A villa in the south of France...at the home of Amanda, an occasional lover who lets me use a room as an art studio (since the light is good). Tall, dark, slender, and a nidan in Aikido and a 1st Kyu in Kajukenbo
(2nd degree black and just short of black), and filthy rich.
She's sitting on a stool, sipping expresso, watching me paint a portrait of Stephanie, a young woman we picked up at a trendy, name dropping club last night. Stephanie is posing, of course, nude.
This is a trendy, mod, shadow of France in the late 1980's with no nasty STDs. Amanda is wearing a loosely tied, short robe of green silk. On the table beside her is fresh loaf of bread, a large kitchen knife, and two rattan sticks, each 60cm in length.
I'm wearing loose black cotton pants with lots of pockets. My feet are bare,since the early morning sun has warmed the floor (It's about
10am now). My shirt is of green silk. The sleeves are rolled up to the elbows and the front is only buttoned half way up. In my
pockets are: a wallet with appropriate ID, a few thousand or so francs in cash, and a platinum AmEx; keys to a rag top jaguar in the garage; a Leatherman multitool; and my trump deck sealed in a thigh pocket. My fingers sport multiple rings, some more special than others. A thick gold link bracelet on my right wrist.
The room is cluttered with painting supplies and various props. These include a rather functional sabre, sheathed, less than a meter from my left hand. Other items include several sets of clothing that would fit Amanda, myself, and probably Stephanie; various swords and other melee weapons; several musical instruments; and oddly enough, climbing gear. The building has a secret room in the basement and off that is small, hidden closet with various weapons stashed away.
I'm pretty much done with my first draft of Stephanie when Amanda whispers quietly, in French, "Alex, there is someone watching us from a window across the street. I don't see anything like a 'long ear', just vision enhancement gear."
I keep painting for a couple of minutes. I then set the brush down and stretch. I speak briefly, Stephanie should relax, but don't drift too far from the pose (i.e. no wandering about), I'll be right back. Just a call of nature that needs attending to. Amanda's slight lift of her right eyebrow tells me that she knows to be on the alert.
I exit the room and slip into Amanda's bedroom and pick up the Opera Glasses she just happened to have left lying on the dresser. I step up to the closed drapes and move one aside just enough to slip the glasses through and observe those observing us.
I see one person. A plain, nondescript sort of man in plain, nondescript sort of clothing. There is nothing unusual about him. How typical...
He is observing with what appears to be an ordinary optical scope. Not the type for attaching to a weapon, just the type typically used for surveillance. It does limit his field of vision considerably, so he doesn't seem to notice me noticing him
I head back to the studio. I resume painting and ask Amanda to come over. I slip loose the knot of her robe as I whisper in her ear, "You and our friend need to keep our observer's eyes focused for a few minutes, my dear."
I kiss her and then pick up the easel with one hand and step back, just out of the observer's view as Amanda slips out of the robe and calls Stephanie over. The two of them start on their project to keep the observer's eye's and hormones busy.
I slip out the door, hopefully unobserved, pick up a dark leather jacket, sneakers, and a hat on the way to the door. The jacket has a regulation baseball in the right pocket. I slip across the street. My goal is to enter the building and 'get the drop' on our observer. I figure I can easily overpower him and question him in regard to his attentions.
I slip out a side door and go down the street a bit before crossing and doubling back. I enter the building and start up the stairs.
Mr. Nondescript appear at the landing between floors two and three. He brought a buddy (almost as unremarkable as himself). They seem to be in a hurry and act surprised when they see me. They halt their decent and begin to reach into their jackets.
The baseball I've been clutching in my right hand (in the pocket) comes out and is thrown with strength of my bloodline into the stomach of the one on the left. I wanna take him out, but not kill him.
"OOOOFFFFFF!!!!" He's knocked backwards against the wall, and the pistol he was drawing flies out of his hand and comes skittering down the stairs, past me.
I lunge forward and deliver a quick snap instep kick to the groin of his friend.. I don't use my full power. I don't kill him. His pistol drops straight down to the floor.
I tug their coats down halfway to bind their arms. They are stunned long enough for me to toss them to their knees, face to the wall.
I place one hand on a shoulder of each man an then morph a ring on each hand. Insta-dagger-across-the-throat-trick!
"I value low tones and no trouble gentleman." My French is correct, with a slight German accent. "Why were you spying on my friend?"
The fellow who caught my ball, still quite winded, gasps (fear quite evident...)... "Nnnnot your fffriend... Yyou..." He continues to gasp for breath... His French is quite but has a slight Nordic accent. He friend then has the bad taste to pass out.
I reply in low, but even tones, still in French, "Who and why? Be brief, but concise. My patience is short." For emphasis, the pressure of the dagger across his throat increase slightly, staying just short of what is needed to break the skin.
Still gasping, he replies, "Des... Des gave us the order... We do what Des tells us to do, we don't question our orders... We don't
know why... Just 'observe and report on the one known as Alexander'... Thats' all."
"Quickly Gentlemen. My patience grows thin. Who is 'Des' and were do I find this person?"
He gulps, looking extremely worried, and opens his mouth to speak...
Before he can speak, there is an enormous power surge...Pattern Energy!
The two men flicker and vanish. Just the two men. Their clothing, & personal effects fall to the floor before.
The last thing was a vague sense from the conscious man, that he believes that it is "Des" behind it, and he's quite relieved.
I pause to savour the memory of the Energy flow...I sensed a glimpse of the Pattern, but very washed out looking. Faded, or perhaps weak, or perhaps a cheap copy, or perhaps all of the above.
A quick examination of their pockets results in nothing except local currency and spare magazines for their pistols. The magazines have an odd smell that I can't place.
After carefully removing any traces of my examination, I return to Amanda's. I interrupt her and our guest. After sending Stephanie home, we quickly pack for a trip.
She hanges into travelling clothes, and packs a small bag with the essentials: clean underthings, cash, escrima sticks, cash, jeans, piano wire, cash, ...
For myself, much of the same. I open up the weapons cashe in the basement, and the load a few items into a gym bag. An H&K MP5, suppressed, a few mags of frangible rounds, a 12 gauge pump gun with a folding stock, a few frag grenades.
A Browning Hi-power gets tucked in the back of my pants.
All of it British military issue. The Royal Army still thinks it's safely stored in a warehouse near London you see...
I pack a clean shirt, a green leather vest, and some socks around the weapons to keep them from rattling. The bag gets tucked in the trunk of the Jaguar. Next to it goes Amanda's bag, and a fencing bag. The latter has two cavalry sabres, a duelling epee, a brace of 4 throwing daggers and a survival knife to make Rambo proud.
Last item is a picnic basket, bread, cheese, salami, and a couple bottles of wine.
With Amanda driving, we pull out and head for the country side. I need a change of scenery. Once we get out of the city pull out my Trump deck and start idlely shuffling. Hopefully a card will drift to the top...