Gunshots and metal ringing echo throughout the streets as a one-sided fight takes place in the alleyways. The citizens of Gatling are used to such sounds, and when they hear them, they’re quick to pull out their guns to defend themselves from becoming victims. The city is infamous for its high amount of criminality. Murders, shootings, and bombings happen every day, the police force being unable to stop most of them due to fewer people joining them and employment being at its lowest. The only cause of this mayhem is the mass production of all types of guns, distributed illegally through black markets. This problem has persisted for years and has only gotten worse with the advancement of such weaponry. As a result, people take their guns to so-called Modifiers, people who use their skills to modify weapons to the extreme, which often leaves immense casualties that the criminals long for.

 As cartridge casings fall to the ground, the bullets deflect and ricochet off of walls. Fights like these usually end in bloodshed, which is what this city is most well known for. People filled with bloodlust only come here to engage in criminal activity without a care in the world about how much blood is spilled and how many lives are taken. This fight follows the same principle, except it’s done for the single purpose of fulfilling a job. Footsteps quicken their pace while frantic shots ring out, all missing their target. A person screams out in fear, but before they can finish it, they are rudely interrupted by their own decapitation. The one who has just slain them stands above their corpse. A single “Ugh…” emanates from their mouth due to their clothing getting stained by fresh blood as a result of what they just did.

 “That was my favorite jacket, asshole!” They exclaim. Sighing, they withdraw from the scene, running out of an alleyway into another while sheathing their bloodied sword into one of the many scabbards bound to their body. This is who they call Swordbearer, one of the few people who have honed their skills towards the way of the sword instead of going for the weapon of choice, the gun. Years of training led him to become one of the best assassins in the city, rising far above those fools who use something that requires no effort. He truly is one of a kind, though this is all that his life ends up being: murdering others for cash.


 A run-down building like the rest, but a safe haven for Swordbearer and his crew named Damascus, is where he returns to for more jobs to complete. By the entrance is a hunky-looking man, a Russian immigrant turned bodyguard named Fyodor. Recognizing Swordbearer, he lets him through, who gives him an upward nod as he walks through. Fyodor doesn’t react, though he’s used to this by now. Immediately upon walking into the room, he gets greeted by the one and only leader of this crew, Dev, sitting with his legs resting on his desk.

 “Hey, Swordy, glad to see you back. How’d the job go? Didn’t let me down, did ya?” Dev says towards Swordbearer with a slight smile, but he knows this is just a façade.

 “Don’t ever call me that again. But yes, to answer your question, it went fine, just like every other previous job. Did you expect something to change?” Swordbearer rebukes him, causing Dev to lose his smile. He doesn’t understand these questions, he’s been working with Dev for years, and not once has he failed any of his assigned jobs.

 “I was only joking, relax. Either way, you’ll get your cash soon,” Dev says, slightly frustrated. “Also, do ya think you have some spare time to do another job for me? It’s urgent.”

 “I can’t even head off and have some time for myself now, huh…” Swordbearer sulks for a bit before looking Dev straight in the eye. “Go on, hit me.”

 “After you left, I got tipped off that some psycho went up to one of our allied crews and completely wiped it clean, with only one guy surviving. Said he’d pay us serious cash if we tracked that fella down, so of course I couldn’t say no,” Dev explains, his slight smile reappearing. Adjusting the position in his chair, he continues, “Already had Matt on the case, and he figured out that there was CCTV in the area that shows the guy in all of his glory. Matt, come over here!”

 Swordbearer cocks his head behind him and sees Matt lying on the couch with a laptop. After hearing his name, he perks up and stumbles a bit before going to them, revealing a typical nerdy-looking guy. He sets his laptop down on the desk and starts playing back the CCTV footage. It shows a shot of a rooftop at night with no one in sight. After a short while, multiple gunshots ring out off-screen, signaling a shootout happening nearby. A man with a seemingly modified revolver walks into the frame, bloodied from head to toe. Wearing a mask that covers his entire face, he looks at the camera intently without moving an inch.

 “That should be the guy. Wouldn’t make sense if it wasn’t; no one else shows up, especially no one with a mask,” Matt explains the obvious to Swordbearer while Dev slowly nods.

 “Yeah, no shit,” Swordbearer scoffs. “You got any more info on him? I can’t work with just this, you know. That would be like trying to find a bullet in a haystack.”

 Matt is slightly caught off-guard by his remark but continues, “W-well, don’t worry, ‘cause he already has a bug on him. A member from another crew who was in the vicinity slipped it on him.”

 “Impressive, that was pretty quick. Good job, kid.”

 “Thanks. I’ve got his coordinates here; take this earphone,” Matt hands it over to Swordbearer, who grabs it and inserts it into his ear. “It has a tracking device, otherwise I can’t tell you if you’re close to him.”

 “Yeah, yeah, I know already. I’m heading off, then,” Swordbearer turns towards the door when a feminine voice that hasn’t made its presence known yet interjects from behind him.

 “You should honestly be a bit more worried, Swordy. A guy like that doesn’t seem to be someone who’s easy to deal with. How about you take one of these?” Turning around, he can see Dorothy holding up some modified swords, sweat pouring down her forehead. How could he forget about her? She’s the one who’s been making swords for him ever since he got into the crew, modified or not. On the other hand, she uses this city as her own personal sandbox to test her new creations, which he loathes.

 “The last time I used one of them, it exploded and nearly killed me. Go work on them some more so that doesn’t happen next time, yeah?”

 “Because you were using it wrong! Listen, I know that you like to use regular swords instead, but this guy seems tough. I’d take one just in case if I were you.”

 “...Fine. But if something happens to me because of that damned thing, I’ll slice you up into tiny pieces from the afterlife,” Swordbearer puts the modified sword from Dorothy into one of his scabbards as she rolls her eyes.

 “Won’t happen, I promise you. That sword can launch its sharp tip by pressing the button near the handle, by the way.”

 “Whatever. I’m going.” As he says so, Swordbearer dashes out of the room. The others look on, and when he’s gone, they resume the activities they were doing before his arrival.


 Rain falls on the rooftops of buildings, and puddles of water ripple as Swordbearer jumps and runs across them, climbing a few hundred feet. The dystopian cityscape is shrouded in fog, though flashes of fire can be seen clearly. It annoys Swordbearer to end up in a city like this, but he would likely be nothing if it weren’t for the crew he’s in. It wasn’t always like this, he thinks out loud to himself before the earphone crackles and the slightly distorted voice of Matt comes through.

 “Just a heads up, the guy is somewhere in the vicinity. Seems like he’s northeast, around 150 feet away.” Swordbearer doesn’t respond but acknowledges what he said by scouting out the area. He moves in the direction specified by Matt, and as he scales a building and looks over the rooftop, he spots a figure standing on the ledge of another building. Matt comes through the earphone again.

 “He should be straight ahead of you. I’ll let you do your work now.” Once again, Swordbearer stays quiet. The sound of rain overtakes his hearing as he focuses on the figure, hesitating whether to engage them or not. He shakes the feeling off and drops down on the same rooftop the figure is on. Unbothered by Swordbearer’s presence, the figure doesn’t budge. As he starts unsheathing one of his regular swords, the figure turns around, revealing the same masked man from the CCTV footage. Bingo. But before Swordbearer can react, the man pulls out a revolver, now confirmed to be modified. An ammunition belt is tied around the waist of the man, hooked up to the barrel of the revolver. Swordbearer is surprised at how that even works, and the man starts cocking the hammer of the revolver and fires more than the regular six shots at him. Swordbearer manages to block all the bullets at the cost of his sword severely denting.

 “Fuck, that’s never happened before… What a pain in the ass you are, you piece of shit!” Swordbearer cusses the man out as he continues to shoot at him, laughing maniacally underneath the mask. With no other choice, Swordbearer ducks for cover behind a ventilation duct. He takes a good look at the sword again and concludes that it is no match for this man. Sheathing it, he instead pulls out the modified sword Dorothy gave him before he left. Although he doesn’t want to use it, he thinks how convenient it is that she gave him one, as if she knew this would happen. He sprints out of cover and continues deflecting the man’s bullets. Thankfully, this sword is made out of tougher material and can withstand them, though Swordbearer wishes he got shot so he doesn’t bear the shame of using a modified sword. Ah, how pathetic is that line of thinking? He’s one of the most revered assassins out there, and dying at the hands of a man like this would be sickening.

 Deciding to go for the kill, Swordbearer stops deflecting the bullets and dashes out of the man’s sight. Confused, the man stops laughing and looks around the area. As he turns, he fails to notice the sharp tip of Swordbearer’s modified sword heading straight for him. It pierces his heart, and he collapses from the ledge he was standing on onto the rooftop. While walking toward the dead body, Swordbearer discards the modified sword and spits at it. I would have rather decapitated you, instead of doing it the easy way, he thinks to himself. He turns over the body using his foot and crouches down to pull down the man’s mask to figure out his mysterious identity.

 He quickly stands up and walks backward, almost falling over. Dropping the mask, he trembles from the reveal of the man’s face. A face he recognizes, one that Dev was allied with for years. The man was a member— no, the leader of Ricochet, a high-profile crew in the city, named Shrapnel. A million questions race through Swordbearer’s head. Why did he murder an entire crew for seemingly no reason? Why did he fight him? Why in the fuck was he laughing maniacally without even speaking a word? Nevertheless, he unfortunately has to report this back to Matt. Breathing heavily, he starts talking out loud.

 “Matt, uhh… Can you hear me?”

 “I can hear you. I take it that you finished the job?”

 “I did, the guy is dead, but… Fuck, how do I say this…” Looking at Shrapnel’s dead body, he closes his eyes and exhales. “Basically, we’re fucked. The guy I killed was… Shrapnel. You know who.” No response from the other side, only the faint sounds of something rustling in the background. Fear settling in, Swordbearer talks again.

 “Matt, don’t go fucking quiet on me.” Still no response. After a few seconds, instead of Matt being the one to respond, Dev’s faraway voice can be heard, yelling: “That’s it guys, pack your bags!”


 Going as fast as he could, Swordbearer arrives back at the building where the crew is at. Instead of Fyodor standing by the entrance, a stack of boxes is in his place. Fearing the worst, he goes inside, only to see everyone placing their stuff inside boxes that are littered all over the place.

 “Hey, what the fuck do you guys think you’re doing?” Swordbearer yells across the room, but nobody seems to react to him. Looking around, Dev is the one who finally responds.

 “What does it look like? I’m getting the hell out of here.”

 “This type of stuff has happened before, why are you getting so worked up? Could have packed my things as well, at least.”

 “No, Swordbearer. You aren’t coming with us. You fucked us over, so you deal with the consequences.”

 Swordbearer pauses for a second, trying to grasp what he was just told. “I fucked us over? You were the one who told me to kill the guy, so you are as much of an accomplice as I am. Hey, what do the rest of you think?!” As he’s being ignored, his eyes dart over to each of them, nobody returning his gaze.

 “Listen, Swordbearer, you are too much of a risk. If you stay with me, you’d only bring me down.” Dev looks over at Swordbearer with painful eyes. Another façade.

 “Bring you… down…?” Swordbearer stares blankly at Dev, thoughts ruminating in his head. During all those years he’s been with Dev and the crew, murdering people for cash just because he had some unfinished business with them that he couldn’t take care of… During all that time, he’s never heard such humiliating words. Unrelenting rage building up inside him explodes at a moment’s notice.

 “I’LL BRING YOU DOWN TO HELL, YOU FUCKING PRICK!” Swordbearer charges at Dev, a regular sword in hand, ready to decapitate him and display his head as a trophy. But before he’s even able to close the gap, Fyodor tackles him to the ground and restrains him. As more pressure is being put on him, he becomes unable to breathe.

 “Get… off of me… you shithead…” Struggling to get Fyodor off of him, he focuses his last breaths towards those words. Swordbearer looks over at Dev, who’s staring right at him. Although unable to discern his gaze due to his vision fogging up, he can tell that he is most certainly smirking, as would be typical for Dev, and his consciousness fades.


 From a black void he wakes, he tries to stand up on his two feet. Nobody is around to help him, but even if somebody was there, they wouldn’t help anyway. The boxes that held their things are all gone. His stuff is still where it was, untouched, as they never had the intention of packing it in the first place.

 “Fuck… FUCK!” Swordbearer punches a nearby wall, managing to leave a hole. Oh, what a fool he was. No matter the years spent with them, he forgot the golden rule: don’t trust anybody in this city. People will do anything to destroy your reputation and then leave you to rot. Realizing this, everyone had a part in his downfall. Dev, who gave him the job in the first place. Matt, who had the CCTV footage with Shrapnel visible. Dorothy, who gave him the modified sword that dealt the killing blow. Fyodor, who prevented him from taking his revenge. Hell, maybe even Shrapnel did it all on purpose, with how obvious he made himself be. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? Dev wanted to get rid of him and he likely offered the others cash to play along. What an arrogant, greedy motherfucker he is, isn’t he?

 Regaining his senses, he realizes that there is a whirring sound from behind him. Turning around to the only window in the room, Swordbearer notices that a helicopter is hovering next to it. Before he’s able to react, the glass shatters from a sudden gunshot, hitting him in his knee. The bullet expands, causing immense pain that topples him over. The sounds of footsteps enter the room, and a puff of a cigarette can be heard. Looking for the source of the sounds, he looks up, only to see masked men standing over him, wearing masks that look similar to Shrapnel’s.

 “Looks like you were left here all by yourself, eh? Serves you right,” one of the men speaks harshly toward Swordbearer, who’s clutching his knee. Before realizing who these men are, another shot rings out. Then another. Finally, a final one rings out. Each of them for Swordbearer’s limbs. The bullets all expand, making him cry out in pain, but nobody comes to the rescue. Maybe he was the fool after all, and he should have gone with guns as well.

 “Torture is more appropriate for the likes of you, but we can’t let you live after what you’ve done. Throw him out,” the man continues berating him as he’s lifted by the others. They walk towards the window, and in a single second, without any hesitation, Swordbearer flies through the air, glass shards piercing his flesh.

 Falling, his scabbards come undone, and swords fly out, only the indented sword staying in one.

 Landing, he plunges into the streets, straight into a dumpster, consciousness and memories fading.

 Resting, he lays there, motionless, falling into a coma, barely alive and breathing, but knowing this isn’t his end.