Chapter 4: Slave to Stray

A gun cocked, the barrel pointed at Keitaro’s forehead, Gunner’s finger on the trigger.

“Right now, you’re causing more trouble than you’re worth,” Gunner said.

“You’re not the only one with open eyes, Chinaman,” Thiago said.

“Hold him still,” Cobra said.

“No! NO!”

“Fuck, man! This is wrong! Cobra, you know it’s wrong!” Victor said, shoving Cobra back.

Keitaro’s shallow, quick breaths matched the race of his heartbeat.

“Delavno, Hell’s crypt keeper, I invoke your power of necromancy upon Kim Keitaro,” Cobra said.

Keitaro held his breath.



Cobra shoved the scalding orange brand against the meat of Keitaro’s right shoulder blade. The golden tan of Keitaro’s skin instantly turned a puss-colored yellow. Keitaro convulsed in rapid, short spasms as blinding pain forced him to fight for freedom.

“One, two, three, four, five, six.”

Cobra retracted the brand.

Thiago and Gunner released Keitaro.

Keitaro fell face first to the floor.

The hellacious heat on Keitaro’s shoulder pulsed with pain. The grinding agony of missing skin bore not the same power over Keitaro as the fear of what the brand conjured.

“What’s the symbol? Looks like a teardrop,” Thiago said.

“It’s a flame, dumbass,” Gunner said.

“It’s a torch,” Cobra said.

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