Bareback was one of those who endeavored to savor every drop of excess, even if he had to squeeze it from a stone. He was living in a jewel that gleamed with sin, why else would he be here if not test his limits and explore things of a more...unconventional flavor? The bulbous tunnelgrub shifted in anticipation beneath his fine gray clothes. The tailor had had quite a time matching the clothes to his slightly alien form, he had worked ponderously and slow wondering why the short, sickly appeared to be proportioned so oddly. Bareback had been intensely and silently amused by the whole ordeal from behind his mask. Everything about untouched humans amused him now. He silently lorded his transformation over humans, lamenting nothing about his loss of humanity and embracing abilities and changes that he actually found exciting. In short, Bareback was actually just stupid and too dense to notice.
His famous stupidity and his lack of empathy had been a blight on the young women of the city for the past few weeks. He had whittled away at his own restraint, making excuses for himself as he pursued them down dark alleyways or dragged them under manhole covers, behind dumpsters, or anywhere else that he found appropriately seedy and demeaning a place to force himself upon them. What did it matter? They were human and he was not. After a few weeks of silent, yearning scouting missions he had begun to creep ever closer until finally he had claimed his first victim. He had laughed while doing it, and while he had indeed garnered some sexual pleasure from the act it had mostly been a barrel of laughs. He had left them weeping in his filth to come home and drink himself into a blind, cackling frenzy.
This one was inebriated. Shit-faced would be a better term. She was swaying unevenly as she walked down the streets and payed no mind to the gradual diminishing of light as she wandered further and further away from the strip. Her blonde hair, which at the beginning of the night had been fussed-with and controlled, was now slightly unkempt with a few strands hanging loose over her pale, perplexed forehead. He had silently manipulated her friends into "forgetting" that she was there and urged her deeper and deeper into the skulking, seedy underbelly of the city. Bareback himself clung to a faded brick wall, slick with pollution. His knobby hands wrung in anticipation in his pockets while he swallowed silently. A twinge of fear...if he were caught...
His focus redoubled, she suddenly moved down an alleyway. Her change in gait and direction was so intense that she looked as if a set of invisible gossamer had drawn her in. In a way it had. Chattering happily to himself his fingers continued their wild dance as he darted, unnaturally quickly, over the well-oiled pavement to dart into the alleyway after her. She was so close he could smell her. He thought he smelled something else, too. Something that resembled old, clean soil and salt water drying on stone. It was vaguely familiar to him and filled him with a deep sense of unease. Bareback was a coward by nature, and he knew enough about himself to admit this (although never out loud). So he slowed and proceeded with caution. His vaguely centipede-like walk returned to a more human stride as he passed underneath the buzzing yellow streetlight and into the dark shaft of the alleyway.
There was no alleyway. That was strange. There alleyway only went about five feet in and ended abruptly in a wall. Bareback, perplexed, scanned the wall visually. He could hear a soft moan coming from the woman, who seemed to be on the other side of this mysterious barrier. Oh, there she was. She was laying down on the other side of a narrow, triangular gap. Actually, now that he looked at it it didn't really look like a wall. It was just some massive object perched heavily on top of two pillars.
The wall reached out and grabbed him with surprising speed and ferocity. He felt a massive, impossibly rough hand clasp heavily over the top of his skull. Gigantic fingers clutched his face so hard that he could feel an immense pressure on his head that blossomed into bright white explosions of pain and thunder throughout his head. He was vaguely aware of being lifted off the ground to be brought up to the level of a broad, angry face with deep-set eyes glaring at him. The stony features were pulled into a grim rictus that belied both fury and some relief. As if this massive sentinel were happy at the chance to lay a hurt down on somebody. Bareback whimpered as he felt the grip tighten.
"Ach! Floyd! I was just- AGGGH!"
Floyd's massive face loomed closer, clouded with anger and impatience. He looked as if he were about to consider speaking to the pathetic creature he held in his hands and then seemed to decide it wasn't worth it. Floyd reared his massive hand back and drove it, hard into the pavement below him. His splayed hand sunk six inches into the pavement, and when he silently pulled his hand from the gaping scar he had made in the ground bits of Bareback's head came up in pieces along with uneven chunks of mortar.
He shook his hand distastefully, as if he had just put his hand in something foul. He absently wiped it on his brown coat and straightened up. He shifted the massive cleaver on his back and was about to step out of the alley and be on his merry way. Someone would come for the girl in just a minute. It was best if she didn't look at him for too long, anyway. Even through the mask it was hard to rationalize his size. His way was blocked by another diminutive man, this one seemed to carry himself with some semblance of dignity, though. The faceless man in the crisp suit and black fedora shook its head. "Subtle, as always, Floyd."
"He was a rapist. I didn't feel the need for restraint."
"Do you ever?"
"Point." Floyd may have grinned in amusement. His features moved so seldom and so little that it was almost impossible to tell. It took long moments of studying the rock-like surfaces of that face before you started to learn it. At least for most people. "You're here for the girl?"
"Floyd, did you notice there's a crow shitting on my shoulder?"
Floyd looked, he hadn't really noticed. "You mean sitting?"
"No, Floyd, I don't."
The slight man shook his head, exasperated. He didn't know if Floyd was truly stupid or if he just led him on because he found it amusing on some sociopathic level. "It showed up at the HQ. It's for you. Do you know a Johnny B. Dead?" The crow cawed impatiently, as if urging the conversation forward or just at the mention of his master's name. "Damn thing has basically been demanding to see you immediately."
Floyd shifted the massive blade on his back and scratched his boulder-like head with one of his massive, knobby hands. "I've heard the name. I hear he does a lot of sleuthing and the like. He's supposed to be pretty sharp from what I've heard of him. Autumn type?"
"You're going to be working for him. Somebody apparently desires your light touch on a case that he's working. This is a priority assignment, Floyd." His tone was filled with equal parts irritation and mirth.
Floyd considered everything he had been told for a moment. "I'm going to assume that I don't have a choice here. When do I leave to meet Mr. Dead?"
"Of course." Floyd grinned wearily and stepped past the slight man. Even in this darkness his delicate, graceful features were somewhat apparent. Floyd tried not to look at the man too much, it made him remember his own face. Pretty boy...he sighed, a deep basso rumble that thundered from behind his broad, scarred chest. He absently plucked the small parcel that lay in the Crow's extended beak and began reading silently, his lips moving along with the words. He pocketed the note and strode down the street.
As he was walking away the slight man seemed to remember something. He seemed almost reluctant at first, extending his hand in a beckoning gesture, withdrawing it, and finally calling out after Floyd. "Pretty Boy!" Floyd looked over his shoulder at the narrow man. The little muse continued, "There's one other thing. Word is there might be mercenaries hired along on this one. I don't know who, but...I know you've got a bit of a past with some of those guys."
A storm cloud of dull anger rolled over Floyd's face, tightening his features into a grim, resolute scowl. He contemplated the information silently for a long moment and then simply continued his ponderous walk down the street. His fist clenched absently on the handle of his massive blade.