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Date of Cutscene: 19 May 2017
Location: Reaper's Quarters
Synopsis: What's Left?
Cast of Characters: Reaper

Theme Song - El Toro, 'Malaguena'

The heavy metal door slamming behind him had a sense of finality about it that usually pleased Reaper; But not today. Today, something else was on his mind. Clawed gauntlets twitch as he reaches up to press the button on the jaw of his mask; Hissing in pain as the screws whined, pulling the anchors up. A pop of air equalizing, his growling voice losing its reverberation as the mask was pulled away.

The fresh air on his face was agonizing. He'd been wearing the mask for so long he'd almost forgotten, but as the raw nerves - or whatever it was that seemed to etch electric lines down his face - came back to life, he was quickly reminded. Still, pain wasn't new - it was all he had left to hold him to this world. The white mask clattering as he lightly tossed it into his metal desk, threads of smoke still clinging to where the screws had been removed from his forehead. He didn't bleed anymore - not for long, anyways.

The figure stands there for a moment, watching the mask, matching it's empty gaze. He didn't have a mirror anymore; Smashed that to pieces a long time ago. A sudden flurry of activity, ripping off metal greaves and shedding light tactical armor as if it burned him; Pitching pieces into the walls hard enough to raise dust off the solid structure. Shedding black smoke as he draws in deep breaths of air, letting his lung sour and score with each shuddering fill.

Slowly, he calms. Settles himself upon the edge of his bed, sliding his own hands over the top of his head; Shudders in revulsion at the texture, before letting his arms drop to his thighs. Slumping forward, eyes on the pieces of his attire scattered about the room. Reaper's armor. And that glaring mask.

Hands find the old Spanish guitar before he can think about it - grip tight enough that the neck creaks. Old wood, cat-gut strings, someone even went to the trouble of gluing two slanted pieces of wood in the twin F-holes to make it look like an angry guitar. He forgot who. If he was a museo, he might have been upset. As it was, he barely noticed it anymore. As long as it worked. He settled back, a growl of annoyance as his back touched the wall. What passed for fingers plucked at the strings; It hurt, of course. Even if they weren't steel cable, he never did get the right callouses for playing. His callouses were always in the wrong places. Shut down the world. Let his fingers work. Just like the shotguns; pluck, curl and squeeze.

He drifted back fifteen years, to Oslo. Laughter with the only man on the the team who could beat him in an arm wrestling contest - besides Jack. The Crusaders were a breed to themselves, too focused on 'honor and glory' to do the dirty deeds, preferring to walk into the line of fire than risk losing. But they were powerful, and the last push against the Omnics was coming. One last time, onto the breech. One last push to subdue the God Program, one last time to lose friends, one last time to shed blood and save the human race. They were so damn close to finishing this. Five years of taking Earth from an extinction level event to a historic victory. Five years of broken promises and letting cities burn for a chance to strike behind the lines and do some real damage. Five years of running that organization into the ground for just this moment. All he had to do was scratch the Crusaders back, and they'd scratch his. This giant of a man was proof that they, at least, still kept their promises - even if Gabe didn't.

That his soldiers - his comrades, his friends - could still joke showed just how broken the world had been. Jack was right, he lost too many. Ana was right, he pushed too hard. But they had a world to save - at any cost.

Fingers pick up the pace. A low growl.

"-damn posters, Jack." A fist slammed into the table hard enough to dent it. "This is a drug cartel, -not- a world wide threat. What the hell are we doing intervening in Mexico? I don't even speak Spanish!"

"What are you talking about, Gabe? Your last name is Reyes."

"I was born in San Angeles, you pundejo m-" Gabe choked off his last word, nearly biting his tongue off in the effort. Jack was his superior now - and he was on duty. And he was just given an order. Ana's hand on his shoulder helped; She was always the cool head between the three of them. "Fine. I'll learn. I'll get fluent, even. But tell me this; What the hell are we doing chasing this?"

"The Federales are stretched thin, and they're compromised. The Presidente's asked for us, Petras wants us there, so we're going; End of discussion." Jack's hard jaw melted, briefly, into what he probably thought was a charming smile. "Besides, aren't you always the one harping on doing what's necessary, not what's nice?"

Gabe resisted the urge to slug his superior commander, before - with a shock - he let the anger drop. When the hell did he become bitter about -Jack-? JACK. The man had his back so long the rhyming joke had gone stale and stopped being funny. Gabe snorted and nodded, crossing his arms again. "...I'll start loading Blackwatch assets in the area, see what we can turn-"

The strings are humming along, knuckles starting to ache, but the pain is ignored. Just like combat drills; Let it flow until you were nothing but a series of call and response. No time to think, just pull and move.

"-still not authorized to operate in England."

"You can't be serious." Ana sighs, putting her hand to her forehead

Gabe's brief though is whether it's another migraine - and whether she deserves this one. Karma's a bitch. "Sounds like the brits have the situation under control." he quipped, pushing out of his seat. Screw it, and screw the suspension - he already had a few pieces on the board. Can't let talent go to waste.

"Ever the hero, Gabriel." Ana retorted sharply, taking the verbal knife fight on behalf of Jack. She'd been doing that a lot more lately. When the hell did she start taking his side too?

"I'm not the one with the statue."

Faster now.

"-doesn't have to end this way!"

"It always did.. Amigo."


Reaper's eyes flew open, watching the deep cut where the string had snipped across the back of his hand. Watching the black smoke rise as his quote unquote blood dissolved, the sight causing a bitter bile forming in.. was it even a throat anymore? With a growl he threw the Spanish guitar aside as well, stalking in his room like a caged animal. Sleep would never come. Hunger never left. What was left?

".. Time to reap."