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Author’s note: This is a continuation of last week’s article, which was the 14th installment of this story. Any comments are welcome. This is an episodic story, which means you the audience have an opportunity to influence some things. If there are any events you want to happen or prefer to avoid, do say so. This tale may just go in that direction. Now, back to the story.

As to be expected, no one liked to hear that news. But an open threat on the life of a reputable mob boss within her own place of operations seemed to catch everyone on guard. Kyumi took the opportunity to press forward, his footsteps echoing off the walls until he had covered a third of the distance between himself and Ygnuwe.

“What are you waiting for, shoot him!” the old hag shrieked. Judging by the shock rippling through all of the guards and guns-for-hire, her panic-stricken state made the intruder all the more terrifying. His calm pace remained this way, steadily covering ground. One of the guards finally decided to do something, taking aim as best he could while his hands were shaking, and fired. The projectile ricocheted off a shoulder pauldron, bouncing off harmlessly while Kyumi walked on.

More followed suit, shooting at him as he strolled leisurely. Salydula ducked under the desk, out of sight, while Ygnuwe screamed obscenities and threats in her species’ native tongue. Or at least, that’s what Kyumi assumes the horrific noises she is making are supposed to be. It likely didn’t help the few things which did damage the hardsuit only pierced and scarred the outer-layer. An unfazed titan of a mercenary seems to be enough to intimidate the toughest of mobsters.

Two thirds of the distance crossed now, Ygnuwe decides hiding is not her style and climbs onto the desk. A talon pointing in Kyumi’s direction as she continues to screech. Unfortunately for her, those charged with her protection realized her time is up. The weapons ceased fire. And the hag directed her wrath upon her own army.

Standing before the desk, looking at Ygnuwe with apparent indifference, Kyumi pulled Ygnuwe down. Her voice died in her throat as she was caught in his grasp with no escape. Kyumi noticed the representative was crawling away, shuffling along the floor and looking absolutely sick. One hand on Ygnuwe’s shoulder, the other was raised until it rest on the top of her head. There was fear in eyes of all those watching, but none moreso than the eldest’s. She trembled in his presence now, all sense of bravado gone. Her reputation and her defenses did naught to protect her. Least of all from this outsider whose grip was firm upon her scalp.

All he had to do was pull.

Retching filled the silence that followed.

The container was held by a still recovering Salydula who walked side-by-side Kyumi. He needed a way back through the security check point and seeing as the representative was a well-known face for Ygnuwe’s operations, this seemed like the best option. The gang member didn’t object to anything Kyumi requested of him, though he was uneasy with the task of carrying the head of his former employer.

Several were suspicious of the two, but all it took was Salydula saying in no uncertain terms that if Ygnuwe were to hear about any delays in a profitable business venture, those in question would be out of a job. The irony was not lost on Kyumi. This time, at least.

As the two entered Heartsease’s domain, Salydula became increasingly skittish. He babbled to himself about how he was not going to die, how he did nothing worth being killed for, it was all business and survival for him. Once at the clinic, Kyumi opened the door and motioned for Salydula to step inside. With a pert nod and a subtle attempt to appear smaller, he did so.

“Heartsease, I with Ygnuwe’s head return,” Kyumi called out as he closed the door behind them. The little alien doctor came scampering out of the hallway and into the reception area, abruptly halting as she saw Salydula.

“!!!” She angrily pointed at the two of them, stamping her foot.

“N-no! I’m not Ygnuwe! My n-name is Salydula! I worked f-for her!” The cowardly avian stammered out in his defense to some unheard accusation, dropping the container and pointing at it with as much vigor as Heartsease was pointing at him. “Her head is in there! I saw him do it! Please, believe me!”

“Salydula the truth speaks,” Kyumi added to his defense.

Squinting at them both, Heartsease walked over to the container she gave Kyumi. Opening it up and seeing what lay within, she set it on the counter of the receptionist desk with a sense of reverence. Then immediately began to jump around happily, moving her body in bizarre manner that could be construed as dancing if one were inebriated and purblind.

The gang member that Kyumi brought along looked at him warily. “Can I go now?”

Author’s end note: Part 15 is now completed. Another show of appreciation to Charlotte Tapp and all the work she has put into this project. As you may have noticed, there is no special art for this week’s installment. This is due her personal life becoming increasingly hectic. However, her influence remains in the story-telling. Again, criticism and comments are encouraged. And while there were plans to do an exposition piece next week, we may instead just move into part 16. Keep an eye out.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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