‘In three days’ time, Ravenhall will be lit up in the glamour of stars, celebrities and important generals and army personnel from all across the country as the city prepares itself for the Annual Victory Parade-’
Zero closed the browser with an exasperated sigh.
As he sat in his comfortable chair, staring at the three-monitor computer unit on his desk, he nibbled on the cheeseburger in his hands. The live news feed had been replaying nothing but the same shit all over again.
He was sitting in his apartment in the Arcadia Towers, the city’s most luxurious apartment buildings. His was a studio apartment, with a queen-sized bed pushed up against massive windows that gave a spectacular view of downtown Ravenhall, next to which was his computer set-up, and a kitchen on the other side of the apartment, complete with a minibar and a fridge.
He leaned back, thinking back to his most recent mission, and how easy it had been. As of late, the most exciting things that were happening were kidnappings and drug trafficking.
Pathetic excuses for missions, he thought.
It was in his nature to look for something which would present a challenge, but every time something like that happened, the Imperial Police stepped in.
As he sat there, bare-chested and wearing nothing but his boxers, he absent-mindedly stroked the scar that ran across the length of his torso.
Compared to three years ago, it had thinned out, turning white and somewhat disappearing under the bulges of his abdominal muscles.
“What are the chances that our next mission has something to do with this annual loser’s parade?” Zero looked back. Behind him, sunken into the bean bag, was his partner, Hunter, gulping down a beer can.
Hunter had been working side-by-side with Zero for almost as long as he had been in the organization, which was about the same time as when Zero had joined. Given that the two were the same age, it was no wonder to Zero why the two gelled so well together.
Hunter had a messy mop of dirty blonde hair on the top of his head, along with a really pale complexion and a sickly green eye. The other one was covered under a silver eye-patch, which Zero remembered was the result of an assassination mission gone wrong. Hunter was well above average height, probably an inch taller than Zero, but he was a lot thinner.
As he chugged down the fizzy alcohol, some of it dripped down onto his sleeveless brown hoodie.
“Ay, be careful with that,” Zero nonchalantly warned, “Don’t get any beer on my fucking beanbag. You know alcohol makes me nauseous.”
As he turned back to face his monitors to mess around on the internet a little bit more, something heavy that suspiciously felt like a beer can hit him in the back of his head.
“Uh,” Came a dull sigh from behind him, as Zero tried his level best not to freak out, “Sorry man, I was aiming for the trash.” Hunter sheepishly replied, before letting a smirk spread across his face. “Oh, never mind, I did hit the trash.”
Zero’s eye twitched again before he remembered something and regained his composure.
“Oh, so you mean like the pile of trash from the Zirconium mission?”
Hunter’s eyes lost their shine, as his smile faded away into a cruel clenching of the jaw, and he cracked knuckles. The Zirconium mission was one of the biggest disasters that the two had gotten themselves involved into, mostly due to Hunter’s lack of attention and his slight flirting with one of Emperor Zabilak’s several maidservants .
“-Was just ready to do it with that woman, right?” Zero interrupted with a confident smirk, narrowing his eyes with a malevolent look in his eyes. “How did the Imperial guards discover you? Stripped down to your underwear, and the chick was almost naked.”
“At least I get laid,” Hunter shot back, “When was the last time you smashed?”
“The fuck does smash mean?”
“You know,” Hunter wiggled his eyebrows, “What goes beyond third base? Putting the ball in the batter’s cage?”
Zero facepalmed, shaking his head at the childish antics of his best friend. Although, thinking about it, his last time…was it the florist in the seaside shop? Or was it the dancer in the bar downtown. No, it was someone else.
“I forgot,” Zero lied, not wanting to be seen as bluffing. He hated lying, even if it meant he was going to be humiliated.
Hunter tossed a T-shirt at him. “Figures,” he shrugged. “You’d probably do it with a dude and not remember.”
“What’s wrong about doing it with a dude?” Zero asked, frown lines appearing on his head. This was something that he never understood. A lot of people were more concerned about people’s orientation rather than their own lives.
He caught the T-shirt and put it on. It was ash grey with ‘Psycho’ written on it.
“Really?” Zero asked as he slipped it on. “Psycho? I don’t think I need my clothes to say that.”
“Just go with it,” Hunter said, grabbing a piece of paper from his pocket. “We need to go and get some fifty grand, right?”
“What fifty grand?”
“The one that you didn’t get from your clients.” Hunter gave him a quizzical look. “Don’t you want the extra money?”
Zero chuckled. “If only. These clients have a secure house, down in the Imperial sector. You should’ve seen the security in that place. It’s a wonder I didn’t get caught, especially with this parade shit coming closer and closer.”
“So?” Hunter slung his backpack across his shoulders. “You delivered the bag with the organs, right?”
“Yeah.” Zero sighed, “But it was night time, and it was easier to sneak through. During the day, you need the proper security license and documents to enter that area.”
Hunter fetched another beer can from the refrigerator. Popping it open, he said, “What if I told you I already have the docs ready?”
Zero raised an eyebrow. “What did you do?”
Hunter chugged some more beer down his throat, before responding. “Nothing much. Just hacked into the city’s profiling database. Created a couple of new identities.”
He chucked one of those pieces of paper into Zero’s hands, who unfolded it, and looked at the clear “CLEARANCE GRANTED” printed beneath his picture.
“When did you-?”
“Come on now,” Hunter switched off the lights of the apartment, “We need to get some fucking work down.”