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Every Rose Has Its Thorn
By Altec

    It was an average day in independence port, well as average as you can get in Paragon city home of hero’s and villains where something was always going down. The sun was high in the sky above the dock area it was the middle of summer and the heat wave was becoming the focal point of most conversations in the city of when it would break, sat on a bench was a man reading a newspaper with a white fedora hat resting next to him.

    He was dressed in a black tailored pinstripe suit which the jacket part was hanging over the back of the bench and had his shirt sleeves rolled up to his biceps showing some intricate tattoo’s. Now some two bit punks would have seen him as an easy mark, someone to shakedown for some money so they can go fuel there habits in whatever the kids were doing these days, well apart from that superdine crap the trolls were selling, who wanted to look like an extra for the Lord of the Rings movies and be thick as two short planks that had been cut in half and put together again. But though there was a few of them close by they gave the occupant of the bench a wide berth and no one in there right mind really wanted to make Mac the Shiv retainer for the Carmine Mob family mad unless they wanted to keep there body in 100% working order.

    “Damn” thought Mac “Wish I was home in Chicago this heats murder” as he turned the page of his newspaper “ Why did Silva have to hire me out to the Carmine’s, I was happier in the bosses organisation” he grumbled as he thought of his mob boss Alvaez Silva who had sent him out to fulfil a debt Silva had to Carmine, “aww well least in a month I will have cleared the last of the debt for the boss and I can go back home and not put up with that old fossil Carmine and his mook idiot of a son of his.” Mac turned the page of the Paragon Protector and started reading a story about female hero’s bodies who had been appearing in the city, seems some psychotic lunatic had been slicing heroines up then dumping there corpses in different parts of the city. They even had a name for the psycho the Black Rose, for every time anyone arrived at the crime scene the body had a single Black Rose clenched in there hand and several marks that had been scribed into the body that couldn’t be identified. One of the Circle of Thorns was thought to be responsible but several cracked heads later and the police and heroes were still no closer to gaining any leads or stopping this killing spree. So there was talk of a taskforce being put together for hero’s to hunt and arrest this psycho or psycho’s down.

    “Well I know what I would do if I caught this mook” he thought “he sure wouldn’t be being sent to no comfortable prison, well maybe in several pieces to feed the War wolfs” if there was one thing that got Mac’s blood boiling it was guys hurting dames just so they can get some sort of sick perverted kick out of it.

    As Mac wiped the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief from his jackets pocket, the cell Carmine had given him started ringing, he looked at the screen and saw it was Carmine’s first lieutenant Joey Dimarco ringing him. “What the hell im on my day off” as he pressed the green button to receive the call. “Mac here does Carmine knows the meaning of a day off,” he said angrily, “Watch your tongue Shiv,” a thick Italian accent replied “Or ill cut your tongue out if yous disrespect the boss anymore, you’re here cause Silva sent you to pays his debt. So that means your working for Carmine 24/7 or should I just get the boss to ring yours and tell him how your'e welching on his debt.” Dimarco said smugly as Mac knew if anything would get him black marked from Silva’s organisation that would be it, Silva had this thing about honour and that’s why Mac respected him as a boss.

    “Okay,” Mac said biting his tongue and trying a calming technique a counsellor from juvie tried to teach him, well until he knocked the counsellor out for getting on his nerves. “What does he want me to do?” He started rolling down his sleeves and picked the jacket up from the bench, “Da boss wants yous to go pickup the protection money from Carlos and bring it back to the mansion in Talos.” Was Joeys reply as Mac suddenly wished that counsellor was here now so he could clock him again “Great just Great, why cant the lazy Son of a Bitch do it himself or have I become a fucking errand boy.” Mac had if anything a extremely short temper, Carlos Carmine god how he hated this punk thinking he was better than any other made man just cause daddy Carmine gave him a patch to work. That was a joke, Carmine SR. had given him the patch at the farthest point of Independence Port to keep him out of trouble cause he was so stupid. But it had made him arrogant and sometimes Mac had to resist not planting him one when Carlos started talking down to him. “Easy easy there Mackey boy, all yous gotta do is go pickup the money and bring it back, I tells the boss you’ll be back soon capiche.” he could sense the sick amusement in Joeys tone sending an Enforcer of Mac’s calibre on a damn delivery run someone a hell of a lot lower than him should be doing. “Fine,” he said as he closed the phone and had to resist the temptation to send it sailing into the bay.

    He picked up his hat off the bench and started off towards where he had parked the car that the Carmine’s motor pool had given him. The trip was uneventful to Carmine Jr’s warehouse he arrived at the gates and was waved thorough by one of the guards, parked the car and entered through the open shutter at the front of the warehouse when he heard voices coming from inside one of the rooms “Who’s do you think would win in a fight Statesman or that Tyranthingy guy,” a gruff voice said, the reply came a few seconds later “Definitely States he would drops a car on hims or something,” Mac entered the room to see Bobby and Jackie Domingo sitting at a steel cutting table with a serrated blade in its centre playing cards. If you looked up Dumb in the dictionary these too mooks would be both pictured under the word. “Excuse me ladies I didn’t know it was gossip time ill come back later.” He said sarcastically as both of them turned round going for their pistols. “Oh hey look it’s the Knife,” Bobby the older of the Domingo’s said “That’s Shiv.” Mac corrected “You here for the Money?” Mac sighed inwardly even when insulted they were too stupid to realise they had been as Jackie grinned inanely at him, Mac noticed the small stack of white powder next to Jackie’s arm and thought there’s another reason he hated Carmine’s operations.

    “Yeah now how bouts you get it for me and I can take it back to your boss okay.” He said as he glanced around the room taking in the crates and stacked shelves full of goods that the local police were probably searching for at this minute. “Sure things Knife.” Bobby walked over to a desk which had a leather bag on it. Mac knew the minute he said it he was probably goner regret it but it was one of those things that was odd about this situation “Hey where’s your boss? He wouldn’t just leave you two to hand over this money.” He crossed his arms and surveyed the room more closely and saw a door in the back wall of the warehouse that had a desk next to it. Jackie stiffened in his chair and the bag Bobby was bringing Mac was nearly dropped but recovered well. Bobby looked at Mac then his brother “He’s with a client at the moment” Jackie suddenly blurted out “Yeah with a Client not to be disturbed” then went back to looking at his cards. “A client okayyy” Mac said as Bobby handed him the bag, normally he wouldn’t think much of what these two said, there not that bright but this once something wasn’t right, He had seen when he had asked the question Jackie had gone as pale as the powder to his left and had caught Bobby nervously glance at the door by the desk. Normally he would have quizzed them on this but the phone in his pocket started buzzing and he could tell it was that putz Joey requesting an update.

    “Excuse me boys just got to check this money is right then im out of here” Mac walked over to the desk and unzipped the bag, he was coming to the end of count when he heard something from behind the door a muffled whimpering sound and chanting? Mac thought he was hearing things and accidentally knocked a stapler off the desk with his elbow. As he reached down to pick it up he caught sight of something in the bin by the desk, his emotions suddenly went from Ice cold to White Hot. Mac turned around and walked to where Bobby and Jackie were sitting.  As he came up behind Jackie he said through gritted teeth “Hey this bag feels kind of light” and tossed the bag at Bobby who caught it, in that same instance he grabbed the back of Jackie’s head and slammed it hard on the top of the steel table hearing a sickening Crunch and felt Jackie’s body go limp under his hands. As Bobby tried to drop the bag so he could pull his pistol, Mac smashed his fist into Bobby’s windpipe causing him to stagger back clutching at his throat, he stepped in and Bobby’s eyes bugged out like in those Looney toon cartoons as Macs knee connected with Bobby’s groin. Bobby went down on his knee’s emanating a small “croaking” sound due to being hit in the throat, Mac finished him by bringing his knee up into Bobby’s face driving him up and over onto his back, as he landed Bobby’s eyes rolled back into his head and fell unconscious.

    He Grabbed the pistols off the dead body of Jackie and the unconscious form of Bobby seeing as he had made the mistake of thinking this would be an easy run and had left his in the boot of the car with the axe that had gotten him the name “the Shiv”.
Mac began to cross to the door near the desk, the chanting was getting louder building to some sort of crescendo. Mac grabbed the handle and turned it, opening the door inwards slowly. What he saw in that room caused him to lose control, Carlos Carmine dressed in some sort of robe, with symbols etched into his body and a bound and a gagged heroine sitting in a chair bleeding from several deep cut wounds and most of her costume hanging on by threads. A table full of knives and other various implements was against a wall, newspaper clippings adorned the room depicting all the Black Rose’s victims and one single solitary Black Rose led on a velvet cushion on the desk, the same type Mac had seen in the bin by the desk outside. “RRRRarrrrrrr” Mac roared, Carlos looked round his mouth slack as the chanting stopped and went ashen faced as if he had just seen the Grim Reaper which Mac guessed he just had in a retrospective moment later on, Mac pulled the triggers of the pistols and felt the dull thud and lift of the guns as two hollow pointed rounds exited the chambers. Somehow through his frenzied state Mac’s brain had decided that Carlos had to suffer for what he had done and the rounds ripped through both of Carlos kneecaps, he fell to the floor screaming in pain. “Oh God Oh God” Carlos said through pain racked breath as Mac walked over to him and promptly kicked him in the side of the temple.

    Mac continued past him and started to untie the heroine, her eyes were wide and crying and her face and body were a bloody mess and he knew from the extent of damage she didn’t have much longer for this earth if she didn’t get evacuated to a hospital quick, “I’m not here to hurt you” he said calmly the rage being kept under control for the moment “But I need to know where he put your Emergency Teleporter you need a hospital” with a weakened shaking arm she pointed to the table with the knives, Mac noticed something glinting on top of it, he grabbed it and pressed it onto her wrist as he was about to activate it she grabbed his hand with a strength he wouldn’t have expected in her condition “Wait you need to get a hero to arrest him, justice needs to be served for all the women he’s killed” she said with a pain wracked voice. He responded to this impassioned plea “Oh don’t worry he’s goner get a form of Justice” Her hand recoiled away for she must have seen something in Mac’s eyes that bespoke what was goner happen to the sobbing wretch in a pool of his own blood on the floor. He activated her teleporter and just caught the start of “No Wait…” as she disappeared from in front of him.

    He pulled the Car up too the front of Carmines mansion…. “Hold on hold on”…

    He turned away from the bar filled window from the view of the Zig exercise yard and regarded his cellmate “Sorry Donnie what’s up?” Mac said as Don Scorpioni or Donnie to his friends, hell who knew Mac would make a friend in the Zig, home of the most notorious super villains. His cellmate another Marcone enforcer from another crime family regarded him with a puzzled look “Some things don’t add up in your story Mac, ‘One’ Donnie put up his index finger like he was checking off a list “You bounced Jackie’s head off that metal table once and killed him?? I have hit guys slightly more harder and they haven’t died that easily.”  He raised another finger “and two why have you suddenly jumped to pulling up at Carmines estate”. “Well” Mac said looking back to the middle bar in the cell window “I’m goner show you something now, I knows I can trust you after you covered my back when those Fascist Council soldiers tried putting me in the infirmary” The skin round Donnie’s eyes suddenly went wide and he made a Whoa Whoa gesture with his hands “Easy Mac I know were in prison but I don’t lean that wa…” Mac glared at him “Neither do I ya Mook I mean this” as he said it he grabbed the middle cell bar in the window in his right hand and squeezed, he removed his hand and stepped back “take a look” he gestured to window, Donnie got up walked over and looked, his head snapped round, eyes wide filled with questions for he had seen the bar now had finger dents in it. “How the hell you do that? You got super strength or something?” Slowly Mac responded “Nah nothing as strong as that, but these tattoos allow me to focus some sort of energy allowing me to create a force round my body meaning I hit harder than a normal human but the power suppressors in the Zig keep it at just slightly above human level” Donnie looked at Mac as if he was pulling his leg, Mac could see him thinking tattoo’s don’t do that so He simply stated “remind me to tell you later the story of how I met a tsoo tattoist named Iron Hands and the gifts he gave me for saving his life” Mac motioned the perplexed Donnie to sit down and walked to the cell window again. “So when I grabbed Jackie’s head it slammed into the table so hard it crushed the front of his skull as if the force of a jackhammer had hit it” Mac heard a low whistle from behind him “and on your second question if you hadn’t interrupted me you would know, I was just getting to that” He said resignedly “Okay Mac, okay….” Donnie held his hands up in a submission gesture “Continue on” and sat against the wall at the back of his bunk. Mac cleared his throat and started again “now as I was saying….”

    He pulled the car up too the front of Carmines mansion gates and nodded to the guards on the gate, one of them walked up to the cars window so he rolled it down, White haired with a matching goatee and a weathered oldish face Vincent Falco third lieutenant of the Carmines stood casually holding a Tommy gun across his large chest. If you ever could describe some one as a wise old uncle he was it and Mac had be-friended him instantly when coming to work for the Carmines. He respected Vincent he kept the other wise guys who worked for Carmine under control and taught them how to be smart and not start fights with hero’s drawing unwanted attention to themselves and there employer. He was a strict taskmaster as well, if you shirked your guard duty or were inebriated or hopped up you certainly wouldn’t be the next time. Mac could remember the beating Vincent had given to this young punk who had the stones to arrive completely intoxicated and then try to pick a fight with Vincent who was calmly telling him what he expected off his guardsmen just cause the punk thought he was a old coot and would be better off six-feet under. Mac had never seen someone fly so far from one punch, it looked like Vincent had tried to put the young punk into orbit. Lets just say after that incident the wise guy had suddenly decided to shapeup and began to show a new respect to his elders….well after he had got out of hospital and his jaw wasn’t broken that is, Vinnie let Mac in on who he had been before joining Carmines Organization over one heavy drinking session, seems they both had an appreciation of good beer, poker with no marked cards and fine cigar’s. They had both imbued enough Alcohol to kill an Irishman and lost money to each other when Vinnie started talking bout his past, Seems Vincent Falco had been Sgt. “Mad Dog” Vincent Falco. He had served during WW2 fighting the Nazi’s with the 110th infantry or as the other soldiers called them The Paragon Hell Hounds regiment, first off Mac was amazed that Vinnie had fought in WW2 and when he said he hadn’t aged a day since then Mac nearly fell of his chair not to the alcohol they had drank well that contributed to it slightly but more from the shocking statement. It seems that Vinnie had been captured by enemy forces on a commando mission with a small patrol of his company when they had been ambushed, all had been killed except him tho he had taken a round through his shoulder and leg. They had subjected him to days of torture and his captors had been surprised by the Sgt’s resilience to the damage they were inflicting on him, a scientist had applied for a test subject to test a serum and Vinnie had become a guinea pig in this experiment. They had injected him with an experimental substance they were using derived from Reichsmans blood to create a new breed of super soldiers not as strong as the big man but a lot stronger than a normal human would be to combat the super legion force spearheaded by Statesman. That was a mistake somehow the serum had activated some sort of latent gene’s in Vinnie and they were suddenly faced with a extremely pissed off soldier who happened to be able to recover from quite a lot of damage and was stronger than 10 men, Vinnie started Chuckling when he tells Mac the look on the head scientist’s face when he pitched the table he had been strapped too after breaking his restraints straight through the cabinet where all the serum was kept. Vinnie says “I’m telling you Mac my boy I didn’t have the heart to hit him after I had taken out the guards who were guarding me, he just was on his knees in front of the cabinet crying like a school girl!” Vinnie continues chuckling away to himself. Mac asked him if he had these powers why didn’t he become a hero, at this point Vinnie gets all serious “you want to know why I didn’t become a hero cause I wasn’t saved by no hero’s, I was saved by my fellow soldiers from the 110th with no special skills but courage, guts and nerves of steel, I learnt later that I had been sent on that mission on purpose, the ‘brass’ knew there was an ambush set-up to capture some Ally soldiers but they didn’t know why, that damn Superhero they all worship in this town Statesclown even knew we were being sent in” he growls “we were deemed ‘acceptable losses’ as long as they gained intelligence, that rankled me up something fierce some of my best friends had died in that ambush so after I got back to Paragon after the war, I discharged myself from the army and disappeared but I had to have some income or I would have starved and due to my military experience I found myself inundated by offers for work from many crime organisations and here I am”  they carried on drinking and playing cards into the night.

    As Vinnie arrived at Mac’s rolled down window, Mac hated what he was about to do to his friend but after what he had learned in that warehouse this day he wouldn’t stop until the whole Black Rose saga was finished. “Hey Mac me boy your running late” said Vinnie “Joey has been pitching a fit seems you weren’t answering your mobile? Is everything alright?” Vinnie looked at Mac with a concerned look on his face. He looked at Vinnie straight in the eyes, god I don’t want to do this Mac thought and said “Yeah everything’s fine old friend, the traffic was mayhem in Independence” he lied he hated lying to Vinnie but he knew if Vinnie knew what he was about to do he would have tried to stop him “some idiot in a costume decided to stop a bank robber by putting an ice patch on the main freeway, caused a Rig to Jack-Knife blocking both sides of the freeway” Mac Continued on without missing a beat “Seeing what he had done the Fool suddenly decided it was best to make himself scarce and Sped away at high speed” he said. “The police arrived at the scene and called in a fire blaster to melt the ice and a super strength tanker that happened to be passing to pull the rig out of the way, I got to admit it was quite amusing to see those two hero’s doing something so mundane. You should have seen the scowls on their faces behind the masks” Mac said with vague Mirth in his voice for inside he was trying his best not to tell Vinnie everything. Vinnie let out a big belly laugh smiling “HA! I bet that really got there panties in a bunch” Vinnie’s eyes drifted towards the passenger seat of the car and caught sight of the leather bag “Ahh well you’re here now with the money I see” gesturing to the bag with a slight inclination of his head “I won’t keep you any longer im sure Joey is swearing something fierce inside” he nodded towards the guardhouse and the gates to the mansion slowly swung open “Fancy some cards tonight Mac my boy when I finish my shift” Vinnie inquired as Mac slowly moved the car forward “Maybe not tonight old friend but ill be glad to a bit later” Mac said as he pulled away from the man who had respected him and been his friend and who Mac was ultimately goner hurt with the actions that were about to take place inside.

    Mac pulled up too the Carmine’s mansions front door and got out, he grabbed the leather bag from its resting place on the passengers seat and strode up to the door and through it as one of Carmine Sr’s servants opened it “Master Carmine and Mr Dimarco are currently unavailable at the moment they say for you to ahem how do I put this delicately” the servant said in a weasly accent “Sit your posterior in Master Carmine’s study and your in a trifle bit of bother” Mac was impressed he had never heard “get your ass in the study and your Fucked” put so eloquently “Sure thing” Mac nodded and headed to Carmine’s Study, his thoughts suddenly became focused as he opened the heavy panel door to Carmine’s Study and entered. The room was decorated with book cases of all sizes with thousands of books on each shelf, Carmine Sr was a criminal but he was an educated criminal hence why even the District Attorney’s office feared him, there was a large Mahogany desk just in front of the book cases at the back wall that had a single solitary gold lamp used for reading and a fine leather chair. Mac took a seat in one of two smaller leather chairs in front of the desk and placed the bag in the other he knew Joey sat in this chair and the other was for Carmine Jr when Carmine Sr was discussing what was going on in his various operations, he looked around marking a bookcase on the right hand sidewall and walked over to it and quickly glanced at some of the titles. There was a strange smell in the air inside the study like incense but a more pungent and cloying scent, Mac didn’t have time to dwell on it for he heard voices outside the door one unmistakable as Joey and another very posh but hard edged voice which Mac knew to be Guiseppe Carmine. “This is it no turning back,” he thought as the door opened and Joey and Carmine stepped through closing the door behind them. Joey Dimarco was tall and well built, he had a well groomed moustache and his hair was jet black slicked back on his head and looked at Mac as a bulldog would look if it had been chewing on a bee. Carmine was the complete opposite he was small and wiry with a face like a vulture complete with hooked nose and was bald he glanced at Mac with disdain in his two beady eyes and moved to his seat behind the desk and sat down glaring at Mac as Joey came right up to Mac and stood in front of the desk. “WHERE the hell’s have you been. Clothes Shopping!” Joey said angrily staring at the long leather trench coat “I tried calling you on the cell and all I got was the answering machine, Yous were suppose to be here 3hrs ago I was bouts ready to come hunt you down myself” he spat as he glowered at Mac “it got wet” Mac replied coldly as he thought of the cell now lying at the bottom of the bay in Independence Port “why missed me? I didn’t know you cared” Mac said sarcastically as he stood up and looked Joey in the eye. “Why I Ought to slap some respect into yo….” Joey pulled back his hand but before he could do anything Carmines hard edged voice intersected “Enough Joey I’ll handle this” Joey put his hand down reluctantly and went round the table and stood behind Carmine’s chair his arms folded glaring at Mac with anger in his eyes. “I’m very disappointed ‘Shiv’” Carmine stated venomously “I would have thought Silva would have more respectful men in his employ but I will remedy that when I contact him and tell him his debt isn’t paid and send you back to face him” the old man said with a evil glint in his eyes. “Now I see you have my Money! Hand it over, then get out of my house.” Mac stood up grabbed the handles of the bag and dropped it onto the desk, it made a ‘thunk’ sound as it hit the top. Carmine’s hands two bony twigs moved forward and brought it towards his face a greedy look on it as Joey still stood fuming behind his boss staring at Mac. “The bag was a little light when I received it so I made up the weight before I left your Son’s warehouse” Mac said coldly as Carmine was about to open it. “What do you mean made up the weight…?” Carmine’s Voice trailed off as he opened the bag and looked inside his hands quickly snatched away from the bag causing Joey to look down “What the FUCK? I’LL KILL Y….” as his head came up, what Joey was about to say completely left his mind as the silenced round from Mac’s pistol entered through his forehead and exited through the back of his skull. Dimarco dropped like a marionette puppet that just had its strings cuts, some of his blood had splatted on to Carmines bald plate and was running down into Carmine’s eyes as Mac leapt over the desk kicking him squarely in the chest. The Chair shot backwards into the bookcase behind the desk and dumped the bloody faced Carmine onto the floor of his study, the bag on the desk had been knocked over when Mac had gone over it and the bag spilled its grisly contents onto the floor as Carlos Carmine’s severed head came to a bouncing stop on the thick white carpet of the study.

    Mac Grabbed Carmine by the throat and pressed him up against the bookcase the chair had bounced off, he clocked Carmine on the head with the butt of the pistol dazing him while he span the old man around and produced a set of zip-ties Carlos had used to bind his victims hands together, he then pulled Carmine around and stuffed a piece of the heroine’s blood soaked costume he had picked up at the warehouse into the old gang bosses mouth and gagged him and dumped the now trussed and silent mob boss back in his leather chair.

    As Carmine was coming out of his daze Mac took off the trench coat, pinstripe black jacket and shirt revealing a White tank top with red patches on it and exposing the tattoo’s on Mac’s arms, which made the now coherent Carmine’s eyes bulge for he saw they were writhing as if in anticipation of something but Mac himself didn’t seem to notice. “You have been a pain in my ass ever since I came into your service and I know your thinking he wont kill me he has everything to lose if he does” Mac whispered into Carmine’s ear “but your son’s sick obsession pushed me beyond caring old man” he said with venom “I would have left town after killing him” as Mac spun Carmine Sr to face the blank staring eyes of Carlo’s head “but a little bird told me some interesting facts” he whispered into the mob bosses ear.

(Cue flashback)

“Snikt” “Snikt” “Snikt” … Bobby Domingo came round and found that he couldn’t move, he was in complete darkness too, the last thing he remembered was “the knife” smashing his brothers head off the table and then coming towards him after that it all got a bit hazy. He licked his lips and tasted something wet and a shot of pain went through his mouth as he realised that his lip was split and bleeding, his nose didn’t feel to good either as he screwed up his face and could hear bone grinding on bone. Also his trousers were wet and he felt something heavy resting in his lap. “Snikt” “Snikt” “Snikt” He focused on the sound it was emanating from somewhere in front of him in the gloomy darkness, a voice from the darkness said “your probably wondering why your still alive” then the sound “Snikt” “Snikt” “Snikt” started up again. Suddenly Bobby realised were he was and he started to whimper. Mac continued moving the whetstone along the curve of his Axe’s blade or ‘The Shiv’ as the lower enforcers in Silva’s organisation had renamed it. “I have Questions and you will answer me, Ill let you go after I have what I want” Mac said as he stared at where the chair with Bobby was situated, suddenly Bobby got angry and blurted out through his fear “SCREW YOU KNIFE Yous Killed my brother!! I aint telling you nothing!! Soon as da bosses father finds out what you done yous a dead man” he started laughing maniacally imaging what Guiseppe Carmine would do to the knife for he knew that hurting Carlo’s was a death sentence. “Well I guess he will have a right too then” Mac flipped the switch to the light above Bobby’s chair the one that had been recently occupied by the heroine. Light flared and caused Bobby’s eyes to unfocus he closed them with a grunt and then opened them again, as his eyes started to focus in the light he could make out the dark form of Mac holding this large Axe and pulling a stone across the blade with a look on his face that scared Bobby, completely vacant as if the human being had left leaving only something instinctual behind. He couldn’t keep eye contact and looked down and saw what was the weight in his lap and making his trousers wet. Bobby’s Scream was a hysterical one, for in his lap was Carlo’s head staring back up at him with vacant dead eyes “Oh God, Oh God” he started panicking as he realised that if the ‘Knife’ would off the bosses’ son without a thought then Bobby’s life was null and void. But his survival instincts kicked in, he was amazingly still alive and the ‘Knife’ said he would let him go as long as he got information, suddenly his brain decided maybe they had a slim chance of surviving this and he said “Okay, Okay Knife ill answer your questions just please move the head tho” Bobby closed his eyes as he heard Mac stand up from the table edge he was resting on and the sound of footsteps walking up too face him. His brain suddenly had paranoid images of his head being lopped off with the Axe but he felt the weight lifted from his lap and heard Mac move away back into the darkness. Bobby opened his eyes and once again Mac was perched on the edge of the table with the axe placed on it. “Now that your co-operating first question. Did Carmine Sr know about what his son was doing?” Mac said as he stared at Bobby. The answer came reluctantly “He didn’t at first but he found out his son was dabbling in some sort of mystic tome that da boss had purchased from a overseas buyer” Bobby said suddenly forthcoming with information as he saw Mac nod his head, he continued on “Carlos started acting weirdly about two months before the killings started, he somehow became more powerful too. The boss got scared of his own son and thought he was goner kill him to take his place he didn’t know about what was really going to happen until later when Carlos confided in him, that meeting changed the boss and he shipped him off to here with me and my brother saying that he was giving him a patch to work but also would be more secluded for his holy work” Mac’s eyebrow arched at this Holy Work and rage showed in his voice “HOLY WORK! HOLY WORK! THERE AINT NOTHING HOLY BOUT WHAT HE WAS DOING!” he grabbed his axe and slammed it through the table it sliced through the table like a hot knife through butter sending the knifes with the heroines blood flying to clatter upon the floor. Mac returned his gaze to the image of Bobby Cowering in the chair. He slowly forced himself to calm down as his hand clenched and unclenched on the haft of the axe. Through clenched teeth trying desperately to keep his rage in check he posed another question to the bound form of Bobby “So the boss sent his son to do what he was doing with his blessing…..who else in the organisation knew what was going on?” Mac prayed in his heart that Vinnie wasn’t involved as he stalked around the chair passing within the light and darkness of the room. Bobby spoke meekly knowing he would have to be careful how he worded the answer for he knew the knife was near the edge of reason. “Joey knew, da boss had him with the reluctant aid of me and Jackie…” Bobby faltered slightly and let out a small choked sob as he remembered his brother then continued on knowing every minute he delayed his life may become shorter “to…to… the bodies in areas Carlos deemed a point of power” Mac span the chair around looking Bobby right in the eyes with a fearsome look “What do you mean lines of power and what was this supposed to accomplish?” The trussed bobby started squirming in his seat pulling against his bonds and sweating profusely “I…I….I swear I don’t know Knife, I don’t know….” The answer tails off and Bobby starts breathing heavily as Mac paces away to the door “It doesn’t really matter now anyway you killed Carlos…..please…please let me go like you said.” Mac turns round fixing Bobby with a steely look “Why didn’t you go to the police or hero’s and stop him your as guilty as him in my eyes and the release you desire is granted!” as he pulls back his arm and lets fly with the axe, Bobby has enough time to get one more scream in before it embeds itself into his torso and silences him forever. The axe haft vibrates in Bobby’s body as Mac steps up and pulls it out of Bobby’s still form. “Justice Served” He says as he wipes the blood off the blade of the axe and walks over to were he had left the leather bag and Carlo’s head as he returns ‘The Shiv’ to its holster on his back. He surveys the room with a final lingering look of disgust and picks up something from the floor on his way out that catches his eye and exits through the door to the room where Jackie’s dead body lies, his face crushed, a mixture of red and white pulp for Carlos struggles had brushed the powder over the body, Carlos body is lying twitching on the steel cutting table with the serrated blade in its centre its diamond cutting tips dyed a dark red. Mac walks over to the desk where he had placed his Jacket and shirt and places the bag to one side of it, then places the head on the floor and opens the straps on the top of the bag taking out several stacks of $100 dollar bills. He lines the bottom of the bag with a few ripped open stacks and places the head inside on them, the bills will hopefully soak up what was left of the blood and also keep the outside looking dry ready for the journey back to the Carmine’s estate he thinks. Were Joey and Guiseppe were goner get a personal visit from the grim reaper, something glinted to his left. Mac turned and noticed a small alcove situated in a wall he had complete missed just behind some of the crates, he caught his reflection in the mirror that sunlight streaming through a cracked window had just hit,  it sits above a cracked porcelain washbasin. “God I’m a mess there’s no way I can get into the estate looking like this” he thought staring at his blood caked tattooed arms and hands also the white tank top he was wearing has patches of red on it too. Mac proceeded to clean himself up washing the blood of his arms with a rough bar of soap, once clean he went back to the desk and put back on his shirt and black jacket, he brushed back his hair with his hand and placed the white fedora back on his head, he leaned into the bin and pulled out the black rose. Grabbing the leather bag he walked over to Carlo’s body and crushed the rose with his right hand placing it over the heart of the body and walked over to a black leather trench coat he noticed on one of the crates, he tried it on then went towards the warehouses exit back to the car.

(End Flashback)                

    “M----r--” Guiseppe Carmine mumbled behind his gag his emotions running amok “Mercy? You don’t deserve it, this ends here there’s no happy ending for you, you sick Son of a Bitch!” Mac said angrily as he produced a knife and pulled Guiseppe’s head back and drew the knifes blade across the old mob bosses throat, Carmines body arched and a fountain of blood escaped between the gap his bald head came to a rest on his chest while the blood flowed down the front of his expensive suit and he slumped in the chair. Mac grabbed the fedora hat and the trench coat and quickly crossed to the bookcase he had marked before and found the book he was looking for, a leather bound book with gold lettering some sort of criminal thriller titled ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ and pulled it, the book came out partway then stopped there was an audible clunk and the bookcase swung inward exposing a small room with a metal grate in the floor this was Guiseppe’s escape route. Mac had learnt of it when the Carmines 2nd Lieutenant had joined Vinnie and Mac in one of there weekly card games, he hadn’t been able to hold his liquor and had told Mac about it trying to impress upon him how much Carmine trusted his lieutenants, at this moment he would have thanked that drunkard for the info but the guy had messed up bad with one of carmine’s operations and was now wearing some concrete boots and learning how to breath underwater in the port somewhere. He moved to the grate and pulled it open and was assailed by the stench that emanated from the sewer he gagged but bit down on his lip and started down the rusty metal ladder into the dark sewers of Talos. Mac had been going about 15mins trying to keep out of the yellow and brown stagnant water and listening for any signs of pursuit from behind when suddenly he stopped, all the hairs on the back of his neck stood up, he felt like he was being watched and slowly withdrew ‘The Shiv’ out from underneath the trench coat, the axe seemed to pull in his hand in a direction towards a shadowy corner of the large cavernous sewer room and the purple jewels in the blades head pulsated slightly “Damn it, I don’t have time for this” a thought suddenly entered his head “I need to get out of here and rest im beginning to jump at my own shadow” he went to holster ‘The Shiv’ but decided maybe it was better to be safe than sorry and kept it out whilst he moved towards the exit grates he saw ahead. Pushing open one side of the circular grate he emerged into the starlit night of Talos and smelled the salt from the ocean that surround the island after the sewer this was like heaven to his sense of smell. He quickly surveyed the surrounding rocks to see if anyone was watching and when it was apparent no one was, he was about to fling his hat into the water when he realised this was the last piece of his identity of who he had been. He paused contemplatively for a momment staring at it then said out loud to himself “Ahhh Screw it!” And the hat flew into the sewer landing atop the water and flowing away as he put back on the trench coat and made his way up the side of the cliff towards the store lights.

    The white fedora floated into the large dark sewer chamber and came to rest caught on some flotsam, suddenly the shadows on the wall seemed to detach themselves forming a humanoid shaped dark mist with two blue luminous orbs roughly where a humans eyes should be, it glided over to the hat and bent down and picked it out of the stagnant water and disappeared into the dark tendril mist. The mist moved with purpose and continued to the destination it had been moving to before it had encountered the axe wielding human, and had nearly been discovered, as it arrived at the rusty ladder leading upwards it could make out the sound of panicked voices filtering down from the open grate above. The mist floated up and passed through the open grate into a small antechamber which had a doorway leading into a study it had been in before, “Shit,Shit what the hell we goner do Mr Falco” a nervous young voice said, “I don’t know…..I don’t know….” replied Vincent to the pale guard with him “Damn it Mac what the hell have you done” he thought as he surveyed the body’s and the head in the study as the one of the bookcase’s stood ajar leading to another chamber, “What ever possed you to do something like this?” Vincent thought as a thousand questions threatened to overwhelm his mind. “I think im goner be sick again” said the young guard having never seen this kind of violence before he ran out of the room holding his hand over his mouth and Falco heard the dry retching from the corridor outside. Vincent Falco had seen some terrible sights in his time but this was on a different level someone he thought he knew as well “Damn it!! What the hell am I suppose to do” was at the forefront of Falco’s mind, “I guess im in charge now ” he thought grimly as he left the room. He looked at the kid on his hand and knees and helped him up “Right Mikey you go get the boys together and bring them to the front of the mansion, were leaving I don’t want to be here when the cops come for there not the only people who are goner be asking questions about this” He thought as he knew after the cops the under bosses would like to know how a well-guarded mob boss had been slaughtered in his own home, “Right Mr Falco” Mikey wiped the back of his hand across his mouth and moved toward the front door. As he disappeared out of view Vincent walked towards his room to gather some personal items “looks like its time to disappear again” he thought to himself a rage building in him for if he ever met Mac again he would tear his so called friend in half for forcing this onto him.

    The shadow watched the large old man and young one leave before moving through the secret door into the study, it gazed at the carnage its blue eyes flared and suddenly the shadows seemed to trickle like water downwards revealing a tall robed figure with intricate marks on both the backs of his hands and what was left of the rotting veined face. Tarak Delutuk high mage of the Dark thorn order who had millennia ago fought both the mages of the circle and the mu mystics, but had been thought to have been destroyed in a climatic battle were both the circle and mu had joined forces in destroying the order and there necromantic magic, surveyed the bodies and drank in the death permeating the room. “Exquisite” the robe formed said as it glided over to the dead body of Gusieppe Carmine placing its mummified rotting hand on his head. As the hand came to rest it seemed to shimmer and went straight through Carmines skull then retracted pulling out a bright white orb held in a cage of darkness, the robed figure placed it to its forehead feeling the anguish and pain of the soul and a thousand images exploded through Tarak’s mind showing Guiseppe's death and events leading up to it.

     Tarak placed the orb into a bag on his belt and moved over too the body of Joey Dimarco and once again did the same thing he had done to Carmine Sr’s body and placed the second orb into the bag, he walked over to the head of Carlos and hefted it in his hand “You shall rise again my acolytes for vengeance but later on when you are ready to face the chosen one of the Urdasis Axe” Tarak had recognized the weapon that the human in the sewers had drawn as the one of the sentient undead killing axes that had been forged by mu and circle magic to counteract the Dark thorn orders resistance to mu energy and the circle of thorns magical weapons and powers. Fortunately it seemed the human didn’t seem to know what he carried for the suggestion Tarak had implanted in his mind wouldn’t have normally worked against someone wielding a Urdasis luckily it had, Taraks hand shimmered and Carlos head slipped through his fingers and once more he was clutching a orb but this wasn’t like the other two this one was jet black with a nimbus of red lightning surrounding it, he could sense that his protégé was angry and wanted revenge “you have taken your first steps into the order my protégé but you must have patience, you shall see this man again and when you do you will bring the weapon he wields and his soul, I shall make sure he suffers for what he’s done to us” Tarak said masterly to the orb and felt the contentment radiate out from it. He placed the dark orb in the bag and gathered the shadows once more around him and moved back into the secret room, down into the sewers and proceeded back to his lair.

    It was starting to become dark and the floodlights of the Zig had snapped on illuminating it as Mac led down on his bunk staring at the bunk above him. “So there you have it Donnie” Mac said as he heard the form of his cellmate shift above him “Wow jeez Mac so that was why you gave up everything man, I don’t know if I could have done that.” Donnie said, many questions running through his head “I had a choice Donnie but someone had to stop them from what they were doing” he sighed as he turned on his side preparing to get some sleep for he was worn out from all the storytelling. Donnie was silent musing over what Mac had told him for a few minutes then said tentatively “do you regret doing it?” Mac rolled on to his back once more and put his hands behind his head and without hesitation answered “No I don’t regret it I just wish I had found out sooner and saved all the rest of those heroines, don’t get me wrong im no hero but what they were doing was just wrong, plain wrong and they got everything they deserved from me.” He turned once more onto his side “Right im going to get some sleep Donnie, im worn out.” as he slowly felt fatigue washing over him Donnie asked him one more question “One thing is Mac how did you end up in the Zig on a bank robbery charge shouldn’t it have been murder charges?” Mac with his eyes closed said “Well that’s a story for another time my friend” and promptly fell asleep leaving Donnie pondering in the darkness.

    “Mac you awake?” Donnie asked softly, he didn’t get any response apart from some low murmuring and contented snoring from the bottom bunk, hearing this he sat up and opened the inside of his pillowcase retrieving a thin piece of wire and a glass vial of green fluid and silently clambered down off the bunk onto the floor of the cell. He regarded the sleeping form of Mac and suddenly thought about the reason he was in the cell with this man, Don Scorpioni wasn’t an enforcer for a crime family as he had told Mac, he was the head assassin of the twelve crime bosses of the family and was used to take out problems that had to be tended to delicately due to his expertise in many different poisons. He had been brought in to a meeting where he was ordered to kill this man, for the 11 remaining crime bosses had decreed for Mac’s actions in killing one of them, he had to be killed to show a sign to the rest of the people in there employ that you couldn’t get away with murdering your employer without retribution. Normally Donnie wouldn’t have given it a second thought to killing Mac, but just before he had left the meeting place Alvaez Silva Mac’s old mob boss had taken him to one side and said to him “Scorpioni before you do what you have been ordered to do I ask you to do one thing for me” Silva looked at Donnie “Ask him why he did it, I have known Mac a long time I must know what the reason was behind this extreme change in him…” Silva choked up with emotion “…He’s like a son to me and I need to know” the old man said clearly struggling with his emotions. “Damn it why did I ask.” thought Donnie as he watched the rise and fall of Mac’s chest, he had been sentenced to the Zig by a corrupt judge the bosses had on there payroll for a minor offence and had gained the trust of Mac when they had fought back to back against the council soldiers and now he was trying hard to decided what to do, “Damn it Mac why do I have to agree with what you did, why couldn’t we have met under different circumstances my friend.” He thought struggling with what to do, he respected this man who had given up everything just to do something that was right and just and to only be sentenced to death by 10 men who didn’t know the full story and one man who didn’t believe it and needed to know. Donnie looked at the vial in his hand that he was suppose to place on the wire and drip into Mac’s mouth which would cause him to have what looked like a natural heart attack and made a hard decision “If Mac can give up everything then hell, I give up too” he walked to the cell window and was bout to throw the vial out the window when suddenly he saw two flames heading towards the Zig’s outside chain fence “What the Hell?” he thought as the two flames struck with an almighty ‘BOOM’ the Zig tremored with the force of the explosion and Donnie watched as gun ships with a red symbol on there side descended through the gap in the wall and disgorged 100’s of soldiers with the same symbols on there chest as the Red alert Klaxon sounded from the Zig’s P.A. System. “What the?? I know I ordered a early morning wake up call but this is ridiculous.” Donnie turned and saw Mac levering himself up from his bunk wiping the sleep out of his eyes “What’s going on Donnie?” he said as he stood up and walked over to the cell window next to him, “No idea buddy but I think were about to find out” Donnie replied as he saw a small platoon of the soldiers with the red symbols running towards the main Zig’s wall carrying what looked like shaped charges.

(To be continued in Dollars and Dames)

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