Author's note: This involves characters from my comics, but the brutal events involved in the character’s hallucinations are based on actual wars (the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the War on Terror).

The creature known as Renegade grinned as he faced the one who had challenged him so presumptuously. “So you really think you can do something against me?” His white pupils suddenly turned bright blue and gleamed with energy. “In addition to my incredible physical powers, I also have the ability to cloud minds. Even the most skilled and powerful have trouble against me, and you think you can do something against me?” He chuckled.

Jesse glared at the slender alien. Renegade continued to grin, though his expression became more sadistic and contemptuous. Laughter throbbed in the mad creature's throat, and after it died down he continued, “You’re no hero. It’s disgraceful to claim you are. You’re vainglorious and don’t know the meaning of sacrifice.”

The super-powered lunatic scratched near his left eye with a white claw and kept it there. Jesse watched without thinking. Renegade continued, “Now I’m going to use my thought-clouding power to show you how little right you have to boast about anything.” He looked straight into Jesse’s eyes, and to Jesse’s shock and fear, the whites of Renegade’s eyes turned gleaming blue and his pupils became blood red.

Jesse immediately became struck with an overwhelming sense of fear. Feeling discomfort and moisture in his palms, he looked at his hands, which appeared to be bleeding. When he looked up again, he imagined that he and Renegade had been transported to a black room with blood-red windows and doorways. Finally he became fully caught in Renegade’s terrifying hallucination.

He imagined that he was in a damp trench which smelled of mud, sweat, and mildew. Shells exploded loudly around him. Suddenly his eyes and lungs felt like they were on fire. He began coughing painfully. Feeling pain in his exposed head and hands, he looked to see blisters forming.

He doubled over in fear and pain and felt a feeling like thorns digging into his abdomen. He opened his eyes to see that he was now on a beach with barbed wire scattered about. His blisters were gone and his eyes felt better, but his lungs and muscles felt strained. Gunfire exploded all around him. He cried out in pain as he felt a bullet shoot into each shoulder.

He instinctively grabbed his wounds, and as he did he felt his fingers burn with pain. He felt a coldness that chilled him to the bone and he realized that he was no longer on the beach. He instead was in a cold, stark, foul-smelling cell that he somehow knew was in some kind of prisoner of war camp. His shoulders were healed, but his fingers and toes burned with pain. Upon looking at his hands he realized that he had frostbite. Feeling hot moisture trickle down his face, he touched a finger to his upper lip and found that his nose had started bleeding.

Once again the scene changed, this time to a steamy, rain-soaked jungle. He heard helicopters above him. Suddenly a missile overhead exploded, and seconds later he felt an intense heat all over his body; particularly on his exposed skin. The pain immediately became so great that he felt like ripping off his contaminated clothes just to get some relief.

Before he could, the scene changed again. This time he was in a desert which was oppressively hot, but felt refreshing compared to the burning pain he had been feeling. Before him he saw a pile of burning waste putting out plumes of devilish-looking smoke. He felt an unpleasant sensation in his chest. Then his vision blurred, his nerves felt strained, and his body began to tremble.

He closed his eyes in a feeble attempt to try to gather himself. When he opened them, the desert scene had changed. He now stood in a road in an ill-smelling desert village. There was an eerie calm as a truck slowly approached. With no warning, the truck exploded into a ball of fire, creating a shockwave that knocked Jesse to the ground and filled him with pain and fear.

Wayne and Rick came upon Jesse and Renegade about a minute or two after the hallucination had ended. Jesse was in a state of shock and lying prostrate on the floor. He stared with wide eyes and trembled. Renegade stood several feet away, holding his face in weariness. Rick started treating Jesse as Wayne started walking toward Renegade.

“It’s not pretty,” Renegade told Wayne.

“I’d say not,” Wayne replied. “You really did a number on him.”

“Some would say I was cruel, but I wanted him to know what suffering really was so he’d know he has no right to brag.” As Wayne reached his side, he repeated, “It’s not pretty. Nothing about this is pretty.”

Wayne started to say something, but then he noticed a red drop run down from under Renegade’s hand. He grabbed Renegade’s wrist and was allowed to pull his hand away from his face. Renegade’s eyes had returned to their normal coloring, but the intense use of his thought-clouding power had caused a strain on his system, resulting in his eyes starting to bleed.

As Wayne drank in this latest development, Renegade gave a weary, somewhat self-conscious smile and said, “I told you nothing about this was pretty.”

Written by Raidra
Content is available under CC BY-SA