’ll just tell umm- Telk! I’ll tell Telk that I killed him and have that be the end of it.”

The Ventoshi grunted. “It’s your lucky day, I’m not a cop.”

At that, the Ventoshi put away his knives and walked back down the bridge into the fog he’d come from.

Knox was stunned. He watched the Ventoshi turn and walk away into the fog and back across the bridge.After being so close to the razor edge of death, it was unbelievable. Then he heard a muffled voice from a being he could not see.

“It’s done. I killed him. We should go,” said Veen.

“I’ll need to see the body.” The voice was the Fubari’s with the metallic arm, Telk.

“No,” Knox said into Veen’s head.

“No, you can’t.” Said Veen.

“What are you talking about? I need to confirm it.”

“NO!” Knox thought with more fervor. “I dumped him off the bridge!”

“I dumped him off the bridge,” Veen said.

“Well damn. I climbed up here for nothing?” asked Telk.

“‘Fraid so,” said Veen.

The two departed and Knox was left alone on the bridge.

By Jason Pratley

Jason Pratley joined the team sometime in 2013 when he created the concepts for the gods of ODR. He has since become the Writing Director and de facto loremaster for DDG. Check out some other stories and content at jvfpp.wordpress.com and goodevilcomic.com