JB's Guide To Insanity

We Are All Flawed




RECAP: Our delightfully damaged heroine beat up some scum bags who were threatening an old man. Unfortunately one of the scum called Cole, got away and whilst Ivy was chilling, he came back with a small army of more scum! Ooh also Ivy has a lovely Alsatian called Ash who is most likely having a nap whilst Ivy does all the hard work…

Bad Taste In The Mouth

Bloodied Bat

The leader of the army and Cole’s uncle, Jonjo grunted. “Well. Did you threaten my nephew?!”

“Did i threaten him?” Ivy asked back casually swaying left to right. “Yes. Threatened i did and i probably killed a couple of his friends too. I put their bodies in the bins out back if you were looking for them.” She directed past Jonjo to Cole at the back who instantly hid his face. Ivy then took a step closer to Jonjo so she was inches away from him. “Just between me and you pal…” She whispered and winked. “Im going to kill your nephew first”.

Jonjo snorted and grinned showing blackened rotting teeth. “You do realize we are gonna come in there and kill you for what you’ve done dont you?”

“No. You are going to come in here and get beaten either half to death or fully to death depending on how i feel in the moment. I have had a really long day so i mean we have to factor in whether or not i can be bothered to cave your heads in. This is Banana by the way.” She grinned at the men, waving the weapon up and down jovially. “Pretty ain’t she?”

“You’re very funny.” Jonjo clapped and rubbed his hands together, clinking the knuckle dusters on them. “We will see how funny you can be when we are finished with you. You know you aint that bad lookin’ so i might let the boys have fun with you before i throttle you to death.”

“Ooh lucky me! You are such a charming individual i bet your mum is so proud. Well come on in then boys.” Ivy said walking in to the living room, followed by the men.


Ivy stood with her back to the balcony windows and rested her baseball bat on her shoulder. Jonjo let the others run at her first, all swinging their knives, planks and bats wildly at her. Ivy dodged each attack with unnatural grace, weaving and ducking her way through them until she reached Jonjo at the other end of the room who she caught by surprise and punched in the testicles. Jonjo fell to the ground in agony as Ivy leap frogged over another thug charging at her and flipped her way to Cole who was cowering at the back again. She finally swung her baseball bat in to his throat, cracking his neck as it impacted.


Cole fell to the floor gripping at his crushed windpipe and gasping for air. Ivy then turned to the shocked thirteen men crammed in to her living room and let out a sigh. A single twizzled pink hair strand dangling in front of her eyes. She huffed it away and then lowered her bat to Jonjo who was gazing up at Ivy as if he was captivated by the pain she had put him in.

“One thing i hate more than chavs Mr Jonjo… Are rapists. It wont end well for you.” Ivy spat through gritted teeth with a mad glaze in her eyes. She then breathed in deeply pushed her hair back slightly out of her face and ran at the men. Hopping over Jonjo she battered repeatedly the face of the first man to come at her causing his face to cave in. The second third and fourth charged and she spun around them knee capping one and moving on the next.

Grunts and screams of the men as they swung their weapons and had their bodies broken by Ivy were all that could be heard from the flat. Other residents poked their heads out peering from their doors in to Ivy’s open one. Occasionally a pink blur would dart past in the living room followed by a splatter of blood and a crashing of glass or other items that had become collateral. Jonjo finally got to his feet as Ivy broke the spine of the last remaining goon and then drop kicked him through the windows and over the balcony.

She was covered in sweat and blood splats and the still groaning men were writhing like worms in dirt upon her floor. Breathing heavily, mouth hung open slightly and hair completely in her eyes, Ivy turned her attention to the bewildered Jonjo who could hardly believe what had happened.

Jonjo shuddered and stepped backwards trying to ready himself. Ivy remained stationary waiting for him to make his move, her chest raising up and down rythmically. “You stupid fuckin’ bitch!” Jonjo roared in a broken voice having possibly lost his mind from watching his nephew and almost all of his gang die. He clenched his fists and in a fit of rage ran at her swinging left and right, cursing louder and louder with every move.


Ivy with ease stepped out of the way again and again until Jonjo exhausted himself. He stumbled tired and disorientated and Ivy took Banana and swung it under arm in to his genitals. Jonjo fell back in to the glass table shattering it and stabbing his own back. Ivy then stood in front of the bleeding crippled man and with all her force brought the bat down on his genitals again and again until there was nothing left but blood.

Jonjo had passed out by the fifth swing and Ivy dragged him over to the balcony where she threw him off down to the grotty courtyard below. One by one she threw the men to their deaths, ignoring their pleas for mercy. They had attacked her. Threatened her. It was their choice she kept telling herself. Their choice. After finishing her work, Ivy stood in her destroyed living room and dropped Banana to the floor. Her hands were trembling. There was nothing here now, she had to move on before the police came. The residents didnt have her name and the apartment block owner owed her a rather huge favour which is why she had been provided with the accomodation in the first place. Also in all fairness she had caused worst body counts and carnage up and down the country and not been caught yet and its not like the police would believe a young woman singlehandedly beat up thirteen men or so. By this time tomorrow Ivy would be out of the county and on her way.


She looked over to her room where Ash was and started towards it before suddenly feeling overwhelmingly dizzy. Ivy wobbled as her legs turned to jelly and her heart beated so fast it echoed in her head. “Oh.. oh shit.” She said falling to the floor and passing out.

End of part three…


Dying Bravely: Episode Two

Jacob’s bug eyes were jolting from person to person. He broke in to a sprint and turned every corner heading towards the smoke. Chaos. ‘No sirens, why aren’t there any sirens?’ He carried on all the way in to town, only having to break two or three times to catch his breath. Still no sirens. Many other people had caught on to this too and were running full pelt all around him. Jacob drowned out the voices all shouting at one another. All noise. The group of two hundred or more came to their first blockade. An entire four story office building collapsed on it’s side, which was large enough to block up the roads. People were hanging from the windows, some were scattered across the pavement and tarmac, dismembered or worst. Blood and fire was everywhere. Jacob helped where he could, dragging people from the rubble, trying to put out fires, comforting the dying.

It didnt seem real to him. This was not him. He didnt do this. This wasnt reality, this was, must have been a nightmare. This was false. Hours passed. There were still people trapped in the rubble. No authorities came. No sirens. As a few left to help in other areas or find loved ones, another few left to bring vans and tools to help at the scene. Twenty men, lead by a former fire fighter had driven to the fire station where they had found it abandonned. Returning with three fire engines they helped put out the numerous fires and used the ladders to reach people high up.

Eventually after four hours they believed they had rescued anyone still alive to rescue and most of the crowd, including Jacob moved on through and over collapsed alleys, demolished houses, a caved in sewer and a dozen or more shops that had been brought to rubble.

Corpses and limbs littered the streets.

The day went on. The dead far outweighed the living as the crowd got closer and closer to the crash site. Soon enough questions of “how could this happen?” Or “where are the authorities?” Became a thing of the past. Soon enough there weren’t many injured people lying amongst the army of bodies… No one left to save.

The darkened skies were now turning to dusk and what little sunlight they had was now replaced by torches and head flash lights. They had to abandon the fire engines when another road block stopped them from being brought around the wreckage and in to places of use. The former fireman who’s name Jacob believed was Oliver was a grizzled, towering, gruff man in his mid sixties, who had a rough face that time had not been kind to. As the journey went on Oliver had become the defacto leader due to his experience in fire and rescue, his medical training also helped too on more than one occasion.

Jacob was the first to set sights on the crash sight. A thick dry coat of dust and blood covering his body and his clothes. There was fire spread around the remnants of the black plane that had broken in half and folded like paper, the tail at a 90 degree angle poking from a meteoric dig in the ground facing the men and women.

“That cant have been any normal plane.” Oliver grumbled nearby Jacob. “To make an impact like this?”

The front end of the plane was on the other side of the giant blast zone shredded and ablaze. To the left and right of the blast zone emmerged the other groups of people who had been helping their way through the chaos. They silently nodded at eachother before looking down in to the pit of plane wreckage. “What do you reckon was in there then?” A man asked Jacob who was staring gormlessly in to the fire.

“I erm- im not sure.” Jacob replied caught off guard.

The man looked over at Oliver. “Its a military plane right, Oliver?”

Oliver nodded and walked over. It was at this point Jacob noticed that the leader of the group had been wearing what appeared to be a well fitted white shirt, black suit pants and smart shoes that were all now filthy and torn up.

“Aye it is.” Oliver snorted. “It’s a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. Or was. Painted all black though… bit odd.”

“Maybe its some secret government black site thing like in America area 56 or whatever its called.” The man droned making Jacob think he was a simpleton.

A few others also walked over and gave their opinions. Jacob switched off and took a step towards the edge looking deep in to the chasm. There in the middle of the plane crash was a set of cargo containers which appeared to be ripped open with large claw marks in them.

Before Jacob could say anything a crackling came over on Oliver’s walkie talkie.

“Craven. It’s Alan. We’ve just been to the edge of town it’s not good.”

“What is it?” Oliver replied looking around at the others.

“We are being quarantined…” Alan sighed exasperated. “They are closing all exits to the town off. We are on our own.”

Jacob looked back in to the pit and clenched his fists until they turned white.


Part Three:

“Don’t wake up Penn. Stay with me.”
Her words ringing in my head are not useful right now. Right now I need to focus

Outside the Tea House we both stand. Mao is confused. He rarely is so I feel accomplished at making the lanky yet confident man anxious. I can tell by the look on his face that he is unsure of the situation at hand. He smirks at me after some amount of silence has gone by.

I don’t smirk back.

“Something amusing?” I ask him, stoically.

He nods, still smiling. “W- What is this?” He almost bursts out laughing. “Come on, did you have a bad opium trip last night or what? What’s with this shit Li?”

I just continue staring at him.

“So you kill one of your highest enforcers and his crew and then ask some child to let us know what you did and where to find you. Why?” He drops the smile but is still speaking jovially.

“Mao, when the day is done I will explain my actions and what caused them to only one man. Eiji.”

“Eiji?” He asks in disbelief whilst taking a step forward to me.

I nod once. “Eiji.”

“Eiji never comes to these filthy parts of the city, Li. You know that-”

“He will by the end of the day. He will have no choice.”

“But he’s- He’s an old man, what is going on?” He scoffs.

“I told you. I will only explain my actions to him, and him alone.”

He looks at me seriously now. “I see. You..  You know then?”

“Would you like to come in for a chat Mao?”

He looks over my shoulder at the Tea House and spits on to the floor.

“Thing is, if I go in there… I won’t come out.”

“Well… You won’t come out alive.”

He looks flustered. “It was an accident-”


“But they didn’t know it was-”

I break his nose to stop him from talking. He stumbles over himself and falls in a puddle, messing up his expensive over coat. After some groaning he gets up and walks past me in to the shop. Mao knows when to fight and when not to. He’ll put up a weak fight inside out of honour to himself, I would expect nothing less of him.

He takes a seat at the table that me and Lady sat at and I sit across from him. He holds his broken nose in one hand and tries to stop the blood gushing.

“I’m a message then?” He asks.

I nod.

“And you are going to deface my body somehow?”


He laughs. “What are you going to do? Hang me from the roof top?”

I stare at him quietly and he drops his smile.

“I’m not a fighter.” He whispers.

I lean forward. “I am.”

Mao sighs and leans back. “When you get the chance… Make it quick.”

“As you wish.” I reply whilst getting to my feet and making a clearing of tables. He slowly gets to his feet and walks over to me. He swings once and I dodge his fist, sending a punch towards his side. He leans over and grunts and I spin around him, placing a hand on the top of his head and another on his jaw. A quick snap later and he falls to his knees and then to the floor dead.

Mao’s body blows lightly in the wind. The noose around his neck keeps him hanging in front of the shop window and a few residents of the slums come out to see what’s happening. I exit the shop and walk to them.

“Spread the word!” I call out. “Li Penn has murdered Zin Mao!”


RECAP: Our delightfully damaged heroine, Ivy was chilling in her apartment after a long day of hunting… something… when she over heard a group of youths causing trouble for an elderly neighbour over protection money to a local nob head called Jonjo. Deciding she would help the old geezer out Ivy grabbed her trusty yellow baseball bat, Banana and went to investigate. Oh she also has a lovely Alsatian called Ash who’s currently probably sleeping back in the apartment or doing something else thats lazy…

Bad Taste In The Mouth

Tracksuit Warriors Are The Worst

“Soooo.” Ivy said playfully. “Come on answer me, which of you bitches wants to go first?”

“What the fuck are you on about?” The thug closest to Ivy said. “Fuck off, dyke before we bash you up n ting.”

“Dyke?” Ivy replied puzzled.

“Yeh you fuckin’ dyke piss off.”

Ivy shook her head. “I’m not a dyke. Not that that’s any of your business.”

“Whats with the hair then?” Another thug asked.

“My hair is awesome! Better than your hair you piece of shiii- you know what… now is not the time… for pettiness.” Ivy calmed herself down. “Just let the old cute guy go or i’ll bash you up innit bled.”  She smiled whilst doing a pretty bad impression of the thugs’ dialect.

The largest youth threw the old man back in to his apartment and a crash was heard.

“Hey!” Ivy barked emotionally. “Why did you do that, poor guy’s probably broken a hip now!”

“Do you know who we work for?” The large youth asked condescendingly, coming to the front of the group.

Ivy cocked her head to one side. “Is the answer Ali G, East 17, Kevin and Perry or anything else that was big in the late 90s, early 2000s?”

The thugs looked even more bewildered by her. “What?”

“Come on do you not see it? You all look like you’re on benefits, have just come back from a Manchester rave and can’t afford clothes that weren’t made almost thirty years ago.”

“Kill this bitch yeah.” The large thug grunted causally.

The other three started stalking towards her but stopped when Ivy raised her bat towards them. “You.” She said pointing Banana to the largest one still stood by the old man’s door. “Your name is Cole, yes?”

Cole nodded.

Ivy took a step forward and grinned madly. “Cole… It wont be quick when you die.”

Cole narrowed his eyes at her as the other three thugs charged. Ivy ducked below their first swings and rolled past them before rising, spinning on the spot and slamming Banana in to the closest thug’s skull. The bat brought the thug all the way in to a wall crushing his head between the yellow chrome and the brick. The thug slumped down unconcious blood leaking from his nose. Ivy then turned her attention to the frightened remaining thugs. She at first smashed the knee cap of the one on the right before dodging the attacks of the left who had produced out of his pocket a small knife. Eventually after only managing to get one slash on Ivy’s arm, the left thug got tired of swinging the knife madly and she upper cutted him so hard he nearly flew in to the roof, the knife clinging down the hallway out of reach.

With the three smaller thugs on the floor she turned to Cole and raised her bat once more. Cole stepped back, rather sheepishly and looked as if he was going to bolt. Ivy kept approaching but was hindered by the thug she had upper cutted suddenly springing up and wanting to fight some more. He rushed Ivy from behind and tackled her to the ground where they scrapped viciously before Ivy managed to use both of her bare feet to kick him off and back down the hallway. She then ran and brought the bat rapidly swinging down upon the thug’s head. She didn’t look strong but she had incredible power behind her swings, grunting with every one she took.The youth placed his arms up to protect himself and had them smashed instead, repeatedly by Ivy who continued to bring the bat down brutally upon him as he buckled to his knees, crying in agony. The youth’s arm shield eventually gave in and snapped causing Ivy to ruthlessly bring the bat down once more upon the top of his head, cracking his skull open like a watermelon.

Ivy panted and stretched her limbs letting the adrenaline cool off. She turned again to see Cole running down the other end of the corridor away from her in terror. After taking a look at the beating she had delivered to the youths, she went in to the old man’s apartment and picked him up from the rug. As she did so she noticed something in the corner of her eye. Through the window out in to the hills. Something was wrong. Silence. She opened the window and looked out to the stars yet saw nothing but black clouds. There was something on the wind. She shook an uneasy feeling of dread off and helped the old man sit in the nearest arm chair. He was still shaking and Ivy could tell he was upset by the ordeal.

“Thanks miss.” He trembled and she placed an arm around him.

“Are you okay?” She asked sincerely.

“Thanks to you I- i think i am yes…”

“What are you doing dealing with those kinds of people old man?” She asked him gently. “It’s not safe.”

“I had no choice my love.”


“Oh aye. Its this- this thug called Jonjo. He came to my corner shop about a year ago and threatened to burn it down if i didnt pay him.”

“Not go to the police old timer?”

“He said he’d kill me if i did.”

“Of course he did… here let’s get you off to bed, you must be knackered.” Ivy said helping the man to his feet. “Dont you worry about those people dude. If they come back ill sort them out.”

An hour later Ivy sat on her bed cross legged and began meditating. Preparing for the return of Cole. She knew he would come back with more men. They always did. Ash was laid beside her bed, joyfully chewing on one of her hoodies whilst she wasn’t paying attention. Her clothes were scattered everywhere most notably next to a beige rucksack that also had a makeshift holster attached to the right side for her baseball bat which was laid out before her on the bed as if she was blessing the weapon. There were no posters or trinkets to show that this was her home. There were just clothes ready to be packed in a moments notice as Ivy had been forced to do on more than one occasion. It was almost second nature to her.

As she delved deep in to her mind, relaxing her body and muscles she started to feel overwhelmingly calm. The bruise on her spine and the slash on her arm from where she had fought the youths began to heal and after a short while it was gone completely. The aches from fighting had left her body too. She opened her eyes and found hersel fully restored. Yet she looked solemnly to Ash who had half a mouthful of fabric.

“Peace never lasts ey buddy.” She sighed softly before both hers and Ash’s ears perked up simutaneously.
Out in the hall was the rumbling of feet. The thundering loud stomps got closer and closer until a banging was heard at her front door.

Ivy poked her head out of her bedroom. “Is that room service?” She asked loudly.

“Open the fucking door you slag we know youre in there!” A gruff older cockney voice bellowed. “We got your address from one of your neighbours.

“Take that as a no then.” Ivy muttered, grabbing Banana from her bed and walking in to the corridor. She closed the door behind her after telling Ash to stay put by the bed. As Ivy took a few steps towards the front door, it burst open off it’s hinges and flew towards her. She barely managed to jump backwards and avoid the door landing on her.

Standing in the door frame was a short, stocky square headed individual with scars all over his asteroid battered face. Behind him emerged a small army of goons all wielding bats, wooden planks and broken glass bottles. Ivy saw through a gap in the crowd, Cole at the back sneering.


“Im Jonjo.” The man at the front growled whilst raising his knuckle duster coated fists. “I heard you threatened my nephew.”

End of part two…


Part Two:

At the end of a street in one of the darkest corners of Mi Kin it sits peacefully as if the troubles of this world refuse to touch it. It’s quaint and decorated like it should be in the Empire, with gold and crimson paint that lavishes the entire store front, and a sign that reads out in black bold letters-

EST. 1803

It’s quite something to behold. Inside trinkets and various tea flavours are stacked up against the walls. I doubt even Lady knows how many types of tea are in her shop. Lady herself is a small, elderly hunched woman who resembles a witch from the European fairy tales. She’s got a heart of gold though and as soon as I arrive she hobbles out from behind her desk, smiling with those big damaged teeth and gives me a hug. She smells of spices. Always of spices.

“Lady.” I nod at her and she goes in to the back to fix my usual.

I take a seat near the front window looking out in to the street. The shop is empty. I told her the night before to make sure it was cleared out by the time I got there. Once she returns she has in her hands a cup of Indian brew, with a hint of cinnamon. Delicious. The fumes calm me. My last. I motion for her to sit across from me and she does so.

“Mr Penn, how are you today?” She asks, still smiling.

“I’m fine thank you, Lady.” I take another sip. It warms me.

“So, why this meeting? Did you finally want me to send a letter to my neice, oh Mr Penn she would be so lovely for you!”

“No, my dear. As exquisite as I’m sure your niece is, I’m here on business.”

She looks confused. “Oh?”

“Yes. Final business, to be exact.”

“Are you in trouble?” She asks me, clearly concerned with my well being.

“Not yet. I will be though. And I need to ask a favour of you. The favour.”

She leans back in her chair. “Go on.” She says directly.

I don’t speak and simply take out the bag of seventy gold pieces from my belt. I slide it across the table and she slowly unravels the string on the bag. Once she looks inside her mouth drops open.

“I wish to buy this establishment from you. For a profit of course. I can imagine your family got this place for what? Twenty silver Yuan?”

She nods. I doubt she has ever seen so much money in her life.

“That much gold should buy you a new and good life some where else Lady. Take it to your niece in Hong Lin if you have to. Just leave this place. For it is to be ruin.”

She doesn’t know what to say.

“Lady, you have been ever so kind to me over these long, long years. Like a second mother you’ve cared for me, offered me a place to relax from the storm. And I owe you all the gold in this city. That however, is all I have. I would like it to be spent wisely and with good intent.”

“My dear boy.” She mutters. “What have you done to show such kindness?”

Her words strike me more than I’d care to show.

I don’t reply and shoot her a slight reassuring smile. “Just please, take this. It’s the least I can do for you.”

She gradually comes to terms with it and places the money bag in to one of her dress pockets. “Penn-” She goes to say but I hold my hand up stopping her.

“No need for good byes Lady. Be on your way now.” I order. “They will be here any minute.”

“Any minute?”

I look sternly at her. “Please.”

She smiles nervously and then stands, shuffling over to the back room. Minutes later she comes out with a sack of personal belongings and safe keeps. Lady stops as she gets to the door. I half expect her to turn to me but none the less she does not and leaves her little tea house for good. I look out the window and watch her clear the street just as representative of the Fěicuì lóng, Mao appears on the murky horizon.

Just on time.


Part One:

December 5th, 1892.

The streets of Mi Kin city, China.

This is where It will end.

You need to know this place before we proceed.

What hits you first and stays with you at all times is the Incense and factory smoke that fill the air and force you to feel their vapours getting in to every inch and pore of your skin. It’s thick and it covers the streets in a disorientating wave  that can over power the uninitiated. From the ram shackle wooden houses and shops, hang tattered and aged black and red paper lanterns dangling amongst dim orange lamp lights and luminous welcome signs. The black lanterns are in memory of the Emperor’s dead son, Zi Kun-

“Gone so young, claimed by the plague. Not just him though, half the city fell to it Penn! Half the city! Thank the Gods for the Yilao Medical Corps, without them you would have returned to a tomb.” Was what Lady told me with a heavy heart when I returned from the war. She was unaware I had lost my mother and brother in that plague but how was she to know.

The buildings are compact, have three floors and rise up high to pack in their many residents. This makes narrow alleys in every gap available, perfect for criminals and prostitutes to skulk around in and hassle visitors and foreigners.

This city is loud and alive. It roars spite and corruption. There is no escape. There is no freedom. It’s citizens are trapped until death, to slave and sweat and fuck and duplicate and repeat. No wonder the royals refuse to even acknowledge it in their decadal tour of the Empire.

Wild animals also run through the streets. From chickens, dogs and cats, to pigs, peacocks and even donkeys. Min Kin has it’s own animal kingdom. They usually stay out of our way though-

“After all, Mi Kin does belong to man… And in turn, man belongs to the Fěicuì lóng… The Emerald Dragons.”

Everything in turn, belongs to the Fěicuì lóng…

My name is Li Penn. Through these streets I walk. By it’s own nature, my stride is confident and precise. As I turn the corners and traverse the seemingly endless maze of food vendors and counterfeit goods market stalls, the commoners notice me and begin to tidy away their messes and filth. Hushed whispers begin spreading to their children to rush inside and stop their playing, to escape the gaze of the man they all fear.

And fear I suppose, they should.

To them I am a man of great stature. To them the piss and dirt filled gutters that are on almost every street corner should try to make the effort to look presentable to me.

I was born here and raised amongst these people and now I am above them. That used to fill me with pride and now it fills me with shame. I have worked for the Fěicuì lóng since I was eight, from the lowest level of petty hustler to the elite level of Left Hand. Once I wore rags now I wear a black suit blazer, vest and trousers that fit my thin body perfectly, with shoes I can afford to be polished twice a day. My white mandarin collar shirt is always fixed where it should be; to the top and my black bracers are clipped over it keeping my trousers in position. A black bowler hat sits over my slicked back jet coloured hair and never moves unless I am bowing to a lady of importance of course.

Mother always did teach me to be polite to women.

I check the golden pocket watch which is tightly tied to my belt. It’s twelve o’clock, almost time for me to go to Lady’s. I have some business to attend to first, and keep moving through the streets. I take out my box of matches and a cigarette from my breast pocket and light it up. Smoking clears my mind. Helps my nerves.

I have a right to be nervous.

By the time today is through, I predict half this district will be in flames.

“Mr Penn!” Jian-heng suddenly calls out to me from his grime coated bakery, causing me to nearly drop my cigarette and pull out my six shot revolver to blast him away. I restrain my trigger finger and notice the smell of rotten pastries lingering out the side of the building as I enter reluctantly.

“Make it quick.” I order, calming my nerves. Truth be told, the distraction is useful. Jian-heng is a small rotund man in chef’s garb. He’s dimwitted and blind as a mole but he can cook a good meal. It’s also a shame about his hygiene or lack there of especially when It comes to his business.

“Mr Penn, awfully sorry to bother you.” He stutters. “I’ve been waiting for an hour for you to come around-”

“You have?”

“Yes. I know this is the time of day on a Friday you usually do your rounds and check up on the Captain so, I was wondering if I could pass on some news to you regarding some neighbourhood disturbances.”

“Go on.” I sigh.

“Well- It is a little tricky…”

“Jian my time is incredibly valuable as of late and it does not need to be wasted on dramatics, please do get to the point.”

He goes red from embarrassment. I had to scold him otherwise he would have took all day to spit out whatever information he has.

“Ah yes, sorry sorry.” He says to me clearly upset at his behaviour. “I recently noticed some men hassling Miss Lao. Do you know of Miss Lao?”

Do I know of Miss Lao. Of course I know of Miss Lao. She is one of the most attractive bits of skirt on this whole street who might I add, has laid with me numerous times.

“The dancer at Ruby’s, yes I know of her do go on.” I reply stroking my chin and taking another drag on my cigarette.

“Well yes the men were demanding money from her. I heard something about, if she didn’t pay up by the festival of the Dragon on Monday eve then they would… Well you could imagine the threats of vagrants Mr Penn. They are the cancer of this city.”

I place a hand on the baker’s shoulder and smile half heartedly. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention Jian, it will be looked in to as soon as time permits.”

He smiles back as if my courteous nature is a gift from the Gods themselves. I place a bronze Yuan in his palm as I shake his hand as payment for the information. You have to give a little to get a little.

This would actually be interesting if I didn’t know what today was going to bring. We get paid to keep rabble like vagrants where they belong; in the sewers. In this city there is a difference between the homeless and the vagrants. The homeless did not choose their situation whilst the vagrants are rabid and viscous rapists, thieves and murderers who dwell and thrive in the bowel of this place. They simply have no class. They don’t even have homes like most criminals or beds to sleep in.

For them to actually dare to come out in to the light and demand payment, probably means one of our organization is on some form of take from them and is looking the other way. Which leads to the theory that if they have enough money to put someone on the take then they probably have enough money to have built a small army under ground.

This may come in useful later. I exit the bakery and continue on my way to the Captain’s house. It creates a dead end around one of the alleyways and is crawling with young gang members. The house is guarded by Red Dog, the Captain’s chief body guard who’s greeting I ignore as I enter.

The captain’s not a nice man but he’s good at collecting pay around these streets from the lower level gang leaders, and he keeps order when it needs to be kept. My main problem with him is he likes to rough up women. That’s why today is going to be quite enjoyable for me. See, he went too far the previous night and cracked a whore’s jaw at the brothel, Rubies. Safe to say that the girl will be out of service for a long time to come.

“This reflects badly on me.” I tell him once I am sat across from him at his desk on the top floor. I have the window to my back looking out to the street below.

He is lanky and ugly, wearing a makeshift maroon suit that he thinks makes him look smart. It doesn’t.

“What does?” He says, his voice as coarse as stone as he places his hands on to the creaky wood table that separates us. This room is practically empty apart from the two chairs and the table. It’s the Captains supposed business room.

I light another cigarette and he does the same. His men are downstairs getting intoxicated whilst we conduct our dealings. I stare at him for a moment in unflinching dominance so he understands that I am not here to play any games.

“Fine.” He backs down. “I went too far with the slut-”

“Excuse me?” I say to him leaning forward, looking stern. The Captain shouldn’t have called her that.

“The slut who I beat. I shouldn’t have hit her that hard it wasn’t right-”

“Listen to me and listen good. You have lost the right to call that woman anything derogatory. Not even whore. You tell me her name. Her real name. You know it, so tell it to me. And I swear to the Gods if I hear you call her slut once more…”

He looks lost for words like a little rodent caught in the path of a predator twice it’s size.

“I don’t remember-” His pride is getting the better of him.

“Captain, If you make me repeat myself one more time I will throw you from that window.”

“Mia Xiao.” He mutters. “Her name was Mia Xiao.”

“Good.” I lean back and take another drag. “You have the weeks collection for me?”

He reaches under the table and without effort unfastens a bag strapped to it. Sliding the bag across the table towards me, I stop it with my right hand. It feels a little lighter than usual.

It doesn’t matter.

“Boss I actually wanted to talk to you about someth-”

“Bao.” I interrupt him with his birth name, calmly. He doesn’t expect it and it throws him off. No one has called him that in years, he’s thinking about what to say, how to come back at me, I can see the cogs in his mind trying to process it.

It doesn’t matter.

“I-” He stutters.

“Bao. This is the end of our professional relationship. Recently I had a… Well. The specifics will not trouble your little mind so, I’ll save you that long and I’m sure tedious explanation. You are going to be my-” I sit forward. “Kindling of sorts.”

He looks horrified. Good. “Excuse me?” He asks timidly.

“Kindling. You know what this is?” I am purposefully patronizing.

He nods and gulps at the same time. “Yes.”

“I’m going to burn you.” I tell him this calmly, leaning back again and taking a drag.

After a few tense moments he bursts from his chair and leaps to the other side of the room. He grabs a gun from beneath a crate and aims it at my head but I am quicker and already have my golden dragon decorated shooter aimed at him from my lap. One shot rings out and it splatters the Captain’s brains all over the walls. He falls back and cracks his head on the floor boards.

I don’t move yet. I can hear the Captain’s men charging up the stairs rapidly, their footsteps beating against the worn steps. They are shouting at each other aggressively.

I aim my gun at the door with a steady hand.

Seconds later the first breaks through and he gets a bullet in his throat.
The second comes in straight after and his forehead is taken out.
The third gets it in the heart.
The fourth and fifth are too high to even have their knives out. Two more shots later and they roll back down the stairs, blood leaking from the holes in their heads.

Out of bullets now. And I hear the door man enter and begin moving heavy footed through the house. No time for reloading. I’m going to have to take Red Dog out with my hands. Now I stand, place my gun on the table and quickly analyse the situation.

Switch blade on my belt. I un-clip it and click the button so that the knife edge springs out. Holding it down by my side I do one more quick scan.

If it comes down to it I could possibly use the butt of the gun although, I know Red Dog, I grew up with him. He’s a prize fighter, the butt of a gun would be like hitting a boulder with a chop stick.

The giant of a man, bull rushes in and almost trips over the corpse pile of his friends. He looks at them and then up at me, clearly distraught.

“Mr Penn?” He grunts before his face goes red with pure rage. He screams and runs at me but I turn on my heel at the last second and slash his face. He slams in to the table and I bring the knife down on the back of his head.

It’s safe to say Red Dog’s fighting speed has improved greatly since I last watched him in the cage. He manages to send an arm flying and whack the blade out of my hand before it sticks in his skull. I instantly grab the gun with my other free hand and crack it across the man’s cheek as he rises up. It hardly affects him so I swing the gun again this time almost breaking the handle off.

Red Dog still doesn’t go down.

He punches me and almost knocks out a tooth. I quickly recover and land a fist in his throat. He splutters and stumbles back and I take advantage of this by spearing him in to a wall. He slams his head back on the wall and I place my palm over his face.

After I repeatedly bash his skull against the wall, Red Dog slumps down leaving the contents of his head all over the bricks above him.

I have some of his brain matter splashed on my hands. I wash it off in the sink before I exit the house. Other than seeing Lady, there’s no reason to really clean my hands… They are going to get plenty more bloody before the day is through. A local young gang member I don’t recognise, runs over to me and asks what happened.

“You do me a favour boy.” I tell him handing him a silver Yen. “Go inside to the top floor. Then once you have had a good look around I want you to head over to the Dragons, you know where they are?”

He nods.

“Good. Tell them exactly what and who you saw here today. You know my name?”

He nods once more.

“Of course you do. Tell them I will be at Lady’s within the hour and they can find me there.”

He doesn’t respond but heads in side apprehensively. I watch him go and then leave the area quickly, making my way to the Tea House.

Preparations need to be made.


I must confess, I cannot possibly forsee a pleasant ending.

Bad Taste In The Mouth

The Food Chain

Blazing heat and golden light baked the seemingly endless yellow fields of hay in a dizzying haze of feverous humidity and warm tranquility. Some days under the orange tinged blue skies, even the birds and insects would stop their mutterings to revel in the vunrable peace which lingered over those lost lands. Hidden behind dense woodlands, the fields were known to few however, one ten year old girl walked and found solace in them more than anyone throughout history. Her name was Ivy and to her those were the best days of her life… And to her they were also the last days of her innocence.

That early summer spent wandering and relaxing aimlessly, drifted in and out of the girl’s dreams and nightmares frequently as she grew through eleven years of torturous metamorphisis and finally in to a woman.

Ivy, 21 years old

One such dream clung to Ivy’s memory as she jerked awake up right on the floor of her cheap low rent apartment, located half way up a council flat block on the outskirts of London. She deeply inhaled the dusty morning air of the living room as she jumped up to her feet, regaining her barings.

Ivy couldn’t remember the night before and was confused by why she was in the middle of her living room and not in her bed. More confusing was the state of her surroundings. The balcony windows were broken open and the pale early sun rise was gleaming through the flickering tattered curtains. The place had been trashed completely, shrapnel from the window doors littered across the carpet, the sofa overturned, the tv smashed on its side. It was lucky she hadn’t cut herself on the amount of shards and bled out, she thought whilst stumbling to the fridge and retrieving a half drunk carton of milk. Gulping the cold refreshing milk down calmed Ivy’s fast beating heart and she placed it down upon the marble counter nearby. A scratching and a whining suddenly came from the other side of the closed door to her bedroom out in the hallway and her eyes widened to the size of the moon.

Cursing under her breath at herself, she rushed round the corner to the door and flung it open only to be jumped on and pinned to the other side of the corridor by a large golden and black furred Alsatian dog standing on his hind legs. His tongue panting between licking Ivy’s face, his tail wagging in pure joy and his almond eyes wide and glistening at the sight of her.

“Aw I’m sorry Ash, I love you too buddy, yes i do!” She smothered him for a while in hugs and affection before pushing him off of her and rushing back to the kitchen where his dog bowls were. After giving him breakfast and water she let him out of the apartment so he could go outside and do his business. The doors to the block were easily pushed open from a low level and had almost no security measures in place. Plus Ash was a very smart creature who had proven to Ivy on many occasions that he was capable of handling any trouble.


Ivy looked over her cheap apartment that had been made even cheaper. She hadn’t noticed it before but there were multiple holes in the walls which were about the same size of an average man’s head and blood was dried around the jagged edges. Staring in to the holes flooded Ivy’s head with the events of the night before and she stumbled back against the wall gripping her forehead in pain.


An exhausted Ivy was leaning on the balcony of the apartment, dressed in a flimsy tight black onesie, smoking a cigarette and rubbing her free hand through her thick and unkempt bright pink hair. Ash was curled up asleep on the sofa as he was one to do being a very lazy dog at times. Ivy however, had only just finished washing her face, taking out her piercings and wiping the lightly applied make up from her soft fair skin and it was fast approaching eleven at night. It had been a long day’s work and she was ready to relax and unwind in her temporary accomodation with a bottle of wine and a cheap 80s action film called I Now Pronounce You Dead that she had bought on dvd on the way back to the flat. London was too big for her although she liked the fact that cities could lose people within their concrete mazes. London was the most complex maze of all. There across a hill or two and a small park on the horizon were the towering glittering lights of only part of it. It seemed so alive and noisy, constantly buzzing and shining. Her work here was still not complete though and she had at least another weeks worth of hunting ahead of her. As Ivy flicked her cigarette butt out of the balcony and walked back in to the living room, she heard the feignt banging on a door in her level of the block. She ignored this at first but it persisted and was then followed by four young thug like voices chirping over eachother. It was mostly incomprehensible but she managed to work out a few words…

“Open the fuckin’ door or we will kick it down you old fuckin’ mug!”

Ivy sighed and closed her eyes. Even Ash had woken awkwardly from his bear like slumber and had his ears perked up, head cocked towards the door.

“You’re not getting involved, you’re not getting involved-” Ivy whispered over and over to herself. The more she did though the more she thought about it and the more she thought about it the more accute her hearing became to situation.

The door the youths were banging on creaked open and a fifth voice stung in her ears.

“Eh? What- what is it?” An old man stuttered feebily from behind the door.

“Oh not a sweet old person…” Ivy groaned, eyes still shut.

“You know why we are here old man.” One thug continued. “Jonjo wants his money.”

“But b-but i’ve already paid him-”

“Not enough! He wants more. He’s thinking an extra five hundred should cover all expenses ey?”

“But i don’t have any more, i’ve given him all I’ve got- i swear to you. I’m barely making a profit on the shop as it is. He said- he said that the price would be-”

“We know what he said. And now he’s saying different. You can either comply and give us the money or we can break in smash your legs like glass and then burn your fuckin’ shop down!” The thug screamed.

Ivy felt her fists clench automatically.

“But i swear-” the old man’s voice was wobbling. Ivy could tell he was crying in fear. “-I don’t have any more money to give.”

“See… we were kind of hoping you’d say that.” Another thug said. “Cole smash down the door.”

Finally Ivy’s eyes prized open and she took a deep breath. She quickly ran in to her messy room and retrieved her trusty yellow chrome baseball bat, Banana and exited the apartment. Sprinting round the corners she followed the sound of  the largest thug slamming his shoulder in to the door. Eyes focused, brow furrowed Ivy ran gently yet swift like a samurai, Banana’s scuffed edge dragging across the metal floor so all could hear it screeching.


The few other people living in the apartments who had opened their doors to get a peek of the thugs began to lock up at the sight of Ivy darting by and turning the corners.

She heard the door break open as she turned the last corner and found three of the four teen tracksuit warriors about to enter.

“Oi!” Ivy shouted at them as she came to a halt around ten ft away from them. The thugs stopped and turned to her with confusion spread across their rough faces. They might as well have been clones of each other, all 18 and wearing the same grotty 90s chav style, complete with the occasional gold tooth and fake diamond stud piercings. They were big and burly. She had fought worst though. The fourth and biggest thug exited the apartment carrying the old man by the scruff of the neck. The old man was small and wizened, wearing blue and white striped pyjamas, retro shining spectacles and a night cap that matched the pyjamas. Fluffy black slippers were dangling off of his tiny feet as he was held up by the thug.

“Aw he is just as old and adorable as i thought he was going to be!” Ivy cooed softly before remembering the situation she was in. She got back in to her samurai like stance and put her serious face back on. “Who wants to go first then?”

End of part one…

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