Sunday, May 22, 2016

Contact

I made contact with my black market connection... It didn't go well.

We met and we exchanged info. He gave me more of those reports. Each one just as impossible as the last. He told me that they flooded the information market, but no one really wanted them. Everyone thought they were fakes. I wonder why... When I asked where they came from, he told me he had no clue but that he'd find out for me. Free of charge.

A few days later, he contacted me again. But that's when it went wrong... I got to the meet, and he didn't answer. The room already felt uncomfortable, since it was so dark, but something else felt off this time... I drew my revolver and began to search the room. It was a mess... The table was overturned...the filing cabinets tipped open...crates completely destroyed... Someone had turned the entire room over... I searched around, but didn't find anything I'd find useful in the mess. That is, until I opened the locker in the back of the room... I found his body. Bullet through the back of the head, execution style.

Call it a sixth sense, but I knew I wasn't alone at that point. I turned and leveled my gun as a shadow leveled its gun at me.

"Who are you?" He didn't answer. Just kept his pistol aimed at my chest. He was standing just outside the light. "Why did you kill him? Was it because of me?"

He didn't answer for some time. "Yes. You were too close to the truth."

"And what's it to you?" I stepped to the side, hoping to get a view of his face. But he stepped so his face was still obscured.

"I represent...interests that believe you to be a threat to peace. Interests that wish you dead." He paused, then added: "And if you even think I won't shoot you... I know how it works. One shot to your head, and you're out long enough to find yourself in a cell...or a furnace...or surrounded by a pack of animals...anything really."

"You seem to know a bit about me."

"My...employers are very interested in you. I know quite a bit about you. And you don't even remember me, do you?"

"Remember you? I can't even see you. Normally, on the first date, one steps out of the shadows..."

"You left me. I crawled, bloody, and on the verge of death to that site...and you weren't there. Do you know what I received for my trouble? A bullet to my only good leg. Then, when they saw what was left of me, they called in some suits to take me away, study me. All because you. Left. Me. Behind."

I was confused, I couldn't remember what he was talking about. And, to be frank, I was a bit tired. It had been a long day. "I can't speak much for my past life. So, forgive me for not remembering. If you want, we could skip the pleasantries and I'll just shoot you now. Would that help any?" I still don't want to kill anyone. I hoped he wouldn't call my bluff.

That's when he stepped into the light... His body was disfigured. His face looked like some large animal had tried, and mostly succeeded, to tear it off... His left arm was held awkwardly at his side, and his leg was bent at an odd angle and looked like it shouldn't support his weight. His expression was one of a perpetual snarl...as that was all that the creature had left of it.

"I will hunt you down, Carter. And I will kill you. I will kill you as many times as it takes. Because I am a hunter, and you are now my prey."

"Ah, so the Archangel sent you to do his dirty work... Huh, I didn't realize he was so scared of little 'ole me..."

"I don't serve the angel of death. If he's too scared to hunt you, then I am the superior hunter. A true hunter doesn't allow his prey to escape. I was hoping there'd be more challenge to the hunt. But you've gone soft. There was a time when I never could've snuck up on you. When you would've shot me before I could threaten you. A time when you could've protected him."

If there's one thing I learned from being in the Agency, it's that you should always have a plan B to exit... This time, I chose a nice little toy called a flashbang. You heard of them? I "accidentally" dropped it and let it roll towards him...he was too busy talking to notice. And, well, I could be wrong, but I think he's blind in the one eye and can't hear in one ear...

"And so, you won't succeed, they...at least die with your eyes open and facing me, you--"

And then there a flash. And a bang... If you've never been subjected to a flashbang in close quarters, let me offer you some advice: don't. Even with the little prep I could do, I was still blinded. And even though standard Agency training involved us taking the brunt of multiple flashbangs, you never do get used to it...Or at least, I never did. At least the training paid of some...I stumbled out the door while he was flailing on the ground.

I think he shot at me. But I'm not entirely sure. My ears were ringing so much that even a freight train would have difficulty being heard... Either way, it wasn't a shot that took me down. That's all that matters. I also won't be able to pull that trick again... Oh well. I'm not exactly fond of it...

So, here I am. My last black market contact dead. A stack of reports that are useless and impossible. A man hunting me, who claims to have a past with me. And more questions than answers...

All in all, seems like the old days again.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A New Lead

I kept hitting dead-end after dead-end in my search. Trails that just stopped suddenly, with no clues. Until the unexpected happened. I was contacted.

I was told to meet in a local mall of the city I was in. I got to the meeting point and waited. It was becoming empty as people were leaving and business was dropping. Then a man sat down behind me.

"Mr. Carter, I presume?"

"Who are you, and how did you know how to contact me?"

"We have a mutual friend. This is for you." He turned and handed me a small package that had papers in it. I noticed that he was wearing a red glove on his right hand. Immediately, I became suspicious, but when I looked at his eyes, I could see that he wasn't Jack.

"He's breaking our deal? I was to be left alone."

"I was told to tell you that there are loopholes to every deal." He paused for a beat. "I was told to emphasize that there are loop-holes. To. Every. Deal." And with that, he stood up and walked away.


I opened the package and looked around. Curious as to if Jack was there. If so, I wouldn't be able to recognize him. He probably had at least one agent watching me. Inside the package were papers. The first was a handwritten note for me. My first thought was how the handwriting was a new handwriting from the last time, so Jack must have a new host. It looked oddly familiar though, but that's just probably previous hosts' influence on it. Anyway, it read:

"My dearest friend, Carter:
      I trust my agent will return home relatively unharmed. He's a good lad. Reminds me a lot of you when I first met you. So young, naive, innocent. I bet he won't last another year, however. What a pity."

At that point, I absentmindedly spoke outloud about how I know better than to make a bet with Jack. Anyway, the letter continued:

"Before you become upset with me, know that our deal still stands as is: I will not break it. I know how you're search has been fruitless, and I can't help but feel sorry for you, even if you have an eternity to chase your own tail. Irregardless, I sent something for you that I "happened" across. I trust it will serve you well in your hunt, it came from a black market dealer, if you were wondering. And worry not, my friend, this favor is absolutely free of charge. No strings attached, as they say. I'm putting that down in writing as, that way, you'll know to put faith in it.

I hope to see you again soon, my friend. I have missed your company greatly.

With regards,
Jack"

Attached to it was a report. Written by Sam. I know how she writes. It was her. It described some sort of issue with an Agency base needing more funding. And it was dated for this past February. It's not possible though. I know which site it was describing. I was just there a few weeks ago, and I know I was the first person to step foot in it since Calvin shut it down.

There's something odd going on here, and I don't like it. I have a report that should not exist. And I know that Jack is watching my movements now. Of all of them...Jack is the first one I come into contact with in months... It could be worse, I suppose. Certainly better than dodging the Archangel's rifle, right?

I plan on making contact with a black market connection of mine. I need to track down the source of this report. If I can find where it came from, I can find what remains of the Agency.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm

These last few months have been oddly quiet. I've been trying to track down leads, but they all keep turning up nothing. And in all of the traveling, I've not run into any trouble. Which is oddly unsettling.

I haven't come across any large groups of Runners, Proxies, no Timberwolves, no Lilim. And certainly none of the Fears. I haven't been attacked by Archangel for quite some time. I haven't seen Tall, Thin, and Faceless. No Rake sightings that I'm aware of. I haven't seen The Old Man. Even Lilith has been leaving me alone. I'm almost comfortable around mirrors again. Almost.

It's odd. This silence. It's like things have calmed down. But I just can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. Call it intuition, or just bad pizza, I don't know. Either way, I think this is the calm before the storm. That we're all being lulled into a false sense of security. That things are about to heat up again. New Runners. New servants. Countless new sightings. Could this be the mark of the beginning of a new generation of the struggle?

If it is, I don't know what kind of role I'll play. I won't sacrifice my morals though. I still have an eternity ahead of me, and I'll be damned if I let them corrupt me.