Prologue

Target: Ueno Hayashi
Motive: Possession and traffic of illicit substances in large quantities
Location: Yamamatsu City, Tourin Prefecture

The warehouses belonged to the target's transportation and storage company and were therefore a perfect guise. How the government hadn't already discovered it was beyond me; even if the warehouses contained so many goods other than the substances, close inspection would immediately give the business and its owner away. Money had probably induced the silence. If not, then the previous inspections probably hadn't been thorough enough, or the substances were well concealed.

I flipped the page of the file. On the next sheet was just information on how to expose the narcotics, so the company was already as good as arrested. The removal of the drugs wasn't part of my job and therefore it didn't bother me. The authorities could figure that one out themselves.

A light breeze followed me through the streets of industrial Yamamatsu. Passing several office buildings, I checked the file again, just to make sure I was headed the right way. The storage buildings were two blocks away. I continued walking, checking in my pockets to make sure I had everything I needed. It was all there, so I was set to go.

The warehouses stood boldly in front of me, daring me to prove they contained the substances. Challenge accepted. I tore a section of the page from the file – the one that mentioned where the drugs were hidden – and tacked it to the wall of one of the storehouses. The authorities should be intelligent enough to read and comprehend the information. I turned and approached the administrative building adjacent to the warehouses.

At the front of the tall grey building hung a large signboard. Set against a navy blue background were white letters spelling out Ueno Transport. I walked up to the entrance and stepped in as the automatic sliding doors admitted me. Coffee-coloured carpet cloaked the floor within. The walls were off-white and a potted plant rested by every other pillar. Of course all traces of the illegal activity within this workplace had been hidden well. To the uninformed eye, it was simply another administration building for another company.

The receptionist behind the desk looked extremely bored, but brightened considerably when she saw me. Whether it was because of my appearance or the fact that she now had something to do, I didn't know, but it wasn't a matter of concern.

"Good day sir, how may I help you?" she asked cheerily, her blue eyes lighting up. She was young, perhaps only a few years my senior. Her hair was dark brown and loose around her shoulders and she wore a simple dark office uniform.

"I have an appointment with the head of the company," I answered quietly, noticing her cheeks redden. Could she be any more obvious? She was staring at me. Maybe she thought I wouldn't notice. "What's the matter?"

She composed herself again. "Oh, um, I don't think there are any appointments listed for this time," she answered with a light laugh, looking at her screen.

"The arrangements were made at the last moment. It seems you were not notified."

The receptionist looked back at her screen, stealing another glance at me and blushing again as she tapped a few keys. "I'm sure it would've been mentioned…"

I suppressed a sigh and gazed directly into her eyes. Her cheeks turned a deeper shade of pink. "It is a rather urgent matter. There must be some way I can meet with him." Naturally, even if there weren't, I would still confront Ueno.

"Well, I can issue you a visitor's pass."

"I would appreciate that," I told her, with a slight smile for my own amusement. As expected, her face grew, if possible, even redder.

Administration wasn't an inconvenience in any way. The only reason I was troubling myself with it was the nature of my job; part of it involved remaining as unsuspicious and discreet as possible. Given the industrial environment around me, a visitor's pass was simply convenient.

I filled out a visitor's form with fabricated details, took the pass from the desk and headed towards the stairs to the manager's office. I avoided elevators whenever possible; they were liable to break down, and it would be utterly embarrassing to my agency if one of their employees were exposed in a lift. The mahogany stairs leading up to the office were so varnished, I could almost see a perfect reflection of my surroundings as I approached the office.

The sign on the door read Manager. I knocked on the door. Ueno wouldn't be expecting me, but that wasn't a problem.

"Come in," came an impatient voice.

The door opened with a tiny creak. Seven people stood in the room. I instantly recognised Ueno from the photo attached to his file; the slicked-back dark hair, the glasses, his slight build and even his designer suit. The other six might have been company employees, but given their height and large build, they could easily have been bodyguards. Ueno brushed nonexistent dust off his dark suit; no doubt that trafficking had paid off for him. He glared at me through his glasses.

"Who are you?" he started to ask, but I cut him off.

"Ueno Hayashi?" I asked, reaching into my coat.

"Yes?"

Click. Bang.

Ueno Hayashi was taken care of.

As if to confirm my earlier suspicions, the other six men drew pistols and took aim at me. I analysed the situation. There were three on either side of me. White Seraph, although my favourite, wouldn't be enough by itself.

They fired at me, the gunshots making a huge racket. I ducked down and kicked the table over, shielding myself from the projectiles, then jumped onto the table and sprang into the air. Leaping above their heads and dodging their shots with ease, I reached into my coat and pulled out another of my favourites, Red Alice. In a single second, I pulled both triggers three times each, but it happened so quickly, the average person would have mistaken it for a single shot.

Click. Bang.

No more guards to worry about. I looked around the room for a moment. Bodies were strewn across the floor, staining the ash grey carpet a deep crimson.

I glanced upwards and sure enough, there were security cameras rigged near the ceiling, four in just one room. Two shots each from White Seraph and Red Alice removed that concern. I'd have to fix the CCTV footage, just in case. My assignment was complete. All that was left to do was wipe my tracks and claim my reward.

The office phone had been thrown onto the carpeted floor. I pressed the button for reception. The poor girl would be traumatised, but that wasn't my problem. I left the office and took the stairs down to administration. The receptionist was gone; she'd probably taken the lift to the manager's office.

Now that she was out of the way, I could easily erase the footage from the system. Although I'd already disabled the cameras in the office, the footage had already been recorded and deleting it from the surveillance system would therefore be safer. With the tap of a few keys, my tracks were erased from the system. I rose from the office chair and exited the building.

Nearby, the streets were still bustling, so I blended in as easily as I had before. My contractor for this assignment, Inaka Mori, worked on the other side of the city. It was time to claim my reward.

"Come in," came a male voice through the door.

I pushed the wooden door open. This time I hadn't needed to resort to deceit, since Inaka should have been expecting me and I was only collecting my payment.

Inaka sat in his office chair. It was just the two of us in the room. "You are?"

"From Polaris," was my reply.

He clasped his hands. "The job is done then?"

"I'm here for my payment," I answered. "Your offer was forty-five million yen."

The middle-aged man nodded and produced his chequebook from a drawer in his desk.

I stepped right in front of his desk. "Sir, do you know what I find intriguing? Even out of the billions of people in the world, it is said that the value of a single person's life cannot be measured in money."

"True, but you're being paid for your labour, not the person's life, isn't that right?" he asked with an arched eyebrow.

"And how many people, do you suppose, are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to undertake my kind of work? This line of work involves high risks, and money cannot compensate for what we give up in order to pursue this profession," I answered levelly. "Not to mention that Polaris is the best organisation for these tasks."

"Well, how much do you expect?"

I didn't even need to think about it. "It was a small job, so double your offer and that should be fine."

"Ninety million?" he exclaimed.

His chin met White Seraph's barrel. "Yes, ninety million. I'm glad you can at least do mental arithmetic," I replied smoothly.

Inaka's trembling fingers wrote the cheque and passed it to me. I casually pocketed it. "Thank you. If you ever need another job done, you have Polaris's number. Good day to you sir." I left the office and exited the building.


A/N: My prologues aren't usually this long, but I hope that was all right nonetheless. I would really appreciate any feedback you have, especially about whether the genre is suitable. Thanks =)