Raines stared at the darkness
before him with ill-concealed contempt, at the man hidden there. Nothing could be seen of
him save for the occasional movement and then only if he wished it. He wore darkness and
cloaked himself in even more darkness, standing in shadows and moving now and again,
leaving Raines to wonder if he was actually staring at the man or at the shadow of a
shadow. He resolved not to think of it and spoke.
"He has stolen something
of great value. We wish it returned." He rasped. "And him. We wish him returned
That was this man's
specialty. Retrieving lost or stolen items; be it property, people or information.
"Show me the
picture." The voice, low and melodious came from his right and Raines stifled a
The man he spoke to reached
into a breast pocket and offered a picture to the shadows. A hand appeared and the picture
vanished back into the darkness.
"And his name?" The
voice came this time from above.
"Unimportant. He uses
"But something stays the
same. Initials, middle name. . ."
"First name. He always
uses Jarod. With an O." Raines said reluctantly. "Your fee. . ." He nodded
at Matthews and the man lifted the satchel he held. A hand appeared from above him and the
satchel vanished. The sound of it being opened could be heard then another sound much like
"More information. I
need more information."
Raines smiled grimly and
nodded at his henchman. Matthews drew a packet from a pocket and set it on a crate. Almost
immediately, it vanished into darkness.
"You'll find him
then?" It was half-question, half-statement.
"Yes. I will find
him." The voice came from above, from high in the rafters near the ceiling.
wheezed, smiling in quiet triumph. If this mystery man took the job, it got done, one way
or another. "Alive preferably. If not, any way you can."
"I will find him. .
." Another sigh and then a sound that had Raines looking up. There was a brief
glimpse of stars then the blackened-out skylight closed again. The mystery man was gone.
The man garbed in black
perched on top on a burned-out church, watching as the car pulled away from the meeting
place. The satchel was already discarded, the money safely in a black knapsack settled
securely on his back. He had no real need for the money himself but a friend had advised
he charge for his service and charge high. So he did. It never ceased to amaze him how
many people hired him despite his five-figure fee.
He opened the packet, careful
not to let the wind steal anything away and scanned what little it held. According to it,
this Jarod Russell was a researcher working for the Chimera Organization who had, one day,
walked out of the complex with a case full of research. The research was irreplaceable
and, apparently, there were no backups. He wondered briefly if they had been complete
idiots and not backed anything up or if the backups had been destroyed then shunted that
thought aside. It wasn't important. At least not right now.
A notebook in the packet
neatly listed the locations this Jarod Russell had been spotted in since leaving the
Organization. Last place was Seattle, Washington. East Coast. Clear across the continent.
Ah, well. It wasn't the first time he'd crossed a continent looking for something.
First things first though. He
closed the packet and slipped it safely into the black sash he wore before taking off
across the rooftops. He'd need more information on this Jarod Russell. And on this place
called the Chimera Organization. And on this research he had supposedly stolen. For that
he needed an expert.
An hour later he was
slithering skillfully through a skylight, having already disabled the alarms. Alarms or
no, the occupant of the warehouse apartment already knew he was there and was waiting for
him, a highly-illegal experimental gun in her hands.
"One day, you are going
to get yourself killed." She said, not lowering the weapon an inch.
"Ahhhh. . .but not
today, dearest heart." He swung the pack from his back and opened it, casually
flipping a bundle worth five thousand dollars to the woman. She caught it with one hand,
the other finally lowering the weapon. "I need information, m'dear. Lots of it. And
She eyed the bundle
dubiously. "How dangerous?"
Another bundle joined the
"Information on. .
"On a man named Jarod
Russell. On a place called the Chimera Organization. What's wrong?" For the woman had
acquired an uneasy look.
"I've seen references to
The Chimera Organization. It's a cover. You don't want to go there."
"Ahhhh, but I do."
"You're playing one of
your games again, aren't you?"
"Oh surely not."
His voice was amused as he threw yet another bundle at her feet. "There will be three
more such bundles when I have the information."
The woman hesitated then
sighed. "You're overpaying me, you know that don't you?"
"What need have I for
money? I pay well for the services I need and it guarantees I continue to get that good
scooped the bundles together. "Come back tomorrow morning. Use the front door, if you
the man in black leapt up to grab the ledge of the skylight, slithering back out through
it and away.