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Response Center #2771A

" . . . like a bottle of tequila wrapped around Sigmund Freud."

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Scenes from a Resurrection, or: The Road to Suicide
TM's note: I took a stab at the origin of Suicide once before, but it was frankly awful, and that should be considered noncanon. Ever since then, though, I've known that I had to go back and finish that part of his story properly.

You see, Agent Suicide of RC #2771a is in an unusual position. He's a canon character--or a close replica of one, created by a typo in my original copy of the book. But though he's insane, violent and handy, therefore a perfect fit for the PPC, he's also a man out of his time. He drinks fermented mare's milk, plays a sport involving dead goats, considers horses more useful than people, carries a quiver made of human skin, and faces his duty only because he hopes it'll get him killed permanently.

Today, after several years with the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, he's also mostly literate and somewhat acquainted with how to behave himself in modern society (although he often chooses not to). But what was he like when he first awoke? What, exactly, did the ultimate self-destructive man say when he rose from the dead?

Well, there's a reason there's a language warning on this. 

Thanks to Neshomeh for looking this over and giving me some tips on dialect and content. Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: The PPC and its associated characters and concepts were created by Jay and Acacia. Suicide, in his original incarnation, was created by Stephen Pressfield. Igors are the creation of Terry Pratchett. No infringement is intended--this is all purely for fun.

* * *

Something was aching. No, everything was aching. Pain coiled in his stomach, where the tent guards had stuck in a spear and tried to shovel out his guts. His shoulders were unable to move, immobilized by the freezing ache that spread from the arrow wounds down into his arms. Blackness surrounded him, but as yet more pains and twinges made themselves known, the man became aware that there was something feather-soft underneath him. Strange-smelling air whistled softly as he breathed in.

He was dead, he knew. He had to be dead. He remembered putting a hand to his stomach, feeling the strange slick loops of his own entrails protruding through the ruptured stitches, knowing that he had only moments left. Then there had been the Astakian boy, terrified and bloodied himself, barely more than twenty and desperate for more of those same moments. The man remembered draping himself over his comrade's back, ordering him to run. His whole body had shaken as the hail of arrows thudded into him, but it had been past pain at that moment. He had slipped into the quiet darkness without complaint, too exhausted to enjoy the goal he'd been chasing for so many years.

So was this the afterlife? He struggled to open his eyes, but they seemed glued shut. Each movement send shocks of pain crawling up his arms. There was something around his wrists—straps, thick and formidable and made of some strange ridged stuff, holding him down. His heart clenched. He was dead, and now he was in the bloody Underworld! Not the world beyond the veil, where his mother had told him the true gods dwelt and the true virtues could be felt, but the same dour dark world the Greeks had talked of. They'd all be in El—Ela—Elysium, where the heroes were, but the patricide was trapped by the gods only knew what whim of their Hades. For marching with them, he was sent to their hells? He strained against the ropes, and against all odds managed a ragged groan, but his eyes remained glued shut and there was no strength in his limbs.

Heez awayk!”

There was a voice. A man's voice, edged with surprise, speaking a tongue that he couldn't understand. Was it the sound spirits made?

Get dock fitz, kwik!” the spirit babbled. “Heez bairlee suhpozed tobee alaiv, nevvar mynd awayk!”

“Thay must nott hav givvin him enuff sedativ.”

The man forced another groan past lips that felt like baked clay. He wanted to tell the spirits to leave him be—that he wouldn't ask for Elysium, or even for a sight of his mother, but just to get his gods-damned skin out of the Greeks' idea of the afterlife. He wanted to sleep. Sleep, and enjoy the quiet. His skin rasped angrily against the straps as he tried to push himself up,

“Glaurung! Givvmee thee needal. Heez gowing too brayk loos!”

“Hee shoodint even bee aball too--”

“Shooda, cooda, wooda, giv mee thee dahmn needal!”

Something pricked at the skin of his arm. Cool peace washed over him, his muscles relaxed, and the voices faded away into the darkness.

* * *

Ow. Ow, ow, son of a dogfucking whore, ow. The light pierced his eyes like razored arrows. He blinked hard, trying to clear the strange chalky feeling from his eyes, but the glaring whiteness remained. Why was he here? Where was here, anyway?

Shadows appeared in the blank whiteness, shading subtly across the expanse of it. He blinked again and again, and the shadows faded, resolving themselves into subtle tints of gray. Not the unfathomable world of beyond-the-veil, but a ceiling—white-painted, perhaps, growing darker as it stretched to meet the corner of the room. He tried to turn his head, but though not restrained, it ached too horribly for more than a spastic twitch. Bright light flooded from the left. A window, maybe?

“You are awake,” a voice said. It stumbled oddly over the words, sounding strange and foreign to his ears, but he understood them nevertheless. Of course he was awake.

More thoughts kicked themselves into sluggish gear. How was he awake?

Something cool touched his mouth: a cup, filled with water. The cup felt strange, too smooth, but the water tasted clean and he drank greedily.

“Fuck,” he breathed raggedly. The voice laughed. It was a man's voice, familiar in only the vaguest way, but it was speaking words he could understand and he was grateful for it.

“We've spent a lot of time on you,” the voice said, as a white-gloved hand took away the cup. “Despite the plotholes available, bringing you back was hardly a painless process. And that's the first word of your rebirth?”

The man squeezed his eyes shut as a cough wracked his body. “Fuck,” he repeated weakly. The voice was less comforting now; this business of holes in words was something he'd never heard before. Straining, he managed to turn his head. As he did, the smooth skin of his scalp touched the cool fabric of the pillowcase. Where was his hair? And beard? But first . . . “Where am I?”

The source of the voice grinned. It was a man—a young man, no more than twenty-five years old. His shirt and trousers were made of strange thin fabric, studded down the front with small glinting circles, and he wore over it a knee-length garment that looked like an open white tunic. He had no beard, and his hair was cropped short. Small circles of—was that glass?--were positioned in front of his eyes, held up by a structure made of fine wire.

“You're in PPC Medical,” the boy said.

“Where?” the man managed to repeat.

The boy shook his head, standing and smoothing down his open tunic-garment. “What I say to you will be confusing,” he said, slowly and more deliberately this time. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully. “There aren't words in your original language for some of the things I'm talking about. But you'll get used to it, I promise. We had to give you a language implant, since our only ancient Greek speakers are currently on assignment in the 'Clash of the Titans' universe. You're safe.”

Now the man was beginning to get angry. Exhausted, pained, and confused as he was, the little goat still hadn't answered his question. “Where am I?” he repeated. His left hand twitched and, against all odds, his arm began to rise from the bed. The boy gave it an alarmed look: he hadn't been strapped down this time.

“I'll go get Dr. Fitzgerald,” he said, backing away from the bed. “Doc! Hey, Doc! Suicide's awake!”

Suicide. The man frowned, turning over the syllables in his mind. Was he—wait, wasn't his name—there was something else there, a word like aftok or atok, but it was fading rapidly into the background. Suicide was the word. He was Suicide.

The boy fled, and an older man replaced him. He was balding and clean-shaven as well, dressed in the same type of garments, and he had a paternal smile that irked Suicide for some reason. He stifled another cough and tried to raise his hand further, possibly to throttle someone, but the new man just pushed the hand down onto the bed.

“Now this is a medical emergency,” the man said, raising one eyebrow. Something in his voice made Suicide fight to raise the arm again: he would take sarcasm from his masters, but not from some damned beardless stranger in a ridiculous costume. “How're you feeling? You look pretty lively.”

“Suck Hades' cock,” Suicide grated, barely managing the words before a third coughing fit silenced him. The man—Doctor Fitzgerald?--watched calmly while Suicide choked and spat, struggling to breathe.

“That's normal,” Fitzgerald commented. “Your body's still getting used to the fact that it ought to be dead. Real things-man-was-not-meant-to-know business, here.” Suicide spat onto the floor, and the doctor grimaced. “At least there's no blood in there. Everything's staying where it should. Next time, though, use the cup.” He pointed to a strange papery thing sitting on the table next to the bed.

Suicide swallowed the last of the coughs and growled. He tried to sit up, and this time, he almost managed to raise his shoulders off the bed before Dr. Fitzgerald pushed him back down. Easily, too, something that elicited another growl from Suicide.

“I'm alive?” he managed. The words tasted strange and slithery in his mouth. “How?”

“Medicine,” Dr. Fitzgerald said calmly.

“Medicine can't bring people back from death.” The speech was coming more easily now, and Suicide even managed to put a little feeling into the words. He knew what he said, too: in all his years with his masters, stitching scalp wounds and tying off severed veins while the men tried to restrain their screams, he'd never yet seen a man come back from death. If medicine could do such things, there would've been no fight over the hand of Arete, no death of Iatrokles--

Iatrokles. The name lit a fire in his brain. Iatrokles. Dienekes. Alexandros. And others followed it, tumbling like roof-tiles falling from a collapsing house: Polynikes, runner and laurel-bearer and first-class cunny-hound. Olympieus, father of Alexandros. Xeones, the helot boy with the crippled hands. Milon, first labeling him 'Suicide' when he'd begged for death as a young man. Black Leon and Leon Donkeydick. And Leonidas, King Leonidas, an old man injured but never broken. Memories rose up, assaulting him. The smell of shit and piss and blood and fouled water all mixed into the knee-deep mud; the hard weight of the bronze helmet he'd taken only in the very last instant, when they needed men to fill out the phalanx; and earlier, much earlier, the feeling of pure speed as the the horse beneath him cut hard to the right. It had nearly flung him off, too, and would have if he hadn't clung to the mane like his father had taught him.

He was Suicide, but that wasn't his name. He was a Scythian, a plainsman, the son of a priestess who carried the gods in the wagon with her. If he had a from, he was from Antaurus: it was where the murder had taken place. He was a rider, a patricide, a squire to the great men of Sparta and a curse-hounded son of a bitch who knew in his gut that he needed to die. His need for death had ordered his life, demanding as it did that he die but not by his own hand, driving him to insane acts of carelessness and violence.

And now this man had brought him back to life?

This time, his hand did make it off the bed—and all the way to Dr. Fitzgerald's neck. The man let out a squeak as Suicide's fingers clamped down, cutting off his air. What had given this pig-faced old . . . old . . . Athenian the balls to do that to him? He squeezed, feeling an odd satisfaction in the fact that though his arm was slow, his left hand seemed stronger than ever.

Something pricked him again, and Suicide flinched as weakness ran through his limbs. Turning his head, he saw the boy in white lurking on the other side of the bed—holding a strange metal instrument with a long needle protruding, more than half the needle buried in Suicide's right shoulder.

“Fuck you,” he said to the boy. As he slumped back onto the bed, darkness creeping in yet again, he heard someone shouting.

“Remove those servos . . .” “Hand's too strong, he damn near broke the doc's neck . . . “I don't care, get someone from DoSAT down here and find out what the hell they put in him . . .”


* * *

His head felt like it was stuffed with cloth, but this time, his eyes opened more easily. The light hadn't changed: straining to turn his head, he realized that the window only opened onto another room. Nobody was with him.

For the first time, Suicide took stock of himself. He was lying half propped up in a strange high bed; heavy bandages were wrapped around his wrists and chest, and the rest of him was barely covered by a bizarre thin shift dotted with tiny pictures of smiling flowers. There was no question that he was a prisoner: metal cuffs, too light to be iron or silver, kept each wrist chained to a railing around the bed. His scalp scraped against the fabric of the pillowcase, and he realized that since he had last been awake, hair had begun to sprout on his shaven head. How long had he slept?

The room itself was even stranger. It looked like no building he had ever been in: everything smooth, with no support pillars, built of a gray stone he'd never seen before. There was still a little table next to the bed, but the papery cup was gone. The window to his left was lined with the most flawless glass he had ever seen, and showed him a long room filled with yet more beds. A staggering array of people filled those beds—men, women, and monsters, more varied than even the motley legions of the Persian empire. If it hadn't been for the constant aches in his sides and arms, Suicide would have bet everything he owned that he was in the afterlife.

Something chimed, and Suicide jumped as a metal door in the wall slid open. A strange twisted figure shuffled in, wearing the same white clothing as the beardless shit of a doctor--but that was where the resemblance ended. His skin was covered in bizarre lumps and neatly-stitched scars. Suicide's eyes widened, but only slightly.

“Good afternoon,” the thing said cheerfully. “Or evening, or morning, or whatthoever you prefer. We're very informal here. Tho, awake again, are you? Betht promithe that you won't try to thtrangle Doctor Fitthgerald again; he getth very touchy about that thort of thing.”

“He brought me back to life,” Suicide said flatly. “Of course I'm going to strangle him. Who are you?”

“My name ith Igor,” responded Igor. He—it?--stumped around to the left side of the bed and peered into Suicide's eyes. The Scythian fought the urge to recoil, finding himself faced with a set of eyeballs that had definitely not begun existence in the same head. Or possibly even in the same breed. “Everything theems to be functhioning in the ocular regionth. Are you exthperienthing any confuthion?”

“Don't know where I am or why I'm alive,” Suicide deadpanned. “Confused, yes.”

Igor sighed. “I told them they thould have written you thome new perthonality traitth,” he said, prodding at Suicide's close-cropped skull. “Noninquithitiveneth would have been nithe. They alwayth leave thith thort of thing to the help. Thuch a meth.” He shook his head. “You've been chothen—no, that'th tho clithé, ithn't it? You've been rethcued from the thcrap heap, let'th thay. There was an ecthtra you lying around—cothmic glitcheth are thuch a pain in the neck boltth—and thinthe you're thuppothed to be dead, it was dethided to retrieve you and ficth you up. The Medical Rethearch Divithion wath the one that originally came up with it.” He flashed a grin, displaying a staggering array of nonhuman teeth. “They're not proper marthterth, but they're ath clothe ath you get in thith dimenthion. Apparently they think an agent who'th already inthane will be utheful.”

The Scythian remained quiet for a moment. He hadn't understood half of what the battered creature had said, but “rescued from the scrap heap?” Extra him?

Someone had just . . . decided he was more useful alive, and made it so?

He went very, very still as he contemplated that. For the first time in years, fear had a firm clutch on his guts. There was a people in the world stronger and more advanced in their ways than any Suicide had ever seen, but though he'd been at the side of the greatest men in all Greece for years, he'd never heard so much as a whisper of their existence. How in the gods' names had that happened? What kind of scholars did they have, that they could just pull him back from death? And . . . “there was an extra you lying around?”

His first instinct was to acknowledge that he didn't understand what 'Igor' meant. These people, whoever they were, were clearly keeping him there for some purpose—perhaps saving his life, but still planning to do something with him, and that was just another version of the old prisoner game as far as Suicide was concerned. He'd never been captive in his life, but he knew that it was easy for a prisoner to be judged too smart for his own good. Playing up his ignorance would be the best way to avoid tipping his hand while he planned his escape . . . if they thought he was stupid, they likely wouldn't guard him . . .

But something told him that would be a bad idea too. They'd brought him back from death itself—who knew what such a people could manage?

It was a nasty thought, but it tasted familiar. For a moment, he remembered those moments on the cliffs, looking out with his masters at the massed force of the Persian fleet. Yes, it felt like that moment: that bolt of silent fear as he watched eyes narrow and jaws clench just that little bit at the sight of it all. Everyone had been thinking it at that moment, though no one was going to say it: we'll never win this. Oh, they themselves were already doomed, no doubt about that—but Greece itself was going to go down in smoke and blood, while the men at the Hot Gates could only pray that they'd buy enough time. Men with that kind of might, it was hard to imagine losing.

Greece. Persia. Something seemed to be blocking his throat, and he sucked in a deep breath, trying to focus. Igor was watching him curiously, head cocked, as Suicide fought a rising tide of panic.

He was never on good terms with fear. In fact it, like monogamy and citizens' behavior, had been a perfect stranger to him for a long time. But—Greece.

“You.” The word came out as calm as he could manage. “Igor. Bring me a—a—a gossip! A historian!” Igor looked blank, or as blank as a face like that could. “Gods damn it, find somebody who's hanging around pushing his nose into other peoples' business and bring him here, right now!”

“There'th no thenthe in thwearing at me,” Igor said calmly. “Thith ith a clothed ward, and I can't bring anyone in who ithn't here already.”

“I don't give two flaming piles of donkey shit for rules! Find me a philosopher, then—I never met a doctor who didn't have one of those useless limp-dicks nearby! Anyone who might have the news from Greece! Did it buy them enough time?”

“There'th no thenthe in getting ecthited, either,” Igor said. Suicide growled and tried to grab for him, but the patchwork man danced neatly back out of range. “Ith thith about the plathe you came from?”

“Of courthe it's about the plathe--” Suicide bit his tongue, hard, and spat the blood onto the floor. “The place I came from! I wasn't at the Gates for no good reason! What happened to Greece?”

“Ah!” Igor's eyes lit up. “Thith ecthplainth why Doc Fitth athked me to look in on you. We Igorth are ectheptional at bearing bad newth.” Suicide's heart sank, and his fists clenched automatically, making Igor take another quick step back. “Only bad from a perthonal viewpoint, of courthe. Hithtorically, the battle wath an unqualified thuctheth."

The Scythian took a moment to sort through that last word. “Success?” he guessed, and Igor nodded. “Success? We stopped them?”

“Long enough,” the patchwork man confirmed.

Suicide whooped and punched the air. Strange men, strange place, strange medicine—who cared? They'd won! His masters hadn't marched into the jaws of death for nothing! There'd be wine and women for them in Elysium, no question of that. It almost made being alive worth it!

“What's happening, then?” he almost shouted. “Is Xerxes still on the throne, or did we finally get him? Who's governing Sparta? How long have I been out? I have to report in! Who do I talk to about getting out of here?”

Igor almost beamed. “Oh, I am good at thith part. You thee, I have good newth and bad newth for you. The good newth ith that I can anthwer all of your quethtionth.”

“And the bad news?”

“In jutht a minute. I thould go check our Thorazine thupply firtht."

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Awesome piece, though I do feel bad for that Igor at the end.

Also, quick question, when did Suicide get out of the handcuffs? It's never mentioned, yet at the end he seems to have free use of his arms...or did he just break them at that point?

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