Covenant wasn't seeing things very clearly. Instead of seeing a gigantic assassin named Holocaust raising up a fist to squash him like a grape, he was a large green blur.
The next thing he knew, everything was rushing by at top speed. The only thing not whizzing around was a large black blur.
"You're lucky I'm in a good mood, Covenant," the large black blur growled.
"Whuzzat?" Covenant mumbled.
"Never mind---AHHHHH!" Rapidfire tumbled to the floor as Holocaust smashed it, sending a shockwave all along the carpeted concrete.
"I owe you for the other night, punk," Holocaust growled. "I had a nice little buzz going on until you spoiled the party..."
"Yeah, well, bite me," said Rapidfire, dropping Covenant and rushing at Holocaust, fists raised. Holocaust took a defensive stance.
Rapidfire leapt forward, reared back his fist to smash Holocaust's face...
and kicked him in the 'nads.
"See how much you like that," growled Rapidfire. Holocaust sank to his knees, a dimwitted smile on his face.
"What the hell was that?" slurred Covenant.
"This guy's an Omega. He can't be killed--at least I don't know how to do it--and he's some kind of masochist. Pain gives him pleasure, even a bullet in the face. Right now I'd say he's creaming his tights."
Without another word, Rapidfire picked up Covenant again and ran off into the night.
There was a dim smell of coffee somewhere in the background. Covenant opened his eyes.
The morning sun hit his optics with the force of a train.
"AHHHHH! TURN THAT THING OFF!" Covenant shrieked. Then he winced from the loud noise. He sat up and looked around. He was lying on a cot on a building roof. On the ground next to the cot was a mug of coffee.
There was a creak. Covenant winced and saw Rapidfire emerge from the door. He walked over to Covenant and leaned very close to him.
"GOOD MORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNING!" he yelled at the top of his voice.
"AHHHHHH!" Covenant screamed and lay back down. "Don't DO that!"
"Now, if you'll recall our conversation from last night, I had a couple of questions for you."
"And if you'll recall, I told you to piss up a rope."
"You know, for such a guy, you're a true imbecile," said Rapidfire. "Don't you remember what Holocaust said?"
"No," Covenant said. "I was chemically incapacitated."
"He said 'I get to do you both at once.' Does that seem like a large coincidence to you? You deliver a report on me to whatsisname, and then someone shows up to kill us both?"
Covenant thought about this.
"Son of a...I know I should have had Delancey pay up front!" He grabbed the coffee and drank it in one swig. "I'll kill him!"
"Delancey? Delancey who?"
"Lawrence Delancey. He's the guy who hired me to find out about you."
"Then you need to take me to..."
THOOM. THOOM. THOOM.
Rapidfire and Covenant peered over the edge of the building.
Holocaust was pounding the pavement--literally.
"The tracker!" Covenant said.
"A radioactive trace element in that smoke grenade I used! Delancey had me use it so he could keep an eye on you!"
"Oh, that's just swell. That's really great! Well, we've got to get this thing off of me."
"No, not yet! I've got a plan...well, sort of a plan..."
"Sort of a plan?!"
"Just get me down there!"
"I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE!" bellowed Holocaust. "COME OUT AND DIE!"
"Hey, shut up, I'm tryin' to sleep," responded one of the apartment building's residents.
"I DEMAND SATISFACTION!"
"How about 'Paint It Black?'" said Covenant. Holocaust whirled to find Rapidfire and Covenant standing there.
"So, you choose to end the chase. A wise choice."
"No, actually, I just wanted to give you this." Covenant produced a pencil and handed it to Rapidfire. Rapidfire jammed it into Holocaust's left eye socket right up to the eraser.
"GRAAAHHAHAHAH!!" Holocaust toppled to the ground, desperately scrabbling at the writing utensil as Covenant and Rapidfire retreated to a safe distance. With a gruesome wet sound, Holocaust freed the pencil and lay back, panting. Covenant watched with amazement as the eye healed itself.
"Amazing...must be a regenerative effect. If we could study him--"
"First things first. Hey, Holocaust! Try to keep up!" Rapidfire picked up Covenant again and whizzed off.
Danny Anderson sat back in his chair, feeling older than he was. At least this is almost over, he thought, looking at the reports. The Colony was almost ready to move. He opened a line to the medical unit.
"Hey, guys," he said. "Thought I'd check in."
Isaac and Threll were very, very bored. They were tired of this colony. They were tired of each other. But they were really tired of lying in hospital beds.
"What's happenin'?" asked Isaac.
"I wanted to know if you'd heard anything about Allen," Danny said.
"He mentioned something about a quick job up in Crystal City. He's supposed to be back in a couple of days," answered Threll.
"Mmmmm. We sure could use him here now--"
Danny's thought was cut off by the sudden maelstrom that filled his office. Suddenly, Allen was there, standing next to a masked man in a sweat suit.
"Have you ever thought of delivering flowers?" Covenant asked Rapidfire.
"So...let me see if I've got this straight," Danny said. "You went to work for a man you knew nothing about, securing information about this guy," he said, regarding Rapidfire. "You placed a tracker on him. And now you are both being chased by an Omega who, to all known reports, cannot be killed."
"It was a lot of money," Covenant muttered.
"Did you ever think that maybe...oh, I don't know...the security of the Colony might be VIOLATED A LITTLE?!" Danny roared.
"Look, Mr. Anderson," said Rapidfire, feeling silly as he said it, "The last thing I want is to get this Colony in trouble. Covenant says he has a plan...I'm still waiting to hear it."
"Oh, it's a very good plan...but it involves shooting you," replied Covenant.
The final leap covered twenty miles, and Holocaust crashed into another long stretch of desert. It was empty except for the two figures standing thirty feet away. One was dressed in a black sweat suit, fallen on the ground. The other, holding a still-smoking pistol, was Allen Covenant.
"You killed him?" asked Holocaust.
"I didn't owe him anything," said Covenant. "Now are you ready to be a little more reasonable about this?"
Holocaust considered, stepping forward.
"I suppose I could tell Mister Delancey you were pounded into a fine paste...you're beneath my notice anyway. But I must take the body."
"You're all heart," said Covenant, stepping away.
Holocaust leaned over and grabbed the body.
He had just enough time to look up, enraged, when the stasis bubble closed around him.
"Hold that pose," said Covenant, listening to the approaching helicopter which would take him and his prize back to the Colony.
"How long can we keep him in there?" asked Danny. They were all peering at the frozen Holocaust as if he were some sort of avant-garde statue.
"The existing power cell will run out of juice in about five years-- I'd say that's enough time to figure out what to do with him."
"Good to know I won't have to deal with this guy anymore," said Rapidfire, who was now clad only in his mask and a towel. "But we've still got unfinished business."
"Yes," said Danny. "Angela's on her way with a new costume--"
"No, not that. Well, yes, that, but I'm talking about this 'Delancey' guy. I still don't know where to find him."
"I'll take you there," said Covenant. "I've got a bit of unfinished business with him myself."
"Here you go," came a voice from behind Rapidfire. He turned to see a spectacularly healthy girl, about 21 in his estimation, wearing a sleek running suit. And she was quite obviously checking him out.
"This suit'll hold out to any speed," she said, handing a black, thin garment to him. "Try it on."
Rapidfire was suddenly very, very aware that he was wearing only a towel.
"I don't give a good god-damn if he is off the charts!" roared Lawrence Delancey. "Find that speedy son of a--"
"Right behind you."
Lawrence Delancey looked up. Allen Covenant was standing there. And next to him...Rapidfire, but changed. Where before he'd looked like a skinny ragamuffin, now he wore a suit that looked more like it had been molded than sewn.
"Gentlemen," he said, keeping his cool.
"You owe me money," growled Covenant.
"Yes, well, the circumstances being what they are--"
"You are going to write me out a check for the full amount. Now. And you're not going to cancel it. If you do...if you even try...ahmina pull out a few of my darker books and get creative." Covenant leaned closer. "When I go medeival on your ass, Mister Delancey, you never forget it."
Delancey considered it. Then, relaxedly, he pulled out his checkbook.
"Allen with two 'l's, correct?"
Delancey ripped the check free and handed it to Covenant.
"Don't cash it before Wednesday, if you don't mind. I'll have someone go to the bank."
"By all means."
Delancey turned to look at Rapidfire.
"Well? Do you have something to say?"
Rapidfire leaned in very, very close.
"You have just made a very, very grave mistake, Delancey."
" You got my attention. "
Rapidfire and Covenant turned and left.
"What now?" asked Covenant.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I need a few hours' sleep. Isn't it going to be difficult for you to cash that check?"
"Not in Zurich," replied Covenant. "Care to give me a lift?"
"You're a rich man," replied Rapidfire. "Get a cab."
With that, he disappeared into the night.
"A cab," muttered Covenant. "No way for a rich guy to travel."