I hated a lot of things. God was chief among them, but also the British, guard dogs, baths, running out of cigarettes, getting fucking shot, whining bitches, school, the town of South Park, haircuts, suits; the list goes on. The list of things I loved was shorter: Gregory, guns, cigarettes, a sharp shovel, and good booze. I'm a man of simple pleasures. Given what I do for a living, simple's about all I can fucking ask for. Nothing beats digging some holes with a beer on the side and a cigarette in my mouth after a long day of assassinating bitches.

Killing people didn't bother me anymore. I'd been a mercenary since I was seven, and after years of working under Gregory's leadership, nothing surprised me. Even death wasn't so bad. I died once, when I was eight. Torn to pieces by teeth and claws. I fucking hate guard dogs. Ils sont fils de chiennes. Literally. But aside from the excruciating fucking pain, Hell wasn't so bad. Satan's as much of a fucking faggot as me. Still, less of a faggot than God. So if I sent some evil motherfuckers to an early grave, at least they could look forward to some nice warm fire and their skin being flayed off piece by piece. Unless they're into giant red cock, of course. Then they'd get the special treatment. And regardless, the names on Gregory's list deserve what I give them. I kill everyone from politicians to drug traders to CEOs to every well-paid employee of Cartman's that I can get my hands on.

I hadn't gotten the fatass himself yet, which is why Gregory and I were freezing our asses off testing our new M167 VADS anti-aircraft gun. An ancient relic by military standards; it would suit our purposes just fine. If we took down Cartman in the air, we wouldn't have to worry about his team of fucking trained fucking guard dogs. The bastard knew his enemies. The resistance was strong, though, and I made plenty of money for Gregory to fund the treasury with all the side jobs I've done for him. The wealthier, more silent players needed someone to do their dirty work, after all. We weren't the only ones who wanted to see Cartman taken down. At any rate, Gregory owed me this gun. I didn't want to know what he had to do to get his hands on it. I'd probably have to kill ten people if I found out.

Without much preamble, we tested the thing. I loaded the shells and handed Gregory some ear protection. He took them without comment and put them on without rumpling a single goddamn hair, the asshole. He at least looked unaffected by the cold in his pristine suite, and I was too revved up on boyish adrenaline to notice it seeping through my turtleneck. I shot him a grin before firing it and blasting the eardrums out of anyone within a mile radius. It was beautiful. A cloud of dust went up on a distant hill, and the noise echoed against the mountains. I whooped, and gone to fire another shot, when I saw a small streak darting towards us across the ground.

I thought it was a dog at first, and had to restrain myself from yelping and leaping behind Gregory. I swung the gun around to aim at it, and was about to fire again, when I saw the orange of its coat more clearly. A fox.

Fuck, I loved foxes. They were cute and fluffy and brave and cunning and I wanted to have every single fucking one on the planet as a pet. I crouched down as it came closer, barely registering Gregory's look of disdain. He didn't understand animals. He was a heartless motherfucker.

"Christophe Giraud, if you don't stand up in three seconds, I'm taking away your shovel," Gregory snapped. "You'll tear holes in those pants, and I'm not going through the trouble of scrounging you up another pair."

I glanced at Gregory, feeling guilty, but I'd already scooped up the panicked fox and was stroking its fur, ignoring its claws as they scratched holes through the fabric of my shirt. Oops. He'd have to find a shirt for me now, too. The previous shirt he'd lent me had been torn at the shoulders while I'd been digging, and he'd had to pay Trent Boyett a fair sum of money to find me a replacement with the ballistic-repelling specifications I required. It was impressive, really, that the fox managed to tear holes in it at all, but it was meant to resist bullets, not tiny claws.

The poor fox seemed frightened out of its mind, and it made a whimpering sound. I thought for half a moment about keeping it and letting it run rampant around the small apartment Gregory and I shared.

As I rose to my feet still clutching at the fox, I grinned at Gregory. "What do you think about me keeping zis one? 'E would be better zan a cat, and I am not 'aving a dog around now matter 'ow much you want one."

Gregory gave me a flat look, the one that meant he was unimpressed by me and by the entire world. "I've never said I wanted a dog. I already have one filthy creature to look after. And we are not keeping that," he nodded at the fox, "so don't be ridiculous. It's a wild animal. It would probably get into your weapons."

He had a point there. The rest of my room was a mess, but the closet-turned-artillery was so organized that I could tell if a single bullet went missing. The place was fucking pristine, and I had no intention of letting a fox, no matter how cute, ruin my stock. I still wanted to keep it, though, or at least to pretend as though I did. It was always fun getting a rise out of Gregory.

"What if I just put 'im in your room and lock ze door?" I asked, feeling a taunting grin creep onto my face. "I know ze only important thing zat you keep in zere is ze expensive lube and old fucking Time Magazines. Fucking bullshit."

A light blush crept onto Gregory's face, and he glared at me. "No. I, unlike you, actually care about my possessions, and I, unlike you, would be perfectly satisfied with a nice, trainable small dog. And I've told you to leave-" he broke off, clearing his throat as his blush deepened. "To leave our personal business in the flat and not to distract yourself at work. You'll end up dead."

"I managed with zat distraction for years before you even fucking realized. But fine, princesse, since you insist." I gave him a short bow and dropped the fox, watching as it ran off and disappeared over a dip in the ground..

I wished, for a moment, that I could run off and join it and ignore my fucking responsibilities. But Gregory was staring at me expectantly, and the gun sat waiting, and our job was fucking important.

"When we get back, you are buying me a cat," I told Gregory, scowling as I pulled out a cigarette. "A scraggly one. With orange 'air just like ze fox 'ad. And no arguments." I was being petulant, I knew, over a pointless argument. I really just wanted attention, the result of a childhood spent unloved by my parents. At least, that's what Gregory always told me, usually after

"Fine," Gregory said, rolling his eyes and turning his back to me, facing the gun again. He glanced at his watch, and the fingers of his left hand twitched into a fist.

"'Ow much time do we 'ave for zis bullshit? Is ze intelligence correct?" I asked, watching him. It would be, of course. Gregory never let a mission go unplanned. He'd learned his lesson when we were eight. I still wasn't sure I'd forgiven him for it, either.

"Yes. Stop worrying." He glanced at his watch again before moving to fiddle with the aim of the massive gun.

"I still don't think zat we can trust zat fat putain to not 'ave seen through zis. I am fucking tired of killing innocent people," I told him, moving forward and shoving him to the side. I was the goddamn weapons expert, not him, and I was the one whose hands were supposed to get dirty. "Let me do zat."

He glared at me again, but stepped to the side.

"We're all tired of people dying, naturally," Gregory said, the words coming harsh through clenched teeth. He looked at the top of the hill, gritting his jaw.

I watched him for a moment, distracted from my work by the way the cold sunlight glinted off his hair. The golden gleam it created would soften most people, but it made Gregory seem like he was carved from ice, or marble, or anything cold and hard and unmalleable. And here I was, waxing poetic about him like a fucking bitch. I shook my head to clear it, turning back to the gun as my blood ran warmer. I admired the way Gregory hid his pain. He was far better at it than I, and reacted to the world with indifference. His temper never flared in fits of rage or terror like mine did. He balanced me out.

"Kyle wouldn't be wrong about something this important," Gregory continued. "He's sacrificed everything for information, after all. And as long as Cartman trusts him, it'll be accurate."

"Cartman knows Kyle too well, zough," I argued, pulling out a cigarette and chewing on the end of it while I peered through the sight on the gun, checking the angle with the top of the hill. "'E's got to know by zis point zat Kyle 'as no real loyalty to 'im."

"I'm not so sure," Gregory said. "Cartman can, as we know, be blind about things that matter too much to him. It's an exploitable weakness. Kyle is in a perfect position. I doubt that espionage has ever even crossed Cartman's mind."

I snorted, flicking my cigarette towards Gregory. "I fucking doubt it. Kyle's information last time got 'alf of ze population of Colorado put in ze fucking imperial prison bullshit. I doubt it was just a mistake like Ike claimed. Cartman tricked 'im."

Gregory gave me his unimpressed look again, then shook his head. "I doubt it. But fine, if you're worried, we can abandon the whole damn mission." He threw his hands up and turned, starting to walk away.

"No!" I called to his back. "Zat's not what I meant, princesse, you know zat. I am just tired of zis bullshit. I want zis whole fucking battle to be over. Cartman doesn't deserve what 'e's gotten, and I don't care who 'as to die to take 'im down. I just 'ope Kyle is right zis time. It's no good killing people zat don't deserve it. Zat's not what I signed up for."

"None of us signed up for this, Totophe," Gregory said, his face soft as he turned back to talk to me. I could tell our mission was causing him undue stress, since he only used my nickname when he had too many other things on his mind to remember to be proper.

I smiled at him, and nodded. It wasn't Gregory's fault that Cartman was a bag of fucking dicks, and it wasn't Gregory's fault that our intelligence thus far had been spotty. If Kyle was wrong this time, I would hate the world for a few days, dig a pit, and drink myself into oblivion like always until Gregory could drag me back to the surface. It wasn't a healthy coping mechanism, but it worked for me.

The point was, I'd do the damn mission regardless of consequences. Cartman was a menace, and since Gregory was hellbent on stopping the ridiculous corporate dictatorship Cartman was planning, I had little choice but to blow up everything I could get my hands on.

"Kyle's not going to be on the plane, is he?" I asked, just to clarify one last time.

Gregory paused for a moment, staring at the top of the hill again. "No."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "You're lying, You don't know, do you. Godfuckingdamnit."

Gregory sighed. "He says he won't be there. But we all know how Kyle is. He'll do whatever he has to to ensure Cartman flies the right direction. It's his choice, though, Christophe. You can't protect him against this."

Still glaring, I ground my teeth, but nodded. I was fonder of Kyle than I was of most people, and I didn't want him to throw himself into the line of fire like a dumbass. It couldn't be helped, though, and he seemed to take Cartman's empire as a personal failing. He was determined to die for the cause or some bullshit. I pushed my feelings away. It was Kyle's choice, and I couldn't stop him.

"Oui. Je sais," I said shortly, and nodded again, more to convince myself of my sincerity than to convince Gregory. "Ze gun is set. 'Ow much time?"

Gregory checked his watch. "Five minutes, give or take. I've gotten no message about a change in schedule, so hopefully they will be right on time. Be ready."

It was just enough time for another cigarette. I spat the old one out and lit a fresh one, letting my concern for Kyle and the other people in Cartman's way dissipate with the smoke I breathed out. Nicotine wasn't good on missions that required sharpshooting, but I could still hit a damn airplane even with my heart rate elevated. The gun was mostly automatic anyway.

The cigarette had burned down to the filter when I heard the low grumble of a plane engine. Gregory let out a breath and reached over to squeeze my shoulder, his eyes fixed on the horizon. He didn't speak, and silence fell for a moment.

I sighted the gun, the barrel trained over the top of the hill. A speck entered my field of vision, coming closer.

Within five seconds, it was in range. I didn't say a prayer, that shit was for fucking pussies. I didn't think about anything, in fact, I just let a shell fly.

I didn't have time to take a breath before there was a distant explosion. Flame consumed the airplane, and it tumbled to the earth below, a smoking wreck. I glanced at Gregory. A fierce expression was on his face, and he nodded once. That was all the approval I needed.

We walked together, close enough that our hands brushed together on occasion, towards the wreckage. A plume of smoke marked the crash site, and I could feel adrenaline rushing with each step. It could be the end of all the fucking world's problems.

If I was a weaker man, I would have said a quick prayer for luck. God knew we needed it. But God is also a fucking bitch, and he would have denied our success out of fucking spite. I didn't need that shit. Cigarettes were my luck. Cigarettes and the faint, satisfied smile on Gregory's face. I was sure we succeeded.




If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!