A couple ribs gave; exploded like braided firecrackers, one after the other. Damn things. Never hold up under scrutiny.
Scrutiny had a name: Jack-of-all-Blades. A heavy for the bigs in Noirleans. He’d done tours with Mock Turtle, Plaster Gangboss, and, now, apparently The Haberdasher. That wasn’t here nor there. This wasn’t business. No, this was payback. This was a twenty year hard-on for Connor Frey. And Jack had skipped foreplay. Straight to the rough stuff.
All over spilled milk.
Jack Derveger and Connor Frey spent intimate years together as youths at The Dubreuil de Villars Retreat for Moral Readjustment. Fancy talk for a loony bin; a prison for deranged little shits.
They were too young for cigarettes and porn to be valued commodities. For them, it was milk. Forced to drink skunky tap water three meals a day, seven days a week and the kids of Dubreuil would drag a plastic butter knife across their bunkmate’s throat if it meant getting milk.
Milk little Jack had and Connor wanted. He skipped his fist across Jack’s eye socket until it splintered, then bashed his brains against the cafeteria table. Jack’s little nose split like peas, spilling puss everywhere. The milk lost.
He swore he’d kill Frey, and connecting the dots, Conney Frey to Dire Wolf ain’t tough. Just google one and you’ll find the other.
Now, here he was, damn close to snuffing out Frey’s vigilante persona, Dire Wolf. It didn’t matter that that was two lifetimes ago, literally. That Frey had died twice since then. That Frey and Dire Wolf were two different entities. Jack knew the two as the same and was hellbent on needing a third headstone.
Jack wasn’t much for fighting pretty. He was a beaut with a knife, nothing else, but he was at least six paces quicker than Frey and about three times as strong. He didn’t move like a human. Despite looking it, there was something else going on under the hood.
Another blow to the upper body, this time, the small of the back. No ribs to break, just a kidney. It ruptured like a frozen pipe, drowning his insides with spilled matter. Dire Wolf coughed violently twice. He gagged hard on the sour metal taste that filled his mouth. Blood. Another cough, thick syrupy gore dribbled from his lips and tongue. Blood soiled dark with bile seeped through his lips, tainting his chin a dirty purple.
Dire Wolf collapsed to his knees.
“Look’s like you’re fucking dead, Nancy-boy.” Jack showed a pleased, fanged grin. “Told you I’d kill you.”
“Looks like it.” Another cough. More blood this time. “I’ll either bleed out or suffocate on it before long.”
Jack clapped his massive paws across Dire Wolf’s shoulders, tossed him to his back. He steadied the sole of his boot on the ball of Dire Wolf’s right knee.
Jack-of-Blades tsked. “I’ll just have to be damn quick about breaking every bone in your body, then.”
His boot hung off the bone; his pupils faded into large whites and then the sole found floor again, shattering anything between.