Description: When a British laboratory project working on the classification of Darkstalker genomes goes flatline from a preternatural murder, Max Evory is called in by MI-5, to stalk the killer to her home in London. He descends into the den of the wicked woman, his only weapon a poker chip and a cigar. Kiyomi is his prey, but is he the man on the horse, or the hound she's intent on tracking into the henhouse?
With the Sector Seven project now known among the closed hallways of world government, paranormal research laboratories have received new funding in many countries, particularly within Europe. European tradition related to the supernatural, and the elimination of paranormal threats, dates to the time of the Roman Republic. Many say that the Empire itself was forged on Julius Caesar's hubris in challenging the things behind the naked ken.
The British Isles had been challenging things that came out of the woods ever since the days of Irish Empire, when the Gaelic armies went to war with the Tuatha De Danaan of Ireland under the command of the O'Neill Chieftains and their four times royal bloodline (a fifth counting the Stuart usurper kings of Britain). The combined might of the Carpatian antiquarians, the Middle Kingdom Semites, the Upper Kingdom Nubians, and the Milesian Kings of Phoenician Canaan, had forged themselves in battle on Ireland, and gone on to conquer three kingdoms of Britain, including Britannia itself. Although the days of witch hunting the darkness in the night had long past, the sword and chalice was still held aloft by the British government out of reverance to these games of drinking blood.
In London, a laboratory named 'Dirkness Hollow', run by the Ministry of Defense, had recently gone black on the databank check-in roster. MI-5 had called in a recently blooded specialist at dealing with Darkstalkers. The only thing that could beat this laboratory's security was a paranormal menace, and doubling the danger, the lab dealt with classification of genomes and their interaction with unusual combat effects.
Max Evory had killed several Darkstalkers on his last assignment, in Japan, and he was ready to kill more. The Dirkness Hollow investigation had revealed a single clue - a chip, left behind, as if intentionally, to an underground casino in White Chapel, reputed to be operated by the Calabrese, ou to of Southern Italy.
In a drab three piece leisure suit, Max Evory walked down the steps to the casino, the pouring rain and the huddled poor of White Chapel behind him, as he stepped under the prow of the ledge above him, opening the door to enter what was labeled a book annex warehouse.
Was the chip left behind purposely or was it an act of God that allowed the MI-5 to stumble upon this single clue? Whoever had infiltrated Dirkness Hollow had proven to be a swift and efficient killer with a mixture of supernatural powers that allowed it to pass through the security system without leaving any hint of its presence.
The building the agent approached in the White Chapel had nothing out of the ordinary for the naked eye. A few subtle hints however hinted that it was more than meets the eyes : the elaborated surveillance system around the warehouse. While nothing stood out of the ordinary when Max entered the building, it doesn't take long to notice the few things off.
Two hulking men with an imposing stature and bulk came to him. Their clothes were casual, as if they were workers in this small warehouse but the way their clothes were too tidy and neaty for that. They remain silent, as if gauging his reaction or waiting for something. "Can we help you?" One of the man finally speaks up.
"I was looking for a pretty penny," Max said, palming the chip into his fingers, fore and middle with the thumb clasped behind. The movement of the middle, to hide his standard gesture of tucking his middle finger inwards (the gesture of an assassin, the index and thumb held together), was nearly perfect, save the tightness of the pinky which would indicate he's either a police agent, or he's used to palming a pistol. "I had a female friend recommend this place, and she said I could meet some fellow entrepreneurs of the faith."
There's a dip to the chip as he loosens his fingers and lowers it for the man offered to take it, his cold blue eyes meekly moving upwards to meet one of the men's gazes, Max's chin tipped downwards. His hair is cut into a military look, with a swimmer's tuft in front worn out of vanity. His face, however, has the chiseled bemusement of a fellow brawler.
Then aggressive posture and tension in the two men is immediately dissipated when Max presents the chip to them. One of the two, a gruff bearded man nods to Max and he gestures with one hand, "Of course... This way please..." He says, his voice having taken an obviously more respectful one than the one he used to greet him.
He turns on his heels and guide Max throught the semingly empty warehouse while the other man remains behind. They walk almost a minute until some faint noises can be heard of music and voices of people having a good time... And turning around a corner the man opens up a door and keeps it open for him, "Please enjoy yourself," The man says, digilently waiting for Max to proceed.
Passing through the door felt like passing through another dimension : the austere scenery of the warehouse turns into the colorful image of the casino, blackjack tables, slotmachines, craps tables, bacarra and all sort of other card and dice games. Scantly clad women were walking around, offering drinks to people who paid them or to players who had streak of luck to try and unsettle them.
The majority of the players were males : yet with a bit of luck a women was hidden in the lot here and there, the few gems of the place considering most of the men around might have some criminal background.
Max handed a fresh banknote, marked with a slim empty edge on one end, to a woman serving a drink, selecting an Amaretto and whiskey on the rocks for himself. Holding the drink in his left hand, with a slight cupping gesture to appear as a lecherous type, a pocket pornographer drinking the wrong type of cocktail for the role, he strolled over to the booking lounge.
A brief inspection of the games running and tracked at the bookie's leisures, led him to move to one of them as he pulled a cigar from the pocket of his leisure suit, clad in a bronze tube.
"I'd like to place a bet on the dog races at the track in Surrey," he says, signalling that he's interested in a game of finance, possibly espionage or politics. The greyhounds are a cruel game, and only a spy knows them best.
Removing the cigar from the tube as a signal that he's involved in criminal influence, already nipped, meaning he's looking for a friend instead of merely indulging himself, he asks, "What's the vig on Marlow Witherton?", referring to a greyhound owned by a local lady married to a low-ranking House of Lords.
"Bets on dog races ~? What a peculiar decision ~" A soft feminine voice calls out, loud enough to be heard through the constant ambiant noise. The voice comes from a woman who leans against a wall, her gaze lost in the distance as if scrutinizing the various tables in the casino. In one of her hand, she holds in her palm a glass filled half-way with scarlet wine. Her hand moves slowly, making the liquid spins lazily inside of her glass.
The asian descent of the woman was undeniable, a mature woman yet that managed to keep a youthful appearance even though she was no longer in the blossom of womanhood. She wears an elegant scarlet figure-hugging evening dress, cut out to leave her back bare.
Her eyes slowly turn toward Max after a few seconds, a gentle smile spreading on her lips, her eyes assessing him for a moment, "Where's the pleasure in a game where you can't affect the outcome in the slightest?"
Max turns about, sipping from his amaretto and whiskey with a slow draw, evening eyes lidding faintly as he sees the woman in the evening dress holding the wine.
"Why, to win, of course," the British agent replies, pulling the pre-cut cigar out of the tube and sliding the bronze canister back into his pocket.
The Haitian blend and the Quebecquois-plucked leaf rolled around it hanging from his mouth, it is a rare blend selected for its particular smoke mask that can be easily spotted by someone with a nose for such things (should Agent Evory fail to return, and they have to search for him by the plume of his cigar on someone's clothing).
He withdraws an oblong lighter from the same pocket that produced the cigar, matte black with a single red tear on the side his fingers wrap around to grip it, and he flicks the flint. "The name is Maximilian Evory," he introduces himself, the side of his mouth closed as he lights the cigar. He slides the lighter back to its home in his black jacket, and withdraws the cigar.
"You can call me Max."
The woman arches a dubious brow at Max's reply, an amused smirk spreading on her lips. "Is that so..." She says, letting her words trail off, her gaze wandering down to her glass of wine, still toying with its content.
"To win without peril is to triumph without glory," She finally adds, her tongue moistening her lips as he turns her eyes away to the tables. She then turns her attention to him when he introduces himself to her and she turns her attention fully to him, straightening herself up and taking a step closer to him, "A pleasure to meet you, Max," The woman says with a courteous bow, "The name's Renard ~" She adds. "Do you come here often to gamble, Max ~?"
"The place was recommended by a friend," Max replies. "Sadly, he's under the weather."
Max exhales a cloud of smoke after a shallow draw with his mouth.
As she steps closer, he responds by moving his foot inwards to a toe-down, heel up, knee bent to place some of his support against a wall. It's an acceptance of the aggressive flirt, however blocking himself to be moved away from the wall.
"So tell me, Renard," he says, dropping his voice for the standard private conversation reserved for a john and a madam, given their level of familiarity and the dominance roles at play. "What sort of work do you do here? I know when I've got a tail, and I believe you want to turn me into a donkey."
He sips his drink slowly, looking at the Asian femme fatale levelly.
"I have to admit, I'm made out of wood on this particular night."
The man's gesture was enough to cause Renard to reconsider her approach. Her eyes assessing Max's composure. If there is one thing she learned with her years by Lune's side, it was the subtle hints of dominance and submission on things even as mundane as a simple meeting.
The woman lets a soft chuckle escapes her throat, lifting her glass of wine to her lips to finally take as sip as she stares at Max, an almost predatory glee in her eyes, "Work? It's not about work ~" She says, lifting her free hand up, moving her fingers to gingerly caress the man's cheek, down to his jaw and then chin before she moves her fingers away, "It's all about having a good time..."
"Some come here in hope to win, others to drown their sorrows and forget about their miserable existence, others to enjoy..." She lets her words trail off, "... Finer things. Tell me, Max, what is it that brought you here?"
"I'm just a man on a horse," Max says, spotting the vulpine mannerisms of the dangerous female.
"Do you play poker, Renard?" he asks, shifting to look out across the casino, away from her, with the right side of his face to hers, as he moves from table to table, his cigar in his hand wafting smoke gently upwards at the woman in close proximity. "One never bluffs for practice or jest or even misdirection. That's how one accrues a tell."
His eyes slide back to Renard's. "Do you know what your tell is, Renard? You removed your hand after engaging. That means you don't have the decision making power over my life."
He sips his drink with a shallow movement of the liquid to his lips and a tip of the lowball glass. "Right now."
"A most interesting game," The woman admits with a slow nod of her head, her eyes drifting off to the tables much as Max does. She remains silent as the man exposes his theory, a thin smile spreading on her lips, amused by his analysis.
Renard arches a brow and glances back at Max, "Is that what you think, Maximilian Evory?" The woman moistens her lips, a smile widening mischievously as she leans in a bit closer, letting her hot breath caress his ears as he whispers to him, "Will you dare to see if your intuition is right, I wonder?"
As the woman pulls away, she winks at him and takes a step back, turning on her heels, "... Alas, as pleasnt as this is, it's time for me to get what I've come here for ~" She lets her words trail off, gesturing with her free hand.
Log created on 19:48:33 10/30/2018 by Max, and last modified on 22:48:20 10/30/2018.