Just some changes made to fix previously present grammatical errors and such :)
The Devil's lair.
An abode of the devilish and the sinful, the corrupt and the inebriated.
A club infamous for not only its promiscuity and intoxicating atmosphere but its reputation as a meeting place for Underworld business. A sea of mindless bodies, swaying and grinding to the rhythm of blaring music as though spellbound, would fill the dance floors whilst the bars and table corners were preoccupied by those with a business. Clouds of mixed smoke polluted the air like a conjured haze of nicotine and weed. Every face, every identity was obscured. The main highlight of Devil's lair apart from its music and overindulgence of beverage and spirits were the barely-dressed females who entertained the lonesome and lustful with their erotic entertainment. It was the one place where man and beast were one. Only one person could tell the difference between what was man and what beast.
Godwell's best gunsmith and Underworld's most prized bounty hunter; she was a woman not to be messed with. No man neither woman could match up to her calibre. Her skills were no match even for monsters…but with every strength came weaknesses and Jack's weakness was her sensitivity to daylight. One would say she was a vampire simply from her photo-phobia and pale skin but she never hungered for blood or the need to rip a human in two. Why? Simple, because she was no vampire. A Halfling one could call her but the exact nature of what she truly was besides being part human remains a mystery. Some even called her types clairvoyants or seers. As she pushed her way through the crowd of dancing drunkies, she stared hard into the eyes of all those hiding in human shells – behind human disguise. Some stared back with smirks and devilish grins, taunting her whilst others glared back with silent threats. Jack was unmoved. Her bare hands alone were enough to snap their necks in one swift movement. She'd be ready for the kill. She smiled at the thought of their fear-stricken, dead faces in her mind. It was an entertaining thought – fantasizing about the many ways of slaying every one of these monsters that took on the disguise of man to fool others. Granted there were the many exceptions who just wanted to blend in and co-habit with humans without harm. That, she could never deny regardless of her hate.
She strolled over to the bar and ordered the usual; a glass of vodka. Snatching her drink quickly she tipped the bartender a large bill before finding a secluded table nearby. The music blaring overhead was revolting; cheap dub step and rock blend – it was blasphemy to her ears but as the current song ended and Rob zombie came on she couldn't help but smile.
"That's more like it" she said with a quick sip of her drink, "why can't humans have a better taste in music?"
"Better yet, why can't humans learn to see what you see?" a voice halfway between a squeak and a grunt replied from under the table.
Jack tilted her head to follow it and felt a grin creep on when she found a pair of crimson eyes and white fangs with a bright gleam. Unlike most monsters she met, this particular one was harmless; even despite the potential of transforming into a life size brute and ripping a human to pieces. Mercury was an unusual imp with green eyes, black skin, bat like ears and canine teeth in his natural form. However when aggravated he transformed himself into a beast three times his imp size. His skin, thick and hard like steel, would be covered in black scales – shedding layers whenever incurring a superficial damage. What amused Jack about his transformation was his devilish horns and sharp talons that could close into fists of iron. In a way he sort of reminded her of Jekyll & Hyde. One of his most valuable traits to her though was his unwavering loyalty ever since she saved him from a warehouse fire.
"You have a way of following me around Merc. Come up here and enjoy a drink with me till our guest arrives" she knew how tempting beverage was for him even if alcohol and imps were never a good combination.
Mercury climbed onto the seat beside her and took a long chug of her vodka. Jack watched with amusement as the imp let out a loud burp and his green eyes rolled backward.
"You know, an ordinary imp would've passed out from a sip of that nasty stuff" Jack had to bite back her laughter when she pried his hands off the glass, "really should keep off this stuff Merc"
Mercury burped a few more times and held onto Jack's arm for balance. She gulped the rest in one go. Vodka and whiskey were no longer overpowering for her the same way it was for others; hell she could drink an entire bottle and still maintain some level of solemnity. But she liked it that way. Drunkenness had an appeal of its own but being sober kept her under conscientious self-restraints of logic and rationality. Yet even strong liquor and likes of vodka had a way of loosening up those restraints – somewhat liberating her from being serious. It was her clairvoyancy and ability to spot through facades that suffered most under inebriation. She couldn't care less for the moment though, even if any monsters were about to ambush her or pose a threat she would be able to take care of herself pretty well. Her guns were strapped inside the jacket and a dagger was concealed in one of her boots. Failing all that Mercury was her last resort of defence.
Lights of mixed colours flashed around them and the flickering facades of monsters and drunken mortal gave delusional a new meaning. To a human eye, if they could see what she did, such sight would register as hallucination but for her kind it was reality - uncensored and undeniable. As a child, it scared her to death but now nothing out of the freak zone could faze her. She had both seen and endeavoured the bad, the nasty and the hideous as a defenceless troubled child. And years of those unpleasant encounters grew her thick skinned. The sound of hard rock metal filled the air, the noise washing out all thoughts and haunting memories from her mind. Eventually when the music died down, people broke away from the sea of dancing bodies; some to get more drunk and some walking out with their escorts and dates. The flashing lights faded away to leave a red and blue atmosphere. When Jack looked down at Mercury, she couldn't help but grin at how dazed he was.
"Jack Sorrows I believe?" called an uncharacteristically polite voice.
She looked up to find a tall, albino male in a grey suit. He had light red eyes, white hair and sickly pale skin. His facial outline was squared with a set jaw that seemed to be grinding, as if he was annoyed at something and his cheeks appeared. He wore a golden chain with a pendant of a serpent curled around a blade with ruby eyes and a pair of outstretched wings from either side of its hilt. Ancient symbols covered the pendant's surface. Jack knew what it was; symbol of The Divine Order. Already she could smell trouble brewing.
"At your services. So you Martiano or one of his henchmen?"
The albino's face was expressionless, unfeeling and devoid of any emotion. He simply tilted his head at an angle and stared at her as if she was some freak show.
"I am Carlos Guiverro, Mister Martiano's right hand. Unfortunately he could not tend to this meeting due to…unfinished business, so he sent me instead…" the way he had put emphasis on business Jack knew it had to be monster-scum related. In the few seconds of silence that followed she saw his façade falter and instantly Mercury shifted uncomfortably beside her, "may I have a seat?"
"Not stopping ya' mate" she eyed her empty glass with interest but she was fully aware of the albino's stare, "want me to get you a drink or should we get straight down to business? What is it that Martiano wants me to get done that none of his other dogs can?"
Puerto Martiano was a mob boss renowned for drug trades, firearms and illegal trades across most of Europe and Asia. He was on the wanted list of police but alas to date, he has neither been convicted or taken anywhere near jail due to "lack of evidence". His hands were stained in the blood of hundreds though funnily enough he had a moral of his own – never to hurt an innocent. Not even the witnesses. If necessary he would have them bribed, threatened or at worst drugged up enough to be declared unsound.
'Some fucked up moral' Jack thought.
Martiano had significant connections in the Underworld; especially with the Black Market and it made her wonder why despite those connections, he needed her to do his dirty job. She knew a lot about him even if never having met him in person, specifically the part where he is most hated amongst the blood sucking kind. He was barely human himself but with an intelligent façade like a constantly changing cloak rendered his identity obscure. He'd called her up a few days ago on some retrieval assignment; which wasn't exactly her cup of tea – she was a bounty or monster hunter not a collector. Were it not for the lack of money in maintaining her den and luxury of forging blades or developing advanced firearms she wouldn't have agreed to a fetching bones job.
The albino, Guiverro took a seat opposite her. His face was still expressionless as he made eye contact with her. He passed a file across the table and leaned forwards with his arms rested, "Mister Martiano informed me you were already given some idea of the assignment"
"You mean the vague detail of fetching something not what – he wasn't exactly clear on what the actual assignment – as you say – requires me to get done mate. Would you care to elaborate or this file got all the info?"
"First tell me, are you a skilled fighter? Are you well trained in hand to hand and sword combat?"
She could not help but smile at his question, "Why is this going to cost me a lot of blood and sweat? Never heard of bloodshed in retrieval missions mate – if ever it's usually rare"
"It isn't any ordinary assignment, Jack. You may be required to defend yourself, it is vital we are assured you are a suited candidate for this assignment who'll be able to deliver the subject without failure through expected…conflicts"
"Please tell me I don't have to go through some bogus facility to capture someone do I?" if there was one thing Jack hated it was babysitting a target or having to go through the possibility of being deemed a fugitive and blowing her business kisses goodbye.
"The file has all the details on the subject you are to locate. There is no time frame however Mister Martiano does not kindly take to delays. Thus it would be preferable if you handled this matter as quickly as possible and delivered the subject to us within the month" he explained with a voice that was like steel, sharp and emotionless and not to mention dominating, "five thousand credits have been paid into your account in advance. Another five thousand credits will be payable on completion"
Jack raised an eyebrow while Mercury popped his head up above the table surface with a low whistle, his eyes bulging out of the skull. Ten thousand credits in total. She may have been paid double in the past for high risked assignments but never five grand in advance. Something definitely smelled fishy.
"Dude that's a mother lode of greenies!" Mercury cheered drunkenly, followed by his hiccups.
With a whistle of her own Jack replied with a smirk, "Isn't that a lot to pay for advance? I take it there's a high risk in this and something verrryy important", when she took the file and opened it, the picture of a young girl between thirteen and fifteen holding up a board of numbers jumped out at her.
Even in the dimness, she could tell the girl had long black hair, almond shaped brown eyes surrounded by dark circles and pale skin. Purple bruises covered her face and neck. A second image revealed the back of her neck with her hair pushed aside; a bar code was etched across the skin. Doubt filled her mind and Jack restrained herself from jumping into interrogation. Her grey eyes briefly glanced over the personal details but very little information was left intact like age, gender and a brief background but no details on parents or family history. A great few sections were marked out with black lines, censoring out what could be valuable information.
Guiverro seemed to sense her doubt and discomfort; he leaned in closer "Ask no questions. Get it done. Failure to comply or deliver may have dire consequences"
When Jack finally looked up to throw a barrage of questions at him he was nowhere in sight. The typical uncanny mysterious disappearing act. Seriously it was bad enough such disappearing acts were old fashioned in movies that people had to find a way of doing it in real life too. Mercury strained his neck to glance into the file.
"Poor kid's been made to look like a convict, wait…highly classified…a threat hazard to life form – boy what'd she do, eat a person alive or shred them to pieces? Hey turn the page" as Jack turned the page over, her fists clenched tight in anger.
For the picture on the following page and the detailed caption below it made her blood boil.
Mercury gaped at it in a mix of disgust and horror "Holy mother of…"