Sabretooth gets caught in the cross-fire of a drama he wanted no part of. Can he make it to the end, or will fate finally catch up with the Tooth-Monger? *this is old-skool Sabretooth, around the...
So like a chump, I'm readin' this letter I picked up, through an old contact I'd almost forgot about. Hell, I did forget him, since I thought he was dead. Just goes to show ya, I guess, about that assumin' business. Then he shows up, practically at my front door, dead again. Now my memory occasionally plays tricks on me, but I don't think I'm the one who killed him, though I did put him outta his misery. Least I could do fer someone in the business. I tend to remember those who buy the farm on the end o' my claws. All that was left on him was this letter, an' a scent I've never gotten before. Looks like there's a new player in the woods, an' they've picked the wrong chump to set up.
The letter was all in code, but one i knew. It had been a while since I was in the business, but I ain't forgotten everything about it. Someone wanted to talk to me, real bad. Bad enough to send some city boy up into the Canadian Rockies to find me kind o' bad. I gotta admit, it caught my interest. So I took some time off o' my huntin' expidition, an' headed into the city. New York City. The smell of it hit me long before I could see the lights, an' I wince. Now I remember why I left this damn town.
The letter memtioned meetin' at a bar, but no name to look for. So I parked the car, slummed, an' hunted. It's one o' the many things I'm good at, but you knew that too. After four hours o' smoke, people, an' loud music, I'm just about to call it quits an' murder someone just fer good measure, when I catch it. The scent catches me off guard. I remember that frail vaguely, though fer the life o' me I can't remember when from. It takes another two hours, but I finally pin it down.
The doorman gives me plenty o' room on my way in. Smart man. I brace fer the inevitable cachophony o' light an' loud music, an' it does it's usual tricks on my senses. Wincing, I wonder how anyone could find this entertainin', an' start lookin' around fer the frail I'm supposed to meet here. I could wander through the the press o' dancers an' drinkers, but what's the use o' havin' heightened senses if yer not gonna use them? Followin' the trail o' her cigarette smoke, I push a couple o' guys outta my way, an' pull up a chair. Slidin' into the seat, I grin across the table to her. "Hello, darlin'. How's tricks?"
"How'd you find me so quick?" She's a bit startled at my appearance. Rumors get around, an' I figger that she was expectin' me to show up all splattered or such. I've been havin' a time holdin' it together lately. Or maybe it was the grin. I'm told it's scary.
Gesturin' around an' snaggin' an ashtray from one o' the servin' gals, I laugh a bit at her expense. "Yer the only gal I know that smokes that brand. That an' yer perfume, you stand out in a crowd. Though you did lead me on a merry chase. Tryin' to lose me?"
"No. I was making sure you were not followed. It's been dangerous out there recently." Her hands shake a bit as she reaches fer her drink. She's been packin' them away fer a while, goin' on the number o' empty glasses scattered on the table. Funny. I don't remember her as a drinker.
"I'm not being followed. An' if I was, it wouldn't be a problem." Leanin' back a bit in my chair, I stare at her. "Now what is so damn important that I've gotta come all the way down here, to this damn city?" I'm not feelin' so good, with the lights an' the music gettin' to me. "An' why a dance club?"
She smiles through her fear. "I was hoping it would put me at an advantage. The press of people and security will dissuade my trackers." Very cute. Also hopin' it will keep me off-balance in the bargain, I'll bet.
"Did Karriden get through to you?" That was his name. I guess it really did slip my mind.
"What was left o' him did. Someone did a job on him, an' there wasn't much left by the time I found him. So I put Karriden outta his misery."
"Oh...," an' she suddenly looks smaller.
"I'm hopin' you weren't the one who sent him. What the hell was a city boy like that doin' in the Rockies?" If she sent him, she's gotten really dumb in the last few years.
"No! Um, no. It was our... mutual employer. We needed to get ahold of you, and it was the only way we could think of." She startles for a bit, then recovers nice. I'll give her points fer that. An' shes smart enough not to ask what I did with the rest, or make eye contact. She used to be a real pro. I wonder what she's been up to lately?
"I'm retired. I thought I mande that real clear to everyone in the business. I've got enough to deal with fer right now, so I'm off the market." I've been busy alright. That runt ain't the only one with friends that can slice data like no one's business. Trackin' down my own life ain't high on my list o' fun things to do, but it's important. I think.
"I know, and that's why I'm here. My employer wishes to hire you. Simple case, over quick." Leanin' forward an' droppin' all the double talk, she whispers, "I need you back. We're getting picked off, and I'm on that list."
Aw, hell. I guess someone did write chump on my face when I wasn't lookin' this mornin'. "No, darlin'. I toldja, I'm off the market right now. Maybe in a year or five, I'll have some time, but not right now. Not even fer a weep an' clear. Not even fer old time's sake fer you."
She orders another drink. Great, she's now gonna get drunk on me. "It's not a request. You're on that list too. Everyone who's ever worked with him is."
"Is it bigger than a breadbox? Come on, who are we talkin' about here?" She expects me to remember everyone I've done a job fer? Get real. I ain't no damn mind reader.
"That's classified, Vic. You know that." She lights another cigarette. "And it's not wetwork. My employer requires a bodyguard, and you're the best on his list." I know I'm the best, so that's no news to me. But now I'm tryin' to remember if she knows my full name, or only the Vic part. This gets so flamin' confusing at times.
"Do I look like someone who cares? I don't care if it's wetwork, body guardin', or abstract paintin', right now. I'm busy." Paintin'? Now where did that come from? The lights in here are gettin' to me, I guess. An me pullin' guard duty right now is a sure fire ticket on the oblivion express.
"Stop clowning around, Vic. This is serious. Dead serious. Karridan is one of about seven that have been hit in the last month, and the remaining list is getting thin. I told you, this was not a request." Seven? Damn, I thought they were better than that. Guess I've been outta contact too long, not to see this happenin'. Who's been handlin' the trainin', a priest? Seven in a month is bad fer business. It's not like us mercenaries an' assassins an' such grow on trees or somethin'. It's a fine art, honed over years. It's either in yer blood, or it ain't.
"So, I'll say again. Who wants to hire me? Just as an object lesson, darlin'. I'm still not fer hire." Who is she talkin' about an' what is she so afraid of? I ain't tearin' into her or such. It's not like she's on my personal list, though if this keeps up she might be just fer principle. I don't like gettin' jerked around.
The rush o' people around us never lets up, as the midnight hour approaches. She sits there, playin' with her drink an' her cigarette fer a few, I guess tryin' to get the words in order. Meanwhile I'm fightin' against one hell of a headache. I really hate this feelin', like someone's stickin' icepicks through my head. It's way too easy fer me to lose it lately, what with Birdie gone an' all. Fightin' the edge o' the red haze outta my mind, I keep talkin'. "I'm not gonna be here all night, darlin', so's you better talk fast."
The tone o' my words startle her, but ut gets her attention. I'm startin' to act like my own rumors. "Just stop it, ok? I'm not some joker new to the business, Vic, and I'm not going to be treated like one. I am dead serious. Whoever is hunting us, they are good. As in better than you were when you were in it."
Now I'm interested. Someone better than me? I'll believe it when I see it, but she's pretty sure of it. Her sweat is nervous, an' her hands just won't stop shakin', an' I know it can't be all be from me. I ain't done nothin' yet. "Who's the employer that's losin' all the hired help? Or is that a big secret too? Come on, if I worked fer them, I'm cleared fer a name at least."
"That's just it. I don't know. None of us do. We get our instructions, and we follow them. He wants protection, and you." She leans close, her breath just brushin' my face. "I want you, to find the employer. I've missed working with you, bad temper and all."
I lean back. I'm partial to a drink now an' again, but her breath could stun a bear at twenty paces. None o' this is helpin'. "So, you want a name. He wants a guard. I want nothin' frokm either of you." Someone who enjoys workin' with me? Now there's a laugh riot. That's why I don't have partners anymore. I always got yelled at fer not bringin' them home in one piece.
Great. Now she's about to cry. One o' the many reasons not to get involved with a frail. They leak too easy at the eyes fer my tastes. "He's willing to pay, at your high end rates. If that's not enough, I've got a little in savings I'll add to it." Oh, so I'm a slab of meat up fer auction now. Guess I've been outta touch too long, her people to think that about me. I ain't never been fer sale.
"Im on the market, and I sure as hell ain't up fer sale." Lookin' around, I know somethin's botherin' me about this whole set-up, an' it ain't the fact I can't remember this frail's name either. But scannin' the crowd don't point out anythin', an' neither do the scents. Everythin's buried in a layer o' smoke, sweat, an' alcohol.
"So you can go back to yer boss, an' tell him I ain't fer sale, rent, or loan." Pickin' up my own drink, I go to stand up, almost knockin' some punk kid off his feet. She acts like she's gonna follow me to the streets outside, an' she probably would have, if the gunfire hadn't started about then.
Throwin' myself at the floor, I'm hopin' the shooters are too dumb to sweep below their knees. Yeah, I could heal from a few shots, but I don't wanna mess up my new jacket with somethi' as tame as my own blood. The crowd panics, an' I get a few bruises from being stepped on an' tripped over, but i'm not the only one on the floor anymore. Some o' these kids know what gunfre means, an' they ducked too, along with those hit by the wall o' lead comin' thoguh the club. The smell o' burnt powder an' blood fills the club, swampin' out the cigarettes an' sweat. Bottles explode, coverin' everyone with glass an' half finished drinks, an' the the cries from the stupid kids not smart enough to duck fill the air.
Silence. The gunfire shuts down, leavin' the moans an' cries o' the clubbers, an' a few remainin' speakers still wailin' about the end o' the world. There's a body next to me. Well, there's a lot o' bodies next to me, but only this one smells o' that damn perfume an' her smoke. Guess she's lost her edge. I look over, knowin' what I'm gonna find, an' I'm not disappointed by my eyes. She's a mess, but she's still breathin', which is pretty amazin' considerin' the number o' holes she suddenly grew.
"...Please... take this..." There's somethin' in her hand, but she drops it. I pocket it, an' grin at her as she breathes her last. Everyone should have a reason to go into oblivion scared, when I'm around. Too bad i never remember her name. But this got personal. I don't take kindly to being shot at, no matter who's doin' the shootin'.
Glancin' over the top of one o' the tables, i try to get a picture o' the guners, but the smoke combined with the light show still goin' on is too hard to get through. All i see are the guns glintin' in the lights an' helmets. A memory pops up, but i bury it, workin' on the now. I'm hopin', if I'm lucky, the gunners will clear out, then i can vanish. Not my style, you say? I don't care to advertise that i'm back in town, thank you very much. I'm all fer throw-downs, but on my terms. An' these just ain't my terms tonight.
Most o' the gunners start to leave, but one idiot decides he wants a trophy or somethin' to celebrate his great triumph over the evil punk kid clubbers they've just mowed down. Ph yeah, the mighty hunter suveys his prey. I've done some shitty stuff, but i can't remember slaughterin' a gaggle o' kids just to get one frail. I've killed kids before, but usually fer a very good reason. I was paid good. Now there's nothin' wrong with a few momentos, but this fool figgers I'm just one o' the dead. His first mistake.
His second is not usin' the gun on me when I grab ahold o' his wrist, an' start twistin'. Did you know it only takes twelve pounds o' pressure to break a human's wrist? Did you know I can break bricks an' bend metal with my grip? Now this gunner knows too. He starts screamin' up a storm, an' actually tries to slap me. Slap me, fer cryin' out loud. Now I'm insulted.
"Big mistake," I snarl, get a good grip, an' start pullin'. He yells, an' goes over, his shoulder not no longer connected all proper like with the rest o' him. I usually don't go fer the obvious, an' I'm still tryin' to remember that I don't want anyone knowin' I'm back, but the scene was just cryin' fer it. Who am i to deny drama it's due? So I bury my other hand in the fool's stomach. Grab, twist, an' pull. The volume comin' from him suddenly drops, as the moron can now see his own lumgs. Fer the few seconds left to him, anyways.
But this kinda gets the attention o' the other shooters, which marks this as a rather dumb move on my part. So sue me. One eviscerated corpse is enough, so I'll use their own hardware against them. Grabbing the now very dead fool's gun, makin' sure it don't slide outta mt hand, I open up on them. Now the noise is back, as the shooters open up on me. Tryin' to make their lives a little more fun, I roll under the wreckage o' the tables, shootin' about knee height. Idiots. They start droppin', along with the few kids who were dumb enough to stand back up.
Now I'm up to it to my elbows, tryin' to figger out if the night can get any worse. Over half of them are down, but I can't really stick my head out to spot the others. The scent of hot metal comes from my gun, along with the tang o' gunpowder. I'm guessin' they'll be dumb, an' try to rush me. It would bame the night more interestin', an' I'd get a couple o' seconds o' pure slashin'. But someone on their team is smart. I hear a pop, almost lost in the barrage o' the firefight, an' then my world goes white. Magnesium flare! I hate it when they don't play fair.
Droppin' the gun, I grab my eyes, howlin' at the spots doin' a tango across my vision. Fer a split moment, I wish I wasn't a mutant with heightned senses. I feel more than hear another grenade o' some type go off, an' now my ears are ringin' too. Definately not my night. I can feel the floor tremor fer a moment, as the goons make their exit. I'm left crouched on the floor, blind an' deaf, tryin' to figger out where all o' this went so wrong.
My senses finally fade back to normal, an' I stand up in the wreckage o' that once was a hoppin' club in this city. A few o' the less mangled kids are crawlin' around, gettin' helped by the partiers that lucked out an' didn't get hurt. A quick search o' the frail's body tells me she don't have anythin' of importance on her. But whatever she dropped, I've still got in my pocket.
Stuffin' the stolen gun in the waist o' my jeans, i take inventory. No bullets, scratches, or marks. I smell like an alcoholic on a binge, but otherwise I turned out just fine, which is strange. Whoever was in charge o' those shoorte knew just how to slow me down. Not many people know how to do that, but i got sideswiped tonight. So why not finish it, an' win some real points? In this type o' life, I know I'm worth a lot as a notch on someone's gunbelt.
"Ahem." Someone coughs behind me, an' i whirl around, hand already restin' on the gun. Through the smoke, i can make out a figure standin' in the entrance. I can't get her scent through the smoke an' such in the room, but I can make out a figure. A gal, no less. Is it just me, or did someone decide it's pick on Victor night, an; not tell me?
She's got me, dead bang, but all she does is point at me, an' fade into the dark outside. I run fer the door, causin' not a few moans from the poor saps i step on still on the floor, but I don't make it in time to catch her. All I get fer my trouble is a glimpse o' black hair, an' the hauntin' scent o' cinnamon an' smoke.