1052 SUY, New Jericho

"So lemme get dis straight…" He was short, fat, balding and very annoying. His voice sounded like an out there country boy who had lived in the inner city for a few years. That accent was a sin against nature. "You got paid ten grand ta off me, and you take me out to get coffee?" The word coffee was especially annoying, almost to the point of freezing up synapses. "At my fav'rit place too."

"Oh good, I was hoping I had got it right. But yes, that is correct. Ten and a half actually. I gotta say, you're pretty cheap for such a well off guy." It was true; he had a suit on that must've cost somewhere in the triple zeros and had fat hands sparkling with bejeweled rings.

The short story, Mr. Accent was a big time bookie. Long story, Josef Triam ran a bookie so crooked even the petty gangs that had leaked across the Wall thought it was trash. He still pulled in millions every month (no one knows how; very few want to admit to working with him); only two percent was officially accounted for and taxed. This was mostly pulled in from rigged fights and racing – activities that had ruined three prominent figures in the area. They had pooled their meager remains and picked up the tab for Triam's premature demise. "So, what's the catch? I know who you are, I know how good yous is, and I'm still alive. There's gotta be a catch." Orfin beat a fierce tattoo on the table with his long, thin fingers, the leather of his gloves muffling the noise slightly. The metal bands on the joints only making it louder.

"I want you to disappear. You leave this sector, for good, and I leave you alone. That's it." Triam couldn't believe his luck, he was getting off easier than he ever could have hoped. "No, wait…" Josef somehow managed to pull off a double take while still facing Krath. What did he want? "You need to finish your coffee, that stuff wasn't cheap. One more thing, take the last couple of drops, and put them in this." He reached into one of his coat's many deep pockets and pulled out a small vial, coated on the inside with a thin gel. "Close the top, shake, and compare to this card," a small piece of paper was wrapped around the vial and Orfin deftly removed the binding and unrolled it. "But only after you drank it all, sokay? If you do differently, I'll know." Triam's face told all. Orfin didn't even wait for a response. He stood up, a giant among the patrons, and walked to the door. He stopped and looked into the reflection in the glass to see if Triam had followed his instructions. He was not disappointed. Poor fool, he was pouring the dregs in the vial already. That must've burned going down; there had been more than half left.

The chemical test would show him the five grams of arsenic compound in his coffee, conveniently hidden by the almond flavoring Triam was partial to. Poor fool, the caffeine only makes it process faster.

Just my luck, troopers at only 11 AM. Now I can't even get a decent lunch. Orfin Krath wasn't the easiest person to hide in a crowd. It didn't help that almost his entire wardrobe was a trademark: Dark green trench-coat covering almost all of his 2.2 meters, braided ponytail extending to the bottom of his ribcage, combat boots, and opaque square sunglasses. "Demon eyes" they called him in bars. "The Violet Wrath" or "The Wrath of Krath" as he was known in the trade. They could rhyme, weren't they clever. Krath didn't need to go advertising that particular feature any more than it already had been. People would start screaming and running away while he was eating in some restaurant, or maybe before instead. He usually didn't hear the yells of "Oh my gods, I'm lucky I'm still alive," until he had left the restaurant. Not very good ambiance, all in all. Bright purple eyes aren't something that people enjoy seeing much while puzzling over the wine list; especially with a reputation like his. Dining civilians were less of a worry than the police, though. A crude rendition of his face was posted in every police station from rim to rim of the Interstellar Union. There was also a bounty many aspired to collect – few actually tried and they gave up almost immediately. Ten-million marks for a master like Krath was a pittance compared to the trouble they would have taking him out.

It was a notoriety most in his business would kill for (more than usual that is) and it caused him nothing but trouble.

Perhaps it was the almost wraith-like way he managed to get into places, perhaps it was his frightening presence (armor plated boots that were completely soundless would make even the most hardened skeptic believe in ghosts), but without knowing it, Orfin Krath had become sort of a folk hero Under the Wall of New Jericho. It was this collection of mystique and fable that first caught the attention of a big-time hotshot in the Three Powers Crime Syndicate. One of the thousands in his profession getting special attention from the Three Powers would have been headline news if journalists covered – or knew anything about – the workings of the gangs.

But Orfin didn't care about any of that. All he cared about was where he could get lunch uninterrupted; and it was exactly that that brought him to the Wall.

The Wall was one of the few less-than-glitzy places in upper city. It was less metropolitan and more suburban than the area around it; filled with quiet nooks and crannies the more philosophical residents liked to hide in from time to time. There was a worry among the residents that the area would soon urbanize as well, destroying the last bit of serenity on the bustling world.

But that never really applied to a wanted and well known assassin.

"Unbelievable! One sandwich, that's all I want! One stinking sandwich…"

He was racing down the highway again, but this time he wasn't alone. The racing bike was almost out of fuel, and the authorities were gaining on him fast (the word "cops" was still popular but too immature for a professional). It seems they had finally gotten an upgrade from the old single-turbo. Damn it.

Orfin would never really know how it all happened. It was quick, that was certain. Really quick. An oil slick in the road seemed likely – the sparks from the sliding bike set something on fire, so it had to be combustible, and the slick would have knocked the bike over for certain at the speed Orfin was traveling. The fire spread into the fuel tank and the bike exploded under Krath, sending him flying.

And "flying" was definitely the term for it. The Wall's highway system criss-crossed it with over passes going both above and through it. Orfin was lucky he was on one of the lowest roads; the fall only ruined the memory of the incident and knocked him unconscious for close to six hours.

When he awoke though, he was surrounded by at least four different weapons, all aimed between his eyes.

"Welcome, Mr. Krath, to under the Wall."