Always watching you, part 1
Invisibility: standard (rank 1)
“I’m sorry I couldn’t see you earlier.”
“It’s fine,” she says, “I understand how busy you are.”
Kabuki had been trying to get in contact with Spectrum for most of the day, and found that he was both figuratively and physically hard to get a hold of. Difficult to look directly at as well; he seemed to notice this and faded his energy body from glowing gold to a mellow blue. They didn’t have much time; she hands him a handwritten list.
“I don’t want to inconvenience you, but your name came up on something I was working on, along with a few others, do you know any of these people?”
She couldn’t tell if he was even looking at it. The cluster of blue energy orbs that seemed to constitute his head didn’t move. There was no discernable reaction until his disembodied voice echoed forth the words “no” and “I’m afraid not”.
“Are you sure,” she asks, “They could have been someone you worked with, grew up near, put into prison. At least one of these people worked for the Syndicate.”
“I’m sorry,” he says, “I have met the occasional James or Elizabeth, but the other names are foreign to me, and as far as I know thirteen is just a number in the sequence between 12 and 14. I place no personal or superstitional meaning to it. I believe someone may be playing with you, or else if I am connected to these people, I cannot tell you how. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help.”
She thanked him before he had to teleport out of the conversation.
Another day had passed and she had nothing new to show for it. She returned home to the apartment. Zen had replaced the window while she was out. Amazing how much they got done without ever seeing each other she thought. It made her a little angry.
She went to bed angry and confused. Why do all this? What was the point, just to *vulgarity* with her? Was this all a dream? A dream, she thought. Thinking about them didn’t make them come any sooner. But eventually they came.
Then the morning seemed to come abruptly, or at least a few hours ahead of schedule. The rain was taking a brief respite. Kabuki’s eyes peel open as the early morning sun shoots through the wide bedroom window. She didn’t usually have to deal with the sun in that window. She doesn’t usually have to deal with it because the window shades remain closed. In fact they were closed last night.
A disposable cell phone sits next to her on the empty side of the bed. It isn’t hers. It rings, and she answers.
Always watching you, part 2
Hyper-Senses: standard (rank 1)
“Hello to you to,” she says, “I was afraid you had lost interest.”
“I am nothing if not a gentleman. Thought I’d give you a call, see how your day was going.”
The voice is almost familiar.
“Hasn’t really started yet,” she says, “I was just getting up.” She cradles the phone between her head and shoulder, then gets out of the bed. She walks to her dresser and pulls out a pair of jeans from the lowest drawer.
“No, no,” he says, “Not those. The black one. At the foot of your bed.”
Kabuki looks. Her black Kimono uniform has been neatly folded and placed with care exactly where he said.
“You broke into my apartment.”
The voice laughs a bit.
“Your powers of deduction over the obvious are impressive sometimes. Tell me, did you put that sharp intuition of yours to my other hints? Did you figure it all out?”
She doesn’t respond. She picks up the kimono then reaches for the window. Her fingers barely grasp the cords to the window shades; the voice grows terse,
“If you close those shades I will hang up this phone and you will not hear from me again until its too late…”
She freezes briefly, calculating the decision. She lets go of the cords and presses the phone to her ear.
“That a girl,” he says.
She stares out the window at the hundreds of buildings. There’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“Anyone ever tell you you’re a bit of a perv?” she asks.
“I’ve been called worse. But back to the point: the names.”
Kabuki doesn’t answer She pulls on the kimono, making sure to stand in front and center of the window. She spins a bit, giving him every angle, then sits back down on the bedside. He doesn’t interrupt during this process.
“Why don’t you just come over here and we can talk this out in person,” she brushes her hair back with her fingers, “I’m sure I can find some, agreement, we can come to.”
The voice on the other end of the line tuts.
“There you go again. You know I’m beginning to lose my patience. The names, or I hang up.”
“We’re all connected somehow,” she says, “Syndicate and Sentinels. The assassin you killed last night was one of theirs and so is this Kuramachi. So I’m guessing you were James. The Sentinels sent in Spectrum to fight the Syndicate, you lost some gangster girlfriend of yours, this Elizabeth chick, and now you want revenge. You changed your name to Red-Eye, gained a passion for laser sights, and have decided to take out your vengeance on me. How am I doing so far?”
“Oh Suki,” he applauds, “Very good, very close. But should I really be that predictable? And even if all that was true, why would I come after you? Why not go after Spectrum, why pick on little old you?”
“Because I’m already involved,” she says, “Thirteen. You kept calling them names; thirteen wasn’t a number. It was a name. My name under Lady Virgo, so I was there…”
There is a long pause. She wonders if he’s left. Then,
“Well, you have all the pieces, or most of them at least. I think it’s time I show you how they fit together. The corner of Mission and Euclid, 10:45, alone. I’ll see you soon.”
The phone goes dead. Kabuki sighs. She winks towards the window, then shuts the blinds closed.
Man of 1,000 Guns
Creation: superior (rank 2)
- Ranged Attack
- Long Ranged Attack
- Area Affect
There’s a cathedral at the corner of Mission and Euclid. You have to crane your neck up high to see the tops of the towers. Its falling apart though, the foundation is weak, and is surrounded on all sides by a chain link fence. However it is easily jumpable.
Kabuki approaches the Cathedral. The front door was adorned with a notice of condemnation from the city. Someone had spray-painted a giant red dot in the center of the paper. She nods; at least he’s consistent. The rain is falling once more, but she doesn’t go through the door. She sidesteps along the wall and enters through a cracked window.
The Cathedral is lightless. A few glimmers of moonlight shine through the stained glass. Then a bright red laser pops into view.
“Good job avoiding the door, but then again, you were supposed to see that one coming”
Kabuki looks up, a lone man stands on the balcony level, an assault rifle in his hands. The laser begins floating towards her as the gun is slowly raised. Kabuki flings herself towards a nearby column; gunfire rips through the cathedral’s serenity. She takes cover behind the solid stone pillar and the shooting stops.
A problem soon makes itself known to her: this move was far too obvious. She stares up and sees a block of putty-like material attached to the ceiling of the pillar.
She runs, a faint beep going off over her shoulder. The column explodes, sending shattered stone debris in all directions. The explosion rattled in Kabuki’s eardrums too. Through the sharp and near deafening tone she could still hear his voice.
“Dodging the gunfire and C-4,” says the voice, “well you’re off to a good start at least,”
She dashes and flips between the aisles, still looking for the origin of that little red dot. She almost doesn’t see the small metal disk hidden beneath a pew and the taut trip wires emanating from its center. Almost being the key word. She springs over every wire, then ducks and rolls to take cover between a massive arch. He laughs.
“And the proximity mine,” he says, “definitely living up to expectations.”
“Glad to hear it,” she calls back, “maybe we can call it a day and end this before one of us gets hurt.”
“Can’t end until you start, sweetheart. This was just a warm-up to make sure you got the point. Now I’m actually going to start trying.”
His gun makes a loud pop, a grenade arches from the balcony level into the pews. She leaps away as the blast tears the wood to splinters. More roaring gunfire follows. She bounds and dodges as best she can, splinters of the wooden pew now lodged in her thigh and ankle.
The red dot traces up to a chandelier, the full auto fire shoots it loose. It soars down. Kabuki attempts to dodge, but is cut by shards of the crashing glass. A self-satisfied chuckle comes from the balcony.
And a 1,000 plots
Tactician: superior (rank 2)
Where did that little minx get to? He had seen her flipping through the north wing arches half a minute ago, but now she was,
A hand grasps his throat from behind. It pulls him backwards. Another hand grabs the butt of his gun.
“Well, well,” he says, her hand pressing down upon his windpipe, “you are a sneaky little thing. I like that.”
“Your guns,” she says, “all of them.”
She gives his trachea a little squeeze so he knows she’s serious. He lets the rifle drop, then slowly aims one of his hands into his interior coat pocket. He carefully retrieves a nickel-plated magnum pistol and passes it back over his shoulder. She gladly relieves him of it.
“There, happy?” he asks, “No more guns, now we can talk about our feelings like reasonable people.”
She says nothing. The guns go tumbling over the side of the balcony.
He does, hands held high with open palms. She winces at the laser-emitting monocle apparatus attached to his face. She nods to it.
“That thing. Turn it off.”
“Its just a scope,” he says, “The laser sight’s just there for dramatic effect. I promise it couldn’t melt your beautiful face off, even if I turned it all the way up.”
“Off,” she repeats.
He sighs, but complies, pressing one of the small buttons on the device’s side. The red light flickers off. He sits down without being told, leaning back, arms relaxed over the top of the pew.
“So here we are, so much closer, and yet still so far away. I bet you don’t even remember my name.”
“Well, yeah, but that one was kind of a gimme’,”
Kabuki shoves a stilettoed boot into his lap. He winces and shuts up for once. She leans in closer pushing more pressure in as she does.
“You know I’m getting really sick of these stupid little games.”
“Heh, I can tell… but you’re too smart to stop playing. I could have killed you at least three times by my count, and you know I wouldn’t have lead you all the way here if I didn’t have at least one more ace up my sleeve. So, would you like to see it? Would you like to see the reason behind all this madness?”
She doesn’t confirm or deny his request, but removes her foot from its location. Red Eye stands and begins meandering towards a cathedral stairwell. He keeps his arms raised and she follows closely behind.
“I’ll tell you all about it,” he says, “but to truly understand. I need to show you how all the pieces fit together… Let me tell you a story,
The Things You Learn, part 1
Marksman: standard (rank 1)
“And so, when the time came the Sentinels gave James an ultimatum. Leave New Ownership, or be forcibly pulled out. And yet, the Syndicate was on the brink of total extermination, and New Ownership could be put in a position of power to control crime, not just fight it. Why leave at all? A group of gang lords and paramilitary psychos could do more to establish justice than the Sentinels ever could. So it wasn’t much of a choice.
James stood with his little army of mercenaries; he learned to shoot, to make bombs, to sneak in and out of apartment buildings in the middle of the night. He trained with them, killed with them, even dated a few of them. I miss Marie sometimes.
Anyway, this all went on, and on, until the Sentinels finally tracked him down onto New Ownership’s Home-Office. It was nothing more than a five-mile stretch of land in the East China Sea, codenamed “Elizabeth Island”. It also had enough stockpiled weapons to supply a World-War from here till Doomsday. So, the Sentinels called on the one man they could trust to get the job done. The one man who would be immune from gunfire, C-4, and land-mines, and could effortlessly extract James in a matter of seconds. You see where this is going.
So Spectrum came and they shot at him. They blew things up at him. They called him nasty words. Nothing worked. Then he found James, who tried something different. He knew how the Sentinels thought. He knew Spectrum would come.
A microwave emitter is a dangerous thing Suki. It can fry an unprotected human body from the inside in under a few minutes. Our friend Spectrum wouldn’t allow the semi-innocent mercenaries on the island above to receive any of the deadly radiation, so he had to absorb it, all of it. The assumption being that he would reach his limit and be forced to leave. It was a very good strategy, with only one minor oversight: that the assumption that forcing a being of pure energy to gain so much power that he overloaded was a ‘good idea’.
You see there is no Elizabeth Island anymore, Suki. There is no New Ownership. They don’t exist. In one quick blast they were erased from the face of the Earth. People don’t even like to talk about them in polite company. And there is a lesson to be learned here. Never, ever, underestimate the obvious.”
Red Eye stops at the top of the Cathedral spire. He swings the tower door open and walks inside. Kabuki follows. At the center of the small church tower room, there is a old, flabby, balding, Japanese man tied to a chair. The room is cold, and this man’s shirt is off, displaying a full body dragon tattoo. Blood trickles down from welts beaten in around his eyes, nose and mouth. He is gagged with a rag and can barely look up. The mouth behind Red Eye’s mask seems to curl into a smirk.
“What do you see Suki?”
“I see you managed kidnap an old man. Congratulations Red.”
“No,” he says, “He’s not just any old man, are you Mr. Kuramachi? No, you’re not. You’re the Oyabun of the largest Yakuza Empire in Japan, responsible for 60% of all drug trades within the Japanese islands. Or at least you were, before your lieutenant made a deal with some shady merc to disappear you. That’s the problem, you take out one cockroach, another scurries in to take its place.”
“Then why kidnap him at all?” she asks. Red Eye walks behind the old man, his arms drop to his sides.
“Because even when he’s just some old man tied to a chair, he’s an old man tied to a chair who hurt you. Don’t you remember this man? You knew he was Syndicate the moment I said his name didn’t you? What did he do to you? Was he one of the guys who treated Virgo’s girls like a rental car? Take a ride, return them back in a week, and who cares if you scrape off the paint?”
She looks into the old man’s face. It had been some time, but even through the welts and blood, she could recognize him.
“Sure,” she says, “I remember him. Not much to remember. Just one more asshole. Is this it? You lead me up here like a dog and drop some disgusting creature at my feet and expect me to pat you on the head.”
“No Suki. I expect you to put the squirming animal out of its misery, and go with your hunting dog to exterminate the rest of them… You see I heard about your little Hong Kong escapade, what you did to the old Virgo, her guards, and everyone who got in your way. And let me say from one professional to another, Bravo. The bitch had it coming, and so does this one.”
Red Eyes extends his arm, a shimmering butterfly knife shoots out from under his sleeve.
The Things You Learn, part 2
Weapon Master: standard (rank 1)
He grabs Kuramachi in a headlock. Kabuki steps forward; Red Eye flips the blade out, and presses it against the old man’s throat. Suki freezes and Red Eyes laughs a bit.
“Always observe the obvious. You asked for all my guns, not all my weapons. And who said semantics were meaningless?”
She tells him to let Kuramachi go. He refuses.
“I don’t care if its you, or me, or if he Hara-Kiri’s all over this floor,” he yells, “but we are not leaving until somebody kills him.”
He releases the mobster and kicks the chair towards her. She looks at him, holding the knife so calmly, then to the monster tied to the chair. Kuramachi watches as his ex-slave comes nearer. She lands a kick to his gut and holds it there. Then she looks to Red-Eye.
With all her might she kicks the mobster in the chair like a soccer ball; Red Eye dodges the incoming human missile, but she’s immediately on him. A high kick catches his head.
He brushes it off, and swings the blade with controlled aggression, darting, swiping, and jabbing. She’s quick to dodge, but the tip of the blade catches her once, slicing her forearm and wrist. He jabs again and the knife floats a hair’s breadth from her throat. He was good, one of the best. But Kabuki could occasionally be better than even the best could dream.
He lunges forward once more; she runs backwards, then up the side of the wall, and does an impossible flip over her attacker. The dancing warrior lands with grace. Before he can turn, a leg sweep brings him onto his back. He tries to stand; a heeled boot slams into his hand, the knife drops from his fingers. The other boot comes down below his beltline.
“Oh, man,” he groans, “you really like doing that don’t you.”
She twists her boot, grinding his palm against the cold stone. She does not look amused.
“You know, I’m really sick of you,” she says, “I’m sick of your creepy come-ons, I’m sick of your bloated ego, and I’m really sick of your mouth. So listen up because I will not repeat myself. I will never join you. I will never take another life, not even his. And to me, you will never, ever, be anything more than a murdering piece of garbage.”
He grunts out a bit. The laser sight awakens to a glaring red.
“Never say never. Life can always surprise you,”
His free arm outstretches, and another object flies into his cupped palm. It’s a detonator. He presses down. The church tower fills with blinding light and a near sonic boom. Kabuki can’t discern anything from the flare and the noise. She feels something kick her hard against the wall. She swings blindly. Someone with better vision sends what feels like a dislodged cathedral brick smashing against the side of her temple. Her eyes close.
Her eyes open. She can see. The sunlight is streaming through the open window again. She begins to stir off her bed. She looks over herself. She is still wearing her Kimono, there is a small cut on the sleeve, and her head and arm have been bandaged.
The cell phone was sitting on the nightstand, she had one missed call and a message waiting.
“Hello Suki. I’m sorry things went so poorly last night. I wish we could have talked this out further, but with all the explosions and gunfire, the police were on the cathedral a few minutes earlier than I anticipated. I’d be telling you this is person, but I have to see to some medical assistance for stitching in a very delicate area. You understand. In fact you might want to consider doing the same; you were unconscious for a long time. That’s not good for you.
You know I just realized, I never told you how my story ended. It has such a romantic ending once you get past all the treason and mass murder.
In the days following the Elizabeth Island Event, our James was tossing about the East China Sea, half drowned and sick from radiation poisoning. The Syndicate eventually found him, stone-cold, washing in amongst the tide. They were more or less merciful given the circumstances. James was given another ultimatum. Turn over every secret he knew, or die. Again, not much of a decision. He revealed everything he had, every dirty little secret down to the faked pilot’s license. There were only two people who ever heard his little confession.
First, Riyu Kuramachi, a Japanese businessman, Yakuza godfather, and Syndicate ambassador attempting to negotiate with New Ownership in the days prior to the event. Believe it or not, the war actually benefitted him. We ending up killing all of his major competitors, thereby allowing him to become the man we know and love today. Well, knew and loved anyway. Apparently, he has recently passed on. So sad.
The only other person to hear his secrets probably wasn’t paying attention at the time. She was Kuramachi’s personal bodyguard, on loan from Lady Virgo herself. She was perhaps the greatest fighter I have ever seen, and was the one reason we could never finish Kuramachi off like his rivals. When he left to spread news of the victory, she stayed behind to nurse James to health and make sure he didn’t die while still withholding possible information.
They spent two weeks alone together on an island paradise. James fell in love with his warrior woman. He tried every slick line he knew, but she wouldn’t say a word. He wanted to free her, to end the system of crime that kept her like this. He wanted her to come with him. But he didn’t even know her name. She was only referred to as ‘Thirteen’.
Well, I’m rambling now. But I’ll just say this… That offer still stands.”
The tape ends. Kabuki says nothing. She tosses the recorder against the wall, then steps off the bed and walks to the window. She raises a middle finger to it, and slams the blinds shut.