Akali hated sleep. She rarely even closed her eyes. The inky blackness of her mind's eye would always take her back to the closet. She could still feel the bite of the chains around her wrists and ankles, the sting of the blindfold about her eyes. The Odessa owned the brothel that owned Akali -- and that night the Odessa had decided to shut down operations and liquidate its assets. Most of the other girls were surprised when the gangsters burst in and rounded them up like cattle but not Akali. Because though she spoke her native Japanese and had learned a bit of English in school, she figured only a dumb whore wouldn't learn the language of her captors -- and Akali was no dumb whore.
For weeks she'd heard the chatter of the johns and mobsters grow more desperate and panicked. Who the fuck are these guys? She'd hear a wild-eyed made-man bellow into his phone as she walked by. They hit what?! A mobster would exclaim in response to his partner as Akali and her partner serviced them -- their efforts going wholly unnoticed. She knew the writing was on the wall when they came and killed Boris.
Unlike most Odessa Boris didn't drink but that night he smelled like he'd been baptized in vodka. His moniker translated into some akin to " The Animal " in Russian and it was well deserved. He'd be known to spit and piss on the prostitutes that he liked and maim and disfigure those that he didn't. Akali didn't know his exact rank within the organization was but she knew it had to be fairly high because all of the Odessa shot houses and gambling spots in town reported to him. Boris was too drunk to see the gangsters set upon him -- but Akali wasn't. She smiled softly to herself as the men kicked Boris over his table and began to bludgeon him with gun butts and blackjacks. He pleaded for mercy in English and Russian as they dragged him into the back room.
"Noo, I didn't know they'd destroy them All!! "
"Please I've always been a good earner, i can rebuild!! "
"You know me!!?! Petrov, please?!!"The shotgun blast that rang out silenced the simpering.Yeah, Akali thought, they knew you, but i guess you didn't know them.She was smart enough to start back towards her room but as she did she heard one of the Animal hunters tell another mobster that " Boss wants us to cut any and all loose strings.." By that time the next day, Akali and rest of the girls of the House of the Rising Sun were shackled in their closets awaiting their deaths. There were 30 or so girls who were owned by The House and the gangsters had been slaughtering them for most of the morning. So far Akali had heard fifteen girls dragged downstairs....she's also heard fifteen death cries, followed by fifteen bouts of laughter. And there, in the dark, for the first time in her four years of slavery, Akali cried. She'd been used, abused, beaten, sold and traded -- and she was about to die as a faceless whore. In her country, she was a student and a member of an honorable family. She'd worked hard to skip grades and at sixteen had earned a trip abroad to Russia. There she met Petyr, a boy with soft brown eyes, a disarming smile and the build of a Russian bear. She thought she loved him. She let him take her maidenhead. Two days later, Petyr sold her to his friends. If Akali ever saw Petyr's soft brown eyes again she'd resolved to claw them out with her bare hands.
Despair washed over her as she heard the sixteenth girl being dragged downstairs and a fresh wave of bitterness hit her as she heard the sixteenth death cry. The sixteenth bout of laughter came but then it stopped -- Akali listened more intently and realized why. She heard screams and shouts of alarm in English and Russian. Explosions rocked the brothel to its very foundations and acrid smoke billowed up to Akali's nose. For a while, the only sounds in the world were of gunfire and Russian pleas for mercy. And then, nothing. It was over as quickly as it began, the foyer was as quiet and still as a morgue. She heard boots hurrying up the stairs and her room door bashed open. The doorknob to her closet began to click and she felt her soul drop to the bottom of her stomach. Whatever they do to me, I won't give those bastards the satisfaction of hearing me scream, she thought as the closet door opened.
Rough hands grabbed her, pulling her to her feet. The blindfold was removed from Akali's emerald eyes and all she could see was salvation in the form of two obsidian eyes staring back at her. From then on, anytime Akali looked Luck in the face she'd see his eyes in that moment. "One of them hit a very bad button" was all he said. His baritone was like oil over gravel, smooth and raspy, " We need to move" . Akali had barely nodded in understanding before Luck slung her over his shoulder and bounded out of the nearest window. The House of the Rising Sun turned to vapor a mere second after them. Slung over Luck's shoulder Akali saw the detonation in its awful glory. In subsequent years when one of The Dead asked what the explosion looked and felt like from the outside in, she'd just point to one of her sixteen tattoos. Though differing in size and shape each tattoo prominently featured the flaming maw of a dragon spewing fire and ruin. The shock wave from the blast sent the pair spiraling into the night. The House billowed cinder and ash behind them. The ash ripped her lungs with foul air going in and the impact from the pavement when they landed ripped her lungs again going out. They rolled end over end until the momentum subsided.
When the pair stopped Luck still had her -- Akali would never forget that Luck never let her go. Her body was engorged with pain. Besides the gashes, cuts, and abrasions singing all over her skin, she knew she'd dislocated her left shoulder and she was pretty sure she'd broken her right ankle. She was so infused with pain that she barely noticed four shadows help Luck to his feet."Best. Character. Intro. EVER!" said the shadow-she-would-come-to-know-as-Sickboy. Sickboy began to slow clap and laugh manically. The shadow-she-would-come-to-know-as-Chapel shot Sickboy a deathly stare and barked, " Now is not the time for that crazy shit Sick." Chapel turned his attention to Luck, " you good money Chief?" Luck could scarcely nod, but nod he did and he when he could muster the breath all he said to his men was "Report." Anthony Luck's body was battered but his eyes were still fierce and focused.The shadow-she-would-come-to-know-as-Kitt-Cole chimed in."Leave it to the damn Commies to go Chernobyl when a simple dead man switch'd do" Kitt's accent was as country as collard greens and as southern as sweet tea. Kitt Cole continued, " Building's gone, so's all the ammo, weapon systems, and contraband. We were just about to call it in to the five-oh before you did yer X-games thing -- All told it's a bad day for the Odessa"Akali finally found her feet and the fresh round of searing pain confirmed her suspicions about her shoulder and ankle."Survivors?" Luck said to no one in particular as he began adjusting his belt and checking his armaments.A fourth voice rang out this time, "We've got sixteen of their guys secured around the compound and as to girl survivors..." His voice trailed off and The shadow-she-would-come-to-know-as-No-Luck nodded in Akali's direction. "You're looking at her."
The primal scream of rage that erupted from Akali was as pure as the heat within the center of the sun. Before Akali knew what she was doing, she'd thrown herself onto Luck and ripped a gun from his holster. She dislodged herself and began to shamble towards The House -- As she passed Sickboy, he smiled like the cat who got the cream and tossed one of his sidearms to her."Go'on get your character arc on girl!" he said before descending into another fit of laughter which continued until Chapel smacked him. Hard.
"Crazy S.O.B." she'd heard Chapel mutter as she continued on into the ruins of The House. Such was her determination that along the way she popped her shoulder back into its socket. The pain from her ankle was no match for the adrenaline and fury coursing through her blood. Nothing would deter her. Akali went to the surviving gangsters one by one. Each got his turn. The House of the Rising Sun would hear sixteen more gunshots, sixteen more death cries and sixteen more rounds of laughter. But this time, by Akali's hand and mouth. When she returned from her executions, Luck and company were already in their black van. "Welcome to The Dead" said Sickboy as he waved her over. Akali didnt know what he meant but she got in anyway. She didn't know much about the crew at that time but she one thing, the most important thing really, she knew that they were getting the fuck away from The House -- and that was good enough for Akali.