Antioch rushed the office door, shoulder slamming into it, causing the door to explode inward and the frame to crack. The room itself was lavish, paintings by Van Gogh and Renoir hung from its walls, and a massive desk, inlaid with intricate carvings and gold filigree, sat in the center. Behind it, in the large leather chair from which he ran his domain, sat Adriane Wolfe, head of Wolfe Accounting.
“Well,” said Wolfe, as though Antioch were a junior accountant reporting as ordered rather than a seven-foot ogre about to rip his arms out. With one languid movement, Wolfe reached out, tapped the ash from his cigar into a crystal tray, and pushed up from his seat. Walking to the glass door of his private balcony, Wolfe put his hands in his pockets and smiled at the chaos in the streets below.
Antioch growled, the sound vibrating in the room like the engine of an American muscle car. He’d survived the betrayal, lies and the death of his friend at the hands of this man, and now this human was turning his back to him. Antioch’s fists balled and his claws, already jagged and chipped from fighting to get here, dug into the meaty flesh of his hands.
“You don’t belong here,” Wolfe said. “Allowing the freaks and monsters to live was a mistake. This is a human world. You and your kind are a nightmare that needs to be wiped out.” The words were as devoid of emotion as an inter-departmental memo. They were nothing new, and Antioch had heard them most of his life. Even the people down on the street were shouting variations of the same thing, though with much more passion than Wolfe had given them.
“We were here before your boats arrived,” Antioch said. “We were here before you spread across the land. We’ve always been here, and we always will be.”
“No,” said Wolfe. “You won’t.” Turning around, Wolfe pulled the gun from his pocket and fired. The first bullet punched into the drywall next to Antioch, sending out a small cloud of white dust. The smell of burnt gunpowder filled Antioch’s nostrils and the explosion left his ears ringing. The second bullet found its target as it slammed into his shoulder.
Howling, Antioch stumbled back though the doorway and tripped over the edge of the secretary’s desk. Dropping to his knee, Antioch slapped his hand on the desk to keep from falling flat. His ogre hide was tough, but a bullet at close range could go through even the toughest skin. In a few minutes the wound would close over, his genetics giving him that advantage, but as he watched Wolfe stride toward him, weapon down at his side like a gunslinger from an old western movie, Antioch didn’t think he had that kind of time.
“Monsters are a disease,” said Wolfe. “A cancer that needs to be dug out and destroyed. People won’t stop until all of you are gone. Hunted down in every stinking hell hole you live in.”
“We have rights,” Antioch said. His shoulder was throbbing, causing him to dig his claws into the desk.
“Nobody will care when you’re all gone.”
Wolfe raised the gun and Antioch launched himself at his former boss. Four hundred pounds of ogre muscle slammed into the human, the momentum carrying them both through the doorway and into the executive office, only stopping when they slammed into the desk in the center. Antioch slashed down, his claws ripping though the Wolfe’s designer shirt. Wolfe’s mouth opened to scream, but the impact with the desk had knocked the air from his lungs. Antioch snarled as he brought his hand around and slashed again.
Wolfe, gun still in hand, brought the butt down on Antioch’s head, trying to knock him off as he fought the ogre. He brought the barrel of the gun around and fired, but the angle was wrong. The bullet grazed Antioch’s head, taking the tip of the ogre’s ear with it, and smashed into a sunflower painting on the wall, knocking it catty-cornered.
“We are not monsters!” he shouted. Antioch fed all his anger at the man into each swipe. This was the man who’d befriended him. The man who’d made him feel like part of a family and then ripped it away with his hatred and bigotry. He was behind the riots outside, behind the gangs of hunters and behind the death of his friends.
Antioch’s hand came up again and stopped. Wolfe lay across his desk, his chest a shredded tapestry of cloth and flesh. Antioch let his hand fall and turned away from Wolfe, refusing to watch as the human gasped his last breath. There were more monsters to be dealt with, but at least this one was finished.