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“One left.”

Like a doll with its stuffing spilling from a torn seam, his last leg would probably undo him completely. Raiden had already made contact with his contractors, so no matter what happened, he was sure that they would come for him. He could picture the end of this already, though.

They'd find him. He'd have no limbs left. He might not be able to be revived at that point.

And Sam... They would find Raiden as a mangled mess on the floor of this dusty, abandoned warehouse with Sam nowhere to be found.

“Wouldn't it be funnier to just leave me with one? No limbs sure looks hopeless, but there's nothing creative about that, you know. I've seen it before.”

Sam got down on his haunches and ruffled a hand through Raiden's hair, the most obnoxious thing he had done yet. “That's an interesting way of begging.” He traced the back of one coarse, gloved hand down his cheek with no sense of delicacy. “That's also the opposite attitude I'd expect from a guy who slices anything in his path to bits. I gotta go all the way for you.”

“Go all the way or go home, huh...”

Raiden tried to put some humor behind his voice and failed, sounding more aggravated and tired than anything else. It seemed that his ability to sound sarcastic faded away hand-in-hand with his consciousness.

“Here we go,” Sam said, slowly dragging the edge of his blood-red sonic blade across the top of Raiden's remaining thigh, burning a line through the upper layer of armor.

Raiden would have wondered if there were something wrong with himself if the circumstances were any different than they were. He didn't fear having his limbs removed anymore, didn't even fear his own death. There would be a momentary wince at most – so slight that it was easily missed if one didn't know to look for it. But of course, Sam was looking. He enjoyed seeing his human responses to a fanatical degree, as if he had forgotten all about what it meant to be human and found the nuances of it nostalgic.

These cyborgs were a recent thing for the mainstream, which meant that Sam was still a mere human not that long ago. For him to be so affected, Raiden suspected that something must have happened to cause him to lose his humanity before his body ever underwent the change.

“Who are you, anyway...?” It was more to himself than anything else. He was curious but he knew better than to make it sound like an actual question. He didn't know a thing about Samuel Rodrigues – no one did – and it would probably benefit him in his current situation if he didn't antagonize him further with any unncessary questions.

Something flashed in Sam's eyes, however; a look Raiden could relate to.

Rage. Blinding, unequivocal rage.

He gripped Raiden's leg hard enough to bend the metal and brought his sword down gracelessly in his other hand, burying itself in the ground beneath him with a monstrously loud screech. Sam was watching him for his reactions before, but not this time.

Raiden decided to adjust for a change in plans. Antagonizing Rodrigues could be useful, after all, especially if he felt like answering that question. Considering the state he was in, any information he could glean from this encounter would be more than he was going to leave with otherwise. He had to do something with his time while he waited for his rescue anyway and Rodrigues was practically begging for him to pry into his business with a face like that.

“You're going to tell me, right?” he asked, ignoring his severed leg for now. “You probably have a real interesting history.”

The second he tried to make eye contact with him, Sam looked elsewhere and flicked his blade, painting the floor with a splattering of Raiden's artificial blood. “Nothing too interesting,” he said, the carefully crafted mask of indifference already back in place to cover his face. “I'm far more interested in you, Mr. Cyborg.”

“I don't get why you would be. If you're so interested in getting in bed with me, why don't you try talking to me a little more? I barely know anything about you, Mr. Cyborg,” he shot back.

Sam smirked in that thoroughly unsettling way of his; halfway between looking smug and nauseated by looking at him. Raiden lowered his eyes at him and held his stare. Even if he didn't have arms to defend himself, he knew the power of the mind more than anyone else.

“I already know a lot about you, though.” He placed a hand over the gap between his thigh and the rest of his separated leg and gently stroked his thumb along the edge. “I heard that you don't fear death.”

Raiden's eyes widened and immediately, he cursed the speed at which he reacted to that remark. He could have heard that from anyone. It was just a fact now. The hordes of soldiers he had slain were a testament to it. Still, the way that Sam looked at him as he said it, his eyes lidded with a surprisingly gentle smile, made him question who specifically he had gotten it from.

There wasn't a need to mention his name here.

“That's correct,” he responded.

Sam looked disappointed that he wasn't taking his bait, whatever it was. Raiden wasn't going to let himself play into Sam's hands, but he knew that the curiosity was going to gnaw at him later. The gentle, almost comforting attention he was giving his leg got rough as he dug his thumb into the soft synthetic muscle inside.

Trying to lift himself up by what was left of his upper arms, he was able to get a glimpse of what his legs looked like before he collapsed back onto the hard, dirty floor. It looked bad, as he'd expected. Sam kept his recently severed leg where it was after he cut it, but who knew where his other three limbs had gone off to? He had some guesses but it was pointless to think about unless he could figure out how to reattach them himself.

“There have to be some things you're afraid of,” Sam said, rubbing his fingers back and forth across the open wound. Raiden could barely feel such a sensation now, but it still looked and sounded nauseating, knowing that it was his own exposed parts Sam was playing with. He could feel sweat starting to collect around his brow and the hot, bubbling feeling in the pit of his stomach was getting stronger.

“I'm only afraid to inform you that there's nothing I'm afraid of.” His stomach lurched and he had to turn his head to the side to keep himself from choking on the blood that forced its way up his throat.

“Well, even if you are a man with no fears, I still want you to know that I don't intend to kill you. It's not every day I meet a man like myself so I'm more interested in just... playing around.”

He placed his blood-covered hand over Raiden's stomach and the weight of it was enough to make him feel sick all over again. Taking a deep breath through his nose, he tried to settle himself but found that difficult when Sam moved his hand toward his chest. He fanned out his fingers and carressed Raiden's chest teasingly, moving on to rub his shoulders and the back of his neck after that. Raiden didn't even realize that he had been holding his breath until Sam's hands were gone.

“Dammit,” he muttered.

“I know, it's a shame, isn't it?” Sam asked. Naturally, he had no clue what he was talking about. When he fixed him with a blank stare, Sam elaborated. “We have all this power but we've been stripped of what makes us men.” Chuckling, he put his hand over Raiden's crotch and gave him a squeeze to deliver his point.

He gave an armless shrug, unfazed. “Is that what makes us men? There is no place for sexuality on the battlefield. Those who think otherwise are pigs.”

“Everyone goes to battle for different reasons, you know.”

“I'm still curious about yours. Mind telling me anything interesting before I pass out?” He could feel the blood rolling down his chin with every move of his jaw, could taste the bitter, metallic flavor of it. All the warning signs were there, telling him he had to wrap things up here or else he would black out and he may not get another opportunity like this.


It was more than vague, hardly even a response, but a soft expression crept across Sam's features for just a moment before his trademark smirk returned. He put a hand in Raiden's hair, which he didn't find as annoying this time around, just disconcerting and confusing. He stroked his fingers gently against his scalp and for just a second, Raiden closed his eyes.

“We fight... We fight. And when we stop fighting, there's nothing else for us to do.”

Raiden shook his head, coughing roughly. “That's not true. That's...”

He was right. To a degree that Raiden didn't even want to think about more than he had to. There would be enough time later for that.

Sam stood, leaving the spot he had touched feeling unexpectedly cold.

“Your rescue should be here soon,” he said, readjusting his sword at his hip.

“You're leaving?” Not that he thought he would stay.

He turned back to him and gave a short nod. “I am. So long, señorita. Perhaps we'll be... more equipped the next time we meet, yes?”

Raiden snorted indignantly and spat a wad of blood at him. “Pig.”

Samuel Rodrigues left then. It was just one of many similar encounters he had with the mysterious cyborg mercenary, but Raiden had been left feeling more uncertain about his intentions than ever before. As his eyelids grew heavier, an uncomfortable feeling settled in his chest and caused him to wonder if he had met another person like him – someone who knew the burdens of the battlefield, who longed for someone to share and end them with.

He looked forward to learning more about this man.