Friday, October 26, 2012

When death knocks on your door

It's often said that capsuleers don't like to get their hands dirty. Or at least not physically dirty. In fact, apparently, most spend little time outside of their pods, even less interacting with baseliners. If you could call this, 'interacting.' I guess I was the exception. I liked getting dirty, doing things myself. It made me feel... connected. Like the effort I was putting in wasn't wasted. I leaned back in focused at the task at hand.

My knife was performing admirably. Cutting, no, that implied more effort than I was expending. Slipping was much more fitting. Slipping between the thin layer of skin, and that of the muscle and fat. Who knew those hunting trips down on the surface of Pator all those years ago would teach me such valuable skills? Or that this knife would remain sharp after so many cuts?

Fresh blood welled on parts of the exposed muscle, providing a slight, sweat like sheen. Severed nerve endings must be pumping an overload of sensation back to their host, speaking of... I looked back up at his face.

My eyes met his, just then a nearly inaudible, but imploring, groan left his lips. He had long since screamed himself functionally mute, but the drugs I had pumping through his system kept him awake enough to feel everything. His breaths pushed small drips of blood from his mouth, his tongue swollen now, pressing against his ragged teeth.

I went back to work on his body, a bit impressed he had lasted this long, but not impressed by his other failings. 'He' was the captain of a merchant ship in Amarr space, 'he' had operated for me in the Sasen Constellation. 'He' wasn't a capsuleer or this torture would have been largely irrelevant, but 'he' HAD committed a cardinal sin.

It wasn't every simple, a while back, perhaps a year or more ago, he started working for someone else before leaving my employ. Trying to double down on profits I suppose. His mistake was working with the very people I was having him spy on. Some Angel Cartel slavers, the very people I was using him to keep an eye on. Sometimes watching Angels was easier when you weren't doing so from a pod. Compounding that mistake, he had gotten caught by the otherwise inept Amarr customs navy, loaded down with small arms I was supplying certain cells on certain planets with, and a contraband load of slaves.

I didn't blame him for singing like a bird to the local authorities after his capture, singing a sweet deal indeed. I suppose he didn't think he would ever be found again, or he just hoped he would not. His real sin was singing a tune that revealed a well placed cell of anarchists. Endangering several more I had set in place years ago. Most of their number had been captured and lost to the Amarr system, likely never to be seen again.

It had taken a bit of asking around, sometimes more aggressively than others, but eventually Jasper, now in attendance, had been uncovered. Hours ago I watched the surprise cross his face, when he stepped out into his kitchen, surprised to find the Amarr guards, gone.

His face had gone from surprise to fear fairly quickly when I stepped towards him, probably some lingering childhood fears about a Bhaalgorn. I could almost detect a moment of relief when he saw my face in the deep hood and not that of a demon. His relief was short lived, I suppose, but it had been there all the same.

Now it was all winding down. I had some information I hadn't really asked for that had made this little trip more profitable than I expected. I'd anonymously tip the footage to some news outlets, maybe the local police. I hadn't looked at the feed since I started. Nor would I as I left. My face would not show, a small holographic inlay would present a black hole on the footage where my face would have been.

I barely heard him speak, his raspy voice still somehow triumphant, but it was as if the words he said locked my body in place while kicking my mind kicked into overdrive.

"Layette Friary."

It was a name, one I had been avoiding since an incident near a year and a half ago. I was never able to get any information about that name from the assassin who had muttered it with his dying breath. I had changed operational locations because of that name. Changed contacts, not to mention burned still more contacts and operatives in an attempt to kill a man. THAT little fiasco had led to me seeing my sister through a sniper's scope at the same time I saw the man I had until then, been determined to kill, and their child.

I looked up again, but a small, bloody smile was all that greeted me. Jasper, was gone. Rage boiled up inside me, much deeper rage than the loss of a cell, no matter how well placed. I wanted to drive my fist through Jasper's chest, to stomp in impotent fury, assault his body with my knife, or better yet my bare hands, instead I stood there a moment, feeling defeat wash over me, a stark contrast to Jasper, who's skin was hanging off his body like stretched red rags.

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