(See Table of Contents for previous installments)

“If you’ll look out your window Mr. Conroy.”

The Skeleton Man pointed a bony finger to a growing shape in the sky, a black circle growing ominously larger with each passing moment. The circle tilts to the left and takes on a longer, cigar shape.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

It’s a goddamned blimp, or zeppelin, or something. Emblazoned proudly with the absurd Jolly Fucking Roger of the New American Pirates. It seems like a lifetime ago that I pilfered a chainknife from one of their recently dead members.

I can’t help myself. A smile begins creeping across my lips. Vincent is amused. He spins and gives me the kind of stare that an angry father might inflict on his wayward son.

“Do you know what the hell is going on here?”

“Looks like pirates Vincent. You’ve got a pirate problem.”

I have to admit, seeing the illusion of control crumble in his eyes is delightful. Even if I don’t make it out of this I can count myself fortunate to witness the absolutely sublime disintegration of Vincent Conroy’s entire world. His eyes suddenly wild, I can see his mind racing, grasping at straws. He knows that Darlene is in the Skeleton Man’s pocket. He knows that I’m not going to be any help.

The guards?

As if on queue the Skeleton Man has an answer to that problem as well, “Your guards are all loyal to us as well Mr Conroy. You’d be amazed how little loyalty someone has to the man who ruined the world. Now, there’s someone who wants to speak to you. If you would accept that incoming vid-call.”

Vincent is seething. Defiant to the last.

“Accept the vid-call Mr. Conroy or I shall have Sancho accept it for you.”

That’s right, his name was Sancho. Still think he’s more of a Darlene.

At this point, Vincent reluctantly goes along the direction given to him. He has no other play, but I can tell that he’s only be cooperative until he sees his opening. Someone mounted quite the revenge plot here and they’re taking their time with it. Too much time perhaps. A click of the old mouse and the face of a wholly unfamiliar man fills the screen.

Well, not wholly unfamiliar. Where have I seen that face before?

“Vincent Conroy. You don’t know who I am. My name is Adil Kova.”

Nope. Still nothing.

“I have spent my entire life dreaming of the day when I would be able to take you down. To be the man to put an end the bullshit your bring to this planet. While I may not be able to stop the disease you unleashed on humanity, I can at least stop you. Many years ago, when I was just a boy, I was part of an angry, violent mob of people. People who, driven by what St-Brigid had told them, wanted to tear you limb from limb. St-Brigid told us that you were the one who had made the dead walk. And we wanted you dead.”

There it is. That’s where I know him from.

“My family died that day. But you didn’t. You got away with it. Like you always do. Like you always did. Until today.”

“I devoted my life to finding the proof of your deeds. Allying myself with anyone who would believe me. Vengeance is a powerful motivator Conroy. Everyone has lost someone to the walking dead. And you’re to blame. Eventually I found out how to control the walking dead, with the “frenzy” tone you instilled in them. That was enough of a weapon that it bought me valuable allies in the NAP. Finally, I had my proof. Provided by none other than same person who uncovered your atrocities so long ago, St-Brigid.”

I’m not a fan of long, drawn out reveals, it tends to give your enemy far too many chances to mount a counter maneuver. Every passing second is another second that one of humanity’s most devious minds has to come up with a plan. Find a way out. Find a way to survive.

“But now everyone knows the truth. Or The Truth, as St-Brigid would say. Your city is in shambles. Your people want you dead. I have the manpower to remove whatever cancerous scum try to take your place the same as I did to The Banker. I even control the undead that are storming your gates at this very moment. Even if you survive the fall, there will be nothing for you to rebuild from.”

I don’t like this. I don’t like this one bit. Kova is giving Vincent far too long to manufacture a way out of this.

Darlene moves in with deceptive speed and I realize that the fall Kova was referring to was not metaphorical. Vincent screams and thrashes in protest but all the genetic enhancements he has given himself over the years do little to slow the sheer mass of meat that is manhandling him. He struggles. He’s lifted off his feet. He spouts threats at everyone in the room. Darlene draws his body back.

In that last moment his eyes find mine. His body goes limp, tears swell in his eyes. He’s only human after all.

The taut muscles of Sancho tense and the body of Vincent Conroy is hurled through the window overlooking the rotten city of New Bunker. The glass shatters and rains down alongside the leader of the city as the both tumble towards the unruly crowd that has been gathering at the base of the tower. Bloodthirsty citizens who had witnessed Vincent’s atrocities and wanted their own vengeance.

I have to admit. Kova has all the cards. He’s got the undead. He’s got the men. He’s got it all.

I would like to assume that he’s not going to kill me. But really, I’ve been wrong about a lot these days.

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Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.