by Michael Newton

The room was sparsely furnished and looked as if it was either unused or inhabited by someone excessively tidy. A pair of futons were set up against one wall, a small knee height coffee table was set up in the middle of the room and various cushions were scattered around it. A small bonsai tree stood in the middle of the table. Three doors led out of the room. One looked like the front door of the flat, a number of bolts arranged across it as well as the electronic lock (which appeared to have been modified slightly). The other two probably led into a kitchen and bathroom, but both were closed at the moment. Finishing off the room was a large desk set in one corner with the only western style chair in the room sat before it. At the back of the desk was sat a daisho pair, and in front of it a cloth was spread out with the constituent parts of two partly cleaned Cz95 pistols neatly arranged upon it. Sitting in the corner of the desk was a data terminal.

Sitting on the chair was the lone occupant of the room. His pale grey slanted eyes flicked across the gun parts as has hands moved around the table with the ease and precision of long practice. His hair spilled down his back in a dark cascade that ended at his waist, tied at three places down its length into a thin pony tail. His clothing, a dark maroon polo neck, black trousers and leather shoes, almost said corp, but his lean, powerful looking build and the large ugly scar down his face from left temple down across the side of his mouth spoke of a life of violence. Physically he appeared in his early twenties but like many people in his line of work, his eyes looked much older. Looking closely the lines of a suit of body armour could be made out under the polo neck.

The data terminal chimed. The man's eyes flicked across to the terminal for a moment and checked the screen. A business call. He briefly wiped his hands on a cloth by the guns and then reached over to answer the call.

"This is Jin."

The man's voice betrayed a faint Japanese accent.

"Jin-san, this is Daniel. I've got a prospective client here who wants to speak to you. I've done business with him before and he seems to be clean. I thought you'd rather have me forward him through my coms then give him your number."

"Of course, Daniel. Put him through."

"I'll talk to you afterwards about amounts, Jin-san. He goes by the name of Jeremiah Haym."

"Thank you, Daniel."

There was a brief pause and click from the terminal and then a new voice spoke from it.

"Mr. Jin?"

The voice was deep and male, and gave the impression that the speaker was at least middle aged.

"Mr. Haym. A pleasure."

"Mutual, I assure you, Mr. Jin. I have learnt a fair amount about you recently and have been greatly impressed."

"Thank you, Mr. Haym."

"Mr. Jin, as you will have guessed, I am contacting you in order to give you a business proposal. I am a fairly high ranking member of the corporate world, and as such both I and my family attract a certain amount of unwelcome attention. Normally I insure the protection of my family through my corporate resources, but someone recently attempted to kidnap my son. Although they failed, they left his bodyguard in intensive care. I have reason to believe that the attack was carried out by someone with inside information from the corporation and have therefore been loath to replace the bodyguard with any one else from inside the corporation."

The voice paused as if expecting a response and Jin spoke.

"A most regrettable situation, Mr. Haym."

"Indeed. As you can imagine, I also did not want to entrust the life and protection of my son to someone I could not trust. Therefore I have spent the last few days searching for someone external with a reputation that suits my needs. I have used Daniel before, and he pointed me in your direction, Mr. Jin. I wish to hire you for the duration of my sons 18th birthday party to protect him from harm. The party will be on Friday night and will be at the Purple Haze club where you will have full co-operation from the security already there. I will also require to meet you in person tomorrow night, as I wish to meet the man who I am intrusting with my sons life. I have already informed Daniel of the financial details of the job, but I wished to talk to you first."

Once more the voice stopped expectantly.

"It would be an honour to fulfil such a position of trust, Mr. Haym. I will finalize the financial details with Daniel, but I foresee no problems there. Where do you wish to meet me?"

"At the Purple Haze. Tomorrow night at 8pm."

"Of course, Mr. Haym. A pleasure doing business."

"See you tomorrow, Mr. Jin."

There was a click and Jin spoke into the terminal.

"I take it he matched my normal fees, Daniel?"

"Of course, Jin-san. Otherwise I wouldn't have put him through. In fact, he's offering 5% extra."

"Hmm... I think he's on. Hopefully it's just a baby sitting job, but you never know."

"Hey, I don't have to be there, I just get the cut. I say go for it."

"OK Daniel, I'll go with it. Talk with you tomorrow after I've met the guy."

The Purple Haze. Named after its decor, it was a comparatively unknown bar that was well respected by the clientele it did have. A frequent hangout of artists and poets it even had a poetry night every Tuesday and the music at the bar was often live jazz. As Jin arrived the bar was still fairly quiet and he checked his watch. Ten to eight. He'd timed it about right. He checked in the pair of Cz95s at the door and moved over to the bar. Around him mellow jazz swirled through the purple ground hugging mist that gave the bar its name. His feet left trails of clear air through the haze which slowly filled back in behind him. The rest of the bar was obviously designed to match the mist - purple upholstery, dark green tables.

"Good Evening."

"Evening sir. Can I get you anything?"

"Single whiskey on the rocks, if you would."

"Of course, sir."

The barman fetched the drink and Jin tendered the money for it.

"I'm due to meet a Mr. Haym in ten minutes."

"Right sir. If you'd care to take a seat?"

The barman waved his hand towards the main area of the bar and Jin bowed slightly to him before headed off for a seat. He glanced round the other occupants of the bar and picked out the one who seemed to be watching him. He'd expected Haym to have someone in the bar in advance to it and him out, and it looked like he'd been right. He sipped his drink and continued surveying the bar.

Now that was interesting.

A second man also appeared to be paying him a fair amount of attention. Mr. Haym appeared to be a slightly paranoid kind of man. He finished his drink just on the dot of eight as a middle aged corp walked through the door closely followed by his bodyguard. The man stepped up to the bar, spoke to the barman for a moment and then turned and walked towards the table where Jin was sitting.

Jin took the opportunity to survey Mr. Haym as the man approached. He was tall, even for a westerner, and looked well built enough to work out regularly although he lacked the hard edge of someone who used their physique for a living. He had pale skin and blond hair that contrasted sharply with the tailored black suit he wore, and the watch on his wrist looked as if it had cost more money then Jin was likely to see in his life time. Jin rose as Haym reached his table and bowed slightly before extending his hand. Haym matched his bow and hand and then spoke with the same deep voice from the phone.

"Mr. Jin?"

"Mr. Haym."

Jin gestured towards the seat next to him.

"May I offer you a chair?"

Haym slide into the seat and once he was fully seated Jin retook his place. The bodyguard stayed standing. And then Jin's combat senses kicked in. The silenced shot was almost inaudible over the jazz but Jin happened to be looking directly at the watcher as the bullet hit him.

The man who he'd originally spotted watching him in the bar was slowly folding forwards into his drink with a patch of red rapidly starting to spread across his chest and the other watcher was on his feet, gun in hand. And he was fast, the gun already training towards Jin's table. Jin was up and moving, kicking the table up into the air between the gunman and the seats that he and Haym were on, but with nowhere to dodge he tensed with the expectation of a bullet.

The gun coughed twice and then Jin glimpsed the body guard spinning to one side as blood erupted from his cheek and neck. On his other side, Haym was already hitting the floor with reactions that spoke of long hours of emergency practice. Jin followed Haym's example with a roll across the floor, coming up in the middle of the dance floor with plenty of room to manoeuvre.

The gun tracked him across the dance floor, coughing twice more as the gunman tried to bring it to bear on the now rapidly moving Jin, but failed. Jin was rapidly closing now and with a front flip off a chair back that had no right to support his weight he connected with the gunman, lashing out with a series of kicks to the head and midriff. He finished with a spear hand into his opponents arm, deadening the man's hand and catching the dropped gun with his free hand. He brought the gunman's gun up and pointed it between the man's eyes, which still flicked red with targeting scopes. The whole bar froze in place, mellow jazz still playing in the background, and then the bars security burst in, slamming the gunman to the ground. Jin casually tossed the gun over to one of the bouncers and walked back over to find out how Haym was.

The room looked slightly more lived in now. The remains of two meals sat on the table at the centre of the room, and both the futons where occupied. Jin sat on one, and leaning across from the other to lean on his shoulder was a women. She looked shorter then him, and slightly more stocky, and her close cropped blond hair contrasted with his dark colouring. A large tattoo of a dragon was curled up on her left arm and she wore a white vest and black jeans. She turned her head slightly and looked up at Jin.

"How was your day then, Ujinaka?"

He reached into his pocket and drew out a slip of paper.

"How do you feel about a night out with expenses?"

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