Backstory – Billy Bishop

7/199X

In the desert there lived a lizard.

One could hardly tell it apart from the burning sands it ran across; it was almost the same color.

The sun beat down mercilessly.  The air, the ground  –  everything was on fire.  I’d better hurry up, he thought  –  if I don’t get back to my nest, I’m gonna be one fried lizard!

The lizard moved his legs as fast as he could.  But when he did, a giant roadblock suddenly appeared in his path.  This had never happened to him before  –  certainly not on his usual route!

…Well, he’d never be able to get back home like this.  The lizard was a bit confused, but, hungry for shade, he crawled underneath the roadblock regardless.

–It’s so hot…

My back is burning up…

How many hours have I been out here…

–How many days have I been out here?…

So came these muttered words from a man who lay sprawled out in the middle of the desert.  He was a U.S. Marine, team leader of a special Force Recon patrol.  And, right now, the odds were good that he was fighting a losing battle against the heat.

*******

It had happened on the 65th day of a special mission to the Middle East.

Their job had been to locate a tiny village that had become the stronghold of a group of extremists.  They had decided to launch a surprise attack on the town, without calling for reinforcements.

Their equipment was state of the art; their bodies were honed weapons that betrayed not a wasted movement.  They had the confidence of men who’d gone through hell to get the skills they had.  They were special forces, best of the best  –  and they knew it.

Looking back on it now, though, they might have overestimated themselves.

But the conclusion of the fight came quickly enough to chase any lingering doubt from their minds.  Right after the attack commenced, the extremists suffered a swift and irreparable blow with the suicide of their leader.

Their mission was a success  –  brought to a safe conclusion.

–Mission accomplished.

 

—…We copy you.  ……Secure the perimeter at once.

 

–Roger.

The man cut the wireless with an audible sigh of relief.

As his breath escaped his lips, he surveyed his surroundings.  A lone young girl had appeared on the street corner.  She held a water jug in her hands and gave him a cheerful smile.

Then it happened.  As if on cue, the previously-quiet town square flooded with people  –  people now free from the grip of terror who had come to express their thanks.  (Or so it seemed.)

He broke into a smile despite himself; the tension fled from his mind.  He slowly held out a hand to help the girl with her jug…

…and then it all ended.

The crack of gunfire, echoing across the plaza…

A scream…

Shouting…

Explosions…  Cheers…

By the time he’d realized that it was a trap, it was too late.  He felt a sharp pain in his stomach…

–Give me back my papa!  MURDERER!

As he faded from consciousness, the cries of the girl echoed through the man’s mind.

*******

–Am I going to die?…

Seven days had already passed since his unit had been destroyed.  He

couldn’t even tell which way was up in this heat.

Ever since then…for days on end…he had dragged his feet across the

desert, wandering its expanse.  To survive, he’d sipped the water from

inside cacti, gnawed tree roots…ate anything he could find that was

edible.  But in this country of death, it would all amount to a wasted

effort in the end.

His body had long ago lost the ability to scream.  Guts alone propelled

him forward.  But he was weakening  –  to the point where even his hands

refused to grasp.

But then……

just when he was hanging on by his very last thread…

–…Is that all you got?

A voice echoed in his mind.  He dragged his leaden eyelids open and sensed a shadow looming over him.

–Y…you again…

It never failed to appear in the man’s weakest moments.

–Who……who are you……

The shadow ignored his words…

–…Is that all you got?

It just asked the same question over and over.

–…Is that all you got?

But today…today was different.

–…Is that all you got?  –ly…Bishop…

He snapped back to reality at the sound of his own name.

–S…Scarface!?…

Without thinking, his father’s name escaped from his lips.

–Do you want power?…The power to protect others…

The “shadow” resolved itself into the figure of a man.

–…Who…who are you!?

And then, it slowly extended its right hand.

–Then take my hand…  ’cause the power you’re looking for lies right there.

 

–…?

…The man hesitated for a split second.  …But in that large palm before him lay all the answers he sought.  He knew by instinct to whom it belonged.

–SCAAAAARRRFAAAAACE!!!

In that instant, sheer will pushed his flesh past its limit.

The limbs that should have long ago ceased to function shook as they pulled their owner to his feet.  He grasped the giant hand held out to him with all his might.  He opened his eyes and searched the images that swam before him for a point on which to fixate ahead.

And when he did–

–they came to rest on an altogether different man  –  one with dark brown skin and kind eyes, his right arm enveloped in an impressive scorpion tattoo.

–Pleased to meet you, Billy Bishop.  Welcome to your afterlife.

In so saying, the man before him effected a change.  The shadow was already fading; his eyes were now bathed in light.

It was a strange feeling  –  as if, in a flash, he had been pulled back to the world of the living…and been given a new life.

PHANTOM LIVE-084 SECURED

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Source

Yet another fine translation job by R. Capowski! This is about the halfway point through the backstories! I should step up the pace, too.

So here we are, reading the epic tale of Billy Bishop being ambushed by a little girl! It’s strange how everyone else’s backstory shows off some special skill of theirs (Sheila’s combat skills, Nicklaus’ wit, etc.), but Billy just languishes in the desert for a while. Maybe his special skill is his tenacity?

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