Tyger looked at the young man standing several yards in front of him. “Who the hell are you?” Pieces of fabric fluttered from his clawed hands. “Do you think you have what it takes to put me away?”
“I don’t think,” the young man said. “I do.” The peach fuzz on his upper lip moved with the small smile.
“Right,” Tyger said. “I’ve taken down Bulwark. He was solid and had ten years experience. It took me eight minutes to put him in the ICU. What chance does a kid like you have?”
“I see,” the kid said. His hips twitched followed by his legs. In an eye blink, the kid touched Tyger and curled fingers into the black and orange shirt. A body twist and the arms pulled Tyger from the wide planted feet.
Rolling with the throw, Tyger bounded to his feet. “Fast, I’ll give you that. Making that throw was lucky.”
“Not luck,” the kid said. “All skill. Lots and lots of practice.”
Tyger snorted. “Right. Lots and lots.” His hand moved quick, and a silver machete appeared. “Let’s see how you deal with weapons.” The slash went from shoulder and traveled diagonally to the hip.
The kid stepped to the outside of the slash and sent a hook punch to the lantern-jawed Tyger. Spit and blood arced to the floor. The kid’s voice carried laughter as he spoke. “Was that luck, too?”
“Fine,” Tiger said as he wiped his mouth. “You got skills, I’ll say that.” Sending a backhand swipe at the youth, he added, “But so do I. And more experience than you’ve been on this earth.”
The kid slid backward, but the edge cut across his stomach. A red line appeared as the black shirt parted from the cut. It was the heavy leather boot that knocked the kid on the ground. Like Tyger, he scrambled to his feet and ran the back of a hand across his jaw. “Touché, Tiger.” A smirk appeared on the kid’s face. “But it won’t do you any good.”
“I’m better than you,” Tyger said and lunged forward. “Just accept it and I’ll make it quick.” The kid danced to the side, and Tyger flicked his wrist. Another red line appeared on the younger man’s face.
The kid put a hand over the cut and stared wide-eyed at the color on his hand.
“You should pay attention to your opponent,” Tyger said and the thrust his machete through the abdomen of the young man. “All I need is an opening. It’s usually how I win.”
The kid put both hands on the wound as Tyger pulled out the blade. His knees buckled and his eyes closed. Folding at the waist put his face in the pavement and gravity carried him sideways.
“And that is that,” Tyger said wiping his weapon on the kid’s shirt. “I still don’t know your name.” He slid his weapon into the sheath at his belt. “But it doesn’t matter.” Turning he walked across the open space of the basketball court.
A strained voice called out. “My name is Morty.”
Tyger turned around before the gate, his hand on the custom machete at his belt. “What the…”
“Yeah,” Morty said as he shifted to his feet. “I didn’t pick it. It’s sort of a nickname.” He rolled his shoulders and then crack his neck.
The sound of metal clearing scabbard sounded and Tyger crouched into a defensive posture. “I killed you.”
“Yeah,” Morty said nodding. “You can’t.” He picked his pace up and launched into the air. Leading with his feet, he connected with Tyger’s face. The large man staggered back into the tall chainlink fence.
“You can’t kill me,” Morty said. “I’m here for you.”
“And the bounty, I’m sure.” Tyger swung his machete at the youth.
Morty ducked and erected himself, landing an uppercut to the big chin of Tyger. “No bounty. Just a job I get paid for.”
Tyger’s head rattled the chainlink fence and he launched forward. “I ain’t going down easy.”
“Easier than you suspect,” Morty said and sidestepped the charging man. A chop to the wrist and the machete clattered to the ground and disappeared into the shadows. “The fun ones go down fighting. Or trying.”
“Shut up,” Tiger whirled around and charged with his head down.
Morty waited for the heavy man to reach him. Putting both hands on shoulders, a foot into Tyger’s gut, he dropped and rolled backward, pulling the big man with him. He maintained his grip and rolled to a mounted position. Leaning in close to Tyger’s face, Morty said, “It’s nothing personal. It’s just a job.”
“Just a job,” Tyger said. “What kind of job sends kids out to kill people?”
“Well, that’s a tough one,” Morty said. “I’ve had this job a very long time. And I’ve worked on a lot of people. I’ve been bribed, threatened, and even begged. I never take any of it. If it makes you feel better, I prefer when they fight.”
Groaning, Tyger looked into Morty’s eyes. “Why is that?”
“Exercise,” Morty said with a shrug. “I don’t get a lot of it. So when I get a superhero or villain, I take the opportunity for exercise.”
“You’re kidding,” Tyger said.
“Nope,” Morty shook his head. With a hand cocked back, he drove it hard between Tyger’s eyes. The hollow thump against the cement and Tyger went limp. “Like I said. Trying.”
Morty stood from the body. “Mors venit habitu iuvenis.” The lights of the basketball court flickered then went out. Thirty seconds later, they came back on. Tyger and Morty were nowhere to be found.