What does it mean to do the right thing?
How do you know what that is?
When I was 12 years old, those answers were given to me.
“Doing the right thing means protecting the greater good. It means that sometimes people have to die, because letting them live would be so much worse.”
“You don’t get to decide what’s right. You just do what we tell you, and then you’ll know you’re doing the right thing.”
Two rules. Two rules that saved us from guilt, from pain, from understanding. We weren’t there to make decisions, we weren’t playing god, or judge, or jury. We were the executioners. We never pulled the trigger, we were just the bullets.
We weren’t that naïve for long.
We were 14 or 15 when we went on our first real mission. We weren’t going after anybody particularly big, just some mid-level drug dealer who managed to get a few goons under his belt. It was an easy job, a test for us, an advertisement for our commanders.
We were told where he was and how many men he had. Then we were ordered to kill.
Technically, we were never told to kill his men. They were as addicted to his drugs as any of their clients; they probably wouldn’t have even remembered we were there. But then again, there were the guys with the guns, and we were trained to take guns out.
I think King got the first kill. He was pulling sniper duty from across the street, and he had to take out all the guards on our way in. He kept it together pretty well during the mission. I think the distance helped. But he killed more than the rest of us, and his nightmares lasted the longest. I learned a few months later that he stopped going to the shooting range for weeks after that.
Page killed her first when we were working our way through the building. I hadn’t been paying enough attention and one of the guards shot me in the head. Fun fact, that’s also the day I learned I could survive a gunshot to the head. Anyway, she cast some quick wind sword thing and took the guy’s head off. When I managed to get back on my feet, I found her puking in the corner. I helped her up and told her to leave, but she said she wasn’t going to let me finish the mission alone. She recovered faster than any of us, I think. She spent the next day cheering the rest of us up. I honestly don’t know how she did it.
My first kill was the boss man himself. He’d heard me get shot and called most of his guys into his room. I wasn’t actually trying to hit him, but he was standing about five feet back from the door when I kicked it off the wall. He’d had the thing reinforced so many times that it weighed more than he did. I didn’t see his body until after the rest were taken care of, but…I’d really rather not describe it.
Queen had it the worst of all of us. She didn’t kill anyone herself, but she was linked to each of us that whole night. I never kept track of how many people’s blood I had on my hands; I rarely had the frame of mind to know which of the mooks on the floor was my handiwork. But Queen kept track of everyone any of us killed, because she felt herself dealing the blow that killed each and every one of them. She didn’t speak for days after that first mission, not even with her power for practice. Whenever she didn’t have to be somewhere else, she was locked in her room and none of us could talk our way in. It took us days to get her to eat again.
By the time she actually had to kill someone herself, she felt like she’d killed hundreds. She didn’t even blink when she pulled the trigger. I think I was more worried about her then than after that first mission.
After they had all died, after I became Allspades, I thought I had the chance to avoid killing. I told myself that I was done with it, that I could decided on my own that I didn’t need to kill any of these people. If it were that easy, nobody would ever be killed.
Every fight I was in, it grew harder and harder to hold myself back. I was so used to being able to kill the people in the way of my mission, that I never realized how hard it would be to let that go.
I should have killed again last night. Even now, I can’t regret that I was going to kill Plask. Even now that I know Craig was using me to complete a mission that never existed. Even after they managed to drag me back to Macropolis, a big part of me still wanted to go back, to finish the job, to be Knight again.
They weren’t the ones who changed my mind. That crazy son of a bitch Stalker, he claimed that Page’s soul was somehow connected to mine. I didn’t know if he was right, or if that thing he had shown me was just some illusion to get me to come back.
But it was nice to think I wasn’t insane.
So I decided to become Allspades again, at least for a little while. Will claimed he knew someone who could get the black suits to ease off of me, and Phil even let me back into the gym once I apologized enough.
I don’t think Hawthorne ever really forgave me for disappearing like that. The others were a bit more forgiving, but I think Mach was a bit more pissed than the rest. It was hard to tell with her mask down.
It probably would have turned out worse. I don’t think the others had a chance to let it sink in before what happened next.
Memoirs of the Second Age