Cain can feel it before he can see it.
That undying presence, always there but forever out of reach. It shimmers a brilliant shade of red, the kind of red that only exists in movies. That impossible scarlet hue. Reflecting his hopes and dreams in its stony surface. It calls to him, late at night in his hours of need, when all he can remember are their faces. It calls to him when he clutches his rifle and blows a large bubble out of his pink chewing gum.
It calls to him when his boots touch the ground and the stench of the mud and shit and death becomes him. It calls to him when he is hiding in the trenches, his brothers and sisters in arms saying their last prayers all around him. He makes no prayer. He knows their gods are all false. For it calls to him.
Charles had never been to war.
Not proper, “in the shit” active duty, war. He had been to war-torn countries, he had been face to face with terrorists and dictators, warlords and murderers. None of this prepared him for actual god’s honest truth combat though. Charles wasn’t a fighter, he was a talker. He’d sit with these men of violence, these champions of death and he’d talk. He’d listen to their intentions not their bullets. Often times this would lead to a greater understanding, and on the rare occasion, he would be able to find a fragile sliver of peace. Today was not one of those days. Today Charles would be going to war.
Charles was not a soldier, this was immediately evident by his slender frame, his manicured posture and his gentle eyes. This is not to say no soldier’s obtain these things, but very few retain all three. Charles was no stranger to soldiers however. In his time traveling the world he met many soldiers of fortune, but none were as brilliantly resilient as his stepbrother Cain.
Cain knew violence like no other man on earth, he had an intimate relationship with war. He had served four tours and had over a dozen kills under his jacket for each. What fascinated Charles however was Cain’s soft spoken tone. For a man of his size, his voice soothed like a balm instead of crashing like a wave. Cain had always been a bit off, he never had many friends growing up and those he did have often took advantage of his stature and his learned generosity. It is peculiar how a man so gentle and giving became such an excellent tool of murder but Cain was a peculiar man. At least Charles thought so.
The two had never worked together, not in any professional capacity. Cain liked it that way. Cain had no ill will towards his stepbrother but he also had no professions of love. Cain thought Charles was just fine. End of story. Just Fine. The kind of thought you give to a bland sandwich you bought on your lunch break, not exactly the words you want to hear when describing family, even extended family.
Cain agreed to help Charles not out of his generosity or his brotherly obligation, no. Cain did not agree to go back into the thick of it to some unknown dig site that happened to require an absurd amount of sheer manpower just to appease his brothers curiosity. Cain agreed to go because he could hear its call. He could hear his new father of crimson stone shepherding him home. Cain knew he would have to kill to get there, Cain never enjoyed killing. It wasn’t the thought of taking another's life, strangely that never bothered him. It was the stench, the smell they left behind, whether it be from their bowels emptying as his bullets riddled their bodies or the decay that would be found on recon the next day. Cain would often wear a nose plug, that he would have strapped in his helmet.
Today he left the nose plug at camp. Cain would not let the stench drive him from his victory today, instead he would use it as motivation, as each time he inhaled that foul smell, he’d know he was one step closer. Today he would answer the gems call. Today two brothers would enter that damp, dense cave; one driven by adventure, a need for discovery, a need to find some new truth in the world that explained the evils of man. Cain had no need for such discovery. Cain needed to be reborn, bathed in the crimson light of the caves of Cyttorak. Cain needed to sleep at night, and to do that, he needed to make sure no one could ever take advantage of him again. Cain needed to become a god, and Charles had just handed him the keys to a door that should never have been opened.
Cain needed to know that no stench, no false-friends, no idealistic brothers, no stray bullets...nothing could ever stop him again.