Prologue: Birthday Party
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“What’s that?” Buffy asked, walking into the warehouse without preamble. She was a little annoyed, her frustration having come to a head. Vi had advised that she let Xander reveal who the girl that he was dating was in his own good time, but a couple of weeks of nothing was pushing it. Coupled with Xander being pretty scarce of late, it was enough to get her curiosity up to eleven.
Picking up the remote control, Xander paused the tape, the screen freezing on a flickering image of a man getting kneed in the side. He didn’t need to look to know that Buffy had her arms crossed and an intent expression on her face. “Redemption. UFC 17.”
Xander glanced over at the Slayer as she moved around and took a seat on the couch across from him. He smiled at her a little as she sat down. “New guy, Liddell versus a Spanish guy.”
Buffy looked at the screen, the image a little grainy and choppy in freeze frame. Not exactly a legitimate videotape most likely. “He looks like a truck driver.”
Xander shrugged, moving his chair over to face her, the legs scrapping on the concrete floor. “Yeah, I suppose he does. What’s up?”
“So who is she?” Buffy asked, getting back on subject. Her face hardened a little more to show her focus. She knew that Willow had asked before, and Xander had deflected easily. Likely a testament to how well the two knew each other. She wouldn’t let that happen with her.
Xander just looked at her. He didn’t want to lie to her, but he also knew that he couldn’t exactly be straight with her. Despite her relationship with Angel, he didn’t think she’d be okay with it without major convincing. At least her relationship hadn’t technically broken any laws. Despite the fact that it was only a handful of months until his eighteenth birthday, it still wasn’t something that he really wanted to deal with at the moment.
Still looking at her, Xander just played coy. “Who?”
Staring back at him, Buffy spoke through slightly grit teeth, though she was more annoyed than angry. It was the evasiveness that had gotten to her more than anything. “Vi says you’re going out with a girl. From your…trip. Something we would have thought you’d share with your bestest buds.”
“Right,” Xander said, scratching his neck to buy time. “Uh, she’s not from around here. We’re doing this whole long distance thing and yeah, it’s a thing. She’s older than I am, and there’s this whole thing and we decided to keep it kinda quiet. We don’t even know where’s it’s going to go exactly. So…until we figure it out, she and me decided to not really make it this whole big thing.”
None of which was strictly a lie, but Buffy was more than likely to be displeased him when she found out, thought it would likely be coming from a good place. But, better silence than Jenny getting into trouble. That and he wasn’t even sure what he just said.
Buffy just continued to stare at him, only quizzically this time. She didn’t really understand what he just said. “What?”
Xander looked down at his wrist, then back at her. He smiled a little. “Saved by the bell. I have to go. You know the whole birthday party thing.”
He got up and turned off the VCR and the TV. Picking up a wrapped box from the table, he looked at Buffy again. “I’ll see you, I guess.”
Buffy nodded, getting up herself. “Fine. But this isn’t over.”
It was a mystery that was tickling at her, and one that wouldn’t stop until she figured it out.
Xander just smiled back at her.
Outside Picacho, Arizona
Amadeus stood on the side of the road, his scooter standing next to him. There were no cars on the highway at the moment, though he still kept an eye on it. He had almost been discovered a few times, and though they had been wearing government tagged clothing, the genius knew that they couldn’t be trusted. He hadn’t made much progress on figuring out who had tried to kill him, but at least he was still free. They weren’t making it easy though.
“Just tell us where you are, Amadeus. We can be anywhere in the country within an hour.” The voice came over the headset. It was an indeterminate accent, but the speaker was female. She also sounded serious. And almost official.
The Korean boy just frowned, looking at the black asphalt surface of the road. A grayish colored coyote was lying near the median strip, likely hit by a car. “Why don’t you meet me at my house? No, wait, that’s not gonna work, because you blew it up.”
The voice on the other side audibly exhaled. “We didn’t do that, Amadeus. That was the enemy.”
“The enemy?” Amadeus echoed. “How stupid do you think I am.”
“Not very. You were smart enough to get on our radar. Smart enough to slip through our perimeter. Smart enough to call me on a line which three roomfuls of our top people can’t seem to trace.” The voice didn’t sound very impressed though. It was more matter of fact statement than complimentary. “To be precise, we think you’re the seventh smartest person on the planet. Which is why we want you to work for us. And why the enemy wants you dead.”
“If you want me to trust you, then tell me who they are.” Amadeus stated into the mouth piece. He frowned as he noticed movement. It was a small furry animal, one of the coyote’s pups that didn’t understand that its mother was dead.
“You know I can’t do that. We have no idea who’s after you,” the voice replied, barely constrained exasperation clear over the line. “Amadeus, we can help you with this. You just have to let me bring you in.”
Amadeus scoffed, and walked to the striped yellow line in the middle of the freeway. He knelt down and carefully picked up the coyote puppy. It wiggled in his hands, but didn’t try to bite him. “If you know that I’m the seventh smartest person on the planet, then you know there’s no conceivable way I can trust you based on the information I have right now. This conversation is over. Goodbye, Agent Sexton”
“Wait, Amadeus,” the voice pleaded on the other side. “If they catch you, they’ll use you to destroy the world as we know it. For all of our sakes, please stay out of trouble.”
Amadeus just looked down at the cobbled together cell phone he held in his left hand. He pushed the off button and shoved it into his pocket. Looking down at the puppy in his other hand, he smiled at it a little, the pup yelping a little as if it was hungry. “Stay out of trouble. Not likely.”
Xander headed in the direction of the noise. It was a bright and clear day, though a little cold given the season. There were a few smatterings of people in the park enjoying the crisp autumn weather, though the biggest congregation was a mixed group of people near the picnic tables and barbecue grills. There were adults, singles, and people in groups, families most likely. The kids, more than he would have expected for his uncle’s birthday party, were running around. A party was a party after all.
He glanced over at the bikes that were parked in the parking lot off to the side, then at the large number of men in biker leathers. It was a slightly incongruous image, with the kids and all, but nobody seemed particularly concerned about the rather rough and tumble individuals that were there.
Shrugging it off, Xander placed the gift that he had in his hands on a table that had other wrapped boxes. Walking around the dirt area, he saw people examine him, some with a little bit of suspicion. He let it slide over him as he looked for his uncle. After all, he was an outsider, and it wasn’t like he recognized anybody. Small town charm at its finest.
It didn’t take long for him to find his uncle, as he was surrounded by a decent sized group of men in black leather. As he approached, he examined the back of one of them, shoulder length blonde hair giving way to a logoed leather jacket. A black and white grim reaper clutched an assault rifle turned scythe in one boney hand, and a ball with an A on it with the other. Apparently, the man was a “Son of Anarchy” according to the banner at the top. The name was vaguely familiar, but he didn’t recall off-hand.
“Uncle Rory,” Xander said, watching as the group of men turned as one to face him. He noticed some judgment as they looked at him, as well as some suspicion, likely due to having interrupted their conversation. He was a little struck by the differences in the group. One was near his uncle’s age, though he looked tough and carried a good bit of muscle. The others were younger, though they had their differences as well. From a skinny young man with sandy hair to a Hispanic man with a goofy smile and a tattooed and mohawked head. It was an eclectic bunch if there ever was one.
Rory smiled broadly as he saw his nephew. He stepped forward and waved for Xander to come closer. “Guys, this is my nephew. Alexander.”
“Xander,” Xander muttered, stepping closer and hugging his uncle. It didn’t last too long, as his uncle quickly introduced him to the others.
“This is Clay, he runs an auto shop in town,” Rory said, waving a hand at the club president.
“Nice to meet you,” Xander said, grasping Clay’s rough hand and shaking it. There was some challenge in there he supposed, but it was polite as well.
Clay nodded. “Nephew, unh. Good to meet ya.”
Xander nodded back and went on through the group. Shaking hands with the rest down the line. They seemed a nice enough lot, though he did wonder what some of the patches on their vests and jackets meant. It didn’t take long before he was integrated with the group. He was quickly handed a plate of barbecued chicken and a red plastic cup of soda. Soon after he was milling around in the crowd and found himself talking to a pretty brunette about her kids, her husband talking to a few of the men in the motorcycle club. He noticed that she was a little displeased at that, and seemed to be a little tense overall.
Xander was about to comment, when he heard the loud noise of multiple engines approach from the street parallel to them. From the throaty roar, it sounded like motorcycles coming towards them. Turning around, Xander noticed a number of riders approach. His eyes narrowed for a moment, then widened as he noticed them slow and pull weapons.
“Gun!” shouting, Xander pulled the woman next to him down to the dirt as the gang of riders opened up on the whole group. He soon heard screaming and crying as people scattered and tried to duck behind cover as bullets impacted around them.
Near Mt. Huà Shān, China
The bald man, dressed in the orange robes of a Buddhist monk, rang the bell again. He stared intently at the black mouth of the cave in front of him. He had been at it for a few minutes, whispering incantations under his breath, but it had yet to have an effect. The wind whipped past him as he stood on the rough surface of the wide, but he ignored it. His duty was all that mattered. He could feel the rumblings from deep within the mountain, and knew that the demon had heard the summoning. It would not be long now.
Nearby, another man stood, ignoring the cold and wind as well. He too had a shaved head, and was dressed in a white robe that fluttered in the wind. He clenched his right hand, the metal prosthetic clanging together a little as his fingertips touched his palm. The armored metal prosthesis went all the way up to his elbow, steel plates overlapping thickly like dragon scales. Only a red triangular crystal set on the back of the hand broke up the steel finish.
“Master Temugin,” the monk said, having stopped his incantation. He craned his head over at the other man, bowing in deference. “It comes.”
As if it had waited for the right time to appear, a huge lumbering shape rushed out of the cave. The monk barely had time to get to cover before it had rushed past. It was almost bipedal in nature, though it ran along on all fours, and the stench was almost overwhelming. With white pupil-less eyes, and rotted skin with only patches of hair, it looked almost like a dead and decaying bear. Misshapen as it was, it had overly large yellow claws and sharp teeth.
Temugin faced it without fear, staring up at it as it pulled back onto its hind legs and roared. He could feel heat as the monster exhaled, but he stood his ground.
The monster stared down at the interloper of its territory, not understanding why the man did not run away from his bellow. Reaching back, it swiped a huge paw at the man, much faster than would have seemed possible.
Gracefully, Temugin ducked underneath the large arm, feeling it whip by inches above his head. He leapt into the air and pulled his right arm back and clenched his arm into a fist. It wasn’t long before he reached the arc of his jump and he fell towards the beast, fist aimed at the monster’s head.
Xander looked carefully over the table that he was hiding behind. The bikers had stopped, getting off of their bikes and were now aiming more carefully with their weapons. It had been an unintended benefit that they had started firing before they had stopped, giving the majority of the party the time to take cover before they were hit. The ones that hadn’t been lucky were lying on the ground, blood starting to pool already.
Gunfire sounded behind him, and Xander turned to see that the Sons had pulled handguns and were returning fire. It was a little haphazard, as they too had to find cover. He knew that it wouldn’t be enough against the shotguns and automatic weapons that the other bikers carried against them in addition to pistols.
“Ellie!” the woman next to him screamed, drawing his attention.
Xander looked over the table again and saw a young girl crying on the grass in front of him, too scared to move. As far as he could tell, she hadn’t been hit yet, but with the way that the lead was flying, it wouldn’t be too long before she was.
“Shit,” Xander grunted as he shuffled to the side of the table. He ran forward as fast as he could, as low as he could, heading straight towards the girl. He could hear bullets whiz by as he skidded to a stop, a line of dirt and grass thrown up as bullets from an UZI stitched their way towards him. Scooping the child up in his arms, Xander rushed to his right into a small group of trees moments before the bullets crossed his path. He breathed hard as he sat her down behind the trunk of a particularly large oak. Checking her over, he tried to calm her down, glad not to have found any wounds. She was still crying, but she would be okay. “Stay here.”
Looking around, Xander watched as Clay and his step-son Jax started to approach the other bikers, firing as they went. He knew that they would soon be overwhelmed as more bikes roared up, bringing more guns into the mix. Shaking his head, he knew what he had to do.
“What is he doing?” Clay muttered as he watched the kid he had met only an hour or so before ran towards a few of the Mayans that had attacked the party. He had to smile a little as he saw the boy quickly disarm two of them, and then pick up their guns and shoot them in the chest.
Looking around, Clay yelled out towards a large man with stringy wavy brown hair that was hiding behind a brick and stone barbecue grill. “Bobby, cover the boy. We need to get these people out of here.”
Bobby nodded, concentrating his fire on the bikers that were trying to advance. Luckily there wasn’t much cover between the street and the tables and trees where the partygoers and the rest of the Sons were pinned down. It meant that the Mayans couldn’t advance, not until they ran out of ammo or the Mayans decided to chance it. He didn’t give them that much credit though.
Rolling to avoid gunfire, Xander came up in a crouch firing his stolen weapons in both hands. He barely noticed as he watched men go down, blood spurting from chests as they were shot. A few others that tried to flank him were taken down, the Sons doing their best to stop the bikers from moving any closer. He had to dive behind one of their bikes, as a particularly large man with a mustache and goatee fired a cut-down shotgun at him. Buckshot pinged against the metal surface of the motorcycle as Xander landed behind it with a thud.
He stood quickly and shot the biker in the throat, the slide locking back, and heard gurgling as the other man fell to the ground. The other gun was already empty. Approaching, Xander dropped the handguns that had gone dry and pulled a revolver from the dead biker’s waistband. He had to raise it quickly and snapped a shot off as a biker with a shaved head rushed him carrying a knife. Xander turned as he heard a car approach, a blue SUV barreling toward him, the man next to the driver firing through the windshield.
Grunting, Xander rushed forward, only slowing long enough to grab another gun. He had to carefully plan his jump in a rush, leaping onto the hood of the car as it decelerated into the fight. Firing into the windshield, Xander hopped up onto the roof of the vehicle, firing both guns through it as he avoided the rounds sent in his direction. He stitched a line of bullets through the thin sheet metal, plastic, and fabric, jumping off the rear of the car as he finished. Rolling and turning around, he noticed the car veer to the side and crash into a telephone pull, the driver dead. A man in the back seat tried to get out, but Xander shot him in the head, barely noticing him slump down onto the curb.
Turning some more, Xander scanned the area, seeing the Sons approach. The advance and gunfire from the bikers had broken the ranks of the other club, the remaining few getting back on their bikes and riding off.
He saw a few people lying on the grass, clutching various body parts as they screamed in pain. There were probably a few dead, though they had surely gotten off lucky in light of the strong attack. A motorcycle snarled past him, and he turned his head to follow it. Raising the revolver, Xander tracked it and fired once, tagging the escaping man in the shoulder and forcing him off the bike. He strode forward as the man skid and rolled to a stop, the motorcycle flipping on its front wheel and slamming into the sidewalk.
Xander got a good look at the man’s face. He was in his forties with slicked back hair under a motorcycle helmet, and a thick mustache and strip of hair running down his chin. The man grunted in pain and tried to pull a gun from his belt.
“Don’t,” Xander said simply, pointing the gun at the fallen biker. The man didn’t bother listening, and Xander shot once more, hitting the man in the left eye.
Turning, Xander saw that the police had come, sirens filling the air. An ambulance screeched to a halt as well, and he saw a rush of people in uniforms. He dropped his guns and walked towards them slowly.
Outside Picacho, Arizona
Sipping intensely on his straw, Amadeus pulled in more of the thick strawberry shake and swallowed down his bite of cheeseburger. He had already downed one, and was working his way quickly through another. Feeling rustling in his coat, the boy broke off some of the large and juicy meat patty and stuck it inside his jacket, feeling as the coyote puppy found it.
“Hey kid,” a feminine voice called out from in front of him.
Amadeus looked up and noticed the young waitress that had taken his order come to a stop in front of his booth.
The waitress put her hands on her hips, looking intentionally confrontational. “No dogs allowed.”
“Oh yeah,” Amadeus said, looking down. He pulled a couple of wrinkled up bills from his pocket and dropped them on the table. “I’ll take him out-“
“Hey wait a minute,” the waitress broke in, examining the animal more closely as it peeked out between the zipper of Amadeus’ coat. “Is that a coyote pup?
Amadeus looked up at her innocently. “No, no. It’s a dog. My dog. His name’s Kirby.”
The waitress ignored him, and turned towards the counter on the side of the diner. “Bob, this kid’s got a coyote in his jacket.”
“You’re kidding me,” Bob said, turning around on his stool to face the waitress. He stood up, straightening out his black policeman’s uniform.
“No, I said it’s a dog,” Amadeus interjected, words just pouring out of his mouth as his brain started to work overtime. “A German Shepherd/malamute hybrid. Besides, dogs, coyotes, and wolves are genetically indistinguishable, capable of interbreeding and producing fertile-“
The police officer leaned on the table and stared at the teenager. “Kid, this isn’t funny. We got a rabies alert on Tuesday.”
“-offspring,” Amadeus continued, knowing that it wasn’t having an effect. He started to think. “That makes them technically the same species, so there’s really no reason to-“
The officer interrupted again. “Now put him down.”
“Put him down,” another man put in, from another table.
Amadeus said nothing, but started to look around. He picked up his glass of water and sucked on the straw.
“Don’t be stupid,” the newcomer continued, though he had yet to rise from his own seat.
Amadeus put the glass down next to his shake, but kept the straw in his mouth. He looked at the cop intently. “I’m not stupid.”
“All right then.” The police officer leaned forward more, hand outstretched to take the pup.
Amadeus reached into his coat pocket and pressed the button on his walkman, working the volume wheel. No sound came out of the device, instead the sound was shunted to the speakers of the TV set above the counter, and it came out loud. Surprised, the people in the restaurant made to cover their ears.
Amadeus was not surprised, having modified the walkman to play through the closest speakers available. It had been a project to turn his dinky old walkman into a stereo system. Standing up, Amadeus concentrated. Arcane and complex formulas floated in his vision in neon red, blue circles appearing afterwards, connected by lines that indicated point of impact and reaction paths.
Spitting as hard as he could, a lemon seed was expelled from the straw and hit the policeman just above the eye. Amadeus leapt onto the table as the man shifted, grasping a pepper shaker and waving it towards them to drive them back more. Taking advantage of the situation, he rushed out the door and hurried to his scooter, hearing the officer and the waitress trying to reorient themselves after the loud sound, pepper, and seed. They would start to chase after him soon.
With a gentle rumble, the scooter started up, and Amadeus made his way out of the parking lot, stopping only long enough to drive a palmed steak knife into the valve of one of the tires on the officer’s cruiser.
“That was some shooting,” Jax said, standing on the curb and looking out over the mayhem that the birthday party had turned into. The police were taking statements, and a few people were still being patched up. The more grievous cases were already on their way to the hospital.
Sitting on the curb, Xander didn’t bother to look up at the man. He smiled a little as he noticed the brunette he had been talking to fuss over her daughter. Her husband was there as well, though he looked tense, and glanced over at Clay a few times. “Yeah.”
“Do you know what that was about?” Xander asked, craning his head and looking up.
Jax shrugged, frowning a little. “There’s been a few problems with clubs around here. Nothing this bad before though.”
It was intentionally vague, and if he had to admit it, the VP of SAMCRO had to admit that it had shaken him. Charming was protected, and the idea that it could be attacked by another club in so public a manner was almost inconceivable. It was just proof as to how desperate their gang war had made the Mayans. Still, blood spilled on the streets of Charming was blood spilled on the streets of Charming. And though it had been the Mayans that had fired the shots, SAMCRO had started the war.
Xander noticed a short man in his fifties talking to Clay. He was wearing the uniform of a local cop, and from the looks of it, was probably pretty senior in the department. “I have a lawyer.”
“What?” Jax said, looking down again.
Xander shrugged, and looked down at his hands. They were still dirty, specks of dried blood on the backs of them. “Just…someone I know.”
“Yeah,” Jax said distractedly, looking up at Unser. “I don’t think it’ll come to that. Just keep your mouth shut. It was self defense.”
“It’s not supposed to be easy,” Xander muttered, not knowing if he was talking about himself or the bikers. He watched as techs took photographs and collected evidence. It seemed so clinical now.
“What do you mean,” Jax asked.
Xander didn’t say anything for a few moments, still looking at the street. “Needed doing I suppose. But, is this the way of things?”
The Wild West on the streets of Charming wasn’t what he wanted, nor the public attention. The innocent people caught up in the fight were what bothered him the most. Still, better this than the alternative.
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Jax said in agreement, wondering what Xander meant. There were no answers forthcoming and he noticed the chief head in their direction. “Still, you did good.”
Jax stepped off the curb and walked into the street, passing by the chief as he headed towards Xander.
“Did I now,” Xander said nearly silently, watching Jax depart. The reaper on the man’s jacket smiled at him craftily. He furrowed his eyebrows as he wondered just what it was that the Sons of Anarchy were into. He doubted that the Mayans had just decided to attack a birthday party.
“Xander,” the police officer said, looking down at the rather young man sitting on the sidewalk. It was a little jarring considering the picture that had been painted by the other witnesses. The teenager had killed more than his share of bikers, but had also risked his own life to bring the Winstons’ daughter to safety. “I’m Chief Unser. I just need to ask a few questions.”
Nodding, Xander stood up.
Near Mt. Huà Shān, China
Slamming against the rock wall of the mountain, Temugin rebounded onto the ground. Standing, more defiant than anything, the bald warrior stared at the monster that was in front of him. He was bloody, his robe ripped in multiple places, and slashes marred his chest. The demon was in similar shape, one of its eyes nearly ripped out and deep wounds in its sides where Temugin had punched it.
Gathering his chi, the man rushed forward and leapt in attack once again. He snapped his leg around, and kicked out. The demon, tiring from battle and its wounds, was not fast enough to deflect the attack. Temugin’s booted foot impacted against the beast’s head, snapping it around with an audible crack. With a shaky roar, the demon fell to the ground with a thud, its neck broken.
Temugin landed lightly upon his feet, staring down at the fallen animal. He heard the scrambling of feet on rock as the monk approached him. The beast just lay bleeding on the stone ground, still as fearsome looking as when it had been alive. It had been a great battle, and the opponent had had both physical skill as well as the intellect of a survivor. There was no wonder how the thing had survived into the present day. Looking over to the monk, Temugin spoke, “give me your cell phone.”
The monk nodded, reaching into a hidden pocket and extracting a small silver phone. He handed it to the victorious warrior. “A glorious triumph, Master.”
Temugin just nodded as he took the cell phone. He dialed quickly, and put the phone to his ear. It wasn’t long before the call was picked up. “Hello, Father. The yāoguài has been defeated. I will have it carried down to your laboratory shortly.”
The warrior said nothing for a while, listening to his father’s instructions. There was no praise, nor did he expect any. “Yes. It will be done.”
Without a goodbye, Temugin ended the call and tossed the cell phone back to the monk. He looked down at the beast again, though he spoke towards the other man. The ichor of the beast was spreading on the grey rock surface, staining it black. “Call the others; the body needs to be moved as soon as possible.”
The monk did as he was instructed, leaving his master in contemplation.
Temugin knelt down and stared at the beast’s face. There were not many of the creatures left. Technically, they were demons, pure demons, without contamination from other species of beast. Not sapient perhaps, but the yāoguài were fearsome opponents. They had appeared on the Earth long before the rise of humanity, and had remained in their original pristine state, their bodies full of arcane power. To their detriment and likely extinction. Still, a noble battle, and all the more glorious for the scarcity of the prey.
Standing, Temugin turned and looked out over the mountains, the sun bright in the sky and revealing the large range of mountains in front of him. Peaks descended into the cloud layer, and despite his sharps eyes, Temugin could not see the fullness of it. China had fallen into such disarray from its once glorious time as an empire ruled by the strong. Decadence and internal corruption, as well as outside forces, had caused its downfall. Such forces were still at work in his beloved country, forcing it to open up to the West. But, with his and his father’s efforts, the empire would rise again. The blood of the demon would be used by his father’s scientists to create an army so powerful that none would dare challenge their might.
The Mandarin would rise up and carry the Jade Empire to heights that had been known only in the days of old.
“Jesus,” Clay said, watching as the body bag that carried the last body was placed into a truck. The street was still a mess, with abandoned motorcycles strewn about. The SUV was still wrapped around the telephone pole, though the bodies had been removed. He looked over at his Sergeant-at-Arms as he continued. “That’s Álvarez. The Mayans are over.”
Nodding, Tig looked over at the kid that was currently talking to the chief of police. Unser was in their pocket so there were no worries that any of the Sons would get into any trouble with law enforcement over the incident. It would show up on the news for a cycle or so, but it would quickly be forgotten. That it had occurred in Charming was cause for some alarm, but with the Mayans effectively gutted, it would send a message to the Nords and any other clubs that might have eyes for Charming that trying to hit them on their own soil would be a deadly and costly mistake.
That it had been a kid only tangentially related to the MC would be washed over, the important thing being that SAMCRO would smite down any that would seek to question their authority. Still, the fact that some random kid had done such an impressive job of dealing out a whole lot of death raised some questions, even if it was the nephew of one of the First 9. “Who the fuck is he?”