Chapter 38: Monsters

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There was nothing in Fiearius’ peripheral vision as he stormed into the city. A timid deckhand had informed him Ludo was off-ship, visiting old friends in a bar, so Fiearius headed right to his target, gripping an assault rifle in his hands. Blood pounded in his ears. Leta strode alongside him — she was saying something — but he barely heard her.

” — Alyx was shocked he was still aboard, she thought everyone knew — “

Scenery blurred past his eyes, punctuated only by gasps from passers-by when they saw his rifle, carried as casually as one would carry a shopping bag through the city square. He was well and truly focused. Just like the old days. Only this time, it was personal. Shame burned his skin. How, how had he let this happen?

“ — that’s why she left so quickly — over here,” added Leta, suddenly turning toward a particularly dingy, dirty-looking bar. Naturally, this was the place that housed Ludo and his friends.

Leta slipped ahead of him and pushed open the wooden cracked door. Inside, the bar was loud, crowded and smoky, and it was a moment before his eyes adjusted.

At last, he found Ludo across the room. Drink in hand, he propped his feet up on a chair as he slouched back in his seat easily, clearly in the middle of a rousing story to a crowded table.

” — finished the asshole off, made out like criminals, which I guess we bloody are,” he was saying through a rough, loud laugh. The table was drunkenly uproarious.

This would be easy though, the strategist in Fiearius said, drawing upon the logical aspects of the situation. They were drunk and no one was paying attention. All it would take would be one well-aimed shot through the head and a quick backtrack out the front again, to the right down the alley to bottleneck any pursuit and two lefts onto the cross street to make the getaway. He’d done much more difficult jobs than this when he was eighteen. Easy.

But what his logic failed to calculate into the equation was that this was not a job. And no amount of planning and sense could have even begun to account for the acidic wave of fury that washed over him the very moment he set eyes on the man he’d come here to kill. He didn’t deserve such mercy as ‘quick and easy’. Death was too simple. This man deserved pain.

Which was why Fiearius, with a yell bellowing from his throat, suddenly left Leta and crossed through the room. In one motion he threw the gun aside, grabbed Ludo by the collar and cracked his fist over the man’s face.

Blood spurted from his nose. It was satisfying, but not satisfying enough, so Fiearius kept pummeling mercilessly, swinging his fist forward and forward and forward, his voice ripping from his throat, “You piece of shit! Did you really think that you could get away with it? On my ship?!”

Suddenly, a barrage of hands gripped around his shoulders and arms, digging into his flesh and pulling him away, a struggle of limbs — Ludo’s friends, he thought dimly,  Ludo’s friends were pulling him back. “Dov’ha ti’arte, I’m gonna rip your fucking eyes out you gi’atemé fi tíran s’yet,” Fiearius growled through gritted teeth as he struggled against the men holding his arms.

Ludo was pushing himself to his feet, holding his forearm against his bleeding face. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” he yelled. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

A crazed laugh ripped out of Fiearius’ throat. “You must have lost yours. I said one thing. Gave you one warning. Do not cross me.”

He jerked his arms against his restraints, burning with the unbearable urge to sink his fingernails into this man’s face. “Does the name Alyx ring any bells? Tell me, truthfully, was she the only one? I need to know, specifically, how many times over I need to murder you, you sick fucking bastard.”

At last, Ludo seemed to grasp the situation. “Them?” he breathed through his twisted smirk. “That’s what this is – ” His words gave way to a rough, disbelieving laugh. “You’re passing judgment on me? You?” Ludo was simply shaking his head, as if insulted. “Two years,” he breathed. “Two years I worked for you on that godforsaken ship – and I never touched ‘em. Not the arms master – not her – “ He jerked his arm to the side and Fiearius realized that he was gesturing toward Leta. “And this is what I get? This?!

Adrenaline and anger burst through Fiearius, more powerful than it had in years. Had he been coherent, it might have concerned him how good it felt. How he hadn’t felt this alive for so long. But all that mattered was the utter destruction of the man before him: with a yell, he ripped himself free and lunged forward.

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