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Nightfly Shotoff

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Nightfly Shotoff 2011-01-18 22:56:56

This piece fits somewhere in the Nightfly universe, but I'm not sure when yet. Regardless, it's a glimpse into Ryan Louis Cipher's elusive background. It began as writing about myself, but as usual Louis took it over. I write in chunks, so if it seems like a cliffhanger at the end of the post, it's probably on purpose. It's still an ongoing process as well, so it'll continue to come out as I see fit. Please enjoy and critique.

"I got nine lives, cats' eyes, using everyone of them and running wild"- Angus McKinnon Young

Back in Black

I'm at my desk, simultaneously smoking a cigarette, flipping my Zippo lighter open and closed, reading some bullshit article online and listening to John Coltrane when BB walks into my office and tosses a folder in front of me. "It's a pretty interesting file," he assures me. "Thought you might be interested."

"What, some asshole got his head stuck in a toilet, drowned and you want me to greet him and give some lame one liner about his embarrassing demise? Don't you have anything better to do than getting kicks from people's weird deaths?"

"Can't you just take me serious for once? Jesus Christ, every time I come in here it's like going to a bar where everyone's an insult comic except for me."

"No, I never take you seriously BB. And I never will, until you at least get some better looking threads. That suit does not go well with your tie or your body type."

"Whatever. Just look at the goddamn file, will ya?" BB leaves. Thank God, I can't stand the man. He's the annoying coworker no one likes but holds a bunch of keys to places you'll never be able to go to without him. I put my cigarette out in the ashtray and pull the file closer to me.

I open to the file to find some standard stuff, like TOD (Time of Death), location, etc. It seems like the guy was murdered; he was mixed up with the wrong mob and got nicked. Not surprising, but it's the style of the execution that intrigues me. The legs are placed on top of each other, and the arms are spread out. There's one bullet into both legs, a bullet for each arm, and one to the forehead. This can't be right; no one uses that MO, rather, everyone who knew that MO is dead, bribed, or both.

My right arm begins to twitch, as well as my right index finger. My eyes close for a second and I can smell gunpowder and blood mixed with the endless sand. I walk over to the closet and bend down beneath the gun rack to open a safe. I take out a plain album along with a brown bag. I'd thought I'd never have to do this, but when time calls, I must.

I empty the contents of the bag. An driver's license, a key to a 1968 Pontiac Firebird , a nicked up sliver Zippo lighter, a black diving watch with the initials MCBCP'80 on the back, a KA-BAR knife in its sheath, a Samsung cell phone, another ring of keys, and a Colt .45 semi-automatic handgun in a leather holster fall onto my desk. I take off my Rolex watch and replace it with the diving watch. I leave the Rolex, along with my current cell phone and Zippo lighter on my desk while I take the items from my bag. I haven't used these items in years, but it feels just like yesterday I was this persona of death. Heh. How ironic. I don't dare open up the album; I don't need that kind of emotional crap now.

"Where are you going?" yells out Astaroth as I leave my office.

"I'll be back soon. I just gotta tie up some loose ends. Tell the boss I'll be out for the afternoon, will ya?" I call back.

"Whatever. Just make sure you're back in time for the meeting."

"Cool." I walk out of the office building and into the parking structure. I pass various cars from various time periods until I reach the car that matches my key. Ah, the Pontiac Firebird my father left me. A beautiful car, unnoticed for its time. I've given this car nothing but neglect, sadly. It's covered in dust, only because slashing portals is so much easier and quicker. Regardless, the V-8 engine roars to life as I start the car up. I drive out of the garage and tell Logistics to send me to E-1P5A.
Since E-1P5A is a pretty standard dimension there isn't much trouble driving through the portal. That being said, I still pay attention. One wrong turn, and, well, you end up where really bad shit goes down really fast. The last time any of us did that, and, let's just say it didn't end well. Someone flipped the winner cards, and I think Ang Lee is still pissed. Regardless, you don't want to take your eyes off the road.

The V-8 engine roars as the Firebird finally hits solid concrete. Thank goodness the shockers still work; I'd rather not make a scene coming back to this dimension, the one I'm from. Somebody might recognize me and get the wrong impression.

The City still looks grey and foggy, as per usual. Nothing's changed since I've left the place, but then again, it's only been 3 earth years. For me, that's been nearly an eternity. But that's just boring data shit for scientists. I need to find the guy who spoke to me last.............

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-01-19 01:03:00

Since E-1P5A is a pretty standard dimension there isn't much trouble driving through the portal. That being said, I still pay attention. One wrong turn, and, well, you end up where really bad shit goes down really fast. The last time any of us did that, and, let's just say it didn't end well. Someone flipped the winner cards, and I think Ang Lee is still pissed. Regardless, you don't want to take your eyes off the road.

The V-8 engine roars as the Firebird finally hits solid concrete. Thank goodness the shockers still work; I'd rather not make a scene coming back to this dimension, the one I'm from. Somebody might recognize me and get the wrong impression.

The City still looks grey and foggy, as per usual. Nothing's changed since I've left the place, but then again, it's only been 3 earth years. For me, that's been nearly an eternity. But that's just boring data shit for scientists. I need to find the guy who spoke to me last.............

The flashy muscle car scares a good chunk of the ordinary people walking on the streets. A few kids look in awe, but what I do to maintain this car should not be admired. Some cops also take a look, but turn their heads. One or two rookies continue to stare until they're hushed up by their seniors, who make various comments like "Keep your fucking head down greenie" or "You wanna live rookie? Get your stupid eyes out of the fucking car."

I finally drive up to the bar I'm looking for, located near Japantown. The name of the joint is Vic's, but Vic hasn't owned the place since the '60s. Instead, it's run by an elder smaller Japanese lady who could match you drink for drink and then knock your socks off, all while telling the latest gossip around town nonstop. Gangsters, cops, even I don't fuck with her. She practically runs the city, making my job a hell of a lot easier.

The bar's one of the older kind but Japanese influenced, nice wooden bar, no television, local piano player (the good kind, not the crappy local neighborhood band shit that occurs in these so called "modern bars") a few prostitutes handpicked and managed by the owner, excellent free sushi from nearby restaurants, bonsai trees strategically placed, beautiful calligraphy artwork and most importantly, serves real alcohol, not that bullshit mixed drink crap also served in "modern/hip/new" bars. Overall it's a classy place and perfect to conduct business with a certain group of non-public people.

With my sunglasses still on I walk into the bar and pull up a stool. The owner walks over and asks me "What will it be hun?"

"The usual Haruku-San. Shot of sake and a shot of 12 year Scotch."

Haruku gasps. She nearly drops the glass she's holding. "What did you just say? Sake and Scotch? Why, nobody's ordered that combination in years....." I take off my sunglasses. "You? You're supposed to be......this can't be.........I thought you were........I went to your....." She continues to look at me with confusion.

"Well, as they say, news of my death has been greatly exaggerated. Now, how about that drink?"

"Fuck you, I need a drink. Hell, I need 2. Or five. Jesus Christ, you're supposed to be dead!"

"Well, I figured a little disappearance for a while would do this town some good. Besides, it's not like anyone could find me," I quickly lie. She doesn't need to know the truth. Nobody does, not in this dimension. One slip and I might have to reap everybody. That's not what I want to do, plus that's a lot of work.

"But I saw the body! Hell, I even identified the corpse down at the police station. Two slugs through your fucking head, Jesus Christ, how the fuck do you live through that?"

"I'll give you a hint. It's amazing what plastic surgery can to a complete stranger." I lean back on the stool, lighting a cigarette.

"You can't smoke here. New laws; can't smoke in bars. Even I couldn't get by them." She points to a no-smoking sign.

"Bastards. How am I supposed to enjoy my drink?" I put the cigarette out on the bottom of my shoe.

"So, what made you come back from where ever you were hiding out?"

"See, last time I checked, I was the only guy working the City. No other job went to someone else before going to me, right? And after I left, all the wannabes jumped up to try to claim any bit of my glory. But one of these assholes crossed a line. One line that shouldn't have been crossed. I don't mind other people working the city, as long as they aren't copycats." I slide the photo from BB across the bar to Haruku. "Now, only you, me, a few badges, and Denny know what this is. And I certainly didn't do this job. So, I gotta ask you this. Where the fuck is Denny?"

"Holy shit." Haruku says as she looks at the crime scene photos. "That's what he was talking about........that son of a bitch.......How did you get these?"

"I have my ways," I reply, reaching over for the shot glass of sake she had just poured. "Like the saying goes, the Nightfly's always on the wall listening."

"I'm well aware of that expression Ryan," Haruku snaps. She tosses the photos back and pours the second round of Scotch. "I just haven't heard it in years........as for Denny, well, you might want another few drinks. That's another long story."

"Fine. Make it a 3 finger Scotch. I got time, I got a lot of time." Yes, I do have time, after all, the bartender's one of my last connections to this world. I wouldn't want to rush her. And by the sound of it, she's got the inside scoop on what's been going on.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-01-19 01:04:17

"Well, after you left, Denny really didn't as good as a chief enforcer as you. Sure, he found some other pros, but none of them had the same aurora as you. So Denny decided to take a gamble on this kid, like he did with you. But things didn't work out.

Turns out the kid was completely psycho. He'd kill bystanders. He'd go after cops. He didn't play by Denny's rules, which you did. Cops got wise and went after him. Denny's business got too much light and nearly crashed. Finally he broke Denny's code after sticking his nose into Denny's business so much. That was the final straw. Denny realized the viper in his bosom and put a fat contract on the kid's head. Fifty Gs, or so I heard.

So Denny's sitting in his office, waiting for that phone call to end his nightmares. He's waiting and waiting until he hears some gunshots outside. Now, as you know Ryan, Denny's no hero, nor is he a cowboy. First sound of trouble and Denny was out of there, no questions asked. Turns out the son-of-a-bitch backtracked Denny's records and found the guy. He went after Denny with no success. Sure, a few bodyguards died and half the place got blown out by C4, but he didn't get Denny. Last I heard of Denny, he was underground, much like his failed project."

"What happened with his failed project?" I ask, taking another sip of alcohol.

"Well, you can't exactly hide an explosion from the cops, nor can you hide C4 from the feds. So sure enough after the failed attempt suits were swarming the damn place. Bunch of guns were pointed at this psychotic bastard, and you know what he did next?"


"Blew out the other half of the building. Turns out he had more C4 than anyone thought. With that, he disappeared. Now, official reports say the guy's dead, but we all know how official reports are."

"Sure." I empty my glass. "So, with this in mind, how can I contact Denny? Do you know where he even is?"

"Funny you mention contacting Denny, because he was trying to contact you."


"Yeah. After this debacle, Denny sent a guy with a note to me. Said he needed to contact you to clean up this mess. Sounded like someone was holding him by the balls. I wrote back, saying I had no idea where you went. This was about 3 months ago."


"You thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Yeah. These two events are definitely connected. Listen, have you gotten any word back from Denny?"

"Nope, all I got was a note with this sequence of numbers. You know me; you're the only one I do this for. Even then, I keep my nose out of your business." She hands me a piece of paper with the numbers 600-32-89.

"Thanks. Keep in touch." I stuff the paper into my inside pocket and pull out my wallet. As I begin to take out money for the drinks she stops me.

"Consider this on the house for your arrival. Just do us all a favor, and kill this cocksucking bastard."

"Will do Haruku-san. Will do." With that, I leave.

As the sun sets the traffic on the streets disappears. It used to be my time; the time where true business gets done. But that was years ago, now all I got is a piece of paper with some numbers on it and loose psychotic bastard who's trying to set me up. Guess it's time to find Denny, wherever he may be.

Hm, Denny still remembers the code I taught him. It was a modified version from what I'd learned in boot camp from a Comms specialist. Worked really well in the city too. I'm glad he remembered it. 1st digit means the situation, in this case 6 being holding out in a bunker or safe house. 2nd digit refers to physical health, 0 meaning perfectly healthy. 3rd digit: mental health; I'm surprised he put 0 considering the situation. 4th digit's a pointer, 3 meaning east in this case. 5th is an altitude, so Denny's on a second floor. The 6th number is how many blocks to walk, so 8 to go. Lucky number 7 tells me the apartment number. With these directions in mind, I head over to the place.

As a safety precaution the real building number is never given, so when I get over to the place I only pull up to the curb. I then start the radio so it plays Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" really loudly. Whoever doesn't come out of their building to complain is the guy I'm looking for. After being heckled by neighbors I turn the song off and head to the appropriate building. Hopefully Denny's in here; if not, I'm fucked.

Pulling into the driveway I notice the door to the inside of the apartment complex has been broken in. Shit. I might be too late. This wacko nutjob might have all ready been here. Better hurry my ass up. After parking the car I pop my trunk and take out a Spectre M4 submachine gun. I have my Colt as my backup, so I'm good to go.

I begin to quickly clear the hallways, checking the corners to make sure no one surprises me. As I make my way up the staircase I hear something crashing so I run up the rest of the stairs. When I get to the top I see the door to Denny's apartment is wide open, so I first check the rest of the hallway. Before entering Denny's place I call out, yelling "Denny? Are you in there?"

No answer. Either I'm too late or I'm just in time. In either case, I bust in, finger on the trigger, ready to get some killing done.

The place is ransacked and smells horrible. There are a few bodies on the floor, mostly dressed in pretty good suits. This isn't good; these guys are pretty far up on the ladder. They aren't the ones doing the dirty jobs; they're the one giving out the orders. I step over a few handguns and casings on the floor, looking for any signs of Denny or the attacker. The rooms are clear, but the floor isn't. There was definitely a firefight here, but I don't think these guys hit anything, despite all the blood. None of it trails, which means all of the blood here belongs to these guys. The bullet casings though are the things that interest me.

Most of the shells are 9mm, which make sense since most of corpses were packing Berettas. Sure, there's an occasional .380 ACP, but that's from one guy's PPK. The placement of the shells indicates these guys where firing blind; my guess is there was a stun grenade. My suspicion is confirmed when I notice an empty can underneath the coffee table in the middle of the room. Based off the muzzle burn on the wounds, it seems like this guy also was using a suppressor. The one thing that's out of place is a single 5.7mm casing. This guy knew what he was doing, (For Christ's sake, he was using armor-piercing rounds, no one, I repeat, no one could of survived through that) but he left a single trace of his existence behind. This guy makes even me sick. What happened here is overkill.

As I step over the corpses, I notice that a pool of blood is outlining what looks like a trapdoor. I slowly walk over to what looks like the entrance and feel for the catch. Once I find it I level my gun at were the opening should be; I don't want any surprises.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-01-23 02:31:13

Ironically, to my surprise, a voice yells out, "Don't shoot!"

"Denny?" I ask, gun trained at the door. "What the fuck are you doing down there?"

"Ryan? Is that you? What the fuck are you doing here?"

"What the fuck does it look like? Saving your ass! What the fuck are you doing?"

"Saving my own ass. Help me out of this fucking mess, will you?"

"Easy does it champ," I say, gun still trained. With my left hand I open up the door to find Denny covered in dust. "Jesus Christ."

"I know right? My suit's fucking ruined."

"That seems to be the least of your worries." I gesture to the corpses on the floor. "Are these your good buddies?"

"Not any more. Jesus fucking Christ, it's a goddamn slaughterhouse in here." Denny steps into the blood stained carpet and takes a look around.

"What the fuck happened?"

"The moment I heard the windows break, I was in here faster than a flea on a stove. By the looks of it, it was probably for the best. Jesus Christ, that's Andy. Fucking asshole, he got Andy! Jesus fucking Christ!"

"Sit down Denny. He's not here any more. You gotta get over it now. Just take a breather, will you?" I lead Denny over toward a chair and make him sit down. I give him a soda.

"Why this?" Denny asks.

"How so you forget. The sugar will help the adrenaline rush cool off less severely." In the meanwhile, I continue to check the hallways and the windows for any sign of the bastard. So far, so good, nothing yet. "Call some more of your boys. You need to get the fuck out of here pronto. This asshole isn't going to give up that easily."

Denny reaches into his jacket and pulls out his cell phone. "Fucking hell. I was hoping to see you again, and it's good that you got my message, but shit, not under these circumstances."

"Just shut the fuck up and make the call."

As Denny makes the call I continue to somewhat calmly check outside. There are sirens in the distance; I better get Denny and myself out of here. "How long?" I ask Denny.

"5 minutes. Guys are just around the corner."

"You got 2. Cops are going to be here soon."

"They're doing the best they can."

"Make them try harder. You've gone soft."

"You've grown impatient."

"It comes with the territory. Now you got to tell everything you know about this guy, what he looks like, what car does he drive, how he takes his coffee, everything."

"Fine. He's in his late 20s, wears a brown leather jacket over a black shirt with jeans and boots. He's got brown hair, green eyes and last time I checked drove a '71 Mustang, red."

"Where the hell did you find him?"

"Took him off the streets, like you. He looked beat down, so I figured he could be good for something. I wanted to make him absolutely loyal, like you. Well, I learned I was wrong fast. Never give the guy explosives; he makes too good of a use out of them."

"Good, good. Know anything about his background?"

"Nothing, just that he was broke when I found him." Siren grow louder, but luckily Denny's guys come into the building.

"Come on Denny, let's roll." I escort Denny with the rest of his entourage down the stairs into the parking lot. "You take Denny and go. I'll cover the rear," I say to the lead bodyguard. "Go now!"

Police cars stop near the building and cops pull out their sidearms. Denny's car roars to life and begins to back out. In the meanwhile I walk out the front door and try to draw the majority of the gunfire. As cops begin to shoot at me I notice there's someone on the roof, watching the entire firefight. The submachine gun in my hand continues to jerk as I return fire towards the cops; I know I won't hit much but it'll be suppressing fire so Denny can make his escape. Just as Denny's car begins to make its escape it stops, and Denny yells out the window, "RYAN! THE NAME OF THE GUY IS-

The world slows down. The gun in my hand, despite its 840 rounds per minute firing rate, feels like molasses as it continues to rock back and forth, spewing out rounds towards the police. I turn to see an anti-tank missile make its way towards Denny's car. I follow the path of the missile back to the rooftop where there's a man with a FGM-148 Javelin rocket launcher. That son-of-a-bitch, where did he get that rocket? It doesn't matter now, he needs to die. With my left hand I reach into the small of my back and pull out my Colt .45. I aim the gun at the killer.

Time snaps back into reality. The explosion of Denny's car and the kick of the first .45 bullet happen at the same time. I continue to blindly lay down fire at the cops and focus on the asshole on the roof. My Spectre runs empty, so I swing it around my back so I can fire my handgun with my dominant hand. Grabbing the Colt with my right I take good aim and empty my magazine towards the roof. The guy seems to have disappeared, so now should be a good time for me too. I run towards my car, rev up its V-6 engine, and get the fuck out of here.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-01-28 01:02:58

Sirens continue to wail as dusk falls upon the city. Lucky for me, those sirens never get any louder as I pull into an empty lot by the docks. The PD are going to be too busy trying to identify all the bodies than to chase after one guy.

Who was that asshole on the roof? Obviously it's the guy Denny was talking about, but how did he know Denny was still alive? And where did he get military grade weapons? These questions float through my mind while I have a cigarette to calm down. However, the wind picks up and I can't get my Zippo to catch. There's something not right about this wind either, it's too warm for a fall's breeze...........

"Ziz, you can come out now. Who sent you to watch me?" I call out.

The wind blows harder as it begins to center its attention to the spot right in front of me. The zephyr becomes a human-shaped form until finally a thin man with long brown hair wearing a dark green suit and sunglasses steps out. The wind stops. "How did you know?" he asks me.

"Warm winds in September? In the City? Come on, you should do better research," I say as I finally get my lighter to work. I take a deep drag and blow the smoke into Ziz's face.

Ziz stops the smoke with his hands and begins to ball it up. As he talks to me he forms various shapes out of the smoke, similar to artists with clay. "Well, you see Louis," (The shape of the smoke becomes dog) "I normally don't get out much," (The dog transforms into a sun) "So when I actually get a job to trail someone," (The sun disappears and takes the form of a person) "I try to do a good job." Ziz blows the smoke away into the air. "You noticing so soon insults me."

"Well, you need to do a better job then." I take another long drag. "So let me ask you again: who sent you? Was it the Big Guy? Or was the Big S? Either way, you're not supposed to be seen in this dimension."

"It was the Big S, all right? He just wanted to check in. After all, you just sent a whole bunch of more people to Charon, and the paperwork's been backing up. That's, at least, what the Big S said. I'm just the messenger and a reporter."

"Then him this: there are some loose ends I got to clean up, and it's been taking longer than I thought. I'll be back whenever I can. In the meantime, BB can actually do his job for once."

"Fine. Just don't get mad at me. Don't shoot the messenger."

"Don't give me any ideas either Ziz."

"Whatever. I'll tell him you said hi." With that, Ziz transforms back into the wind and disappears. Before he does, however, he blows the smoke from my cigarette into my face. "How does it feel now Louis?" a voice from the wind says and it leaves. What a prick.

I stamp out my cigarette with fury. Fuck. What was supposed be to an afternoon job has turned into a week project. And CSI is new tonight too. What a fucking mess.

I pull out my keys and find the one with the engraving Roman5. I walk through the abandoned ship yard. I few moments later I'm in front of the appropriate shipping crate. I unlock the door and flip on the light switch near the door.

The generator in the corner coughs until it slowly finds its former groove. The light given off by the florescent bulbs nearly blinds me; luckily I'm wearing sunglasses. My former office is given life once more.

The shipping container, though small, holds a lot of stuff. The guns mounted on the wall are no match for the ones I have back at the office, but for now they will do. A few crates of ammunition serve also as a desk, where a simple lamp and legal pad lay. No computer here; anything thing of that sort can be traced. Toward the side there's a small carton of C4, unlike my so called successor I'm smart enough not to buy the stuff rather make my own. Even with a small amount the stuff here will be more than enough for this job. A bookcase towards the right hold various binders filled with information. The top row is dedicated with maps and blueprints to various buildings but I bet they're outdated now. The second rung has the history of every hit I've made as the Nightfly, going back to when I first ran with Denny. 3rd step contains detailed profiles on everyone deems relevant towards each hit. The final row has all of my IDs and contacts.

I pull the binder labeled "AD 5-7", aka arms dealers that haven't been killed by me or on Denny's orders. Running down the list of names, I take out my phone and begin calling them up.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-02-02 02:07:30

3 hours and a pack and a half of Luckies later I'm nowhere. Everyone on the list is either dead, not picking up, or just plain scared. I can't even get a word out of some guys. Fuck. With my only remaining contact to the mob dead, I'm hung out to dry. No one seems to want to talk about this one. What is it about this guy that everyone's so afraid of?

Furthermore, nothing turns up on the background check. DMV has nothing on his car (He must have covered up his tracks by forging a license, smart man) and facial recognition software (I hacked the security cameras from around the building and got a clean picture) comes up negative. It's like this guy doesn't even exist. And this is after going through federal, state, and local databases.

Based off the weapon he used, a Javelin, this guy's got to be ex-military. My guess is former Black-Ops, which would explain the explosives. It makes sense; guy could also have PTSD which would contribute to his current mental problems. Still, playing Freud does nothing to tell me more about the identity.

The Javelin in itself is a mystery. There are only a handful of guys in the states that have that type of firepower on the black market, and most sell internationally to various terrorists' organizations. Any smart arms dealer would question a buyer with a single purchase; most of them buy in bulk if they're not meeting face-to-face. Based off of what I know about this assassin, this guy wouldn't dare make visual contact. He's too good for that, or too paranoid. Which ever the case, the arms dealer is either fairly new on the circuit, dead, or both.

That's not to say this guy could have stolen the launcher himself, but doing that takes more than a smile. And remember, that's before the Army notices, which means you got federal agents on your ass. Safe to say, when this guy got caught with the C4, it must have been a lucky break for the suits. They probably had him on their radar somehow; connecting him to dozen of crimes across the country (I know they had one on me, they just never could find the evidence and I never slipped up). I guess I could hack the FBI system if I wanted to, but that wouldn't be natural. I didn't learn that until far after being the Nightfly. Doing so would be unkosher to say the least.

It hits me like a .44 magnum to the gut (which, by the way, even though you don't go flying back 10 feet, still feels like you're flying back 10 feet) on my 25th cigarette. Auter, my former computer nerd. Not like I didn't trust Denny's guys (okay, I didn't. But I had my reasons back then and I still have them now) but Auter's simply better. You know that movie with Hugh Jackman plays that hacker (which is laughable in itself) and there's that one scene where he has to hack a system at gunpoint while a girl is blowing him in under 30 seconds? Well, Auter can do that, on pot, in 10. I think he accidentally got into Interpol's mainframe one day while he was sleeping. He can probably do this job better than I can: hack into the agency's database and pull anything he can find up on this guy.

I give him a ring, no answer. Typical Auter, he's probably too high to answer the phone or he's got a lady friend over. Too bad for either of them, I'm coming, whether he likes it or not. Before I go, however, I take the time to reload my weapons, pick out some new ones, and bring along some C4. Whoever this mystery man is loves explosions, and I'm going to give him some. My trusty steed, the Firebird, is ready for action as I drive off to Auter's place.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-02-08 21:23:40

Auter's digs are located along the East Side of the bay, in a typically bad neighborhood. For a while Auter had trouble with robbers, but a few beatings here and some bodies floating in the bay there and soon enough people got the impression to say away from his house. However, as I pull up, there's a problem: the house is gone. In fact, the entire neighborhood is gone. It got bulldozed over by tech firms. Fuck.

However, the phone book nearby still lists his address the same. What the hell? How could Auter, a black-hat, crack-sniffing genius, become a boring white collar, white hat worker? This isn't right. He would never do such a thing. He'd rather go straight into sobriety cold turkey than to betray his kind like that, which is the reason why I trusted him in the first place.

Deciding to go by the book (literally) I head into the lobby of the corporate building. They have some pretty nice digs, marble floors, full glass ceilings, strategically placed artwork. I think they're going for the "modern" look, and, for the most part, looks pretty good. My only gripe? The 4 security guards near the front desk. If something bad happens (not that it would, but after being in this business for so long, you always play out all the scenarios) these guys could give some trouble. Again, not like I couldn't take them myself, but the 4-to-1 fight wouldn't be right.

Luckily for me, none of them gives me trouble once I ask the secretary at the front desk. She's probably in her late 20s-early 30s, a brown-brunette with her hair tied back, and is wearing Kors grey suit with a skit. She has on pearl earrings, not too fancy though, but respectable for a woman of her age. Her face is the type where it needs a little makeup to accent her soft looks, but not too much which is evident with the pearl red rouge and the cherry lipstick. Her perfume is a wee bit too strong; it might explain why she's not further up the corporate ladder by now. After giving me a name tag once I ask to see a Mr. C. Urchin, she tosses me a wink; one that would make a criminal go straight for. I know she likes me, but I'll get to meet her better once it's her time. For me, that'll feel like a second, for her however, that'll be her lifetime.

As I make my way through the hallway towards the elevator, I instinctively make note of all the security cameras, keypads, exits, side hallways, and plants. Yes, even plants. You have no idea how useful a plant can be in many situations. Though mainly used for distractions, most office plants can also be used as a quick fire starter. Very handy when evading security.

The secretary at the desk told me to go up to the 13th floor, so once the elevator arrives and the passing people get off, I punch the button and make sure I'm the only one going up. As the numbers above the door increase slowly I bend down to check the holster attached to my ankle. I couldn't risk bringing any other gun strapped to my shoulder or my belt, so the best I could do was a .45 Glock 30 with an 8 round clip. Given the situation I would prefer to be better armed, but based off of the medium level of security this is the best I'm going to get. I don't even have a second clip; I'm risking too much already.

The somewhat annoying ding of the elevator door signals I've reach my floor. I briskly walk out into the office complex, aka cubicle city. This might take awhile. People talk at water coolers. Phones ring without end. The copy/fax machine continues to run even while people aren't using it. Staplers are slammed and pencils are sharpened. Dear God, this is Hell. No, this is worse than Hell, and I should know. Even Hell isn't as bad as working for corporations. We make take your soul, but at least you have time to contemplate the reason why you're there while you do your task for eternity. These people have sold their souls for mindless work. Poor bastards. Don't worry, when you come to me properly, I'll grant you peace from this horrible place.

Navigating pass the break room (microwavable lunches and bad coffee anyone?) and quickly through the cramped hallways where gossip is aplenty (Did you hear? Anderson's getting a divorce!) (No way, he's got a smoking hot wife!) I make my way towards the executive offices. The secretary on the ground floor told me his room is the second one of the right side of the hall, so I make sure he doesn't see me as I approach. This whole thing blows my mind; it's one thing to go legit but it's another to become an executive. What the fuck is going on in this world?

I reach down and grab the Glock on my ankle. Now's a better time than never to make sure I have the damn thing ready. I stuff the gun into my inside jacket pocket (easier to conceal this way) and peer into Auter's office. There he is, cheap suit and tie on, talking away on the phone, back turned to the door. Ha, I'd never thought he would do this. Ah, life's little ironies. They never get old.

I let him hear my footsteps as I quietly close the door. He turns around and gasps. "Hetty, I'm going to have to call you back," he says as he hangs up the phone. Auter continues to stare at me as I close the blinds to his office. "You.....what the hell are you doing here?" he asks.

"Just thought I'd drop by to see how my good friend Auter was doing."

"Fuck no. Hell fucking no. You're up to something, aren't you? You still have that same look from back then too. Always trying to act like a guard dog while inside you're just a poor pathetic puppy." Jesus Christ, Auter's grown a pair of balls since I last saw him. Must be all the power or money. Could be both. Regardless, time to cut him down to size.

"And what the fuck have you been doing? Trying to go straight? The MAN, and I emphasis the word man, I knew as Auter would never, never betray his principles. He would have never gone over to the other side. As I recall, he was a hero to the black-hats, giving the government and any other authoritative power a giant fuck you when ever he could. No, he was a much better man then this half-witted asswipe that sits in front of me." I pull out my piece from my jacket to briefly show it to Auter. "Now, listen up. I'm going to get what I want, and you're going to help. It'll be just like old times. The only difference is that after we're done, I walk out of your life for good. Sounds like a good deal for both sides. Unless, of course, you like to eat lead with that terrible thing you call a suit."

"Fuck you. You already walked out of my life once, why the fuck should I believe you now? You know, after you left, your check fucking bounced? I was out of a fucking paycheck for weeks! I had guys knocking down my front door when you left. Feds, cops, PIs, fucking everybody! I got lucky and found this job in tech security just to save my ass, but still! 3 fucking years without a call, card, fucking anything! Well guess what Mr. Nightfly; you're the one who's going to eat the bullet today!" Auter begins to reach over to his phone, probably to call security. Fuck. I don't want to deal with security. Not now. Well, since the blinds are closed, there's no harm using a few tricks I've learned from the Big S and BB. This should be some fun. Time (ha, the irony) to fuck with time.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-02-15 02:00:23

With a flick of the wrist and a snap of the fingers, time slows to a halt. What should take Auter less than a second to pick up his phone seems like an eternity. Finally, some goddamn time to think. In the meantime, I pull up a chair to his desk, sit down, and light up another cigarette. It helps me relax, but currently, not as much as I'd like to.

Hm. I should probably snap Auter out of this so we can have our chat. On the other hand, I don't want him to leave. With another snap of my fingers the trap is in place, so I get up and put my hand on his shoulder. He begins to move at a normal pace again, but first speeds up, sort of like a DVD on fast forward.

"The fuck is going on?" Auter asks aloud as he gets accustomed to the new time scheme. The blinds, being closed, create darkness in the room, a perfect setting for a little bit of interrogation. This should be a lot of fun. Sure, I sort of feel bad for the guy, but on the other hand, no one pisses me off. Not now, when I'm on the hunt. Once the Nightfly has its target, it never looses sight. "What the hell is going on?" Auter asks again.

"Oh, just a little something so no one else can disrupt our fun little conversation."

"The hell you are. I'm calling security!"

"You already tried that, and it didn't get you far. Maybe you should try something else."

"Maybe I should try to kill you myself you insolate motherfucker."

"You want to get rid of me Auter? That's fine. Here. I'll help you." I pull out my Glock and fire 7 of the 8 bullets randomly around the office. In such cramped quarters the sound of each gunshot is amplified, causing Auter to flinch and cover his ears. I unload the clip, spin the gun around in my hand until it is pointing at myself, and slam the gun on the table. "Here. Use this. There's one left in the chamber. You can even say we struggled and I fired off most of my shots, until you were able to turn the gun on me and shoot me. Otherwise, stop wasting my time Auter. We both know I hate wasting time."

Auter picks up the gun and aims at my head. That's right you asshole, take the shot. See how much that'll do for you..........

To my surprise, he puts on the gun down. "Fine. You want my help? You'll get it. But this is the last time. I never want to see your face here again, you got it?"

"Whatever helps you sleep at night."

"So what do you want?"

"I need you to hack into the FBI database to see if they have a profile on this one guy."

"Jesus Christ. Still, it can be done. Does this one guy have a name?"

"No idea. But he suspected of buying C4, he's in his late 20s, ex-black ops, blonde hair. Probably listed as dead or missing. That should be more than enough."

"Okay. Let me see if I can get in. Damn computer!" Auter whacks his laptop. "Fuck, it's frozen," he tells me. Whoops, forgot to unfreeze his computer too. I walk over and touch it. The machine's faint hum from the fan comes back on. "How did you-" Auter begins to ask, but then shuts his mouth as I shoot him a glance that tells him not to question my means. I'll get to you in a bit.

"How about now Auter?"

"It works fine. Just need to back up a few things." As Auter does his computer wizardry, I light up another cigarette and play with the various pieces of crap Auter has on his desk. Soon enough Auter claps his hands. "Got the son of a bitch. I'd like to see Hollywood do that! Fucking writers have no idea how it's done."

"Print me out a copy of his rap sheet. What's the guy's name?"

"The form here says it's still classified. I don't how what you've gotten into Ryan, but this guy has some heavy shit. Just don't drag me into this again, will ya?"

"Will do Auter. Will do. Just do me a favor, and keep your family safe, eh? I wouldn't want anything to happen to your precious little daughter, or your beautiful wife?" I put the photo of presumably his family back down on his desk. A devilish grin appears on my face. Time for a little payback for earlier. Besides, it's not like he could harm me in this dimension. I just want to see how far I can push the bastard before he snaps. "Shame if a bit of piano wire got around your wife's beautiful neck or if a bit of carbon monoxide got into your daughter's room."

"You wouldn't dare." Auter gets up behind his desk quickly.

"Why not? You've already stated you don't care about me, and in my book, that's betrayal, a crime punishable by death. But you're still of use to me, which means I have to take something of yours that's equal to your life. In this case, your wife and your kid seem fair enough." Of course I'm not going to do something that low; I have standards. But still, let's see if he does what I want him to do. Auter picks up the chambered gun on the table and points it at me. Good man. Let's see if you can pull the trigger. "Hey, there's still a bullet let in the pipe, so if you want to shoot me, shoot me." I spend my arms and try to make myself as big as a target as possible.

"You're just fucking with me, aren't you? You're just one big tease after another, you know that? You come waltzing in here, gun hanging out on the side like you're a Goddamn cowboy, and threaten me. And once that's done, you fucking threaten my family? What the fuck is wrong with your pea-sized brain you asshole? Has 3 years made you a loony bin?"

"No, but it's made you a fucking pussy. Perhaps your wife should make you get a medical examination to make sure you actually got some balls on you, or maybe she should run down to the supermarket and get a sausage that's longer than that puny thing you call your dick. Stop being a fucking pussy and pull the goddamn trigger or else I'm going over there and do the fucking thing myself!"

"You asked for it, you fucking piece of shit!" Auter pulls the trigger out of frustration, anger, and just plain annoyance. I've slowed down time yet again (it never gets old, believe me) and the bullet twists slowly towards my direction. I could easily dodge it, but that wouldn't have a profound effect on Auter. No, instead, I'll do something that'll really make him shit in his pants. As the bullet approaches my head, I slow down time enough so I pluck the bullet out of air and hold it in my palm. I let time resume to the conversation Auter and I were having briefly ago. "The fuck?" Auter ponders as he sees me still standing.

I walk over and bring the .45 caliber bullet to his eye level. "Looking for this?" I ask. Auter remains speechless. "See, like you Auter, I've learned a lot in the past three years. I've gotten in with a very interesting crowd, to say the least. And I'm sorry to say, my old buddy, but this won't be the last time you'll see me. Oh, I'll be there at your grandmother's funeral, would should happen in a few months. It'll be a heart attack, quite sudden actually, so you should take some time off and appreciate the moments left with here. I'll be there at your wife's too, she'll get breast cancer. Of course, I'll be at yours too, waiting to take you to join them. Until then my old friend." I begin to walk away, but then stop and turn around. "Oh yeah, if you went and told anybody about this little conversation, I'll know and I will not be happy. You can count on that. And I'll take my gun back." I yank the piece out of Auter's hand and stick in back in my coat. "You won't need to worry about the other bullets; they never existed." I wave my hand and the castings and bullet holes disappear. "Now in a few minutes, life for you is going to go back to normal. Everyone's going to act the same, expect for you. Have a good day and a good life." I walk out of his office. Auter remains standing there as I leave, mouthing impossible thoughts. As I walk towards my car I let time flow back into its normal self. I drive off.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-02-17 01:13:05

I sit down to read this guy's rap sheet in a small café back across the bay. Here the coffee actually tastes like coffee and not mud. Heh, the sound of one of my father's puns rings in my ear thinking about coffee as mud. I can hear him say, "Well Ryan, it was ground this morning!" Poor bastard. He didn't deserve the death he got. I wish I could of done something about it too, but there were two things in my way: one, previous administration, which means I couldn't do jack shit even if I wanted to due to weird office politics and two, if it wasn't for his death, I wouldn't be in the position I'm in now. It's a shame it had to happen, but again, that's the past, and I hate the past. The only way to look is to the future.

The cramped café is filled with young folk, not that younger than my appearance. Of course, most of them are "hipsters", or the kind that not only fuck up classic bars like Haruku's but mom and pop coffee shops like I'm in now. They're constantly complaining about the internet (The Wifi here sucks!) or the content of their coffee/pastries (Oh my god! How many calories are in this Danish? I might not be able to fit into my size 2 jeans!) (Was that milk from free range cows? You realize that most of these cows are put in slaughter houses, right?) or forever blogging or whatever social networking thing they do now. I have a half mind to reap them all right now to keep my sanity, but I doubt that'll fly over well with the bosses. So in the mean time, I just continue to drink my latte and read this paper.

The basic charges are fairly boring, explosives trade, murder, theft, evading the law, blah blah blah yada yada yada. Yawn. It sounds more like one of BB's dinner parties than a rap sheet. However, the linked crimes catch my eye, a few terrorist bombings, several major bank jobs, currency forgery, whoa, he did that too? Jesus Christ. This man's gone up in my book. Still, none of this gives a name.

After taking another sip of my coffee the elderly waitress comes over and pours me another cup as mine is almost empty. I have my fake police bag on the table for several reasons. One, I don't want to cause suspicion, and two, to take advantage of the shop's 5% police discount. Yeah, their coffee may be good, but I sure am not paying the full price for it. Ah, the joys of conning people. This particular coffee shop reminds me of a time where I had to reap a guy who was contemplated life in a café similar to this one. I kind of felt bad for him, but hey, I got a job I got to do. Plus, I have to follow what Azael says because, let's face it, the book doesn't lie. Especially, mind you, if the book was written by the guy who created everything. Safe to say, when in doubt, follow the damn book.

I finish my coffee and realize I still have nothing on this guy, so I leave a tip at the table and head outside. Maybe I'll hit up another arms dealer, see if he knows anything about that Javelin. As I light up another Luckie I notice a beggar walking towards me, peddling a Styrofoam tray with various coins in it. By the make of the rags he's wearing and his facial features, I'd make him out to be European of some sort, which is odd for the City. Hm, even I get surprised sometimes, and I'm supposed to be on top of everything. But there's something off about this homeless guy, his jacket is too nice, and he must have excellent dental insurance. As I continue to ponder the man finally comes up to me, asking, "Do you have spare change mister?" Mister? Really? This guy definitely isn't a peddler. He must be a messenger, but for whom? The last guy who pulled a stunt like this was Jackal, and he's rotting away in prison. Oh yeah, I got to check up on that with Astaroth; I want to make sure I win that bet.

"I'm sorry sir," I say with the least amount of sarcasm I can muster. "But it seems like I only have bills."

"It is okay mister. You can ask for change."

"I don't think you have enough there sir."

"That too is also okay mister. I know a man who can make the change."

"And who would that be?" This is starting to get interesting. Normally I'm the guy that goes looking for people, not the other way around.

"Ah, I am sorry mister. I cannot speak his name in good company."

"That still doesn't give me a clue my good sir."

"He is an old partner of your recently deceased acquaintance." Is he talking about Denny? Denny never had a partner. Denny liked to keep things internal and hands on; he would never outsource a job to a different gang or family. I smell a trap, but if this is going to get me closer to the killer, hell, I'll take it.

"Very well sir. Please lead the way to one who makes change." Whatever the fuck that phrase means anyways. I might as well see where it goes, and, if worse comes to worse, kill them all. It's not like the world's going to miss them anyways.
The beggar leads me down a few back alleyways until we reach a dead end. "Where to now sir?" I ask through my teeth, trying to keep my annoyance under control. All I have to do is reach down into my holster, pull out my Colt, and put two bullets into the back of his brain. What the hell is he thinking, bring me down a back alleyway in the middle of a battlefield? It's got to be a trap. There's a bomb here, I know it. If it just wasn't for this damn sand I could probably find it and the bomb squad. This son of a bitch is nothing but another one of the enemy, hidden in public view. I should just kill the fucker right now-

No. This isn't Iraq. You're no longer in the battlefield Ryan. Desert Storm was a long time ago. Get back to the present. You're not a sniper; you're the goddamn Grim Reaper taking revenge for the guy who killed your surrogate father. Find the bastard and make sure he suffers in Hell for all eternity. The guy in front of you is not a bomber; he's leading you to more information. Sure, it has the same setup: an informant with information that's too good to be true who leads you personally down a trail into a back alleyway, but this time there's no bomb. My hands are shaking; I put them behind my back so the beggar doesn't see them. God, sometimes neither the nicotine nor the caffeine helps. I need another drink.

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Response to Nightfly Shotoff 2011-02-20 01:20:51

"What seems like the end of a trail is actually the beginning of one," the man says, turning around. He puts his two hands together to form a circle.

"Ah, the Ouroboros, the never ending cycle," I reply. I've seen this symbol before, in various offices of my acquaintances below. I've never had much fondness for the symbol which is quite ironic because I use the philosophy so often. I think I finally got a nail on this guy. "So you're an alchemist."

"Yes, I was wondering when you might start seeing through the ruse Angeu."

"Oh, a Celtic that has my name right. I'm honored. Let me guess, Welsh?"

"Immigrated as a boy 20 years ago."

"So how did you know where to find me?"

"A little bird told me."

"Fine, if you won't tell me, then I'll just go." I turn to leave.

"Wait!" he yells, running towards me. "I have a proposition."

"Oh, so now you want to cut a deal?"

"Of course I do. Why else would I go through all this trouble?"

"Because you like playing games?" I say sarcastically.

"I hear you're looking for a man who can't be found."
"Really? And how would you that?"

"Another little bird."

"Bullshit. Who are you?"

"Like you said. I'm just an alchemist."

"Most alchemists are quack jobs with too much time on their hands."

"Like you, I'm different than the rest."

"I can tell. Very few know me, let alone call me by a Welsh name."

"I'd thought it would be appropriate."

"You guessed right."

"Actually, I am a fan of games."

"What does that have to with any this?"

"How about a friendly wager? You're a gambling man, aren't you? Faust certainly thought so."

"Okay. It's obvious what you have to offer, but what do you want from me?"

"What my ancestor back in Britain worked on hundreds of years ago: the secret of eternal life."

"I can tell you from experience; it's not a fun ride."

"I don't care. I just want to finish his work."

"Who's work? Yours?"

"No. Roger Bacon's."


"Here's how the game will go. We'll have a mock battle right here. Whoever can draw clear killing blow wins. Fair enough?"

"Sure. But are you that confident?"

"I've been through worse, trust me." The alchemist throws off his ill fitting coat to reveal a black shirt with a circle logo on it, jeans, and a red jacket. The jacket's insides are lined with bottles and bags of various chemical mixtures; I better avoid those. The man's arms are covered with tattoos of equations. His hands and palms specifically stand out; they are lined with very specific equations, those of explosions and violent reactions.

"This wouldn't be a fair fight if I used my firearms," I offer, and the other man accepts. I pull my two Glocks out of my shoulder holsters, my Colt out of the small of my back holster, a SIG Sauser from a 4 o'clock holster, a subcompact Glock from my ankle holster, and two more subcompact Glocks from the inside of my sleeves.

"Expecting an army anytime soon?" the alchemist asks.

"It's like the Boy Scouts: always come prepared." I reach into my pocket and pull out a small sheath about 6 inches long. I love this puppy even though I don't get to use it often; I prefer my guns. Holding the sheath in my hand, I flick my wrist and a 7 foot scythe comes out. Yes, maybe it's a bit cliché, but it's iconic and I certainly don't care if anybody is looking right now. I lean the weapon on my shoulders. "Your move," I taunt.

"Your loss," he offers back. He thrusts his palm on the ground.

"What's that supposed to do-" The pavement shakes and crumbles beneath me, opening up a huge chasm. I quickly leap out of the way onto the side of a building, standing perpendicular to the destroyed ground. "So that's your game," I call out. "You're a material alchemist."

"Yes," he responds. "Many people assume the main goal of alchemy is to turn worthless metals into gold. While certainly true, a few alchemists were successful in changing the chemical structure of various compounds. Alchemy, after all, was a science based off of chemistry, so there are things that work." He stands back up and puts his hands together.

"Of course," I reply, charging towards him on the building. "However, for you to know knowledge of that, you would have had make contact with one of us down below." I take a swipe with my scythe but he dodges while throwing vials of no doubt harmful chemicals towards me. Luckily they miss, but they disintegrate the brick wall I'm standing on. Jesus Christ. This guy is serious. Well, better wrap this thing up quick before somebody gets hurt.

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