“There is a call for you, sir.”

The man delivering the message flinches as a single blue eye rests on him. The tall blond’s hands drop to his side and the messenger’s gaze drops to the blood on the man’s fingers. He tries very hard not to look at what is behind the blond, who calls himself Divus. Code names, of course, but when Elias was looking for someone to accomplish a job like this, he wasn’t expecting much else. They told Elias he was the best, and for that price, he had better be. Very few technicians have such strict pricing; this one charges per hour.

“Did you happen to mention I was busy?” His voice is soft; Elias shivers.

“Sh-she wouldn’t take any excuses.”

The man’s eyebrow cocks up. “Oh? Well, then, I had best not keep the lady waiting.”

Elias brings the portable telephone, and Divus answers. “Hello?” He idly traces the bruised jaw of the fellow he is questioning and proceeds to flick a knife from his sleeve. “Oh, yes, dear. Quite well, thank you. Reassigned? Right now? Tsk. So impatient. Fine. Hold on, please.” He holds the phone away from his mouth, mutters a “Sorry, don’t need you anymore,” and the man only has time for a choked scream before Divus slits his throat. He puts the receiver back to his ear. “Sorry about that, madam.”

“H-hey, you weren’t supposed to…!” Elias splutters. The man’s blood is still warm on him. Divus hushes him with a bloody index finger to his lips.

“Oh, nothing. Just stirring up a little chaos.” He looks incredibly amused. Then he sighs. “Yes, of course, ma’am. When do I ever disappoint? I have done my own share of information collection. Yours was not quite to my level of satisfaction, I fear.” Here he darts a glance at Elias, who shivers. “Now, you say? I fear I am not in the area at the moment, but if you do not mind terribly. I will finish my business here quickly and make my way over there in a timely fashion.” He wipes the blood from his knife on Elias’ shoulder.

Then he replaces that in his sleeve and draws a revolver. “I promise it won’t take a horribly long time. Alright, wonderful.” He gestures to the door and Elias starts walking, gun on his temple and taking the phone with. “What am I doing? Already said. Research.” He pauses as he ducks through the door. “I always get into trouble, but do not be surprised when a warehouse over in Norrins spontaneously blows up. It’s drilling, of course. No known casualties.”

The woman on the other end yells something. Divus chuckles. “I make no such promises. Sorry, General.” Then he hangs up.

“Why did you kill him?” Elias means it to be a roar, but it comes out as a squeak.

“I got what I needed, of course. “The phone rings again and Divus plucks it up. “Hello?” He pauses and then rolls his eyes. “Yes, mistress. Yes. I have been. The other girl is a little difficult to find information on.” His tone has pulled a full heel face turn now, into something meek and mild, almost subservient. His physical carriage, however, suggests the opposite. Who is this man? “Yes, of course.” He holds the revolver to the center of Elias’ forehead. “Sorry,” he mouths, and the shot rings out. “It is rigged to blow up when I leave. There is a timed pressure plate on my way out.” Shasta hangs up and sighs. He promptly re-holsters the gun and snatches the money from Elias’ pocket. Work pays well sometimes. He tosses the bodies out the window for some of his lackeys to take care of. He leaves the building and the second he gets far enough away, the building explodes. He changes clothes in a nearby warehouse.

Shasta Cassidy sits down for a cup of tea and a spot of lunch. Ugh, perhaps he should invest in some gloves for jobs like this. He hates getting blood under his fingernails.

Reassigned, was it? He already knew that. Two friends of his placed those files, so he should know about it. He was not meant to join the game too early, and certainly not in Alec Sullivan’s place. Huh, Alec Sullivan. Now, that one is a mess. No, Shasta would not suit the Knight’s part. He can pull any script flawlessly, but he likes his current role much better. He’s something like… A queen in a checker game, or a joker in a game of dice.

Like a god in a world of mortals.

Alec Sullivan. He’s memorised the files, of course. Quiet fellow, not too popular, but charismatic on diplomacy missions. His childhood was terrible: blamed for his little brother’s death in an accident, and abused by his mother until her death. Favourite colour is blue, takes black tea and coffee—really black—and plain scones; exercises frequently, keeps an agenda. He adheres to a schedule in some desperate attempt to keep some sort of hold on his life.

Oh, people are all too simple. These are just humans, not extraordinary or remarkable, not yet. The only way anyone achieves anything anymore is by being remembered. Otherwise they are simply a name or a blurry face in a photograph, or a death certificate.

What is he, then?

Well, he is whatever the script calls for. “All the world’s a stage…”

Why, then, is he humoring this little game of men (or mice) and martyrdom?

Shows promise. He likes to be entertained. He will play with them and lead them as he pleases, less the good shepherd, more a scientist watching rats in a maze.

Perhaps something will come of it, or perhaps nothing. If nothing, hopefully the entertainment will be worth his while.

Shasta smiles to himself. He does like this peculiar group. They may not be stupendous just yet, but with a few nudges… Why, they will be textbook-worthy.

Where to start, where to start… He needs some sort of glamorous introduction, something to put them in awe of everything he is. He has a flair for the dramatic. and oh, they will be manoeuvred so wonderfully… a shattered chandelier, an assassination plot, and everything will weave together so perfectly.

* * *

But she wasn’t impressed. The quiet one, with her doe-brown eyes and lips that light with no smile. She lived her life privately; too privately, in fact, which means she has something to hide. She’s a strange one, because he does not know her with the intimacy of a lover or the obsessiveness of an enemy. She is nothing—nothing and something, and his n-level IQ, his calculating, logic-churning mind cannot quite wrap around it. She is ordinary, quite ordinary, and yet she is the most exotic creature he has ever encountered.

It is not that he does not understand her, not quite. He knows her, can read her, but it all seems a distant mystery, something he turns over in his hands that is not tangible because it has not yet been invented.

She is the philosophy not yet come to mind, the song sung but nether fathomed, a summer kiss from autumn lips.

He must understand. He will take her ideologies apart piece by piece until he has destroyed the aura of mystery. She will cease to spark any fascination with him, and will become obsolete and insignificant as he pursues higher pedestals.

(One day he will fall, and no one will be there to catch him, but perhaps, perhaps she is the glue to his destructive properties; when he tears her apart, she will undo his unkindness by picking up and putting together his pieces.)

 
 
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