Alex Fauth

Instruments of destruction
Tools of foul play
It's a violent eruption
Existence stripped away

-Instruments of Destruction, NRG

"I wish I had the telekinetic power to explode your head, little buddy"
-Sam, Sam and Max, Freelance Police

For a change, Sandra was having a good day. After the events of the last few weeks, it was nice to have a day where she didn't get chased, shot at, harassed, attacked by whole gangs or have to shoot a friend of hers off the side of a bridge. What could make it even better was if she had some money. To cure that problem, she'd headed down to a local watering hole to try and pick up some work.

Of course, this will probably result in me getting chased, shot at, harassed, attacked by whole gangs or having to shoot a friend of mine off the side of a bridge, she thought to herself. But it can't hurt to try.

Luck was favoring Sandra that day. Not too long after sitting down, a woman sat down opposite her. Sandra quickly appraised her. Tall, slim, Asian features, long hair. Attractive. Professional business outfit. Not a local. Probably some corporate looking for some Sam to do a dirty job. Just what I was after. She allowed for a brief smile. My day is looking up after all.

"Allow me to introduce myself" the woman began. She spoke with a cool, professional tone, clearly knowing what she was doing. She'd probably done this before. "My name is Dr. Yuki Tokamura from Ishiyama. I have need of your... services for a job of some importance to the company"

"Go on" Sandra casually replied, trying not to sound like she was desperate for a goodly amount of cash (which she was). "I'm listening"

"One of our employees took it upon himself to leave the company recently." She began, her face not betraying any hint of emotion. "And, regrettably, he took some important information with him. Information that we at Ishiyama would rather not let anyone else acquire."

Sandra nodded, knowing what was coming next. He's fled into the zone and has holed himself up somewhere. He's hiding out until he can find a buyer for what he's got. She wants me to plug him and retrieve the information. "Go on"

"We believe that he's fled into the Zone. He'll probably try to sell the information that he's got. We suspect that he's hiding out until he can find a buyer." She paused. "We would like you to locate this man and stop him from passing on the information. And we also want what the information retrieved"

Got it in one. Sandra smiled again. "I understand. But before I do this, I'll need some information on our man. And I'll need to know what I'm getting out of this."

"I understand" Dr Tokamura calmly replied. Either she had rehearsed this roll well, or she had done this before. She reached into a small bag she had bought with her, and pulled out a picture.

Sandra took it and had a look. He was big, blond and muscular. Hmm... Maybe he was the good doctor's personal boytoy or something.

"This is Matthew Callahan, formerly of Ishiyama. He's carrying a black leather case which is be lived to contain the information he stole from us."

Why do I always get mixed up in things involving business cases. Still.. It doesn't sound too hard. And I need money.

After Sandra had left, Dr. Tokamura smiled to herself. Sandra had been the perfect subject for this test. She was an anonymous street-corner nobody who would never be missed. And she was so easy to con that it was almost funny. She took a mobile phone out from her case, and punched in a number After a few rings, the other end picked up. "Dr Tokamura here" she flatly started. "I've chosen a target and have sent them on their way. She's a woman of about twenty-five or so with short black hair and scars on her face. You'll know her easily."

The other end of the line didn't even bother to acknowledge her, but just hung up. She expected that.

This should be interesting. She thought to herself. Just a pity I won't be there to watch.

Sandra made her way through the streets of the Zone. The money Dr Tokamura had offered her was good. Almost too good. Maybe this guy is tough. Maybe the stuff in the case is worth that much to Ishiyama. She paused, and then grinned wryly. Or maybe he is her boy toy and the case contains innumerable pictures of the good doctor in compromising situations.

Some investigation on Matthew had painted a curious picture of his activities since arriving in the zone. Apparently, he'd done very little to conceal himself, preferring to walk around in the open rather than sulking around corners and taking lengthy detours. Either he was incredibly confident, or he was mind-numbingly stupid. True, he was big enough so some people might think twice about picking a fight with him, but a single gang could take him apart easily.

And with my luck, he's probably already been found, killed, the body dumped and the case long gone, she thought to herself. No. Happy thoughts. You're on top of things for once. Think happy thoughts. He's alive and well for as long as it takes you to find him and plug him and take that case back. Then he's on his own.

Some time and research had put him in an abandoned apartment block. Apparently he'd more or less walked right on in, and hadn't been seen since. One of the locals found it odd; the building had been stripped bare of anything useful long ago. It was probably just a matter of time before someone took what was left for building materials, or it fell over on its own accord.

Presumably he's not planning to stay there for too long. Sandra went over the situation in her head. He's probably trying to lie low by picking a place he things no one will go into. Except... he's been walking through the Zone like he owns the place. This isn't making any sense. Ack.

Sandra stopped to compose her thoughts. He's up to something. He's got some plan. No, that doesn't make a shred of sense. So, the most likely option is... he's a complete and utter moron.

Having reached the most likely conclusion on her prey, Sandra entered the building. It was a mess, as she had expected. There were gaping holes in the walls where fittings or wiring had been removed. The ceilings had been ripped open so salvagers could get access to wiring, pipes and the like. Even the floor looked to be a little on the unsafe side.

Sandra moved cautiously through the building. She didn't want to alert her target to her presence. She also had no desire to find a weak spot of floor and go straight through it. Checking each room was easier than she expected; there were very few doors left in the building. Come on, I know you're in here somewhere... The ground floor was clear. As was the first. Why is he hiding upstairs? It's going to make escape even harder. There was no way out of the building apart from the main stairwell. Even then, Sandra didn't want to go up or down it in a hurry.

He's trapped himself. He can't get away. You loose, pal.

Reaching the second floor, Sandra heard the sound of a floorboard creaking. Someone was moving around up here. Pausing in the stairwell and flattening herself to the wall, she saw someone in a room at the end of the hallway. He was big with short blond hair. And had his back turned to her.

Sandra grinned to herself. This was far, far too easy. She pulled out her pistol and leveled it at the man. Big money, here I come. She squeezed the trigger.

Much to her surprise, the bullet didn't hit him Instead, it simply stopped in mid air, and clattered to the ground. The man turned around and looked at her. Tool, She thought. He's a ferking PK. A wave of force hit Sandra in the chest, knocking her back down the stairs. She grabbed at the handrail, and managed to stop herself from ending up in a messy heap. The man strode towards her, a look of confidence on his face.

Eleven Beta had been waiting for this moment. Dr. Tokamura had told him to wait in this building until the target arrived. Once the target was here, he was to test the full range of his esper abilities on the target. She had not said how long the test would last, nor what to do with the target once the test was over.

He had decided to start out lightly, delivering a rather low-powered "slap" to his opponent. He figured that if he just went all out, there would be little left of the target, and he wouldn't get to demonstrate what else he could do to Dr Tokamura.

Eleven Beta confidently strode towards the stairwell. Ever since his "birth" he'd been waiting for this moment. This was the point where he proved himself to his creators, and proved to them what he could do.

Sandra rolled out of the landing and leapt down the stairs back down to the first floor. She landed roughly, rolling along the floor for a moment before regaining her feet. Fornicate. That first hit really got me. Sandra didn't think anything was broken. She just hurt like hell. Okay, I've got to get out of... The stairwell behind her exploded into a cloud of concrete dust. Or maybe not. She took off down the hall and ducked into a room as another blast ripped up the floor where Sandra was just standing.

"Why is it espers with me?" she asked herself out loud. "What am I meant to do, leap out at him and say 'put down the brain and you won't get hurt?'" The man chose not to answer this question, instead blasting a neat hole in the wall right next to Sandra's head. "Okay, maybe not"

Sandra leapt away from the wall and sprinted into another room as the wall exploded right behind her. This man was clearly the man in the photo, unless he had an identical twin esper brother who was hanging out in exactly the same place as he was. This meant that either Dr Tokamura had forgotten to mention that he was a PK, or, more likely (in her mind), she had deliberately left Sandra in the lurch on this fact. The question was why? Why leave her out of the loop.

Maybe he's a new member of the company team and is on some kind of field test. Sandra hunkered down in a corner of one room as another blast demolished what was left of the wall she had been behind. And they set me on him to see what he can do. That would be just my luck.

"Come on out, worm." He called. "It is inevitable that I will win. You may as well make this as quick and painless as possible"

Thanks a lot, you crapulent Tool Fairy. Sandra got a silly idea in her head. She hadn't pushed her cybersystems enough of late. Maybe it was time to give them a test. Sandra leapt up from her hiding place, and charged out to the hallway. As she reached the door, she threw herself out of it, firing her pistol several times as she went.

It didn't go as she planned. All three bullets were stopped in mid air by her opponents blasts. To make matters worse, he followed this up with another "shot". Sandra was sent reeling, and crashed back into the wall, plaster dust filling the air.

"Oooh... what hit..." Sandra woozily moaned as she tried to pick herself out of the wall. Her dermal plating had saved her from the worst of it, but she certainly hurt like hell. Looking through the dust, she saw the man standing at the end of the wall, just begging to be shot at. Right you... Just let me get my gun. Gun? She couldn't find her gun. Frantically, she scrambled around on the floor, until she found it. More importantly, it was right in front of her and hovering in mid-air.

"Gya!" She shouted for want of anything better to say. She scrambled back against the wall, trying to get as far away from the seemingly possessed weapon as possible. The gun turned to follow her, keeping itself pointed at her forehead.

"Are you impressed by my abilities yet?" The man called from the end of the hall. "Or is another demonstration needed?" The pistol snapped back. Then, surprisingly, the clip dropped out of the bottom and the gun clattered to the floor. Sandra scrambled for both the gun and the clip, but got hit again. The blast "landed" right between her and the gun, tearing up the floor and sending her (and the gun) flying.

Eleven Beta looked at his target. At present, she was lying upside down in amongst a pile of debris, unconscious but not dead. He felt both exhilarated and at the same time disappointed. Exhilarated because he was finally getting to use his powers under combat conditions. Disappointed, because his target wasn't putting up much of a fight.

He'd personally been hoping that Dr Tokamura would send another esper after him. That would have been a challenge worthy of him... yes. He would prove his worth to her and the company by defeating a powerful esper. For now, he would have to report to her how he fared against this wretched example of humanity.

Sandra came to, her vision breezily blurry before clearing. Aryan Joe was standing on the ceiling right in front of her. Or she was upside down. With espers, it could be either.

"You going to finish me off now?" She dryly remarked. "It's not like I'm going to do much to you"

"No" He flatly replied. "You're not really worth the effort" he answered, then turned and left.

"Not worth the..." Sandra said, and then trailed off. "Hey! I am too worth the effort! You come back here and say that, mister!" she shouted. "Don't you walk away from me! I am too worth it!" Despite her protests, he simply walked off.

That's just great. Now I'm not even worth killing. Life is wonderful.

Alan Davies sat behind his desk, trying to figure out which one of the female officers in his department had the cutest ass while downloading naughty pictures from the internet when his mobile phone rang. "Good afternoon, NYPD inc, Chief Inspector Alan Davies speaking"

"Alan, you're not the chief inspector. Don't try to convince me otherwise" Sandra's dry voice came from the other end.

"Heh.. Good to hear from you too, Sandra" He answered. "You don't sound so hot."

"I've just had the crap belted out of me by a PK"

"Whoah, what'd you do? Pick a fight with the Empress?"

"No, more like her Neo-Nazi kid brother." She answered.

"So, um... What can I do for ya?" Alan asked, trying to figure out how much he'd bill Sandra for.

"Actually, it's what I can do for you" Sandra replied.

Oh, this should be good. Alan thought. Sandra never had anything worth saying. "Do tell."

"How would you, or any of your info-dealing friends like to know all about Ishiyama's latest PK weapon?" Sandra answered, a hint of smugness creeping into her voice.

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