Cross the Sovereign - You Die

He ran through the streets like a man on fire.  He knocked three people over on one street, cut down an alley, and knocked two more down on the next.  There could be no escape from what he was fleeing, for he was fleeing from himself.  He suddenly realized he was still clutching the bloody knife, and shook it free from his hand as though it clung to him.  He shook his hand a few more times, trying to shake the blood from it...but his hand remained bloody, and his sleeve crimson-soaked.

He let out a moan of anguish, cut down one final alley, tripped on a pile of garbage, and landed in the muck and filth.  He didn't even try to get up, but instead rolled into a ball.  He had killed people before.  But they had been bad people...people like him.  People who deserved it.  That was business.  That was just part of the job.  But, this was some fucking kid.  How could they ask him to kill a kid?  And how could he have done it?

Henriot rubbed his hand over the top of his head, and down his face, mixing blood with mud.  He struggled to sit up, only to slip and fall again into the muck.  He had worked his way up through the Sovereign for years.  Since he was a young man.  He started like most do, slinging Grave Dust, Baccaran, or Demonweed on the streets of Garmon.  Over time, he showed his worth, and they let him sell the big dollar stuff.  Some Dreammist, Bog Rose, and even some occasional Krrf.  After a few years, he was handling a crew of sellers...eventually moving to recruiting pubs and other businesses to sell Sovereign product under the counter.  

And then he earned the promotion of which he had always dreamed.  Enforcer...Assassin for the Sovereign.  The pay was top-notch.  A Sovereign Assassin could live like a Lord or Lady on that pay.  It was the killer's job to make an example of those that crossed the Sovereign.  Make enough examples, and the need for killing slacks off for awhile.  Then people forget...they get greedy...and its time to kill a few more fools as a reminder.

Henriot had excelled at his job, and supervised several other assassins.  "Oh, fuck...of fuck, of fuck.  Pull it together, man.  If anyone sees you like this...they'll say you lost your nerve.  You're loyalty will be questioned.  Fucking pull it together."  These thoughts ran through is mind, but right along with the images of the young man, with blood gouting from his throat.  Hopeless eyes open wide as he spun and fell.

Henriot clenched his fists to his own eyes, and let out a moan.  He shook his head, as though shaking off a punch.  He climbed to his knees, and then his feet.  He needed to get home unseen, and get cleaned up.  They'd want a report on the kill, and any delay would be looked at in a negative light.


Henriot entered the Silver Spoon Supper Club, a fancy restaurant in a nicer part of Garmon.  He was cleaned up, with clean dry clothes, and he had composed himself as well as possible.  The Master Assassin of the Sovereign would want to hear that the target had been eliminated, and Henriot would be given a fresh assignment.  


Winding through the tables to one in the back, Henriot told himself it would be easy enough to put this behind him.  He'd just tuck it away in the back of his mind and forget it.  Or pretend it never happened.  Like a bad dream you want to forget as soon as possible.  A new target would help him move on.  A real bad guy to kill.  Someone who had it coming.

Henriot stopped before the table, and the silver haired man sitting there gestured for him to sit.  He took a seat opposite the Master Assassin, and waited.  The silver-haired man was fit and healthy for his age.  He had a thin wiry strength that was visible in the cut of his jawline, the corded muscles of his neck, and the way he carried himself.  His face was scarred from his early days in the Gladiator rings, before he began working for the Sovereign.  Finally, he spoke.

"So, am I to assume this Rian character has been taken care of?  Everything went smoothly, Henri?"

"His name was Kian."

"Whatever the fuck!  Is he contraband seller dead?  Is the job done?"

Henriot held back his anger.  It was a practiced talent of his.  " is handled.  He won't be selling anything to anybody anymore."

"And it went smoothly.  No problems?"

"Yes.  No problems."

The silver-haired man smiled.  It wasn't a pleasant smile.  "Good.  Then on to the next.  Your next target is a contraband seller named Werner.  He worked for the boy you just killed.  Its a similar job.  Werner sells in the crockery district.  Ask around, he'll be easy to find.  He sells in the open like he just doesn't give a fuck that we run this town.  Put him down, and put him down bloody."

Henriot clutched the edge of the table with both hands.  "Another boy?  Just a god damned boy?"

The silver-haired man's smile faded.  "Are you having a dedication problem here, Henri?  Did you forget what you are, and what we do?  Has it escaped you that we kill a few, and it saves a hundred?  We hold the line, here Henri.  You cross the Sovereign, and you die.  We underline that fact, and it keeps people from fucking crossing the Sovereign.  That's your job, you stupid mother fucker.  Get with the program, or...."

Henriot's eyes weren't his own anymore.  He had given them over to hatred and death, and darkness burned in them.  "Or what?  Finish that sentence...Finish it and we'll see who goes home tonight.  Finish it old man."

The silver-haired man held eye contact with Henri for several seconds in silence, and then looked away.  He picked up his wine, and took a sip, shaking his head.  "Henri, Henri, Henri.  I practically raised you up, myself.  Taught you the streets.  Gave you opportunities.  You think I want blood between us?  Nah.  I think you've had enough.  I get it.  I've seen it before.  You've seen enough death.  Forget this Werner.  Forget being an Assassin for the Sovereign.  I'm bumping you down."

Henriot was not following the turn of events very well.  Moments ago he thought for sure he was a dead man.  "Bumping me down?"

The silver-haired man nodded.  "Yeah...bumping you down.  You were always good at scouting businesses willing to work with the Sovereign.  Recruiting them.  Convincing them it was a good idea, and it was an arrangement where everyone wins!  Wasn't that what you used to tell them?  Its a win-win...a no brainer.  You'll go back to that.  Drumming up new business partners.  Pubs, taverns, bars, rooming houses.  Whatever.  It is a pay-cut.  There is no pretending it isn't.  But, its clear you need the change of pace.  So that's how it is."

Henriot let out a sigh, and all the tension in his muscles seemed to release.  "So that's it.  I get bumped all the way down to recruiting businesses?"

The silver-haired man leaned forward.  "It is that...or a knife across YOUR throat when you least expect it.  Now get the fuck out of my face, Henri.  Go get drunk and laid.  And forget the boy.  Forget him, and get on with things.  Your life depends on it."

Henriot gave a curt nod, stood up awkwardly, and walked away from the table.  He absent mindedly wiped his knife hand on is shirt, as if he was trying to wipe away blood that wasn't there.