No one was stupid enough to say it, but they were all thinking the same thing putting eyes on the Citadel for the first time, “there’s no way, we’re all going to die”. A few of them slunk off into the dust storm when they thought no one was watching. I was watching. They’ll pay for their faithless cowardice. Assuming I survive the battle.
I admit that the first time Sesta brought me here I thought the same thing. How could you attack anything so large? It would be like attacking a mountain. No, it would be like attacking the sky, it’s a scale that you can’t comprehend. Sesta had spent my whole life telling me that it was my destiny to conquer the Citadel but upon first sight I couldn’t do anything other than think it was impossible.
The muties in the valley of the brain collectors had built a huge fortress, bigger than anyone had ever seen before, massive sheets of pre-Flash metal and earthworks and scrap. It was the biggest thing in the world, yet it could sit her in the shadow of the Citadel without even being noticed, like a lizard hiding in the tread of a tire.
The one thing the mutie fort and the Citadel have in common, they look invincible. The muties, and everyone else, found out they were wrong about their precious fort. I proved that. We’ll see if the people inside the Citadel learn the same. Sesta assured me that inhabitants inside are pale and weak like cave worms, easy to kill. According to her once we get past their walls they won’t put up much of a fight. If you believe her they don’t even have warriors, they rely entirely on their fortifications to stay safe.
Seem insane, people that can’t fight, but when you see the walls you start to think maybe it could be true.
Sesta is exaggerating at the very least if not outright lying. Nothing is ever as easy as she says it will be. I learned long ago that she lies to her own sons more than anyone else, and she lies to everyone else a lot. Figuring that out is why I’m the only one of her sons that’s still alive. That and my quick hand with the chopper.
If this works I may have to kill her afterwards. She’s been talking constantly about the plan for weeks even though there’s nothing more to say. Either it will work or it won’t. She was especially strident about “preparing” the warriors for the sight of the Citadel. I told her it was pointless, nothing can prepare you for this.
She went behind my back and did it anyway. Undermined me for no reason. It did no good just like I said. Even now she’s riding around on that ridiculous machine of hers trying to make their fear go away with words. You can’t talk someone into bravery. Sometimes I think she might really have been born before the Flash, she’s a wise woman but she doesn’t fully understand the world.
Even Maze was worried and I’ve never seen him look worried about anything. He’s the strongest fighter I know, I’ve seen him cut people in half two at a time with his axe, and he was looking up at the top of the Citadel like he was about to jump into a lava flow. The only one who didn’t look scared was Marchena and she’s normally scared of everything. Explain that.
Runfront had been rubbing the reins of his mount obsessively since we came into sight of the Citadel, he actually gulped like his mouth was full of damselflies before turning to me “What’s the plan again?”
I glared at him “You know the plan.”
Cadavers had a knife in her hand even though no enemy was around “We know the plan but can you explain it again?”
I’m surprised that she didn’t say please like a damn child pleading for more earwig honey. Before I could admonish her I saw Maze looking at me with a pleading expression on his face. A look that had no damn business being on the face of a killer like him. Maybe you can grant courage with words.
“It’s not a complicated plan. A door is going to open, you know what a door is don’t you? It’s like a big hole that you can go through you fucking morons. The bombs go in the hole, they blow up, and the little hole becomes a big hole. Then we go in and we kill everyone. Is that too fucking complicated for you?”
Cadavers now had a knife in both hands, tapping the blades together rhythmically “And that’s going to make it so their flying machines can’t get us?”
Marchena surprisingly spoke up “If they could get us they would have already. We’re well within their security cordon. It’s not going to be so easy once we get in, Sesta is wrong about that, they’re going to fight. They’re cowards and weaklings but they don’t want to die just like everyone else. They have machines like you wouldn’t believe. The fliers are nothing. They have shooters that can kill you without even seeing you. They have machines that boil your blood from a mile away. They can kill you in ways you can’t even think of. Stuff from your nightmares. And there’s going to be a lot of them. More than you can even understand. We could have brought everyone from the Coast with us and they could fit in the Citadel without even coming close to filling the place up. You going to kill so many of them you won’t even be able to understand how there’s more. And there will be. Always more.”
I was too shocked at her speaking out of turn that I couldn’t even admonish her before Runfront blurted out what everyone else was thinking “Then what are we doing here?!”
Marchena turned to him with a look in her eye that I had never seen before, a look of hatred and hungry longing “Because they have everything. Everything. EVERYTHING. They have luxuries beyond anything you can even imagine. All those killing machines are just a drop of dust in the ocean. Most of this complex exists for nothing other than to cater to their whims. Whoever survives among us will be treated to delights that will make everything up until now seem like the utter shit that it is. Whatever your fondest memory is now, if you get in there, will become nothing to you. Nothing. I’m going in there because I would rather die trying than spend one more day out here. I fucking hate it out here and you all should too, but you’re too stupid to know any better, which is why you’re going in there.”
I know I shouldn’t but I couldn’t help myself, I gawked at her “How do you know this?”
Marchena pointed “Doesn’t matter now boss, looks like the door is opening early, you better get those fucking bombs up there now or this was all for nothing chief.”