Chapter 3:

A Charm Under the Moonlight

Bullet Loop


“Hell of a show you put on.” Johna’s voice pulled me out of my stream of consciousness. “I’d say Control will be happy with this result. Let's get back for the debrief.”

“You go first. The night is still young anyways.”

“The night is still-? Yin, you aren’t planning on doing what I think you’re saying, right? We do NOT mess with Peterson Enterprises. You’re sparking a war of cataclysmic proportions if anything happens to Eric.”

“Relax, Johna. Him and I are just gonna have a friendly chat…”

“No, Yin! This isn’t a joke-!”

I unplugged him once again and stashed the earpiece back into my pouch. Giving Johna’s tree another wave, I slid down the roof tiles, past my partner’s line of sight. With the finesse of a cat, I landed softly on the railing just above Peterson’s balcony. I peered through the window— his room was quiet.

The office door flung open and light flooded in. The silhouettes of large body guards briefly blocked the light for a second as they passed through. Between them, was the familiar sound of methodical footsteps clacking against the luxury vinyl floor. In response, I hugged the wall beside the tall glass balcony doors as tightly as I could.

LB climbed out of my jacket pocket with her beetle-sized mechanical legs. She flexed her wings with gentle clicks as she sat on my shoulder, bringing out her own earpiece. It was tiny to the point of being nearly invisible.

I pushed it below my hair and into my ear. LB leapt off my arm and climbed the vines adoring the balcony back to the roof. Reaching the corner of the glass door, she pressed herself flat against the glass.

I immediately began to hear the voices through the LB’s device.

“Excellent speech tonight, sir. Shall you be needing anything else in the meantime?”

What I heard, I could only guess, was a glass of wine being poured.

“Fetch Mr. Beiger, please. I need to have a word with him before he leaves tonight. The nerve of that man to miss my speech. It was his idea to hold this abhorrent party and yet, I expect he ran off. Again.”

“He’s staying in the master suite, sir. I shall call for him at once.”

The butler’s footsteps briskly tapped away from the microphone. He wasted no time in leaving the room.

“Hey! You two!” I peeked my head to see who he snapped his fingers at. Two brick wall security guards, who had perked up at the sudden shriek. “I need some privacy right now. Go do your jobs so I can do mine. MOVE!”

They sprung to life and hurried back to the corridor, one of them almost slipping as he rushed for the door.

I didn’t move a muscle from my dark corner. I lied in wait— there was a perfect time to strike the prey.

I readied my knife.

Not yet.

The balcony door flew open. There he was— Eric strode out, reeking of exuberant cologne as he walked past. From his top pocket, he picked out what looked to be a very ancient, plastic cell phone. I had heard rumours that those in the upper echelons didn’t use our services to move information but had another untraceable system. I always believed it to be a myth.

The answers for the future lay in the past.

LB quietly floated back down to my shoulder as Eric pressed the phone between his ear and shoulder.

“Cancel the deal with Beiger for any future dealings. Yes, I’m sure. Don’t worry, I will handle the fallout. We already have larger vendors for the next shipment. The day where those in the shadows come to the light is closing in.”

His hand extended deep into his jacket, fiddled with something momentarily, and then dangled it in the glistening neon glow.

The charm.

At first glance, I recognized the kanji written on the back. It’s exactly the same as my own.

Bastard.

I could feel my breathing grow unsteady. LB looked up at me— she must’ve noticed.

“It’s okay, LB.” I whispered, as my free hand gripped the other holding the knife. “I’m not stupid. Knowing is power.”

She let out a gentle beep of confusion.

“Don’t worry. We’re on schedule,” Eric blabbered on. “The Senate will have nothing to worry about. Just do I say.”

He clicked his phone off. Then, after one more stare at the charm, he carelessly tossed it onto his desk with a clatter. My eyes widened.

Bastard!

In one smooth motion, I swung into him, yanked the phone and held a knife to his throat. Eric completely froze and raised his hands. Either he was experienced or lucky with this sort of thing— had he panicked, I wouldn't have stopped him from accidentally stabbing himself in his struggle.

I carefully pulled him back towards the ledge, kicked the door with my back leg, and dragged Eric back into the office. Throwing him onto the chair, I turned him around so we could see each other face to face.

My pistol was pointed directly at his forehead. Even in this situation, Eric’s expression looked like this was just another Friday night for him.

“The charm,” I said, trying to mimic his calmness.

For whatever reason, Eric’s eyes slightly widen, as if he just recognized something. His pupils looked to his left as he slightly turned his head back. I kept my aim on him as I pocketed my knife. Then, as I slowly rounded his chair, I picked up the charm with my other hand. Now, under the gentle moonlight, there was no mistaking who this had belonged to.

“Funny. After all these years, you’re still looking for that piece of fabric, Yin.” Eric spoke, his hands still raised. “Or do you go by Nightfall full time now?”

Without my permission, he rested his hands on his lap.

“No, it isn’t just some small, glorified cloth.” Eric smiled as he continued. “After all, we both know who that charm came from.”

Eric’s office door creaked. I swung my body over the desk and moved behind Eric. I put away the charm and pulled my knife back out, pressing the blade against his Adam's apple. His shoulder was a good brace for my pistol as I aimed for the door.

Breathe, Yin. Breathe.

The door continued to open slowly, pouring more light in from the corridor. One of the guards who scuttled away earlier came in— before he could even step into the room, I fired over Eric’s shoulder.

The guard’s body hit the floor before the door had fully swung open. Eric recoiled at the sound of a pistol going off right next to him. I whipped him over the head with the butt of the gun for good measure.

Eric groaned. “Was that really necessary?”

“After everything you’ve done to this world, I’d say you’re getting off lightly. Unlike someone else tonight.”

“So that’s what happened to Beiger. I see your methods and motivations haven’t changed a bit since we met last.”

I racked my brain twice over. Either he’s delusional or I hit him too hard— we’ve never even looked at each other before tonight.

“What do you mean, ‘last time we met’?” I asked.

“It’s time. Finally.” Eric looked up at the ceiling. “Or, at the very least, soon. Then again, when are meetings ever fixed to begin with?”

“Enough!” I grabbed the hair on the back of his head and slammed his face into his desk. “Stop wasting my time! What happened that night?!”

“Straight to the point like a bullet! You really do take after him, don’t you?” Despite having his face pinned down, Eric squeezed out a laugh. “But you’re gonna have to be more specific, dear.”

“You know what night I’m talking about! Shinjuku, 20 years ago!”

“You know she was one of us right? How’d you think she’d feel, seeing her own flesh and blood staining her legacy like this?”

I slammed his face again. The sound of his nose cracking from the blow wasn’t enough to calm me down. LB chirped from my jacket— I ignored her as I shoved the barrel of my suppressor into the back of his skull.

“You really want this ugly desk to be the last thing you see?!” I yelled.

“Who are you trying to fool?” Eric actually laughed between my gun and his overpriced furniture. “You’re not going to kill me! The slums’ Nightwalkers are more threatening than you are to me right now!”

“You’re very sure of yourself!”

“Because you didn’t pull the trigger yet!” Eric grinned back up at me. “You need me, Yin. You need what I know more than you want me six feet under.”

His words were like a safety on my trigger. I let go of him, exhaling as he sat back up. Slipping my hand down his suit pocket, I took his antique phone before moving around to the front of his desk.

“If you know me so well, you should also know I never let my catches slip. Don’t bother running.” I stashed the phone into my webbing. “We’ll keep in touch.”

I flipped my pistol in my hands and caught the barrel, before smacking the butt of the gun into the back of Eric’s head again. This time around, he’s out cold.

With the room silent once again, I left to the balcony and left the estate. Just as silent as I entered, I slipped away into the night and towards the neon horizon calling me home. The party’s still in full swing, but it’s all a blur under my own thoughts.

“I see your methods and motivations haven’t changed a bit since we met last.”

Like ugly scars, I couldn’t rub his words off my mind.  

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