Posted Feb.11.18 at 03:00 pm
"Meat-price," Kei repeated angrily, still holding Hawk in place by the fingers hooked under his collar. "You insult me. Who the fuck you think I am?"

"Someone who's never broken in a fighter," Aries said smoothly, and jabbed a finger in Hawk's direction. "This ain't what you want. What you got here is something that will kill you the second you slip up. I'd be doing you a favor."

Kei looked sideways at Hawk. This time Hawk met his eyes defiantly, as if to underline what Aries was saying.

With one smooth movement Kei released Hawk's collar and smashed him across the face with the flashlight--Hawk made no sound, but sank to his knees at Kei's feet.

"What good's meat-price for a halfbreed?" Kei demanded. "May as well keep him round for fun."

"You are new," Aries remarked. Hawk had tilted his face down--his nose had started to bleed, and he was struggling some to breathe through it and around the gag. "Tell you what, I'll butcher him myself if you'll lend me your equipment. We can talk it over while he drains out. I don't want him alive in my truck."

A dull green light illuminated the workbench where Aries stood refining the edge of a large steel knife on a leather strop. It wasn't much brighter beyond that, where Kei was stringing a thick rope through a rusty iron anchor in the floor to tie it down.

"Counterfeiting," Kei said.


"Huh. Never thought of that."

The rope around Hawk's ankles and the large rusted metal hook the ropes rested on was all that was holding him up, suspended upside down.

"Managerial positions in this industry are all about getting creative, friend," Aries said.