History has an eye
Glynda was not a drinker, in fact she hated alcohol. She always had and always would. Just the smell of alcohol brought forth unpleasant memories of her father's stinking breath, back when he'd come home after a long day of work and evening of venting (at the bar). The smell always forecasted new bruises on her mother's body, her brother's body—but never hers. Her brother had always protected her.
But on certain occasions, when Glynda was feeling particularly lonely or shaken, she'd have a drink or eight. Tonight was one of those nights. Glynda had quaffed down two shots of absinthe and was now working on finishing a tall glass of fortified port. She hiccuped and looked at the crystal chalice, swirling the black-red drink. Not drunk enough. She motioned Ozpin to refill her glass.
"It's him. Again."
"I know. I saw the footage." Ozpin murmured. "But you can't do this everytime you cross paths with him Glynda. You just can't."
She pounded the table in an uncharacteristic display of rage. "I'm tired," she began quietly. "I'm tired of not being able to do things, Oz. I couldn't do anything to him. Just like last time… and I couldn't protect her, Summer's daughter."
"That's not your fault," Ozpin said soothingly, "you can't blame yourself for everything."
"Of course I can."
"It's not healthy."
She knew it wasn't. But what could she do in the face of a monster like Risotto Nero?
"We need to do something about him. About Passione." Glynda's voice was low with conviction. "We've let them work unhampered for long enough."
"The law enforcement know about them," Ozpin reminded the distraught woman. "Trust the authorities to do what they can do. Our priority is on The Queen and her minions," he said.
Glynda let out a bark of laughter, uncharacteristic of her, but she was quite tipsy now. The absinthe was strong, Ozpin saved it for Qrow, usually.
"So we will let them peddle their poison on the streets? It's ruining lives! We let Risotto and his goons kill whoever they want? Half the damn council is on Passione's payroll, Oz! We can't trust the police to do anything!"
"We don't have the resources, Glynda."
She knew that.
"What do you want me to do?" Ozpin asked hypothetically. "Do you want me to send our students to root out people like Risotto Nero? Like Massimo Volpe? They won't stand a chance. You know what happened to Summer."
There was nothing to say. Passione was like an ulcer. Undisturbed it throbbed, causing some pain, but ultimately it could be ignored. The last time someone had provoked Passione, dozens of Huntsmen and civilians had died. No one had been held to account. And now that the mafia had wriggled its way into the upper echelons of society and government, there wasn't much that could be done about it.
But damn it! They had to try, didn't they?
"Risotto was with Roman today." Glynda remembered suddenly. "They're working together."
Ozpin shrugged. "Roman frequently works with Passione. They're the largest gang in the world, that is to be expected."
"What business does Roman have with Risotto?" Glynda asked. "Roman is a thief. Risotto is the leader of Passione's Hitman Squad. They shouldn't be mingling."
Neither of them had a clue, but it couldn't be good.
"How is Ms. Rose? Is she recovering well?" Ozpin asked. His tone was nonchalant, but his expression told another story. Risotto was quite literally one of the most dangerous people alive. In all of Ozpin's long years, he hadn't ever come across a Semblance so terrifyingly lethal.
"As far as I've heard, she is still convalescing. They'll have her sedated until she can breathe on her own."
The Headmaster shook his head and sighed, feeling his age.
"He almost told her about Summer."
"Really?" Ozpin looked a little surprised. "Risotto always had a bit of a mean streak in him. I would have expected him to finish that story."
Glynda couldn't find the words to express just how upset she was.
"We should be glad that he still has that twisted moral compass about him. Shouldn't we? I'd imagine Taiyang would be quite upset otherwise." It was a terrible, but truthful, thing to say. Taiyang hated Risotto.
They contemplated silently.
"Where did we go wrong?" Glynda finally asked.
There wasn't an answer.
The car came to a smooth stop. The driver, a young girl bedecked in pink, white, and brown scurried from the vehicle and opened the passenger doors.
Risotto stepped out first, scowling. Then came Roman, yelling.
"Why the fuck didn't you kill her?" The thief was red-faced, hat held in his hand. "You had them both, right there! You're supposed to be some bad-ass killer and you can't even kill a fucking Huntress and a little girl?"
"That little girl kicked your ass." Risotto held his hand out to Neopolitan, asking for the car keys back. "Quite literally you were foiled by a single girl. You and a dozen of your lackeys."
"Not my lackeys. Junior's," Roman groused. "If you had just fucking helped earlier man, we'd be fine!"
"I'm not being paid to do your job, just to make sure that the police don't arrest you. If you and Cinder want to renegotiate the terms of our contract, take it up with Polpo."
The trio walked towards a shabby brownstone covered in climbing ivy.
"Maybe I will!" Roman shouted. "Fuck man! And you let the kid go? What the hell kind of assassin are you?"
Risotto stopped. He and Roman were the same height, but the relationship between the two was obvious based on how Roman cowered when the assassin drew closer.
"There are rules that I follow." Risotto declared imperiously. He shot a glance at Neo, who had a tight grip on her weapon. "You'll see the inside of your own uterus before you even get close to me. Try it."
She backed down.
"What the fuck do you mean there are rules?" Roman knew that the two of them didn't stand a chance against Risotto, especially when they were in front of a Passione safehouse. "You're supposed to be an assassin. All you had to do was hit Goodwitch and little Red with your Semblance and they were done for!"
Risotto shook his head. "You small-minded little fool. Is money all you worship? Is there not a shred of moral fibre left in that sunken heart of yours?" He twitched a finger and the door to the brownstone creaked open. "Isn't there a line you wouldn't cross, Roman?"
Of course there was. Roman stopped at the doorway and pointed an accusatory finger, spit flying from his mouth. "You piece of shit. At least I don't kill children! I heard about what you did to Councillor Trent's three-year-old. You're one to lecture me about morals and shit, man."
"Killing toddlers," Risotto said simply, "is a line I am willing to cross. For the right reason, I'd kill a thousand three-year olds. Passione needed leverage on Trent. Killing his son meant that he understood how serious we were about cooperating with him."
"And that's what makes you and the rest of you La Squadra freaks a bunch of pieces of shit." Roman kicked his shoes off as he entered the house. "You guys will do fucking anything. But God, man! You can't kill the teenager who fucked up our mission! That's not even close to being as bad as killing a toddler!"
"Murder is murder. A life is a life." The assassin said slowly. "There's no difference in the killing of a geratic versus killing a newborn."
"Then why the fuck didn't you do it? You kill a dozen people every week!"
The word on the street was that the members of the Execution Squad were amoral, apathetic, scumbags who would kill anything and anyone for the right price.
That was mostly right.
"Neo," Risotto looked to the silent girl, "Roman," then to the angry ginger. "Do you know what it means to be a professional?"
They didn't have a response to the question. Professional just meant that they were being paid to do a job, right?
Somehow Risotto addressed that unspoken thought, as if he had given this same tired speech in the past. "A butcher is paid to kill and shape animals into edible and familiar cuts. We are no butchers. We are professional killers," Risotto declared, a bit of pride seeping into his voice, "the greatest that the world has ever seen." He then paused for a moment, standing at a small landing at the base of a narrow flight of stairs to turn to his guests. "We have standards, standards that we uphold meticulously."
Standards? Roman didn't even want to know what kind of standards that Risotto had. Some of the stories surrounding that man… truly terrifying.
But it seemed that Neo wanted to know. She held up her Scroll, the drawing app open so that she could jot down her thoughts and show them to whoever she wanted to communicate with.
Risotto smiled, something that made both Roman and Neo, two hardened criminals, shudder.
"As a policy, each member of La Squadra is limited to who he can or cannot kill. This is to maintain a professional standard, to have an ironclad virtue that will never be tarnished." Risotto explained. "Ghiaccio, for example, promised never to kill a person younger than thirty-three. If we are assigned a hit on an elderly man, Ghiaccio will not be the one to carry out the deed."
Well, that was news.
Risotto continued. "Similarly, Melone has never killed a woman, never will kill a woman."
"Just a sec, Melone's the fellow who keeps flirting with Neo?" Roman narrowed his eyes. The purple haired man had gotten a knee to the groin for his troubles, something that he seemed to enjoy.
"Correct." Risotto nodded. "He is a serial rapist, but he has never killed a woman."
So he was a rapist but not a murderer? Technically, Roman supposed, Melone was both. The scumbag killed men and raped women.
"And you?" Neo cleared her Scroll and wrote another question, quickly tapping on the screen to draw the head assassin's attention.
"You know the story of the destroying angel?" Risotto asked. "The one about the Faunus saved by the angel of death?"
"The ones enslaved in ancient Vacuo?" Roman scratched his head. It was a bit of a throwback, a bedtime story meant to scare human children into playing nice with the freaks.
"The very same." Risotto confirmed, his smile growing larger. "Consider me the destroying angel—I never visit the same family twice."
AN: Each member of La Squadra has a unique, esoteric limitation on who they will and will not kill. Because there are many assassins, even if one person won't kill a potential target because it goes against their morals, it is likely that another one will.
Can you guess who Risotto killed? Should be obvious. How about the parable/story that he briefly referenced at the end of the chapter? (Hint: think religion)