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Grim Wolf
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"Try and kill you again?" Raidon repeated, face impassive. "I believe this is the first time I've ever trained a gun on you, Julian. Last time we saw each other, you ran like a scared rabbit at the first hint of violence."

The words came out of their own accord, quick and cutting. Raidon's voice was level, his mind racing; years of solitary debate against numerous opponents had taught him to use every fact at his dispoal, even before he had a clear picture of what was happening. It was unconscious and immediate; he was wired on adrenaline and guilt and clear, certain knowledge of his own lethality, and these things in combination allowed no room for hesitation.

What had Danya said? Something about Julian attempting to deliver justice?

"Nobody else needs to get shot," Julian said, voice crackling with energy. "You think you can make that happen?"

Raidon rose to his feet, gun still trained on Julian. "Did you grow a spine somewhere along the line?" he asked. "Pick up someone else's while you were running? More than a hundred dead at last count, so I guess there's no shortage." Justice, justice mean hero complex or did Omar kill someone important to Julian no fuck no don't worry about that now focus on what you know. "How did you kill Omar Burton, anyways?" he asked, remembering the note he'd made in his journal. "Did you trip over something?"

Why, why, why was he mocking this boy? Julian Avery had a gun, and there was nowhere for either of them to run or to take cover if they actually got violent. This wouldn't end in mutual survival; it would end in death, if only because they had nowhere to turn when their words failed them. The only thing he gained by talking to Julian like this was to piss him off and force him to act. Did Raidon want that? And if so, why?

Was it just because Julian was the last one who'd seen him before? Before Raidon had learned that he could pull the trigger, that someone could die not as a result of his self-preservation but instead of the permutations in his personality and his desperation? Was it because Julian had seen him kill a boy whose only crime had been to try and run when confronted with the fatal circumstances into which he had been plunged?

The bloodstained hat felt stiff on Raidon's head.

Shoot him now. Before he can do the same to you.

The little Type 77 in his hands wakened to lethal life, its icy touch numbing him with the death implicit in its weight, a cold breeze reminding Raidon of his own deadly potential.

Of course, Soryu had other plans.

"I don't care what danger you think you're in," she growled. "Or how right you think you are."

She wasn't in between the two of them. He still had a clear shot.

Take it.

Julian had killed before. Raidon had nothing left to lose, except...

Except if I kill him now, Soryu will never forgive me. And what happened last time I tried to bluff my way out of a stand-off?

Debate had been very useful to Raidon over the years, but it also came with its share of disadvantages. Every experienced debater knows that there are times when one's whole case falls to pieces based on a single thought or fact.

During his last stand-off he'd lost a finger and shot Alice Boucher, all without gaining the thing he'd been struggling for--that little addition of lethality. In so doing, he'd provoked such rage and fear in Victoria Logan that she'd been able to fire on him without hesitation--something Raidon had only managed so far in self-defense. She had sought him out and shot him without thought because Raidon had been unable to control his fear.

He could kill. He knew he could kill, and he knew he would kill again if he wasn't killed himself. He had nothing to prove here.

But Julian Avery had already made it clear he wasn't going to fight where Soryu could get shot. And Raidon knew from experience he'd put himself in danger rather than see Soryu killed.

"For the record, Soryu" he said, lowering his gun with his face still devoid of expression. "I sincerely doubt you could have limped in front of the bullets."
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Broken Like the Sun · The Felled Forest: North