Kings of Fortune

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Episode Twenty One - Previous Profession

“Anything today?”

“No, nothing. What is this about?”

“Just a bounty I wanna steal. Anyways, keep me posted. I’ll be running this one with Zylo.”

“Got it. Catch you after.” Juniper hangs up.

They’ve been watching the board for the past several days and still no significant bounty for the Immortal Spades. To avoid occupying too much of their time, the New Pirates decided to engage only in pairs for simple bounties.

Currently, Kitsune and Zylo are running down a Neon Supreme bounty worth twenty-eight thousand Soul. They’ve chased Starlet and Cecile of Neon Supreme to the business district, realizing the bounty has escaped into one of the many tall office buildings nearby. The high towers of slick mirrored glass stand on an equally spaced grid, each one looking nearly identical to the other.

“He’s this way.” Cecile waves her partner over.

Starlet immediately follows, sprinting through the building grounds toward the entrance. She dressed colorfully as usual.

In their first encounter, Zylo didn’t have the conviction to fight Starlet at all. Perhaps it was her wavy golden blonde hair, or her magnificently smooth skin, or the fact that her side-handle baton had already smashed against his face multiple times. Regardless, it was a painful yet strangely alluring experience.

As with all Neon Supreme members, several colorful glow stick bracelets are wrapped around Starlet’s wrists. For personal reasons of her own, draped around her neck is always a shimmering golden locket of a heart containing a past memory.

Dark cherry wood and strikingly painful are her dual side-handle batons, or often referred to as nightsticks or tonfas. She is extremely skilled and proficient with her weapons, but even without, her fit and muscular body proves just as deadly.

Her partner, Cecile, is an eloquent woman dressed fancy in a dark-grey suit vest with red suspenders. Her black hair wraps into a neat bun with a red feather delicately placed at the center. Though not particularly matching her grim style, she too wears several glow sticks around her wrists.

The New Pirates finally catch up to the scene and Zylo spots Starlet heading into an awfully familiar office building. It’s been nearly two years, but he instantly recognizes the front doors to his old workplace.

“Whoa,” Zylo mutters.

“What?” asks Kitsune, running alongside him.

If not for his numerous and dreadful experiences, Zylo wouldn’t have been able to tell his office apart from the rest. A strange nostalgia takes over and he is reminded of all the long mornings sulking to work. Suddenly, he feels uneasy and tense, painfully bothered by the distant memories returning to reality.

There are more important things to be concerned about, but a part of him is afraid he’ll run into his old coworkers, including the one whose name he could never remember.

The Pirates gun for the entrance, but Cecile creepily emerges from behind a tree to impede them. “Let my hands decide your fate,” she greets.

Zylo nearly jumps from her startling appearance. “What the? Um, go back to where you just came from, you demon.”

“Demons would not retreat, and neither will I.” With a flick of her fingers, a projectile shoots out from Cecile’s hand and clinks against Kitsune’s quick block.

Zylo glances at the ground to find a Nine of Hearts playing card. “Cards?” he tumbles away from another.

Kitsune shouts, “We gotta get in quick. You rush her from the side and I charge from the front. Ikuzo!”

Zylo jets off to the right, hopping over a bench and strafing past a triplet of thrown cards. One pierces a tree and the other two whizzes past his speeding body.

“Here we go!” Kitsune charges head first from the front. With his readied pipe, he deflects two simultaneously flung cards but the third scrapes his arm. “Gah!” he grunts, but his feet don’t stop.

Cecile is quickly being surrounded but calmly steps back toward the building to maintain her distance. “Quite a precarious situation…” she mutters before hurling two consecutive cards toward Zylo. He swivels his body and easily evades the first, but the second strikes him dead on.

The projectile pierces like a knife stabbing into his breast and he cries in pain. Biting his lip, he quickly pulls the card out of his chest, and light-blue mist steams from the wound, dissipating into the air and into his nostrils. The scent is something he still hasn’t grown accustomed to.

Kitsune finally gets close, ducking under a swishing card and eagerly sliding into a kick. A smile emerges on his face as his heel slams against Cecile’s abdomen. She is pushed back, and he jumps onto his feet with a hard swing.

Cecile skillfully leans her chest just out of range and the attack misses. While stepping back, her swift hands flick two more cards at Kitsune, one painfully grazing his neck and the other stabbing into his shoulder. She lands a kick to his chest and he plops to the ground.

Cecile immediately turns, only to find Zylo already beside her.

YAH!” His eyes burn with fury. Holding a rod in each hand, he steps with a fierce rounding swing and slams both weapons against Cecile’s chest.

The hard metal collides with the front of her rib cage, and she shrieks painfully before propelling toward the office building. Her body crashes against the marble wall and pieces crumble from the impact.

“God this stings.” Kitsune runs a hand across his neck wound as he struggles back onto his feet. He continues past Zylo toward the building, saying, “I’m heading up.”

Defeated, Cecile sits up against the wall clutching her pained chest and placing a cigarette between her lips. “You’re Zylo, right? Pleasure,” she groans.

“Looks like dealer loses.” Zylo drops one of Cecile’s cards to the ground, and walks away.

“We all lose in the end.” She exhales a long, slow breath of smoke into the air, then breathes in again through her nose.

“You’re kind of dark…but you probably know that.”

“There’s an even bigger darkness within you. Don’t let it consume you.”

Zylo continues his way, “Whatever.”

Aside from a few extra potted plants, the lobby looks exactly the same. He recalls the many wonderful strolls through here on both weekdays and weekends, and how much he wanted to burn everything to the ground.

Emotional nostalgia. He smiles.

As Zylo approaches the front desk, he finds the security guard cowering beneath the table. Zylo looks him over and asks, “Where?”

The guard points toward the stairway.

Just between the third and fourth floor, Kitsune dodges Starlet’s attacks left and right in the narrow staircase. Her batons clang loudly with each miss, crudely banging the handrail out of shape.

“Kitsune!” Zylo calls from below.

“Can’t win your own battles?” Starlet throws a front kick, forcing Kitsune to retreat down the stairs several steps, then takes this moment to enter the office floor.

“Hey, I didn’t tell him to come!” Kitsune chases with reckless aggression, running through the door but quickly struck in the forehead by the butt of Starlet’s baton. He stumbles forward into the room before tripping onto his knees.

“Damn it, why do you guys have to be so painful…” he groans, crawling on the floor.

Zylo tumbles into the recognizable office floor, and successfully ducks under another one of Starlet’s surprise attacks.

She chases and attacks fast, swinging each stick before twirling around the handle to attack with the opposite end.

Her assault is relentless but Zylo matches the pace of her attacks, continuously stepping back while batting away her flurrying batons. Starlet’s wild, untamed blonde hair sways with the blurry gleam of her glow sticks, but Zylo tries to remain focused.

Fighting further and further into the office floor, the employees flee from their cubicles to the end of the hall. Kitsune rubs his pained forehead and waddles after them. “I’m going for the bounty.”

Starlet decides to push away and chase after Kitsune, but Zylo sends a kick. She dodges to the side, then weaves her body left and right from his swinging rods.

Stepping back and eventually hitting a partition wall, she leaps up onto the desk and begins hopping across the cubicles in a path toward Kitsune. Loose papers and stationary items fly off in wild directions, leaving a scattered mess over the floor.

Zylo chases and smashes through the computer monitors, printers, and cups of pens trying to land a hit. The feeling is almost cathartic, savagely destroying the workplace he once loathed so dearly. Surely, he will become one of the accomplished few who succeeded in destroying their workplace.

“Get away from me!” Starlet’s frustration becomes apparent and she takes an initiative. Leaping from the table, she clutches Zylo’s collar and slams him into the ground as she lands.

Standing over him and gripping his shirt, she ruthlessly butts the baton into his face.

Zylo catches the first hit to the nose, then desperately covers his face with the rods to fend off the rest.

“Okay! Okay! Stop!” he screams, frantically blocking Starlet’s relentless attacks. Her batons hammer against his steel, pushing closer and closer to his face.

Eventually, Starlet grows impatient with the slow progress, and Kitsune is already after the bounty. Finally, she throws a hard kick against his ribs and runs off.

Ah, Starlet, you trying to hurt me here?” Zylo clutches his pained side as he slowly gets up.

She glances back and scoffs, “No, I wanna take you out for dinner,” and turns back toward the hall.

Too late though. A body lands into the aisle and Kitsune appears into the hall shortly after. The lifeless body of the bounty starts to dematerialize into the air.

“I guess this is my lucky day then,” Zylo smiles and rubs the blue ichor leaking from his nose. “So, what do you like to eat?”

“Goddamn it.” She snatches a coffee mug from the closest table and chucks it at Kitsune, but he quickly ducks under it. Even more enraged, Starlet furiously storms off down the stairs.

“Another job well done.” Kitsune slaps his hands and walks back to Zylo.

The hunt was definitely easy aside from the abundant cuts, welts, and bruises on their bodies. In fact, Zylo’s nose would even stop bleeding blue in another five minutes, and Kitsune’s vision recovered in even less time. Successful indeed.

Kitsune scans the remnants of the room and asks, “You did all this?”

The desk chairs are fallen over, printers and monitors smashed, and papers and pens scattered across the floor. A somber tear streams down from Zylo’s eye, staring in disbelief.

‘Words fail to illustrate this feeling...’

On the other end of the floor are the employees, crying and trembling in fear. Kitsune scans the damage and says, “You know, it’s one of the rules to interfere as little as possible in people’s lives…” He pauses, and decides, “Actually, never mind. Let’s get the hell outta here before the cops come.”

Zylo waves goodbye to the employees and maybe to the one whose name he could never remember. Hopefully, he’ll never come back here again.

Fred! That sounds like his name.

The sounds of sirens wail behind them as they escape from the vicinity. The two Pirates hastily scurry away several blocks before Kitsune takes out his phone.

Hey. Yeah, we’re done, we got it,” he says. “Still nothing? Alright, then. It’s a holiday today. Get Junie and let’s hang,” Kitsune starts massaging the welt on his forehead. “Yeah, get the T-wrecks. We’ll be waiting,” and he hangs up.

“T-rex?” asks Zylo.

“Yeah, Tyrannosaurus Wrecks, as in ’wrecks’ things. It’s what I named the truck ’cause it’s old and that’s a kickass name.”

Kitsune’s body is riddled with cuts and bruises, the most apparent being the slit on his neck and the softened welt on his forehead. “I need a drink, fast.”

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