Oct 13th, 2019
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  1. SITUATION 1: Dead End Friends
  3. January 12th, 1988
  5. Long Island, New York
  7. 2:00 PM
  10. I put down the book I was reading as a very loud knocking interrupted my concentration. I was reading a book by a nineteenth-century author, Adrian Galliano, who once owned a plantation and slaves. But through living with them learned that they were just the same as him, even though they were different species. It was an interesting read, it was hard to think that slavery was still an institution over a hundred years ago. Now the only slaves you hear about on the news are sex slaves trafficked into the country, I guess some things don't change.
  12. I hurried to the front door, figuring there probably wasn't anything good behind it, but that was the nature of the business I was in. Unlocking the latch I cracked open the door and was first greeted by the breath-taking chill of the New York winter, and looked up to see two very tall bear-anthros, covered in dark brown fur, both wearing dark sunglasses, members only jackets, and khaki slacks. As I appraised them, they stood there as still as statues until one of them spoke.
  14. "Madame need to see you. Very important business." He said in a deep voice, with a heavy Russian accent. What could she be up to? Nothing good, I thought grimly. But a job's a job.
  16. "Alright, lemme get my shoes on and I'll be there in a minute."
  18. I was stopped dead in my tracks by a gigantic paw landing on my shoulder, startling me slightly.
  20. "Put something decent on, you'll be seeing the Madame. Stupid Americans..." He grumbled under his breath.
  22. "Yeah well if we're so stupid, why is your country shambles and we're doing great? Fuckin' Reds..." I muttered within earshot. I'll never understand the need to be fancy, to doll yourself up in a suit when discussing business. What's wrong with what I was wearing; basketball shorts and a t-shirt? Whatever.
  24. After getting dressed, I filed in with the Russians into a large SUV. During the drive, they showed the hospitality that Russians were known for, complete silence during the whole ride. Fine by me, I don't even know what we would talk about. Gorbachev? Vodka?
  26. An hour of driving later, we made our way to downtown Manhattan, stopping in the parking garage of a large hotel, The Romanov. Funded by gunrunning, human and anthro trafficking, and bootleg vodka and cigarettes, the house the Semya built was The Undertow's Kremlin. It's where all business the Russian mob has skin in is conducted, and the building much like the Kremlin it had a utilitarian, but still classy feel to it. Chandeliers hanged from the ceiling in the lobby, as velour carpet led us to an elevator.
  28. I uncomfortably crammed myself in like a sardine next to Ivan and Boris. The trip up was long, we didn't stop until we reached the top of the fifty-floor building, reaching the summit floor of the penthouse suite, where the "Madame" they spoke of lived.
  30. A feint *ding* alerted us that we were on the top floor, and as the door slid open, we made our way through a brightly lit hallway, as one of the goons knocked on a tall wooden door, oak, if I had to guess. I wondered if they ever had fun, they always had that same grave, serious expression on their faces. I suppose I would too if I grew up in an eastern bloc hellhole.
  32. Ivan motioned over to me that it was time to come in, and I shuffled into a large ornate office. The walls were a dark shade of red, and there were several Roman-style marble busts as decor, as well as a painting of Dostoevsky. Behind a large mahogany desk was a female Siberian tiger-anthro. Her name was Sasha Myshkin, and she was the boss of the Russian mob in New York. She had snow white hair tied in a ponytail, and wore a beige pantsuit, that accentuated her curves and pronounced bust nicely. With her bright feline emeralds we made eye-contact, and the snow-tiger smiled at me warmly, putting her cigar down into the ashtray next to her.
  34. "Hey Sis." I said to her casually before taking a seat opposite of her. It might seem odd being so lax around a mob boss, but Sasha and I go way back, and I remember when she first took control of the Semya. Ever since Giuliani and the Crime Commission cracked down on Gotti and his boys, if you lived in New York and wanted a hit of something, you went through the Russians. Coke, heroin, weed even, if you wanted it, they had a part in bringing it over here. That's the reason why they had this nice hotel as a base of operations, she commanded a fair amount of influence over the city.
  36. To most Americans that might be alarming, but Sasha hated Communism as much as we do. The only color she cared about was green: money. That made us kindred spirits of sorts.
  38. "Good evening, Mladshiy. I hope my boys didn't disturb you too badly." She said with a smirk.
  40. "Eh, they're fine. They do a good job intimidating the dumb schmucks they're probably used to dealing with." I said casually.
  42. "That they do. But I suppose I shouldn't waste any more of your time, Malachi. Do you know who Mister Ken Shoji is?" She inquired, cocking her head as she glanced my way.
  44. Her voice was deep, but feminine. I always liked talking to Sasha, she had a motherly quality to her, as odd as that might sound for someone of her stature, and species.
  46. "Yeah, the sleazeball that runs that club in Chinatown? I've ran into him a few times. I can't say I'm a fan, personally." I said dismissively.
  48. "Neither am I. Which is what this job pertains to." Sasha pulled out a manila envelope from a desk-drawer, and passed it across the table to me. I dumped the contents onto to the table, they were Polaroids. I examined one of them, and it was of a naked human girl with her skull bashed in, by what looked to be with the butt of a handgun, as dried blood caked her face. Another picture with a different girl told the same story, as did the next. They were crime scene photos. Judging by how they were dressed, they were all prostitutes, and what I was putting together in my head was that Ken had killed all of them for whatever reason.
  50. "Jesus." I said flatly.
  52. "Those are all my girls, most of them came from the Motherland looking to make enough money to send to their families over here. You see, I've been willing to put up with Mr. Shoji's shit for a while now, with respect to Miss Yui. But I think seven dead girls is enough to warrant at least a complaint, but Miss Yui has unwilling to listen. She claims her hands are tied, that he's the son of one of the top boss's in Tokyo. Frankly, that doesn't mean shit to me if it costs me money. I suppose I don't need to spell out to you what need's done to him, Mladshiy?"
  54. I sighed deeply, sulking into the chair. Knowing that she wanted Ken dead was about to my life very complicated. Yeah he was a shithead, and I knew he liked to booze and powder his nose, and as much as I didn't like seeing dead hookers, this would put me in some deep shit. I rubbed my face for a moment before sitting back up and looking over to Sasha.
  56. "I'll be upfront with you and say I'll do it. But, this really puts me in a bind, Sis. I wouldn't be alive if Miss Yui hadn't been there for me years ago." I said, rubbing my eyes with hands.
  58. "I know. But if I sent one of my soldiers, it would appear as if Semya were wanting to instigate a war against the Yakuza. I do not want war, nor do I believe Miss Yui does either. But that's what the optics would be. You are somewhat of a neutral party, Malachi. I'm sorry, but it's the only option I have. I can't let that spoiled little shit live." She said, taking a long drag from her cigar.
  60. "I can't say I blame you..." I said, formulating in my head what I would say to Miss Yui.
  62. "Tell you what: on top of the usual rate I pay for your work, I'll even ask this as a favor. One that I will repay to you for any reason of your choosing."
  64. "So I can ask you to return the favor if Miss Yui asks me to ice one of your guys?" I said skeptically. Fuckin' Sasha...always thinking ahead.
  66. "Think of it as insurance. In The Undertow, it's all about knowing who you can trust. And you're one of the few people I truly trust, Malachi. I do mean that dearly." She said, batting her eyes slightly.
  68. "I already said I'd take the job. Anyway...I'll call you when I'm done." I said, getting up from the chair slowly.
  70. "I know I can always count on you, Mladshiy. I do hope that asking you to do this means you'll stop playing piano at Franz Ferdinand's now?"
  72. "Nah, I'll still play for ya." I said, with a forced smile waving goodbye.
  75. +
  77. Chinatown
  79. 12:00 PM
  83. I asked the goon-squad to drop me off by a gas station not too far from my townhouse, and made my way over to a payphone, dropping a couple quarters into it. I thought about how much this situation sucked for me as I dialed Miss Yui's number. I didn't want to put her in hot water, but a job's a job, and as an independent contractor, my reputation was m life.
  85. I leaned against the payphone, and tapped on the top of the box nervously as the phone rang. The nipping of the cold wind only made the wait that much worse. If only that ass-hat Ken didn't get heated every time he picked up a whore...
  87. "Hello?" She said in her usual calm and steady voice.
  89. "Hey Miss Yui, it's me."
  91. "Hello Malachi, how are doing this evening?"
  93. "Well, not good. In fact that's why I'm calling you."
  95. "You're not in money troubles are you..? You're known to be very tightfisted when it comes to your finances."
  97. "No it's not that. That'd be an easy solution. Sasha Myshka has me taking out Ken Shoji. Considering all you've done for me in the past, I figured I at least owed you the right to know I was doing it." I said with a dejected tone.
  99. She paused for a moment before speaking.
  101. "I appreciate you telling me, but as much as I dislike Mr. Shoji myself, he is the son of one my superiors in Tokyo."
  103. "I know, I know... But I didn't really have much of a choice." I said running a hand through my hair.
  105. "I understand your plight. I'll let the hit on Ken Shoji commence, at anytime after our conversation is over. However, I will do this only as a favor to you, Malachi."
  107. I cringed at hearing the word 'favor' again. I hated favors. They're abstract, can mean anything. It's why I liked money. It's objective, concrete, you always know what each dollar represents. I took another deep sigh.
  109. "Alright. I can't tell you how much I owe you, Miss Yui. I hope this is the only time I have to ask something like this of you."
  111. "As do I. Goodbye Malachi, I hope you have a pleasant evening." She said curtly. As she finished, I heard the line disconnect.
  113. "Yeah..." I said, hanging up the phone.
  117. Well, might as well get this over with...
  120. +
  123. I shut the door of the yellow taxi behind me, and looked up at the building in front of me. Lit up in bright colorful neon lights, was the tastefully named 'Yellow Tail' gentleman's club. I walked up to the doorman, a big human with a shaved head and sunglasses who looked like an ex-sumo wrestler.
  125. "No one get in only if they on the list." He said in broken-English.
  127. "Uhh, John Callaway's the name." I said, giving my fake name I used with most people. Because of my profession, my real name, the real me, Malachi, was technically dead and did not exist. John Callaway wasn't though, he even had a driver's licence, social security, pays taxes, the whole nine yards. As far as Uncle Sam is concerned, he's your average self-employed, freedom loving American.
  129. The sumo wrestler-turned doorman looked down at a clipboard, then at me.
  131. "No you not on list."
  133. I sighed, and began thinking of alternate ways of getting in, as I wanted this over with as soon as possible. Sneaking in through the back was the first thought that sprang to mind, but I wouldn't need to do that, as a shrill voice I quickly recognized called out my pseudonym.
  135. "JOOOOOOOHN!" The glass-shattering squeal belonged to Kimmy, a grey rat-anthro stripper who I had a complicated non-relationship with. It was one of those she liked me, but I didn't really care for her types of deals.
  137. The next thing I saw enter my visage were a large pair of furry fake tits hitting me in the face as the dancer nearly tackled me in a hug.
  139. "John's good Tak! You can let 'em in, he won't cause no trouble!" She screamed back at the sumo-bouncer.
  141. "Tak" thought for a moment of what to say or do, but chose the path of least resistance and gave me the nod.
  143. "Alright. If hooker say you come in, you come in."
  145. "I ain't no hooker you asshole!" She said slapping him on the shoulder before turning to me.
  147. "C'mon Johnny, don't let Tak give you any trouble!" She said, grabbing my hand and jerking me inside.
  149. The blaring sound of loud music and flashing lights disoriented me slightly as we walked in. Kimmy threw me down onto a padded chair and climbed into my lap, putting her hands on my shoulders as she straddled me. I brushed them away, mainly because I didn't get the appeal of tittybars, and to keep her from brushing up against my gun in the shoulder-holster I wore underneath my jacket.
  151. She pouted her hot pink lips at me and began nibbling on my ear, and whispered.
  153. "So, you lookin' for a good time, Johnny Boy~?" Kimmy said, putting her hands on my back.
  155. "No. I value my money somewhat. I need to see Ken." I said plainly.
  157. This dampened her mood slightly, and Kimmy furrowed her brow at me.
  159. "Why do you need to see that loser?" She said skeptically.
  161. "Hey now, you shouldn't be calling your boss a loser." I said sarcastically with a smirk.
  163. "Ugh, he can go fuck himself. I only deal with Asuka, she's in charge of all the girls."
  165. Kimmy began grinding her hips into my lap, and got progressively more handsy with me. Honestly I didn't see what she saw in me, but the vision in my head was a walking ATM machine that she could withdraw twenties from as she pleased.
  167. "Yeah, well look, can you show me where his office is?" I said impatiently.
  169. "Fiiiine... it's down the hall there, last one on the right." She said, pointing me to a door at the back of the club.
  171. "Thanks Kimmy." I said, getting up while she was still on top of me, causing her to jump and try to get on her padded feet, giving me an angry look.
  173. "Johnny! you better come see me when you're done! I don't give out info for free, and I got you in here you jerk!" She yelled at me over the loud music.
  175. "Yeah yeah yeah, don't worry about it!" I said, waving at her dismissively.
  178. +
  181. I walked down the hall, stopping at the last door on the right, like Kimmy said. I opened my jacket slightly and checked my gun to make sure it was hot. I had grabbed a silencer last minute, even though with how goddamn loud it was in here it probably wasn't needed. I could hear the thumping of the music from the main room even though I was in a hall twenty feet over. But it's better to be safe than dead, that's the hitman's credo. My weapon of choice tonight was an old reliable friend of mine: a military issue CZ 75 9mm. Small enough to be totally inconspicuous under a jacket, but packed enough punch to put someone in a body-bag.
  183. "Is Ken Shoji here?" I asked with a knock.
  185. "Who wants to know!?" The muffled voice shot back at me behind the door. That's Ken alright, always aggro.
  187. "It's John Callaway, I wanted to talk a little business with ya."
  189. "Oh shit! Hol' up John, lemme get the door!"
  191. A couple second later, the door opened, and stood the slight Japanese man, wearing a gaudy purple tracksuit, yellow tinted sunglasses, and multiple gold chains, with his hair slicked back. He was one greasy bastard alright.
  193. "Come on in, man! What can I do for ya?"
  195. He shuffled me into his office, and motioned me to sit down in a chair across his desk. I noticed he had a couple lines of coke on a mirror, with a rolled up one-hundred dollar bill by it. He took the bill, and snorted up one of the lines, shaking his head a couple times, looking at me.
  197. "Hey! you want some Henney or somethin'?"
  199. "No thank you, I don't drink." I declined politely.
  201. "Aww man, you're no fun. That's prolly why you're loaded though, right?" He said with a snicker, then went down to do another line.
  203. "Something like that. It's why I'm here, I kinda wanted to get in the club-business with you, maybe take a stake of the Yellow Tail?"
  205. "No shit!? Fuckin' A, man! Hell yeah, I'd do that. You dunno how much money you get just having dumb broads shake their titties an' asses for those douchebags out there!" He said, bringing his hands to his chest, rubbing invisible breasts, and laughing like an idiot at his own stupid joke.
  207. "So how you wanna do this, you thinkin' ten, fifteen percent, or what?" He asked. Moving his hands as he spoke, occasionally flicking at his nose.
  209. "Well I did a lot homework, and brought something out to show you what I was thinking..." I said, reaching into my jacket, and whipped out my CZ 75, pointing it at Ken.
  211. He looked startled as I pulled it on him, jumping back slightly. He looked at the barrel of the gun, then back at me.
  213. "H-hey man, what da fuck's this all 'bout?" He said shakily.
  215. "It's just business Ken, nothing personal." That was a lie. I really detested Ken Shoji, but being the spoiled brat he was, there wasn't really anything to do about him. Not until he pissed off Sasha.
  217. "Y-you'll regret this! You and that fuckin' bitch Yui! M-my dad'll fuckin' skin your asses aliv-"
  219. -pew-
  221. -pew-
  223. The two rounds quietly whistled into Ken's head. His dead body lied slumped over to the side, his face covered in blood that was bubbling up from the two holes in his forehead. I holstered my pistol and walked out of the room. All this trouble for some dumb asshole who couldn't control his anger problems against whores.
  225. I walked out of the hallway and my senses were once again assaulted by awful music and strobe lights. Kimmy was dancing for some fat balding pig-man, so I wouldn't have to worry about seeing her. But my mind was focused on the repercussions of what just happened, what it might have have on The Undertow. It was a powder keg, one small shift could have seismic results later on. It's kind of like when you're a kid, and your dad takes you out to the lake, and you toss a pebble into the water. The ripples in the water can go out far past the impact of the pebble. And I fear the damning consequences this pebble named Ken Shoji might have on me.
  227. The chilly bitter air gnashed at me as I lurched down the street to hail a cab.
  230. This really sucks...
  233. +
  236. "It's done." I said, talking into a payphone, keeping one hand in a pocket to keep it free from the elements.
  238. "Wonderful! Would you mind meeting me at Franz Ferdinand's? I'd love to pay you in person, and, have a chat~..." Sasha's words had a seductive tone to them, and admittedly, I was intrigued. She was a very attractive woman, not just in looks, but how she carried herself. The confidence she had as a captain of industry she took part in. But mixing business and pleasure was one of the biggest sins an independent contractor could make, but sometimes the flesh is more powerful than the soul.
  241. +
  244. The atmosphere of Franz Ferdinand's stood in stark contrast of the Yellow Tail. It was a jazz club, a band of beetle-athnros played Sinatra tunes to set the slow, comfy mood. The smell was thick with cigar smoke, as men clinked glasses of expensive whiskey and cognac, swooning women of all species in fancy dresses made in over in Europe. She definitely had a keen-eye for making places feel nice, this was about as swanky as the Romanov. Neither this nor the Yellow Tail were really my scene, but I preferred the classiness of this over shitty pop songs and bad boob-jobs.
  246. "You know Mladshiy, I've always wondered something. What do you do when you're not working? She said with her eyes half-lidded, hunched over in her chair comfortably.
  248. "Well, I like to read. I like to listen to old records. I like playing piano. Uhh, I like going to the gym. I don't know, I'm kinda boring." I said, shrugging my shoulders, then taking a sip of water from the glass in front of me.
  250. "Sometimes boring can be a nice change of pace, given the company we work with." Sasha said, batting her eyes.
  252. "But, it seems even though I've known you forever, I barely know anything about you Malachi." She said with a pouty frown.
  254. "What's there to know? My name's Malachi O'Malley, was born in Brooklyn, my mom was a heroin addicted whore, my dad was just a john who forgot to pull out. I've just kinda always been on my own."
  256. "That's awful...But, it's made you stronger, no doubt. Made you the best at your profession."
  258. "You could say that."
  262. The night wore on, and we continued to make chit-chat. Eventually the last call came, and Sasha drove me back home. She walked me to my front door even, and suddenly jerked me around to face me. She stared into my eyes, pulling me in for a kiss. It was quick, but passionate, with her tongue infiltrating my mouth, and dancing around mine. She held me tightly as we embraced, my brain short-circuited for a moment and didn't know how to react to the sensations it was receiving. She then pulled away, and giggled slightly, before walking back to her Mercedes.
  264. "Don't be a stranger, Mladshiy." She said with a wave and a sway of her wide hips.
  268. It might be the biggest cardinal sin to mix business and pleasure in this profession, but sometimes, rules were meant to be broken.
  274. SITUATION 2: Skin & Bones
  276. January 30th, 1988
  278. Langley, Virginia
  280. 4:40 PM
  283. Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters
  285. "I'm telling you, Chief, Sarah can do it. She's one of the hardest working people we have, I think she deserves this shot, she's been waiting three years to be a senior agent."
  287. "She's been doing grunt-work, Vincent. As the director, I think you can see why I'd have a tough time having some bug-broad do such a high profile job, do you realize what The Undertow is? It's a car-bomb ready to blow at any minute. If she fucks up, she'll get eaten alive. You want me taking that risk of havin' The Brass come down on me?"
  289. "With all do respect sir, I don't think Miss Mosley being a woman or being a honeybee-anthro has anything to do with her abilities as a spook. I think she would do well; she's perceptive, quick, and can think on her feet. I've seen her read people. And all the other senior agents are busy. I mean, half the agency's in either Nicaragua or Iran having to clean up the mess from last year."
  291. "Fine. I'll call the NY District Attorney and tell him what the situation is. But if Gotti and his goons have *him* under their thumb like he does most of the damn force up there, we're all royally screwed."
  293. I was initially dismayed to hear what the Director had to say about me, but I could always count on Mr. Vincent to vouch for me. Ever since I was hired, he seemed like he was the only one who looking out for me. Everyone either thought I was too stupid to be an agent because of my species, but I knew I could prove them wrong. I could handle this, even if it was something this big.
  295. The word is that the La Cosa Nostra still has power in New York City, and has corrupted almost the entire police force, and is using it to help smuggle in drugs and prostitutes from Colombia. And it will be my job to come in as a new detective transferring in under an assumed name to see whether that's true. This could be big, not just for the city, but for the whole country. To finally to a stop to organized crime in New York, and make the world a better place by putting a stop to some of the drug trafficking.
  297. The door to the Director's office cracked open, disrupting my thoughts. There in the doorway stood Mr. Vincent. one of the assistant directors. He was a tall human man, in his late thirties, and had blonde hair. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a crush on him, but he was happily married...unfortunately.
  299. "Agent Mosley, would you please step in for a minute?" He said with a warm, reassuring smile.
  301. The Director sat behind his desk, and was grimacing as I walked in the room. He was a basset hound-anthro, was in his mid-fifties, and was on the chunkier side. He was a stern man, but was generally reasonable.
  303. "Agent Mosley, I'm approving you for Operation No New York. I don't need to remind you the sensitivity that this requires, or the types of folks we are after. These are powerful men, and you would be wise to protect yourself out there. In fact, just to let you know the danger of this op segues into your first lead: Both the mayor of the city, Clara Barton, and district judge Albert Myers went missing around the same time about ten hours ago, with the mayor's boat mysteriously gone as well. I'm telling you right now, this stinks to high heaven. That's where I want you to start." He said with a stern look.
  305. "We've readied you a New York driver's license, and the D.A. up there should be handling your "transfer" papers as a detective
  306. from Schenectady to NYC."
  308. I looked down at the fake license, it read "JANE ALFORD", with a picture of my head from my real driver's license.
  310. "You will be detective Jane Alford, do your best to fit in with the folks up there, don't be afraid to fraternize and do whatever you need to do to win 'em over, but remember, they're not your friends, and if they're tied up with the Mob, have no remorse in taking them down, they're not good people. Good people don't help smuggle in dope and sex slaves."
  312. "I won't let you down, Chief." I said with a confidant look on my face.
  314. "Alright. Vincent, take her to get her things and head to the airport, give me a call when you land at JFK. I wanna start this ASAP."
  317. +
  320. January 27th, 1988
  322. Queens
  324. 3:00 PM
  327. *tap* *tap* *tap*
  329. I put down the weights I was bench-pressing, after feeling someone tap on my shoulder, disturbing my workout. I took off the headphones to my Walkman, as a Rachmaninoff piece could be heard gently playing through the small earbuds
  331. Looking up, I saw a large man in a pinstripe suit, completely inappropriate in a gym. He had greased back hair, and looked to be in his mid-forties, he looked like a stereotypical wiseguy. I wiped the sweat from my brow, and looked up as he spoke.
  333. "Mistah Callaway, if you would follow me, I'll be takin' you home." He said in a thick New Jersey accent.
  335. Well, this meant it was time for another job. And judging by the type of character that was picking me up, I had a pretty good idea who my employer was. It would take someone who was very well connected to figure out that I was John Callaway, and that I went to this particular gym, along with knowing that John Callaway did not exist, and was in actuality, an assassin.
  337. "Alright, let's go." I said with a sigh, following behind him out the front door lazily, into the frozen New York streets.
  340. The SUV lurched forward from the parking lot of the gym onto the road, and soon after me and Mr. Mobster got situated, the car-phone in the backseat where I sat started ringing. After a several rings, he glared at me and piped up from the driver's seat.
  342. "It's for you, Mistah Callaway." He said curtly.
  344. I nonchalantly picked up the phone, and was quickly greeted by the sound of a woman's voice, smooth as velvet, with the allure of a mature, finely aged wine.
  346. "Hello, Malachi."
  348. "The Queen of New York herself, I dunno if I should be afraid or honored to have Ophelia Dimeo ask me for a job." I said sarcastically.
  350. "You're quite perceptive to figure out it was me, Malachi. Might I ask what tipped you off?"
  352. "Well, it's not everyday you see an Italian guy dressed in a sharp pinstripe suit walk into a small gym, for one."
  354. "I do apologize for interrupting you, but if it's any consolidation, Guido will be taking you home. Save you a few bucks in cab fare." Ophelia said with a giggle.
  356. "I appreciate it." I said rolling my eyes. "So are we doing this over the phone? That doesn't really seem like your style."
  358. "No, I called you because I wanted to invite you to dinner with me. We can discuss further business there. I was thinking, Othello's, at seven o'clock?" She inquired.
  360. "Seven it is."
  362. "Perfect. I do await our date with baited breath, Malachi." She cooed before hanging up.
  364. I hung up the car-phone not long after, leaning my head back into the seat of the car. Ophelia Dimeo wasn't called the Queen of New York for nothing. If she wanted my business, it meant it was gonna be a something hairy, something involving politics. And I hate politics. Ever since Gotti got locked up, the word on the street was that she wanted to move up in influence and out of the Undertow. Intimidating wop thugs had lost its luster for Ophelia, and she wanted to move up to the big leagues. She lusted after the kind of power that came from controlling senators, the police, public officials. Stuff I didn't really care for frankly, but a job's a job. Such is the life of the independent contractor.
  366. It did bother me that this would mean I'd have to wear a suit again...
  369. +
  372. Staten Island
  374. 7:00 PM
  377. Ophelia was a striking woman, to say the least. She was a golden jackal, and was a fairly short woman. But she more than made up for it in her assets she had been blessed with. Wide hips, an ass to die for, and a bountiful bust, even in her forties she was a woman any guy would drool over. She had big curly blonde hair, amber eyes, and wore a bright red dress that made her look even more buxom. It was almost hard for me to concentrate on our meal with her in front of me, but I endured. Although, from the glances and smug looks I got from her, I think she noticed my ogling.
  379. The restaurant was as authentic Italian as one could get without having to buy a plane ticket to Sicily. Of course, it was a place Ophelia owned, but it wasn't something you'd see in The Godfather. It had many respectable people as patrons, most of them Wall Street types, so I guess that did still make them crooks, just different kinds than I was used to.
  381. Ophelia took a sip from the glass of red wine she was holding, and cleared her throat to get my attention, as I ate the delicious baked ziti I ordered.
  383. "I've enjoyed having dinner with you Malachi, you are some good eye-candy for an old gal like myself, but I think it's time we get down to the matter at hand."
  385. "Sounds good to me." I said in-between bites.
  387. "I wanted to inquire about your services not just because you're cute; but because from what I've heard you're the best." She said in a hushed tone, leaning in closer to me.
  389. "You see, the politics of The Undertow seem a little...beneath me, nowadays. After helping out the boys in the Crime Commission get my rivals in the family locked away, the fun of it all seemed, well, diminished. I've since moved on to a bigger, more exhilarating game: politics." She said with a devious smile.
  391. "I'd say that's where we disagree."
  393. "Perhaps, but that's what makes you perfect for this job, you only care about money, and there's nobility in that I think. You're not a Republican or a Democrat, you just desire the thing most people do, But since I'm in a position where money is no obstacle for me, I figured I would find you since you are the best in New York, so they say."
  395. Somehow that sounds slightly derogatory.
  397. "The person I need gone is the mayor, Clara Barton, someone I was a benefactor to, but...after a disagreement on getting her to pass a bill that would make the city tougher on crime, specifically, drug related crimes, she needs to say goodbye."
  399. "Because if the bill passed that would decriminalize marijuana, that would cut into your profits, and could potentially lead to other substances going that way in the future?"
  401. "You're quick! I'm impressed... You're exactly right. No one hates legalizing product more than a cartel. But obviously it's not just this one issue, Mrs. Barton has also seemed to forget I was the one that helped her get to her position in the first place, and I can't have my other puppets forget their place. But this is the one condition: it must look like an accident. This in no way, shape, or form, can come back to me."
  403. "Alright, accidents are fine, it just takes a little bit longer to make this happen, and from I'm getting at, you want to make this 'problem' of yours go away as soon as possible."
  405. "That is true, but I'm not just going to leave you to figure it out all by yourself. See, for whatever reason, Barton has a habit of always going out to the Hudson the last Saturday of every month, even when it's below freezing like it is this time of year. I have her home address, where her boat is docked, and what her boat looks like all in this little envelope." She said, pointing to her bosom, then she lowered her top slightly to pull something from her chest, and lo and behold, there was a small envelope in between her mountainous rack. I also got a good look at her cleavage, and it didn't disappoint. But I wondered what this display was about, was she that desperate for male attention? Can she not a get a boy-toy? Very bizarre.
  407. "I'm sure you can figure out the rest from there." She said with a wink.
  409. Either way, I took the manila envelope and put it in my jacket pocket, as Ophelia raised her dress back up to keep her modesty.
  411. "So what number did you have in mind? Because when it comes accidents, my price is usually a little higher."
  413. "Name it and I'll pay it."
  415. "...Seriously?" I said, slightly dumbfounded.
  417. "Yes. I want this done, and I want it done right. So whatever it takes, whatever supplies you might need, name your number."
  419. "Um...ten thousand?" I asked knowing she would shoot it down.
  421. "Done. I'll have someone deliver it to your home by tomorrow. And if this goes as well as I expect it to, this could be a fruitful partnership in the future, Malachi...in more ways than one~."She said, leaning in even closer to where we were face-to-face and giving me a peck on the cheek, as well overpowering me with her scent, which smelled like roses, and left me slightly lightheaded as she pulled back.
  423. "Oh, and when you're finished, give me a ring from the number that's jotted down in that envelope as well, and perhaps we'll go on another date some time later, if you don't mind." Ophelia said, batting her eyelashes.
  425. "Not at all."
  427. I suppose in this business, one has to have some sort of vice to keep him sane, and anchored to reality. Mine isn't booze or dope, it's women. And I'm convince that it's more dangerous than both of those combined.
  430. +
  433. January 30th, 1988
  435. Hudson River
  437. 4:00 AM
  440. Today was the big day. It was the last Saturday of the month, and mayor Clara Barton would be making her way onto her boat like she did every month. I decided to come early to finish preparations after buying all the supplies I'd need today, which were thankfully minimal. I mulled over many ideas after my dinner with Ophelia, but I think this one was fairly full-proof. It took some guessing on my part, and would require a bit of social engineering as well, however, it wasn't impossible.
  442. Making sure that no one was around, I gave one last check before hopping into Barton's boat and going to my hiding spot for when she would depart. The one point of contention I had with this, and why it baffled me that this was a ritual for her was that it might be the coldest day I've ever endured in my twenty-three years living in New York. I have zero interest in boats or boating, but I suppose the one good thing out of this was that the mayor's boat was about the size of what I'd guess a miniature yacht would be, and had plenty of room for plan on where I would go and what I was going to do.
  444. Nevertheless, I opened up the metal locker that was just big enough for me to fit in, and waited.
  447. +
  450. 7:00 AM
  453. The sound of loud footsteps and the gentle swaying of the boat brought me back to reality, and I realized it was almost showtime. And just as I had thought, there were two different pairs of footsteps, one slightly heavier than the other. The first part of my hunch was correct, now the rest of the job entailed some calculated risk, and a little bit of persuasion from me.
  455. I spent the next hour that it took for the boat to start and then get moving, and then stop again, and stay stopped before I made my first move. I went over exactly what I would do for this to all work multiple times, and like in pretty much every job, their was a calmness to me. I felt totally at peace, and nothing bothered me. Not the bitter cool air, not the oddity of the job itself, I was still.
  457. So, I slowly and carefully got out of the locker, giving myself a minute to stretch from being cramped in their all morning, put on a pair of latex gloves, and grabbed my weapon of choice; a throwaway 9mm. Glock. Not my favorite gun by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly the most generic one a civilian would buy. Just another wrinkle in my plan to keep myself from being in any way incriminated.
  459. Up in the cabin on the top floor of the boat, the muffled voice of George Michael could be heard, and I swear I could smell incense even from down here. I took one deep breath, then skulked up top to the cabin to get to work.
  461. When I opened the door, I pointed it at the first person in my sight, which happened to be a human man in I would guess his fifties, holding a glass of champagne, this being judge Arthur Myers. I then looked to my left, and there was my target, a red fox-anthro, Clara Barton, first nonhuman mayor of New York City.
  463. They went through the usual reactions of having a stranger point a gun at you, surprise, shock, then fear. The judge began to say something, but I interrupted him by going into the second part of my plan.
  465. I feigned confusion at their being two people here, then began chuckling and rolled my eyes in relief.
  467. "W-what's uh, what's so funny?" The judge asked.
  469. "Oh you know, with you, Judge Myers, being here, this makes my job a whole lot easier, so I just wanna be the first to thank you for that." I said with a big grin.
  471. "W-what do you mean? What is going on? Why are you on my boat!?" The mayor shrieked. The fear palpable in her eyes.
  473. "Great question, and I'm more than willing to answer it! I'm what they call an, 'independent contractor'. You see, my employer, Ophelia Dimeo hired me because she feels that what she's done for you has gone...well, unappreciated. Personally, it's none of my business, but hey, I'm just the messenger." I said with a smirk.
  475. "Well, what do you plan on doing..?" The judge said with a nervous laugh glancing at the gun occasionally, then back at me.
  477. "My first plan was this: I was going to sneak up behind your I'm assuming lover, here, Mrs. Barton, snap her neck, get a big steak knife I brought with me last night, chop her into pieces in the sink where I would also drain her blood, and melt the chunks of her body in sulfuric acid before tossing the pink goo that's left from the chemical reaction of the acid and flesh into the Hudson." I said matter-of-factly. Which was a total fabrication. For one, you can't melt bodies with sulfuric acid, I've tried. Two, where would I get it? And three, that's more of a hassle than it would be worth.
  479. But me stating that plainly did the trick, and caused the mayor to go into hysterics, as she began bawling her eyes out and screaming. Judge Myers looked at her, then to me, and slowly began moving over to her. I pointed the gun away from him and let him console his lover.
  481. "Now, hey, now CALM down. I'm not gonna do that now." I said, trying not to look as annoyed as I was at her screeching like a dumb broad.
  483. They both looked up at me in a mixture of terror and curiosity, as I began to let the rest of my beautiful plan unfurl.
  485. "See how I look at it is this: with your friend Judge Myers here, I thought up of something even *better* then melting your body! Two words: Murder. Suicide. It's perfect! You're obviously cheating on your husband, mayor Barton, and you're cheating on your wife, judge Myers! Well how about this, one of you is overcome with both the guilt of betraying your marriage, and with the potential that something as salacious as this could ruin your political career, in the heat of passion, on a romantic date on your boat out here, you kill him, then yourself! It's straight out of a bad romance novel!"
  487. "So..you want me to kill Arty, then commit suicide?" She said skeptically, brushing away tears from her eyes. I could see her mulling it over in real time, it was great; I was out-spinning a politician. Maybe I should run for office some day...
  489. "Well, I can still snap both of your necks and boil you in acid, but frankly, this is the less messier option, and I'm not a cruel man. I'd much rather do this. It was Ophelia that wanted me to make you suffer, but that's not really how I roll. I'm a professional, If it's within my power, I want to make things as clean and simple as possible." I was laying it on a little thick I'll admit, giving my best Joel Olsteen fake-nice-guy smile, but it was working. I suppose people are more susceptible to bullshit in high-stress situations.
  491. "I should have never gotten involved with that...that *witch*. They say business with her is like making a deal with the Devil, but I never believed them." The mayor said with a crestfallen look. This wasn't good. I needed to coach them up, get them back in the mood if things were going to work how I wanted them to.
  493. "I mean, I only married that alcoholic, incompetent buffoon of a husband I have now FOR political reasons! I'm awful, rotten..." She said, as judge Myers went to hug and kiss her.
  495. "I don't believe that's true, Mrs. Barton."
  497. They both looked up at me, shocked to hear those words coming from the person who was going to end them.
  499. "I think you're both good people, but the situations and the choices you've had to make up to to this point have led to this. But you know what? Fuck Ophelia Dimeo. If you're going to go out, you'll go out on your own terms, and that's what I'm here for."
  501. "Clara, do you believe in God?"
  503. "Y-yes."
  505. "And Arthur, do you believe in God?"
  507. "I do."
  509. "Good. Because you're both good people who got caught up in the wrong business, and that happens all the time. Do you think soldiers who've been through wars, but are pious people don't go to Heaven? If They don't, then that's not really a world I want to live in, frankly. I don't see you two's situation any differently. You clearly love each other, you're Christians, but you got stuck, and hey, that's okay." I said, giving the more sincere fake smile I could muster.
  511. I could see my manipulating of their emotions and religion was starting to get through to them, and now was time for the riskiest move.
  513. I bent down to where I was eye-level with the mayor, and handed her the Glock. She took it, but had a confused look on her face, as if she didn't believe what I was doing.
  515. "Careful, the safety's off, keep your finger away from the trigger."
  517. And she did, moving her finger away. I had them now.
  519. "Now Clara, what I'm doing is showing you my trust and faith in you two. That pistol right there is the only weapon I brought up to this cabin, I have nothing else on me." I emptied my pockets as I spoke, and showed that I had nothing in my hoodie that I was wearing.
  521. "Alright, so now that we're squared away, here's the game plan: Arthur, I need you to sit across from Clara on the other side, and Clara, when I tell you, point the gun at him but don't do anything else until then, alright?"
  523. And as if on cue, they did as I said, as I coached them to their demise. These dumb motherfuckers were really about to do this... It was like leading lambs to the slaughter, too easy.
  525. "Good, good, you're both doing great. Arthur? Do you love Clara?"
  527. "Yes. Yes I do."
  529. "Tell her you love her then."
  531. He took a deep breath. "Clara, sweetie, I love you more than anything in the world."
  533. "Beautiful, that's beautiful. Now Clara, here comes the hard part, but after this, things get a whole lot easier. Have you ever used a firearm before?"
  535. "Once when I was little, when my daddy took me hunting."
  537. "Alright. Now what you need to know about a handgun, is that it's got some kick to it. You need to hold it tightly."
  539. "Now what I want you two to do now, is close your eyes, and say a silent prayer to each other. This will all be over real soon, and before you know it, you'll be standing at the pearly gates with Gabriel and will spend eternity with each other, just how it should be."
  541. They closed their eyes, and after a minute each said amen, doing whatever it is one does when they pray.
  543. "Alright now Clara, I'm gonna count backwards from three, you pull that trigger three times, because we don't want Arthur here to be in any pain, do we?"
  545. "N-no." She said, tearing up once more.
  547. "You're exactly right. Arthur, is there anything you want to tell Clara?"
  549. "I...I'll see you soon. I love you."
  551. "I love you too." Clara choked out in a whisper. This all would be touching, but I was starting to get a little bored and was ready for them to kill each other so I could get ready and head back home.
  553. "Alright Clara. Three...two..........one."
  555. -BANG-
  557. -BANG-
  559. -BANG-
  561. Arthur Myers' body sat there limply, as blood began to pour from the new holes in him. Strangely enough, Clara didn't seem upset at all, she seriously bought into this horseshit and was ready to go. And without any further coaching from me, she pointed the pistol under her chin, and pulled the trigger once more.
  563. -BANG-
  565. Now Clara's body reclined back into her chair, her head knocked back, staring up at the ceiling from the force of the bullet, as the gun fell harmlessly from her hand to the floor.
  567. It started out as chuckle, then giggles, then I started laughing manically. I had it all planned out perfectly in my head, but the fact that it went almost as I had imagined it, to a T! I just shook my head. Unbelievable, how could they be so dumb? Now I knew what it was like to bet a huge hand in a game of a high-stakes poker: The thrill of risking everything on a miracle bet, and watching it unravel perfectly, it was pretty addicting, I'll admit.
  570. +
  573. After taking a few minutes to calm myself down, I went back to where I entered the boat and carefully wiped down every area that I had touched without a glove on. I thought about leaving now, but I'd imagine that would raise some suspicion if the police were already investigating if either of their spouses had filed a missing persons report. So, it was time to play the waiting game, I'd leave in the morning, and swim back to the docks. This would be the hardest part for me, and I wasn't looking forward to it, but I could take a couple hours of freezing pain over having to melt bodies. Besides, I had a wet-suit that at least claimed to keep your body *somewhat* insulated.
  576. +
  579. January 31st, 1988
  581. 10:00 AM
  584. The makers of that wet-suit I can say unequivocally, are lying bastards. It felt like I could barely breathe. My arms and legs instantly tensed up to where it felt like I could barely move them, but I pressed on. I had to. I'm a survivor, I knew I could handle it, I've had to put up with far worse shit in past anyway.
  586. As I climbed up onto the dock near where my bag I set out overnight, I immediately grabbed a towel and began drying off, the feeling of being on dry land had never been so comforting to me before. I had hoped I'd be able to give the cops the slip, as they were crawling all around the docks of the Hudson, but a short honeybee-girl noticed me, and politely waved me over with a smile on her face.
  588. Shit.
  590. The one silver lining to it was that she was awfully cute. She was a short gal, couldn't have been taller than maybe 5'2", but she had a pretty face, full lips, big, black eyes and auburn hair tied in a ponytail.
  592. "Good morning, I'm detective Jane Alford, do you mind if I ask you a couple questions?"
  594. Yes I do, considering I had a hand in why both the mayor of the city, and the district judge are missing.
  596. "No, not at all." I said with a smile.
  598. "Great. Do you um, go swimming, even when it's this cold out?" She said with a perplexed look on her face. God, even her voice was cute and bubbly. If only she wasn't a cop...
  600. "Yeah, I just started as a New's Year's resolution. I heard from a friend that swimming's really good for your back, and that doing it in the cold provides some sort of shock to the system that gives you some more energy during the day." That's total bullshit by the way, I felt like I was going to die from hypothermia in that water.
  602. "Huh, I never thought of that. Oh! Where are my manners, what's your name by the way?"
  604. "I'm John, John Callaway." I said, shaking her dainty yellow chitinous hand.
  606. "Do you mind me asking, uh what's with all the fuzz?" I inquired.
  608. "Well, we got a call about three hours ago that both the mayor and district judge Myers had gone missing at the same time. And The mayor's boat wasn't docked where it normally was."
  610. "Ah, I see. Well that's why this is a surprise to me! I've been out here since six." Pretty sly move on my part getting her to say when they first showed up, to seem less suspicious, if I can brag a little bit.
  612. "Did you happen to see any kind of boats, when you were out swimming, John?"
  614. "Y'know, I think I might have, but I couldn't have swam out for more than half a mile at most, I was doing laps. But I think I saw something that looked like a boat out west, I said, pointing the opposite direction of where the boat actually was."
  616. "Great, you've been a big help. Do you mind if we exchange numbers, if I can keep in contact with you?"
  618. "No, that's not a problem at all." I said with a grin.
  620. After chit-chatting a little longer, Jane and I went our separate ways as I drove to the nearest payphone, and called the number Ophelia gave me.
  622. "Hello Malachi. I just heard what happened on the news, outstanding work. I'm a little busy this upcoming week, but I would *love* to meet up again as soon as we can. Stay cool out there, cowboy." She said before hanging up.
  626. I then headed home, and took the longest, hottest shower I could stomach, before passing out on my couch for the next ten hours.
  632. SITUATION 3: The Gunner's Dream
  634. March 3rd, 1988
  636. Staten Island
  638. 11:20 PM
  641. "Fly me to the moon,
  643. Let me play among the stars,
  645. And let me see what spring is like on,
  647. A Jupiter and Mars"
  649. A husky wolf lounge singer sang tunes from Ol' Blue Eyes, while I accompanied him on the keys.
  651. There was a warm applause when we finished, although I didn't know who he was, but he had a good voice for singing oldies in clubs like Franz Ferdinand.
  653. I made my way over to the bar to grab a bottle of sarsaparilla, and sat on the stool to gather my thoughts. Things had been relatively calm since the last job. Just as planned, it had been ruled a murder-suicide by the police, with a funeral held by both families. The city went into mourning, people seemed a little more dour the coming days after, although I had never felt better. I guess mayor Barton was quite well liked, thought I wouldn't have known, I intentionally don't read the papers or pay attention to politics.
  655. If I were to (anonymously) write a book about my life and my career, I'd imagine the first thing people would like to know is if I feel bad for the things I do. If the impact that my actions have, and how they affect people if it bothers me. Such as the services for the mayor and judge Myers, and you know what my answer would be? No.
  657. Not because I'm totally cold and heartless, I sympathize with their loved ones who lost someone dear to them, but I'm merely doing my job. Does the CEO in a company feel bad when he fires employees? Probably not, it's just business after all.
  659. My thoughts are disturbed by two pillowy mounds resting on my back, as slender furred arms slowly caressed my chest.
  661. "That was wonderful, Mladshiy~. By the way, when I said I wished for us to not be strangers, that was an order, not a request. And with how good business has been going these last few weeks, my next job for you is to follow me into my office, in say, five minutes, hmm?"
  663. I could smell the vodka under her breath, it was warm, slightly unpleasant because of the ethanol, but enjoyable because Sasha had her large cozy frame wrapped around me. I suppose the death of the mayor was a net-positive for all in The Undertow, if the Semya were doing well, I'd venture to guess the Yakuza were also in the black.
  665. "Well, if it's a job, I'm always willing." I said with a calm smile.
  667. I would have sex with Sasha for free, to be fair. But getting paid to do it is a nice bonus. My one fear in the back of my head though is that she might want to pay me to be her 'boyfriend', something that would get in the way of my actual work. But that can all be determined in the future.
  669. "That's wonderful news. I was afraid that on top of not drinking nor smoking, you've taken of a vow of celibacy."
  671. The snow white tigress spun my chair around to face her, putting her snout directly into my ear, causing the wetness of her nose and the warmth of her breath to form condensation in my lobe. At the same time, a paw went for my crotch, a clawed finger running over the outline of my growing erection.
  673. "Then I hope you won't disappoint, Mladishy." Sasha whispered into my ear, lightly nipping it after she finished speaking. Getting off of me, she sauntered off to her office upstairs, her hips sashaying in a hypnotic way, as her round, pert ass swayed to and fro in her tight silk dress.
  675. I finished my bottle of sarsaparilla, took a deep breath, and got up from my chair.
  677. After all, a job's a job.
  680. +
  683. When I cracked the door open to enter Sasha's office, I saw the sultry Siberian crime boss sitting her chair, wearing only a velour bathrobe. She was smoking a recently lit cigar, and had one of her taut thighs crossed over the other as she lounged casually. Her robe looked like it had been thrown on haphazardly, it was open, and one of her hot pink nipples was exposed to me, although Sasha didn't seem to notice or care.
  685. "Like what you see, Mladshiy?"
  687. "Won't hear any complaints from me." I said, with a gulp, clearing my throat.
  689. "Then get over here, and *ravish* me~."
  691. I did as the lady asked, walking over to where she sat behind her desk. Sasha nearly pounced on me, but on reflex I tensed up and prevented her from pulling me down. When I saw the surprised look on her face, I relinquished, and let her slowly pull me down onto her muzzle.
  693. Our tongues collided, her rough, feline muscle wrapping around mine as I breathed in her smokey, alluring scent. I went for her voluptuous breasts while we made out, they were soft, squeezable, and easily gave under my embrace. The ivory furry orbs were like finest pillows, and I became enraptured with them as we embraced.
  695. That was until I felt a tugging at my neck, as Sis grabbed my tie to get my attention.
  697. "As much as I enjoy foreplay Malachi, I'd like to get onto the main event...and see how gifted you are with that soft human tongue of yours...~" She said in a low, sultry growl.
  699. To give me even more of a hint, she spread her legs wide to give me room to move my head down to her crotch and get to work.
  701. When I moved the bottom part of her bathroom out of the way, I saw how wet with need the tigress's pussy was. With a thumb, I began rubbing her engorged clit, testing how horny she really was.
  703. In response, I heard shallow breathy moans coming from the maw of the Russian mob boss.
  705. Hearing how responsive she was just from teasing, I moved my mouth to her vulva, kissing it at first, then running my tongue over her warm, wet, and sweet smelling folds.
  707. This caused her moaning to go up an octave from a low baritone, to a tenor. She began squeezing her supple thighs against my head as I teased her sopping maw with my mouth, moving back up to her clit, and gently nibbled on it.
  709. After minutes of teasing, I began pushing my tongue past her folds into the depths of Sasha's pussy.
  711. This caused the tigress to yell out in pleasure as I explored her vagina with great pleasure, grinding it against her walls with vigor, until I felt her climax directly into my mouth, Sasha crushing my head with her vise-like thighs. Even though the pressure on my skull was uncomfortable, I pressed on, digging my tongue even deeper into her.
  713. As I explored her furthest depths, I felt two pawed hands clasp the back of my head, as if she was trying to bring my face deeper than it was able to.
  715. After cumming a second time, I was momentarily relieved by her removing her hands and thighs from my head, allowing me to catch my breath.
  717. Knowing Sasha, she wasn't satisfied, and I began getting ready to take off my belt to shimmy off my slacks, when a loud series of knocks to the door interrupted our sex-session.
  719. Sasha let out a deep sigh in reaction to the disturbance, yelling at the door.
  723. "A thousand pardons Madam, but piano-man is needed by Yui Ito, and it is urgent." A muffled voice said in a Russian accent.
  725. "What could that bitch possibly want, and how dare she step into MY club...does she not know I'm a busy woman, that I'm USING you currently?" She grumbled something under her breath in Russian, but I couldn't even begin to understand what it was.
  727. It wasn't a surprise at all that I left this little whoring excursion of myself with blue-balls, Sasha, for better or worse, was a very selfish woman, in business, with friends, family, and as I learned tonight, in lovemaking. My pleasure meant nothing, which is why I wasn't entirely looking forward to this exchange, it ultimately was a waste of my time.
  729. But as I got up, a cold shiver ran down my spine, as my face went completely pale. If Miss Yui was here...did she want me to repay the favor now? And did she plan on doing it with my blood? I feared for the worst. She was the one who brought me into the world of The Undertow, molded me into a cold, calculating, efficient assassin for the Yakuza as a way to pay off a debt I owed to her.
  731. Did she plan on taking me out of this world?
  733. Only one way to find out. I wiped Sasha's love juices from my mouth as I straightened my tie to look somewhat presentable.
  735. Sis peeled off a few bills and put them on the table by me, and I took them and quickly crumpled them into my pocket. She was back to being her usual self, a cutthroat businesswoman, taking a long drag off of her cigar.
  737. "If only that whore hadn't interrupted us, it takes me at least five orgasms before I'm truly satisfied, and you are quite skilled with that tongue of yours, Mladshiy. But we'll simply have to continue this another time. proshchaniye." She said, then quickly going over several papers, as if I had already left the room.
  739. "See ya." I said, lurching to exit her office, shutting the door behind me.
  741. The first thing that entered my visage after closing the office door was Miss Yui, sitting alone at a table, adjusting her bifocals and glaring at me. She was a rather demure red panda, but Miss Yui had the presence of a stoic. The frown written on her face didn't exactly say that I was going to die tonight, but it also didn't really say...well, anything. Anything good that is.
  743. I made my one down the stairs to the main room of the Franz Ferdinand, to the direction of the table the Yakuza boss sat at, a funeral dirge playing in my head.
  746. +
  749. March 4th, 1988
  751. One Police Plaza, Lower Manhattan
  753. 2:30 PM
  756. It didn't make sense, it was just so...convenient. It had been hinted in the local tabloids that mayor Barton and her husband had been going through marriage troubles, but frankly, affairs were some of the least scandalous parts of any politician's lives nowadays. Why would she kill judge Myers? Hell, why would she kill him, then herself? Did he have dirt on her? After going through newspapers and documents of the last six months, mayor Barton had been strongly pushing a bill to decriminalize marijuana, her argument being prohibition didn't work for alcohol in the 1920's, so why would it work in the 1980's? To me, her death means she was in the pockets of one of the slumlords here, but who? Gotti being in jail, I doubted he was pulling strings from behind bars, considering he's getting up there in age.
  758. And yet at the same time, it seemed completely straight forward: Mayor Barton was simply having an affair, and committed a crime of passion. The optics of having the straight-laced, old fashioned Catholic anthro-woman turning out to be an adulterer were horrible. But I knew that wasn't the whole story, it's why the Director had me use this as a starting point.
  760. As I looked at all the documents strewn about my office, with newspaper clippings taped to my office wall, it was like I was staring at a jigsaw puzzle, and I was missing the *one* crucial piece to complete it.
  762. -knock- -knock- -knock-
  764. "Mind if I come in, Detective Alford?"
  766. "Oh-uh, yeah, come on in Chief."
  768. Chief Bonnetta was a falcon-man in his late fifties. I had gotten to know him a little bit, and my impression was that the was your stereotypical old-school New York cop. He had a thick Long Island accent, and was a stout, stocky man.
  770. "Still goin' over the Barton case, huh?" He said in a slightly condescending tone.
  772. "Something...something just doesn't feel right, Chief. I can't put my finger on it exactly...but I just have a feeling." I said with a concerned expression written on my face.
  774. "Well, you *may* be on to something, and I don't mind if you work on this on your own off-duty, but this ain't Schenectady Alford, this is the Big Apple. It's a tragedy for the whole city, and I think for the memories of both the mayor and judge Myers, we should give it a rest, huh?" He said, patting me on the shoulder.
  776. "...Alright." I said with a fake smile. This was an immediate red flag to me. Wanting me to simply brush this aside? Now I was suspicious of the department...but alas, it was just another piece of this massive jigsaw puzzle.
  778. Looking out the door of my office, I saw a woman I'd never seen before, walking in stride with the District Attorney...someone I was keeping tabs on. She was had a mature, regal aura to her. She was a golden jackal, wearing a fancy sweater and expensive looking jewelry. I couldn't overhear them, but from the expressions on their faces, it seems a deal was going in her favor, and the D.A. didn't seem too enthused about it, in fact, he looked dejected.
  780. "Hey Chief, can I ask who that lady over there is?" I said, pointing in the direction of the golden jackal.
  782. "Oh...that's Miss Ophelia Dimeo. She's one of the most generous New Yorkers that's ever come out of the city. She donates a fair amount of money to public services, the department bein' one of them. She may be a civilian, but trust me Alford, she's good people, and only wants the best for the city." He said, laying it on thick with the whole 'she's the next Mother Theresa act'. I wasn't buying it. I had to make it a priority to find out *who* this Ophelia Dimeo character was. It wasn't uncommon for the rich to fraternize with public officials in any major city, but just by looking at her, looking at her eyes, how she seemed to looked down upon the D.A., something was fishy.
  784. It was a gut instinct, and my gut was hardly ever wrong. Trusting my intuition was how I'd made it this far in the CIA. Now I only needed to find some evidence...
  787. +
  790. "It shouldn't come as a surprise to you as to why I'm here, Malachi. You need to repay the favor you owe." The red panda woman said in a cold, aloof tone.
  792. I felt my soul sink hearing Miss Yui speak. Favors are never good. If she didn't come to ice me tonight here in front of Sasha to make a point, it meant I'd be doing something much worse.
  794. "Alright fine, what is it, let's just get it over with..." I grumbled in a fatigued voice.
  796. "Unlike what you may be thinking, I do not plan on sending you on a suicide mission. If it were up to me, I would have you do something that benefits me and my territory here in New York, however, because of you taking money from the Russians, I'm in the same position as you are, Malachi."
  798. I raised a brow in confusion, wondering what she meant.
  800. "Ken Shouji was the son of *my* boss in Tokyo. I had to spend hours explaining to him how the 'tragedy' that befell his son was simply an accident. However, since it happened in my territory, that meant to him it was my fault. And instead of killing me outright for this, he wants me to help him with something that's been a thorn in his side for years. So, to pay back your debt to me, you will go in my place, and this gigantic waste of everyone's time will be over, the slate will be wiped clean." Yui said in a slightly agitated tone.
  802. "Yui, what was I supposed to do? If I piss off Sasha, not only does that close me off from doing further business with her, it's a potentially lethal move, like I'm now an enemy of hers. I looked at it as simply a business move, nothing more, nothing le-"
  804. "And how was what you did years ago not a betrayal to the Yakuza, to *me*?" She interrupted, staring daggers into me.
  806. "Jesus Christ, this shit AGAIN..." I said, rubbing my forehead.
  808. "Look, I'm not even Japanese, I thought since I'm not blood 'cuz I'm not from 'grorious Nippon', that meant I was nothing more than a tool, and my life meant jackshit?, Right?"
  810. "It might have to them over in Tokyo, but you meant much more to me, Malachi. After taking you in that day from the streets, seeing how filthy you were, but also seeing the potential for something great in you... training you to be the most efficient assassin any of us had ever seen before, it brought me tremendous pride. In a way, it felt like you were my own son." Yui said, glancing off to the side.
  812. "...aaaand since I left the minute after my debt was paid, I'm a terrible person?" I said skeptically.
  814. "No, I merely felt at the time, as I still do, that you were throwing away your life. You threw away an opportunity to have people that cared about you, protect you, and instead, you ran away from it, like a scared, feral dog. You went back to your old ways, and after those seven years with us, you learned absolutely nothing. Have I not earned the right in the slightest to feel a little offended at seeing one I considered a friend, someone who I felt closer to than most of my family, to see him run away?" She said, her eyes sorrowful.
  816. "That's where you're wrong, Yui." I said in a cold, quiet tone.
  818. "'Family', 'protection', that doesn't mean shit in The Undertow. Here, it's either fuck, or get fucked. Every man for himself. If you've deluded yourself into thinking that little spiel about family is true, than Jesus, Yui, I've said before you're the smartest person I've ever met, but you can be really stupid sometimes. In The Undertow, you take what a guy will give to you, and if he doesn't give it to you, you shoot him in the fucking face. I was born here, born in this fucking gutter. Not pampered in Tokyo when I was a kid, with a mom, and a dad that loved me, I had to grow up really fuckin' quick." I said, my eyes devoid of any emotion as I spoke.
  820. Miss Yui sighed deeply hearing my words, crossing her arms.
  822. "So don't start lecturing me about where we are. And if you really wanna know why I left, why I take money from any schmo offering cash to kill some stupid asshole? It's because the way I see it, every dollar I earn means I'm one step closer to getting the fuck out of here, moving as far away as possible where no one, not the Yakuza, the Semya, Ophelia, the FBI, the fuckin' CIA, no one can find me."
  824. "Do you believe you will leave all weights, all the burdens you have been dragging in The Undertow? I wonder if you will be able to leave them here once you move away, or will you carry them for the rest of your life?" Miss Yui pondered, her eyes narrowing as she stared at me.
  826. I thought for a moment about what she said, and it was like having an ice pick shoved directly into my soul. Would I be able to restart my life, become a farmer, or a fruit vendor or some shit in Siam or some other country in the middle of nowhere? Or would I go back to what I know, what's almost been encoded into my DNA because of how long I've been doing it...
  828. ...No. It's all bullshit. Yui doesn't know anything, she's never had to scratch and claw, literally have to kill for her next meal. She's not a survivor, like me. She doesn't know anything...
  830. I shook my before looking back up at her.
  832. "Whatever. I think we've waxed philosophical long enough, don'tcha think? So what's the job?"
  834. "Very well. Currently hiding in Colombia is a Nicaraguan man named Juan Manuel Angélico. He is a gunrunner, and for many years smuggled firearms and ammunition into Japan, to provide to the Yakuza. However, within the past five years, he stopped providing this service to us, and instead, helped bring weapons to our enemies, causing much of my family's blood to be unnecessarily shed. My boss wants him brought to Tokyo. Alive, so he can face justice for his crimes, and be executed."
  836. "Kidnapping huh? It's been a long time since I did one of those, probably the last one was probably eleven years ago, when I was twelve. Do you really trust me to do this right?" I said with a sarcastic smirk.
  838. "Yes, because we have narrowed down his location to where we believe he will be. Angélico over the past three years has moved around all of Central and South America, going from city to city, making his hideouts in churches, where he also stores his stock of weapons. He daylights as a priest, and sells guns at night. He has a habit of staying in one place no longer than six months, and we believe he will be in the city of Santa Marta."
  840. "What species is he?"
  842. "Angélico is a common basilisk, has brown skin, thinning grey hair, black, beady eyes, and I would estimate him to be in his early forties. He is usually dressed in a black suit with a white collar around his neck, to keep up the appearance of a Catholic priest. I would say if you found someone fitting that description in Santa Marta, it's probably Angélico.
  844. "So am I getting paid at all for this, or am I simply 'repaying my debt'?" I said dryly.
  846. "No, you will get paid your usual rate, and will have all travels fees accommodated. If it's fine with you, get your preparations done tomorrow, and be at the airport on Wednesday by eight o'clock. And once you've obtained Angélico, call this number, and we'll have a plane prepared for you to depart to Tokyo."
  848. "I simply want this over with." Yui signed, and adjusted her bifocals once more.
  850. "Alright. Have a good night, Miss Yui." I said, getting up from my chair, and heading for the door.
  852. "Malachi, please think about what we discussed this evening. For your own good." She said, with a concerned look on her usually stoic face.
  854. I waved at her, before walking out with both hands in my pockets.
  857. +
  860. March 6th, 1988
  862. Santa Marta, Colombia
  864. 5:30 PM
  867. I didn't get to my hotel until late last night, as the flight had to make a stop down in Florida, before finally landing in Colombia. I figured me and the Yakuza's mutual friend wouldn't close shop between now and then.
  869. Though I thought about it for awhile, I decided against taking a heater. It'd bring far too much static my way if in between airports they somehow found out I had a gun on me, and I didn't want to run the risk of them confiscating my prized CZ 75. So instead, I only have a person's greatest weapon: my brain. I learned several martial arts that were essential in becoming a hitman when Miss Yui took me in as a boy, the most useful I found was jiu-jitsu, as grappling involved leverage, and taking your opponent to the ground.
  871. Playing the odds, with my target being a lizard in his forties, with reptiles in general not being known for their strength; and me, a young human male in peak conditioning, I figured it shouldn't be too difficult apprehending him, if I was smart about it. One thing lizards did have over humans, and especially basilisks, was speed. Some of the top sprinters in the world were lizards, as their generally small mass and light bone structures made them excellent runners. In fact, basilisks in particular were said to be so light and fast, that they could run on water for around a hundred yards, give or take, giving them the nickname 'Jesus lizards'.
  873. So the plan is this: Find Mr. Angélico, bring him to ground so he can't squirm or run away, choke him to unconsciousness, tie him up, call Miss Yui and tell her I'm ready, and I should be in Tokyo by this time tomorrow.
  875. It sounded easy enough, but plans rarely go off without a hitch. What happened with mayor Barton was a total anomaly.
  877. After talking with several locals about a lizard priest, I was directed to a small church on the outskirts of the city. The sun was getting ready to set, but I imagined if he was a man of the cloth (or trying his best to pretend to be one), he would still be here. The church was about the size of a small house, and in fact, looked like someone's home. The only clue it gave to it being a church were the stained glass windows, along with a wooden cross on the door.
  879. I tentatively turned the doorknob, figuring it would be locked, when the door unlatched I entered the holy house.
  881. It was solely lit by candles around the room, and had what you would expect from a church. There were rows of pews, an altar with a podium, paintings of Jesus. But more importantly, there was my target, a brown skinned, grey thin-haired lizard man sitting in one of the front pews, reading a bible.
  883. He turned around to look at me, a warm smile forming on his leathery visage, as he closed the book and got up to greet me.
  885. "Uhh, no habla espanol, erm...yo soy Englais?" I said in what little Spanish I knew.
  887. The brown lizard chuckled, as he he got closer to me, shaking my hand. I inspected him closely to make absolutely sure I had my man. He had a priest outfit on, had beady black eyes, (although that describes a lot of lizards to be fair) and in the middle of his head had the distinctive bill of skin, like a mohawk, that basilisks are known for. This had to be Angélico.
  889. "Si, my friend, I do speak English. What troubles you this evening?" He said in an accent that sounded similar to Mexican.
  891. I quickly whipped up a scenario in my head, and began fake-crying, getting down on one knee, acting totally distraught. My thinking being that if I got down to where I was lower than him, then I would have more leverage to to tackle him to the ground with.
  893. "P-please Father...forgive me. I-I've done something terrible!" I really laid it on thick with the fake tears, sniffling, really sold it to him.
  895. "What is it, my child?" He said with a concerned look.
  897. "W-well... I-I'm here on vacation, a-and I rented a car, right? W-well, I was driving around, a-and I wasn't paying attention, and hit this small boy! I took him to the hospital, b-but they weren't sure if he'd survive. I'm very religious, Father, and I n-needed to see a priest. I guess it doesn't matter now that I'm here b-but...the doctor said to see Father Angélico, i-is that you?" I pleaded, wiping my eyes of faux tears.
  899. "Si. I am Juan Manuel Angélico." He said with a smile.
  901. Bingo.
  903. With everything I could muster, I tackled him to the ground, putting all my weight onto the lizard-man, preventing him from moving. He struggled as we went to the ground, but the combination of the shock of me attacking him, and my weight kept him pinned. I put both hands around his neck. It was like grabbing onto hardened rubber. When he began gagging, I counted down from twenty, about how long it would take for his larynx to close up and for him to lose consciousness.
  905. "Sorry Father, it's not me who's going to be repenting for my sins, but you, in Tokyo in front of the Yakuza." I said, keeping a hold of his writhing, struggling form.
  907. I could see it now. Soon, I would be out of here, into Tokyo, they would take care of their business with Father Angélico, and the minute I get back to New York, I would be booking a ticket to Montana, or somewhere with mountains, forests, no cities, and no people. I needed to get away for a while. The Undertow eats at your soul, even if you're someone who was born into, and hardened by it, sometimes you need to get away for a few weeks and decompress.
  909. ...And that's what would be happening, if I paid attention, and wasn't daydreaming. Because behind me, by the pulpit, a door to the side closed, and a woman's voice said "Papa?" before gasping.
  911. And the next thing I heard, was the clicking of a handgun, and felt it pointing directly at my head. Judging by the sound of the metal, it was an IMI Desert Eagle, probably 50. caliber.
  913. "Get your filthy monkey hands off my father, gringo." The same woman's voice said, in a similar Spanish accent.
  915. Well, the good news is, she didn't kill me outright.
  917. I slowly took my hands off of Angélico's neck, him gasping for air as I did.
  919. I'll admit, the next thing I did was pretty dumb, but I was desperate to get out of this shithole country as fast as possible, and took a chance.
  921. I whipped around, and with my left hand went for the gun, but as I did, I felt a searing pain hit the bottom of my jaw, as the woman punt-kicked me in the face, dropping me to the floor.
  923. I then went to grab something, but she stood over me, still pointing the gun at my face. I got to see the woman accosting me, she was maybe five feet tall at the highest, looked to be in her early twenties, and was also a common basilisk. She has the same black eyes, but had long, blonde hair, tied behind her head.
  925. The most telling thing about her though, was the army fatigues she was wearing, along with a red beret atop her head.
  927. "You've got ten seconds to explain why you're here trying to choke my father gringo, and if I don't get a good enough explanation, I'm blowing off your stupid Yankee head." She said with venom, gritting her teeth.
  931. This really sucks...
  934. Actually, scratch that. This really, really, REALLY sucks...
  940. SITUATION 4: Eclipse
  942. March 12th, 1988
  944. Queens, New York
  946. 10:15 PM
  949. One of the greatest and most frightening things you learn when working for the CIA is the amount of information they have on almost every American. In conjunction with FBI records, I requested everything I could on Ms. Ophelia Dimeo. Most of it was fairly standard stuff, her DOB, where she was born, etc. She had no criminal record, but what was odd to me was her connection to the Italian mafia: She married John Gotti's oldest son when she was in her early twenties, and seemed to spend most of her married life running various 501(c)(3)'s, such as different charities and foundations.
  951. Another oddity was how she seemed instrumental in getting Gotti behind bars; she testified both against him, and her husband, along with many of their associates. All the papers from the time of the event claim it was because she knew right from wrong, and was only doing what was right to get them locked up.
  953. Also, according to tax records, she gave quite a bit of money to mayor Barton when she campaigned for election, and even gave speeches about the importance of having an anthro mayor, for how it represents the city.
  955. I think following my gut was right, she seems to have her hands in too many pies to be totally innocent. Perhaps I'll have to pay her a visit to judge how she acts in person.
  957. -ring- -ring- -ring-
  959. The phone in my apartment suddenly started ringing, taking me away from my train of thought.
  961. "Hello?"
  963. "Hi Jane, it's John Calloway, I thought I'd call you up to say that I had been out of town for a few days and couldn't call you back, but I'm back in the city, so what's up?" He said in a rather tired and dour tone.
  965. "Oh, hi John! Yeah, sorry, I hope you didn't think it was weird that I left a note under your door, I just couldn't reach you, but that does make sense that you were out of town. I just wanted to follow up about what witnessed during the mayor's death, maybe head to a coffee shop or something. I'm still familiarizing myself with the city, so I wouldn't know where in particular." I said with a chuckle.
  967. "Oh, uh...how about Elmo's, it's only a few blocks sway from where I live, I'm not much of a coffee drinker but you might like it. Any time in the morning will be good for me."
  969. "How does ten sound?"
  971. "I'll be there."
  973. "Alright, neat, I'll see you then. Buh-bye."
  975. "See ya."
  977. If I'm being perfectly honest, I didn't just want to follow up with Mr. Calloway because he was a witness, I also think he's pretty cute. He's a young guy, but looking into his eyes, you can tell he has some experience in life, has done some hard living. I've always admired men like that, who can persevere, even when life is tough. My dad was like that.
  979. I also have a bit of a human fetish, or preference rather. There's just something about them that's more interesting to me than other bees... How they talk, how their minds work, their physics... And off of first impressions, John seemed to have all of those. He has an allure to him, one that I'd like to know more about.
  982. +
  985. March 6th, 1988
  987. Santa Marta, Colombia
  989. 6:00 PM
  992. "So start talking, gringo." The lizard girl above me spat out, still pointing the desert eagle directly at my forehead.
  994. "Alright, alright, let's not do anything hasty." I said in an aloof tone, rolling my eyes.
  996. I slowly sat up, never breaking eye-contact with the autumn brown military dressed lizard-girl, and began to speak.
  998. "So here's the deal: I was paid by someone from the Yakuza, who wants your dad brought to Japan so he can be uhh...dealt with. Comprende?" That didn't really come out right, but hey, the truth ain't pretty.
  1000. A disgusted look was written on her visage, Although I wasn't sure if it was because I was here to kidnap her dad, or because I was in cahoots with an international crime syndicate.
  1002. "But you are...American, yes? Why would you work for the Japanese?" The basilisk raised a brow as she analyzed my words.
  1004. "Well see, *I'm* personally not with the Yakuza, I don't have any tattoos, and like you said, I'm way too white for them. However, I'm an...independent contractor of sorts. People give me money, and I kill those they want dead. Usually. This just happens to be an exception." I said with a shrug.
  1006. "That is what I hate about Americans, all of you have no honor, no sense of pride." She shook her head as she chided me and everyone from my country, although the handgun wasn't pointed at my forehead anymore, so I'll take her hating my guts over her wanting to kill me this second.
  1008. "Yes yes, we're all terrible. I'm 'El Diablo', might as well just shoot me now and get it over with." I was calling her bluff, mainly because I was curious about what the deal was with her whole army getup. I had to admit though, her fatigues were quite snug on her, and did a good job of accentuating her curves. She wasn't stacked, but under her buttoned flak jacket she had breasts comparable to ripe oranges. Her body was fit, and athletic, the garb clearly not just for show, she was in great shape.
  1010. "No. Because unlike you, I have a sense of honor, like my countrymen do. I imagine since they sent you to kidnap my papa they gave you a number to call and a flight to catch, yes?" She was now squatting, speaking to me at eye-level.
  1012. "...Yes?" I quizzically replied, not entirely sure what she was getting at.
  1014. "I am going with you to Japan. After my father became ordained as a priest, I gave my word to him that I would protect him with my life, because I knew he had made many enemies." She said with reverence, looking over to the older lizard, who was now regaining his wits and was able to sit up.
  1016. "Wait, so he's actually a priest?" I said confused.
  1018. "Of course he is! He was baptized and ordained a year ago! I know what he did before was wrong, but in the eyes of God, forgiveness is possible, as he has forgiven me for what I did in the past as well..."
  1020. This woman wasn't making any sense. If he actually became a priest, why would the Yakuza still want him after several years have gone by? Do they not have a statute of limitations? Guess not.
  1022. "You're crazy, you know that right?"
  1024. "What do you mean, gringo?"
  1026. "So you want me to take you to Tokyo with your dad so you can, what? take on the entire fucking Yakuza by yourself? What makes you think I won't just kill you between now and when the plane takes off?"
  1028. "Because you are unarmed, and if you are, how would you say - a hitman, then you will only kill me for money, no? Besides, I put you on your ass already. You may have some skills in hand-to-hand combat, but you're no match for me." She said with a smug smirk, turning her nose up at me.
  1030. Now she was starting to piss me off. Yeah, she caught me off guard, big fuckin' whoop. I've got at least thirty pounds on her, I could easily put her on *her* ass, in my sleep!
  1032. I got up to my feet to look her square in those beady, glass eyes of hers. Who the fuck did this broad think she was?
  1034. "Okay, well that still doesn't answer my question. How do you plan on keeping your father from getting killed?"
  1036. "Well, now that I think about it, you're going to help me." She pointed a gloved finger directly into my sternum, knocking me back slightly.
  1038. I began giggling like an idiot at her statement, this girl was insane. I hate dealing with crazies, they're loose-cannons. I'll take cold, calculating, evil mob bosses over nutjobs any day of the week.
  1040. "And what is funny about that?"
  1042. "That *you* think I'm going to help you! Jesus Christ lady take a hint, I only came to this shithole of a country to take your dad on a contract, I'm not helping you on some suicide mission that will not only get both you and your dad killed, if you REALLY piss them off, they'll hunt down everyone that has even an ounce of blood related to you."
  1044. "Look into my eyes, hitman. Are they the eyes of a naive girl?" She said in a steady, low voice.
  1046. I stopped laughing at her and did as she asked, staring into the windows of her soul. What I saw was, well, it's not too dissimilar to what I've been through. The pain, scars, and traumas of the past were written on the lizard-girl's face. To put it bluntly, she's seen some shit.
  1048. "No, they're"=
  1050. "The eyes of a soldier. Just like you."
  1052. I shut up when I heard that. Jesus, how dim am I that I couldn't figure out she was the real McCoy?
  1054. "My name is Alejandra Angélico. I served with the rebels of my country, Nicaragua, to overthrow a government we didn't think was fair, or had our best interests at heart. Maybe you've heard of us, 'Contras', I believe your media called us? What I didn't know was we were being funded by your government, and the Jews in Israel. I fought as hard as I could, killed many without mercy. Women, children, it didn't matter. They weren't people to me, they were traitors, and needed to die. When I learned who was giving us money, and that we were merely being used to smuggle drugs back into America, I was appalled by what I had done. I thought no one could forgive me...Not my dead mother, God, no one."
  1056. "When I found my father a year ago, he told me he had to turned to God, and became his servant. I told him I would join him, never leave his side, and we made a promise to each other and The Lord that we would never do evil again. And I stand by that, I will stand up for my father against the wicked, and protect him with my life. I'm tired of being a slave, and I pity you for not recognizing the bondage you are in." Alejandra said, shaking her head once more.
  1058. This fucking bitch. She calls *me* a slave? I'm a free man, I do as I please; I live by my own rules, my own code. She needs some invisible old man in the clouds to tell her how to live her life, how is that not slavery?
  1060. "What the fuck are you talking about, I'm way more free than you ever will be. Protecting your dad just because he's weak, he can't fess up for what he did in the past, and *you*, believing in something that you've never seen before, never touched, never smelled, never heard. Well lady, guess what? I only believe in what I can see. And I can see green, cash. That's what makes the world go 'round, and that's what I believe in." I said, crossing my arms, and looking down at the shorter lizard-girl.
  1062. "A slave that can't even see the chain around his neck...you truly are pathetic." She said, shaking her head.
  1064. "Alejandra, please, he is lost yes, but it is for God and for himself to decide when he wishes to be found." Juan Manuel said, now sitting back down in ones of the pews beside Alejandre and I.
  1066. "Okay, yup, you're right. I'm retarded, so please explain to me what I'm a slave to." I said, throwing my hands in the air in an exaggerated fashion.
  1068. "To money, gringo! You do these awful things, killing for money! How is that not the definition of slavery, doing something you don't want to do, but you have to do it!?" She exclaimed.
  1070. "What makes you think I don't like what I do?" I said coldly.
  1072. "Heh, please, are you trying to lie to me, or yourself? I see the regret in your brown eyes, the anguish. I can tell you've had a terrible life, it was probably so bad that when you see real kindness, you probably only see it as weakness...I'm sorry, you aren't pathetic, I pity you. For how terrible of a hand you've been dealt in life. Please, what is your name?"
  1074. "...Malachi. And I don't *need* your pity. Or any other empty platitudes you wanna throw at me. This conversation is pointless anyway. You wanna go get crucified by the Yakuza, be my guest, I'll gladly pay for an extra plane ticket just to watch that. But I'm not helping you, you're on your own, Alejandra."
  1076. "Malachi, that name comes from the Old Testament. It's a beautiful name for a man. I suppose I won't force you to help me, but please, if you have any shred of decency left in you, just tell me. Admitting that you're afraid, that you feel pain, it isn't weakness. It's a strength, to know you're still a person. I used to think the same way as you, Malachi, I know what it's like." Alejandra rubbed my shoulder as shes spoke and I swatted her hand away. I didn't need this shit. She knows nothing about my life. At least she still has one parent who's still alive...who loves her. I'm alone, always have been. I only need men for money, and I only need women for a quick fuck. People are tools to be used, and if you don't use them, they'll use you. That's how the world works.
  1078. "Whatever. Tell me when you two are ready to go on your suicide journey to the east and we'll head out.
  1080. Alejandra gave me a worried, sympathetic look, then nodded. She then went over to her dad and they conversed in Spanish. The church conveniently had a phone, and I took out the piece of paper with the number scratched on it that Miss Yui gave me, and readied our flight plans.
  1083. +
  1086. March 7th, 1988
  1088. 38,000 feat above the pacific ocean
  1090. 3:00 AM
  1093. "Are you still awake, Malachi?"
  1095. I turned my head over from the window outside the plane, to the brown lizard-girl next to me. Alejandra had changed out of her fatigues, and now wore a more casual blue jeans that hugged her thighs nicely, and a plain white blouse. I also noticed a silver crucifix hanged from her neck, and below that, the cut on her blouse was low enough to see her reptilian cleavage, which, while not huge, was easy on the eyes.
  1097. "Yeah. I can never sleep on planes." I said, turning my head back to the window. Alejandra sat in the middle of the row we were in, while her dad, Juan Manuel, still in his priestly garb, was sawing logs in the aisle seat. We were on a commercial flight to Tokyo, it was most inconspicuous way to get there, as most people would assume we were just tourists. Although unlike probably every other passenger on here, the Angélicos' bags were filled with guns and ammo, ready to wage their personal war against the Yakuza.
  1099. "I've never flown before, it's kind of exciting!" She said with a giggle.
  1101. That caused me to smile slightly, seeing such a cute reaction from something so mundane as flying.
  1103. "You are quite handsome when you smile, Malachi. It's such a pity that you surround yourself in a world of darkness." She said with a dour expression.
  1105. "Yeah..." I wasn't really in the mood to argue with Alejandra, in fact I'd done some introspection on what she said, about what I do.
  1107. "Y'know...When I was born, I think I must have been some kind of cosmic mistake, an aberration in the universe. My mom was a prostitute, and as far as I know, my dad was just some guy who forget to wear a condom that night. The story goes she was too broke from being a smack addict to get an abortion, so she left me at the hospital after I was born. My really early memories are kinda fuzzy, but from about the age of five, I was living on the streets of Brooklyn. I'd steal scraps from dumpsters behind restaurants to not go hungry, and by the time I was eight, I learned to pickpocket. By age ten, I had already killed someone." I said, still blankly staring out the window.
  1109. "My God...why?"
  1111. "I got a gun for protection in case I fucked up and made my pick-pocketing too obvious. Well, one night I did, and this eagle-man tackled me to the ground, and kept kicking me, and I pulled it out, and fired, three time. I remember his feathers floating in the air when he fell to the ground, and his limp body sat in a pool of his own blood. And I felt nothing."
  1113. "At age eleven, I got a reputation around town as being the kid who'd do anything dirty for cash, as long as it was illegal. Murder, kidnappings, arson, you name it, I've done it before. Eventually the local mafias started to take notice what I was doing, and when I went to pick-pocket this red panda-lady for food, she caught me, and it was the local Yakuza boss in New York. Well, to pay back my debt to them for trying to steal from her, they would train me to become an assassin for them, and after seven years, my debt was paid, and I left. And the rest is history, as they say."
  1115. "So...you've always been alone then?"
  1117. "Yup."
  1119. "I don't know how you've done it...If I didn't have my father, I don't how I would survive, I'd go insane!" She said, as if she was on the verge of tears.
  1121. "The way I look at it is this: The world, nature, the laws of physics, they're all about balance. Most people have those that love them and those they love. Then there's some lucky people that have a ton of people that love them a lot. I guess I'm just one of the few unlucky people that nobody loves." I said with a sigh.
  1123. I then felt my shoulders being abruptly shaken, and I was directly face-to-face with Alejandra, maybe half an inch separated my nose from her short snout. We were so close I could feel her breath on my face, and inhale her scent, which was...really nice. She smelled like roses, with a hint of lilac.
  1125. "Malachi. That is not true at all. No matter what someone does, whatever their past is, *everyone* deserves love. Even you."
  1127. After hearing that, I felt something I haven't felt in a long, long time. That pit that forms in your stomach when you're about to cry, so instead of letting off the waterworks, I closed the distance between her lips and mine.
  1129. It was...the best kiss I've ever had. There was genuine passion, and intimacy behind it. Not just base lust, like I was used to. It was slow, and warm. Alejandra's long reptilian tongue wrapped itself around mine, as she put her hands around neck, and I put mine on the back of her head, running them through her long, blonde locks.
  1131. After what felt like eternity, our lips broke away from each other, and we stared deeply into our eyes, both of us out of breath.
  1133. "T-thank you." I whispered in a hushed tone.
  1135. "Don't you ever forget that Malachi, you're worthy of love." She said with the most beautiful smile I've ever seen before.
  1137. After a few minutes of ogling each other like teenagers, I laid my head against the back of the seat, and sleep came to me.
  1140. +
  1143. March 8th, 1988
  1145. Tokyo, Japan
  1147. 11:35 PM
  1150. When we arrived in Japan, we got a small cheap hotel, with two rooms. Me in one by myself, and one with Juan Manuel and Alejandra. When I talked with someone from the Yakuza on the phone back in Colombia, I was told to bring Angélico to the Grand Marnier Hotel in the middle of Tokyo, the Yakuza's main base of operations.
  1152. After checking in, I never left my room. I've spent the last several hours wrestling in my head with what I should do. My heart, as small, black, and cold as it is, says I should help out Alejandra and her dad. My brain says this is suicide, and not only will it get me killed, but if by some miracle I do survive, I'll be the most wanted man in Japan, and more than likely won't leave the country alive.
  1154. But...what Alejandra said, as small as it was, really meant a lot to me. Maybe I *do* deserve love. I've done more awful things in my twenty-three years on this earth than most people can dream of, all in the name of survival. But are you really surviving if you're miserable? I push the thought away, deep, deep down in my psyche, but I wish, I just wish I could have a normal life. When I dream at night, it's of having a loving mom and dad, growing up in a suburban neighborhood in a nice clean house with other kids my age with parents that are together, going to school, everything that most people take for granted.
  1156. But my defense-mechanism to any time I get vulnerable is to push it down further, lock it away. Maybe it's not so bad to be afraid, to breathe, to feel, to know that I'm alive? That I'm not The Terminator, I have wants, needs, emotions...
  1158. My self-actualizing is interrupted by a knock at my room's door, and I quickly get up to answer it.
  1160. What greets me is Alejandra, in only a large t-shirt and panties, with her hair in a loose ponytail.
  1162. "Hey... I just wanted to make sure you were okay, that you're not sick or anything. You haven't left your room since we checked in, are you...are you alright?" She said with a concerned look, bringing a hand up to my cheek.
  1164. "Yeah it's just...I dunno, I've been thinking a lot and... Alejandra, you're right. I think for once in my life, I want to something that's right, I want to break my chains. I'll help you and your dad, fuck the consequences." I said with a smile.
  1166. Pure joy was written on the lizard-girl's face, as she literally hopped into my arms, kissing my face, as the door shut behind her.
  1168. The hotel room was about the size of two closets put together, so as quickly as she leaped into my grasp, I fell onto the bed, Alejandra now on top of me, kissing me while grinding her hips against my crotch, causing a tightness to grow in my loose basketball shorts I wore.
  1170. She suddenly stopped, and looked off to the side. I'm pretty sure lizards can't blush being coldblooded and all, but if they could, Alejandra was blushing right now.
  1172. "Malachi...you're the first man who's ever made me feel this way...you just, get me, y'know? A-And I get you! So...if you don't want to continue this I-I'll leave but...I want you to be my first lover, if I am to die tomorrow." She said with a gulp.
  1174. "I'd love to." I whispered.
  1176. Alejandra hissed happily at hearing this, and we began taking each other's clothes off.
  1178. She drank in my bare, chiseled frame, admiring the difference between my soft human skin, and her leather-like scales.
  1180. Although her hands and arms were somewhat rough in texture, her chest, belly and thighs were smooth like velvet, and also a lighter shade closer to beige, than the rest of her. I ran my fingers down her wide hips, groping her taught ass, cupping each cheek in my hands.
  1182. I then worked my way up her stomach, feeling her midriff, and landing my hands on her bosom. Each breast fit in my hands perfectly, as I gently squeezed them, and teased her hardening nipples.
  1184. Alejandra's breath was caught in her mouth at feeling this, a stifled moan escaping her supple lips.
  1186. I then changed our positions to where she laid on the bed below me, and I straddled atop of her. I peeled away her white panties, and noticed the dampness in the middle of them before tossing them aside.
  1188. Leaning in closer to wear my face was next to hers, I pecked at her lips before kissing Alejandra in full.
  1190. At the same time, I moved my hands to her waist, grabbing a hold of the base of her tail with my right, and putting two fingers against her moist folds with my left.
  1192. This caused my lizard lover to moan even louder and at a higher pitch, which just encouraged me to further tease her.
  1194. I made slow circles over her engorged clit, and rubbed up and down on her tail. Alejandra moaned delightfully into my mouth as I did, and after a minute of foreplay, I felt her body spasm in orgasm, her hips bucking as she came.
  1196. After a moment of recuperation, took my now fully hard member, and pressed it into the entrance of her sopping wet pussy.
  1198. I looked into Alejandra's eyes, and without speaking, she gave me a glance saying she was ready.
  1200. Slowly, I pushed the head of my cock into her reptilian maw. It was agonizingly tight, even with only the tip of my glans inside her.
  1202. Her breathing became faster, and she held onto me tightly as I continued to push, inch after inch.
  1204. After what felt like an eternity, I was fully inside of Alejandra.
  1206. We were as close to each other as two people could possibly be, as she locked her legs over my hips, and wrapped her tail around my leg.
  1208. Her hands felt like they were clawing into my back as I slowly pulled out ever so slightly, and then, at a glacial pace, pushed back in, causing her to jerk, and hold onto me even tighter, a low guttural moan coming from her mouth.
  1210. After feeling her pussy become less tight and more accepting of my human cock, and sped up slightly, increasing the tempo just enough to where I was consistently thrusting in and out of Alejandra's folds.
  1212. When she became more comfortable with the feeling of her virginity being taken, I felt her nip and bite at my neck, growling in pleasure as I pumped inside of her.
  1214. I took this as a sign that she was ready to go faster, and I obliged.
  1216. Making each thrust vigorous, my pelvis slapped into hers, as our lovemaking hit it's apex.
  1218. I could tell we were both on the verge of reaching climax, of the bliss of cumming.
  1220. Alejandra screamed in unhinged ecstasy, incorrigible things in Spanish, my name, or just gibberish as her brain turned to mush from pleasure, and with one last push, I grunted hard, and thrust as deeply as I was able to into her velvety depths, my cascade of seed painting her walls white with cum.
  1222. Eventually, the high of orgasm wore off, and we were both left panting like feral beasts, our skin covered in sweat as we held each other, inseparable.
  1224. After calming down, I looked Alejandra in the eyes once more, and simply smiled.
  1226. "I can't thank you enough...for showing me that even I can be loved, I'll never forget that."
  1228. "I'm just glad you're beginning to love yourself Malachi. You're not a bad person, you've simply been dealt a bad hand of cards.
  1230. "If I die tomorrow, that's fine, I'll do it knowing I did the right thing."
  1232. Alejandra nuzzled into the my neck after our pillow-talk, as I began to drift to sleep, for the first time, feeling truly at peace.
  1235. +
  1238. March 9th, 1988
  1240. Grand Marnier Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
  1242. 8:00 PM
  1244. The ambient hum of the elevator was the only noise that could be heard as Juan Manuel Angélico, Alejandra Angélico, and me, Malachi O'Malley, awaited certain death. The older Jesus lizard was saying a prayer in Spanish, as Alejandra dug out a Mossberg 500 shotgun out of one the large duffel bags, pumping it with 12-gauge slugs, then cocking back the pump, making sure it was ready for business. She was dressed once again in her army fatigues, saying it's what she felt most comfortable when in combat. It did draw some looks from the secretary at the front desk of the hotel, but I was able to explain it away as Alejandra was my security.
  1246. She handed the her priest father an H&K MP-5, along with a couple banana clips that he stowed away in his pockets.
  1248. Alejandra was nice enough to lend me her desert eagle, one of the finest pieces of engineering I've ever had the honor to lay my eyes on. It was a literal hand-cannon, but I felt awfully powerful with it in grasp, as checked it one last time as it sat in my shoulder-holster on the inside of my suit.
  1250. The name the secretary gave me was Mr. Izawa, who was the head of the Yakuza, and that's who I would put a bullet in.
  1252. There was still a niggling in the back head that what I was doing was absolutely insane. That I was throwing away everything for a girl I just met two days ago, that I was flushing my opportunity to escape The Undertow down the drain.
  1254. And I'll admit, that tug I felt was almost strong enough for me to go back on what I said to Alejandra. I was still having second thoughts even. I'm deathly afraid of what's about to happen. The uncertainty was killing me. On jobs, I always have it mapped out exactly what's going to happen, even accounting for contingencies and snags in my plan.
  1256. But this was uncharted territory, I was going in blind. And I didn't know if I would make the right move. Hell, I have no clue what the right move even is.
  1258. -ding-
  1260. The sound of the elevator alerting us that we've reached the top floor disturbed my thoughts, as I took a deep breath.
  1265. Fuck it. Let's do this.
  1267. The door slowly slid open and standing in front of it to greet us were two Japanese human men in suits, clearly surprised that there three of us in the elevator, and even more surprised that we were armed.
  1269. They fumbled for their own weapons but were stopped dead in their tracks by heavy gunfire.
  1271. -BOOM!-
  1273. -BANG-
  1275. -BANG-
  1277. -BANG-
  1279. Both of their bodies listlessly fell down, one with three large holes in his chest from my desert eagle, and the other with his chest ripped open, caked in shrapnel Alejandra's shotgun.
  1281. We exited the elevator and rounded the corner of the hall, as several other Yakuza members all in sharp black suits came after us, holding rinky-dink peashooters, or even less impressively, knives.
  1283. All of them fell, and were gunned down one by one, even Juan Manuel showed off his skills as marksman, going for head-shots and never missing once.
  1285. The hallway was littered with bodies and blood as we made our way to the large ballroom in the middle of the floor, where both Mr. Izawa and Miss Yui awaited.
  1287. Taking one last deep breath, I closed my eyes, then pushed open the doors to the ballroom.
  1289. What I saw was one familiar face, Miss Yui, wearing a plain, demure pantsuit. Next to her was an older Japanese man with grey hair and glasses in the middle of the large table. I assumed this was Mr. Izawa, as he looked quite agitated at our entrance.
  1291. Surrounding them were Yakuza thugs of varying species, most of them looking none too happy to see us.
  1293. Miss Yui was the first to speak, breaking the awkward silence in the large room.
  1295. "Malachi...I know it has been a few days since we last spoke, but I believe I said I wanted to end this gigantic waste of time that has been bothering all of us, not create an even bigger one, which, judging by the sound of gunfire we just heard along with you, Mr. Angélico, and this...woman here, I'm presuming you all are responsible for? May I just ask, why?"
  1297. "Why? Because this is bullshit, that's why, Yui. Juan Manuel stopped smuggling guns years ago! And he sold to your enemies because they gave him a better deal! That's just capitalism Yui, and your boss there getting pissy about it is a bitch move, I gotta say." I said, waving my gun in the direction of Mr. Izawa, as I walked closer to both of them
  1299. "You are forgetting something Malachi. If everyone were allowed to run around doing whatever they felt like, The Undertow would be anarchy. There needs to be order. And no matter how you may perceive what Mr. Angelico's actions, he has committed a crime against our family, and crimes *must* be punished."
  1301. Just as Miss Yui finished, I heard a loud grunt of pain come from Juan Manuel, as well as Alejandra scream. A large komodo dragon man, who was at least seven feet tall, had a katana pressed against his neck. Alejandra quickly pointed her Mossberg at him, although her hands were shaking at seeing her father in such a compromised position.
  1303. "Don't move, bitch." Miss Yui said, suddenly pulling out a pistol and firing it twice. Hearing a blood-gurgling scream in pain, I saw the shots landed into Alejandra's hands, causing her to drop the shotgun.
  1305. I was frozen still at seeing this. The absolute worst was happening, and I didn't know how to stop it. It felt like I was in a catatonic state, I desperately wanted to move my body, but I wouldn't budge an inch.
  1307. I was terrified.
  1309. "This trial will now commence without anymore interruptions. And Malachi, if your lady-friend here budges even an inch, I'm blowing her head off. That's a promise.
  1311. The komodo dragon dragged Juan Manuel to the front of table, forcing him to kneel down in front Mr. Izawa, the blade still pressed against his neck, to the point where I could see it drawing blood.
  1313. Somehow, I was able to move my body to where I had my gun still pointed at the komodo dragon, but as much as I wanted to, I was petrified, I couldn't pull the trigger. I was too afraid.
  1315. "Let the trial commence." Miss Yui said.
  1317. After ten long, drawn out minutes of Mr, Izawa speaking in Japanese, and with some of the Yakuza chiming in, along with Miss Yui, she spoke up once more.
  1319. Occasionally I glanced over at Alejandra, as she quietly sobbed. She looked up at me, her eyes had "help me" written all over them.
  1321. And yet, my body refused to move.
  1324. "Mr. Juan Manuel Angélico, you are charged with being responsible for the deaths of ten key members of the Yakuza, from the guns you sold to our enemies, and for you that, you are sentenced to death."
  1326. Juan Manuel merely bent down his head in resignation.
  1328. The komodo dragon removed the sword from his neck, and with one swift swing, sliced his head clean off, causing his body to limp to the side, blood seeping out of Angélico's carotid artery.
  1330. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Alejandra howled in anguish, as she watched her father die.
  1332. And I simply watched. Unable to do anything about it, because ultimately, I'm a coward.
  1334. "Malachi, I do believe it's only fair that you clean up the mess your brought here. Kill the girl, and we're leaving for New York. You have much explaining to do when we return."
  1336. As if on instinct, I turned, and faced Alejandra, pointing my gun at her.
  1338. Her tears kept flowing in remorse for her father, but she was able to put herself together to say one last thing to me.
  1340. "Why?"
  1342. And I had no answer for her.
  1344. I stood there for a minute, completely disassociated from the situation. I was on autopilot, acting on pure instinct.
  1346. "Malachi. It's over, finish this. Now. This is my job for you, kill the girl. You said it yourself after all, in this world; it's kill or be killed, you or her Malachi, the choice is yours."
  1348. Alejandra shook her head, sobbing as she kept looking at me.
  1350. I closed my eyes. I couldn't look at her. I think my mind would literally break if I did.
  1352. "I'm sorry." I whispered
  1354. So, I followed my instincts.
  1360. -BANG-
  1365. When I opened my eyes, Alejandra Angélico laid dead.
  1367. I could only hope for her sake the she and her father were right, that Heaven was real and they were there now, with her mother.
  1370. +
  1373. March 12th, 1988
  1375. Brooklyn, New York
  1377. 10:10 PM
  1380. After getting a chiding from Miss Yui about what I did was reckless and stupid, and that I almost got myself killed, I didn't leave my house for the next few days. I thought about killing myself multiple times, that I deserve to burn in Hell for letting Juan Manuel and Alejandra die. But then, my instincts would kick in, and I would put the gun down.
  1382. I'm a survivor, after all.
  1384. After a lot of thinking, a lot blankly staring at the wall, a lot of yelling in my living room like a maniac, and a lot of sobbing, things slowly returned back to normal.
  1386. I went back to the gym, I started eating again. Yup things are normal.
  1388. But I felt like a part of me died in Japan. A part of my soul, or at least, what was left of it. Now, I don't know what the difference between me and The Terminator is. Except one's the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I'm real.
  1390. But then I saw a note that that detective, Jane Alford left at my door, to call her. Maybe talking to someone who wasn't entrenched in to The Undertow would bring me back sanity somewhat. So, I gave her a call.
  1392. "Hello?"
  1394. "Hi Jane, it's John Calloway."
  1400. SITUATION 5: Come And Go Blues
  1402. March 13th, 1988
  1404. Brooklyn, New York
  1406. 10:15 AM
  1408. "So lemme get this straight - you're an independent contractor...in wet work?" Jane asked skeptically, taking a sip from her cup of coffee.
  1410. "Yeah, that's just the lingo we use in the biz. Plumbing's not glamorous work, but it pays the bills. Plus I've got my own house that's been paid off, not many people can say that in this city." I said with a bemused shrug.
  1412. "That's true I guess. I've only been here a few months, and it's crazy to me how expensive just renting is. Back where I'm from, you can get a pretty nice house for how much it costs to rent an apartment for a year in say, Staten Island."
  1414. "You said you were from Schenectady, right?" I inquired, taking a drink from my glass of orange juice, freshly squeezed.
  1416. "Yeah, although originally I'm from Oklahoma City. My parents moved to New York because my dad got a good job offer."
  1418. "I could've sworn there was a hint of a southern accent to you." I said with a slight grin.
  1420. After talking with Jane for a while, you know what? She's pretty cool. She has a rocking body for sure, and a cute accent, what's not to like?
  1422. Some people might have a problem with her being a bug-anthro, as some stereotypes still carry over from when they were enslaved as mindless drones a hundred years ago or so, give or take. But as far as I'm concerned, if a girl's got a cute face, a good sized rack, and a nice ass, I'm game. And Jane checked off all those boxes.
  1424. And I liked her little physical reactions to things, like how her antennae twitched when she was surprised or happy, or her wings buzzing.
  1426. ...Only problem was she was a cop.
  1429. I was mentally deflated as I thought about her profession, although I'm sure she would have some reservations if I told her what my real job was - "Hi Jane, I kill people for a living, some of them deserve it, some of them don't, like my friend Alejandra, who I killed because I'm a dirtbag bitch who doesn't have any backbone to his name, and can't stand up to anyone when the chips are down. Why? Oh, just because I'm a gigantic pussy, I'm weak, I fall back on to my evil instincts." I'm sure she'd love that.
  1431. "So what do you do when you're not fixing people's plumbing?" She chirped, breaking up my thoughts.
  1433. "I dunno if it's really worth mentioning, I'm fairly unremarkable. I like to read, listen to old jazz and big band records, go to the gym, play piano, that's about it really." I said with a shrug.
  1435. "Really? That's cool, those are all things you rarely hear most guys bring up. Whenever I talk to boys, it's like they always have to keep up with latest trends, it's kinda nice hearing you're a bit of a throwback." Jane said, glaring at me with a cute smile.
  1437. "Well, I don't really know what most other guys like. I pretty much stay in my own bubble, go to work, go home, eat, go to bed, repeat."
  1439. "I'm sure your girlfriend appreciates that, women like routine." She said, brushing a white lock of her away from her yellow visage.
  1441. "What do you mean? I don't have a girlfriend." I said in a confused voice.
  1443. Jane looked a little relieved at hearing my response, although I'm not really sure why. In my line of work, relationships simply get in the way...like Alejandra. She got in the way, and she had to pay the ultimate price for getting involved in my life.
  1445. "Really? I'm surprised every girl you run into doesn't flock to you and try to give you her number! I mean, you're a human, you're in great shape, you have classy, timeless interests, and you're self-reliant, what's not to like?" She said, putting her top pair of hands under her chin.
  1447. "What does me being human have anything to do with that?" I said with a chuckle.
  1449. "Well...I've always found humans interesting. You all seem to make the best music, new inventions, heck, the first man put on the moon was human." She said looking to the side, clearly a little embarrassed.
  1451. Jane began fidgeting for a moment, then looked at her watch, then back at me."
  1453. "Oh! Well, uh, I should probably get going back to the station. Anyways, it was nice getting to talk for a bit with you John! Thanks for the coffee!" Jane said, getting up from the booth we were sitting in suddenly.
  1455. "Yeah, no problem." I said casually, as I was in no rush.
  1457. "Um...would you want to do something like this again?" She said, her wings fluttering behind her. I wonder if that was one of the ways she showed she was anxious.
  1459. "Yeah, sure. I guess it's nice breaking up the routine every now and then." I said looking up to her.
  1461. "Great! Well uh, I'll call you!" She said, quickly walking out of the cafe.
  1463. What's got her so fidgety? All that talk about humans, and wasn't she going to ask me questions about mayor Barton? Eh, whatever.
  1467. When I got home, I noticed an envelope had been pushed under my door. I examined it, it had a gold cursive letter O embroidered on the front.
  1469. I tore it open, and read the note:
  1473. Dear Malachi,
  1475. It's been *far* too long since we last spoke, I've yearned to gaze upon your handsome face, and hear you speak!
  1476. Please be a doll and come see me at my penthouse in Manhattan tonight, at say, 8PM? We have much to discuss,
  1477. as I have another job opportunity for you, a lucrative one at that.
  1479. I would also love it if you...stayed the night?
  1485. Love, yours truly, Ophelia
  1489. I nearly feinted after reading it. I don't know if I could stomach another job. Knowing Ophelia, it meant a political enemy would have to die, and if it was anything like the last job, it would be someone totally innocent, someone trying to make the city a better place, and just happened to get in the way of Ophelia.
  1491. How does that make me any different from her? We're both cancerous tumors on the city, everyone who ever comes in contact with us is doomed to die. It's why I hate this, I hate The Undertow, I hate myself.
  1493. It's all bullshit, I just want it to fucking end.
  1497. ...But maybe, I could charge enough from her that this could be my last job. I have the vast majority of money saved away, in my closet.
  1499. I have five million dollars currently, maybe, if she let me name my price again, I could finally get enough to get out of here, to escape The Undertow.
  1501. I'm sick of it, I'm sick of killing innocent people, of the deception, all the bullshit that goes on here. After this job, I'm gone. I don't care what the job is, how depraved, once it's over with, I'm going far, far away. Hell, I'll move to Antarctica if it means I can get away from blood money, cartels, and mafias.
  1505. But even if I leave The Undertow, will it leave me?
  1508. +
  1511. March 13th, 1988
  1513. Manhattan, New York
  1515. 8:00 PM
  1517. The warmth and crackling of a brick fireplace set the mood of Ophelia's indulgent home. Her penthouse oozed excess from every nook and cranny. The walls were painted gold, with real flakes of the metal glowing off the light of the fire, or so I've been told. The corners of the living room had marble busts of human and anthro figures I didn't recognize. But, they looked expensive. The couch I limped against felt like I was sitting on a cloud made of leather, it was soft, elegant, and very comfortable.
  1519. I could almost forget I was in the den of the Devil, the Queen of New York's lair. She reminded me of where I was by sitting her glass of cognac on the mahogany coffee table beside the sofa, and then wrapped her buxom frame around my waist. I could feel both the softness of her fur and bathrobe, which she said was told was made of the finest white Egyptian cotton, as she perched her head on my shoulder.
  1521. "I'm so glad you decided drop by, Malachi. It does get a bit lonely being Queen. I have no equals, and I have full control of the city now."
  1523. "You seem quite confident in that." I said flatly.
  1525. "Well yes, the district attorney really had no choice other than to take the offer I gave him. He was the only other thorn in my side, after our brave mayor had her *unfortunate* accident." She said with a giggle and gave me a peck on the cheek.
  1527. I wanted to puke.
  1529. "...However, he needs to be taught a lesson in loyalty as well. I don't want to bore you with the details as to why, but he needs to be shown that I'm deadly serious, and I will not tolerate insubordination from my pawns."
  1531. "I take it this is where I come in?" I said, inquiring about the job.
  1533. "It is. I was thinking of what to do with the D.A., and then a brilliant thought crossed my mind." She said with a wry smile.
  1535. This isn't good.
  1537. "I want to hurt him, break him into obedience, but I don't believe doing harm to his body will work. That's when I thought about his daughter, the one thing in his life that matters more than his work in this city, with the unfortunate passing of his wife a few years ago.
  1539. I said nothing, staring blankly at the fire as she stroked my hair.
  1541. "So here's the deal: tomorrow evening I'm having someone pick up his daughter, and take her to a secure warehouse to be kept safe. The morning of the fifteenth, I want you to take her to the middle of the city, I don't care where, just where the most people are. Her hands and feet will be tied, but her face will very much be visible. Shoot her, and leave her body there. I'm sending a message, not just to our friend the district attorney, but to every other peon in this city that thinks they have a shred of power. I'm telling them I am *not* to be trifled with, and insolence will not be allowed."
  1543. My heart sank the moment she mentioned his daughter. Jesus, how could this woman sleep at night?
  1545. 'H-how old, is his daughter?" I tentatively asked, fearing the answer.
  1547. "Hmm...I'm not sure, but I believe she's around nine years old." She said casually.
  1549. "No." I said shaking my head.
  1551. "What do you mean, 'no'?" She said confused.
  1553. "My one rule is no kids. Men, women, anthros, humans, are all fair game. No kids." I said.
  1555. "I don't believe you heard me right, Malachi." She said with a chuckle.
  1557. "I did. I'm sorry, but I can't hurt a child." I said, crestfallen.
  1559. "Not about that. I mean, I don't believe you heard me correctly when I said I will not tolerate any insubordination. That goes for *you* as well, Malachi." She whispered into my ear, pointing a finger into my chest.
  1561. "I don't work for you, Ophelia."
  1563. "Mmmm... I in fact believe you do. You live in New York City. Brooklyn, to be specific. And I *own* this city now, for all intents and purposes. Perhaps not legally, but everyone who makes laws and enforces them is under my control, and if you think you're above working for me, I can make life *very* uncomfortable for you." She said with a slight hint of venom, gently biting my ear.
  1565. "How? I don't have any family, and if you think killing Miss Yui would hurt me, honestly, you'd be doing me a favor at this point. Same with Sasha Myshkin."
  1567. "True. However, I can make it to where every second you spend in this city you are hunted like a wild dog, and whatever money you've frugally saved will slowly start to disappear as you try to survive. And, I can make it to where you are never able to leave my city, you will be hunted down, and when you're caught, I'll make sure you'll beg for my forgiveness, and if I'm feeling generous if that day were ever to come, I might make your death only excruciating, and not something that would make the gestapo blush in terms of how tortuous it would be."
  1569. Ophelia then shifted her weight to where she was sitting in my lap, straddling me, and looked me in the eyes.
  1571. "But let's not dwell on those kinds of thoughts. I know you're a good boy, and you *will* do this job. That nonsense about 'honor' and having a code I know is all bullshit Malachi. I have my sources, and I know you've done much worse for far less than I'm willing to pay to put a single bullet in the back of the head of some spoiled brat."
  1573. The golden jackal then began unbuttoning my jeans, sliding both them and my boxers down to my ankles my cock hanging limply in the open. She also shimmied off her white bathrobe, her pliant soft breasts pressed against my chest as she leaned in closer to me, forcing her lips onto mine, her tongue invading my mouth.
  1575. I also felt a pawed hand snake its way down to my waist, gently grasping my member, slowly stroking it to life with her touch.
  1577. She played with the tip of my penis, sending jolts of electricity up my spine, causing me to reflexively buck my hips. I could feel Ophelia giggle slightly at my reaction as she continued to lick and prod at every inch of the inside with her canine tongue.
  1579. She made longer strokes with her hand, my cock completely hard after several minutes of her fingers giving it attention with her expert skill.
  1581. She suddenly broke the kiss, and looked at me smugly, still stroking me up and down as she began to speak.
  1583. "No Malachi, I have heard and read about all the things you've done, sometimes of out pure survival, just so you would have a meal for the night. I *love* that about you, Malachi. You, perhaps more than anyone else in this city, know how cruel The Undertow is. But you've not only survived it, you've thrived in the muck. And that's why you're so valuable to me, I need you to be my hand of justice."
  1585. Her grip became much more firm as she put more pressure around my erection, and positioned herself to where her moist folds were riding up against it, as she began to grind her hips into me, massaging my cock with her furry, velvety crotch.
  1587. "And that's why I know you'll be my good little boy. Because you know the rules of survival, and you know who you need to make happy. Well, the rules have changed - you only have to answer to me now in this city. That frigid gook bitch and the filthy communist are afterthoughts. They can have their fun playing mafia, but they are nothing to me, and they should be nothing to you now." She said in a sultry voice.
  1589. She lifted her plump thighs and ass up slightly, positioning my cock with the entrance her pussy, and plunged herself onto me with one swift motion. I tried to stifle a moan as I felt the sudden warm pressure enrapture my length, but it still escaped my mouth in a high pitch tone.
  1591. She rocked her hips back and forth slowly, keeping a consistent motion that caused my cock to almost entirely exit her folds, but she then brought herself all the way back down onto my glans.
  1593. The feeling of the cool air as she pulled herself off of me, and then the rush of heat as I filled her walls was causing my mind to fog and become hazy, all my worries melted away, and I could only think about how good Ophelia's tight cunt felt.
  1595. I put my hands on on each cheek of her big, furred ass. I thrust my hips to try and keep my dick buried inside her walls for as long as possible, but Ophelia was able to keep her same rhythm, denying me the sensation of me being completely enveloped in her.
  1597. I could feel the pressure starting to build to a level where I would need to cum soon, and Ophelia noticed this too, as my thrusts became even needier and my breathing more shallow. She intentionally slowed her pace to an agonizing crawl, causing me to groan in both pleasure, and pain from not being able to cum.
  1599. She had me completely helpless. Ophelia must be some kind of succubus, as she knew where and how to push my buttons, to bring me to the edge, only to keep up the torture of her clamping down on my throbbing erection for that much longer.
  1601. "So, I hope we've come to an...understanding. That I don't want to hurt you, and you don't want to make me upset, am I correct?" She said, bringing her snout close to my face, her wet canine nose touching my human one.
  1603. "Y-yes." I blurted out.
  1605. Satisfied with my answer, she picked up the pace little by little, my loins were now on fire, the desperation to and need to reach orgasm was the only thing I could think of. I didn't care what it took, what I would have to say or do to cum, as long as I let me coat Ophelia's slippery tight walls with cum was all that mattered to me in this moment.
  1607. "You're in a bit of a...compromised position at the moment Malachi, so I won't stress your mind with thinking about things like numbers for the job. How does say...two million sound?"
  1609. "G-great!" I grunted out.
  1611. "That's good to hear. I hope you learned that we can always come to an agreement, and I can be so much to you, if you'll let me, Malachi. I know you never had parents to raise you, but I wouldn't mind being your mommy, I want to take care of you. A queen does need a prince after all."
  1613. I heard her words but they didn't really register in my brain. With great need, I thrust as hard as I can into Ophelia, but her weight on top of me with the rhythm she kept made it a fruitless endeavor, as her pussy was like a vise on my cock.
  1615. "Now tell me...who's a good boy?" She said with a sadistic smile.
  1617. "I-I am!"
  1619. "Tell Mommy that you love her."
  1621. "I-I love you!"
  1623. "*Who* do you love?"
  1625. "I-I LOVE YOU MOMMY!" I yelled out, not thinking straight, in fact, not thinking at all, pure, animalistic lust was driving me.
  1627. "Good boy! That's aaaall I needed to hear." She said with a snicker.
  1629. With that, she let me jackhammer into her pussy like a feral beast, causing Ophelia to moan with me, as she wrapped her paws around my neck.
  1631. It didn't take long for our rutting to reach its climax, as I came deeply into this twisted, evil, demon of a woman.
  1633. The relief of release caused my body to spasm and jolt wildly as I calmed down from having my cock wrung like a sponge by Ophelia.
  1635. I was completely exhausted.
  1637. My mental faculties started slowly coming back to me, the weight and shame of what just happened slowly came crashing down onto me.
  1639. I'm fucking pathetic.
  1641. I caved that easily to a woman that I hated, but because she let me fuck her, I was putty in her paws. I'm disgusted at myself, but even more, I'm disgusted that I know I'm going to do this job. Two million was enough to where I felt comfortable about leaving this shithole of a city.
  1643. I just have to focus on that, that this is the last job. It's sickening, the thought of having to kill a child is soul-crushing, but I just have to keep telling myself this is the last one.
  1645. That's gonna be my mantra for the next two days; this is the last one.
  1647. Ophelia let out a sigh above me, giving me a kiss on the forehead.
  1649. "If only all my other pets were this easy to control." She said, patting me on the head.
  1652. +
  1655. March 15th, 1988
  1657. Downtown Lower Manhattan
  1659. 7:35 AM
  1661. I'm not in a particularly pleasant mood this morning. It was hard to focus on driving the rental car I picked up after I left the house, considering I have a nine year-old girl in the trunk, and I can hear her kick, or a muffled scream every now and then.
  1663. This is the last one, and that's all that matters.
  1665. I'm never killing again after this.
  1667. That's all I can think about, as I adjust my wayfarers. I'm going fairly incognito, grey sweatpants, grey hoodie, a Yankees cap, and black gloves. The gun is a cheap .38 Special revolver I bought last night at a pawn shop, and I plan on throwing it into the harbor when I'm finished.
  1669. When I got to the middle of a busy intersection, with cars packed on the road, and people of all different species, shapes, and sizes bustling to work, I stopped the car and put it in park.
  1671. I took a deep breath, and remembered my mantra:
  1673. This is the last one.
  1675. I got out of the car and shut the door, traffic starting to clog behind me. The drivers let me know I was impeding the flow of traffic, laying on their horns. I gave them a curt wave, quickly walking to the trunk of the sedan. I unlocked the trunk, and there was the girl.
  1677. I tried my hardest not to humanize her, just to think of this as just another job, but I couldn't. I saw too much of myself in her.
  1679. Sure, we were different in that she at least had a dad, but we both ended up on the same path. Both of us are consumed by The Undertow. She's about to be dead, and I'm the walking dead. I'm not sure I'm even a person anymore, I'm a cold killing machine, a slave who will do anything for a buck.
  1681. But that ends today. As much as I hated it, this girl was my ticket out of this life.
  1683. I couldn't help but look her in the eyes. Thank god I have shades on, if I didn't, I'd just have to stop and walk away now.
  1685. She had blonde hair, blues eyes, and fair skin. She was wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and looked absolutely despondent. As if the girl had already resigned herself to knowing she was about to die, even though she had just began living. It was a look no kid should ever have, one I was too familiar with.
  1687. I took another deep breath.
  1689. This is the last one.
  1691. With that, I steeled myself enough to pick her up by the shoulders, which seemed to bring the life back in her. She struggled, screamed at the people behind my car for help, yelled her hardest.
  1693. I wish, I fucking wish she was strong enough to get away, I wish somehow she just kicked me in the nuts, or bit my ear, or something! Something that would cause me to drop her, because I wouldn't go after her.
  1695. Because right now, I'm on autopilot. I'm only running on pure instinct, no thought is going into this at all. It's the only way I can stay sane, by disassociating myself from what I'm doing. My eyes are closed as I drag the girl to the middle of the intersection, not even paying attention to my surroundings, if someone ran me over; good. I deserve it. I just hope they don't hit the girl.
  1697. I sat the girl down, and immediately pull out the revolver from my sweatpants. I have to make this quick, get it over with, like peeling off a band-aid. If this lasts any longer, I'll go insane.
  1699. This is the last one.
  1701. Time starts to slow down as I point the gun at her, my eyes are still shut because I can't even bring myself to look at her crying face, but I know she's in range. After all, it's my instinct to kill, to survive.
  1703. I cock back the hammer and pull the trigger.
  1707. This is the last one.
  1712. -BANG!-
  1716. Everything is still for a moment, and then I'm brought back to reality by the sounds of screaming as people react to hearing a gun go off.
  1718. For a moment, I open my eyes, and what I see horrifies me.
  1720. She's laying on her back, her shirt now sullied with blood that's running down the pavement from her skull. Her face is pale, lifeless, but her eyes still have that look of sheer error in them.
  1722. My breathing quickly becomes short, I'm sweating, and my stomach is weak. I fumble to put the gun back in my pocket and go to the nearest building, every sense disoriented.
  1724. When I see a trashcan behind a brick wall, I toss my body at it, and bury my head inside.
  1726. It feels like my whole stomach is being evacuated as I hurl up everything that was in it. The entire time, the image that's burned into my retinas is the body of the girl splayed out like a rag doll, a bullet in her head, and blood running down the street.
  1728. I take off my hat and sunglasses, and throw them violently into the trashcan.
  1730. Leaning against the wall, I slowly start to edge down to a sitting position, rubbing away the snot out of my nose.
  1732. It starts out as hyperventilating, but then the sorrow of what I just did sets in. The screams of the girl, of the people in the street, how I emasculated myself for Ophelia, Alejandra and her father, and all the other lives I've taken during my career as a hitman, the weight of my guilt all collapses on me, and I yell like a madman, bawling uncontrollably. I crawl into a fetal position on the cold concrete, praying that someone just kills me right now.
  1735. But this was the last job...
  1740. Was it all worth it?
  1745. SITUATION 6: Goodbye Blue Sky
  1747. March 26th, 1988
  1749. One Police Plaza, Lower Manhattan, New York
  1751. 3:00 PM
  1754. "Here's the lab analysis results of the Barton case Detective Alford." A young bluebird man said, handing over a manila folder with various documents in it.
  1756. "Oh, thanks, I appreciate it." I said with a bright smile.
  1758. I didn't know his name, but the lab assistant seemed like a good guy. For some reason, most of the people in the lab were stonewalling me when it came to getting fingerprints analyzed regarding the Mayor's suicide. They said it was a waste of time, but I was able to persuade them with a couple grand, courtesy of the CIA, since I don't have that kind of money.
  1760. I went over the findings from the lab - they were feint, but there were definitely fingerprints that did not belong to either mayor Barton or judge Myers. I then had these prints cross-referenced in both the FBI and CIA's databases which have matching prints of every person with a birth certificate.
  1763. So, let's take a look...
  1768. ...
  1772. ...This can't be right.
  1774. Malachi O'Malley?
  1776. I took off my glasses and looked back at the person it said it was a match for, and it was a thirteen year-old kid who died in 1978. The prints were an 82% match, so I didn't know what to say. How could a dead boy's prints be the only strong match? Every other possible suspect was fairly ambiguous and inconclusive.
  1778. It was just another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. I'm just missing *something*, and if I find this one thing, I think it'll crack this case wide open. The prints matching with a dead boy, Ophelia Dimeo's connection to law enforcement in the city, the district attorney's daughter being assassinated out in the open in the middle of Times Square! I know it's all connected and leads back to that witch of a woman. I just need that one piece...
  1781. But what, or who is it?
  1784. +
  1787. Brooklyn, New York
  1789. 4:00 PM
  1792. The whoosh of the dart spearing into the map on the wall alerted me to where my next stop in life would be. I opened my eyes and walked up to the map, seeing that it landed on Bangkok, Thailand. Sounds good enough to me, anywhere but here would be great.
  1795. Ophelia may have eyes and ears everywhere, but I knew there would be one way I could get out of New York without her knowing, and it involved that favor Sis owed me...
  1797. I picked up my suitcases that contained every dollar I had ever earned in my career as a hitman, and put it out by the doorsteps. I grabbed a two-gallon can of gasoline, popped the cap, and began pouring it over the carpet of my former house. I could have sold it, but that would take several months and there would be no guarantee I'll still be alive by then, either because of Ophelia, or someone finally getting the best of me. So, why not burn it all down? I don't plan on ever coming back here.
  1799. When the last drop of gasoline fell out of the can, I walked back into the living room. On the table by my couch, I grabbed a matchbox and struck a light, the rotten egg smell of sulfur quickly filling the room. I took a deep breath, and threw the match on the ground. I closed the front door behind me, and by force of habit, locked the door.
  1802. I got my luggage, and walked down the street, looking for a taxi.
  1805. +
  1808. Williamsburg, New York
  1810. 5:00 PM
  1813. The shabby looking apartment door cracked open, and there stood Jane, the cute honeybee detective. She beamed brightly with a smile at me.
  1815. "Hey John, how's it going? What are you doing out here?" She said, cocking her head to the side, clearly surprised to see me.
  1817. "Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I got a new job opportunity overseas, to make a lot of money, and, to be honest I just wanna get away from New York. I just thought I'd let you know in case something came up involving the mayor's suicide." I said, not even trying to hide how tired I was.
  1819. "Oh, well, thanks for uh, letting me know that...Um, so are you gonna change phone numbers or something or..?"
  1821. "Y'know I'm not really sure, I don't want to give you faulty information, so let's just say you won't be able to contact me, or see me ever again. Sorry. Anyway, I really enjoyed getting to know you, and I hope you can crack the case. I think this city really needs someone like you, Jane."
  1823. She peered down at the floor with her black marble eyes, a crestfallen look in them. She then peered back up at me.
  1825. "Well...I really like you John, I think you've got a good heart, and even though we haven't known each other very long...it still sucks hearing that, even though it's great you're moving on in life...If you somehow ever end up back in New York, will you let me know?" She said a desperate pleading look in her eyes.
  1827. "Yeah, of course."I said with a sincere smile.
  1829. "Can I get a goodbye hug?"
  1831. I chuckled slightly, and bent down to hug the short bee-girl. She was soft, her tuft of white fur around her neck tickled my nose, and I felt her ample breasts compress against my chest. She smelled vaguely of pollen, with a hint of sweet honey, pleasant, and not too overpowering.
  1833. After a moment, we broke our embrace, and Jane looked slightly embarrassed, as I felt her breathe in my scent, and didn't really try to hide it.
  1835. "See ya around, and be careful out here, it's a dangerous city."
  1837. "I will." She said, giving me a stern nod.
  1839. With that, we parted ways.
  1841. It was nice to see Jane again. As tumultuous as this whole year has been, she's the one bright spot through it. Hell, if things were different, I'd even ask her out on a date. But, reality has to come crashing down on that fantasy, and I have to say my other goodbyes, and they won't be nearly as pleasant.
  1844. +
  1847. Long Island, New York
  1849. 6:30 PM
  1851. The taxi dropped me off in front of a large mansion, with an iron-gate barricading it from the rest of the neighborhood. I walked up a keypad, and typed "1949", the year of Miss Yui's birth. When the gates creaked open and cracked apart, I smirked, she really should change that...what if somebody paid me to kill her?
  1853. I casually walked down the brick path to her large abode, taking in the sights of her house. I've been here before, and it always struck me as odd at how lavish her home was, considering Yui generally kept a low-profile. There was a pond with a fountain surrounded by cherry blossom trees, and her grass was kept neatly trimmed. Maybe this was her husband's doing, I only met him once, and he was the exact opposite of her. He had no ties to the Yakuza at all, in fact, I think he used to be salaryman in Tokyo before they met.
  1855. I gripped the ornate copper doorknocker, it was in the shape of a lion's mane, and knocked three times.
  1857. -knock-
  1859. -knock-
  1861. -knock-
  1863. After a moment of waiting, I heard a latch unlock and the tall door open. I was shocked to the see the small red panda herself standing in front of me, figuring it would be one of her goons. But there Yui was, dressed in a nightgown, her hair in a loose, casual ponytail. She seemed as surprised to see me as I was, but when it registered in her brain who was standing there, her face turned into a sour glare.
  1865. "Malachi, why are you here?" She said in a calm even tone, but the words she picked told me all I needed to know about how she was not happy to see me.
  1867. "I'm here to say goodbye, Yui. I'm leaving New York. I'm done." I said, slightly frustrated at how she was silently judging me.
  1869. "Your quitting your work as an assassin? Might I ask why you're making this foolish decision?" She said, crossing her arms.
  1871. "Oh well, let's see: I've had to kill multiple people who didn't deserve to die, I'm being manipulated into doing the dirty work of stuck up cunts, and It's caused me to have daily suicidal thoughts, and really? I'm just done. I believe this is what alcoholics call a 'moment of clarity', and this has been mine."
  1873. "It sounds to me like you have a death wish. Is this because I killed that lizard-girl in Tokyo? You're deluding yourself Malachi, you know in this business, emotions cannot take precedent."
  1875. "I'm done with that too. I want to start being an actual human being, I want to actually feel things, and be able to think my life isn't a total joke. I don't give a shit about money, if I run out, I'll get a real job, one that doesn't involve slaying children."
  1877. "You misunderstand me, Malachi. You and I both know the only way out of this life, out of The Undertow, is on a road who's toll is paid in blood." She said, pulling out a small .38 revolver, cocking back the hammer.
  1879. I looked down at it casually, then back at Yui. And let out a deep sigh.
  1881. "Y'know Yui, a long time ago, maybe when I was about fourteen, you told me that you only point a gun at someone if you plan on shooting them, that it's pointless to brandish one around as a threat with career criminals. And honestly? You'd be doing me a huge favor if you killed me. It would save me a lot of trouble; I wouldn't have to worry about anything, I'd finally get to wake up from this fucking nightmare called my life." I said with disdain.
  1883. She was silent, staring blankly into my eyes, and I couldn't get a good read on her. I never could with Yui, she was blessed with the greatest poker face ever.
  1885. "So what's it gonna be? Kill me. I dare you, I don't give a shit, I really don't. In fact, I BEG you to do it. You can't believe how much of a favor it'd be to me."
  1887. And yet she still stood there, doing nothing. The tension was palpable, it was so thick I forgot to breathe in the moment.
  1893. "DO IT!!!"
  1898. -BANG!-
  1903. I fell to my knees, grabbing at not my heart or my stomach like I would if it were a killing blow, but at my left shoulder, which now felt like it was on fire.
  1905. "Fuckin' hell..." I gritted through my teeth, looking back up at Yui, who looked down at me like one would at a pathetic, dying feral animal.
  1907. She shook her head, and began to close the door.
  1909. "No Malachi, even though I am greatly disappointed in the path you're choosing to walk, I won't be the one to kill you. But I hope this will serve as a reminder that this will only lead to more pain. Now get out of my sight."
  1911. I then heard the door close, and began to stand up.
  1913. My breathing was shallow, and my shoulder hurt like hell, but I'd survive. Yui intentionally didn't hit any major arteries, so my bleeding was minimal.
  1915. Now I just had to make one last stop, and hopefully, they had a first aid kit lying around...
  1918. +
  1921. Manhattan, New York
  1923. 7:00 PM
  1926. I sat in a bathroom in the Romanov, Sasha was personally tending to my wounds, as she took out the bullet and was now wrapping my bare shoulder with gauze.
  1928. "That goddamn slant-eyed whore, I can't believe she'd do this to you!" Sasha said indignantly.
  1930. "Well, we haven't really been on the best of terms ever since I stopped working with her directly."
  1932. "Still, it wasn't your choice to join them, they forced you into it! She could at least be a little bit grateful..." The snow white tiger grumbled.
  1934. "Yeah...anyway, that's not what I was really here for, although I do greatly appreciate you doing this, I'm not the greatest when it comes to taking out bullets. I wanted to ask about that favor."
  1936. "Sure, what is it?" She asked, looking up at me with her feline eyes.
  1938. "I need your help to get me out of the city, and to an airport, preferably one not in the tristate area, like the one in DC."
  1940. "...Why?" Sis asked, dumbstruck at what I just told her.
  1942. "Because I just need to get out of here. I'm done with this life. I don't like where things are going Sis, and if I were you, I'd watch out for Ophelia Dimeo, I think she's become even more powerful than you, or Yui, or anyone else thinks."
  1944. "Malachi...This pains me greatly hearing this, but...I will honor the favor I owe you. How quickly do you need to get out of the city?"
  1946. "If you could do it by tonight, that'd be wonderful."
  1948. "Alright...I'll do it. But only because it's you, Mladshiy." She said with a smirk.
  1951. +
  1953. March 27th, 1988
  1955. Interstate 86, New York
  1957. 2:00 AM
  1960. So here I am, riding in the back of an Escalade with my old friends Boris and Ivan, and they're still wearing shades, even though it's the middle of the night. Whatever, at least they do what they told and haven't wanted to strike up some form of conversation. It didn't matter anyway, as in about ten hours, I'd be in Bangkok, doing...well I'm not really sure. I figure the first month or so I'll get acquainted to my new surroundings, then after that, I could work some odd-jobs here and there.
  1962. Just as long as it didn't involved any sort of crime, and I would be alright with it.
  1965. +
  1968. April 17th, 1988
  1970. One Police Plaza, Lower Manhattan, New York
  1972. 9:45 AM
  1975. It took more "persuasion" on my part on to get the surveillance footage that a nearby store captured of a possible suspect in the case of the murder of the district attorney's daughter. But today, it finally got delivered to my desk. I popped it into the VCR, and the small monitor started rolling the footage. Of course, since this footage started at midnight, the start of the day, I had to fast-forward through it to get to the time of death of the D.A.'s daughter. I knew this was somehow gang related, there was no way someone would just kidnap a child of someone so high profile and kill them for no reason. It was an assassination, and I hope this tape would prove it.
  1977. I sipped my cup of coffee as I fast-forwarded to about 7:30 AM, her time of death. So far, nothing. It's just a corner of a store with a trashcan by it.
  1979. Hold on - there's a guy in a hoodie and sweatpants running to it...and he's... throwing up?
  1981. I peer carefully at the CRT monitor, it's grainy and in black-and-white, but I'm able to make out some details of the man in the footage. He's human, that's obvious by how he's dressed and that he has no fur, scales, or chitin.
  1983. Now he's sitting down against the wall, I fumbled the remote and hit the pause button, he was looking up at the sky, and his hoodie was down. I'd have a perfect view of him, I'd capture this frame, run it in the database of people in New York and-
  1985. That's when I recognized who it was.
  1987. I dropped my mug on the floor, it broke, but I barely noticed it. My jaw hit the floor.
  1989. The man in the frame looked up in anguish, even with how grainy it was, I could tell he was crying, he was despondent.
  1991. That man, was John.
  1993. I frantically fumbled through my filing cabinet, pulling out the fingerprint records of who was also on the boat with mayor Barton and the judge, Malachi O'Malley. Died in 1978...I did some quick math, John was twenty-three.
  1996. Oh my God, John is Malachi O'Malley.
  1998. He somehow got the mayor to shoot the judge, and then herself, then he killed the D.A.'s daughter.
  2000. That's why he said he was going away from New York, I mean, he's clearly not happy with what he just did on the tape-that's why he had to get away, he couldn't take it anymore.
  2002. And when we talked in the cafe...he said he was an independent contractor! How could I be so naive, he was laying out all these hints, was John, er-Malachi crying out for help and I was just too stupid to get it!?
  2004. That's how Ophelia Dimeo is connected to all this: John is her hitman.
  2006. I fumbled for my purse, stuffing the fingerprint analysis, Malachi O'Malley death certificate, and evidence tape into it, and put on my coat.
  2008. I was a nervous, jittery wreck, but I tried to be as incognito as I possibly could. I began to leave the station. If Ophelia was THIS powerful that she could have a mayor and a judge killed for not doing her bidding, and get away with assassinating the D.A.'s daughter then...then she controlled the whole city. If the department had also been compromised, which I now am CONVINCED it is considering I had to give an arm and a leg to get anything regarding these cases from evidence, and the fact that the Chief pretty much threatened me to not look into it, I was not safe in this city.
  2010. That's when I felt my heart sink. I felt a pawed hand land on my lithe shoulder, and I slowly turned around. Nononono! I'm so close! The front door's right there!
  2012. I looked up, it was a golden jackal, appearing to be in her forties, and was wearing a white fur-coat.
  2014. It was Ophelia Dimeo... And behind her, was the chief, and pretty much the entire department staring daggers at me.
  2016. My antennae were moving frenetically, I didn't know what to say or do, were they going to kill me right here? Oh God please...
  2018. "Hello Detective Alford, you've been quite the busy bee from what I've heard around the department, harassing the good folks in evidence over cases that have already been closed...It would almost appear to me, and granted I may be wrong, I'm not in the force, but it looks like you might have some...ulterior motives that go against the department." She said with a smug sneer written on her snout.
  2020. I instinctively grabbed my purse tighter, which the golden jackal took note of.
  2022. "My my, what might you have in there? Would it be the evidence you've been hounding for? I believe the Chief has warned that there's nothing to be gained by prying, you're not in Schenectady anymore my little bug, professionals run this city. But I think the Chief would be willing to let this slide if you took out what you have in your cute little twenty-dollar purse, and gave it back. You wouldn't want to cause any more problems, now would you, detective Alford?" She said with a sadistic grin. Her tone was calm and professional, but she had the look of a predator about to sink its claws into its prey.
  2024. I gulped, and was wide-eyed, feeling like I was about to wet my pants in fear. Then I remembered what Malachi said...that this city needed someone like me. I needed to be strong. Ophelia was a power-hungry monster, she was a cancer on this city, corrupting everything and everyone she came in contact with.
  2026. So I steeled my nerves, and I did grab something from my purse. I grabbed my bottle of Mace pepper spray, and whipped it right at her stupid bitch-face. After several seconds of getting her eyes doused, she shrieked loudly, rubbing at her eyes with her paws, I made sure to get some in her nose as well.
  2028. There was a frantic commotion suddenly, everyone seeming like they were moving towards me, so I bolted out the door.
  2030. After running down the street for several blocks, I turned into an alleyway to catch my breath.
  2032. What the fuck did I just do!?
  2034. I may be in the CIA, but I'm not an action movie star!
  2036. I braced myself against a wall with my two left arms, and began to think. What would be the quickest way to get as far as possible from this area of the city? I couldn't take a cab, it'd be too slow, and they could send the highway patrol out to barricade any exits out of the city if they were really desperate.
  2038. Then I thought about my wings.
  2040. I took off my coat, the cold wind hit me, but it was realistically my only option. I had to get to a phone, I had to call Vincent, and I needed to get back to D.C. as soon as possible.
  2042. It's been years since I've flown, I was just a little girl the last time I did it, it's mainly something you learn just because it's a part of you, not a way of transportation. Plus, what if I'm too fat? If I didn't have such a big ass and these things protruding from my chest the last time I did fly...
  2044. I took another deep breath, and calmed down.
  2046. It was my only option.
  2048. I began jogging, and fluttering my wings at the same time. I don't know how far I'd be able to get before I got too tired, wings on a bug or any anthro or like any other muscle, if you don't use them regularly, they atrophy in strength.
  2050. But I couldn't focus on that now, when my wings flapped fast enough that I could hear them buzz, I jumped as high as I could, and instead of landing on my ass, I was airborne!
  2052. I was giggling like a little girl, it's just like my dad used to say, flying like's riding a riding a bike: you never forget!
  2056. After about twenty minutes, I was exhausted.
  2058. Muscles in my back that I didn't know could hurt were burning and aching, I don't know where I am, but I know I'm out of Manhattan. I walked up to a payphone, panting hard. I dropped the change into the machine, and dialed Vincent's number.
  2060. "This is the office of Vincent Delaney, who's this?" I instantly recognized his deep voice, and silently said a prayer in thanks that I was finally talking to someone I could trust.
  2062. "Vincent...it's me! Holy crap, I can't tell you how happy I am to talk to you!"
  2064. "Sarah? Jesus, we haven't heard from you in months! I thought something bad happened to you."
  2066. "Sorry, I've just been so wrapped up in this...but I think I have something that will blow this case wide open! I can prove without a shadow of a doubt that yes, the police department here has been compromised, that they're allowing criminal activity to go on, and I know who's behind it all! I have evidence, and I know who someone we can talk to that'll make my findings bulletproof!, we just need to find him...a-and I just-I just need you to help me get outta here, I'm not safe up here anymore..."
  2068. "Okay, where are you? I can call some people and get you picked up safely and get you a plane ticket back down here pronto. And Sarah?"
  2070. "Y-yes?"
  2072. "I'm glad to hear you're alright, and it's great that you've figured this out, I knew you could do it." Even though I couldn't see him, I knew he was smiling ear-to-ear at the news I just brought to him.
  2075. +
  2078. April 29th, 1988
  2080. Bangkok, Thailand
  2082. 4:40 AM
  2084. I've been here for about a month maybe...I lost count of the days a while ago. I've only left the hotel room I've cooped myself in a few times, to grab what little food I've eaten. The cleaning ladies have stopped coming to my room after I yelled at them to go away. I guess the hotel owners don't care as long as I keep paying for my room.
  2086. It's gotten to the point where all the days just start to blur together.
  2088. Originally I wanted to start my new life here, but I've resigned it to where I plan on dying. Not with a bang, but a whimper.
  2090. I don't deserve to keep on living, everywhere I go, people die.
  2092. And so tonight, or, today, or whatever time it is, I finally decided to say fuck it.
  2094. I bought a literal fuckload of every drug I could get my hands on: cocaine, speed, heroin, LSD, mushrooms, pills, twenty bottles of various liquors, and a pack of Dunhills.
  2096. I've never done any drug in my life, as I saw early on what it did to my mom, what little memories I have of her. In my former line of work, drugs make you hazy, less receptive to reality.
  2098. But you know what? Reality's only brought me pain, reality is awful. So I'm going to escape to Hotel California, and I'm never checking out. The plan is I'll ingest so many toxins, one of them is bound to kill me.
  2100. I'm wearing an unbuttoned kitschy Hawaiian shirt, white underwear, and a pair of yellow-tinted aviators. I walked over to the TV, and popped in the VCR a porno tape titled "Pizza Guy Delivers Human Meat to College FurSluts Vol. 22"
  2102. When the cheesy porn music began playing, I sat back on the couch, and began to dig into my platter of debauchery on the coffee table.
  2104. I figure I'll start slow, and lit up a cigarette. It did nothing for me except make me hack and cough, but I pressed on.
  2106. I opened up a bottle of whiskey, and downed as much as I could, powering through the stinging fire as it went down my throat.
  2108. Then it was time for the tabs of acid, I popped all the ones I bought onto my tongue, letting them dissolve.
  2113. I then chopped up lines of coke, rolling up a one-hundred dollar bill, and did all five lines I had chopped out one after the other.
  2115. ..
  2116. ...
  2117. ....
  2120. then its uhhhh its time for heroin,,,i cant really focus right noww but i got the needle into my arm and uhhhhh pulled down the plunger, taking another long swig of the whiskey and throwing the bottle at the wall................................................
  2121. ......................
  2122. .....
  2123. .....
  2124. ..
  2136. FUCK YOU ALL
  2163. +
  2166. ???
  2168. ???
  2170. ???
  2173. My mind's hazy.
  2175. I don't know where I am.
  2177. Everything's black, except I see an illuminated figure...it's Alejandra.
  2179. She's looking down at me, she seems to be disappointed.
  2181. "Gringo, what are you doing?"
  2183. "I'm dying, Alejandra."
  2185. "Are you sure this is what you want?"
  2187. "Yes, I'm a failure, I only bring death to everyone I come in contact with. I'm the reason why you're dead, why your dad's dead, why that little girl's dead. I think it's my time to go too."
  2189. "Very well. Take my hand, Gringo."
  2191. My arm trembled as I tried to grab Alejandra's paw, put something yanked me away from her.
  2193. FUCK
  2195. WHY?!?
  2199. I was kicking and screaming and the grizzly visage of Alejandra's dead form drifted away from me, bringing me back to the pain and misery of the waking world, and then everything went black once more.
  2202. +
  2205. May 1st, 1988
  2207. Bangkok, Thailand
  2209. 1:00 PM
  2212. I raced to room 23, where the front desk lady said Malachi was. Or, as she called him, "The stupid American who's come here to die.", as she put it, since he's apparently been holed up in this hotel for over a month. And just before we got here, she said went on a huge bender of all sorts of narcotics, or at least that's what she said when it came to all the yelling and manic laughter that was coming from his room.
  2214. Vincent came with me, and I told him everything I had experienced in New York City. We had a case, we could indict pretty much everyone in the police department, and anyone with ties to Ophelia Dimeo. But I still only had anecdotal proof of her killing the D.A.'s daughter, and I needed Malachi to tell us that he was paid by her.
  2216. I just have to hope he hasn't overdosed and killed himself yet...
  2218. I told Vincent that he wasn't well. He had a lot of regret and pain in his eyes, and even though I'm a year older than him, he looks like he was twenty-three going on seventy with all the stress he's experienced.
  2220. When we got to his room, I jiggled the lock with both of my right hands, knocking violently at the door with my two left arms.
  2224. I was panicking after he didn't open the door. Oh God, he's dead...he's fucking dead!
  2226. Vincent then calmly pushed me aside, he turned where his shoulder was facing the door, and jolted at it, the door swinging wide open as he barreled through.
  2228. What we walked into looked like a war zone.
  2230. All the furniture had been turned over, there were multiple fist-sized holes in the walls, broken glass from bottles scattered the carpet, and the room smelled so bad my eyes were watering.
  2232. But none of that mattered when I saw John, Malachi on the floor.
  2234. It looked like a parody of him: he was emaciated, and looked like a skeleton. He was pale white, had the beginnings of a beard growing on his face, and long, unkempt shaggy hair.
  2236. His left arm was shaking like a leaf, as he held it up, which alerted me that he was still barely alive.
  2238. I ran over to him, and held him in my arms, I got a gurgle in response. His eyes were bright red, his lips were chapped. He looked like a corpse, but he was still barely clinging on to life.
  2241. Vincent helped me pick him up, and we rushed him out of the hotel and to an emergency room.
  2247. SITUATION 7: Run Through The Jungle
  2250. May 5th, 1988
  2252. Bangkok
  2254. 10:00 AM
  2257. The sweltering humid heat permeated the air of the hospital room I was in, the sounds of birds and insects and the glare of the morning sun basking me in an uncomfortable light. I hated this godforsaken, shithole of a city. I hate the heat. One of the reasons why I liked New York was that for the majority of the year, it was cold. I like the on-edge feeling you get from a bitter chill, it keeps you alert. Unlike this bright fucking sunlight and damp heat that makes your ass-crack sweat, making you complacent.
  2259. I sat upright in a hospital bed wearing nothing but a teal gown, an IV drip connected to my right arm. A mug with a cartoon cat-girl hanging from a branch with a caption that read "Hang in there!" sat on my solar plexus, I tapped on it with a lit cigarette to let the loose ash collect in a nice, grey lump at the bottom of the cup along with burnt out butts.
  2261. It was a habit I had recently picked up after waking up from my drug-binge coma a few days ago. Not because I enjoyed the taste of the cigarettes, they taste awful; but because I liked that it centered me in an odd way, the nicotine had a way of keeping me focused, and gave my hands something to do. In The 48 or so hours that I've been away, I've gone through five-and-a-half cartons of Dunhills, that my errand boy, "Mr. Vincent" as Jane or as I later found out, her Christian name was Sarah Mosley, as they were both spooks for the CIA.
  2263. They both had walked in an hour ago, after telling me who they really were, they explained why Sarah was even in New York, to crack-down drugs being trafficked into the states from South America, and how the NYPD were complacent to it. This led them directly to The Queen of New York herself, Ophelia Dimeo, all thanks to the detective work of Sarah Mosley.
  2265. But now it was bargaining time. Obviously I had some explaining to do why there was incriminating evidence of me shooting the district attorney's daughter in the middle of Manhattan, and why traces of my fingerprints were found on the boat where the former mayor and judge were found dead in a murder-suicide.
  2267. Suffice to say, things weren't looking too hot for me.
  2269. I had to admit thought that I was proud of the bee-girl. She did a lot of digging, and a lot of hard work, and I wasn't lying when I said New York could use more people like her. Mr. Vincent however wasn't here to just buy me cigs, he had me spill the beans and tell me everything about myself, how I got into being a career criminal, my connection to the local New York Yakuza, everything. My whole, terrible, awful, rotten, life story.
  2271. Normally my survival instincts would kick in and I would simply lie through my teeth, but extenuating circumstances were against me with the amount of evidence they had on my last few jobs, and I simply didn't care anymore. I was tired of The Undertow, tired of deception, and if that meant it was time for me to pay the piper, so be it.
  2273. I lit up a fresh cigarette from the cheap Bic lighter I bought at a gas station, and looked over at my two new friends from the CIA. Sarah looked a little bit uncomfortable, not just from the heat, but I'd imagine from my general visage. I hadn't looked at myself in a mirror in a while, but I imagined I looked fairly haggard. I hadn't gotten a haircut in a pretty long time, to where it now sat in a short, greasy, unkempt ponytail held by a rubber-band. And, I stopped shaving. My genetics don't dispose me to growing a beard, so my face was covered in patchy, light brown peach-fuzz, although my mustache had came in pretty nicely. I was also a lot skinnier, losing most of my muscle-mass here in Thailand, as I stopped working out and pretty much stopped eating altogether until recently.
  2275. I took a long drag from the cigarette as I then turned my head over to Mr. Vincent. He wasn't as easy to read; he was your typical man-in-black type government agent, looked to be in his forties, and had a damn good poker face. He jotted down notes the entire time I told my life story, occasionally glancing over at me, but never giving any visual reaction to the heinous shit I recalled. I could respect that, he was a professional through and through, and didn't let emotions get in the way of his work.
  2277. "So how's this gonna go down party-people? I appreciate the hospitality you've provided me the past few days, but if today was just going to be about negotiating how much time I'll be doing in the pokey, I say we just cut to the chase and you just fucking kill me." I said, narrowing my eyes and taking another long drag.
  2279. Sarah let out a small sigh, then looked back at me with a worried expression with her big black eyes that a puppy-dog might give its owner. I didn't like that look, it made me actually feel something somewhat, and I've come to learn here in Thailand from both my excursions into ruination with substances, and telling them every finite detail of my life up to this very point, is that I hate feeling human.
  2281. "No Malachi...the talk of prison time didn't even come up once. Vince and I feel like, after clearing it with our boss, that we actually want your help." She said with a frown.
  2283. Hearing this caused me to narrow my eyes even further. I slowly blew out the smoke I had been holding in my mouth.
  2285. "Get the fuck outta here. If you want to recruit me to become some spook that helps destabilize foreign governments by assassinating democratically elected leaders, just throw me outta fuckin' helicopter instead." I said in a hoarse voice, tapping the cigarette against the mug.
  2287. "That's...not what Vince and I's department does, Malachi." Sarah said, crossing both pairs of her arms and looking down slightly.
  2289. "I'll cut to the chase and tell you exactly what we want from you, Malachi." Vince piped up, moving forward in his seat and looking into my eyes directly.
  2291. "We want you to eliminate Ophelia Dimeo. In cooperation with the FBI, we'll be able to incarcerate all the crooked cops and puppet bureaucrats she has under her thumb, but if she isn't eliminated, Ophelia is going to get scarce really quick, and we probably won't be able to find her for awhile. You know the city, The Undertow, better than anyone we could bring in-house. And we would be willing to completely scrub away anything that ties you to anything you've done in the past as a now recently retired hitman. Malachi O'Malley would truly be dead, and you can live your life however you see fit from the money you've accrued. That's the price of this job: a completely clean slate."
  2293. "One last job huh?" I said, leaning my head back against the stiff pillow of the hospital's bed.
  2295. "It'll be just like the movies, you ride off into the sunset, free and ready to start the rest of your life."
  2297. "And to sweeten the deal even further, Sarah but you a present." Vincent said, tossing a small box with a ribbon wrapped around it at me, landing at end of the bed by my feet.
  2299. I leaned forward a picked it up, whatever was inside it was heavy. I opened it, and inside was the most beautiful handgun ever conceived by man: my trusty CZ-75, along with a fresh twenty-round magazine. I tentatively took the gun, inspecting it, holding it to make sure it still felt right in my hand, cocked it back, and dry-fired it at a bird in the window. I set it back in the box then lit another cigarette.
  2301. "Where the hell did you find this?" I said, genuine curiosity written on my face.
  2303. "It was thrown behind some bushes in Sarah's cover apartment. We figured since it had your prints on it, it belonged to you. Considering the rarity of that piece and being the marksman you are Malachi, I figured it'd go to waste to not bring it back to its proper owner." Vincent said with a smirk.
  2305. "And this is no bullshit, I put down that rotten cunt Ophelia, and I'm a ghost?"
  2307. "That's right. It may seem like you've lived a hundred lifetimes with how much you've been through Malachi, but you're only twenty-three years old, why not restart your life? You've got plenty of money, you're clearly very smart and well-read, you can go to school, pretty much any and every door can be opened to you."
  2309. "How much time do I get?"
  2311. "As much as it takes for you to get back on your feet. From what we've gathered from Sarah's intel, Ophelia doesn't seem like she'll go anywhere. She's happy being queen of the shit-mountain that is The Undertow. We've prepared a small apartment in New Jersey for you to live in. When you're ready, call the number on this card, neutralize Dimeo, and that'll be that. What you decide to do with the rest of your life is up to you, Malachi." Vincent said, handing me an ace of spades playing card with a number written on it.
  2313. Vincent sat in his chair uncomfortably for another minute, hesitating about whether or not he should say something else, before getting up and patting my leg.
  2315. "Well, the doctor said you'll be cleared to leave tomorrow morning. Take care of yourself, Malachi." Vincent said before leaving the room, shutting the door behind him.
  2317. Sarah got up from her chair as well, moving over to where I was sitting, crouching down beside me and putting her head in the nape of my neck. It did feel nice being close to someone, especially with how the fuzz of her neck tickled my nose, but I gently pushed her off of me.
  2319. "No. Sarah, don't do this. I don't want you to get attached to me." I said, taking a slow drag from the cigarette loosely hanging in-between my lips.
  2321. "W-what do you mean?" She said, rubbing my arm.
  2323. "I mean that you're a good person. You should find someone who's not...not me. You heard about all the horrendous shit I've done in my life, I lied to you about who I was. I'm not a good person."
  2325. "Yes you are Malachi. You're troubled, you've got a lot to work through but...I don't think how you were born, the situation you grew up in, I don't think that entirely makes you who you are."
  2327. "Do you know anything about Greek mythology, Sarah" I said, turning my head to her.
  2329. "A little bit...why?"
  2331. "If you've ever heard of King Midas, a guy who had a touch that turned everything to gold, I'm like him, except everything I come in contact with turns to shit. That girl that died in Japan with her dad, she gave me hope that maybe I can actually be happy, maybe I can have redemption. And now she's in the ground. Same as that innocent little girl I killed. So instead of dwelling on it, on why I should have a good life, and cursing some god that doesn't exist as to why I don't have one, I've just accepted the fact that I don't deserve happiness, will never attain it, and move on from that point. It's kind of liberating to just let go like that in a way." I said, deeply inhaling the smoke from the cigarette.
  2333. "My point is Sarah, don't get involved with me. I'm a walking bad luck charm. You'll be much happier with your life if you find someone who's the polar opposite of me to fall in love with. That's what I hope for with you."
  2335. "So...what do you plan on doing after you finish off Dimeo?"
  2337. "Well, hopefully I die in the process of killing her. I think that's fair."
  2339. "I just can't...I just don't get how you can be so fatalistic about all this." Sarah said, her eyes looked like they were welling up like she was about to cry, and that made me somewhat crestfallen.
  2341. "Because I've come to realize that my very existence is a cosmic mistake; a glitch in the system of the great computer of life. I wasn't supposed to be born, and every time I've brushed up against death, purposefully or not; I escape it, taking others in my place. That's why I don't believe in free will. It's been genetically encoded into my very being that I bring misery, and the only thing I can hope and pray for is that I'm taken out of this world sooner rather than later, for everyone else's sake." I said, tossing the butt into the mug that sat on my stomach.
  2343. "Well...it probably won't me anything to you then, but I think you're worth keeping around, if only just because I care about you. In all our small conversations we had about this-or-that in New York, I think I got to see the real you. A guy who's handsome, smart, has an adorable smile, and just wants to be a regular person. If that guy I fell in love with ever comes around again, I'll keep that number on that card, for as long as I have to. If stewing in self-loathing is what it takes for you to get back to being that man again, then I'll wait. Goodbye, Malachi."
  2345. Sarah then got up and walked out of the hospital room, and I took another long drag from my cigarette.
  2349. +
  2353. August 17th, 1988
  2355. Elizabeth, New Jersey
  2357. 4:30 PM
  2360. My living conditions here in New Jersey have been sparse, but serviceable. I've turned it more into a war-room than a living space, as I sleep on a small futon in the corner of the room. On the opposite corner is my dumbbells and weight-set, as I was completely out of shape when I got back here to the States. I've tried to use these past three months as productively as possible. I've gotten back into being disciplined; the only vice I allow myself is cigarettes, and even that is more a way of focusing myself, whereas alcohol, other drugs, or women, my previous vice, only serves to distract the mind.
  2362. I wake up at 5:00 AM sharp every morning, take a freezing cold shower, do one-hundred push-ups, one-hundred sit-ups, and one-hundred pull-ups. I then run for five miles, half the time jogging, half the time sprinting, and this is usually when the sun rises. I now only drink water, and eat as healthy as I can. The rest of my time during the day is researching and formulating the perfect plan to eliminate Ophelia Dimeo. The largest wall of the apartment room where a normal person would put a TV is covered by floor plans of her penthouse building I had sent to me, entries and exits marked.
  2364. I've ran through maybe fifty different ways I planned on killing her, all of them wadded up into a small hill of paper and cigarette butts that have been thrown into a corner of the room. But I don't completely obsess over these plans and ideas. I want this to be perfect, to where the only person that dies is Ophelia, and no one even knows I entered the building. But, I can't burn myself out obsessing over it. So when the sun falls at night, I take that quiet time to educate myself, and read one book a week that I check out from the local library. Right now I'm reading the Hagakure, The Book of the Samurai, but I've also read the Bhagavad Gita, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Art of War, and several works by Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Jung.
  2366. I read solely for information and education, not entertainment. And afterwards, I make sure to get eight hours of sleep every night.
  2368. I'm not trying to be some kind of "warrior-philosopher" or something pretentious like that. But Sarah was right about one thing: stewing in my self-loathing was pointless.
  2370. And after three months, I think I have the perfect plan.
  2374. +
  2379. August 18th, 1988
  2381. Manhattan
  2383. 2:45 PM
  2385. I walked over to a payphone, setting down the toolbox I was carrying. After fishing for change from my jeans pocket, I dialed the number on the ace of spades I'd been given, looking across the street, and up at Ophelia Dimeo's penthouse suite.
  2387. "Hello>" A voice on the other line said as it connected, sounding feminine, no doubt it was Sarah's voice.
  2389. "It's me. I'm out front of Ophelia's building."
  2391. "Alright. And Malachi? Good luck."
  2393. "Thanks." I said flatly, hanging up the phone.
  2395. I walked into the lavish building, a young blonde secretary sitting at the front desk talking to someone on the phone. She didn't seem too pleased to see me when she looked up at who was walking in. Most women probably wouldn't either, as I still was rocking the long hair tied into a ponytail with a rubber-band, but I did shave my scruff into a nice white trash 'stache.
  2397. "Hi I'm John. I'm here to fix the broken elevator?" I was in disguise as an electrician. The first part of my plan I had seen through last night, cutting the power to the elevator, then keeping a tap on the phone lines of all the different electrical services in the city. Then a few hours earlier, I went up to the real john and his van, offered him $1000 for his uniform and for him to leave. I'll admit he was obstinate at first, but my partner Mr. CZ 75 was able to convince him to just take the fucking money and get out of dodge.
  2399. "Oh, yeah. The breaker is down in the basement, which that door to the left will take you to i-"
  2401. "Got it." She pointed to the basement entrance, which I already knew as I had memorized pretty much every inch of the building. I quickly walked over to the door, walking down the stairs leading to basement. It was much more spartan than the regal entryway, mainly consisting of brick walling, with a horizontal ventilation shaft that was also connected to the vertical elevator shaft, and would lead me to the penthouse floor.
  2403. I didn't just spend my leisure time reading high-minded philosophy books, I also read things that would be very practical and useful to this job. One of them was on city ordinance of residential buildings in New York, that stated to be in line with the city's codes, all elevator shafts also had to have set of stairs for maintenance people to work on.
  2405. I opened up my toolbox, putting on a pair leather gloves and a belt holster. I also grabbed two extra magazines, stuffing them in my back pockets, and a flashlight. Finally, I attached the silencer to my CZ-75, and holstered it. I was ready for business.
  2407. After pushing some boxes together to stand on, I flipped open the switchblade I was carrying, and undid the screws that held on the vent opening.
  2409. I put all those pull-ups to good use, hoisting myself into the vents, and crawling towards the main elevator shaft. It was a tight fit, even for a guy like myself who's on more of the lithe and skinny side. I went over in my head the rest of the plan; it mainly hinged on what Ophelia was going to do. I don't want her to not see it coming, I want her to know exactly who's killing her, and why.
  2411. Exiting to the bottom of the elevator shaft, I switched on my flashlight, searching for the ladder. It was going to be a long climb to the top, but it was necessary. I didn't want any collateral damage, no blowback. My plan was to be in and out, like a ghost.
  2415. After five minutes of climbing, I reached the summit, and unscrewed the vent plate of Ophelia's penthouse suite. This was an even tighter fit, and I almost thought I was going to be stuck, but I came out the other side, and ended up where I expected: in Ophelia's shoe closet.
  2417. I pulled out the magazine to my gun, checked to make sure the safety was off, then re-holstered it. A force of habit of mine, but better safe than dead.
  2419. I could hear music playing in the living room, which was good news for me, as it meant Ophelia was home, and I wouldn't have to be cooped up in her shoe closet for several hours. I took off my shoes, leaving them in the closet. I remembered Ophelia's living room being mostly carpeted, but I wanted to surprise her nonetheless, and eliminate as much noise as possible.
  2421. She was laying splayed out on her couch, watching TV. That was the same couch where she emasculated me, but now the tables had turned. I undid the loose knot of piano wire from my neck, and wrapped around a gloved hand to have enough grip. I wasn't going to kill her with it, but it certainly was going to get her attention.
  2423. I knelt down behind her, and took a deep breath.
  2425. Whipping my arms around her neck, I let the wire snag on her furred neck, crossing my arms, and pulling as tight as possible. Ophelia struggled for air, gasping and frantically trying to grab at the piano wire, but I pulled up to where she wouldn't be able to grab it.
  2427. "Hello Ophelia. Long time, no see. eh?"
  2429. "M-Malch-chi!"
  2431. "That's right. I've come here to do what I should've done a long time ago."
  2433. "W-WAIT!" I knew she would try to beg. Try to work out some kind of "deal", so that was also part of my plan, to hear how she would try to weasel her way out of this. I relented, untying the wire from her neck, and pushed her down to the floor.
  2435. She rubbed her neck gingerly, catching her breath, then the golden jackal lady looked up to me.
  2437. "I guess...you must've pissed God off pretty good to...to look like *that*." She said, going over my appearance.
  2439. "Something like that." I said, putting away the piano wire.
  2441. "Who...who sent you, Malachi? You've been gone for months, I've tried to contact you several times yet it was like you fell off the face of the earth. Was it that bitch Yui? I know you two have a history."
  2443. "Fuck Yui. I don't care about her. No, I was sent by someone not even a a power hungry, megalomaniacal cunt like yourself can't control: good ol' Uncle Sam. How do the letters C-I-A sound to you, Ophelia?" I said, narrowing my eyes, and pulling out the carton of Dunhills I had in "Donny"'s shirt pocket, lighting one up.
  2445. She groaned at that, sitting herself up against the fireplace.
  2447. "So what? You think they'll trust a psychopath like YOU? You're a fucking maniac, Malachi. The living embodiment of The Undertow. They'll put you down the mangy dog you are when you least expect it. And if they don't, believe me, my people WILL find you, and they'll gut you like a fucking-"
  2449. -pew-
  2451. -pew-
  2455. Ophelia howled in pain as I shot her twice in the stomach, the blood already seeping through her shirt and onto the hardwood floor.
  2457. "Fucking threats? That's what you open with when talking to someone who's going to kill you? C'mon Ophelia, you can do better than that, can't you?" I said walking towards the couch and sitting down, keeping my CZ 75 pointed at her as she writhed on the ground.
  2459. "You fucker...you're nothing but gutter trash Malachi...nothing but a fucking-"
  2461. -pew-
  2463. -pew-
  2467. Two more shots whistled from my gun and into her knees as she attempted to get up, and was then hobbled back to the floor.
  2469. "Insults this time huh? Tell me something I don't know Ophelia."
  2471. Ophelia squirmed on the floor as a pool of blood formed around her. She didn't say much after this, mainly grumbling to herself. After finishing my cig, I flicked it at her and got up.
  2473. "Well, if that's all you got, I guess I'll get going. Those two bullets in your stomach, plus the ones in your knees, and this one I'm about to put in a major artery in your thigh-"
  2475. -pew-
  2477. She emitted a low growl at the final bullet I put in her.
  2479. "...Will probably cause you to bleed out in around four to five hours, and I'll be long fucking gone from this state, Ophelia. See unlike you, I don't get kicks out of seeing people suffer, just the thought that you'll die slowly is good enough for me.
  2481. I walked up to her record player, turning up the volume and went back to the closet to grab my shoes.
  2483. "I'll see ya around Ophelia." I said, before hopping back into the vent shaft.
  2485. A muffled scream rang out through the ventilation system down to the elevator shaft as I made my way back down to the building's basement.
  2489. +
  2493. "The elevator should be back in order now." I said, waving lazily at the receptionist, who read a newspaper and didn't even bother to look up at me. That's fine, I'd never see her, or this city ever again.
  2495. I looked up at the sky as a exited the lavish high-rise apartment building. It's bizarre I feel...at ease. Like if I died right now, that would be totally fine, as I've made peace with everything I needed to in this life, and I'm now ready to start the rest of my life, and appreciate every minute I have left.
  2498. The clock's ticking.
  2504. SITUATION 8: Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These
  2507. October 20th, 1993
  2509. Galveston, Texas
  2511. 5:15 PM
  2513. "So Vincent was the one who told you where I was huh? I'm surprised you even went through the trouble of tracking him down, considering you didn't seem to pleased about all the questions he asked you back in Thailand. I mean you look like you've barely changed, except now you don't have that scraggly hair and beard anymore. " Sarah said, sipping away at a strawberry milkshake. Five years later, she looks a little bit different. Her black hair is much longer, going down behind her back. It's not as cute as the pixie cut, but adds to her allure as a sophisticated, career oriented young woman. Her breasts seemed to have gotten bigger as well, considering how they strained against her sweater. But I did my best not to stare, as we sat across from each other at a booth in a kitschy 1950's styled diner.
  2515. "Yeah well, time has a way of healing all wounds as they say." I said smiling, lighting up a cigarette, then fumbling with it and accidentally dropping it into my milkshake, the disappointment in my face evident.
  2517. Sarah giggled at my plight, taking another sip. Her antennae bobbled up-and-down as she laughed.
  2519. "So just what *have* you been up to then? I transferred down to here not long after the New York op because the city was just too big for me, I'm a small-town kinda girl after all. I like doing border work here, somehow it's...not as crazy, not as intense. y'know?" She said, clasping her top two arms together and resting her head on them.
  2521. "Oh, I did this or that for a while, roaming from state to doing odd-jobs." I said, lighting another cigarette.
  2523. "By '89 I moved to Alaska, and became a musher."
  2525. Sarah's eyes went wide at that, jaw opening in disbelief."
  2527. "That seems a little out of left-field, even for you."
  2529. "Alaska's beautiful country, Sarah. And it was nice to do some soul-searching, and get away from everything."
  2531. "So you took my advice, and found something to live for then?" She said, cocking her head.
  2533. "Something like that." I said, shaking my head, and peering at the window, watching the sunset.
  2535. "Well I took your advice as well...after I moved down here I found a man, another honeybee, and got married...had a couple of kids, the whole nine yards." She said, for some reason looking at little crestfallen telling me.
  2537. "Oh wow that's amazing! How old are your kids?" I asked, genuinely happy for Sarah.
  2539. "One And two." She said, peering down meekly.
  2541. "So what does your husband do?"
  2543. "Ex-husband."
  2545. "Oh." I said, nodding my head, then looking down awkwardly at my shake.
  2547. "Yeah. Turns out he likes his booze more than he likes his kids, and wasn't as nice as he tried to make himself out to be. Guess that's what I get for marrying a cop right?" She said, smiling, but I could see the pain behind it.
  2549. "Who has custody of the kids?"
  2551. "I do. That's not hyperbole when I said he likes booze more than them; he was a such a violent drunk to them at times that the judge said he couldn't be within five-hundred feet of them or me, or else he'd be violating his parole. Somehow, he's still on the force though."
  2553. "Jesus, that's awful Sarah."
  2555. "Yeah...that's what I get for thinking that by the time I turned twenty-five, I had to hurry up and get married. Gotta be like everyone else after all, right?"
  2557. We sat there in awkward silence for a moment, Sarah tapping a chitinous finger against the glass table
  2559. "Anyway, we shouldn't dwell in stupid stuff like this. Let's go out to the dock and watch the sunset." Sarah said, getting up frantically and grabbing my hand.
  2563. The cast a purple light in the sky as its rays bounced off the water, it was a pretty sight, especially with Sarah sitting next to me.
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