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Chaos - Hour of Darkness Chapter 4/5

Summary: Inspired by and dedicated to Faye_Dartmouth and her co-author, lena7142. None of the  characters are mine, but I was so moved by their story, Rack and Ruin, this one wrote itself with my own very Pollyanna twist to it. I highly recommend you read their story, it’s a wonderful read.

                                                                            Hour of Darkness   

Chapter 4:

Billy’s body shook from recall and rage. He placed himself in front of Rick, his protective instincts kicking in over the shock and fear he felt at seeing someone he hadn’t expected to see, whom he had thought was dead.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost, Vasili,” Tsykalov taunted with a smile. “You’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘wait, I saw you die, shot in front of me, brains splattered all over the walls of my cell’. Yes?”

Billy straightened, the disdain on his face creased his features as he struggled to maintain his calm. It was a battle to fight his impulse to want to run, to cower and whimper in defeat at the newly discovered revelation of Tsylalov's betrayal and of the ruse that had caused his inevitable downfall. The pain in his chest threatened to suffocate him and break the resolve he was desperately trying to keep in place for Rick's sake.

“Well played, Tsykalov. Well played, indeed. Shakespeare would have been right proud of the performance you showcased for your audience of one. You did a right thorough job of tricking me through your chicanery, though you really can't take full credit for my downfall, now can you? After all, I was already well on my way to madness thanks to Rezin. I was just one push away from breaking and you knew just the right amount of pressure to exert, didn't you? Still, clearly you intimidated that poor bastard impersonator of yours to do your bidding or rather, did you prey on his desperation and offer him something he had no will left to resist? Hope for freedom, perhaps? My only consolation is that the man found some measure of peace,” Billy said as calmly as he could muster, feeling his tenuous grasp on it slipping ever so slowly.

Rick had watched the exchange confused at first but then the pieces began to come together.

“Intimidate? I am hurt by your accusation, Vasili. I did no such thing. Now, I may have promised him freedom, but I admit that I was probably a bit non-specific with the kind of freedom I would afford him,” Tsykalov said with a feigned apologetic tone. “Is it my fault that he harbored such false hope?”

And there it was, that word that could both be a blessing and a curse. Hope could drive a man to do things that he could never dream possible, but it could also break a man until there was nothing left to reassemble him. Billy wasn’t all together sure he was completely reassembled himself or that he would ever be again.

Billy’s body grew rigid with anger. He understood the desperation that the poor man who had died must have felt and the rekindled hope that maybe he would escape the place alive if he just did that one thing for Tsykalov.

“You are a right bastard, you are,” Billy said, his tone barely veiling his rage.

“Perhaps, but you have to admit it was quite effective. It was at that precise moment that I knew I was not far from breaking you. I knew then that your ultimate undoing would be your humanity. Just like your friend there. Rick, isn’t it? His humanity is even greater so it will require more than just compassion for a stranger, correct?”

Billy’s expression then transformed and he allowed the seething anger to reveal itself.

“You leave him alone or so help me, I will rain Hell upon you the likes of which you have never seen,” Billy threatened, his voice just on the brink of yelling, his teeth gritted, his jaw tight. "Do not underestimate me."

“Billy, don’t.” Rick pleaded, seeing a madness that could topple Billy.

“Ever the poet, aye, Vasili? Oh, I had plans for your friend, there, but now that you are here, I think we change those plans, yes? Refocus our efforts, perhaps?"

Billy understood and smiled.

Rick felt a cold and icy shiver go up his spine.

“No, no, whatever it is, it won’t work,” Rick pleaded, knowing it was to no avail, that no one in the room was listening to him anymore and he knew that he held no power in his grasp to stop whatever would happen next.

“Ready our trespasser here.”

“No, no, leave him alone!” Rick kept yelling because he was helpless to do anything else.

Billy looked over at Rick and felt anguish for what he was about to put him through, but he was as sure of what he wanted to have happen as he was that all he needed to do was stall for time. He had been through the worst and survived for three months. A few more hours would be nothing.

“Rick, listen to me. Do NOT give anything to this man. You hear me? I did and it cost me everything I hold dear. I will be all right. I promise you, I will be all right.”

Rick’s eyes filled with tears as he watched the guards strip Billy’s vest, shirt and tie. They restrained him again by holding his arms behind him, dangerously close to dislocating both shoulders. All he saw was Billy’s acquiescence and yet there was also a calm about him, an acceptance as well as a sense of purpose.

He saw all of Billy’s healed scars from his last encounter with this monster and Rick blanched. It brought anger to him and he hated that he wasn’t in any condition to help Billy. Still, he saw that Billy's expression held no fear. There was only determination there.

“Let us see how long your friend’s humanity will last when he sees you suffering, aye? Seems like old times, yes?”

Billy smirked then laughed.

“I’m far from the man you knew back then, Tsykalov. You did a right thorough job in breaking me, I give you that. Rick will attest to how shattered I was, maybe still am, irrevocably so, perhaps, but the man you see before you now, no longer fears you, no longer fears what’s to come for you see, I’ve seen Hell and I plan to take you there myself this time. So do your worst, but I guarantee that it will be you who will be broken this time.”

Tsykalov found himself pale a bit at hearing Billy’s declarations and seeing the solidarity of his conviction, still, he had seen that defiance before just after his capture so he tabled his concern.

“Strong words for a man who will be that much easier to break the second time around knowing your vulnerabilities. Besides, I heard those idle threats before when you were first captured. A little reminder of the pain should humble you.”

Tsykalov snapped his fingers and the guards began to beat Billy, pummeling him with punches, but Billy barely flinched with them. Rick tried to help, but he was being restrained by another guard and he had no strength left to break free.

“Is that the best you got?” Billy taunted in between punches. “I’ve got a mate who’ll do you one better.”

Billy felt the pain of each blow, but did his best to keep himself stoic. He clenched and did as much as he could to go with each blow. Tsykalov watched with irritation at Billy’s clenched smile and the occasional laugh that would come through.

Rick watched in awe at Billy taking blow after blow with tenacity. Though he worried about whether Billy’s sanity had slipped being reintroduced to the place that had torn him apart, what he saw in his eyes now was power. It was as if he was taking back what he had lost here as well as taking back the submission he had shown to this man in particular. Rick didn’t know the details, but clearly this man had been at the root of Billy’s eventual break and by facing him down, Billy was winning back the man he had been.

“You won’t...win this time, Tsykalov,” Billy uttered between punches and breaths. “I will not let you do to Rick what you did to me...He won’t...see someone on the brink of surrender or begging for mercy. Even if you kill me outright...like you did...to that poor impersonator...I know that he knows I’ve triumphed over you. You’re right...his humanity is greater than mine...it’s why he will overcome whatever he sees...he’s not weak like I was...like I am.”

Rick listened and understood the underlying message Billy was giving to him through his words to Tsykalov. Don’t give in, don’t compromise anything to save him because he didn’t need saving. It was a message that filled Rick with an emotional turmoil. His instincts warring with his friendship, but he also knew that Billy was asking him to honor this wishes, that doing so would give Billy the peace of mind that had so eluded him over the past year.

Billy felt the punches weakening him, but that was more from lack of physical training. His spirit was fighting and he enjoyed the feeling. He would channel it to save Rick, reinvigorate himself knowing that he was fighting for more than himself this time. He had realized that when he was there before, he was campaigning for his own rescue, using that hope to drive his rebellion, but when no rescue came and the torture became more intense and brutal, he no longer cared what happened to him and he broke because of it. Now, he had his raison d'être in front of him. Rick needed him to be strong and Billy knew rescue was on its way to them.

He also needed to keep on stalling. He didn’t know what Casey and Michael had planned, but he knew they were free and that knowledge alone was enough for him to keep Tsykalov and his men preoccupied. He needed to protect Rick from the abuse he was suffering at that moment. He would do everything he could to do that.

“Do NOT give in to his monster, Rick. I’m asking you...for me...do not abdicate your soul for me. I’m at peace...”

Rick felt the rising tide of pride and helplessness as he heard Billy plead to him, not to his torturers, to resist sacrificing himself for Billy.

“Enough!” Tsykalov commanded and the guards stopped.

The moment allowed Billy to take in a few breaths to compose himself, ready for what he knew would be more to come.

“What? Done already? Haven’t scratched the surface, not nearly,” Billy taunted. “I think you’ve lost your edge there. Where’s the Commander, aye? Now there’s a man with technique and imagination.”

Tsykalov turned to Rick.

“He’s right, you know. We have yet to scratch the surface. This is how it starts. Glimmers of hope then the denials begin, that rescue is shortly at hand. Other techniques are employed until hope is all but extinguished. Vasili here -”

“The name’s Billy. William Collins, born and bruised in North Edinburgh, former agent for the British Secret Service, proud operative of the ODS now. Get it straight there, Tsykalov. Rick, don’t listen to this megalomaniac. I’m far from finished.”

A guard punched him across the face and Billy just spit out blood. Tsykalov turned back to Billy.

“Your friend will sacrifice you eventually. I see the turmoil in his eyes, watching you suffer. Just like I saw them in your eyes. Perhaps he would be more compliant more quickly if we sped up the process, aye?” Tsykalov said as he produced a hypodermic from his pocket.

“What is that? What are you going to do?” Rick protested.

Billy started to laugh.

“Fear not, Rick. Ah, finally, then, we cut to the quick, yeh? Is that the adrenaline that the Commander doled out so generously the last time? It and I have quite an intimate relationship.”

“This is a much more potent concoction, my friend. I’m going to silence you permanently, Vasili. I grow tired of your bravado. I don’t need you anymore. You made a serious mistake coming back here. I think it’s time that we end this little reunion, don’t you think? It will be a pleasure to do the job myself,” Tsykalov said as he plunged the needle into Billy’s arm.

“NO!!!!!!” Rick screamed.

Just at that moment, the concussive force of an explosion rocked the room. The guards went to the door, began to open it when it was then thrown open and there was Casey in full battle mode, releasing the pent up anger and guilt with unmitigated ferocity.

Billy grimaced from the shot, but kept his razor focus. The guards who had restrained him had let him go to fight off the incoming attackers. He pulled out the hypodermic from his arm, but kept it in his hands. His eyes sought out Tsykalov and spotted him trying to slog through the invading troupe of men coming into the room. He was escaping. Billy had to stop him from going underground only to resurface months even years later to continue exacting his terror on other innocents.

Rick felt adrenaline enter his body as he spied Michael entering, behind him other men, in what looked like military police increased the odds in their favor. Michael headed towards Rick.

“No, no, I’m okay, get to Billy, Tsykalov injected something into him,” Rick called out panicking.

Michael complied as he headed toward his friend.

“Billy!” Michael called again.

“Take care of Rick,” Billy uttered, seemingly unfazed by whatever had been injected into him, but a grimace showing otherwise. “I have some unfinished business to tend to.”

He ran towards Tsykalov and tackled him down to the ground. Pain rippled through his body, but he pushed it back, concentrating on keeping Tsykalov from escaping.

Then a new pain began to assert itself. It radiated from his chest and his breathing began to strain. Still, he exerted all the energy he had and yanked Tsykalov down to the ground. He then took the hypodermic and plunged it into his neck.

Tsykalov screamed in shock and pain.

“We die together, Tsykalov, yeh?” Billy said as the pain worsened. “Two men...who deserve to pay for their betrayals. Are you ready to meet your Maker, aye?”

Tsykalov felt the effects take hold as well but because of where Billy had injected him, the effects were a lot swifter.

“You are no better than me now, Vasili...” Tsykalov taunted, as he gasped for each breath. “In the end...a man of your principles...I have destroyed you once again...”

“Perhaps...that man is surely no more. He died when he gave up hope. What you see now is not necessarily a better man, but one forged anew from your torments. What you did to me and to others, you did for sport...what I did, I did to save my friends...to spare others what you did to me...I can go to my grave satisfied...with that knowledge...so this time...I...I win...”

Tsykalov choked on his last breath and stilled.

Billy felt the exertion accelerate the drug through his own body and could only collapse to his knees then to the floor.

Rick, Michael and Casey went to his side as the the reinforcements took care of the guards.

“Billy, Billy, hang on, help is coming...” Michael urged.

Billy looked upon his friends and knew that he had accomplished the mission he had come for. He wasn’t sorry if it ended with his death. He had been ready for it, had come to terms with it and for a time had begged for it. If he died now, it would finally be on his terms and that death wasn't cowardly.

“I...I won...” was all Billy could utter before he stopped breathing.

Casey shoved everyone aside and began CPR with a fervor.

“No, you don’t, damn it!” He yelled.

Michael ran and grabbed the medical team.

Rick’s own adrenaline was long gone and he felt his own unconsciousness envelope him, but he felt tears filling his eyes.

“No, not after everything...”

TBC - Thanks for reading.