“You’re telling me that the guy who jumped me in that 7-11 escaped?” I asked, my eyes narrowed. Hector nodded, frowning darkly. “Jesus Christ. He was handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. How the hell did he escape?”
“Let me see here…” He held up the report. “There was a crash. He went through the window with both feet. The handcuffs were found broken on the chair behind him. They’d been damaged in an altercation at some point in the past, and he managed to yank them off. Took a lot of strength, but not, like… Well, you know. Spooky amounts of strength.” He frowned, shaking his head. “Technically could have been a coincidence. Just bad luck. I mean, the alternative is that…” he coughed, and glanced at me uncertainly. “It’s just weird, Dane.”
I nodded slowly. “How’s John?” I asked, softer.
“Still out. Fine, he’s just… sleeping it off, I think.” He sighed, and shook his head. “You know, I’ve always tried to be a good cop, Dane. Bouts of vigilantism against the supernatural aside, I’m not the kind of person who wants to see the law broken. Day in court, all of that good stuff that keeps our profession from becoming some fucked up shit-show. But how exactly are we supposed to deal with someone like…” He frowned. “Jackass. God, boss, I can’t believe your sense of humor sometimes.”
I shrugged. “Seemed appropriate. And…” I grimaced. “I don’t know. I’m playing this by ear, okay?”
“I’m just going to warn you, boss, the commissioner has been keeping a close eye on us. Footage of you fighting those guys wound up on the news last night, and it looked pretty brutal. There’s some real debate going on about police brutality in the wake of all of this, not to mention that little fracas the knife caused.”
I frowned. The memory of Herbert Walter’s knee cracking under half a tonfa played in my head, the violent sounds making me shiver. I slowly nodded. “So, if David Crenshaw winds up disappearing, it’s going to be a touch suspicious.” I sighed. “Justice can be such an inconvenience sometimes, can’t it?” I gave him a half-hearted smile. Hector winced. “Sorry. It’s been a bad time. I-” My phone jingled. I answered it. “Hello?”
“Dane. It’s Fang Fen. Me and Ariel are on our way to the station, we should be there in about half an hour. I’m afraid Amaterasu was very little help.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes… thanks to Ariel.” There was a pause. “I’ll see you soon, alright?”
“Yeah.” I hung up the phone, frowning. “What cell is Herbert in?”
“6A.” I nodded, and made my way down the stairs into the bowels of the station.
Herbert lay on a cot, his knee wrapped in plaster. He was staring up at the ceiling of his cell, his expression glazed. He turned his head towards me, and the first words out of his mouth were “I am so sorry.” I nodded, and unlocked the door, stepping inside.
“Not sure if you’re the one who needs to be saying that. I was the one who broke your knee. I’m sorry about that. But you had just tried to open fire on a crowded train car with a rifle.” I frowned at him as I took a seat on the cot opposite him. He had a cell all to himself, not least because I was worried about what might happen. Either to him, or… because of him.
“It was…” He took a deep breath, and shuddered. “It was too much. Do you know that feeling, of being surrounded by people, and suddenly, everything is too loud, too sharp, too bright? Every near miss, every rude gesture, it hurts like someone’s stabbing you.” He shivered, his hands moving over his eyes. “I didn’t want to hurt anyone. That’s why I left. I left work, I left my wife, I was just angry all the time, and- I couldn’t- It’s- It was too loud. The city’s too loud.” He curled in slightly on himself. “It’s all too loud.”
“What did it, Herbert?” I asked softly. “Was it the war?”
He shook his head. “The war was… rough. But I- I came back. It was okay. I’d made it, you know? A lot of guys don’t make it, but me-” He frowned. “It wasn’t work, either. Or my wife. One day, maybe a week and a half ago, I’m on business up in Yonkers, and I bumped into this guy, and I just wanted to fucking cut his throat. I felt insane. Yelled at him. The fat fuck just ran, and I was angrier after that, and-” He gritted his teeth. “Fuck. I felt pissed. I was so angry all the goddamn time. It was like it was burning. I knew I had to do something. Something huge, something- to just punish people for everything they were doing. God, I-” He swallowed, and looked up. “Who did I kill?”
“Nobody, as far as we can tell.”
He sagged with relief, his head lowered. “It’s like it’s all gone, now. Before, every night, it was getting worse, getting more intense, driving me mad. I couldn’t stand it. But it’s… cooled off.” He wiped his face, and let out an involuntarily little sob. “I’m going to jail, aren’t I?”
I looked up at the cell. No windows in this one. I wondered about that for a moment. “I don’t know, Herbert. I suspect you’re not to blame. You may have been the victim of something. A…” I paused for a moment. “Hallucinogen. A deliriant. We suspect it’s being used on people, making them respond badly to noise and crowds, to try to cause trouble.”
“Like that whole Church of the Survivor stuff last year?” he asked, his eyes widening.
“Yes.” I nodded. Thank god for precedent. “We’ll have to keep an eye on you, but if you improve, maybe there won’t be anything to it at all. There’s something you can do to help me, though. It may be a bit difficult, but if you can, it’d help a lot in stopping this from happening to anyone else.”
He nodded slowly. “What can I do?”
“Remember what you were doing. What you ate, what you drank, where you went, where you were. This thing is like a disease, which means it can be tracked like a disease. If you can think of anything that might help, about when you started feeling it, when it got worse, and when it stopped, I’ll have one of my guys here.” I looked down, and winced. “I’m sorry about your leg. I’m really sorry.”
“Been a long time since I was playing any sports. Beats the hell out of being shot.” He gave me a weak smile, and lay back on the cot. I could see how he held back the resentment. “I’ll try to remember.”
‘You did all you could for him. You saved him. It’s what a good cop does.’
I closed my eyes tight, trying to shut out the sound of the voice. Jack Knife still sat on my desk upstairs. But that didn’t mean I could trust what was going on in my head. I forced a smile onto my lips, and nodded. “Thank you, Mister Walter.”
I made my way back into the office proper, and stopped. A number of officers had gathered around one of the computers in the open floor. I stepped closer, and saw myself on the screen. The assailant from the 7-11, pinned under my legs. Heavy, ugly cracks filled the air, making my stomach twist unpleasantly. Then my ankle went over his throat, and he began to struggle. His face turned red, and then started to go blue. My lips were drawn back in a rictus on the screen, my eyes wide. Someone on the camera whispered “Should we stop her?”
With that, the me on video lifted her head, and looked around wildly, hair mad. She loosened the grip with obvious reluctance, and leaned forward, voice harsh, just loud enough to be caught by the camera. “Listen, buddy. You give me any more trouble, I will choke you unconscious.”
I stood there for several long seconds. One of the men turned, and blanched. “Uh, Deputy Inspector-”
I waved a hand dismissively, turned, and walked towards the interrogation room where Jackass was cooling off. I’d left strict instructions that anyone interacting with him to bring him food or water was to wear earplugs, and to not engage with him under any circumstances. I could only hope that would be enough.
The video disturbed me more than I thought. In the heat of the moment, the human being is a panicky, violent ape. When you are in a life or death situation, you wind up acting on instinct more than you do on conscious thought. You become an animal again. That doesn’t excuse anything you do. Just the opposite, really. When you’re exposed in such a raw and absolute way, you see what kind of creature you really are. And that was an ugly goddamn thing for me. I never wanted to be one of those cops who lost it, who turned feral, who started acting as though the world was a messy counter and the only thing that you could do was wipe it all clean.
I put my hand in my pocket, and was surprised to find Jack Knife. I drew the knife out, and she sprung into human shape, like a paper doll unfolding itself. “What the hell are you doing here?” I asked, eyes narrowed.
“I thought you might need some help. After all, if this fellow starts fucking with your mind, you’re going to need someone who can get you back on the straight and narrow.” She smiled cheerfully. “Or failing that, someone who can cut his throat to keep him from talking.”
I narrowed my eyes, and looked around the hall. It was empty, thank god. I looked through the two way mirror, and at Jackass. He sat there with his sandwich, and a drink. His hands were uncuffed, against my direct instructions, which made me grit my teeth. He hadn’t escaped, which told me that he was where he wanted to be. “We don’t want to kill the guy. You know what they call people who murder anyone who they deem evil?”
“Uh… heroes?” she asked, her head tilted.
“This guy sent one of your friends to murder you, Dane. He whispered cruel things into John’s ear until the only course of action which made sense was to kill you, then himself. We both know that you’ve only got one way to deal with someone like this.”
I clenched my fist.
“That would be a rather bad idea,” said Ariel. I turned. She and Li Fang Fen approached. Li Fang Fen looked rather bad. Dust in her dark hair, her clothes ripped and torn, shaking slightly. “For more reasons than one.”
“You have something against killing humans, right,” I said, nodding, a frown on my face. “You okay, Li?”
“Not really, but I am functioning, so we shall make do, hmm?” She gave a nervous smile. I turned towards Ariel, an eyebrow raised.
“I don’t like to kill humans, but I am willing to make exceptions. Trust me, I would enjoy nothing more than to rip that man’s throat out. He is the embodiment of the things that I hate most. Using people as tools. Conquest is the essence of tyranny. The removal of others freedom to facilitate your own. It’s a mockery of the things I hold most dear, like War, survival at all costs, mocks Pearl’s principles and ethos.” Her eyes flicked over towards Jack, who smiled innocently, shrugging. “But there is a complication.”
“If the servant of a Horseman dies, their power is returned to the Horseman.” I frowned. “What can he do?”
“Things that aren’t supposed to be possible. There are things in this world that are like laws- They are supposed to be impossible to break. Things like holding on to your will to live without a soul. Things like taking the power of a god into a human body without being overwhelmed by it. And things like what he can do. I don’t know why these laws are being broken, but it is a sign of the times.” Ariel sighed. “The upshot is that killing him would be even worse than letting him go. It would have dire consequences.”
“Fuck.” I looked over at Jack, and frowned. “Pardon my french. But how are we supposed to deal with this guy? We just have to let him go because he has us over a barrel?”
“No.” Ariel crossed her arms. “I know something we can do. I would not normally suggest it. But I know someone who could take his powers away. Jackass would be simply… normal again. Forever.”
“That can happen?” I frowned. “I thought when you or the Horsemen gave powers, it was for good. That it couldn’t be taken away unwillingly.”
“Laws are being broken,” she said softly. “Do you think he knows something?”
“I hope he does. That’s why I’ve got three…” I looked at Jack Knife. “Four of us, going in there. Hopefully, we can provide each other with support. Keep him from screwing with our heads too hard. If we can manage that much…” I shrugged.
‘You’re strong enough, Dane. He won’t be able to control you.’
My eyes flickered over to Jack Knife. She was staring in at Jackass through the one-way mirror. “Well,” I muttered, shaking my head. “Not like we’re getting any saner.”
“Is this really a good idea? He seems to have an uncanny insight into us. That could be dangerous,” said Li Fang Fen.
“Well, as long as we’re being up front with each other, what’s the worst that could happen?” I asked, giving a sardonic grin. “What’s the worst skeletons in our closet?” Neither of them met my eyes. “Fucking fantastic. Pardon my french.”
I opened the door, and stepped in, taking a seat across from the man. Jack Knife stood in the corner, eying him warily, while Ariel and Li Fang Fen moved to stand behind him, flanking him on either side, staying out of sight. He gave a tremendous grin, and washed his bite of sandwich down with a sip of coke, smiling magnanimously. “Tyger, tyger, burning bright. So good to finally get to meet you. I used to know your father, you know. He was a real hero.”
My eye twitched. That wasn’t good. “One question, Jackass, before we start all of this. What do you know?”
“What do I know? Everything. The reasons. The players. The things…” He turned and smiled over his shoulder. “That even you don’t know, Wind.”
“Really,” asked Ariel, her expression bored. “Like what?”
“Like what is causing the plague of heroes.” He turned back towards me, and tilted his head, studying me. His eyes flickered over my arms, down across my chest, nodding slowly. “You’ve noticed. The spree killers, the people going mad, they’re not just lunatics. Lunatics don’t escape from police cars while handcuffed. Madmen don’t murder half a dozen people in a fit of rage and then simply fade away. That is the province of the blessed, of those whom are smiled upon. I know it all, little Dane.” he chuckled. “You know, Alex once considered me for your godfather. He wanted me to take care of you. Your mother, god rest her soul, thought it was ridiculous. She thought it would be a bit morbid to make plans for their death while you were just an infant. But I always felt a certain closeness to you.” he smiled. “Would you like to call me daddy?”
I breathed in sharply through my nostrils. “Alright. I can buy that you have some useful information. Enough that I’m not walking out immediately. But if you mention my father again, I’m going to leave you to rot. What do you want in exchange for what you know?”
He tented his fingers. “Immunity for my crimes is hardly appealing. After all, I haven’t committed any crimes in the eyes of the law, and you would never want to let me go anyway. No, the only way I am walking out through that door is with you broken. I will explain everything, if you let me talk to you. Let me ask questions, probe.” He smiled. “All four of you.”
“You must be kidding me,” I said, in as level a tone of voice as I could manage. “You’ve turned good men, strong men, into your personal fucking flying monkeys with an afternoon chat. Why would I agree to talk with you?”
“The same reason they did. Because you don’t believe that it will work on you.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I’m not that arrogant.”
“Oh, you are. I know that you felt shaken by Bastet’s strength, I know that you were uncertain whether you were worthy to be a successor to your father’s legacy. But you have taken hold of Jack Knife, and exposed yourself to her corruptive influence. You believe in your own strength, Dane Larson. You believe you are the hero of your story. That you’re special. And I’ll tell you a secret.” He leaned forward, a smile spreading on his lips. “You *are* special.”
“Funny,” I said, eyes deadpan. “We both know I’m nothing special.”
He chuckled. “There are four kinds of people. Sheep, Rabbits, Rams, and Tigers. Sheep give in. Rabbits give up. Rams give nothing. Tigers…” He stared into space, and there was an almost melancholy expression on his face. “Tigers kill that which tries to control them. You’ve felt it, haven’t you? When faced with something infinitely your superior, with something that should have left you paralyzed with fear, you were never stronger. Your rage is a source of power for you, as much as you try to fear it.”
“So, John was a sheep?” I frowned. “I can’t really believe that.”
“Oh, no. You shouldn’t take it for granted who is what.” He pointed at Jack Knife. “Sheep White.” He pointed at Ariel. “Rabbit Brown.” He pointed at Li Fang Fen. “Ram Black.” Then he pointed at me. “Tiger Red.”
I raised an eyebrow. “And what do you see when you look in the mirror, Jackass? What’s written on your forehead?”
“Nothing at all.” He smiled. “I, you see, am perfect. I am the hunter. You are all prey to your instincts, your needs, your frailties. I am better. Well. Mostly.” He chuckled. “I have one weakness, and it is the desire to be better. That is why I killed Blake. To prove that I could break a Ram. And it felt amazing. So, now, I’m here to catch a tiger.”
“I have twice done what no other force, human or supernatural, has been capable of,” he said, smiling modestly. “I feel that at a certain point you earn it. Let us start with a tidbit… You believe there are four great evils at work in this. You are wrong.” I frowned. “Now, let us start off simple.” He turned in his chair, swiveling, and smiled at Ariel. “Wind. How are you?”
“I’ve been better.”
“You have, haven’t you? You once were the ruler of this world, flitting as you would. You were free, Wind, truly free in a way that no human can ever understand. It was impossible to cage you, the most people could do was cup their hands around you for a moment or two. But no technology they ever made could stop you. Redirect you, but never dam you. You were the last holdout, the one who swore you’d never be tamed. Until they took your sister.”
Ariel didn’t react, her face stiff.
“You wanted to rage, didn’t you? I can see the anger written on your chest. Your beloved sister, best of you, most loving of humans, was betrayed. The gods caged her away, they tormented her, they made her a plaything! And you wanted to fight, didn’t you? You wanted to crack their homes and scatter them far and wide. I imagine that’s why you were so harsh with the goddess. You wanted to make her suffer the way you did. But while others have suffered because of their weakness, you suffered because of your strength. So many in this world can’t do anything. You could do everything, if only you were free to do so.”
“Conquest told you these things. That’s quite the breach in the rules.”
“Lovers have no secrets from one another. After all, you did things you weren’t supposed to.” His eyes flickered down to her stomach. “You’ve broken the rules for the men you love, over and over again. Love is your weakness, your great curse. If it weren’t for love, no one could cage you. If it weren’t for your love of your sister and of humans, you would be free to act as you wished. And… Oh, it burns you, doesn’t it?” He chuckled.
“I’m over it,” Ariel said, her voice tight.
“Oh, you’re over it, you’re over it, you repeat that refrain as though it will make it true. You keep moving as though if you run fast enough, the bad memories will never catch up with you. But they do, don’t they? You ache for the sweet memories of the past. My goodness, all you really want is for someone to be strong enough to take the burden from your shoulders. You know how weak you are, because in the end, you just want to be the fair damsel in distress, to be saved by someone stronger than yourself, even though you know that there is no one stronger. You are a coward rabbit, frozen by indecision.”
“That’s not true,” said Li Fang Fen, her arms crossed, her tone matter-of-fact. “You saved me, Ariel, when I was about to die. You took action, and it was brave. You saved me from something terrible and cruel, and as long as I exist, I will never stop being grateful to you for it.”
“Oh yes,” purred Jackass. “So grateful you’re already preparing to betray her, aren’t you? A small betrayal. Paltry, really. Something you both want. But goodness, poor Ariel is on the edge. She’s beginning to wonder whether her love is true. Whether it’s love, or slavery, that defines her connection to humanity. Does she save those paltry humans because she cares about them, because they bring her some joy, or because she has no choice?” He chuckled. “Choice is for people. The wind doesn’t get to choose which way it blows. You’ve always been a slave, Ariel.”
“You really throw a lot of shit at the wall to see what sticks, don’t you?” I asked, nails biting into the desk. The room was tense. Ariel’s stance was growing more withdrawn, arms crossing tighter. Li Fang Fen was looking from Crenshaw, to Ariel, and back again. Jack was pacing in her corner.
“Oh, please. She can feel the truth in what I’m saying, or she would not respond as she is. Freezing. Paralyzed in the face of something she can’t fight. That is in her nature. And you know what the best part is?” Jackass chuckled. “She’s starting to come around. She’s begun to ask herself whether it would be so bad to destroy it all. If humans all died, she would be free again. She’s wondering to herself whether she could escalate things naturally so that it came to apocalypse. And I’ll tell you a secret, Ariel. Something special.” He chuckled.
“Another thing you know that I don’t, huh?”
“Yes. There are more of those than you’d expect. It’d be easy for you to bring the end of days. You could do it right in this city. All you have to do is kill Jack and Jill. Just do that, and you’ll have your freedom. Humanity will die in just a short four years. Mark your calendar.” He smiled pleasantly.
“You’re not a prophet,” hissed Ariel, her fists clenched.
“No. I’m something much better. Prophets look at stars and entrails and birds and smoke to try to tell what the future will hold. I look at the present. I look at people. Trust me, it’s just that simple.” Then his eyes turned to Li Fang Fen. “You don’t believe me. You still think that your freedom lies at the end of the road. You think that the sun goddess will keep to your word. You think that by betraying a friendship, by setting Ariel on the killers, that you’ll be able to regain your lost honor. But you gave it up willingly, Li Fang Fen. You were not unjustly robbed. You decided to make that sacrifice, and now you are realizing how much it cost you. Was Jennifer’s life worth this? Was it worth all that you plan to do?”
“I…” Li Fang Fen stepped back slightly. “I wasn’t going to. You can’t tell me I was going to, I wasn’t going to betray Ariel, she saved me-!”
“Oh, yes, tell yourself the lies you wish to hear. We both know that you didn’t tell Ariel. You knew that the sun goddess wanted that from you, that she wanted Ariel to suffer for what she had done to Japan. And if you could convince yourself that it was for the best, you’d make sure that it happened. How easy it was to betray her, even after she saved your life, because what matters to you most is your precious honor-”
He stopped. My hand was wrapped around his. He smiled. “Oh, what now, Dane? Are you going to threaten to kill me? To disappear me? The tactic I used on Blake won’t work on you. You’re not a hero. Nobody looks up to you. You’re a dangerous psychotic who’s right just often enough for the city to look the other way. If I tried to appeal to your better nature, I doubt I’d even find anything here.” I slowly pulled his pinky out, extending it. “Do you think pain will stop me?”
“No. But it’ll make me feel better. You’re right, Jackass. I’m not a very good cop. I don’t care all that much about people, I let them get hurt if it means stopping the people I think are wrong. I’m self-righteous, I’m angry. I’m a bad person.” I calmly began to bend. I was strong, and the leverage was not in his favor. The pinky bent back, and then snapped. Tears appeared in the corner of his eyes, as his face went white. “Ariel, I won’t let you get in a position where you’re forced to kill. You deserve better than that, and you deserve to be proven right. Li Fang Fen, Jack and Jill aren’t going to leave this city. Even if it costs me everything, I’ll stop them.”
“Oh, Dane.” The tears were in the corner of David’s eyes, but he smiled. “You know why you can’t, but you’re weak. You’ll try to kill me at the end of this. And Ariel will stop you. She knows that I can’t die. There’s too much hope left. Hope that you can still stop this from going bad. Hope that her prince will show up on white charger and in shining armor to stop me without killing me. Hope that I won’t spend eternity together with my true love. You’re a tiger, Dane. You are a dangerous animal, but nothing more.” He chuckled.
“Then do your worst,” I said, my eyes on him. “Prophecy’s like that. You’re telling me that because you believe it’ll manipulate me. That if you tell me I’ll kill you, I’ll get hard-headed and refuse to do so. Just to prove you wrong. But, I know that there’s a proper end for you in this. I trust Ariel when she says there’s someone who can rip your power away from you. And when all of that supernatural strength deserts you, I’m going to look forward to watching you live the rest of your life in despair. Just a normal human being. A sheep, like all the rest of us.” I clenched my fist around his, putting pressure on the broken pinky. “I am not a good person, Jack. I’ll accept that. I’ll revel in it, because I am surrounded by good people, who will stop me if I ever went too far.” I looked up at Ariel, and Li Fang Fen. They nodded.
“Oh, Larson.” He yanked his hand out of mine. “Pain is an instinct. The body trying to warn the brain. It can be controlled like everything else.” He held up his other hand, and smiled, teeth clenched. He wrapped his first three fingers of the broken hand around the whole pinky, and pulled. Pulled further. He pulled it backwards until it snapped. I shuddered. “Strength is rising above weakness. Strength is spitting in the face of weakness. This finger will heal, and it will be stronger than it was before. You cannot control me through pain. I have lived with pain every day since she left me-”
“She?” I asked, eyes narrowed.
He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. The truth is, you are not evil. You are a good person, in your heart. You are a soft-hearted person, in your heart. You want to protect everyone around you. You love everyone around you. You are tormented by your inability to protect others.” His eyes turned towards Jack, and his smile spread. “You want to save the world, Dane Larson. You pretend to be evil to intimidate the people around you, but you are a pussy cat. Soft hearted.”
“Jack Knife. Ancient cursed sword. You know the story of Muramasa and Masamune, don’t you?”
The Tsukumogami swallowed, looking away. I grabbed his hand. “Hey!”
He winced, but clenched his teeth, keeping his eyes focused on her. “Muramasa and Masamune placed their swords in a river, to see who was the greater swordsmith. Muramasa’s blade cut everything that passed- Leaves, fish, the water itself seemed to bleed as the blade cut it. Masamune’s blade sat undisturbed in the water, cutting nothing. A Buddhist monk who had watched declared that Muramasa’s blades were cursed, cutting that which was innocent as eagerly as anything else, without discrimination. Masamune’s holy blade would cut only that which needed to be cut.”
Jack snorted. “That’s a terrible story. Of course. I’m one of Muramasa’s blades. I was made to kill. I was made to destroy! Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you, and save everyone here the trouble?”
Crenshaw laughed slowly, his eyes wild and wide, his teeth gleaming. “Don’t you understand? You were never Muramasa’s work.”
“You’re fucking speaking nonsense!”
Crenshaw turned to face me, smiling. “This is what I can do. Just six words, and I can break the knife that’s supposed to be unbreakable. The knife that has protected you. You know why she protects you? Why she seeks wielders who can survive? What motivates her?”
“Stop!” screamed Jack, and suddenly she was in my free hand, a slender switchblade.
“She was not made to kill.”
The knife sprang out. In the heat of the moment, I couldn’t tell whether I had pressed the button or not. But I was the one who had slammed the blade into his chest. I thrust again, and again, and again, and Ariel did not stop me.
David Crenshaw fell backwards, the chair toppling over, blood bubbling up out of his chest, as he smiled. “Well. Two impossibilities out of three wasn’t bad. I gave it my best. Conquest… I can be with you. We can…” His eyes moved, unfocusing, twitching, as he looked around, gasping, his chest bubbling out more blood as he reached up. “Conquest…?”
He went still. Jack Knife sobbed, great wracking cries that filled the air. I stared, trying to come to terms with what I’d just did.
“Boss?” came Hector’s voice over the intercom. “Shit, Boss. Why?”