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Bravado

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“Ear or nose?”

“P-please, n-no.. Have mercy..”

“You should have thought of this before you opened your trap!”

The feral snarl was punctuated by the harsh thud of a blow that rang throughout the room. Steel, windowless walls were unsympathetic to the restrained man’s plight. Already his face was a pulpy mass of bruises and cuts, both eyes swollen near to the point of being shut, his lips split in different places, his nose clearly broken. He groaned, revealing teeth stained pink from his own blood.

“I... Did… Not…”

“Liar!”

The room was dim, but enough light shone to glitter off the brass knuckles. The iron fist shot forward again, brutally clouting the traitor’s face, opening a new gash on his right cheek. The aluminum folding chair he was lashed to tipped over, and a guttural cry sounded as the man’s shoulder and head plummeted with a sickening crack to the cement floor. He remained motionless, legs twitching in their bonds, a pool of sanguinary fluid slowly forming around his head.

Two shadows stepped forward to frame the questioner, towering over him. Yet they were submissive: they would quickly sidestep him, gliding to accommodate every move he made.

“Is he dead?” One voice rumbled, a roll of thunder that matched the gargantuan brute.

“He’s flop-ping like a chick-en with its head chopped off,” the other intoned solemnly, his identical stature, voice, and appearance mimicking his counterpart enough to make one think the same brute had spoken. Every syllable was crisp, as if he wasn’t used to the language he was using.

“He’s unconscious, the bastard.” Now this voice.. A cobra, a demon, a voice expecting Hell and worse to answer to it. This voice was cold and crackling, almost to be mistaken for that of a woman’s, but when light suddenly flooded the room and the appearance of all were thrown into view, the questioner’s gender was supremely male.

Coldly surveying the crumpled man before his feet, he unleashed a savage kick to the traitor’s ribs. Pure hatred beamed out of icy eyes, for ice-colored they were, clear enough to practically be indiscernible from the white surrounding the iris. Utter loathing etched every line and curve of his visage, the unrestrained nature of his glare likened to that of a rabid wolf--no mercy.. no mercy.. Stronger men than the Twins would recoil at such a guise, and even seeing it many times before had not desensitized them to its ferocity. The Twins exchanged a look above the questioner’s head; there was no mistaking the fear in their eyes.

“Leave us. Now.”

“Yes, Kyros.”

After the acknowledgement was issued, the curt command was immediately obeyed. The Twins were more than happy to escape from the demon that shared their midst. A struggle at the door almost ensued for the right to exit first, neither having the desire to see what their master would do to this unfortunate soul. After all, they were the ones who had had to dispose of previous mangled corpses.

The loud slam of the door was Kyros’ signal. He stepped forward, as fluid and graceful as a great jungle cat, a knife clutched in his left hand. He swiftly rid the man of his bonds, kicking him aside and righting the chair so he could sit and watch his charge.

Kyros folded his legs, one over the other, adding again to his inherent femininity. Such a gesture would of course not be used in the presence of others, but for now, he had freedom. ..Impenetrable steel walls all around… And he was free here… How amusing. He immediately uncrossed his legs and sat as a man should. Kyros languidly relaxed, legs thrust out in front of him. He was a magnificent sight to behold even with his short stature.

He was a coiled snake, a tiger waiting to spring, a crocodile beneath mere inches of water. The curvy shape of his legs and hips were one of the most womanly aspects, especially in the almost latex-like material he wore for pants, the stand-out muscle lines in his calves and thighs prominent in black. To contradict his dark and tight synthetic leggings, he wore a loose, crème colored cotton shirt, the fabric intricately embroidered with black roses along the hems. It buttoned at the wrists and up the front, but his sleeves were pushed to the elbows and the neck was open almost to mid chest, revealing a run-of-the-mill black t-shirt. Somehow, the light shirt was unstained by blood, but the simple fact that Kyros even wore it at a time like this portrayed his extreme wealth.

Kyros leaned forward attentively as his victim let out a pitiful moan, but when no other sign of consciousness appeared, he sat back again. With an annoyed hiss of breath a scowl that blotted his angelic features settled. Funny.. A demon with the face of an angel.

He was sickeningly pale, but stooping to achieve an unnatural sheen of gold from a tanning bed was for women. Besides, the white of his skin made him all the more fragilely angelic. He drew the most enjoyment in this dark world when he saw the surprise that preceded the pain. His eyes, and the rest of his face, for that matter, was comprised of soft angles. Long honey-blonde hair braided in one thick plait rested over the shoulder of his left arm, matching the sideburns that went to his cheek-bones and the goatee on his upper lip and chin. Added up, he stood about 5‘ 2“, though the presence he emanated gave the illusion of a giant.

Kyros shifted in his seat, drawing in his legs to sit “Indian-style,” elbows resting on his knees, hands holding up his chin. Kyros was blessed in slender and lanky feminine qualities instead of with thickness of chest and shoulders--a vice he cursed every day of his existence. Reaching back to satiate an itch between his shoulder blades with his left arm, he stowed the knife away in an open fold of his over-shirt. He squirmed and arched slightly, lips stretching back as he couldn’t.. seem.. to.. reach..!

He sighed and straightened, annoyed, as his victim began to stir. One eye twitched slightly as he denied himself the simple pleasure of itching in front of his prey--even that small bit of weakness would not be disclosed.

“Unknowingly, you spoke a secret, my friend. Idle lips are not a virtuous attribute in this business. Perchance I shall take your tongue instead of your nose or an ear.”

The man seemed surprised at the words, gazing about in confused wonder before his glazed eyes settled on Kyros. A moan partly out of pain, and partly out of terror issued; Kyros was not a man one wished not to be alone with.

“Kyros.. Master.. Please.. I don’t know what you are talking about..”

Jaw clenching, Kyros stood to circle the crumpled man, blade twirling idly between his fingers.

“I have ears everywhere.. Shall I add one of yours to my collection?”

“I beg you, please.. I’ve been punished enough..”

“Have you?!”

Kyros’ rage returned, aided by the burning tickle on his spine. The sleeping lion had awakened. He swung his combat-booted foot forward, the steel-toed tip stopping a hairsbreadth from the man‘s forehead. A rank and acrid stench filled the room as wetness spread over previous stains of urine on the beaten man’s pants.

“I can kill you in one blow, you worthless churl, but that will have to wait until you understand why.”

The accused moaned--there had been no room in the previous statement for the exit of this prison, except for in a body bag. Kyros ignored this, however, and continued:

“I am the wealthiest mob don in this city, correct?”

When the man did not answer, Kyros edged his boot forward so the tip ruthlessly pushed on the swollen tomato of a nose the poor soul had left. His reply came in an agonized scream--

“Yesssssssss!”

Kyros continued as if the air-tight room did not echo with the man’s wail…

“…And I am… Powerful… Yes?”

…Cue the toe nudging…

“Y-yes!”

“So why would you discuss and slander my name?!”

The cruel myriad of blows that followed gave no more room for further speech other than incomprehensible vociferations and pleas, but to no avail as he was beaten to unconsciousness once more. Kyros rolled his shoulders and took a deep breath, brass knuckles dropping to the cement, hand reaching inside the fold of his shirt for a portable tape player.

He clicked ‘play..’

“Wha’ I don’ get ish why zuh basterd makesh ush shtay away from Centrul Park ah’ nigh’--if ya’ know wha’ I mean..”

(He was obviously drunk.)

“Ah’ mean… Arn we all entitled to life’s simple… pleshures?”

There was a noncommittal grunt from the other party--the other obviously knew his place. Kyros’ lips twisted in a smile as he thought to reward the individual.

“Ah’ wud undershtand he shaid it was ‘cuz of law-shutes and shtuff, buh, buh, ya’ know wha’ he said when I ashked why ah’ can’t take a paid woman to mah bed?!”

This statement of outrage was punctuated by the clinking of ice in a glass and a call for more liquor.

“He shaid, in his mighteness, tha,’ “he ‘wud nah’ suppor’ anything ash horribly womanizing” ash tha! I thought all guys liked their bit o’ fun! Wha’ sort o’ man is he? I beh he’s jusht a woman fakin!’”

‘Stop.’ Click. BANG.

Tucking the old-fashioned revolver into the back hem of his pants, Kyros smiled widely. He slowly peeled off the synthetic sideburns, mustache, and goatee, the womanly beauty they had marred now exposed.

…In a man’s world, how could she have clambered to her position otherwise? She wielded her razor-sharp blade again, finally removing both ear and nose. …She wouldn’t want her grunts to think her soft, now would she?

“Good guess,” Kyros whispered to the cadaver, smile almost gentle and loving before she drew back a boot and kicked the corpse aside.





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