by Michael Surbrook

Stepping into the room, the first thing he noticed was the smell. It was the same thick stench that he always associated with small enclosed areas where humans had done their best to kill each other with firearms. It was the smell of gunpowder, blood, meat and human waste. The room itself was a wasteland of shattered flooring, bullet-ridden walls and tattered fragments of ceiling. Blood, broken dishes, and spilled food were strewn liberally about, mixed with the glittering points of spent shell casings. There were bodies here was well, their twisted corpses mute evidence to the fierce defense the room's previous inhabitants had exhibited. Producing a cigarette, he lit it, hoping the smoke would help drive away the otherwise over riding stink.

"Dai Lo, Dai Lo!" His named called, he stopped and turned to look. The man coming towards him was dressed, as usual, in a long black coat. The stubby shape of a submachine gun was held tightly in one hand, and a cigarette was clenched firmly between his teeth. Gesturing with a free hand, he indicated his surroundings.

"A mess, eh?"

"Enh..." he nodded, "How many did we lose?"

"Dead? At least ten Dai Lo."

"At least ten?"

"We aren't certain if some of the others will live."

"I see..." he shook his head slowly, "Where are they?"

The long coated man pointed down the hall, "In there Dai Lo."

The indicated room looked even worse than the one he had just left. The white-washed walls were marked with numerous small holes, the end result of a fragmentation grenade. The far wall was was marred with a large reddish stain, slowly darkening to a foul brownish color. There was the body of a young woman laying against the wall, directly below the stain.

Stepping forward, he tilted the woman's head back, giving her a careful examination. By his estimate, she seemed young, in her early twenties. He would have called her pretty, although this observation was marred by the fact she was splattered with blood and gore. Letting her fall limply back against the wall, he stepped back, wiping his hand absently against his jacket. This woman had been a bodyguard, and a psychokinetic on top of that. Most of the destruction in the outer room had been her doing, until a well-timed grenade had stopped her long enough for someone to reduce her body to a shattered ruin.

The next body was further down the hall. It was of a short man, apparently of Japanese descent, dressed in clothing that once may have been pale colored, but now were nearly black with soaked in blood. He lay curled in the hall, surrounded by a virtual sea of spent shell casings. The weapon gripped in his hands was a Seburo C-25A, a highly advanced and highly expensive Japanese import. It's mere presence told him volumes about the man's employer, and the extent of her influence.

The man himself was a mystery. It seemed that he had been virtually immune to gunfire, ignoring almost everything the attackers had hit him with. Apparently, he hadn't fallen until the contents of several magazines had been emptied into his body. He wondered just what had been implanted in the man's body to allow such abilities.

Rising, he looked back down the hall.

"Where is she?"

"Ah, Dai Lo, she is in the back room. We have her secured."


Walking the length of the hall, he found his quarry surrounded by more black coated men. All were armed and all had their attention focused on the body on the floor.

Kneeling down, he brushed the woman's long black hair away from her face. She too was beautiful, even considering the blood and bruises. Removing her broken glasses, he flicked them away. Grasping her jaw, she turned her face, carefully examing the appearance.

"It would seem there was no one to save you this time," he said to her unconscious form, "you should have known better."

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