A Quantum Destinies Side Story
By D.B. Sommer
This is a story set in Jurai-Knight's 'Quantum Destinies' universe, and you will have to be familiar with that piece of work to follow this story. The events within take place some considerable time in the future of the current 16 chapters of Quantum Destinies.
Disclaimer: The Quantum Destines universe is Jurai-Knight's. Many of the characters within are not. The handful of anime characters I use in this one are also owned by someone else.
Jurai-Knight's homepage is located at: http://home.earthlink.net/~sthesken/fanfics/qd.html
Any and all C+C is appreciated. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The humid air of the small office weighed upon Captain Koji Yasuroka of the Security Directorate like a sack of hot coals thrown over his shoulder. It was a terrible heat that made sweat stream from every pore and clothing stick like a second skin to every part of the body it came into contact with. The small fan that hung from the ceiling fought valiantly but was losing its futile struggle to alleviate the heat. The best it could manage was to push the hot air around, giving more of it a chance to suck out the last drop of moisture from every living creature in the room. It was nights like this that showed just how much the building relied on the central air-conditioning that had broken down earlier in the day. Even at one A.M., long after the sun had gone down, the heat remained nearly unbearable. It was like that everywhere in Japan. It was going to be a long hot summer.
As Koji waited patiently in a pool of his own sweat, he looked the office over again. He had been here in person less than a dozen times throughout his career, which was probably closer to a good thing rather than bad. The room itself was unremarkable in appearance. Several metal file cabinets lined the wall, along with a computer terminal at a small table towards the single window on the far side of the room, giving it a cramped feeling. Koji himself was seated in a straight-backed chair. The only concession to comfort was a hard substance attached to the back and bottom of the seat that he assumed was supposed to be padding, but had the resiliency of the metal that composed the rest of the chair. The centerpiece of the small office was the desk in front of Koji's chair. The desk itself was plain and utilitarian, a standard issue piece that added no character whatsoever to the room. The same could not be said for the current owner of the desk.
Col. Genichiro Watanabe, Koji's direct superior during the infrequent times he was in his homeland, was a heavyset man barely in his forties but looked well into his fifties: a testament to the burdens placed on him by his position in the Security Directorate. Balding, with beady eyes and a pug nose, the colonel reminded Koji of an ugly Boxer he had owned as a child, not that Koji was stupid enough to voice the comparison out loud. He had always liked the dog, at least, and it mirrored his feelings toward his commander.
The colonel was a nice enough man, but could be exceptionally harsh when the occasion demanded it. Only once had Koji suffered through one of Watanabe's trademark tirades during his second year as an officer. Even after eight years, Koji still hadn't figured out which was worse: the tongue-lashing or the demotion. Still, it had the necessary effect of forcing him to reevaluate himself and the direction his life had been taking. Finding the will to overcome his alcoholism and rededicate himself to his job was the best move that Koji had ever made. That he was standing here at this moment, bearing the material he had, was proof of that.
Devotion to his work in the Security Directorate was the reason Koji had returned from his overseas intelligence gathering mission to his homeland and was currently in the office of his immediate superior. Only extraordinary diligence at doing his job to the best of his abilities had led him to uncover the crucial bit of evidence that so many others had overlooked. Discovering it, and taking a chance that what the file hinted at was not a mere typographical error, had led him halfway around the world and caused him to risk his life on over a half dozen occasions, all to expose what was perhaps the greatest secret any Imperial agent had uncovered in the last decade.
And subsequently, after secretly contacting Col. Watanabe, Koji had returned to headquarters with the multiple files, the fruits of his life risking efforts, in hand. He had been more than happy to turn the important documents over to his superior, and allow the colonel to make any important decisions that would most likely affect the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people in the Empire.
Patiently, Koji waited as Watanabe examined every piece of evidence in the file for the third time. The captain had been sitting in the sweltering heat for over an hour in silence, and would do so for another one, if necessary. Events were too important to allow a little discomfort from the heat to change his delighted mood.
Finishing the last of the fifty plus pages of evidence Koji had compiled, Watanabe waved the documents in his hand towards his officer. "There are some details I need to know concerning how you obtained this material to determine if it's real or not."
Koji was eager to tell the tale. He rose to his feet and approached Col. Watanabe. The colonel sat down, placing the file on the desk so he could start pulling out individual papers.
Koji pulled out the first document. "It was while I was investigating an abandoned German intelligence base in India that I stumbled upon some files that had survived destruction when the base was abandoned. Inside, there was information that had to do with the maneuvering of materials from several companies in Europe to an island in the Indonesian Territory. That alone was curious, but more importantly was the codename attached to one of the people that had sent the material: Overlord. I remembered that was one of the names that Lorenz Keele had used before his reported death. I mean the latest one. Anyway, the material was dated from only two years ago, well after he was supposed to have died in his Antarctic base."
A look of incredulity was written on Watanabe's features. "That's awfully weak evidence to conduct such an expansive investigation. The Germans could have just recycled the name. I know our department has done that several times with agents over the years."
Reluctantly, Koji nodded his head. "It was, but in reading over the documents, I concluded there was something about them that just rang true. I felt compelled to investigate, so I tracked the materials that had come from Europe back to their source. It was there that I uncovered a web of deceit and hidden agendas that had to be seen to be believed. I won't deny I was very lucky in uncovering some of the evidence I did. Several of my contacts died giving me this information. I barely escaped Constantinople with my life when members of the Moroccan's Kafala death squad targeted me for assassination."
Watanabe raised an eyebrow at that. "So that was why they were there. I heard they'd been seen in that part of Turkey, but no one knew who they were after. They left over fifty dead, from what I understand."
"Like I said, I was very lucky. They were very thorough in their attempt to kill me. They were most eager to get the files I had obtained." Koji let out a deep breath as he remembered the fear of running through the back streets of that distant, alien land, death snapping at his heels the entire way. "It was only because they mistakenly identified someone else's body as mine that I escaped. After that, I contacted you and made my way here.
"But the secret moving of the materials isn't that important. The real gem is what I found hidden in an old German intelligence file dating back to the fifties." Koji went through the papers until he came upon a specific manila folder. He pulled out a photo that showed several people disembarking from a ship whose name identified it as Norwegian in origin. Two red circles, made in decades old marker, called attention to an old man with a widow's peak and an odd cyclopean visor that completely hid his eyes. Next to him was a young girl, not even out of her teens, dressed in an old style Norwegian military outfit, her shoulder insignia indicating she was a sergeant. Her skin was as pale as an albino's, with red eyes that were slanted ever so slightly at the edges; an indication of at least some traces of an Asiatic bloodline. Her hair was short and held a distinctive shade of brown that had the oddest touch of blue tint to it. But in spite of her odd appearance, by far her most distinctive feature was her face. It was a cold thing, devoid of any hint of emotion, as though such things were an alien concept to the young woman. She was as icy in demeanor as she was in appearance.
Koji waved the sheet of paper that had been clipped to the back of the photo. It was in German, but he was fluent in the language and could read it easily. "Sir, the papers attached to this can leave no doubt as to the identity of both people. It is indeed Lorenz Keele, looking exactly the same nearly sixty years ago as he does today. And German intelligence identifies his companion as a girl named Raye!" Koji had to concentrate for a moment to keep from crumpling the paper in his excitement. Everyone knew that the only constant person that remained in Keele's presence was the mysterious girl whose origin remained a mystery despite various attempts to ascertain her identity.
Watanabe scoffed at that. "We have no idea of what his companion's name really was. Raye was most likely a code name. He's probably been using it for years, and this was the current version's mother."
"It's not. Look at the moles, sir," Koji insisted. He pointed out a trio of moles, two close together on the right cheek and another on the underside of her jaw that was just visible from the angle the picture was taken. He then pulled out another photograph, the high-quality indicating it was taken far more recently. Paperclipped to it was the information of when it was taken and what branch of Imperial Intelligence was responsible for it. Koji indicated the moles on the nearly albino girl seen in it. "They match perfectly, sir. There's no way this isn't the same girl. Considering the fact that Imperial Intelligence has reported her dead on at least three separate occasions, the second time with an actual body to substantiate it, combined with Keele's apparent lack of age in this photo, it can only mean one thing. As impossible as it seems, somehow Keele has had access to cloning technology at least ten years before the Empire supposedly pioneered the science!"
Koji found himself becoming too excited again. It was understandable. This was the first time he could actually voice his conclusions to anyone else, and it was all he could do to keep from jumping up in joy at the unbelievable wealth of information he had uncovered. "And there's more. With the movement of these trillions of yen in materials to the island, in addition to the other information I've uncovered, it points to the inescapable conclusion that Keele is alive. True, it might be this is a clone and the real one died in Antarctica, but even if that's the case, it'll be close enough to the real thing. We'll need to be prepared for anything."
Almost reluctantly, Watanabe nodded his head. "I assume you've personally verified all of this information?"
"I wouldn't have come here with it otherwise, sir."
That seemed to brighten the colonel's mood considerably. He rose to his feet and stood several centimeters above Koji. "It looks to me like the information is valid, if a bit weak in the whole cloning bit. It'll take more than one old photo to convince our superiors that Keele had somehow gotten his hands on the technology before us. But the information you have on them moving materials to this island is far more conclusive and easily verified, now that we know what to look for. This will be more than enough to get the big bosses moving."
The colonel slapped his hand in a friendly gesture on Koji's back. "Congratulations! You'll be able to write you own ticket with this. It's a guaranteed promotion and assignment to any area in the world that you want. I hear Hawaii's nice this time of year. A lot less humid, in any case. And I never heard of anyone in the Directorate office there complaining about traitorous pineapples. And the women…" He grinned lasciviously at that.
Koji stood at attention and saluted. "Sir! I only did this because it was my job and for the safety of the Empire. I did not do it to seek personal gain in any form."
The reaction made Watanabe chuckle. "You're such a diehard. I remember being just as strait-laced as you a few years ago. I hope for your sake you learn to calm down a little, or else you'll have a heart attack just like I did. Then you'll be forced to rethink your approach to life." The colonel regarded the documents in his hand. "Still, maybe this one time it's called for. Looks like an all-nighter for me this time around."
Koji finally stopped saluting, but remained at attention. The action made his clothing hug him even more fiercely in its embrace. "Sir, I'll be more than happy to assist you in the organization of the report."
The offer made Watanabe shake his head. "That won't be necessary. I think I ought to do at least a little work to justify my position in this office. Besides, the report is my responsibility now that this information is in my hands. Have you told anyone else about any of this?"
"Absolutely not, sir. I didn't dare reveal it to anyone for fear of leaks in the department," Koji replied crisply.
That made Watanabe smile. "That means this ball is completely in our court. I might be joining you in the promotion thing if this works out as well as it might. Now, as for you, I want you to go back home and get as much sleep as you can. You'll come by my office at 0900 hours to review the report, then I have little doubt we'll be called upon to go see the Board."
"The Board?" Koji fairly trembled at the idea. The Board consisted of the head of the Directorate and his advisors who operated almost exclusively at the Imperial Palace. Virtually no field officer ever got to see them in anything other than a huge military function. The idea of meeting the highest-ranking officers in the Directorate made Koji swoon. It was a dream come true.
"Oh, yes," Watanabe assured him. "When they get wind of this, they'll jump on it like a pack of starving dogs thrown a piece of raw meat. Especially given Keele's continued existence. General Hashimoto's nephew was involved in that Antarctic Operation fiasco. He wants to see Keele dead as much as anyone." Watanabe made a point of looking at a clock hanging on the wall. "It's already late, and going to get later before I'm through. You'd better get going."
Giddy with excitement at what was to come, Koji nearly forgot to salute as he headed out of the office and towards his car. His quarters were located a number of miles off base, and it would take at least half an hour to get there. It would give him time to think of how he would react to meeting the Board. If he played it right, he might very well get the promotion the Colonel had spoken of. He wouldn't ask for Hawaii though. While the climate might be nice, it was too small for his liking. Nothing but a bunch of small islands a thousand miles from anywhere. He would request a transfer to the Western North American Prefecture. He had family that had relocated out there, just a few uncles and cousins, but they described it as a virtual paradise. And even if it wasn't, at least it wouldn't be as miserable as being stationed in that armpit of the world that was known by the name of India, like he had been for the last three and half years. If he never set foot in that miserable territory, he could die a happy man.
It was looking to be a good night for Koji Yasuroka.
Colonel Genichiro Watanabe watched from the small window of his office as Captain Yasuroka's car exited the parking lot and headed off base towards the south. Once convinced Koji was gone, Watanabe pulled out a cellular phone and dialed a twelve-digit number known to only a handful of people.
A high-pitched feminine voice on the other end of the line answered, "Good evening. This is Kisato's Floral Shop. We're the only floral shop to offer twenty-four hour delivery service. How can I be of assistance?"
"I'd like to pick up an arrangement of gardenias. Preferably red and blues, with some yellow carnations and black roses. Can this be arranged?"
"It most certainly can, sir. You have chosen a very interesting combination."
"They are intended for a very interesting person."
There was a click on the other end of the phone. That would ensure the security of the line. For the next five minutes, no one on Earth would be able to listen in on the conversation that was about to take place, or so he had been told. He knew everything at his end was secure, having already swept the room for listening devices. Not that the Security Directorate did anything but cursory evaluations on its own personnel. They spied on everyone else, not on each other, or at least, not extensively. There were precious few who had the authority to watch the watchmen. And Watanabe had never truly engaged in any suspicious behavior they would have noticed. He had made sure of that. They had been the ones who had trained him, after all.
Patiently, Watanabe waited for almost a minute before there was a voice on the other end of the line.
"Should be paid a great deal of attention," Watanabe repeated the countersign. There was another click, before a much deeper-voiced man said, "You have information."
A statement, not a question. "Things have been sloppy on your end, Mr. Kentaro." Not the man's real name, but the one that was used to describe him.
Watanabe collected all of the papers in the file Koji had given him, mindful not to miss even single a notecard. "Apparently, someone left a paper trail which one of my men has discovered. A very extensive one. You're just fortunate I was the one he confided it in." Watanabe, mindful of the remaining time, summarized the details of what Koji had learned. Once finished, Watanabe warned, "This could potentially blow everything wide open. The matter must be resolved by tonight."
"It shall be. A trio of agents is in the area. They will be reassigned to this target. Address?"
Watanabe gave it as he opened a drawer and pulled out a machine that had barely been able to fit in the compartment. "Make sure it looks like an accident. I can make up some excuse for calling him back to Japan, but it's going to be suspicious if he's murdered within twenty-four hours of his return home."
"Not a problem. Do we have to retrieve any evidence?"
The flick of a switch activated the tiny machine. Watanabe put it on his desktop, making sure one end of it was sticking over the edge. He grabbed a small metal wastepaper basket and positioned it underneath the part of the device that hung over the edge. "No. I have all of the hard evidence with me."
"Have you taken care of it?"
Watanabe shoved the file through the top of the machine. Tiny flakes of now pitch-black paper fell into the wastebasket, resembling a tiny snow storm of ashes. "Oh yes. It's been taken care of."
"Excellent. Expect in additional bonus of eight million yen in the account."
Phone cradled in between his shoulder and neck, Watanabe stood up on his desk and disabled the sensor in the fire detection system. "That is extraordinarily generous of you."
"We have always rewarded those who serve us effectively."
Climbing down, Watanabe took a match and dropped it in the wastebasket. "Nonetheless, I appreciate the gesture. With any luck, you won't hear from me again."
"Nor I you."
Hearing nothing but a dial tone, Watanabe hung up, then opened the window to allow the small cloud of smoke out of the room. The heat from the tiny fire might have made things a little more uncomfortable than before, but eight million yen in the next week did more than enough to alleviate the discomfort.
Another man might have felt bad about betraying his fellow soldier and country, but not Watanabe. All the Empire had given him were three broken marriages, two parents that had swallowed the government's propaganda and died young for their country, a stressful dead-end job, a series of ulcers, a heart attack, and as a final reward, a pension no decent man could live on once he retired. The colonel figured it was time for him to give back a little, and if he could make a lot of money in the bargain, who was he to complain?
The smile on Watanabe's face grew wider in direct proportion to the way the flames grew steadily lower.
It was proving to be a good night.
Koji stared at the night sky that lay outside his window, hoping to catch the sight of some stars. It was impossible to see, with the sudden downpour that had appeared out of nowhere, but he could still make out a few of the constellations through holes in the cloud cover that hung in the sky. It wasn't like that out in the wilds of the North American Prefectures. At least, everywhere but around the cities. There were lots of wide-open spaces, the exact opposite of Japan. There was more room out there than the pioneers who had claimed that land knew what to do with. That was where Koji wanted to be. Not living in some suburb where his tiny 'cubicle' (the not-so-affectionate name given by those residents who lived in the modular houses that dominated his district) was exactly the same as every other one on the block. True, it was relatively cheap, and there was little need for him to own a large home since he spent so little time in his country, but he still despised the tiny structure. It seemed to close a parallel to how small a life he had outside of the Directorate.
Sleep would not come to him, but that was no surprise. It was unlikely he would manage to get more than ten hours for the whole week, given how excited he was. It was only starting to settle in just how lucky he had been in uncovering the information on Keele. There was the realistic possibility that he could get a cushy desk job in some relatively small town when he moved. And then he could raise a family. Maybe find a nice girl from the region. Contact with the people of many other lands had taught him that foreigners were no more 'barbaric' than members of his own culture. They were just different. And ever since he was a teenager, he always had a thing for the exotic looks those women that lived in the Prefecture had. They were always depicted as wild and untamed, the exact opposite of the Imperial women he knew, though most of them were the typical cold hearts that had joined the Security Directorate. Not one warm, caring woman in the group, as near as he could tell. It would be good to get out of the field once and for all.
Koji was still in the midst of his relocation fantasy when the dull buzz of the doorbell caught his attention. Looking at the clock showed it to be nearly three A.M. Who the hell would be calling at that hour?
Carefully, Koji grabbed his holstered sidearm and tucked it into his belt behind his back. It had to be paranoia. Surely the Colonel hadn't told anyone of their findings yet, and Koji had never breathed a word of his discoveries to anyone else. There was probably a logical reason for someone to be knocking on his door in the middle of the night, but he would rather err on the side of caution since close as he was to the achievement of his dreams.
The doorbell rang a second time just as he got to the door. Hoping to surprise the nocturnal visitor, he quickly unlocked it and flung it open. Standing on his tiny front porch was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. She was of European descent, with deep blue eyes and long blond hair plastered down the back of a black shiny trench coat. Prominent cheekbones and a perfect nose accentuated her features. For a moment, the vision of beauty left Koji stunned.
"Oh, thank goodness someone was here. It's nice to know I got lucky on my first try for help," the woman said in perfect Japanese.
It was then Koji noted that she sounded somewhat… vacuous. Looking again in her eyes, he saw that her appearance matched that of her voice. Just not very much in there, if he was any judge of character. Not that any man would care about her brains when she had looks like that. His eyes traveling down to her feet, he saw that she was wearing black leather boots with high heels. Not the kind of footgear that was usually worn in this sort of weather. "Lucky?" he asked.
"My car broke down," she whined as she looked over her shoulder behind her. On the far side of the street, directly across from his house and in front of his neighbor, Mikata's house, was a shiny new black car. A Mitsubishi luxury model from this year, if he was not mistaken. A very expensive vehicle. One very hard for a foreigner to come by.
"What on Earth are you doing out at this time of night?" Koji asked, still wary about the whole unexpected situation.
The woman's eyebrows furrowed in concentration. "I was just leaving Ginny's place, well, his name isn't really Ginny. It's Gingi Koratoma, and he's a general and a really good one too. I just call him Ginny because it's so cute, and he likes it. Anyway, I had to leave late because that bitch wife of his called to say she was coming back into town this morning, and I'm not allowed to stay at his place when she's there since she gets jealous and… Oops. I wasn't supposed to say his name. He likes being discreet. Don't tell anyone I said that, okay? I'm supposed to be a secret."
Koji nodded knowingly. Now it made sense. It was common knowledge that General Koratoma had a very beautiful mistress that could melt men's hearts with little more than a glance from her liquid blue eyes. And Koji had heard she was blonde too. Given the wealth that the General had from his rather prominent family, it was small wonder he could afford to pay for a car and a place for his mistress to stay. Hell, if Koji had that kind of money, he would have paid at least that much for a beauty like her to pleasure him.
But she was a general's property, and that meant she was totally off limits. There was no way Koji was going to jeopardize everything by hitting on a general's mistress. He'd end up being stationed at the North Pole instead of North America. Still, he couldn't refuse to help a woman in distress. "Let me see what I can do to help."
"Thank you ever so much," the woman cooed in that same vacuous voice.
Koji noted that as his mistress, he would have allowed her to speak a lot less. Listening to her mindless babble was getting annoying.
Throwing on a light jacket to shield himself from the rain, Koji went out on the porch and closed the door behind him, locking it with his keys out of habit. At least the rain seemed to have made everything cooler. Even if it wasn't pleasant yet, at the very least it could be considered not stifling. It was something to be grateful for.
The woman had started without him while he locked his door, getting an impressive lead as she headed towards her car. In spite of the trench coat she wore, it did little to hide her shapely form. He admired her busty profile and the way her hips swayed. He realized that once he was finished helping her, it would be nubile Europeans rather than North American girls that would be the main participant in his fantasies for the rest of this evening.
Koji was in the middle of the street when it occurred to him that something was out of place. He stopped, looking dumbstruck for a moment as he tried to figure out what it meant.
The woman had just made it to her car when she turned to see Koji standing in the middle of the street, staring in her in confusion. It was just as the dawn of realization set in for Koji that she realized he was not staring at her, but rather the car beside her.
The vacuous stare disappeared from her eyes and was replaced by the look of a bloodthirsty predator focusing on its prey. "So, Japanese, you figured it out. We were warned you were a bright one. Personally, I thought you would be too awestruck by my looks to question why I went to your house first if I was stranded on the opposite side of the street. After all, if the houses all look the same, what would make yours so special that I went to it? I assure you, it was quite necessary for what we have planned for you."
She undid the tie on her trench coat. Slowly, almost seductively, the garment slid from her shoulders, and then her arms, to puddle on the ground at her feet. Lying beneath was exactly the type of uniform Koji had pictured her in: a tight black leather corset that showed an indecent amount of her ample cleavage, as well as riding up into her crotch as tight as any pair of bikini bottoms would. Her boots went up to the middle of her calves, and long black gloves traveled halfway up to her muscular looking biceps. A whip coiled around her waist completed the arousing spectacle before him.
Koji felt his heart skip a beat as the garments she wore triggered his memory of who this woman was. Given her exotic foreign looks, it was easy to remember the one time he had read the file the Security Directorate had compiled on her. Before him was one of the world's foremost assassins, one that specialized almost exclusively in the executions of Imperial subjects, especially full-blooded Japanese. Well over one hundred deaths, nearly all of them at the end of a lash, had been attributed to Sophia Toshinden.
There was a tiny flash of light from the interior of the passenger side of the car. Koji recognized it as the flickering of a match. For the briefest of moments, he could make out the face of someone sitting there. It was only a glance, but again, the distinctive, almost trademark, appearance of the person instantly triggered the memory. The man was black, with a white skull either painted or tattooed on his face. No one was certain of which, since the only time anyone saw the face of the French assassin known by the nom-de-guerre of Monsieur Morte was when he was in the process of killing someone. Two of the world’s foremost assassins were right in front of him. Who would have hired them to kill someone as insignificant as Captain Koji Yasuroka?
That snapped him out of his stupor. His training finally kicked in as he went for the gun around his back. If he was quick enough, he could shoot Sofia, then empty the gun in the passenger side of the car and make a break for it. He didn't actually have to kill Morte, just keep his head down long enough for Koji to make good his escape.
His hand only started to make its way to the gun, when there was a blur from Sophia, and he felt something wrap around his legs. A moment later, he realized it was her whip. Somehow, she had moved so quickly that he hadn't even had time to register the movement of her weapon before he found himself snared in its coiled embrace. How fast could a person be?
A quick tug jerked him off his feet. Koji was only dimly aware of a car's engine suddenly erupting from nearby as the back of his head bounced hard off the concrete, stunning him. He tried moving, but Sophia proved herself incredibly strong as she gave a second powerful jerk that nearly ripped his legs out of their sockets and prevented him from regaining a vertical base and finding a way to escape his predicament.
Suddenly, the leather that was wrapped around his legs disappeared. Koji had only a split second to wonder why that was when the tires of a car ran directly over his head. Bone split with a crunch and brains splattered with a wet sound that joined in the symphony of the falling rain as death came instantaneously to the man.
The car's brakes squealed to a stop after the driver felt the back set of tires run over the body beneath him. He rolled down his window and stuck his bowler-topped head out of the window, surveying the damage he had inflicted on his target. Directing a thickly British accented question to Sophia, he asked in a calm and collected voice, "I say, is he dead? I can't very well run over him again and expect to make it look like an accident."
Sophia raced up to the body and felt for a pulse, in spite of the obvious physical damage it had sustained. After a moment, she confirmed, "He's gone. Let's get moving before we're identified."
Anticipating what to do next, Morte had already shifted to the driver's side and started the car. No lights had turned on in any of the houses along the roadway, and in the dead of night it was unlikely anyone was awake and happened to be looking out a window to witness what had occurred. Ideally, even if someone was up and had heard the sound of the 'Gentleman Killer' (a ludicrous name, in Morte's opinion) Neville Smythe's tires squealing, it would only reinforce the idea that their target had been the victim of random a hit and run. But the odds of being spotted and throwing suspicion on the otherwise nearly perfect scenario increased every moment they lingered at the scene.
Smythe's car headed one way while Morte and Sophia's went in the opposite direction. Morte knew the fake license plates they had indicated both cars belonged to two different powerful members of the government, and with any luck no Peaceforcer would dare pull them over and question them for fear of the reprisals that such influential people would inflict upon them for the inconvenience. It was like that everywhere, the puny fearing those with power. That was why Morte had become an assassin, and a particularly ruthless one at that. Assassins had the greatest power there was: the power over life and death. The power of God. And the best part of all was that the rest of the world knew of their awesome ability. Knew it and feared it. That was what assassins did. What they lived for. What they killed for. Only surgeons held a position in society with such similar personal ability, though they worked towards the preservation of life rather than the end of it.
That was why Morte wore the mask of death on all of his assignments: for the fear it would strike into the hearts of others as they discovered their lives were no longer their own. That was one of the few reasons he was willing to work with a true psychopath like Sophia and a popinjay like Smythe: no matter how ridiculous they might appear, each wore the sign of death upon their forms as surely as Morte did. Even if those telltale signs took the form of a leather halter and whip or a bowler hat and umbrella. Signs of power, to be certain. Trademarks of fear. Symbols of death. If there were any doubters, all they had to do was see the look in Koji Yasuroka's eyes the moment he recognized Sophia and Morte. The young man had known the end was upon him, and the fear was like no other that could be inflicted upon another human being.
Monsieur Morte felt the wave of satisfaction that he always felt after a kill, even if he hadn't lifted a finger to help in it. It had been a good night.
Author's notes: I know what you're saying: what does this have to do with QD? No one in this little short has appeared there yet, and it doesn't seem to tie into the current story line at all, Trust me, it builds upon a different side story I have planned a little ways down the line in which Keele and the assassins play a major role. Surely you didn't think I had the Phoenix Project members in the Roses and Swords side-story drop Keele's name for no reason. Actual character development on Sophia and Smythe, as well as more on Morte and a fourth member of the assassins whose identity must remain a mystery due to my upcoming Shampoo QD story, will be done upon completion of the whole 'Deadly Duo' story line when the appropriate time comes up. In the interim, I have a much more topical (And longer) side story coming up in which Shampoo's past in QD is visited as we cover her background on the long and winding path that leads her to the ecstasy and agony of what it means to be a warrior in The Arena. Hopefully will have the first chapter done by the end of the week.
Thanks for reading.
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