Life Ain't Sacred

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The heavyweight had tracked her down after one of her funny turns had left a trail of blood a mile wide across the seedy hotels downtown. They'd tried to fuck her over, and she'd tried to hold back – yeah right. Other people called it snapping, going over the slippery edge they all tottered along; turning into some kind of bulletproof berserker.

She referred to it as focussing, setting her sights on Satan; and the music pounding through her battered headphones always helped.

"Fear makes people hunt you down like a wild dog. Respect makes them hesitate. I know how much you could do with a single hesitation, Revy. It stumps me that you still do it for free."

She'd heard of this guy's reputation, the way he could make even the invading Russians sit up and deal straight in this city of deception. She'd been amazed that someone could be in such control of the sod's law that was life.

"All you're doing is surviving, when you could be winning. Now you're lucky that gang you just slaughtered was a buncha downright bastards nobody liked, or I'd be thinking more than twice about saying this. Join my crew, Revy Two-Hands."

She stood up and faced him. He looked her up and down, measuring the lean muscle, barely-scarred skin, the high calibre in more ways than one of her twin pistols. She must have plundered them from a real rich clever-dick. Loaded enough to spend and smart enough to ensure quality results.

Finally he saw the tiny bundle her body had formerly obscured, and as their gaze met, the lifeless black hellholes of her dying-eagle golden eyes.

"'S gotta be my only ever mercy killing." It was little explanation, and it occurred to him that she might be too far gone at last to be of any use. Shame, because he'd seen some truly scary potential here. "Didn't know what hit it."

"Do you even know what you've done?" He made no secret of drawing back the reload mechanism on his oversized shotgun. Dutch shook his head softly, not wide or fast enough to jeopardize his line of vision. "Just another psycho-bitch. What a pity. I'd thought I'd heard crying."

"Babies only wail 'cause it means food's coming. They don't know what danger or pain are." She pushed the heart-breakingly small corpse further back with her army boot heel. It had lost any of her respect when the soul left it. "That one certainly never will. Once they see the milk bar coming babies've got less judgement than a grown man in heat. Last thing it ever felt was happiness that mama came back so quick. Ain't that the sweetest way to go?" She spat the words out with a bitter grin. Evidently she'd never been so blessed.

"Is that why they say you fight with a smile on you like a demon playing games? So even when you die your last memory won't be despair?"

"You know what they say," she shrugged carelessly. "The last thing you feel is all you'll know forevermore."

"I ain't never heard anyone say that."

"It's what I say." Without even blinking, some pale imitation of light seemed to return to her eyes. "Thing is, Danish, since no one ever cried when I was in pain; I never learnt to either."

"It's Dutch."

"Sure thing, Boss." Sticking her tongue out at him. What a bloody-minded nerve when the darkening claret was pooling round her feet.

"I withdrew that offer the moment I realised this had become a mindless massacre. I don't need trigger-addict idiots."

Her expression then, and the way it was continued through her entire stance in the unyielding manner of one who never bothered to lie, convinced him right there that she had to be a part of his team. No matter what he'd just seen her do. "Who else would have saved the luckless brat from Roana-fucking-pura? Which of the other spineless dogs in this crap-heap have the guts to murder out of the kindness of their black hearts?"

And Dutch said nothing, for the answer was no one. Just held out the roll of banknotes that would make her his for a given value of loyalty, and felt them be snatched away the instant they appeared.

"Oblivion's better than ten minutes in this arse-crack of a city…" she continued to mutter rebelliously as she sauntered straight past his loaded weapon.

"So why not stoop to a little Russki Roulette?"

Now they truly earned each other's respect, for the cold ring of his gun barrel digging into her unguarded back failed to make her flinch at all; and neither did his fingers on the trigger twitch.

"Because I have more self-respect than a pissing little coward."

She stared him out again, and finally her eyes were human.

"Just like you, Dutch."