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Category Archives: They Shall Breathe Ashes

Before they taste fire.

They Shall Breathe Ashes

They Shall Breathe Ashes, the famous assassin, and her assistant Shelby are crashing a wedding. They is wearing a red carnation; Shelby has long sleeves. The people on the right think Shelby is They’s daughter (those on the left, her date).

“And how do you know Enrico?” says a curious gentleman with glasses and not enough hair.

“I’m going to kill him,” says They, and winks outrageously. The table loves it: a jealous ex!

“Isn’t he vegetarian?” says Shelby, in that lovely contralto voice.

“That’s right.”

“Then why are they serving Caesar salad?”

“It’s salad,” says the gentleman, a little confused.

They Shall Breathe Ashes

They Shall Breathe Ashes, the famous assassin, and her assistant Shelby are on a red carpet. They is wearing a sweeping gown in cream; Shelby, a suit and a hint of rouge.

“TSBA!” shouts a man behind the velvet rope. “What was it like working with Kelsey Grammer?”

“You have no idea,” They purrs.

“They, did you really kill the Queen?” shouts a woman.

“If I did, I’d have to kill you too.”

“How would you do that,” the man shouts, “in front of all these cameras?”

Shelby drops an infrared grenade. It fires.

“That didn’t do anything,” shouts the man.

They Shall Breathe Ashes

They Shall Breathe Ashes, the famous assassin, and her assistant Shelby are on a rooftop. They and Shelby have neither guns nor toupees.

“What did you dust on his toupee, Shelby?” asks They.

“Powdered sugar,” says Shelby, “and permanganate of potash.”

“Nonpoisonous on contact,” gloats their opponent. “Should have done your homework, girls!” He waves his gun, and they walk obligingly toward the edge.

“Storm’s coming,” observes They.

“I promise you’ll miss the worst of it,” he scoffs. “Make like lemmings.”

“That’s a myth,” says Shelby.

“No, lemmings are real,” he says, as the first drop of rain hits his head.

They Shall Breathe Ashes

They Shall Breathe Ashes, the famous assassin, and her assistant Shelby are in a HALO jump. They is wearing a Kevlar-polypro-spandex white bodysuit with red accents; Shelby, an insulated brown coverall.

“Ten seconds to opening altitude,” crackles Shelby over the link.

“Remember, we’re splitting east-west once the chutes open,” says They. “You’ll steer onto the roof, penetrate security, poison his spoon and rendezvous at the maintenance tunnel exit. Try to avoid the dogs this time? I’ll change clothes and smirk at the front gate.”

Radio silence.

“Shelby?” says They.

“You always take the goddamn hard part,” Shelby responds.

Palom

He never intended to die alone, which is why he’s got his pacemaker. They’re smart, those new pacemakers; some of them know how to dial 911. Palom’s genius coke-addict doctor rigged his to dial the six kilos of plastique around his torso instead.

“So if you shoot me,” he grins, “it’s murder-suicide.”

“A stalemate?” she says.

“Only until my boys get here.” Palom pushes up his sleeve. “In… dammit, watch stopped again. Well, real soon.”

“Are those therapeutic wristbands?” she asks.

“Yeah, neodymium magnets. Improved the hell out of my circulation! Why?”

“No reason,” says They Shall Breathe Ashes.

Shelby

Shelby, the world’s least famous assassin, is hard at work. Shelby is wearing a drab brown jumpsuit filled with rugged wizardry; Shelby’s boss, who doesn’t pay well enough, is wearing a diamond choker.

“Pretty standard double bluff,” says They Shall Breathe Ashes, “he’ll think he’s been given a bogus target and he’ll come back to kill the people who made the assignment, who are in fact bogus, which is when we hit him with… I’m not sure yet. Something he can’t expect.”

“Like pennies from a skyscraper,” Shelby murmurs.

“Yes!” says They excitedly. “Do you think we can pull that off?”

They Shall Breathe Ashes

Legend has it that They Shall Breathe Ashes, the famous assassin, first killed at the age of nine. She was wearing a starched dress and carrying a straight razor. There was no blood on her shoes.

The first time Shelby killed anyone was at twelve, and it was a messy, desperate affair. Shelby held the lid of a toilet tank against the target’s throat until he had yellow showing through the bruises. They were both mostly naked. One of them left a fingernail on the floor.

The thing They Shall Breathe Ashes knows, and Shelby doesn’t, is how to create a legend.

They Shall Breathe Ashes

They Shall Breathe Ashes, the famous assassin, has always worked alone.

The powerful don’t kill their opponents: succession engenders chaos, and stability is their ally. They merely need you to know they could kill you, and when They is on retainer, everyone knows. In the long afternoon of her career, she commands the wealth of nations for a handshake and a long slow smile.

The wealth of nations is cool. And hot. But it is not warm.

Banked embers can still burn you, and a hand once burned is ever after shy. They Shall Breathe Ashes never lets her fire die.

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