Mei-Lien sat while Jun combed and braided her violet hair into a bun. It was their ritual before she went out on an assignment. But Jun didn’t know the entirety of her job. Like the others she knew that Mei-Lien spied and occasionally stole for an unknown source. They’d lived in the slums long enough to know not to ask questions. Jun met her gaze in the mirror.
“Dorsey Tyrrell is a well-guarded man.” She kept her voice light but her shoulders were tense. Her golden brown eyes were deadly serious.
Dorsey had been little fish a month ago. In a short amount of time he’d decimated the gangs of the lower streets. Once higher, middle street gangs were taken out the rest became his personal guards. To get to him was not just a matter of breaking into a building. She had no time or margin for error. Her blunt answer was not enough.
Jun sat back on her heels, eyebrows arched. “Mei-Lien.”
“He is not an ordinary human. Don’t underestimate him.”
She wanted to smirk but instead she turned, taking Jun’s hand. “You worry too much. No one’s caught me yet.” Before she could protest Mei- Lien grabbed her backpack and slipped out the open window; the silk curtains flowing.
She crept to the roof’s edge. Five men and a woman loitered in front of a bike shop. It was a front. The only bikes they had were on the rack outside. Anyone who went in was looking for something a little more illegal. This was the entrance to an elaborate tunnel system that allowed Dorsey to move his products without being seen. Today was quiet and normally that would make her suspicious, but there’d been an attack on one of their main suppliers three days ago. They were probably sitting scared. It was the perfect time for her to find out Dorsey’s secret. And take it. She whispered a spell and then pointed in the direction they were looking. During the day the airy, almost identical copy would’ve been spotted immediately but the night gave her cover. Once the group had moved far enough away she slipped down the fire escape, hoping the out of date fixture wouldn’t give under her weight. When she dropped down she paused. Once she was sure she hadn’t been spotted, Mei-Lien walked casually into the shop.
Tamara tried to blend in, but she grew more aware of just how much she stood out. Her dark grey shirt was freshly washed and barely crumpled though she threw it on last minute; the same for her black pants. Only her boots had any signs of wear. She had an urge to stop and take this in, but she had a mission. Taking a deep breath, she cleared her mind until the city around her became hollow. The overly bright artificial colors faded. She only had Temple’s description of Mei-Lien to go on as her magic highlighted people that might fit. Suddenly a magic pulse bounced from a nearby spot. It was subtle; if she hadn’t already been walking on a fine line of magical current she would’ve missed it. The spell was familiar. One she’d used before and it was done with enough skill not to smack her in the face. She had to take the chance. Doing her best not to draw any more attention she took off at a jog. Gradually she came back to herself. And heard footsteps speeding up to match her pace. Tamara’s immediate thought was Jörg had followed her from the apartment. She was not concerned until energy behind her made her stomach heave.
He can’t want me dead? The thought made her chest constrict, until she turned and her head instantly cleared. She looked up at a man coming towards her with a deadly expression. Looking around she saw people scurrying through doorways, disappearing into cellars, all way casting furtive glances over their shoulders.
A sickly green light shot by her face, drawing her attention back. There was a smell of chemicals. She dodged his punch and slipped behind him, landing a punch between his shoulder blades. An electric shock traveled through him that was meant to paralyze. He fell to his knees but too quickly he’d forced himself up, only his slumped position showed he was hurt.
“Who are you?”
“Someone who will help put humans first.”
Mei-Lien dusted her jacket off. Pink residue from the sleeping potion drifted to the floor. She’d “accidently” dropped a vial of it, releasing a cloud, in front of the cashier after casting a love spell on him that convinced him to close the shop. She searched him for a key card, and then moved quickly into the back room. It didn’t take her long to find the slot hidden behind a pile of discarded parts. She pushed them aside and pushed the card in. Before the door opened completely she squeezed through. Casting a spell that created and deepened shadows, Mei-Lien ran. The spell would drain a lot of energy and take longer to recover from. It would also attract anyone looking for her. Depending on memory she went from one tunnel to the next, until she came to a red door. Pushing it open, she dashed up the stairwell. Inwardly, she cringed at her echoing footsteps. A door opened followed by low voices. She had no choice but to crouch and wait. As they came nearer she reached into her pocket, gripping the brass knuckles Jun had given her. A taser had been added. The two men rounded the last corner and she jumped. Mei-Lien landed a punch to the man’s gut that stood nearest her. The other punched her hard in the ribs and caught her in a headlock. She flicked on her taser and jammed it into his chest. When he didn’t immediately let her go, she turned it up to the highest setting. The man jerked and tumbled down the stairs. She didn’t wait to see where he landed. She needed to get to the door they came to, and came face to face with a security camera. That calmed her nerves somewhat. Dorsey cared only for whatever lay in his office. He depended on his grunts to do the rest of the work. Mei-Lien took off her backpack, digging around until she found a hacking bot. Looking around she turned it on and threw it up. The legs extended and dug in. It would erase her and any events that followed. Dorsey’s office was behind a heavy metal door. She entered a code and dragged it open. Except a red and blue glow from outside peeking through the blinds, the room was dark. She searched quickly, knowing he wouldn’t be gone long. It took her so long to find the button behind his desk hidden by carpet, she began to doubt herself. A case of reinforced glass rose from the floor. Inside was a wooden box with elvish writing around the edges Her fingers danced over the keys. She opened her backpack, ready to be gone. The door popped open and lifted the box. Immediately she knew something was wrong. There was no trace of magic and it was too light. The window clicked close and she froze.
“You’re getting slow.” A deep, husky voice behind her made her tremble.
She turned to find a tantō pointed at her throat. “Setsuna.” Her voice came out in a harsh whisper. It revealed surprise and regret. She cursed it.
“Yes. Alive despite you.” He had an arrogant grin on his face but she knew him too well. He pulled an identical box from inside his jacket. “I think we should talk.”