Future Memories - Eyes Wide Open
Sliding easily through the crowded streets of downtown Hong Kong he paused to check and make sure nobody else besides himself were following his prey. It was difficult, especially in the poor light of dusk and through the hazy rain that was falling, but he was confident. Spotting nobody he resumed his casual pursuit of the Chinese woman he'd been contracted to follow.
It was almost too easy, which always unnerved him. When things went too well, it almost always fell apart towards the end. The simple philosophy had held true in the months he'd stayed in Japan, and still held true during the following two years in China.
Watching as she stopped at a fruit stand, he paused to adjust the large umbrella he carried. Couldn't be too careful. And then she was moving again, trying to weave through the pedestrian traffic as quickly as she could.
A neutral expression on his face, he followed.
After six hours of watching the woman he now knew where she worked, what she had eaten for lunch, and what her favorite flavor of tea was among a few other tidbits. The big question on his mind, however, was why?
A question he'd found himself asking more and more.
For instance; Why did a person, who claimed to be this woman's husband, want her followed? Or even better, why is he paying good money for it?
REAL good money.
Shaking his head he paused a moment, just as she did, waiting for a traffic light to allow people to cross. Then it was down another street, followed by some fumbling for keys at the door of an apartment building. Glancing around he crossed another street and sat down at a bus stop bench, making sure once again that his umbrella protected him from the rain.
Once again, the waiting game started.
Checking one more time to make sure that nobody else was taking an interest in his presence his eyes were momentarily caught by the flashing light bar of a passing police car...
...flinging his arm outward a length of chain shot forth, smashing into one of the gang members that was attempting to circle him. A flick of his other wrist sent a half-dozen throwing knives at another man, stapling him to the plasterboard wall behind him.
A quick glance down showed the old lady still shivering in fright, her grocery bag torn and a mess of vegetables at her feet.
Scowling at the dishonorable thugs he leaped forward smashing another man backward and then spun in place to slam the heavy ball-n-chain he suddenly had in hand into yet one more. Dropping that he turned to face the few that remained standing, only to be almost blinded himself by the suddenly flashing lights of a police cruiser...
Cursing himself he thumped his own head in anger, and then glanced around to make sure his query hadn't suddenly left the building. Not seeing her he settled back once again to wait. For all he knew he could end up spending the entire night here, but he was used to that.
It really annoyed him that he'd done it again though. Getting lost in thought, or even worse, in old memories, was not a career-making move in this kind of work. And what bothered him the most was the fact that he'd been doing it more and more lately.
He'd mentioned it to Huong a bit ago, but the older man had just shaken his head and said it was normal for a person his age.
Needless to say, that hadn't helped.
So once again, here he was, poking his nose into someone else's business and getting paid to do it. He hadn't personally met the client this time, having been handed this job through Huong, but something about the whole setup just didn't lay well with him.
Like, for example, if the woman was married why didn't she wear a ring? Oh sure, she might have taken it off, likely in fact, but that just didn't hold with the impressions he'd gotten from watching her all day. And another thing... if the money that this guy is throwing around can be used as an indication, then what is she doing working at a coffee shop?
Right now Huong should be trying to chase up her work history and such. An hour of arguing with Government records had already established the fact that the man had been lying about her identity, but Huong had already taken his money by then, so they still had to do the surveillance work. Now it was just a case of watching their backs.
And maybe hers as well.
But right now, he had to wait.
Wasn't Huong meeting with Ishikawa tonight?
He sighed once again while looking out of the bars of the holding cell.
Six hours after being arrested for assault and battery, and they were still trying to verify his identity. It kind of figures, however, since the village had tried to have as little to do with the Chinese government as possible.
"Mousse. You're out." Glancing up he and several others in the pen watched as two men approached, an officer followed by another man. Unlocking the door and opening it the officer stepped back, allowing him to exit before closing it once again.
At that moment the second man stepped forward and held out a card. As he paused a moment in confusion the man smiled and said, "My name is Ishikawa. A co-worker of mine heard about your situation here, and informed me that you were a person really deserving a second chance."
Again shaking his head to stop the wandering memories, he couldn't help but smile a moment. A strange man, Ishikawa. In the last two years he'd met the man a whole four times, and every single time he'd tried to worm out the identity of this co-worker of his, but the man was a closed book. Not even a hint.
By now, however, he had his suspicions.
And if they were true... he didn't know what to think of that possibility.
Gentle chimes sounded from within the depths of his robes, and in a single practiced motion he pulled a cell phone out and flipped it open at the same time.
"This is starting to look ugly, my friend." Already he could hear the worry in Huong's voice. "The more and more I dig into this, the more and more I'm starting to scare myself."
"I'm starting to build a dossier on our client Mr. Chin."
He blinked. If Huong was already starting a profile on the client, it was a dark omen indeed. The last time he'd done that, their employer had turned out to be a LOT more then they had suspected...
"Give me everything you have so far. I'm going to see if it's enough to fill the letter of the contract and get out of this. I want to avoid the business regulators if possible."
So he did. Times, locations, addresses, even a phone number he'd watched her dial from a phone booth. Everything he had meticulously memorized over the last 17 hours he poured out to his partner. At the rate things were starting to progress, he also hoped it would be enough.
"Good work. Continue the surveillance for now, just in case he isn't happy. I will call soon."
And that was that. Tucking away the phone he spun the umbrella momentarily, watching the rain water hurl off of it in a large circular pattern around him, and then sighed again. A person would think he'd be good at waiting, considering how much he'd done in his life.
Checking the address listed on the card he knocked, and a few seconds later an older man, in his early forties maybe, opened the door asking, "Yes?"
He stared at the man a moment, and then held up the business card, not knowing what to say. The man just nodded though and said, "Of course, I was told to expect you. Come in." Stepping inside and closing the door behind him he followed the man into an office.
"I've been looking at your resume, and I have to say it's quite impressive." For the second time that day he blinked.
Sitting down in a comfortable chair the man gazed at him a moment before very specifically placing a glass of water in front of him. "I've heard a lot of tall tales in my life, and this one I have just got to see for myself."
The bang of a door dragged his attention across the street, just in time to see to the woman open her umbrella and start walking off. He glanced at his watch, allowing the woman a little bit of space, before standing up to follow her.
It was 2:15 in the morning. What was she up too?
Fifteen minutes, and one close call, later he closed his eyes a moment while hanging his head. Of course. With all the conspiracy theories and double-dealing that he was used to, he should have expected it.
And so he watched from across the street as the woman left the 24-hour mini-market...
...with a quart of ice cream in her hands.
Shortly after that he found himself settling down once again into his now damp seat at the bus stop.
It figured. After observing her for a whole day he could even say it fit into her personality profile that he'd mentally started on her.
She also wasn't a bad looking person either, he'd noticed. Cute, is a wispy soft of fashion, but it suited her personality. Now admittedly she wasn't anything like the Amazon women he'd grown to appreciate during his youth, and was nothing like...
Another shake of the head.
Those times are long over now, something that had been more then graphically pointed out to him by the one he had desired, so long ago. She had gone home, and the Elders had made it clear that he wasn't coming with her.
Which brought him back to the here and now again. Making an, admittedly, decent living by being sneaky and nosey, in that order. He'd managed, so far, to steer clear of doing anything TOO dirty, but definitely played in that gray area of the law more often then not.
Noticing the color starting to hint in the horizon, and the conclusion of the forecasted rain, he stood and stretched his legs. With another spin of the umbrella, followed by a practiced twist, he was able to stash away the item without a single drop on it. It was a simple trick, once you knew how, that he'd picked up from Ryoga.
Now there's a person he wouldn't mind seeing again, even if it was a "How do I find the local postal office?" question... from somewhere in Europe.
Checking his watch, and noting that over four hours had gone by without a callback from Huong, he pulled his cell phone out once again and hit the office speed dial.
After four rings he heard the answering machine say, "Thank you for calling Huong's. Due to dental issues I am out of the office, but please leave a message and I'll return it as soon as I can."
He immediately hung up.
While anyone else would have thought that the message was just was it said, he knew better. Huong only put that message on when he expected things to go wrong. Now admittedly, he probably put the message up before going to meet the client, but after this much time had passed he should have taken it down... unless something else came up.
Or he was no longer able to.
It was time to make a decision.
6:40am and once more the woman let herself out, pausing just long enough to tighten her coat against the morning chill. Watching as she started to walk off, a smile on her face, and obviously oblivious to the more sinister things happening around her, his choice was made.
"Excuse me, Ms. My-San!" Jogging the two blocks that separated them he finally caught her as she turned to face him. A look of surprise on her face she asked, "Do I know you?"
Giving a short bow he handed her one of his business cards while also flashing his identification. "No, Ms. My-San, you don't, but I know you." Taking a moment to gesture in the direction she had been originally walking, he continued.
"I am a private investigator, and was hired by a Mr. Chin to follow you, and have been doing so since noon yesterday."
"My partner and I were told that you were his wife, having left him for another man. Obviously this was a lie, but we did not know this until after we checked out your work history and background."
"What?! What are you talking about? I'm not married..."
His gaze still upon her face, he listened as her voice trailed off, and in that moment it told him everything he needed to know. Without even looking to confirm he spun in place while lengths of heavy chain spilled out of his right sleeve, and even as he turned he used his peripheral vision to target the large man who'd just stepped out in front of them.
The heavy chains smashed into the man, throwing him backward onto the ground while also tangling his limbs. Not bothering to check how effective he'd been he reversed direction and grabbed the woman's arm as he took off running. Dragging her three blocks as fast as he could, he darted around a corner to an alley and paused, giving the woman a chance to catch her breath.
Finally looking at him she gasped, "What the hell did you do that for?! That man didn't do- AH!" and then she was ducking as a loose iron mass hurled through the air and smashed into the wall where her head had been a moment before.
Throwing the woman behind him he turned and found himself staring at a pair of glowing red eyes. The man, the same one who'd just violently returned the chains that Mousse had hit him with less then a minute ago, narrowed his eyes. Flexing his arms a moment Mousse watched as dual ten-inch blades sprouted from each forearm, and the man paused long enough to smile.
The man was obviously augmented, almost assuredly stronger, and likely faster then himself. Mousse paused in indecision as the man obviously gathered himself up for a charge.
Hearing a quiet whimper behind him, his jawline hardened. It had been his choice, eyes wide open, and now it was time to follow through with it.
And just as the man literally kicked up dust in his sudden explosion of speed the young Chinese warrior, Master of the Hidden Weapons Technique, and former Amazon, cried out, "Quill Flechette!"