Guns Akimbo
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The man without skin hung from the ceiling by the hooks in his back. He hadn't slept in day; the pain was always too great to allow him to slip into unconsciousness. His muscles ached from exposure. He dared not try to move, as the hooks would only dig deeper into his shoulder blades. He would have screamed if not for the fact that his vocal cords had been removed. The only noise he could make were wet gargling sounds.

"Ahhhhhh!" He croaked.

The man without skin found himself wondering what he did to land himself in this situation. Still, as much as he raked his memory, there was nothing that he could think of that would lead to whatever kind of karmic injustice he was facing.


Of a more important note, Gytha Chin lost her promotion to that son of a bitch Gerald. Mr. Marshall said that her methods of dealing with deadbeats were "too brutal" and "an unnecessary use of lethal force". As if skinning someone alive and tearing out their vocal cords were unnecessary. That rich bastard didn't know anything. You can't afford to be soft in this business, and Gytha always got results quicker and better than anyone else in the Enforcement Branch.

And somehow Gerald got promoted to Head Enforcer.

Gytha had taken out her frustration by combing through criminal databases. It didn't take long to find Mr. Tipanni though. She cross-referenced the files she found with the ones Mr. Marshall kept in his database and made a lovely discovery. Not only had Mr. Tipanni been a registered sex offender (the details of which Gytha wished she hadn't learned about), but he also owed Mr. Marshall quite the sum of money.

He wasn't her assignment, or anyone else's at the time. Naturally, Gytha took it upon herself to get ahead of the curve and knock some sense into Mr. Tipanni, something Gerald wouldn't have done in a million years. It also helped to have something to take her frustration out on.

She'd been using the proper amount of force on the man for no more than three days and was starting to feel just a little bit better about her situation.

"How we feeling today, Tipanni?" She asked.

"Ahhhhhh!"

"Why, I'm fine thanks for asking. I'm sure Gerald's fine too. More than fine actually. You know he bought a fucking Audi yesterday? Cash."

"Ahhhhhh?"

Gytha set down a bag of tools on a rolling table and wheeled it next to Mr. Tipanni. She fished around the bag for a minute before withdrawing a scalpel. She took out a lemon and cut into it, emptying the contents into a small glass. She took out a salt shaker and sprinkled some of the flakes into the lemon juice before dipping the scalpel in the mixture. Gytha turned back to Mr. Tipanni.

"That should have been my Audi, Tipanni. I've worked for this damn company for five years. Five years Tipanni, and what do I get?"

Gytha brought the scalpel to Mr. Tipanni's chest. His nipples were still attached to him.

"Nothing."

She brought the scalpel downward slowly, cutting away at the last part of Mr. Tipanni's skin. He screamed. Blood collected in his throat and he spat. Gytha groaned.

Mr. Tipanni just ruined her favorite shirt.

"Gah! You fucking slob!" She stabbed him.

"AHHHHHH!"

Gytha pulled out the scalpel and wiped it on her now ruined shirt. She dipped it in the salty lemon water again and collected herself. Deep breaths in, deeper breaths out. She stood up straight and adjusted herself. Her eyes met Mr. Tipanni's and she smiled.

"I apologize, Mr. Tipanni. I should have been more… considerate."

"Ahhhhhhh."

"You know," She began, folding Mr. Tipanni's recently departed nipple in her hand, "Gerald's got skin too, doesn't he?"

"…Ahhhhhh?"

"Yeah, he does. It would certainly be a shame if something, or someone, happened to separate him from that skin he cares so much about."

The skinless man stopped moving. Gytha slapped him across his cheek, splattering tiny amounts of blood on the floor. She wiped her hand on her more than ruined dress.

"Ah, who am I kidding. Mr. Marshall wouldn't approve of corporate espionage. Maybe if I-"

Knock.

There was only one person in the entire world who knocked with a single knock. Gytha groaned and put on her best, fake smile.

"Hello, Amir," She said.

"Mrs. Chin," Amir replied.

Amir was as dry as ever, both in the amount of moisture in his skin and in his personality. He wore a dry, three-piece suit that was three different shades of grey. He had a tightly combed mustache with thick, bushy eyebrows that were a mix of grey and black hairs. The hair on his head had all but fallen off, and Gytha made the horrible mistake of pointing that out once. Amir's grey eyes looked empty as if the piece of him that made someone human was gone.

"What's this?" He asked.

"A scalpel, some lemon water for the mind." Gytha shrugged.

Amir pointed to Mr. Tipanni's fleshless body, "And that?"

"Getting ahead of schedule, unlike some people."

Amir cocked his head to the side.

"Look, I don't have to explain anything to you."

"This wouldn't have anything to do with Mr. Beck's promotion, would it?"

Gytha chuckled, "No, of course not. Why would it?"

"You have a tendency to overreact."

Gytha drove the scalpel into Mr. Tipanni's forehead, "I understand how some people can find my methods unorthodox, so long as those people understand that they are effective."

Amir took out an envelope from his pocket and handed it to her, "Mr. Marshall has an assignment for you. Guns Akimbo."

Gytha raised an eyebrow, "Full arsenal?"

"Class 2 and below. You're dealing with anartists, not terrorists."

"Rules?"

Gytha removed the scalpel from the corpse of Mr. Tipanni and tore open the envelope. As she read the contents of the brief, she furrowed her eyebrows. First, she lost the promotion, and now this? This must be some kind of joke.

Gerald must be laughing his ass off right now.

"I'd be happy to oblige."


Paul cringed when he smelled blood inside the auction house. Seems even the most wealthy people aren't above savagery. The only difference between him and them was money. And status.

Fucking aristocrats.

"You finally gonna tell me just what the fuck we're looking for?" Paul asked, adjusting the clothes that still didn't feel quite right on him. He was still trying to get used to his new body.

And he couldn't wait to get back into his old one.

Mark threw his arm around Paul and rubbed his shoulder, "It's something neat. A real pinch hitter. An art kit."

"An art kit or an art kit Marky?"

Mark pointed at something on the other side of the auction house. Behind a glass case, on a marble pedestal, was a leather-bound briefcase. Paul could feel something radiating from the object. It was full of exploits, loopholes in reality, and it was probably non-Euclidean. On top of everything, Paul could feel the darkness pouring out from the object.

Mark shot him a smile and started making his way across the auction hall, inviting Paul to follow him. With reluctance, he did so, trying to blend into the crowd of people he hated. The darkness struck a nerve in him. Mark stopped in front of the object and looked back at Paul.

Paul ducked into the shadows and made his way to the woman's bathroom.


Gytha swallowed her pride and her rage and slipped in a nicer looking outfit than the one she was wearing before: a standard Enforcer suit fully equipped with front-pocket pants and three pairs of sunglasses. Perfect for almost any scenario, especially auctions with rich twats that had too much money for their own good. Of course, Gytha would never let Mr. Marshall know that's what she thought of the patrons. He'd never let her see the light of day again if that happened.

Gytha sighed, but at least she didn't have to wear a fake smile around these people.

She adjusted the pistols in her pockets as she walked into the auction house from the back entrance. Another security guard nodded at her as she passed and she nodded back. She then made her way to the restrooms, as good a place to start as any. People had a weird tendency to hide out in bathrooms when they suspect they're being hunted.

And the bathrooms were a great place to remove someone's life discretely if need be.

But someone was already in there when Gytha walked in. She didn't carry the usual attitude rich people had; there was no sense of superiority or snobbiness coming from her. Her dress was green and simple compared to the overly garish clothes everyone else wore. She looked relatively normal yet there was something about her that was off. Something dark.

Gytha had only seen the darkness in a few places before. The weird, magic items she was tasked with making sure got paid for weren't all dark, not even the ones that leave you worse off. No, that darkness lingered with only one type of thing: Something heinous and wicked. She'd seen it in her brother, and now she saw it in this woman.

With apprehension, she approached, "You're a new face."

"I guess," She said.

It's even in her voice.

"Who're you with?"

"Just a friend."

"Which friend?"

"Listen lady, I don't have time to play twenty questions. I gotta go."

"Wait-" Gytha grabbed the woman by her arm.

In an instant there was a flash of light, then the entire world went black. Gytha stood in the void, and there was a man standing there with her. She was holding his arm the same way she was holding the woman's arm. The man looked frightened, his eyes were wide and his pupils were tiny black dots. Gytha could see him sweating behind a dirty grey sweatshirt. She stared at him for a while, and then the man pulled away from her.

She was thrust back into the bathroom with the woman, who was now walking out of the door. Gytha blinked a few times then drew both pistols and followed her.


"Mark, fuck, someone knows," Paul whispered.

Mark had the art kit in his hands and walked with him toward the wall. They clung to the shadows, Mark grinned.

"Relax man. Exfiltration, then we're gold! Rent's paid, the job's done, your grandmother and her rug can rest peacefully."

Paul grabbed Mark's arm and pulled. His smile faded a bit, "No man, you don't get it. We have to get the fuck outta here now. There was this girl and she-"

BANG.

The bullet missed Paul by a hair. It left a rather unusually sized hole in the wall beside him. Both he and Mark turned around and saw that the crowds had dispersed. People were running out the door, cramming themselves through it like anchovies in a can. They were tripping over themselves, and Paul could have sworn he saw someone else snatch something from a display case.

Amid the chaos, there was a woman in a suit dual-wielding fucking pistols.

Mark looked at Paul, then back at the woman.

"Well that's not good."

"God damn you, Mark."

And so they ran, just barely avoiding another gunshot from the woman pursuing them. The crowd was all but through the door now, but still too dense of Mark and Paul to weave through in time. There was another shot, and a man fell to the ground behind them.

Paul sprinted toward the wall; there was another door at the opposite end of the auction house. If he could just make it there, then maybe he could-

BANG.

Paul's kneecap was shattered. He tumbled to the floor and slide. He wasn't sure how he could get rugburn on his face from a marble floor but didn't have the tiem to question it. Mark hauled him to his feet and opened the briefcase. Inside were a bunch of tools, pencils, markers, a canvas that was too long to fit inside of such a small thing, and a few other objects Paul couldn't make out.

Mark closed the briefcase and drew a crudely shaped Way onto the canvas.

BANG.

Mark yelped as a bullet grazed his shoulder. The pencil he used flew out of his hands. He threw the briefcase on the canvas and it sank within the white sheet. He looked at Paul, who was staring down the barrels of their attacker's pistols.

Then he grabbed him and fell onto the canvas just before a bullet left its gun.


Gytha stopped herself from pulling the trigger again as she watched two men fall into a painting. Of all the strange things she's seen as an Enforcer, this was a new one. She laughed. Gerald couldn't see this from the office he stole from her now could he?

The auction house was a complete mess. A man was dead, again. One of the objects was stolen, hence the missing pedestal, and no one bothered to clean up after themselves.

God damn aristocrats.

She sighed and holstered her pistols. She took a seat at the bar, called a number on her phone, and waited for Amir to show up. There was no way she was going into a painting by herself without back up.

Hopefully Mr. Marshall won't mind the mess.

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