by Oliver Geddes

The dark figure strolled quickly and easily down the corridor, his faintly silver eyeballs fixed upon the door at the end of the corridor, and his mind fixed upon the task he had to accomplish once he opened it. First, however, there was the guard to attend to.

"Freeze! Who are you and what do you want?" The guard nervously fingered the butt of his pistol, still snug in its holster.

"I have business with your boss. Let me pass." The dark man replied. Standing just over 6 foot tall, he nevertheless seemed to dwarf the young guard with the sheer depth of his control.

"I'm, uh, afraid I can't do that sir. If you could tell me who you were, then maybe I could help you." The guard stammered this out with a noticeable effort.

The other man sighed deeply. "There's always one, isn't there?" he muttered under his breath. Then, with a lightning quick movement he seized the guard by the neck and lifted him off the floor, slamming his head into the ceiling. The guard dropped to the ground, stunned and clutching his throat. Flexing one metallic, matt-black arm, his assailant stepped over him and opened the door.

As he entered, three pairs of eyes turned to greet him. Seated behind his desk, a young man, dressed in corporate garb, looked on in astonishment. "Who are you!? How the hell did you get in here!?" He shrieked, his voice rising in his fear and rage.

"I'm only here to deliver a message." The intruder rumbled. "Get out of town. NOW. Next time, my employer will not just send me to deliver a message." With that, he turned on his heel and began to walk away.

"KILL HIM!" The young man roared, leaping to his feet.

And then the shooting began.

Bursts of fire ripped over the walls, shredding portraits and shattering ornaments, as the guards opened up with their weapons. But their target was like a wraith, eluding every one of their bullets as he dodged and dived around the room. He ducked, and rolled forward, extending one leg upwards in one smooth movement. The resulting blow to the stomach caught the gunman by surprise, and he staggered backwards, coughing.

A foot lashed out to the side, striking the other bodyguard's wrist. There was an audible crack as bones broke, and his gun dropped to the floor. With a long hard gaze at each of the men, he turned around once again and strode towards the door.

The young man behind the desk simply watched in astonishment. He looked around his room, noting things in turn: the bullet-riddled walls, the wounded guards, the furniture ripped to pieces. He quickly removed a phone from his pocket. Punching the numbers hurriedly, he then held it to his ear, sweating nervously, and glancing, panicked, around the room.

"Hello? I'd like to book a ticket to Europe."

"Anywhere, it doesn't matter."

"As soon as possible."

"Th-thank you. Goodbye."

He dropped the phone onto the desk with a dull thud. He sighed to himself, and held his head in his hands.

Hours later, miles away...

Argent sat in his room, watching the video of the mission over and over again. It seemed to have gone rather well, in his opinion, but it was not up to him to judge. He stood and stretched his full 6' 1" frame. He watched the figure in black lift the corridor guard up, and chuckled faintly under his breath. A dark look of discomfort flickered across his eyes, but it quickly passed.

He yawned. It had all gone rather well. The operative deserved to be congratulated. Not that he would be. Dimming the lights, he moved to his bedroom. His well-built body could have been called handsome, were it not for the scars that criss-crossed it. Up and down the arms, over the belly, up the chest to the face. He let slip one of his slightly crooked smiles, itself a result of one of his many injuries.

He needed to rest more. The red rings which surrounded his dark brown eyes, contrasting sharply, were evidence enough of that. He stretched once more, and returned to his darkened "work room," taking up his normal position in the chair in the corner. He lifted one of his two machine pistols and smiled, looking over it with a keen eye. Then, dimming the lights still further, he lay back in his seat to rest.

The video screen still flickered in the darkness, and so Argent lay, surrounded by the hum of his equipment, until his eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep. With a faint click, the view screen switched itself off, and the humming ceased. Argent smiled faintly once more, and shifted slightly, before settling back to sleep.

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