Chapter 33: Fable

I was nervous for our next event. I had no way of telling if killing Mankoy would make or break Aarei. My gut told me to convince Aarei to let it go, but how could I deny Aarei his revenge on someone who violated him? If someone took advantage of me, I'd want to see justice done.

"You could try exposing him," I said to Aarei as we headed for the event that Mankoy, and other countless guests with a name and title worth knowing, were attending.

"Hmm?"

"Instead of killing him. You could expose him for his crimes. People think twice before working with a man who is publicity known to have once defiled a young boy. They don't like pedophiles here. Out of the many heinous crimes, rape of children seems to be sole touchy subject for these people. It would ruin his business and life. His wife would probably leave him too."

"I don't care if the public knows."

"You're set on this, then?"

"Do you have an objection?"

"Not really. I want him dead too."

"Then don't worry about it. This is something I have to do. This is something I will do to anyone I recognize from my past. Mankoy isn't the only one."

"Fine. How do you want get him alone?"

Story was already at the site waiting on us. He had four other targets on his list of people to take out tonight. They were all workers under Mankoy who had a project involving new slave trade routes. With those men all out of the way, the plans or project would never see the light of day. It would likely put Bionette out of a pretty serious payday and piss her off too. The Time fragment was severing some big ties he had with very powerful people.

I didn't want to ask Story what the outcome would be when he assassinates these people, already having a good idea what the answer would be.

The place of the party was a towering citadel for the rich and wealthy. Extravagant blinking lights led to the casino on the first floor. Above that was the dining area with the kitchen and buffet. It offered tables and seats with pricey lights and candles. The third floor was the lavish lounge including a bar and comfy couches to sit around and relax. Still going up were bedrooms and suites reaching a total of 12 stories in height.

There were patrolling cars, police, guards, and even dogs. All the entrances and exits were being attended by multiple persons, all checking in with one another frequently.

Extra lights and lamps were set up to brighten the area and the long line of guests waiting to get inside.

Aarei had dyed his whole head of hair blond for the occasion. He's not a wig person. He wore formal dress pants instead his black skinny jeans. He didn't own any fancy shirts, so he wore a nice jacket over his T-shirt. He looked whole lot less depressed as a blond and without skinnies.

As for me, I had my piercings taken out and had an itchy black wig on that gave me the sense of normalcy to others who saw me. Clothing wise, I had a similar getup as Aarei.

"Mankoy will recognize me, even with a hair change. He won't notice who you are though," Aarei explained to me. "Pick a character to play when you find him. Tell me when you're able to get him into the first floor bathroom. I'll have it blocked off from anyone else."

"Any requests? "Let's take a piss! Together as buddies!"" I gave him a ridiculous scenario that I could try to run through.

"I'm pretty sure only girls do that." Aarei smiled.

"Yeah, you're right. I'll be using this then." I showed him a bottle of pills. "This will make him throw up a few times. If he's civil about it, he'll find a bathroom to do it. I'll just make sure it's the first floor." I gave Aarei an earpiece with a microphone to put in his jacket pocket. "We can to work like real spies now! No, under cover agents! We've got the gadgets and everything."

"Does this work?" Aarei talked loud into the speaker on purpose when I turned my earpiece on to test it.

I flinched and flashed him a look.

He gave me a guilty grin and put his in place properly.

We came to the meeting place and had a hard time believing that the man before us was Story.

His tattoos and piercings were gone and his hair was no longer asymmetrical black and green. He now had thick black locks slicked back. He was in full suit and tie, slim and fitting. His hands were showing and his fingers lacked his infamous armor. He even had contacts in his eyes to turn them grey instead of bright yellow.

He was taken back by us too, but not quite as much as us. "You make a good blond, kid."

"Were those tattoos on your face fake or something?" I asked. "And you have hair on both sides of your head!"

He shushed me. "Makeup takes care of the tattoos. They're real, if you must know. And I'm wearing a wig like you, dipshit."

"Hey, no need for name calling."

He rolled his eyes. "How far can you jump, Fable?"

"As myself?"

"With Aarei."

"I can jump over a hundred yards when taking over Aarei."

He looked impressed. "Good. It's impossible to climb near here with the security as it is, but we can climb the top of other scrapers and jump from roof to roof until we reach our goal. They're all built close to each other in our favor. Flat tops too. If you can cover over a hundred yards, then it won't be a problem."

"How far can you jump?" I figured I'd ask.

"You'll see."

ooo

We decided on a structure far enough away and tall enough to start from. We were almost a mile from our target, but we had no one to stop us from climbing to the top.

Story mapped out which route to take and even knew where potential sniper openings were that security likely had men covering.

The wind blew fairly strong from so high up.

"Know where you're going?" Story asked in the end.

"Yeah."

"Remember, contact me when you're done. Ready?"

I looked over at Aarei and he nodded. I possessed him and Story gave me a weird expression, still not used to seeing the trick done.

Story then vanished and appeared on the roof of the adjacent building. How'd he do that? He disappeared again, visible on yet another roof corresponding on the path we were to take.

I backed up and ran, taking a mighty leap to follow Story. I landed and sprinted into the next jump. It was stunts like these that made me feel like I was part of the Matrix. They should call me Neo because I was badass like him.

The night and height kept us invisible to anyone who might have been patrolling by.

I hopscotched our way to our destination without the slightest issue, meeting Story on the last landing. I separated myself and caught Aarei to gently sit him down.

"You're like the night crawler guy from X-men," I said to Story.

"Because I love being compared to a blue creature with a tail. It's a different process anyway, not at all like Kurt Wagner."

"You know, I met a whore the other day who said her name was Mystique. I think she might be your long lost mother."

This got a laugh out of Story. "You alright, kid?" he asked Aarei who nodded.

"It takes a little out of him whenever we come together."

Story raised an eyebrow at my wording.

"Get your head out of the gutter, man!" I yelled. "You know what I meant!"

His smile didn't fade as he retreated for the door leading to the stairs. He successfully kicked it in when he found it locked.

Aarei got to his feet and we followed Story to the top floor. "How did that not trigger an alarm?"

"Because I'm amazing," was Story's only explanation.

We found the stairwell leading to the rest of the floors and headed down. Aarei and Story broke off from me when we got to the third floor. That was my first stop.

I was careful not to bump into anyone incase I accidentally fazed through one and someone saw. That always raises the alarm for people. On the streets they couldn't always do something, but in an event, news can travel like a good gossip topic in high school. I also didn't want to make it obvious that I was looking for someone or something.

A few women picked me out of the crowd and we chatted a little before they got the hint that I wasn't interested.

Most of the men were older and heavyset, completely unattractive but laughed like they were the best things in the room. The women were young and skinny, dazzling in skimpy "formal" dresses and large diamonds. No wonder I was being approached so often. Compared to these guys, I was definitely the looker in on the floor. Even in my itchy wig.

They spoke of business and future plans for their companies. It was boring and shallow. I also didn't know most of the guests or their line of work. They could have all been planning to put together a bomb to destroy the planet, and I wouldn't know. Or care.

I spied younger people who didn't tread with nearly as much self-assurance. They were likely the newbies just hired in lower positions. They banded together in their own age group because the big world of shovanistic pigs was intimidating one.

I sat with the young ones who were probably all older than me, but I appeared their age. It's all about the confidence. They didn't have to know I was eight if I looked 30.

I lit a cigarette and listened to them for a bit.

They spoke of their bosses and laughed at some of the ridiculous stories some had of theirs. It was very close to teenage gossip, which was always fun to hear because of how dramatic it was.

I checked the crowds while I listened and laughed with them at the right moments.

"Which one is your boss?" one of the girls acknowledged me.

I took my cigarette out of my mouth. "Mankoy."

She grimaced. "Good luck."

I chuckled, "I know right?"

One of the other girls started up a story on my apparent "boss."

"You know the CEO at my place, Lenroin? Well, he and Mankoy are also doing collaborations and whatnot. One time I had my husband with me at a dinner and Mankoy was there. He didn't give me a single glance. His eyes were all on my husband."

"Yeah, he gives my little brother the same look. And he's like 15," I added.

"Oh my gosh." The girls giggled and the boy snickered. "That's terrible."

"It's disturbing, but what can you do?" I shrugged. "Have you seen Mankoy around?" I looked around as if paranoid that my boss was close to overhear me.

"I think I saw him on the first floor when I came in. Probably talking to some under-aged boy," the girl cackled.

I stuck around them a little longer and left when they were no longer paying attention to me. Time to check the first floor.

Low and behold, he was on the first floor. So convenient! He even had a glass of wine in his hand.

It was loud, not just with music, but with voices too. The games, that people with gambling issues were somehow drawn to, also made obnoxious noises. It was a good place to kill someone.

I almost had a Kathareden moment, twirling and spinning in the bliss of the moment. I contained myself however. I discreetly got a single tablet out of the bottle and kept it between my fingers. How was I to approach him to get the drug in? I've always wanted to play the part of the drunk. That sounded fun. Time to make an ass out of myself.

I made sure I had a wine glass before I started to stagger my way towards Mankoy. "I'll be sending him your way soon," I said to Aarei, looking like I was mumbling to myself as drunks normally do. Honestly, I wish I could have done the Captain Jack Sparrow walk over to Mankoy, but that was much more drunk than I needed to play. I would have brought too much attention to myself and they'd surely throw me out. One day, I'll find a reason to Sparrow my way over to someone.

"I'm ready when you are. I'll remove the sign when you contact me again."

I parked myself near Mankoy, leaning against a slot machine. I then bumped into him as if not seeing him around the corner of the machine.

He spilled a little of his drink in the collision and I swiftly dropped the tablet in. It dissolved in a matter of seconds, leaving no visible trace.

"Oh, sorry." I stumbled two paces back waving my hands at my chest for him to see that I wasn't armed or meant any harm. I kind of wanted to stab him though. I didn't feel right without my katanas at my hip.

"One too many, my friend?" Mankoy smiled at me.

"Yeah, probably. Sorry about that."

"No harm done." He was ready to continue his chat with whoever was in front of him after he sipped his drink, but the gag reflex already began. He put his hand over his mouth.

"You sick?" I asked. "There's a bathroom over there." I pointed for the big public bathroom.

"Yes, I'll be right back," he managed to get his pardon out before heading in the direction.

I looked at the man Mankoy was just conversing with. "Looks like he had too many too."

He gave a half smile and left, not wanting to stick around to replace Mankoy with me to chat with. He was kind of rude, but I wasn't going to judge.

I followed Mankoy who was doing a good job at keeping his composure. "Make way for him," I told Aarei.

He turned around a corner leading into a mini corridor going into the men's restroom.

I strode behind him silently and set up the signs that Aarei had in place to keep everyone out for the full half hour that we were there. I didn't look at it, but I'm sure it said something about maintenance and to please use the facilities upstairs.

The bathroom was long and too white to be considered a place people piss in. Stalls and urinals lined the right wall as sinks claimed the left.

I took another quick look back to make sure no one was coming in with us and stood at the sink next to the one Mankoy was using. I washed my hands as he puked. "You know, Mankoy, you've made quite an enemy for yourself," I said calmly and grabbed a few paper towels to dry off.

He looked up at me from the sink. "Do I know you?"

"We met once."

"Yeah? Well, piss off."

I looked over at Aarei who I didn't even hear coming. "Try telling him that."

"What?" He saw Aarei in the mirror standing behind him before his face was smashed against it in a brutal blow.

Aarei had a firm grip of his shoulder and head as he hit Mankoy's head to the sink a few times before throwing him to the floor. He didn't get him too hard, not wanting to knock him out.

Mankoy held his bleeding face, too shocked to scream for help yet as he tried to scoot away.

Aarei got on top of him and covered his mouth. "If you scream, I'm going to make a bloody mess of you," he whispered darkly to him. He had him well pinned and scared shitless. He let go of his mouth. "Remember me?"

Mankoy nodded ferociously, not playing dumb in hope that it would save him some future pain.

"Wonderful. You remember my dear ol' dad, right?"

He nodded again.

"And you remember what you guys did to me, right?"

"Aarei, I'm sorry."

"Oh? That's kind of you. So thoughtful. Maybe I'll be sorry too once I'm all done." He sounded like a sadist. Aarei doesn't usually do sadist. He was pulling it off pretty well at the moment. His aura was changing to a new color too. A color I've never seen in him before.

"Aarei, whatever you're thinking about doing-."

Aarei shoved a gag in Mankoy's mouth and duck taped over it. "Grab his hand, Fable," he demanded. His aura hues continued to warp into something I didn't like.

I got down and held his hand open.

"Palm up. Let's crucify this bitch to the floor." He got out a long rusted nail and a hammer from the big heavy bag of tools that he brought along.

Mankoy shook his head, trying to scream but got nothing other than muffles.

Aarei placed the nail and pounded the metal through Mankoy's flesh and the pearly floor. "I believe, in ancient history, back when they still legally crucified people, they actually drilled the nail into the wrists, not the middle palms. Otherwise the nail would just tear right through when gravity took its course as the cross was placed upright." He gave him a history lesson as he moved onto his other hand. He was able to handle this one on his own, without my help. He hammed the second nail in the same way he did the first. "Modern days, people also seem to think that only three nails were used on those with the death sentence. It's not true. They used over 10 sometimes. Did you know that the feet were actually nailed to the side of the post? Not one foot over the other?" Aarei went on to remove Mankoy's shoes. "Since I haven't an actual cross constructed for you this evening, I'll just continue to use the floor."

Mankoy was crying in pain, wanting so bad to pull his hands free and remove himself from the predicament, but hadn't the willpower to put himself through it. He couldn't bring himself to pull his hands through the nails to escape. My attention wasn't on him though.

Aarei bent Mankoy's knee and leg up so that his foot could rest flat on the floor. Then he put the third nail in. "It's not going to look like a crucifixion when it's all done, but you'll understand the key points." He put the fourth nail into the other foot.

He was talking crazy, but what did I expect to come from the mouth of someone taking his childhood rage out on another human being? Aarei had never tortured someone before, but he was doing a damn good job of it now without flinching or shaking. He didn't miss a beat.

Aarei sat on top of Mankoy's stomach and put his hands on his chest. He took in a deep breath and I saw a wicked smile on his lips. "I'm glad you remember, because I remember too. I remember this position, even. I was on your end of course. You sat on me just like this as you undid my belt." He started to unloop Mankoy's belt. "And took off my pants." He pulled the man's pants and underwear over his legs to expose him. "And fucked me!" He hammered a fifth nail in his privates. "And cut me up for the sake of your little fucking rituals to please the Gods!"

I'm surprised the man wasn't passed out yet.

"Tell me, was it worth it? Was it worth every time you stuck your dick where it didn't belong?" He got in Mankoy's face. "I hope it was. I mean, this is some pretty crazy shit to go through if it wasn't even worth it, right?" he laughed. "This has got to suck really bad for you if you didn't enjoy every moment of that like I'm enjoying every moment of this." His bloody hand reached into the bag for a final nail. "And, by the way, I'm not sorry. I bet you're really fucking sorry, but I'm not." He drove the last nail through Mankoy's eye with his own hands, cutting into them in the process.

He stood and shook his wrists.

"Aarei," I spoke to him softly.

"Hold on. Not done." He unzipped his pants and relieved himself on Mankoy's corpse. "Now I'm done. Let's get out of here."

I about called in to Story when I noticed him standing there. "How long have you been there?"

"End half. I wanted to see what would become of my old friend." He was shocked like me. He wouldn't take his gaze off the body for a while until Aarei was ready to leave. "I've already taken care of my guys. Not quite on the same personal level as Aarei." He stepped over the corpse. He eyed Aarei as he was the first to make his exit.

"Is there something wrong, Fable?" Aarei asked me at last when I didn't move from my spot.

"No. Nothing's wrong."

Next Book: Gift of Death