2 weeks ago

Location Unknown

(The only reason I know I'm alive is the pain that fills my body from two days of fighting Jesse Williams. I blamed him for Alexis' downward spiral. I now know that is not the case. After fighting him I know him. There is now nothing personal between us. The problem is I now don't know who is to blame. I don't know who to go after. To some degree...I am lost. Unfortunately I don't have time to worry about that. The woman standing in front of Ember and I is an old aquaintence. Her name is Ruen. She's a professional assassin who only goes after people she feels deserve it. She's the boogyman for bad guys.

Her violet eyes stare into mine as I focus on the fact that her katana is still in its sheathe. That's where it needs to stay. Though she helped both myself, and Angel, in the past I can't put my trust in her not attacking me. I don't know how she found me. I don't care. I just want to kno...)

Why are you here?

(She's not surprised by my abruptness. I motion for Ember to hold her position. Ruen doesn't waste time. It's one of the qualities about her I always liked.)

I'm didn't come to fight you. I have some information you'll be interested in.

(I'm not relieved by this news. Part of me would like to fight her again, but that's a selfish notion. I would consider her a part time ally if I considered her at all. It's now the slight tremors of stress in her voice become noticable to me. She's hurt. By her stance I'd say she had a gut wound on the right side. Whatever happened I'm guessing she's hiding a lot of pain right now. I don't verbally respond to her. She continues without needing a cue.)

I know about the trouble you've had recently. I turned down the contract that was on you. Told them they should walk away. I wasn't able to find out who exactly was after you, but something has come up.

(Not surprising she got offered the contract. Can't say I'm not pissed she didn't find out who it was. I hate this whole thing. I don't know who is after me. I just want to find and destroy them and call it a night. I want their blood so bad I can taste it. So if she doesn't know who it is, what is she doing here?)

They've kidnapped a little girl. An 8 year old named Lisa Hughes. Her father is into some dark things, but she shouldn't have to suffer for it. It's him they want. She's lived with her mother since the divorce, but they went after her anyway. I need your help. I'd get her back but... (I cut her off.)

...but you're injured. I'm guessing a stab or bullet wound to the gut. I'm the next best thing you could come up with.

(Surprise registers in her eyes for a moment, but fades away. I'm not a hero. I'm not a babysitter. I'm not sure I'm even all that interested in saving a kid....but it's the people who are after me, and I owe them. So does Ember. I can't resist. I agree to help. She lays everything out that she knows. Two days later Ember and I find ourselves outside a remote cabin in Montana of all places. We crouch in the woods on the outskirts of the property and watch. We'll gather intel until it's time to wait no more. I find it difficult to contain myself, but my patience manages to win out. Two armed guards circle the perimeter. Even in the darkness their submachine guns are easy for me to spot.

After an hour of watching I grow tired of the wait. I motion for Ember to move in on the guard farthest it. She disappears smoothely into the darkness. I count to eight in my head and pry myself from the comfort of the shadow around me. Ember emerges at the same time as me and dispatches her guard as my hand finds the other's throat from behind. I can't help, but enjoy the sound of crushing his windpipe. He drops to the ground and I stomp his neck. He's nobody, but he's connected to them. That's enough to bring me satisfaction. We pull their bodies into the woods and remove the clips from the guns, tossing them aside.

With the guards dispatched we've gained freedom of movement. Circling the cabin I find our point of entry, an attic window. In no time the two of us are inside and moving through the shadows. Whoever has this girl must have some of the answers I seek. I intend to extract as much information as I can. These thoughts are what drive me. The kid is secondary. It's not that I wish harm to the child or have something against her. I just don't have anything for her either. I want answers. I want the people are after me. I want them now. I listen through the floor of the attic. I hear a girl sobbing quietly and two sets of footsteps below. Silently I pull up the wooden square that covers the opening and waste no time in dropping down.

Without hesitation I attack the closest guy and put him down hard. I hear a click behind me, but Ember drops down on top of him, crushing him to the floor. I quickly scan the room to see the girl with a gag in her mouth that I have no plans to remove. I step over to her. I don't try to be soothing. I'm up front with her.

Keep quiet if you want to live little girl.

(My words do nothing to diminish the fear in her eyes. I grab her as the door flies open. Ember is on the man who bursts in. He's disarmed quickly and tossed against the wall. She holds him against it. I feel no more movement in the cabin. With the girl over my shoulder I step forward to him. Anger immediately fills my hushed voice.)

Who do you work for?!

(He says nothing. I kick his knee as hard as I can. There's a loud pop before he crumples to the ground. Ember quickly covers his mouth while smiling at his pain. I glare at him. I can feel the intensity of my eyes increase as I step back to give him a little bit of room. I'll slowly dismantle his body to get what I want. I think he realizes it. After a moment of sniveling he finally nods. Ember removes her hand from his mouth.)

I...know who you are. I'll tell you what you want to know. I work for...

(Before he can say what I'm dying for him to say, a tink tink tink is heard from the floor beneath us. It's one of the last sounds I want to hear. I look to see a grenade rolling across the floor. Ember let's go of the man. The window shatters as she dives through it. I want to drop the kid and follow suit, but there's no time to think. Only react. I make a decision that I'd never have thought I would make. I keep ahold of the kid, dive over the couch, and shield her with my body. The explosion rips through room and slams me against a wall. The couch slams into me and I fall to the ground with the kid still in my arms. My eyes stare up, but everything around me fades into the distance until there is nothing.)

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