Chapter 4: Slave to Stray

“Kim Keitaro,” a phantom voice whispered.

A breath not his own filled Keitaro’s lungs.

“One.” Cobra eyed the roll of bud he puffed on.

“Soul commander. Necromancer,” the phantom voice again.

“Two.” Cobra took another drag. “Three, four, five.” He exhaled smoke that masked his face. “Six.”

Keitaro exhaled.

The room went still and silent.

Keitaro lied there a minute more than necessary. Thiago and Gunner glanced at Cobra who expressed equal curiosity.

“Aye, you got it?” Cobra kicked Keitaro’s foot.

Keitaro rose all the way to his feet. Gunner and Thiago took a step back. Keitaro looked down at his right hand as it dangled at his side. He shook it as if to straighten a watch, but a phantom chain dropped down. The chain locked around his wrist, and at the end of it appeared a silver collar. The way the collar opened made it look like a mechanical spider.

“He’s got it. It’s in his right hand,” Cobra said.

“What is that?” Victor pointed to the chain and collar.

“Time to go to work, Necromancer,” Cobra said.

“I don’t dabble with magic,” Keitaro said.

“Little late for that,” Gunner said with a cackle.

Keitaro wrapped the chain around his hand. In a grunting effort, expending all his remaining energy, he threw the chain back over his shoulder and then cast it out toward Victor. The collar clamped around Victor’s neck. The spider legs closed at the back, and a switch latched three times.


Victor grabbed at the chain to free himself. “Get it off.”

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