One thing that Kaelyn hadn't expected when she came to Hong Kong was the idea of doing business in a Tea House. She was sure that people would meet in dingy bars (bars, not pubs... always remember that difference, she reminder herself) or sleazy clubs. Still... a tea house was a nice change. It had a certain charm and sophistication that you didn't find in a dingy dive, one that the found rather endearing.
The man she was meeting was in his mid 20s, dressed in an immaculate suit, She immediately pegged him for a corp type, some man who already had a lot of money and was currently getting a lot more. Clearly, he didn't mind spending some of it on a hired gun for some nefarious reason.
Oh well, as long as he has money, she thought.
As she sat down opposite him, she gave him a second quick glance to size him up. Young, fit and Chinese, there was very little else to note about him; in fact, save for the crispness of his suit, he was quite immediately forgettable. She immediately figured him to be a good 'frontman' for corp ops. He had the sort of face you'd never pick out in a crowd and could never describe. "That guy over there, well, maybe," was about the limit of it.
She nodded to him as she sat. "I heard that you were looking for someone to do a job for you." She discretely began.
"I was, yes." He replied. "Your name came up."
"I'm flattered." Kaelyn smiled. "So what's this about?"
"I had an unfortunate run in with a man who took it upon himself to attack me." The man began. "He and a group all teamed up and bought me down, giving me no chance to escape or defend myself. They continued to beat me until I was unconscious, and then..." he shuddered. "They desecrated me, disrespecting my body by spitting on it and doing... other things to it."
"Ouch." She replied, looking over it again. If he'd gotten a severe beating the he didn't show it. Well, unless they'd gone to great lengths to avoid his face, which was unlikely given what else they'd supposedly done. Still, if he had his reasons... "So I'm figuring you want something done about this guy, right?" Revenge was one of many reasons someone would hire a gunfighter.
"That is correct, yes." The man nodded.
"So who is this guy?" She asked. "Obviously I'll need to know a bit about him if I'm to, ah, deal with him."
"I do not know his real name." The man admitted. "He calls himself Midnight Raven. That's with two 'n's on the end. His... gang are called the Dracodemons, a very unpleasant bunch."
"With a name like that, I can believe it." She finished as she wrote down the details. "Well, you know my fees. I think a standard deal here should be fine... I don't think this will be too tough."
"I do not know where this group would be located." He admitted. "But I have heard that they operate locally."
"Locals, right." She added a few more things. So definitely not mainlanders moving in and causing trouble. Good lead there. "Well, It's a start, and I know I can go from there."
"Fabbo." She finished with a pleasant smile. "I'll get on it straight away, and let you know if anything comes up."
"Thank you, Ms Harrison." The man finished. "I cannot allow this stain on my reputation to go unpunished."
She nodded, then stood, leaving the Tea House. Well this should be a challenge, she thought to herself. Tracking a guy just by an alias and by the name of a gang would not be easy. On the other hand, a challenge could make things a bit more interesting then just a straight-out pursuit and fight deal.
"Usually I find that if someone has given themselves a cool street-name, code-name or other similar nom de plume, It's to cover up a lack of actual ability with some desire to look good and be cool. The idea is, apparently, that even if you're a hopeless screw-up, but by looking spiff people will think you to be less of a tool."
"Never work with these people. In fact, if you have a chance, run away. Fast."
Several hours of pressing the pavement and jostling people had produced surprisingly few results. Nobody seemed to have heard of this "Dracodemon" gang, let alone their strangely spelt leader. She found it particularly interesting that, even though they were locals, they would use English-language names and handles. Maybe it was just an attempt to sound more international or cool or something, she thought. Just like people back home who took on Japanese pseudonyms because they thought they were cool or something, without knowing what they really meant.
She remembered this one girl she'd known back in secondary school. Despite being blonde haired and blue eyed, she'd insisted that everyone call her by her Japanese net handle - one that made no sense whatsoever when you actually translated it. At least these guys had made moderately sensible choices in picking their names. As blatantly silly as they sounded, they at least made sense. Unlike miss 'Ghost black dragon' and her linguistically strangled tendencies.
But then she was now working a shelf-stuffer job at Seffridges and Kaelyn was now running around Hong Kong with a gun. It's weird how things worked out.
After things hadn't worked out, she'd instead retired home for the night to plot her next move. She'd poked a few contacts to see if they could yield some more info; she knew that she was still getting a feel for the city and that there could be a lot more out there that she was easily missing. So instead she'd gotten some takeaway.
An hour or so later, she was sitting at her workbench on one side of her room, hunched over one of half a dozen pistols that she had currently out. This one was in the process of being dismantled so she could go over it and have a look at it. Kaelyn had bought this one on a promise that it would be the next big thing in handguns but so far it had failed to impress. So she was pulling it apart to try and figure out if it was a fault with the gun's construction, or if she'd just gotten suckered into a dud.
Despite concentrating on the gun, she was also listening to music from a pair of earplugs. It was one of her favorite ways to relax, actually; listening to music while working on a weapon. Not only did it let her unwind and have a good time, but it also meant that she was better prepared for the next time that she had to go to work.
Holding the gun up for a second, she took a look at the stripped mechanism. "Nope, I think this one's just a dud." She said to herself as she examined it. "I guess everyone has a lemon every now and then. Ah well..." She was about to begin work on reassembling it, when a ringing form her mobile caught her attention.
Turning off the music, she picked up her phone. "Kaelyn here." She began as she scanned over the caller ID. "Tell me what you've got, love."
"Nothing, actually." The voice on the other end of the line replied. She knew who he was, a man within the police department who had a reputation for honesty and being good at finding things, which meant that she was inclined to believe him. "It would appear that neither your DracoDemons or your mister Midnight Raven-"
"With two 'n's." She added.
"With two 'n's," He finished. "-seem to exist. There's no groups by that name that I've found."
"I see." Kaelyn nodded to herself. "So... nothing at all. That's a bit of a rotter."
"Sorry about that."
"Not your fault." Kaelyn shook her head again. 'We all draw blanks. I'll just have to think my way around this myself." She hung up and got back to work, looking over the gun again as she began to reassemble it.
That's a pain in the bum, actually. She thought to herself as she looked over her work. So what am I meant to say to him? Sorry I couldn't get revenge, but your guys were hiding? That's not going to cut the mustard at all. She contemplated matters for a moment. He never did say even where it happened. Maybe I could contact him again and press him for more information.
She finished putting the gun back together and looked over it. Okay, so it looked nice. But that was the limit of it... she really wanted to tell someone about it, however. To call this weapon disappointing would be an understatement actually. Unfortunately, her computer was in the shop at the moment (Guns she knew. Computers, Kaelyn would happily admit that she had no idea about), which meant that she couldn't blab it all over the various boards and forums she normally went too.
Glancing at the clock, she could see that it was already well past nine; certainly not a good time to call her employer. At the same time, she didn't want to immediately give up. Skipping through a few tracks on her playlist, she suddenly had an idea. There was a 24-hour internet cafe a few blocks from where she lived. She could pop down there, post her review and do some research while she was at it.
Smiling to herself, she grabbed a gun from off the rack and pulled on a jacket before heading out.
"If you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough."
It was a surprisingly pleasant night for late summer in Hong Kong, and for once it wasn't raining, which meant that it was good to be out of the apartment. And even though it was only a short stroll down to the cafe, it certainly beat another night of sitting at home watching the telly. She'd found that the local channels were nigh-on incomprehensible, which often forced her to go hunting for the more specialty ones.
She'd managed to find a UK TV network that catered specifically for British expats and, more to the point, those who had lived there all their lives and were trying to remain British regardless. The result was networks that carried hours of 'classic' programming, which consisted primarily of cult comedies that were nearly seventy years old. And most of those were just completely incoherent to her eyes.
Kaelyn hadn't been out much since her last job, obstinately to let her shoulder heal up a bit. While there had been no muscle damage, it did sting a bit, and was a pain to use. The truth was that she was actually still a little put out after her last unsuccessful romance, and had been trying to think where she was going from here.
Reaching the cafe, she stepped inside and got an access card from the overworked-looking man at the front of the cafe. Glancing around, she could see that the place was packed, the only free computers being left at the back of the room under the dangerous-looking air-conditioning unit. Squeezing in, she tried to press her way through the rows of computers to get to a free one. As she went, she casually glanced at each screen in passing, just in case there was anything interesting going on.
A number of the people there - in fact, the overwhelming majority of the crowd - all seemed to be playing one particular game. There were a number of posters on the wall, all advertising one game. Called Chaos Blayde III, it promised to be 'the most intense massively multiplayer online game ever'. Its principal drawing points, near as she could tell, was the impossibly proportioned women on the posters, which seemed to be clad either in chainmail bikinis or S&M wear.
All of a sudden, she felt very self-conscious about her ears.
Glancing over the screens, she could see a distinct variety of gaming styles. A lot of the players had names that were just strings of random characters, and seemed to be doing little more then running around in circles, endlessly killing monsters and looting their bodies. Others sported all manner of names, most of which were aiming to be as improbably cool as possible. Several reminded her of alternatively the girl she knew in secondary school, while more seemed like the guy she was trying to track.
...that she was trying to track...
One screen caught her eye. There were several players on screen who had secondary labels under their incredibly cool names, all of which said the same thing: DracoDemons. That's the name of that gang... she thought. There were a number of them, gathered in one spot as if planning something, creating a blur of names. But in the middle of them, as if the leader of the virtual pack one stood out - MidnightRavenn.
Holy crap, that's him! She thought. Looking around, she could see that there were several guys who had more or less the same view on different screens, all a part of this one virtual meeting. So that means... she walked from one screen to another, glancing at what the players were seeing. They're all here, all planning something big... Then, as one, they broke into action, charging towards a small town where a far smaller number of other players were gathered.
Then she figured it out.
Her employer had been attacked in the game. This group, the Draco Demons had "killed" him in what amounted to a gang attack, then done some horrific "chat" attacks to his body afterwards. This is nuts... She thought as she watched the squad charge into the town. But then... they began to attack, their characters plugging down anything they saw. Nobody else in the room seemed to be playing her too much attention; the majority were too engrossed in whatever it was that they were doing, while the guy at the front seemed to be trying to hide and look small.
She hustled her way through the crowded room as the Draco Demon players cheered each other on. One of these would be her target, the man who was the leader of this little pack. And while she didn't pretend to understand what they were doing, she got the impression that it would be grounds to piss some other player off.
So much so that he'd send a hired gun out to deal with his attacker.
There. She walked up behind one man, glancing at his screen, the character, a green-skinned muscle-bound thing who was using a massive axe to brutally dispatch flower vendors matched the image of MidnightRavenn from the other screens. And he seemed to be the leader of the pack, so...
She put a hand on his shoulder. "Okay, Midnight. Time to stop playing. There's somebody who-"
"You no touch me!" He shouted out in broken English, turning around and standing. To the surprise of Kaelyn - and everyone else around her, apparently - he grabbed a small pistol from inside his jacket and pointed it at her. "Back off, mother fu-"
He fired, the pistol jerking back in his hands as he staggered under the recoil. The shot went wide of Kaelyn, instead smashing into an unsuited computer monitor behind her. Slamming his backside into the bench, he fired again, a second bullet smashing the monitor.
Then the room went crazy.
People shrieked and dived under tables, while the front man seemed to simply vanish. Unfortunately for Kaelyn, her target didn't. Instead, he jumped back onto the table, leaping up on top of it. Seeing a chance, he broke into a run, dashing across the desk, stepping on keyboards as he went.
Kaelyn muttered as he run, unable to fire on him because of all the other people around. Instead, she began to barge her way through the mass of screaming people, trying to follow him as he leaped off the table and ran out the front door. As she pushed her way through the crowd, she noticed somebody jumping on his game. She had no idea why, but she couldn't stop to find out either. She had a job to do, one that was quickly getting away from her.
She reached the front door, sighting her target running out onto the street. "Back of, bitch!" He shouted out as he pulled out his gun, opening fire again. The shots went well wide of her, instead shattering the glass in the front window of the cafe, generating another round of loud shrieks from within. She quickly ducked back inside the door, taking cover from him in case he made another incredibly stupid move.
Okay, let's figure this one out, she thought. I'm not really dressed for a fight... but at least I'm armed. She pulled out her own pistol from under her jacket. Ready. Gotta take him.
"Hold it right-" She began as she stepped out, but stopped as she saw her target running off, dashing across the road. She hadn't intended to open fire; instead she had been planning to scare him into submission. Now, with everyone around... It looked like he was going to get away, and she had no way to track him.
Or at least, was about to until the taxi hit him.
He sprawled across the road in a tangled mass of limbs, the taxi suddenly stopping. Realizing what had happened, and more to the point, that it was all her fault, Kaelyn decided that now was a good time to leave.
"I take my victories where I can find them. If they come by pure chance, then all the better."
After her little show at the Internet Cafe, Kaelyn had slunk off home and tried to remain quiet for a while. She wasn't sure what would happen; if she'd have cops knocking on her door or whether the whole thing would go strangely unreported in a city with more then enough criminal problems. Fortunately, it seemed that the latter had prevailed as she was able to get a night of uninterrupted sleep.
The next morning, of course, she had other problems to deal with.
She'd made a call to her contact, saying that she'd wanted to meet her employer and explain that there had been some complications with the plan. They'd arranged another meeting to take place later that day in the same teahouse. It was with some reluctance that Kaelyn found herself walking in, trying to thing of a way to explain what had happened. Well, it's my first big screw-up. I suppose it had to happen sooner or later, she figured. Still, I just wish it had been over something a little more important then a video game. Last thing I want is to get a reputation for things like this happening.
Her employer, however, was smiling. This was definitely a worrying sign.
She began speaking as soon as she had taken her seat. "I want to apologize for what happened." She started. "I failed to apprehend the target. Most likely now he is under protection in a hospital." I mean, come on, who takes a gun to an internet cafe? Besides me, I mean. "This means that I have missed my opportunity to deal with the problem."
"Do not apologize." The man replied. "In fact, you have done an excellent job. Things turned out far better then I had anticipated."
"Oh?" She suddenly perked up, not expecting a result like this.
He handed her a sheet of paper. Picking it up, Kaelyn squinted at it, trying to make it out. It was only after a few minutes that she realized what it was; a printout of a screenshot of a green-skinned body lying in the snow, naked save for its briefs (Or whatever green skinned men considered to be the equivalent of briefs). The name hanging over it, however, read 'MidnightRavenn'. "He suffered a deserving fate."
"I don't get it." Kaelyn replied, examining the picture.
"His game was left running as he escaped." The man explained. "Somebody took control of his character after he fled the scene. They sold all his equipment, took the money and left him to die."
"Well there you go."
"In a way, its a far better outcome then I what I originally wanted."
"Well, thanks." She nodded, deciding that it was best to agree with a guy who wanted to have someone killed over a computer game.
"I've arranged for the payment as we agreed." He finished. "And I want to thank you for doing this."
"It's cool." She finished. "I mean, it's what I do." Well, maybe not killing people over computer games. But then, a job is a job, right?
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