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PostPosted: Wed Apr 4, '12, 2:00 am
... Was Crushed by Evil

Things went well for Anna during some time. The missions as a guardian had been successfully accomplished and her efforts were rewarded both in position inside the guardian's hierarchy and financially. After arresting 10 criminals, Anna was elevated from Junior Guardian to Guardian Rank I position, indicating that her career was developing quickly. Besides, executing the missions had been fulfilling; she learned both through knowledge and experience, and, above all, her mind was in peace.

Her personal life was also developing, albeit slowly. Although she didn't consider the priest a personal friend, he had been of much help, making her feel more connected to her religion, strengthening her faith, and showing her a way of living the past behind and building a future according to her beliefs. He often encouraged her by stressing the notion that being a law enforcer or a military didn't mean that she had to be cruel or violent. And it helped her keeping her bloodlust at the bay for a while.

However, as the blonde guardian advanced in the guardian ranks, she also learned things she hoped they were not true. Her honeymoon with the guardians was soon over, as she was allowed access to more information. One thing that annoyed her was that, despite of apparently dealing with every sort of crimes and gangs, but there was an overall silence about the hunter gangs. Although Anna was not a hunter anymore, she was still aware that there were many hunters committing crimes. Besides the overall silence about their criminal activities in the press, the Guardians Headquarters seemed to suppress information about their illegal activities on purpose. During her visits to the library in order to research about the criminals she was supposed to arrest, Anna became astonished with the amount of detailed information that was available for them, both recent and historical, including lots of information about secret criminal organizations and even information about some illegal dealings inside the government. However, she had never seen anything regarding those hunter gangs, in a stark contrast with the increasing rumors spread amongst the populace. It was not something that worried Anna at that moment, but it was the very beginning of a succession of events that would ultimately lead Anna to leave the organization.

Another remarkable mission during her time as a guardian was when she was entitled to arrest a group of criminals, Palmans and Motavians, who had hacked some data from the Mother Brain. Anna was never pleased to receive that kind of mission because crimes against Mother Brain were dealt with disproportionate force when compared to other crimes the blonde guardian considered much more serious, like murder, drug trafficking, rape, kidnapping, and even terrorism. When dealing with hackers or other people who posed a threat to Mother Brain systems, Anna's superiors always allowed her to kill everyone involved, which was highly discouraged in any other kind of mission. The girl, however, was cold and self-centered enough to not fall for the temptation of solving those kind of missions the easy way, always trying to use the standard procedure of using non-violent methods in order to accomplish her goal.

That time, it was not different. The order was to arrest or kill everybody involved in the hacking incident, but as a twist of fate, as the mission advanced, Anna ended being trapped in a sand hole together with the leader of the gang. With time enough to talk with him and discover his motives while looking for a way out of the natural trap, Anna let the criminal break the barrier that she created between her and the criminals. Somehow, she felt that the hacker was not just a common criminal, so she listened to his story and ultimately concluded that the man, although committing an illegal act, was not doing anything morally wrong. Therefore, she let him escape, even if it meant a failure in her record. Anna, who had never held a firm belief in the strictness of the law before, decided to act according to her conscience. As a reward, she got an undesired kiss from the hacker, and the much-desired peace of mind, resting assured that she had done the best thing for the situation.

With her confidence in the organization a bit shaken, Anna continued performing with the guardians, although she was not that obedient officer she used to be in the past. Anna became a bit rebellious and started acting on her own sometimes. Her reputation as a skilled guardian allowed her to work on her own, as long as she didn't explicitly violated the laws. The guardians were very strict to the newcomers, but the severity of their rules was relaxed as the agents advanced in the organization ranks. Many experienced guardians were allowed to work out of their jurisdiction, or even to perform some unauthorized arrests and killings if they could prove the arrested or murdered men were dangerous criminals.

Attracted by this relative freedom, it didn't take long for Anna to start arresting people who were committing crimes out of the missions she was assigned to. As the biomonster invasion spread through the whole Motavia, more and more people turned to crime to compensate for the loss of their homes, jobs, and social security payments. It was not rare to catch people committing smaller crimes, and Anna was always ready to bring justice to those who defied the law; although she was aware their situation was not good, it was not by robbing other people and spreading the chaos that they would solve the new Motavian social problem. The leniency of justice in dealing with minor crimes only paved a way for occasional misdemeanors by isolated citizens to turn into heinous crimes, backed by real crime organizations. Then, what should be just a minor social problem became a major worry, with daily tragedies and uncountable lives lost to crime.

During one of these unofficial missions, Anna crossed the path of a very peculiar burglar. The girl, who was stealing jewels from a luxurious jewelry, was not a common criminal. A girl not much older than her had sneaked into the store in order to steal some expensive jewelry, but Anna used her ambush tactics to arrest her when she least expected it. The green-haired thief, named Shir, turned out to be the daughter of a very rich and important family from Piata, and she was stealing the jewels as a vengeance for being snubbed by the storeowner. The strange girl proved the truth of her intent by throwing such a large amount of meseta bills she carried with her on the floor that they probably would be enough to pay for most of the jewels she was stealing.

Puzzled, Anna was inclined to let Shir go, provided she returned all the jewels back. The girl agreed, but she was feeling so humiliated that she attacked Anna from behind when Anna ordered her to disappear. However, Anna was already a very experienced fighter by that time, and no matter how quick the green-haired girl was, Anna overpowered her. Attacking an officer was enough to grant a swift death for the attacker, but, in the last moment, Anna saw genuine despair and regret in the little thief's eyes, so she let her go, because she judged the Shir to be a harmless spoiled brat with a good heart deep inside, not a criminal. That episode made Anna start judging the character of the criminals she was entitled to arrest more by her feeling than the information found on their records.

Coupled with those events, one day, while returning from a nightly errand, Anna overheard a discussion happening a few blocks away from the inn she was living in. She became worried with the harshness of the yells. Although she was too far from the origin of the discussion to understand what was happening, both her sense of duty and her curiosity made her take a detour from her path and investigate the uproar.

While heading towards the noise source, the blonde guardian felt a chill down her spine, and the terrible feeling of having already been into that same situation in the past. She couldn't remember, however, what had happened in the situation that looked similar to the one she was passing through, and neither if it had been real or just a dream. That made her feel a bit anxious, and Anna had to make an extra effort to prepare herself for what she was about to face.

As she drew near, the first impression was confirmed. The incident seemed to be a fierce quarrel, and not just a drunkard brawl. Anna's heart started racing inside her chest as she thought about the possibility of being haunted by the ghosts of the past. There was a considerable probability that the event was being caused by the people she loathed most. The blonde guardian knew that it would be the biggest threat to the temporary tranquility she had been able to maintain for the past few months. If the guardians ignored it, or pretended that they didn't see the criminal activities of some hunter gangs, Anna couldn't. She knew that she could conveniently pretend that she had not seen or heard about that, and maintain an apparent peace, but how would she sleep knowing that there are evil people stealing, kidnapping, raping, and killing freely? Her sense of justice was above all, and ignoring their actions was not an option. Even if it meant going back to the days she wished to forget.

Anna arrived at the alley were the commotion was taking place just in order to see two teenagers, who were begging for mercy, be clubbed to death by four hunters. The gruesome scene made Anna's blood boil inside her veins, and, infuriated, she didn't even bother to try to understand what lead the scoundrels disguised as hunters to commit those atrocities. In a matter of seconds, slashers flew in the air, and the warm and crimson fluid pouring from the disemboweled bodies of four hunters satiated the bloodthirsty vicious guardian.

Desperate, the blonde guardian darted towards the two teenagers, but they seemed to be beyond help. Even so, she called the emergency, but left before help arrived. Feeling a mixture of guilt and satisfaction, Anna realized that the decision she had taken was unavoidable. She had suffered so much in the hands of death that the only solution to prevent other Lizzies, other Richards, other Grigorys, Marias, Ivans, Tatyanas and Natashas was to stain her own hands with blood and eliminate everyone who dared to commit the greatest crime. Fighting fire with fire. It was terrible, but it had to be done. Someone had to step up and sacrifice herself in order to provide a better future for the others. Trying to make the things right wouldn't be enough. It was not enough for the two teenagers. So, Anna decided to be the double agent. Her soul was already beyond salvation, anyway. During the day, she would be the competent guardian, enforcing that the law was being respected. At night, she would be the counter-hunter, the one who would silently bring justice to all those criminals who considered themselves to be above the law. Killing the damned to preserve the innocent. Cold murder for cold murder. Morally wrong, but was there another way of preserving the lives of the innocent?

There was another answer, Anna knew it well. However, it didn't seem to be working. However, she could not dismiss her own beliefs. It caused her a lot of grief, because, every time she killed someone, she went through long periods tormented by regret. Especially because she had been visiting the temple very often. And, meanwhile, she developed a close relationship with the priest. Closer than it would be adequate. Although she didn't consider him much of a friend, it was unavoidable that, given his superior position over her, his proselytism, and his apparent irreproachable morals, she eventually fell for him. It only served to make her doubts, woes, and grief stronger and harder to cope with.

Anna's continuous success in her missions made her climb up the guardians ranks, and it opened up many doors for her. More prestige meant more resources available. It had fit perfectly her plans of eliminating criminal hunters silently. She gained access to a wide variety of intelligence reports and she was able to discover and dismantle not only local hunter gangs, but also gangs from faraway places. Her reputation and impressive records inside the organization also granted her immunity for her illegal operations, so she could carry on the eliminations undisturbed.

For almost a year, Anna had lived this double life. Although she had been mostly successful in both accomplishing missions and eliminating hunters, her emotional condition degraded continuously, reaching a point of rupture. She was everything no one would ever expect from an intelligent, pretty, and attractive eighteen-year-old woman. Instead of hunting boys in the parties, looking for kisses and some intimate and pleasurable moments, she was searching her own ruin in the dark alleys, hunting, ambushing, and mercilessly slaying evil men. Although it was satisfying at first, like frivolous romantic adventures were for many girls at her age, instead of the emptiness those girls felt in the aftermath of their adventures, Anna felt profound regret and grief for staining her hands with the fresh blood of her brothers.

The feelings of grief and regret were enhanced by her relationship with the priest. As her confessor, he was aware of her illegal killings, and he always reprimanded her actions. At first, he tried to be supportive, believing in Anna's genuine displays of regret. He was deeply moved by how troubled she became whenever she had to kill someone, be it on an official mission or on one of the hunts she conducted in secret. The priest stressed the notion of not answering a crime with another crime, and that, if killings were sometimes unavoidable, she had to do her best to never take the initiative of murdering anyone else, and to resort to violence only as the last resource, to prevent a bigger harm from happening. However, as much as Anna tried, she was always so incensed by the reports of hunters abusing, harming, and killing innocent people that she was not able to control herself and ended up pursuing and eliminating the hunters. After a few months, the priest realized that Anna didn't mean to change her ways; not even once she seemed to have really fought against the urge of killing someone else. He was no fool and didn't believe anymore her emotionally drenched confessions that used to move his spirit and make him try his best to comfort and help her, only to know that, at the same time, she was carefully studying and planning ambushes to kill hunters. Besides, the priest had noticed something different about her behavior through the way she stared at him, the tone of her voice when talking to him, and her sudden yearn for physical contact.

Gradually, the priest, feeling troubled, became colder to Anna. His sermons became harsh, and he started limiting his time with her. The results, though, were worse than he expected. As he tried to distance himself from the blonde guardian, she clung more and more to him, seeking his advice and help more often, and even in inappropriate hours. Besides, her mood had a turn to worse, she became more sensitive, and the traumas of her past she was trying to fight against so bravely in the previous months were now dominating her. Anna couldn't stop talking about Lizzie, her parents, her siblings, and how she had been powerless to prevent their deaths, how she deserved to die in their places, how she was doomed to the fires of hell, how she suffered for having nothing to live for, how she was constantly depressed, how she had become a cold, lonely and loveless woman.

Although his religion mandated that he should not abandon anyone, the priest was tired of trying to support Anna. The more he reproached Anna's ungodly attitudes, the more she seemed prone to sin and then come to beg for forgiveness. After much thinking, he took a hard decision and waited for Anna's next visit.

One night, the blonde guardian eliminated a pair of hunters that was terrorizing people living near Oputa, through cold-blooded execution. Later, she regretted her unnecessary use of violence. Disturbed, she sought the priest's help early in the morning. By entering the temple, Anna noticed that something was wrong. The man seemed to be waiting for her, unlike every other occasion. She was always moved by his presence because he inspired her noble feelings that were forgotten when she was alone, researching information about criminals to eliminate. She felt that she needed him with her all the time. It would be the only way for her to change her ways, to abide to God laws and to live a peaceful and honored life. That was why she sought his company so often. But, that day, he was acting in a different way, and she noticed that. However, she didn't hesitate talking to him.

"Sir, I need to talk to you..."

"There will be no talking anymore, Anna." The priest coldly answered.

"Why?" The guardian was startled by his behavior. In the past, even when he reprimanded her, he did it in a compassionate manner.

"Because you always come here begging for forgiveness, but you don't mean it. Didn't you come to tell me you have murdered someone and now repents it?" He added, turning his back on her, and pretending not to be interested on her anymore.

"But my regret is genuine..." Anna, in a rare emotional moment, spoke her heart out. She saw the priest as someone who could save her from eternal damnation, so she had no secrets for him.

"No, you are not! You have never been, Anna!" His angry answer distressed the woman whose state of mind was very fragile. "You always swear to God that you will stop, only to return here with your hands stained with fresh blood. You have never meant to stop! You are just wasting my time, and making a fool of yourself trying to fool God."

The guardian listened, in silence, with her head down. She didn't have the courage to contradict the man, for she believed him to be superior than her. While a low voice, she begged him. "I promise that this time I will change, if you help me..."

"Enough!" The priest let out a scream that echoed through the temple walls. Anna shivered. Realizing that his tone was inappropriate for the place he was in, he added with a lower voice, but the same harshness. "You don't want to be helped. Please, Anna, don't ever come back again, you are not worthy of entering the House of the Lord."

"No!" Anna broke down in tears and threw herself to his feet, embraced his legs, then implored him to reconsider. "Give me another chance, please! What will I do without you to help me? Don't let me die, damned for all the time."

Anna was out of control, sobbing bitterly. Part of the priest's heart was giving up to her pleads, but he didn't believe the blonde guardian anymore. He knew that, for the sake of his own peace of mind, he had to do it. Anna was not only destroying herself, but also dragging him down with her. As much as he cared for her, he knew that if he didn't sever the ties with her briskly, there was a good chance that he would end involved with Anna in ways he never imagined. He couldn't deny that the beautiful blonde teenager emotionally clung to him was amusing, but that would not be right. That was not only forbidden, but also getting involved with her would mean getting involved indirectly with her sinful activities, and it would also be his ruin. The separation would be hard and painful, but there would not be any other way of saving his soul, for he was already tormented by all the sins he committed inside his mind.

The priest tried not to show any feelings towards the blonde guardian, knowing that indifference would work better than hate. However, her embrace became tighter, and with pleading eyes, she turned to him. "You don't know how important you are to me. I'd do anything for you..."

"Get away, evil woman!" The priest yelled, as he pushed her away with his leg. Though the movement was not violent, the guardian fell on her back and stayed paralyzed, crying. "Stop tempting me! I will not let you get hold of my soul, devil!" Then, turning back, he shouted aggressively. "If you want to fall, Anna, don't drag me down with you! Leave me now!"

Without reaction, the blonde guardian stayed prostrated, crying. Deep inside, she knew he was right. However, she could not help grieving the loss of her last hopes. She had been plagued by an idea for weeks, and her relationship with the priest was the only thing that prevented her from committing moral suicide. She was weak, unwilling to change her ways. She was fool enough to fall for the priest, knowing he was forbidden to have a romantic relationship with a woman. She was vain enough to pursue this forbidden relationship. She was evil enough to tempt the good-natured man to fall with her. Finally, she was selfish enough for trying to drag him down to the hell she was condemned to live in. The wicked guardian knew she was beyond salvation, but ultimately she had turned herself into a Lucifer's agent, by trying to reap souls to the eternal damnation. Maybe it had always been like that, and it would explain why everyone she dared to love ended dead. It was their salvation from her poisonous influence, her sinful ways that contaminated their souls. Or she had just been an innocent victim of fate, and God had made her carry a cross heavier than she could. Her sins were nothing compared to the woes she was forced to suffer. What would providence expect from her when all she had always loved had been forcefully taken from her? When everything she had ever learned from life was that there were evil men who would invade peaceful homes and brutally murder all its occupants? That there were men who would ambush and murder people who risked their lives to protect the innocent, and laugh at their corpses? That grown up men would club teenagers to death over frivolous issues? That people would try to rape her and murder her for nothing? That every women she had ever had some intimacy with, had known about men through violence, either attempted or consumed? Where were the prospects of a happy and peaceful life? Where were the magic teenage years, filled with adventures, discoveries, diversions, friendships, romances, pleasures, excitations, ecstasy, and bliss? In the books? On TV? In the mouths of the other people? Everywhere, but in her life? Was it a deliberate act from a cruel providence, which chose those who would be laughing and those who would be crying at the end of the day? Those who would have a blessed life and those who had been lost for all the eternity?

No, it had to end. She could not accept a God like that one. The God she believed in was a God of mercy, a God of love. She had been wrong all the time. Wrong in her attitudes, wrong in her considerations. The way she had behaved with the priest was shameful. She acted like a little girl, a stupid teenager. What was she expecting? Salvation through love, like one of those ridiculous fairytale characters, who wait passively for the enchanted prince to come riding a white stallion and saving them from all the evil. However, the salvation through love should come from inside. She was the one supposed to actively love the others, not waiting anything in return.

With nothing left to lose, Anna was determined to put her plan to work, and close the circle. That disgraceful life would finally come to an end. If there would be another one waiting for her, she didn't know, and she didn't care. Probably, there would be nothing left after that. However, she didn't care anymore. If death was the only way out, she was ready to take the utmost drastic measure. If eternal damnation was her fate, it would not make any difference. Wasn't her living in hell for the last eight years? Besides, after her last rays of hope were overcome by blackness, Anna died. There was not a heart inside her chest, a soul inside her flesh vessel. She was free to close that circle that gradually sucked all the humanity from her. Then, perpetual void. She would turn into a lifeless form, a writhing mass of evil. And it would be Anna's end. However, if she survived that ordeal, she would be able to start it again, as if the last eight years had been just a bad dream. Either was the case, one thing she was certain about: she had to get rid of the malefic influence her past tragedies brought her.

With murder in her heart and blood in her eyes, Anna returned to her room in the Inn she had been living for more than a year, packed her things, paid her bills, and left it for good. The innkeeper was surprised, but he didn't say anything because the blonde guardian was behaving like an automat. She showed no hints of humanity, no traces of feelings. Even less than the primitive attempts of artificial emotional intelligence programmed in the most basic robots. She was so scary that the innkeeper almost felt glad that she left. However, unlike her, he could not forget the feelings harvested through all that time towards the silent beauty-queen officer. They have never been close, but her simple ways made him feel sympathy for the lonely girl. So, as she signed the papers and left, never looking back to take a last grasp of the place that had been her home, the innkeeper could only feel sadness. Deep inside, he wished she would leave with a smile on her face.

The blonde guardian advanced like senseless robot through the streets. Nothing was enough to attract her attention. She had only one fixed idea in her mind. A terrible idea, fueled by feelings of vengeance. After all she had been through, she had decided that, to close the circle, she had to deal with her past tragedies. And the only way she found to deal with her past tragedies was to the only thing she knew how to do well. Armed with knowledge acquired through the guardians HQ extensive records, she learned interesting things about the people that destroyed her life. Some were already dead, but she was still able to carry out her plan. It would be her last act, she was sure about it, for it was the last thing left for her.

Anna had it all planned. She left an unsigned message addressed to people she didn't really know. After that, she took her belongings to an apparently abandoned warehouse. However, it was not the first time she had been there; there were some tools in the place, tools bought specially for the occasion. Inside the warehouse, the guardian prepared the place according to what she had planned, and waited patiently. She didn't know if or when the people she was expecting would come, but she was not worried about it. She had nothing else to do or care for. Be it days, weeks, or months, she would wait. If they never came, she wouldn't have wasted her time because she had forfeited her life, so time didn't exist anymore.

But they did arrive. Five men, armed to their teeth, broke into the building, carefully. Had they been cautious, they would never have trusted that message. However, their greed was far stronger than their good judgment. Even so, their experience had made them proceed carefully in their endeavor.

For their surprise, the warehouse was mostly empty, save for a blonde woman standing in the center of the building, with her back turned to them. The setting was so awkward that it screamed ambush. The group of armed men quickly understood that something was clearly wrong, so, as a protective device, all the five men aimed their guns at the head of the mysterious woman.

The woman should have noticed that they were inside the building, but she didn't seem to be concerned. That fact only added to their anxiety, and it didn't take long until the leader of the group yelled at her, with his voice drenched in tension "What are you doing? State your business or get out!"

Anna cringed at the sound of the familiar voice. She didn't expect to remember it so well, and the images of the day she heard that voice came back to her mind, lively. Moreover, she had learned through investigation that they had become hunters, just to terrorize civilians. Now, she despised them even more for that. The guardian, though, resisted its influence, and stayed in silence.

"Come on, spill it out! Otherwise we will kill you, and we mean it!" The leader of the group barked at Anna, aggressively, but his voice transpired fear.

Like a feral beast, the blonde guardian seemed to rejoice with their fear. Completely in control of the situation, Anna calmly started answering. "Hark, fellow hunters! Remember three years ago, in a warehouse like this one?"

"What do you mean by that?" The leader of the group was so nervous that the chances of he accidentally pulling the trigger were high.

"Three soldiers... a man, a boy, and a girl?"

"The pigs we killed?" One of the men answered promptly. All the members of the gang remembered that event, but none had held distinctive memories. The assailant hardly remembers his wrongdoings, and those men were not exceptions to that rule.

"What do you have to do with that, harlot? I'll kill you right away if you keep fooling with us!" The leader, who was visibly distressed, added angrily. He was on the verge of pulling the trigger.

"That day, there was a fourth soldier in the building." Anna added coolly. "And now it is the time for the payback!"

As Anna finished her sentence, all the men pulled the triggers of their rifles almost at the same time, but their bullets missed their marks. The guardian had quickly dodged them all, and then she was running at the speed of light through the large room. The gang members became desperate, because they weren't able to aim at her, causing them to shoot randomly, risking targeting themselves.

Laughing maniacally, the blonde guardian started throwing slashers in the air, in frantic movements. The slashers started hitting her opponents, knocking their guns down. As much as they tried, they were never able to recover their rifles, or to get hold of their revolvers, for it looked like there were ten Annas fighting against them.

In fact, Anna had planned that moment carefully, to make them suffer, and mostly, feel fear. The proud guardian, who had always kept her blades sharp, now had made them blunt on purpose. She wanted to hit her foes, but not to cut them to pieces. Besides, she was juggling four pairs of slashers, in an unprecedented performance, alternately hitting the gang members, not giving any of her foes three seconds of rest before being hit again. It didn't take long for one of the members, feeling desperate, try to run away. But Anna was prepared for that possibility, and aiming a slasher at the front wall, she activated the mechanism she had installed on the entrance, making a steel bar fall and shut the door tightly, moments before the man could reach safety.

The men, feeling helpless, tried to spread themselves through the battlefield, but to no avail. Anna moved fast as lightning, and her hit rate was over 90%. It didn't take long until, after several blows, mostly aimed to their legs, the gang members started to surrender to their fate. The girl had to be possessed by devil, for she didn't even blink while performing her sadistic ritual. The girl was frenzied, laughing maniacally while attacking them, screaming random sentences like "This one is for you, Lizzie!" There was nothing they could do against a formidable opponent like Anna.

When the first of Anna's foes fell, she darted towards him and handcuffed him so quickly that none of her opponents could take advantage of her interruption. Then, as she resumed the slashers massacre, one by one they fell. The leader was the last one to surrender, his pride didn't allow him to, but there was no way out of that nightmare. That possessed woman would never stop.

As soon as the blonde guardian noticed the fight was over, she turned to the second part of her plan. She dragged each one of the captured criminals to one of the five wooden posts she had cemented in the floor beforehand, forming a semi-circle. Some of the gang members tried to plead for mercy, but Anna seemed to be possessed by the devil, and her ears were deaf to their words. She seemed to become more and more excited as they got more and more scared. There was nothing they could do other than hope for a swift death, but judging by the wicked smile on her lips, it didn't seem to be a likely outcome.

After tying each man to one post, Anna dragged a large sack that was lying in one of the corners to the middle of the circle. Under the scrutiny of five pairs of terrorized eyes, the blonde guardian mechanically took out of it a hammer and five long nails. Then, she picked up the hammer and one of the nails and started walking towards one of the criminals. She walked very slowly on purpose, just to cause them more terror. She acted as if she wanted to torture them psychologically, but at the same time, she seemed to be in shock, and her movements didn't seem deliberate, as if her mind was being controlled by an evil force.

She stopped in front of the man, and coldly hammered the nail through his sternum, pinning him to the wood post he was tied to. The man screamed aloud, in pain, but Anna seemed to grin more and more at each of his screams. The nail seemed to be placed surgically, for it crushed his *, but didn't hit any other significant tissues. Besides, it was so tightly inserted that it didn't allow the air to leak from the man's chest, allowing him to keep breathing regularly, although each breath was so painful that the victim would think twice before inhaling.

The other criminals were shocked by the cruelty of the blonde guardian. Besides, they knew they would be subjected to the same horrors as his companion. And Anna didn't leave them waiting for too long. In a matter of minutes, all the five gang members were pinned to their respective posts. Their screams of pain were so loud that one would cringe just to hear them from afar. However, the cold woman didn't seem to care. She seemed really devoid of life, possessed by devil. However, deep inside, it was to good old Anna, conscious of her actions, doing that on purpose. The tormented girl gave vent to all her suffering and frustration accumulated in the last few years, and decided to direct all her anger towards the men who had executed Lizzie and her friends in front of her eyes, traumatizing her for the rest of her life. However, the only thing Anna would achieve from that barbaric act was to traumatize herself even further. She thought she would be dead after finishing the men who caused her so much grief, so she didn't care about the possibilities of having to live the whole life with that blame upon her.

After waiting a while, rejoicing the criminals' suffering, Anna decided to carry out her plan. She had studied a lot in the past few months, and she discovered among the history records available in the Guardians' Library accounts of a certain kind of barbaric execution, named Lingchi. She was disturbed by the accounts of such an inhuman act because it went against all her beliefs. Even when she had to kill the criminals, she tried to do it swiftly. However, as rage, anger and grief took over her soul, the concept changed from terrifying to fascinating. The vivid retellings and sparse photographs added a mysterious and almost romantic aura to the cruel execution method from ancient times, gone for good. The information about it, however, was contradictory. Although people claimed that such barbaric acts were true, they were placed in lands she had never heard about, the Imperial China. The descriptions of those places did not make any sense, for there weren't places in the whole Algol Star System that could match its descriptions. However, the information was sorted under history in Mother Brain database parts the Algolians were allowed to access, and not under fiction or fantasy.

Anna could not know for certain, but she didn't care whether it was true or not. She was determined to carry out that execution method, no matter what. Besides, her religion was also under that same category as that historical account. To make matters worse, it was believed that the same religion was widespread through Algol in the past, whose churches bored the Holy Cross sign. So, unlike those historical records which seemed to have been originated with Mother Brain, her religion preceded Mother Brain. There were many aspects of Algol history that didn't make sense. No one has ever heard of places like Rome, Nazareth, Galilee or Jerusalem. Neither about people like Peter and Paul, Mary and John, Judas and Jesus, and yet, they believed, and guided their lives according to the teachings attributed to the latter. The teachings made sense; they inspired people to better, to live in peace. Anna's best moments were inspired by his words, teachings, and examples. Unfortunately, after the most recent setbacks in her life, the blonde guardian let the darkness of her soul extinguish all the light, and all those teachings were forgotten.

Then, Anna took her knife and walked towards the first man she had pinned to the wood post. Rejoicing with his terror expression, she took his left hand and sliced a small fragment of the tip of his index finger. The man let out a brief yell of pain, but then his attention returned to the nail across his chest, that was much more painful. Satisfied, the frenzied guardian walked towards the next man in the circle and repeated the process, then with each of the men. Every time, men grew more and more scared. As she ended the first round of slices, she returned to the first man and sliced another fingertip, doing the same with each man in sequence.

Deaf to their screams and pleads for mercy, Anna continued slicing their bodies very slowly. She wished to provide them a very slow death, to pay for all the years she had suffered because of what they had done to Captain Stevens, her mentor, Richard, her only true sweetheart, and Lizzie, her best friend and the person she loved most in her life. First, she made several cuts to their hands, and then slowly sliced parts of their feet. Then, she concentrated on superficially removing parts of their skins and larger muscles, always acting carefully not puncturing, or severing any large vein. Concentrating on non-lethal wounds, she removed large parts of their biceps, triceps, and quadriceps, leaving the flesh and bones exposed. Then, she followed to remove the muscles of their chests, leaving their ribcage exposed. Their organs were visible from outside, and the sight made the men completely shocked. However, Anna wanted them alive and conscious for the longest time possible. To add to their horrors, she made a pile of their removed body parts in the center of the circle, so they could see gradually how much of their bodies had been removed, and remain conscious of how crippled they were. From time to time, she would throw salt of vinegar in their wounds, and laugh at their contorting expressions of pain.

The men, feeling helpless, screamed their lungs out, hoping someone would hear them and end that torture session. Despite being heavily crippled, they still hoped to get their bodies clone in case someone came in their help. But, even if it was not possible, it would be better to have a merciful soul to deliver them a deadly blow and put an end to all their suffering. It was useless to try to make the possessed woman to stop; they could see the devil in her eyes. How they regretted having executed those soldiers! If the pain, the suffering, and the certainty of death was not enough, the blonde demon kept torturing them psychologically, shouting at them sentences like "That one is for Lizzie!", "How do you like to be killed?", "That is what I call a work of art!"

The barbaric ritual lasted for hours, but as much as Anna wanted to keep it going perpetually, the criminal's organisms could not stand the constant aggressions for too long. After most of the big muscles were removed, she resumed cutting their limbs and extremities, bit by bit. However, the slow blood loss now amounted to a significant quantity, forming pools under their feet, and the men gradually entered in a state of shock. The screams were replaced by low moans, and then they lost their conscience. After that, it didn't take long for them to expire, finally being freed from the horrific torture they were subjected.

Anna had a mental breakdown meanwhile, and although she hadn't stop her bloody ritual in devil's honor for a long time after the men were dead, inside her mind, she was suffering more than the five men together. Despite the appearances, she had never been possessed by any evil force; Anna did it all through her freewill. And, although her exterior showed a woman completely satisfied with what she was doing, internally, a huge battle consumed her soul. She was not taking pleasure in torturing and killing the men responsible for the death of her best friend. The vengeance was unfulfilling. Instead, the realization that she was far more abominable than any of those criminals she had killed made she suffer so much that tears washed her cheeks and clothes. Every movement of her body, every cut she made, every insult she proffered, was a battle lost. A battle the good Anna she wanted to be lost to the evil Anna she turned to be.

When there was nothing left to do, Anna went to the opposite corner of the room, to look at what she had done. However, instead of seeing five dismembered bodies hanging in wood poles, over pools of blood, with expressions of horror in their faces, and a large pile of body parts, like a human butchery, the blonde guardian, exhausted, saw the image of a long-haired man, with a sad expression on his face, asking her "Anna, what have you done?"

That face she had never seen before transpired so much serenity and love that Anna was overwhelmed by her own feelings of grief, sorrow, and repent. Unable to keep standing, the blonde guardian, who moments before looked like a possessed juggernaut, unstoppable in her cruel actions, demoniac on her behavior, feel on her knees, sobbing. She lay down, and assumed a fetal position, weeping like a young child. The conscience of her acts flooded her mind, leaving her in shock. Gradually, the images in her retina faded to black, and her sanity had been demolished by the discovery of all the evil that lay inside her heart that she could not even rejoice that the so long waited death had come to finally reap her tortured soul.
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