Chapter 12 – The Hunter Home from the Hill
The hysterical screaming of the pilot told me we were there.
I made my way to the viewport window, and looked out on the cosmic sultan as he pulsed away in the center of space. The pilot was still babbling incessantly, and I heard slams as -I guessed- he
was bashing his head against his control panel. Autopilot mercifully clicked on.
The craft wound its way past the large, pulsing form of Azathoth and toward a familiar white spec, pulling to a landing alongside the driveway.
As the craft lifted off with a whine that pushed nonexistent wind through my hair, I stared at the house and swallowed. My heart was racing, my hands shaking worse than the first time I had flown
a TIE. It was only supposed to be a year long tour. It had been three.
Three years of talking over holograms, of seeing my excellent son as an ephemeral distortion, and his mother…her sweet voice distorted by the transmission, her haunting eyes dimmed by the blue
light of the hologram.
Three years of fighting rebel filth, of smashing alien scum and their hippie human enablers. Of watching friends die and worlds burn. Of agony and glory.
I had done well. My flying prowess -and sex partner- had drawn much attention among the Imperial elite. I had been deeply initiated into the Dark Side, adopted by it, molded by it. I was able to
wither the strength and skill of other men and add it to my own. It was little more than a diversion. What was the Dark Side compared to dinner with Azathoth, or holding hands with my Black Goat
of the Woods?
I was released a month early after much arm-twisting by Nyarlathotep. The Empire had not wanted to lose me. But Bea had grown increasingly restless, and this distressed her father enough where he
finally relented and had consented to end my third tour. The Emperor himself awarded me a promotion to Commander. And yet I told Bea none of it.
I wanted it that way, to surprise her. I knew she had the calendar marked, and doubtless some huge event planned for my return, involving a mass sacrifice of some sort. But I wanted her, the two
of us, for our special reunion.
She chose to stay with her parents while she awaited me. Bea was strong, but I think she wanted her mother close in case she heard awful news.
As the craft lifted off and nonexistent wind flittered through my hair while the engines whined impossibly in the vacuum of space, I realized my hands were shaking worse than the first time I had
flown a star-fighter.
I walked up the walkway. The grounds were fastidiously kept. Bea cleaned when she was nervous.
I knocked, my heart in my throat. The door creaked open.
Mother Darkness answered.
“Anon!” She exclaimed. “You’re home early…”
We embraced, and where before I would feel the cold and misery, now I felt…the Dark Side itself. It was intoxicating, and I clutched her tighter. Visions of Sith Lords raced through my head, of
killing Palpatine and taking his place…
“Easy there, little one…” she said with a slight giggle. “You have the taste now, I see.”
I cleared my throat. “S-sorry,” I stammered. “I did what I needed to do to survive.”
“Don’t worry about it – I take it as a compliment. Bea! Come here!”
My goat girl walked halfway down the stairs, her sable hair tied back with a handkerchief in it. She wore an apron covered in stains, a broom in her hands. My heart stopped for a moment. She was
even more beautiful than I remembered.
“Who is at the-” she started. She gasped.
She stared at me as if she were struck by a thunderbolt, her mouth open and her eyes wide. Her hand went to her mouth.
“A-Anon?” She said in a tiny voice.
I nodded and smiled.
“Hi Bea. I’m ho-“
The next thing I felt was the back of my head making contact with the carpet. Arms wrapped around my neck, and soft lips pressed all over my face furiously.
==YOU’RE HOME! YOU’RE HOME YOU’RE HOME YOU’RE HOME YOU’RE HOME==
“B-Bea…” I managed to get out in between kisses. “Y-your voice, your father…”
==I DON’T CARE YOU’RE HOME YOU’RE HOME YOU’RE HOME…==
She was half sobbing and giggling, kissing me still as I wrapped my arms around her. I felt tears in my eyes even as I laughed.
“I missed you,” I whispered.
She whimpered something that I couldn’t understand, and hugged me tightly. Her body was shaking.
==YOU DON’T GO AWAY EVER AGAIN. EVER EVER.==
“Okay, hun, okay…” I confirmed.
“Inside voice, pumpkin,” Azathoth said calmly, tapping his pipe on the stair railing as his daughter continued kissing me and emitting squeals of joy. “Welcome home, Commander. Now why don’t you
take my daughter upstairs so I don’t have to watch you have sex in front of my doorway, please?”
I took Bea in my arms, and she tucked her head into my chest as her arms clamped around my neck. I carried her in my arms up the stairs to her room.
I tossed her onto her satin bed as she already began taking her clothes off. She was so gorgeous, her perfect tits exposed in the air. I eagerly began to remove my uniform, but her hoofed foot
reached out and touched my waste.
“No…” she whispered. “Leave it on.”
I smiled and undid my pants, my penis poking out.
“It’s been too long…” she said, staring at my cock with hunger.
“Oh God, yes, I–” I started.
Bea took me in her hand and started pumping her mouth on me, furiously going up and down with loud slurps. I groaned, and bucked my hips as she twirled her tongues around my cock. I grasped the
back of her head in my hands, and began gyrating back and forth.
We carried on like this for a few minutes. I felt myself building as I locked eyes with her, watching the infinite blackness within.
“I’m gonna…I’m gonna…” I chanted.
“No, no…” Bea taunted, pulling free with a pop as my cock exited her mouth. I pressed forward toward her mouth with a whimper, but she deftly dodged me and wrapped her hands around my waist.
“That’s just to get you excited. I want it in me.”
She fell back on the bed and arched her back upward, spreading her legs. Her wonderful tits spread outward at me, her nipples hard and pointed. “Fuck me. Hard.”
I entered her and she wrapped her arms and legs around me. Our lips met, and our tongues, and I thrusted, trying to go through her, pumping furiously as she moaned, which only drove my frenzy
The bed shook. The walls melted. Astral Horrors stopped and watched as we fucked. It was glorious.
When I came I saw stars, and she came with me, and her voice echoed in reality. In that intense moment the entire cosmos stopped.
I collapsed off of her, panting, and she climbed on top of me. She tore my shirt off and began kissing my neck, then she pushed her breasts into my face.
“Hun, give me-” I said into her cleavage.
She rode me until I was rock-hard again, and my tired balls ejaculated into her once more in a mind-splitting orgasm.
She was insatiable.
“Gimme…gimme a few minutes, Bea, please…”
She covered my face in kisses as I panted.
“I’m so glad you’re home,” she said, mercifully piling off me and cuddling into my side. “I’m just so pent up. It’s been three years…”
“I know. I’m sorry…I wanted to come home so bad, but them we got stuck at Yaga Minor…”
“I don’t blame you; I blame myself. I should have gone there and busted you out, but Daddy insisted you do it yourself. All I could do was wait. And worry. You’re so fragile, and your star-
fighters had no shields!”
“You didn’t have to worry about me, there,” I said.
“But I did. I had to. You are so brave, but you can die. It’s not right risking you like this. No more!”
“I’ve had my fill of war,” I said, running a hand through her hair. “I’m ready to take a nice long break.”
“The way I figure it, we missed about 2100 copulations…” she said.
“2100?” I asked.
“Twice per day for three years. It’s a round number. We just did it twice, so that makes it 2098…”
“W-What do you mean?”
“We have to make up for lost time, silly! We’ve gotta big backlog of sex to get through!”
“That’s um, a lot…”
“It’s only six times per day over the next year. We also need to keep pace with our normal rate, so that’s eight times…”
“I’ll be an empty bag, hun.”
“Don’t sell yourself short! A little tomato juice and you’ll be fine.”
“I think that’s a bit beyond tomato juice…”
“Ohhh fine. We’ll make a few tweaks…” Bea said, squeezing my scrotum gently. “Until then, this should get you fired up.”
She buried my face into her breasts again. As I was buffeted by soft tits and nipples, I felt myself harden.
I rolled her over and piled back on top, thrusting inside her as she bit her lip and squealed.
We had sex six more times. By the end I was barely conscious. Bea was finally satisfied; snuggled up against me.
“You’re home…you’re finally home…” she repeated.
“I’m home,” I replied. “Speaking of which…”
I fished through my shredded pants and found the object I wanted: I golden ring with a dull blue stone set in the center.
“It’s nothing much, you know, a japor snippet, a chunk of the one buried with a dead Queen…it’s what a simple TIE fighter ace with Imperial connections can afford.”
I took a deep breath.
“Since I’ve met you my life has changed. If this is gibbering madness I never want to be sane again. You’ve filled my life with happiness and these years away from you have only made me more
certain of this…”
She cooed loudly.
“So…will you marry me, Bea?”
We had sex again.
“Where is Gaston, anyway?” I said, panting as my goat girl nuzzled up against me anew.”
“Oh, he’s main tanking Naxxramas,” Bea said. “He should be back in a few hours.”
“He’s playing video games?”
“Video game?” Bea asked, blinking.
“I uh, there was a game…never mind. Isn’t he a bit young for tanking?” I asked.
“Not at all. My other children have all tanked their way through an undead city or two by his age. I packed him some apple juice and a banana sandwich. And four dozen eggs. His sitter Eileen
“Eileen. She’s a nice old lady. Getting a little slower in her advanced age, but still wiley. A hoonter of hoonters. I don’t know what that is, but he likes her. I’d go, but it caused problems
with his guild the last time. I slightly sundered Kalimdor when Cthun hit him.”
“I missed so much of his life…” I said. “I mean, he’s already tanking raids…”
“It’s only tier 3, hun. You have a few thousand years to be there for him,” Bea said, nuzzling into my chest again. She shut her eyes. “He’ll be so happy to see you.”
I smiled, but I felt uneasy. What if he didn’t like me? What if he was mad I was gone? Worse…what if I couldn’t be a good Dad?
“Yeah…” I said, and I felt a sudden rush of fear. “I hope.”
Chapter 13 – The DarkSign
I woke, blinking out the sleep as I lay outstretched on the bed. It was warm and comfy, but not as warm and comfy as it should have been. There was no goat girl nuzzled against me. When I tried
to turn over to see why, I noticed I was not making much progress. I was stuck.
I was secured fast by a tentacle, wrapped around my wrist. I tried to turn to face it, but I found my other side held just as tightly by just as committed a tentacle.
Kicking with my feet I found they were also secured, by two tentacles that wrapped around my legs.
Bea was standing at the foot of my bed. Her black eyes looked pensive.
I frowned. “Bea, what are you-“
“Hold still, honey,” she pleaded, her voice shaking. “Please hold still…”
She lifted her hands into view, and a large, bright-red brand came up with them.
“Wha-hey! Hey!” I said, kicking with my legs and struggling. It was little use; Bea could pull apart a star destroyer if so inclined, and she was inclined to have me not move. Her tentacles
The brand made its way toward my shoulder. Bea’s hands were shaking. Her eyes were sad, but determined.
“Honey…Honey?!” I pleaded.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Just…try to think of something else…it’ll be er soon…”
“What?! What are you doing?!”
“I’m sorry!” She whimpered.
The brand moved closer, and I frantically tried to back away, to tilt my shoulder from its steady path, but to no avail. I felt the heat grow from warm to painful, and then, the red-hot metal
touched against my naked skin. The smell of cooked meat filled the air, as did my piercing scream, and the hiss as my flesh and blood cooled the red-hot brand.
It stayed there for an agonizing moment, hissing, and then withdrew, and over my rapidly-racing heart a red circle formed, and in the dark of early morning it began to almost glow.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s done!” Bea shouted, tossing the brand violently to the floor with a clang
Multiple tentacles sprang up from along the bed, with all manner of pain killers and antibiotics, rubbing down the spot before affixing a large patch of gauze.
“See?” She said, leaning in and kissing me everywhere. “All better. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry…”
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!” I screamed, my eyes watering.
Bea burst into tears, of a full-on blubbering kind.
“I…you…mortal…” Bea sobbed. “Don’t…hate me, please, I didn’t want…hurt…but…needed…”
“What did you do?!” I asked. I took a few deep breaths as Bea continued sobbing. The pain killer was fast-acting, and despite my annoyance the pain was completely gone and replaced with a mild
“You hate me,” she said. “You…hate…me.”
“I don’t hate you…,” I responded, trying my best not to scream.
“Bea, I love you…and you know its true because I’m saying that even with how pissed off I am. Now…why did you do this?!”
“D…Darksign…” she sobbed.
“The darksign…” I looked down at the spot on my shoulder and the reddening gauze. So much for mortality. I had always guessed that she would not let me die.
“I…three years…crying to sleep…so scared…watched you for hours…saw you nearly die every day…Daddy wouldn’t let me help…couldn’t bear it anymore…can’t lose you…”
“Bea…” I began. I put my face against hers as she sobbed into my neck. “Why not just ask me?”
“You might have said no,” Bea replied.
“I was hoping for ambrosia or something.”
“This…this is better,” Bea said, sniffling. “More permanent. If someone hits you with a rocket you’ll reconstitute at a bonfire.”
“My knowledge of Dark Soul lore is limited, but doesn’t this mean I’m going to turn into a mindless husk?”
“I’ll still love you,” she said, nuzzling me. She seemed to have recovered. “Do you…do you hate me?”
“Of course not,” I said. “Please…just don’t do something like that again.”
“Never,” she said. “You have no idea how hard that was for me. I love you Anon.”
“I love you, too,” I said. I tested my arms and legs. “You are um…still holding me…” I said.
Two tentacles slithered up the bed and made their way to my underwear. They pulled down my drawers gently, then coiled about my cock.
“…tentacle?” Bea whispered hopefully.
I smiled. “Sure…”
Chapter 14 – Gaston and Breakfast
After tentacle, and the cuddlings that followed, we drifted into sleep.
It was a out an hour later that I woke to the sound of the closet door creaking open slightly. I got up to close it, staggering on my wonderfully sore legs.
As I out my hand to the knob, a green nose, long and hooked, poked out.
“Psst! Hey kid…” the nose’s owner said. “You wanna join the DarkWraith?”
I thought for a moment. Probably wouldn’t be the worst idea to have another way to grab Humanity…
“Sure,” I said.
“Great! Here’s the glove. Let’s keep this between us, eh?”
“Why? Bea doesn’t like the DarkWraith?” I asked.
“It’s not that. It’s um…I’m not exactly paying rent here…”
“Ohhhh. Hey! Were you in there the whole time Bea and I were-were…” I began.
“Gotta go!” Kaathe yelled, slamming the closet door.
“What was that?” Bea asked, waking from the shaking of the room.
I took a deep breath. “World Serpent. Made me a DarkWraith, but I think he was watching us have sex…”
“You said you wouldn’t tell!” Kaathe shouted, his voice muffled by the closet.
“I said no such thing,” I responded.
“Dammit Kaathe!” Bea shouted, pulling her sheet up to cover her chest. “Go back to New Londor. Right now.”
The door opened, and the toothy serpent poked his head out.
“Alright alright, fine,” he grunted. He looked over at me. “By the way, kid…you may want to consider some ‘manscaping…'”
“Out!” Bea shouted.
We got dressed showered (where we fucked) and then walked down the stairs to breakfast, which was in the formal dining room. Azathoth sat at the head of the table near the kitchen door, a yellowed
newspaper in his hand with the words LINDBERGH in the title. The table was filled with food of all kinds from one end to another. Mother Darkness was racing about in a bathrobe, just setting down
a cup of coffee as she took a seat near her husband.
“Morning everyone!” Bea shouted.
“Morning pumpkin!” Azathoth said, folding his paper and setting it down. “Given how loudly I had to turn up the Johnny Mathis last night, I’m guessing you had a restful night?”
Bea blushed. “A necessary night.”
“And I see Bea put the brand on you,” Mother Darkness said with a smile at me, taking a sip of her coffee. She grabbed a pitcher and poured a glass of orange liquid.
“Here… it’s an old undead favorite.”
“Thank you, Mother Darkness,” I said.
I picked up the strange liquid in my hands. It was like orange juice, but of a different hue. Estus. The healing draught of undeath. I took a drink.
“This is Sunny Delight,” I said, recognizing the taste.
“Praise it!” Bea said, raising her arms above her head. Her chest stretched out for a moment and I found myself staring at her breasts.
I felt a tingle at my chest. I reached at the bandage over my heart and removed it. The Darksign remained, etched in my skin, but it had scarred over into smooth purple marks.
“Huh. It worked. I’ll have to keep some of that around. Anyway…” I cleared my throat. “Everyone,” I began, “we have an announcement!”
“Yep!” Bea said, cutting me off. “I’m pregnant again!”
“Wait…what?!” I asked.
“Oh right, I knew I forgot something…” she said, smiling sheepishly. “I mean to tell you before we came downstairs.”
“When did that happen?”
“We have a nice little zygote going from yesterday. I waited nine hours to make sure it was viable. He’s got good genetics, this one will survive to at least a thousand years old. But there was
Bea jumped up and down as she remembered the news.
“Anon and I are officially engaged!” Bea beamed. She held out her left hand, the Japor Snippet a dim gray in the light. I had earlier thought it was blue, but that was due to a mentally retarded
condition caused by being Human. Now that I was undead I could see the color spectrum clearer.
Mother Darkness raced over to see the ring.
“Oh, there is much death and sorrow and lame dialogue ingrained in this!” She said. “What a fine rock to base a marriage on. And I’m so happy we’ll have another wonderful grandson like Gaston.”
Azathoth smiled warmly.
“The marriage is a long time coming,” Azathoth said. “I am well pleased. Now come, eat!”
I took a seat under the squid-beast above the mantle, with Bea sitting at my right. Eggs, corned beef, toast, bacon…but then gagh too, wriggling in one of the bowls.
“You should try the gagh, hun…” Bea said. “It’s really good wrapped in bacon.”
Back before I met Bea I might have been abhorred by the concept, but as I had spent the morning making love to a woman with several tentacles I was pretty desensitized to it.
It did have an interesting contrast – gagh is oddly sweet, almost like a candy, and mixed with the salt and crunchiness of the bacon it was surprisingly good. The wriggling I could do without
“What do you think?” She asked.
“It’s good,” I said, my tongue battling with a writhing piece of gagh stuck in my teeth.
I looked about the table and frowned. “Where is Gaston?” I asked.
“Oh, he and Eileen are on their way. They got into an Alterac Valley match that went twelve hours.”
“You heard from them?”
“I’m watching them.”
“Well hun, I have a couple thousand eyes…” she said. “I watch all my kids. All the time. Make sure they are safe and okay. I watched you. That was very hard…”
I took her hand and squeezed it. She squeezed back tightly, almost like a clamp.
“How is he?” I asked. “Our son…”
“He’s a bit of a grump. He was out too late. He really needs a nap,” she said.
“I’m thinking, Anon, and tell me if this plan sounds good. Spend today with your little boy, then tomorrow I’d like to take you to the firm,” Azathoth said. “Introduce you to Bertie and the boys,
get you set up.”
“I appreciate that sir,” I said. “But…am I qualified for this job?”
“Of course! You’re a mask and hose man! You’ll be fine,” Azathoth said.
The doorbell rang, a sound like a bell being fed through a wood chipper.
“That’s probably them!” Azathoth said, bolting to his feet. I heard the door open and words be exchanged, then Azathoth exclaim something in delight as he began laughing.
I watched the door with my heart pounding. A woman walked through, dressed in a long thick overcoat with a beak mask on.
“Hi Eileen!” Bea shouted. “How did it go?”
“He had a good run,” she said, and her voice was tired. She yawned. “Excuse me.”
“It’s a little late,” Bea said.
Eileen shrugged. “I’m used to unending nights. The boy wanted to work off some rage in Alterac.”
“It’s enough trips for a bit. No more raids for awhile. Eileen, this is my fiance, Anon,” Bea said.
“Bea speaks about you often: the ace hoonter of rebels,” she said.
I cleared my throat. I recognized her voice, which could only mean she had called me once, in the before-time. “N-nice to meet you.”
Eileen’s eyes widened. “I-ah…yes…”
Bea looked between us and rolled her eyes. “Is there ANY woman who didn’t call you?”
“I’m sorry, Bea…” I started.
“It isn’t your fault. It still makes me mad though. Pretty soon I’m gonna start just torching them,” she said, her arms folded. “I don’t like all these women chuckling when they hear your
“I didn’t choockle,” Eileen said. “I’m more embarrassed than anything.”
“No need to be embarrassed; every other woman in the universe called him anyways,” Bea said dryly. “I’m just…I don’t like it.”
Gaston entered, on Azathoth’s shoulders, laughing as the dressing gowned patrician whinnied and snorted like a horse and bounced him up and down.
Gaston was big for a three year old, a mane of dark hair and a strong jaw even at that age. He had Quel’Serrar in one hand and the Elementium bulwark in the other, and several pieces of his
Azathoth took him down off his shoulders and deposited him onto the ground.
“Mama!” Gaston shouted. He rushed over and leapt into her arms.
Bea gave him a big hug, and he squeaked in her arms.
“Gaston, look who it is, it’s Daddy! He’s back from the war!”
Gaston looked at me and rubbed his blue eyes.
I smiled, uncertainly.
Bea handed him to me, and I might have dropped my armored toddler were it not for the Force.
He stared at me, his tiny masculine face fixed with confusion.
“Yes…I’m…I’m home,” I said, my eyes suddenly getting misty.
He strained to be put down.
“Let down!” He shouted.
I complied; my heart sinking. He ran away into the kitchen.
I looked at Bea. She must have seen my anguish, because she put a hand to my arm.
“It’s…it’s okay. He’s probably just nervous…”
Gaston ran back into the room with a paper in his hand.
“I made for you,” he said.
I took the paper in my hand. It was red crayon scrawls in a circle. He ran behind Bea and stared out expectantly from behind her legs.
“Tie fighder,” he said. “Red.”
“He likes red,” Bea said with a big smile.
“Dada’s Tie,” Gaston said. “Kill rebels. Like gampy.”
“I’ve told the boy a few stories,” Azathoth said.
I felt tears fall and could not stop them. I hugged my excellent son. “T-Thank you, Gaston…”
I spent the rest of the day playing with Gaston. I got to change out shitty underwear and give him a bath as well.
The next day, I got ready to go to meet the ‘boys’ at the firm.
Chapter 15 – The Firm
I arrived at the firm, a building floating in the orbit of a bright red planet. A row of lamda class shuttles was parked out front.
“The firm employs seven thousand people,” Azathoth said. “But we are going to the main office, which has about eight or nine people present.”
We walked up stone steps which were flanked on either side by stone gargoyle beasts, which I thought were statues until I saw one twitch. We walked through the cavernous lobby and to the elevator,
past two hulking chaos space marines in security uniforms. Azathoth pushed the ‘8’ on the elevator.
When the elevator finished its travel, it opened with a cheery ding, onto a sitting area with a large circular desk, behind which sat a comely Asari girl. She looked pensive even before she saw
the daemon sultan of the universe, and when her dark blue eyes saw him, they widened and she visibly quaked. I felt bad for her.
“Good m-morning, M-mister Ag…” she said, her voice shaking.
“Hello, Lia,” Azathoth said warmly. She smiled nervously.
“Lia’s a sweet gal,” Azathoth whispered as we walked past. “Bertie uses her ass as a slapping post. Poor thing walks into rooms with her rear glued to the wall.”
“That’s kinda mean,” I said.
“It’s sincere. Bertie’s a widower six times over, all Asari. Outlives them, grieves, then decides he wants another. Brings on a new one as secretary then breaks her in over a century. Lia’s
only been here for about five years. In a few decades we’ll be making toasts in a rented Elk’s lodge.”
We walked down a dark hallway and into a bright common room with red carpets on dark wood floors. The furnishings were also dark wood, and leather books lined the walls while gold lamposts stood
in the corners. A roaring fireplace blazed away, surrounded by armchairs. Five doors snaked from the common room, all opened.
“Hello boys!” Azathoth announced as we entered.
A chorus of hails answered. Men poured out of the rooms, all in dark black suits with smiles and raised hands. There were seven in total, and one of them reached us first- a gray-haired man,
tall, in a black suit. In one hand he had a rocks glass with scotch and ice in it. In his other hand, between his index and middle finger, was a lit cigar, the smoke rising.
“Ag, old man! Always great to have you visit the firm!”
“Bertie, old cock!” Azathoth said to him. They shook hands with gusto, almost a wrestling match. “Here’s Anon, my future son-in-law. Anon, this is Albert Loudon, one of the partners at the firm.”
“Ah! Anon!” Bertie said, slapping me on the back as we shook hands. His grip was firm, and I detected the strength of the Dark Side in hin. “We’ve been hearing a lot about you. You kicked some
serious rebel ass at Wor Tandell.”
“Thank you, Mr Loudon,” I said. “I was much delayed returning home by the rebels.”
“Yes, that was unfortunate, although I understand they were driven from the system. But then, that’s not the first time the rebels attacked. Myself and your future father-in-law did air support
“I read about some of your exploits while on campaign.”
“I was telling him I’d love to get my hands on one of those Assault Gunboats,” Azathoth said.
“Did you favor the gunboat, Anon?” Bertie asked.
“I was an Interceptor man, myself,” I said. “Speed and maneuverability.”
“Drove my little girl to distraction,” Azathoth said. “She was always terrified. She wanted to brand you with the Darksign at least half a thousand times over the last three years.”
“I got addicted to the rush,” I said. “I won’t deny it.”
“I’ll have to confess I always wanted a nice shield unit between me and blaster fire. Let me introduce you to the others: that’s Hitchens, he’s a mick…”
He pointed at a red haired man who smiled widely, then sniffed and rubbed his nose.
“…and that there is Kowalski. He’s a slob that we keep in the supplies closet so as not to disgust clients.”
Kowalski was chubbier than the others, and his pants and jacket were wrinkled and disheveled. He still seemed jovial, oblivious to his slovenly appearance.
“Then we have Auberge, Derceto, Windor, and Banehollow. They’re all mask and hose men like yourself….”
The four men smiled and handshakes were exchanged. These were older men, and though they smiled I saw there was little frivolity in them. They all had the same dark side taint as Bertie. Good
pilots, then, I surmised.
“And this…” Bertie pointed at a short, bald man with wild gray hair on the sides. The man glared at me with a scowl. “This is Haskell. Haskell is old. And slow.”
Haskell said nothing, but glared at Bertie with a look of pure malice.
“Which is a good segue-way into your interview process…” Bertie said. “You have to kill one of us to join.”
“W-what?” I asked.
“Yep. A fight to the death. Haskell is old now, and weak, so he’ll be who you fight. It’s less a fight than a mercy killing at this point.”
“This is ridiculous,” I said. “I can’t just kill-“
My words were cut off by a sharp pain in my chin. Haskell had put his right fist across my jaw with surprising force. I rubbed at the spot, backing away from a follow-up jab which found only air.
The old bastard jutted out his chin and advanced toward me, shoulders hunched and fists raised.
The others circled and began to chant.
“Look Mr. Haskell-” I started.
I was rewarded with another punch in the mouth, which stung incredibly.
“You can’t talk your way out of this!” Bertie shouted above the cacaophy of the others. “Kill! Kill!”
Haskell punched again. I tasted copper. I put fingers to my lips and confirmed the bright red fluid there.
“Alright you old fucker…” I growled.
I held up two fingers in a pincer and the diminutive old man rose in the air, grasping at his neck. I could hear his gasps, and the familiar sound like rocks grinding together. The dark side
coarsed through me, and reached out and wrapped its shadow hand about his windpipe.
“No, no…” Bertie said, gently tapping my outstretched arm. “No force choking or lightning.”
“Fine,” I snarled. I released him, and Haskell landed on unsteady feet, panting as he grasped at his throat and inhaled, his eyes bulged out.
I rushed forward, tackling the staggering man to the ground with a slam of old bones against the dark hardwood. The air exited his lungs in a groan.
I straddled him, my teeth clenched in my still stinging mouth. Even this shriveled soul had some Humanity; I wanted it.
I reached in my pocket and put on my Darkhand, then mashed it on his face. I grasped at his Humanity. I drew the black sprite out of him, and might have consumed it, but I felt arms pull me away
from the black sprite and to my feet.
“Alright, alright. That’s enough, Anon. We didn’t really want you to kill him,” Bertie said, chuckling.
“It’s a goof, son! A goof!” Azathoth said with a raucous laugh. The others joined him.
“Holy shit though, you were going all the way on that!” Hitchens said. “Fucking Darkwraith and a Sith!”
Everyone was laughing. I felt embarrassed and silly, watching Haskell pant and fumble as he reconsumed his Humanity.
“I…I’m sorry,” I said. “I went too far…”
“It’s alright Anon; Haskell has that effect on people. He’s a tough old goat,” Bertie said.
I bent down and offered my hand to Haskell. He stared at it, and his frown melted to a smile. He took my outstretched hand and I helped him to his feet.
“There; now that’s a good lad,” Bertie said, slapping my back.
“Always a good sport, my future son-in-law!” Azathoth said.
Haskell stood for a moment, smiling, scanning the faces of the others, before a red circle formed in the center of his forehead. There was a loud pop and a large chunk of the back of his head flew
out on the floor and walls around the room. Haskell’s eyes rolled into his head and he fell to the ground with a thud.
My mouth agape, I looked to the source of the gunshot. Bertie was holding a small pistol, glinting brightly in the light of the room, smoke rising from the barrel. He bore his cigar and rocks
glass in his other hand, and slowly put the pistol in his pocket and took his cigar back in its rightful place.
Eveyone stared at the corpse for a moment, before they all began laughing uproariously in unison.
“Did you see how he fell? Ewwwwww plop!” Kowalskinsaid as the others laughed.
On the floor, Haskell’s right leg twitched in some post-death spasm.
“Hooo man, that was funny!” Bertie said, wiping tears from his eyes. “Well done, Anon.”
“I uh…” I stammered.
“Come on, you two bastards, let’s pour you both a scotch!” Bertie exclaimed. “Everybody else get back to work! Lunch is at Ginty’s in 45 minutes!”
Everyone departed to their offices except for Kowalski, who wordlessly dragged Haskell’s body down the hallway. There was a feminine gasp, and the the cheery ding of the elevator.
Bertie poured me and Azathoth two golden brown scotches and we sat in the black leather armchairs. The fireplace roared.
“Cigar, A?” Bertie asked.
“I’ve got my pipe,” Azathoth said.
“Ah yes…your pipe,” Bertie said. “You need some bubble water?”
“No thanks,” Azathoth said.
“So I have to confess that I don’t know much about the firm,” I said.
“Well, who better to answer your questions than us?!” Bertie exclaimed, pointing between himself and Azathoth with his glass. “What do you want to know?”
“Well…what is it that you do? Law? Sales?” I asked.
Azathoth and Bertie both laughed loudly. “Let me freshen your drink,” Bertie said.
“But I haven’t even taken a sip-“
Before I could finish the glass was filled near the tip.
“So we’ll put you on the Hedges account,” Bertie said. “Mr. Hedges will be by in about twenty minutes. Hitchens! Get out here!”
Hitchens entered the room from a large corner office with six windows looking out over a beach landscape I was pretty sure the view wasn’t real.
“W-what is it boss?” He said, sniffing and rubbing his nose.
“Get the Hedges account for Anon here,” he said.
“Y-yeah, yeah, sure…” he said, sniffing again. He disappeared into his office.
“It’s always ‘snowing’ in Hitchens’ office,” Azathoth said, disapprovingly.
“Well…he’s the best I’ve got,” Bertie grumbled. “Haskell was a fucking waste of space. I only kept him because he flew for the Naboo air force.”
Hitchens returned with a thin yellow file.
“Here it is…Hedges account.”
“So what do I do?” I asked.
“It’s all in the file.”
Lia walked in and cleared her throat.
“Mister Loudon, Mister Hedges has arrived and is waiting in the lobby.”
“Oh! Well, looks like you’re up…” he handed me the file and ushered me to my feet.
“But I don’t-“
“Good luck, Anon!”
I walked down the hallway with Lia. She had her rear pointed away from me, and slid down the wall. When she reached her desk, she retreated behind it swiftly and sat down with a loud exhale.
Hedges was average – in height, width, hair color, and intelligence. He was pretty nondescript, but for a mustache I came to realize was a plaintive cry to be unique.
“Yes…” he said, clearing his throat.
We shook hands. His grip was tentative, and his hands were soft and clammy.
“Well…why don’t we just talk here…”
I motioned to the two white couches and had him sit down. The file, I remembered.
“Just give me a moment to review your history…”
I opened the file folder. Inside was a cast photo of the TV version of Harry and the Hendersons. The Dad’s head was circled by red marker, and the words FUCKING KIKE were so violently scrawled on
the photo that I thought Hedges might hear it screamed off the page.
I quickly shut the file.
“So…these records are so impersonal,” I said. “Why don’t you tell me a bit about what you need…”
“W-what I need?” He asked, incredulously.
“Look, I’ll level with you; I am very new to the firm. What is it we can do for you?”
“W-what can you do?” He asked, seemingly fearful.
“Well that depends, I suppose,” I said. “What do you want us to do?”
He blinked, and I saw him turn very pale.
“Y-you look flush, Mister Hedges. Can I get you some water?” I asked.
“I’ll…I’ll pay double,” Hedges said, his voice shaking. “Just…don’t.”
“TRIPLE! I’ll pay triple!” He shouted, standing. He began dabbing at his forehead with a handkerchief. “Please, just promise me you won’t change anything!”
I sighed. “Honestly, I’m not in much of a position to promise anything. I’ll do what I can.”
He stared at me with sudden intense fervor. “Of course. You’re a good man. A decent man…” He fell to his knees and kissed my hand. “You’ll do what you can.”
I nodded solemnly. “Is there anything else?”
He bowed. “I have used enough of your time. Thanks again!”
He bowed his way to the elevator, then disappeared inside.
“Not bad,” Lia said with a cautious smile when the doors slammed shut.
“Did I just threaten to kill a man?” I asked.
“As near as I can gather, you did,” Lia said. She leaned in closer. “To be honest I don’t really know what the Firm does though.”
“I wonder if Bertie even knows,” I muttered.
“B-ber…Mister Loudon…” she said. “He-um…h-he…”
“He scares you?”
“He…um…” she stammered. “He will um, tend to pat me on my um…”
“I know,” I said.
“I-I think that’s the real point of all this,” she whispered. “I know it sounds silly but I think this place exists so he can hit me on my…my…butt.”
I was about to respond when Bertie and Azathoth appeared.
“How did it go?” Bertie asked Lia.
“He got triple the normal pay from Mister Hedges,” Lia said.
“Well done, Anon!” Bertie said, slapping his hand on my back.
“We even gave you the ol’ Kike file as a gag and you still landed the account! You’re a natural!” Azathoth said, a wide smile of pride on his face.
“Thanks, I guess. I mean, I don’t really know what I did…” I began.
“The great ones never do,” Azathoth said. “It just comes naturally.”
“I think he’s ready,” Bertie said. “We’ll give him the Cromwell account. Hitchens, get out here!”
Hitchens emerged from the dark hallway.
“Hey boss, what-“
Bertie slapped him hard over the ear with an audible crisp crack, toppling the red-haired man to the floor.
“Get your shit out of the corner office!” Bertie roared. “Anon is moving in there. He’s your boss now, you worthless potato nigger!”
“Uh Mister Loudon…” I said.
“Please, call me Bertie!”
“Bertie, y-you don’t need to do this.”
“It’s admirable that you defend your direct reports, Anon, but Hitchens is a filthy shamrock worshipper. He deserves scorn.”
“Boss, please…” Hitchens begged, pawing at Bertie’s ankles. “Don’t cast me out!”
“Don’t touch me,” Bertie said coldly. With clenched teeth, He put his foot onto Hitchens’ shoulder and kicked him to the ground. “And don’t be melodramatic. Nobody is casting you out. You’re going in the closet with Kowalski.”
“But sir, Kowalski…” Hitchens began.
“Yes, Kowalski shits his pants and it smells like cabbage. It’ll mix well with the opiates you piss away our profits on. Now you get in that closet, you begorrah mongling riverdancer.”
Hitchens scuttled away, like some Skeksis with its clothes torn off.
“Goddamn Irish,” Bertie said with a deep, abiding malice.
“I’m…I’m Irish…” I said in a small voice. “In part anyway.”
He turned and his face brightened. “Me too! My Mom and Dad were born and raised there, actually. You ever been? Green country, quite beautiful!”
“But what about…” I started, before I realized it was probably best not to dig too deep on this. “So…the Cromwell account?”
Chapter 12 – The Hunter Home from the Hill