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  #26  
Unread 19th of October, 2009, 11:17
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"Ewan Doyle, Ewan Doyle. Why does that name sound familiar? Don't tell me. I'll get it. A job offer, eh? Not what I thought this was about. But since you know my name and presume to know what's in my best interest, you probably know all about what I thought this meeting was."

Case shuffled over to make eye contact. "So tell me about this job and why you think it's something I need. I figure with this Contagion stuff going around and the Ashes of Adam and the giant governmental secret, I'll be home-free in the matter of a couple of weeks."
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Unread 19th of October, 2009, 11:45
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Ewan spared a small smile. "So, I take it you are immune to Contagion then, eh Shimmer? Not worried about the end of the civilized world? Not worried that you won't have anywhere to spend all of that hard stolen cash, what with cash not being worth the paper its printed on, or in this case, the code that its programmed in? Not much place for a computer genius when the infrastructure goes to pot, now is there?"

Ewan paused, fishing a cigarette out of his pocket. "Don't tell me that you haven't thought of that, have you?" He shrugged, lit the cigarette, and exhaled. Awful, terrible habit likely to get him killed... or it would if he didn't think Contagion or something else wasn't going to get to him first.

"I'm offering you a job where you get to keep your freedom, your money, and the opportunity to spend it. I need someone with your skills, and you came recommended, like I said. You aren't my only possibility though, and I'm a busy man with other people to see. You have my contact information already. If I don't hear from you in twenty-four hours, you can consider the offer withdrawn. You only get asked to play with the big boys once, son. Don't blow your chance."

Ewan fished his card out of his wallet and handed it over. It had the address of Ma Tseng's restaurant on it, as well as a date and time. Six days hence, at 10:00 pm. He started to walk away. "And son, always do your research before you meet with someone. Always."
__________________
Ewan: Tell me, when you drove up, did you see a sign outside that said "dead ninja storage?"
Kat: No, I didn't...
Ewan: Do you wanna know why I don't have a sign like that? Because storing dead ninjas, isn't my business!
  #28  
Unread 20th of October, 2009, 06:29
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Ewan walked out the same way he walked in, not bothering to keep up with the thin charade that Case had designed for their interview. He glanced at the address he'd saved in his smart phone, hoping that his next candidate was where she was supposed to be tonight.

An hour and a half later, he was standing outside an old, renovated storefront, one eyebrow raised incredulously. The bassy pulse of a sound system was issuing from within, and multicolored lights were flashing through the cracked doorframe. The front windows were all spray-painted black.

A man was lounging casually by the door. He looked up as Ewan approached, scrutinizing him openly. He must have decided that the Englishman was too old to be a cop, because he merely held out his palm. Ewan put a few Hong Kong dollars in it and walked through the door.

There was a rave going on just inside. Youngsters with dyed or spikey hair, dark clothing and glow sticks wrapped around every limb were gyrating rapidly in a large, dimly lit room to an American acid house beat. Ewan would have stuck out like a sore thumb if anyone was paying attention to him at all, but the green and orange strobes sweeping the room were distracting, and he had the distinct feeling that none of the fifty or so kids here was particularly lucid. He wove his way through the crowd, looking for a face that resembled the one in his candidate's dossier.

Three times he scanned the crowd, hoping that a trick of the light had caused him to miss her, but she was nowhere to be seen. Frustrated (but not surprised), he decided to go out the back just in case...

He opened the back door and stepped out into a dark alleyway.



[Treemansion next]

Last edited by treehouse; 20th of October, 2009 at 06:41.
  #29  
Unread 20th of October, 2009, 07:16
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Behind the night club Alicia took another drag of her cigarette. Slowly exhaling, she leaned her head back against the rough wall. The rain pouring on her felt like a thousand tiny hands massaging her, calming her. She could hear the music pounding from the other side of the door trying to escape.

Her mind was racing a million miles a second though from her calm exterior you might never have guessed. So much had happened in the last few weeks. The man she thought she loved left her and threatened to betray her, her family acted like they had never met her, she had lost two countries, two lives. But for now that didn’t matter, in this moment she felt at peace with the world.

She jerked her head up as the door beside her opened. The metal scraped against the concrete in an obnoxious sort of way and out walked a man in a trench coat. He was dressed too nice, looked too old, and appeared to be too put together to belong to the crowd that raved on behind him. As he looked down at Alicia a slight look of recognition flitted over his face though she had never seen the man before.
  #30  
Unread 20th of October, 2009, 11:54
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"Alicia Kingsley? Oh thank God, it is you. I was afraid I might have to actually go back in there."

Ewan paused and fished out his own cigarette. "My name is Ewan Doyle, and I have need of someone with your skills and more importantly, your experience." He smiled, then lit his cigarette. "I'm currently putting together a team, and your name came up on the list of possible recruits. I understand that you are between jobs at the moment. I can't say that I can offer you more than money, but I've often found that a task to focus on can help a person work through a difficult patch."

He reached into his trench coat and pulled out a business card. "I hope I can at least tempt you to attend a meeting I'm holding later this week. Unfortunately, I will need to have an answer within the next 24 hours. I'm operating on a strict timetable, and finding someone of your caliber is going to be a monumental task, Anya."
  #31  
Unread 20th of October, 2009, 13:06
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Staring up at Ewan, Alicia took one last pull off the cigarette before carelessly tossing it aside.
Never breaking eye contact she stood up and reached for the card Ewan was offering. She was in shock that he had used her real name. Gathering her composure she briefly glanced down at the card before slipping it into her back pocket.

A meeting? Well what do I have to lose?

She nodded her head and without saying a word opened the door. The music that burst out from within washed over them in a flood of sound. She turned and looked at the old man one last time before disappearing into the crowd.
  #32  
Unread 21st of October, 2009, 00:56
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Ewan didn't bother to head back into the club. He decided to spare what was left of his hearing and walked in the opposite direction. He fished out his phone and checked who was next on his list.
  #33  
Unread 23rd of October, 2009, 13:51
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[an hour of traveling later]

Ewan pulled into a lot outside a building that looked on the verge of being condemned. There was a flickering sign over the weather-battered front door indicating in Mandarin that it was a laundromat. He decided that the rented flats must be on the second and third floors, but didn't get out of his car. The psychological profile of this particular candidate necessitated some caution and finesse. He waited.

Eventually, he spotted his mark (or at least, he figured it must be his mark, since she was scaling down the fire escape instead of going out the front door). He waited until she was just out of sight and stepped out of his car, moving quickly onto the same sidewalk and rounding the corner as he turned his coat collar up. He was encouraged that she did not seem to be armed as he caught sight of her again, walking rapidly now in the direction of a well-lit, all-hours street market on Temple Street. It was quite crowded, and she slipped into the mass of people without looking backwards.



Ewan spotted her again a moment later as she expertly relieved an oblivious American of his wallet while he leaned over a stall of chintzy knickknacks.

His eyes crinkled slightly as an idea came to him.

[Treemansion next]

Last edited by treehouse; 23rd of October, 2009 at 13:56.
  #34  
Unread 24th of October, 2009, 01:08
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Kat scoffed to herself. No matter how many times she stole something it always gave her a thrill. She felt powerful and in control as she descended upon her prey.

People are so oblivious, so incredibly trusting. They deserve to be robbed blind if they refuse to open their eyes.

Kat walked up behind another conspicuous tourist dressed in an ostentatious shirt patterned with large purple flowers on a lime green background. With deft hands she plucked his wallet from his back pocket and was walking towards her next mark in a matter of seconds.
She spotted an older man standing next to an herbal medicine stall. Due to the crowds that swarmed the market it was hot and stuffy,yet this guy had on a trench coat with his collar popped up. Kat got an odd sense from him but she quietly prowled towards him as she spotted the clear outline of a wallet in his left coat pocket. With ease that only years of practice could have honed she was soon walking away with her loot and not a soul was aware of her.

Kat turned down an alley where a hand full of children were playing, too busy to notice her. Something was nagging at her mind. Usually three wallets were enough to pay the rent and get some food for the day but the last one she grabbed felt too light. She took out the brown faux leather billfold and opened it up. The only thing inside was a small white business card with a place and a time. She flipped it over and saw “I can help you with your Black Lilies problem” in neat handwriting. She quickly turned back towards the market to take another look at that old man but he had disappeared.
  #35  
Unread 27th of October, 2009, 02:47
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Ewan was well on his way to the last candidate he meant to visit this evening by the time Katsuri would have noticed the fake wallet. He didn't have very far to go.

This would be the first time he actually made a house call for an interview; after some of the convoluted methods he had been forced to use so far, this seemed almost too straightforward. Still, he was kind of glad he wouldn't have to seek out this particular candidate in his 'working' environs.

He drove through a neighborhood that was little better than a shantytown, right near the shore line. Many of the structures had a very temporary appearance to them, while others were held up on sodden wooden stilts. Still others looked like they had sunk right into the muddy ground over decades of frequent flooding, only to be built over again and again. It was to one of these that Ewan picked his way across an unpaved street to, a dubious look on his face as he knocked on the door.

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  #36  
Unread 27th of October, 2009, 09:17
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Ewan lingered outside the door for a long half minute, trying to ignore the rat brazenly investigating his shoes. There were no windows on this side of the building, but the faint music and dull yellow light seeping from behind the door made it obvious that someone was inside.

He knocked again. No answer, but for the rat trying to crawl onto his pants. Straining to hear anything behind the heavy door, Ewan noticed a woman speaking in an unexpected Asian language, perhaps Japanese. Despite his concentration, he couldn't make out any words―so he kicked away the rat, and knocked again, harder.

"Mut LÚN yé a!?"

Someone rose from their seat to stomp towards the door. It opened just a crack, restrained firmly by two heavy, rusted chains, and the face of a male Han Chinese glowered from behind it, one eye and most of his hair obscured by ragged bandages. It was definitely the man Ewan was looking for―especially considering the handgun he was resting across the doorknob.

They stared each other down, daring each other to respond. Ewan could now hear the ongoing conversation more clearly:

"―kangainai to, mannen to waraicha imasu shine?"
"...Nan da te?"

The Chinese suddenly broke his stare, glancing at something in the room, and then grinning. "Didn't know the Triad was hiring gweilo." He lifted the gun away and unbolted the door. "Come in."

Ewan stepped from the unpleasant streets into an unpleasant home. There was trash everywhere, largely shopping bags, takeout containers, and magazines, mostly obscuring the carpet and its hideous speckled stains; unlike the salty air outside, the room had a mild alkaline rot to it, which Ewan struggled not to dwell upon. Two strong lamps drew his attention to the relatively clear desk on the back wall, which bore the canvas of an inchoate self-portrait in acrylic, leaning together with a loaded grenade launcher.

Along the right was an empty Shakey's Pizza box covering the stock of a Winchester, whose barrel jutted across a table of spilled shells. Sitting next to it was a cheap laptop playing anime, where the sounds of conversation were coming from.

"...Iya, tada no, iro iro yatta mitai ne―"
"Ita ne."
"
to omou chattari, nanka shite"
"Yaru yo."


On the left, across from the table, a half-folded futon overlooked a heap of dirty laundry, where some videogame console was partly buried. Its wires streamed into the front of a TV ruined by leaking water above it; judging by the amount of mould on the back wall, this was a long-standing problem. The man tossed his firearm into the soft laundry, making his casual disrespect for his weapons even more outrageous.

"Siu-Juen―"

"James," the man corrected, without looking back. "In English, James."

Siu-Juen spun on his heel, and sank into a sagging office chair, kicking it back to the end of the table. A shirt was caught in its wheels, however, halting it almost immediately.

"Go on," he said, his grin growing more sly.
  #37  
Unread 27th of October, 2009, 11:18
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"Siu-Jen," Ewan repeated, deliberately. "I have a job offer for you. I'm putting together a team and there is a spot for someone with your skills." He closed the door, slowly, making sure that it caught and wasn't going to swing back open.

"I understand that you've had some trouble with the authorities." Ewan paused, taking full stock of the one bedroom apartment. "In exchange for you working for me, your record would be erased. Deleted. We could even construct a new identity for you, if you wanted. No more police. No more record."

Ewan shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat. "I'm not Triad, though by the end of this you'll probably that you were just working for them." Ewan produced a business card and handed it to Siu-Jen. "Later this week I'm holding a small get together. The rest of the people I'm hiring will be there. There might even be people there that you have something in common with." Ewan shrugged. "This is a one time offer, mind. You don't show up, its as if we never had this conversation. You get to stay here, waiting for the police or Contagion to catch up with you first."

"There might even be money involved."
  #38  
Unread 27th of October, 2009, 13:27
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Siu-Juen seemed utterly disinterested in what Ewan had to say, glancing back and forth between him and the banter of the colourful characters on his laptop.

"Mmm, mochiron fanu hito kara yo. Anta kono koto nai wa yo NE!?"

"Na-na-na-na-nai desu!"



"...Sou da yo NE. Asisutanto da no NE. Ma, gambarita no eh dahaaahahaa!"

"Ma Tseng's," Siu-Juen said, finally looking at the card. "Dat yi."

He flicked it onto the keyboard of the laptop, his grin vanishing. "I've heard enough about ID73, Ashes of Adam, whatever is going on with Contagion. In the end, I don't really care. Not if you're ID73, or Adam, or the HKPD. Or if you're NERV, and Adam's crucified under your headquarters. Doesn't matter to me."

He stared at the laptop's screen, and shook uncomfortably.

"Sugoi. Nanka seyuu mitai..."
"Mmmrrmrghk... an ja ne ka yo... Ichi mae dake? Kaishou me yuu ko dengachi kasuite iimasuDE KORRE! METARIBEYA KA DERU JANAI KA!?
Terebi no mae mina, atashi ni mo, fanureta wo kute kudasai ne! Tai-tai-taiboshu desu!"

The girl in the anime kept snapping between a sugary facade and psychotic rage. In other circumstances, it might have been funny.

Siu-Juen sighed deeply. "Whatever job this is for is going to kill me anyways, won't it?"

Last edited by LeadPal; 27th of October, 2009 at 16:28. Reason: Click the image for bonus features!
  #39  
Unread 27th of October, 2009, 20:45
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Ewan blinked. "I didn't say anything about Ashes of Adam, and I'm surprised to hear you talk about that other group. I was under the impression that not many people know about them, and they like to keep it that way."

Ewan turned, and placed his hand on the door. "The job might kill you, yes. But I'd think it would be better to face death on your own terms, rather than be hiding in a rathole waiting for it." He opened the door and left the apartment, not sparing a glance back at Siu-Juen.
  #40  
Unread 29th of October, 2009, 11:06
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After leaving Siu-Juen's residence, Ewan decided to call it a night. His next candidate was also a house call, but she was unlikely to welcome visitors at this hour.

The next morning, he was up before the ferries and crossing town by the time Hong Kong's first real rush hour began. His easily-reached destination was a working-class community in Yuen Long, but after the slums he had roamed in search of Alicia, Katsuri and Siu-Juen, the modest houses he was driving past now seemed like palaces. He pulled into the driveway of one unassuming brick house that matched the address in the dossier, vaguely nonplussed by the positively suburban dressings of the residence. White picket fence, neatly swept welcome mat, drawn lace curtains and a brass knocker on the door all screamed 'Boise, Ohio' rather than Hong Kong to him. All the same, he stepped under the porch as a light mist began falling on the lawn and knocked twice.

[zachol next]
  #41  
Unread 29th of October, 2009, 16:44
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Ewan waits, not feeling the need to knock again. There's some sort of hushed discussion going on, probably in English, between a man and a woman.
After a few moments, he hears light footsteps approaching, and a female voice grumbling in vaguely odd sounding Cantonese (the tones are a bit off). "Mhou gau ngoh, sheng de yi xing hui, gik sei ng... oh... um."
The door opens a bit, held by a chain. On the other side is a twenty-something blonde girl, Kate.
She looks at Ewan, obviously not expecting an irritated caucasian man. She blinks a few times, then appears to realize she still hasn't actually greeted him.
"Oh. Ah, um, sorry. Sorry, um... one sec."

The door closes, there are a few scuffling sounds, and then it opens again, unchained. Ewan can see a rather large (six foot and a bit) native american man standing behind her. She motions for Ewan to come in.
The inner room is some sort of dining or living room. It's relatively small, has only a coatrack, and a table and three chairs, with a bowl of some odd reddish fruit in the center. Otherwise, it's bare of either decoration or trash.
There is an open archway to what looks like a small kitchen, and a (presumably locked) outside door. From around the corner into the kitchen, he can hear odd, low mechanical sounds, a sort of humming, and the whine of old-style printers grinding out long rolls of paper.

"Hi, sorry. Come in, I wasn't expecting you. I thought you weren't coming for another week? Um, I've made some progress with one of the samples you sent, it was really helpful, but I was going to get some stuff together... and prepare... things... and you're not Francis Stepland, are you?"
Kate blinks again, obviously very confused, then glances back at the native american.
"Andy, you weren't expecting someone, right?"
"No." His voice is deep, calm.
She turns back to Ewan, does one of those awkward, brief smiles, then returns to 'confused.' "Um... heh heh, I'm sorry, should I know you?"
  #42  
Unread 30th of October, 2009, 09:33
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"No, you shouldn't," Ewan replied, doffing his hat as he entered the home. "My name is Ewan Doyle, and I dropped by to offer you a job Ms. Mercer." Ewan decided to refrain from speaking in Cantonese. Kate had seemed to made up his mind about him already, but that often worked to his advantage when that happened.

"I am putting together an independent team investigating the Containment phenomenon. Your name came up near the top of the list. I cannot promise you much, but I can promise you that you will get first crack at any new strains that come along as well as the very real possibility of being able to study the zero strain of the virus."

Ewan reached into his pocket and pulled out one of his business cards. "If you are busy now, why not stop by Ma Tseng's." He handed the card to Kate, which had the address, date and time of the meeting. "We can discuss the details then. I can promise you at least the same salary as you are making now."
  #43  
Unread 30th of October, 2009, 14:09
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Kate narrowed her eyes, apparently trying to place Ewan. "Ewan Doyle... you did some stuff, but like twenty, thirty years ago, nothing recent, you haven't... wait..."
Her eyes suddenly widened, a slight grin forming. "This... this is weird, secret squirrel business, isn't it? 'Independent team'? You're part of some group, called, like, Section 23 or some other goofy name, who's got a lead on the bastards that started this mess, right? You've got futuristic equipment and a crack team of the world's best and actual fucking funding, yeah?"

She paused, stunned, then burst into giggles, walking back through the kitchen, into the other room. "Haha, suck it, Stepland! I don't have to put up with any of your pompous bullshit anymore! Whee hee hee!"

Andy stayed, watching Kate, then glanced at Doyle.
"I'm sure she'll come. If you'll excuse us, I'm sure you're occupied as well."
He waited for Doyle to leave, observing pleasantries and locking the door.
  #44  
Unread 31st of October, 2009, 00:30
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Ewan wasn't one for pleasantries. He excused himself quickly and walked out.

Traffic was slow, and it took him a good while to get back to his penthouse. He counted off his successes while mentally reviewing the candidates he had left to choose from.

His Ops team was nearly complete - an intelligence analyst, a tech ops expert and a science officer would compliment each other and the rest of the unit well, if their personalities didn't clash too much. He lacked a polished face, and he was somewhat concerned that he wouldn't have enough underworld contacts for some of the work they had to do. The criminal was much less connected than Ewan had hoped if he was living in that ramshackle dive...

Tactical wasn't as well off. They still needed a vehicle expert, and his prime choice hadn't been seen at the haunts in his dossier yet. And while Katsuri and Preston were supposedly quite deadly with their chosen implements, the unit still needed a tough.

He sighed. He knew where he could find a tough, but wasn't sure how he would be received. At any rate, it would have to wait until evening. He walked inside, grabbed a stack of the latest declassifieds from London and made his way to a lounger to catch up on reading or sleep, whichever came first.

That evening, Ewan found himself outside a 'foreign novelty' in Tai Po. Squashed right in between a tea shop and what looked like an outlet store for Sony Entertainment was what appeared to be a pub, airlifted right out of Liverpool.

He shook his head and walked inside. It was a dimly lit, smoke-filled space with loud, bassy American music playing in the background. Several people - mostly natives, he noticed - were crowded around a TV watching a football* game, though the music probably prevented them from hearing anything the announcers were saying.



Not quite like home, but close enough to remind him why he had permanently relocated to Hong Kong.

[*by football I mean soccer. zachol next]
  #45  
Unread 31st of October, 2009, 01:51
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Doyle continued, deeper into the bar, along a row of booths to the back.
The last booth was larger, for whatever reason, circular, with greater space. This allowed the extremely massive black man waiting there enough room to sit comfortably, which was likely why he frequented this bar.

Samuel Hobb was siting, hands folded, eyes closed, a bottle of some local "specialty" open on the table. As Ewan approached, Samuel opened his eyes, slowly, staring calmly at the man.
He did not speak, although his eyes briefly moved to the seat opposite his own when Ewan reached the table.
  #46  
Unread 31st of October, 2009, 10:18
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Ewan took the offered seat. He then slowly reached into his pocket and slid a business card, face down. "Mr. Hobb, my name is Ewan Doyle. You come highly recommended in your field of work, and I find myself in great need of someone with your skills. I understand you have... other entanglements, but to be perfectly honest I don't give a bloody fuck who you are or aren't working for. I have a need."

Ewan stood up, straightened his jacket. "I should be able to help you sever ties with this Yenma outfit you work with." He shook his head. "Bloody waste of your talents, working with them."
  #47  
Unread 31st of October, 2009, 20:04
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The edge of Samuel's mouth quirked slightly into a smile. He took the card, looking it over, speaking in very low, measured tones.
"You do not need to go to such lengths to hire me; unless you need me for more than a year, I suppose."
He glanced up. "I assume it is well-known enough that I do not want to simply transfer my debt to a new master. I would be very curious to see what task would make me worth so much to an organization."
He smiled, lightly, tucking the card away, watching as Ewan turned to leave, then returning to his meditation.

Last edited by zachol; 1st of November, 2009 at 02:08.
  #48  
Unread 7th of November, 2009, 00:30
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Ewan walked out of the pub without a glance backward. He knew he had said exactly what needed to be said to Hobb.

Two more...

He stopped right outside, an eerie sense of deja vu striking him as he stared at the parking lot. Another car was idling right next to his. There were a few differences, chief among them that he actually recognized the sole occupant and driver.

Feeling fortunate for once, he strode without pause to the passenger door, opened it, and crawled inside.

The driver looked at Ewan through the rear view mirror as he pulled out onto the road, but didn't say anything. He was probably a little bit of a lady-killer, the spy mused as they began winding their way through Hong Kong traffic. Not really a typical bodyguard, but nothing about this surprise candidate was typical.

Ewan lost his bearings rather quickly, and he had a feeling that the driver was being cautious about potential tails. He was fairly sure he was in Kowloon City when they finally stopped some time later. He had somehow expected a palace, but these nondescript (yet still well-appointed) apartments that they had parked outside didn't really seem to fit the profile. Still, he got out of the car and followed the man into the lobby. They took an elevator to the fourteenth floor, and stopped right outside the apartment marked 'K'.

[LeadPal next]
  #49  
Unread 14th of November, 2009, 12:15
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LeadPal
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The man opened the door for Ewan, and ushered him in. It was large, for a Hong Kong flat; the front room stretched twenty-five feet to an open balcony, yawning yellow and black with the lights of a neighbouring office building. Near the centre of the room, flanked by two doorways, was the only visible furniture, a broad teak table with three matching chairs. In one of the seats was the next candidate, Tian Au: spoiled socialite, mediocre musician, and most importantly, go-between for the Bank of China and the 14K Triad.

As Ewan entered, she smiled with too-perfect teeth, framed by too-perfect features, that barely resembled the earliest photos in her dossier. As she rose to shake his hand, Ewan noticed that she was at least nine inches taller than the dossier’s only reference to her height, from five years ago. Enough dirty money could obviously get a surgeon to do anything.
  #50  
Unread 15th of November, 2009, 01:07
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Ewan took her hand in a firm but gentle handshake. "Ms. Tian Au, it truly is a pleasure to meet you. As much as I would love to say that this is merely a social call, unfortunately I am here on business."

Ewan paused and chuckled. "Seeing as how you sent your associate to pick me up, I gather you've already figured that much out. I have need of someone with your particular skills and profile. I am putting together a team to investigate, contain, and with a bit of luck and hard work eliminate the Contagion problem, a problem that I believe is cutting into your own activities as well."

He paused, taking a long look around the apartment before returning his gaze to Tian's eyes. "I am not sure that I can offer you anything in particular, other than the increased stability that a world without Contagion would bring." He reached into his pocket and produced a business card that had a date, a time, and the address of Ma Tseng's on it. "I'm sure if you think of anything you will tell me."

Ewan turned to go. "Just a piece of friendly advice though, you could stand to be a bit more paranoid. What's the point of having a bodyguard if you aren't going to have him frisk your guests?"
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