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Snippet: Hired Muscle
The Rage
To say they came with good recommendations might mistakenly lead one to believe that they were safe to do business with.  That was hardly the case.  Some matter of danger was naturally to be expected when dealing with mercenaries, assassins, demolition experts and other assorted psychopaths.  But usually coin was enough to secure safe passage from the meeting, with the promise of enough later to get the job done.  There were too many stories about the Blood Jacks, too many uneasy glances given their way from even their own kind, to ever make one feel comfortable in their decision to hire them.

Sezan was their leader, a position no doubt earned in the same battles that gave her the ragged scars from left ear to right eye.  She was a harder face to look at than most veterans, and seems to revel in it.  She drank hard and always had a cigar chomped between her teeth during the off hours.  When they were 'on', though, she kept herself clean as the most devout priest.  She didn't like the bar fights her company occasionally started, even though she was often times the instigator herself, usually when some shit-for-brains upstart made a common about her sex.  The rumor was that she had served two tours in the Deadlands, back when King Allicore was still trying to reclaim them from the underfolk.

Despite the gravity she had, it was never Sezan that you dealt with for a contract.  Not directly.  It was Cho Wei.  Whereas Sezan had the face to give grown men nightmares, Cho was at least pleasant enough to hold a conversation with.  You still didn't trust him, but he didn't come to the table with two massive firearms strapped to his sides and a twitchy eye.  (He did, though, always have a pair of stiletto daggers up his sleeves, and had been known to end 'negotiations' abruptly if the client got too demanding).  While he came off as a greasy salesman, there was no question he was as deeply involved in every siege, every infiltration, every flesh-churn job that the Jacks took.  He just happened to be the one that made sure they got paid for it.

Alline and Hanz were sister and brother, and shared a gambling habit and the tendency to be sore losers.  They weren't shy about boasting the Jacks' deeds, despite how Sezan would glare them into silence if she was around.  They both hailed from somewhere to the west, and made no small matter of how the local booze, food and women were all of inferior quality to 'back home'.  It didn't stop them from drinking until they were blind, eating kitchens empty and bedding every piece of female tail that wandered within their reach.  Except they didn't share well, and more than once had come to blows with each other over either a bottle or a bosom.  They always managed to dredge themselves out of whatever hellhole they had left themselves in the previous night, though, anxious for a chance on the battlefield.

Lepsim was a brute of a man, taller by a head than anyone else in the Jacks.  In the regular barfights, he was the bruiser; the one to lift the table and hurl it across the room, or take the twenty blows to the head but still rampage on.  However, it was when talking about explosives that his eyes seem to light up with an unhealthy glimmer.  He didn't brag like Alline or Hanz did, but the way he smiled when he would idly flip his lighter open and closed gave the impression of a long list of things destroyed with enthusiasm.  He always seemed on the edge of a manic laugh, except when he thought that someone was flirting with Tek.

And Tek seemed to enjoy Lepsim's jealous fits - provoked them, even.  For the most part, Tek was a quiet man, with a low voice, measured words and deadly grace.  But a few drinks in, and he would chat up anyone with a gregarious grin, and then stand back to watch Lepsim smash barstools and faces in a rage.  It usually ended with the two going at it in some darkened corner of the room, oblivious to the disgust or the leers of other patrons.  The next day, Tek would be his normal, stoic self, ready to kill whomever had the target painted on their back.

Finally, there was Nasha.  Most of the time, she could do a pretty good job of convincing you that she was the sanest person in the Jacks.  But if you get close enough to her, you notice that she wears a necklace of human teeth, and that her jacket is a kind of leather that isn't familiar.  If you ask, she'll laugh and call you darling and order you another drink, but you can't un-see that hungry look in her eyes.  She's usually one of the first ones in on their jobs, along with Tek.  But where as Tek finishes the job and returns to Lepsim for a celebratory shag, Nasha lingers out there.  Clean-up duty she calls it, but it seems like her jewelry collection grows awfully fast.

They come with good recommendations, the Bloody Jacks.  Kings and princes and drug lords and sheriffs have all hired them in the past, and got what they paid for.  But none of them would ever dare hire the Jacks again.  For them to be aware of you once seems risky, and for those that survive, it seems best to not tempt faint by asking them to remember you.