Chapter 5:

Mission Accomplished

Code: Zero Defect

A soft breeze swept across the land, carrying highly dense pollution that is common in the undercity of New Olympos. Among the strands of burning coal and active machineries, the scent of blood can be vaguely smelled amidst the amalgamation.

Empty streets were dimly lit among many others, but only a select few would emit the synchronized marching of the coatsmen. The moon rests high in the sky, shining its blessed light upon an undeserving city.

"Strider?" a girl's voice said from my earpiece.

"I'm here, Ex," I said.

"You're late."

"Minor complications. My mother was resilient."

"Sounds like a lovely mom, worrying about her son while he's out here committing crimes against New Olympos."

I said nothing for just a few seconds, but that was all she needed to come to her own accurate assumption.

"She doesn't know, does she?" Ex asked.

"There's no reason for me to involve anyone in my business," I said.

"And yet, here you stand, picking up contracts from a complete stranger who could easily rat you out to the coatsmen."

Again, I said nothing. Just as she says, Ex is a stranger whom I happened to come into contact with a couple of months back. She knew immediately that I was an enemy of the coatsmen, so she wasted no time forming a connection with me.

Ex is essentially a shadow contractor. At least... from what I know about her so far, which is pretty much nothing. She contacts me through an earpiece that only turns on when I'm in the undercity. Whenever we get in touch, she gives me an assignment for the night. I'd imagine she has more people working under her, but I'm not sure.

"I'll deal with that when I get there," I replied. "What's it gonna be for tonight?"

"Straight to the point, eh?" she scoffed. "Even when I just threatened you. I suppose that's why I like you so much."

She paused for a brief moment before speaking again.

"Good timing, actually. We just received a report from a man who had his wife taken from him," Ex informed. "The reason? Wifey was proclaimed as defective after she resisted a coatsman who was coming onto her."

"For real...? And here I was starting to believe the High Order was righteous." I scoffed sarcastically.

"There are a lotta people out there, both good and bad. Unfortunately, one is more prominent than the other. It's just a matter of snipping off the thorns so the rose can be the beautiful flower it was always meant to be."

"Huh, when did you become a poet?"

"I dabble a bit in my free time. Anyway, the coatsmen are moving her to an abandoned warehouse two klicks north of your current position."


"Ten minutes. They're moving slowly via hovercar. Stretch your legs and get moving, Strider. I dread the thought of what they'll do to her once they get there."

"Consider it done."

I began dashing towards the general direction as stated by Ex, jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Below me, I caught a familiar glimpse of the nightlife in the undercity.

People out in the streets drinking, laughing, a woman publicly breaking up with her boyfriend, and street vendors yelling at the top of their lungs to advertise their delicacies. Despite the awful condition, it's vibrant with life... with freedom. I could get used to this.

Nine minutes later, I found myself standing before an empty lot. A couple of cargo containers were scattered unevenly. Good for cover.

It's dark and quiet. Not a single soul was in sight. The perfect hunting ground.

"Ex," I said.

"What's up?" she replied almost immediately.

"Visual on the warehouse. No coatsmen in sight."

"Scanners are showing that they're just outside the lot. In fact, you should see them coming now."

And she was exactly right. A hovercar drove into the scene from an empty road to the left. It parked in the lot and out came three coatsmen. They dragged out a struggling woman from the backseat who had her hands tied and a rag over her mouth.

"I see the target," I said. "Alive and well. Doesn't look like she has any noticeable injuries."'

"Make sure to keep her that way," Ex muttered. "We don't wanna disappoint our client."

"I'm not sure he has much of a say in this, but I'll oblige."

I lifted my facemask and stepped off the edge of the rooftop, falling to the ground with a silent thud. Now that I'm on ground level, I can hear them a lot better. I slid behind a cargo container and listened.

"Oh, quite strugglin' will ya?" said one of the coatsman who was clearly drunk. "You're makin' us look like the bad guys here."

He was only met with an agonizing scream that was muffled by the rags.

"Should've just let him have his way," the second one chuckled. "Now you'll be marked as a defect for the rest of your life."

"Of course, we could lift it," the last one chimed in. "But you'll have to do us a favor. Don't worry, honey. We'll be as gentle as possible."

My veins feel like they're popping just by clenching my fist. This is fucking disgusting. I've seen a bunch of coatsmen commit the most deplorable acts, and never once did I let them get away with it. This time will be no different.

"You picking this up, Ex?" I whispered.

"Unfortunately," she answered grimly. "No matter where you go, coatsmen are all the same."

"Any rules I need to keep in mind before I get started?"

"Surprise me. I've got a front-row seat for this. Secure the hostage by any means necessary."

I reached under my cloak and pulled out a knife. "Try to keep up."

I dashed out from the cover of the container and flung the knife at one of the coatsman. As soon as he turned his head, it struck him dead in the forehead. While the other two watched as he fell to the ground, I took cover behind a large wooden crate.

"H-hey!" the second guy shouted before he realized the expanding pool of blood beneath his friend's body.

The remaining two pulled out their guns and switched on their flashlights. The way they were frantically aiming everywhere meant they hadn't pinpointed my location yet.

"Who the hell goes there?!" one shouted fearfully. "W-we're coatsmen! Don't you know what it means to go against us?!"

"Shit... Fuck!" the other exclaimed. "Where are you?!"

I used the natural cover of the surrounding objects to reach the hovercar. There, the woman ceased her desperate cries as soon as she saw me. I lifted a finger up to my mouth to signal for silence, and she nodded her head in response.

"This ain't good, boss," a coatsman spoke. "Minho's bleeding out."

"To hell with him!" the supposed boss shouted. "We needa get outta here, now!"


He was instantly muted when I shoved my curved dagger through his neck. I figured that slitting it wasn't enough. He deserves to feel the pain.

Three seconds later, he was dead, so I pulled the dagger out, allowing his body to drop to the ground. The last remaining coatsman pointed his pistol at me. Without even so much as a word, he pulled the trigger.

I quickly jerked my head to the left, allowing the bullet to whisk right past me. I then raised a finger to my left ear at the sudden sting. Blood. The bullet must've just barely grazed it. It seems I wasn't as fast as I thought I was.

"W-who the hell... are you?" the coatsman mumbled.

"Huh," I smirked. "The dagger didn't give it away?"

The realization in his eyes was all the satisfaction I needed.

"Dagger...? You're... Stri-!" was all he could say before I lunged, thrusting my dagger into his stomach.

He buckled his knees, ready to fall over. However, I lifted him up so our eyes could meet for his final moments.

"Be grateful, coatsman," I growled. "You deserved much worse than this."

I forcefully pulled the dagger out, and his body flopped over. I tilted back to see the woman sitting perfectly still, her eyes visibly shaking.

Right... I just killed three coatsmen. It would've been weird if she wasn't terrified. I knelt down in front of us and carefully cut loose her bindings.

"Are you hurt at all?" I asked.

"N-no," she answered as calmly as possible. "Thank you."

"Don't worry about it. I was just completing an assignment. Ex?"

"Right here, buddy," she said, her mood clearly lifted.

"So? What's my rating for this one?"

"Hm... I'll give it a solid B-minus."

Dead silence was my response. She gave me... a B-minus. Have I ever received such a low score before? Perhaps it's because I was injured this time around. It's not that big of a wound, but it's more than all my other missions where I emerged completely unscathed.

"Haha! I'm joking, Strider!" Ex laughed. "Stop looking like a sad puppy."

"What..." was all I could say.

"My real score for this one is an S-plus. The instant dopamine rush was exhilarating. Ah... Nothing beats the feelings of watching some coatsmen get what they deserve."

"They deserved much worse in my opinion."

"You brandished the dagger, not me. Anyway, get the lady back to her husband, and we'll consider this a job well done."

"Got it."

While those who dwell in the Golden District live in bliss, the undercity is under constant siege. As if their meager lifestyle wasn't a problem already, the people also have to deal with these damned coatsmen prancing around in the name of order.

They'll never learn, and as long as they continue to riddle these streets with their filth, I'll be here to clean it up.