Untitled (2018-02-01)

Take a human soul–give it the ability to understand non-linear, infinite time. Give it a goal to obsess over. Give it a challenge, give it a would-be-martyr, give it the opportunity to ruin its own odds.

Give it just the right amount of rage, a smidgeon too much of desperation, and a faint smattering of honest affection.

Then say it failed.

Then watch it grow.

Now multiply it by three.

Some demons used to be human.

But not all of them.

The woman in the sharp suit and perfectly coiffed red hair sits amongst the worst criminals of the region in a complete state of calm.

She meets Venediktov’s eye and drains the entire teacup offered to her before rudely setting it upside down on the table. Of course, it’s not as rude as trying to poison a guest in the first place, so no one calls her out on it.

“My client was reluctant to have me come here,” she begins, letting the upper echelons of the bratva settle themselves. “Not out of any fear for my safety,” she continues, not glancing at the teacup whatsoever, “but because she is, despite herself, a good person.

"I do this not out of any duty or obligation, not for money or revenge. I do this because there is so rarely a time when I can help my client, and frankly I think this will be a satisfying experience…

"For me, that is,” she clarifies, when it looks like some of her audience has misunderstood her, relief trickling onto their faces before she bats it away.

“Frankly, Venediktov, it may be kinder to just kill your son yourself,” she says which riles the group up once more. There are protests and threats–the harsh scrape of chairs against the floor–but none from the leader who sits and listen. How smart. Well, he didn’t get to his position by being stupid.

“But I also understand what it’s like to have a child. Isn’t it terrible when they throw themselves into danger?”

She does not say: you should have kept an eye on your son. You should have had a firmer hand. His transgressions will cost him greatly, he will wish he had died instead of suffer the punishment I have in mind

What she does say is, simply, “Four tattoos.”

Some of the bratva laugh, scornful–tattoos are part and parcel of their life, there is no punishment in needles and ink–but still Venediktov remains silent.

“Your son fancies himself a handsome man. One here,” she lists, gesturing in a curve around her eye, “and here,” this time from cheek to cheek along her chin, “around his wrist,” she says with a graceful, if lazy rotation of her own, “and around his ankle,” she concludes, tapping the heel of her shoe against the ground in a sharp, punctuating knock.

Venediktov closes his eyes and turns away.

“So you are aware of what this means for your son’s fate,” Nyx smiles, before placing a simple business card on the table next to that overturned teacup. She stands.

“You have three days to make your decision.”

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