She always wanted to leave the confines of the lower-class life, taking her family with her. She just never guessed that seeing the proverbial world would also include ‘cleaning up’ said world. However, if you’re looking to get to the top, you’ll take what you can get, right?
She grabbed her long, loose raven hair and shoved it into her space helmet as she angled her pod toward the outer regions of one of Venus’ docking stations.
No power and soon no air.
Her mission was to deal with an inconvenient bounty. Wanted alive and worth more Woolongs than he should be; her patrons found that to be a problem.
Using the rest of her cabin air to slow to a stop, she spotted the target craft.
Without air, the silence engulfed her; not a bad trade really. She popped the hatch, attached a safety line, and pushed off. She found herself gazing at the plethora of colored lights created by the busy ships around the station.
Once she reached the ship, she used her magnetic gloves to crawl to the large ship’s cargo hatch. She waited for the ‘go’ signal.
“Get in and get out without a trace,” she thought to herself. She waited for the clunk of the latch. Finally, it hit, and she proceeded.
“I’m in,” she informed her partner back in their main ship.
Her partner, a man going by the name Ricardo, was a man of few words, yet, despite his total goon status, and quite a few more brain cells--his awareness of computer technology was enough to prove that--he was one of the best in his field. He could hack anything with circuits, software, hardware or a program. Without him, they would not get into half the places they needed to be.
“I have control of his ship. He is still unaware of it,” his deep, somewhat slurred voice answered, “Move quickly. In and out, Kingsley.”
She shook her head slightly. She’d been trying to get her partner to call her by her first name since they teamed up over a year ago.
With a long drawn out sigh, she asked, “Will you ever call me Sepia?”
With a disregarding wave of hand, and unenthusiastic tone he replied, “Yeah yeah. One day.”
She gave a soft sigh an as silent as the darkness, made her way toward her target. There he waited for his docking on Venus. He was completely dull to the dangers that lurked behind him. She grabbed the sides of his head.
Down he went. She hauled the body upon her shoulder and made her way back to the hatch. Releasing the body out into the emptiness of space, she watched it float away towards the planet to be burned to ash.
“Mission complete. Nobody to be found, no loose lips, and no bounty to collect,” she thought to herself. “No bounty but yours that is.”
“What was that?” Ricardo asked her.
“Oh, nothing…” A pleased smile graced her face as she headed back to her pod, her awaiting ship, and partners.
Their ship, EEK, was a welcomed sight. Even though Sepia was laughed at more than once for the name of her ship, EEK has stuck since she got it six years ago when she started in the assassination field. She never explained to anyone why she named it that. She knew why and her partners knew and to her, that’s all that mattered. EEK wasn’t stylish or big by any definition, looking more like a well-used trade vessel. However, it was great for blending in. Plus, it was homey and flew well and true, and it always welcomed her back proudly, no matter what she did or said when she came home to it. Just like her older brother, Eric Edward Kingsley did when he was alive. Ricardo greeted her as she entered the common room.
“Job well done, Kingsley,” Ricardo informed her.
“Thanks,” Sepia replied.
The current bounties were being named by the busty cowgirl, Judy, from ‘Big Shot’ on their small video screen.
“Back to Mars.” She sat down on the couch next to her sister, Lethia, and unzipped her space suit.
Ricardo groaned as he heaved his tank-sized, 6’1”, tanned, combat perfected body out of his sitting spot and stretched. His black hair was cut short and his blue eyes were slightly bloodshot from drinking the night before. Ricardo was a former member of the Red Dragon Syndicate. Well, former might be a pipe dream. He just wasn’t currently employed ‘by them’. His present employment was in the assassination field, which paid rather well since they are hired by the ‘many’ cartel which tries to control the galaxy. The Red Dragons were one of them. After all, no one likes a loose thread that knows more than they should--or an uncooperative alliance--and that’s where they become useful. With being blessed with unique skills for eliminating those loose threads.
“I hate Mars.” His signature statement.
Lethia lit a cigarette and dug into the open bag of chips on the table.
They had a full schedule of inconvenient bounty hits, leaving them little time to even use the lavatory. Mars was the last stop, and they just raised the reward--again--on their next job. Ricardo looked to Sepia as the new bounty amount for the guy flashed across the screen.
“At least this one doesn’t have to be quiet,” Lethia announced looking Sepia’s way. Sepia waved away the smoke that was coming toward her. “Quiet takes too damn long. It’s like the wait to use the gate.”
“Would you please?” Sepia had an annoyed look on her face. “Go somewhere else and smoke that? The cargo bay perhaps,” Sepia informed Lethia. Lethia soon stood from her sitting place on the couch and headed for the cargo bay at her sister’s request.
“Busy day for Mars,” Ricardo denounced and disappeared as well to EEK's bridge.
Gazing at a nearby wall, Sepia gave a slight laugh at Ricardo’s statement. “Mars. Now there was a place to live if someone was rich. Which I am, now, but my current lifestyle wasn’t made for the stay at home type. Ricardo always refused to go planetside. However, I still try all the same.” She stayed caught in thought and before she knew it, they were just outside Mars’ atmosphere. Ricardo walked back into the common room as she pulled herself from her thoughts and stood from her sitting position.
She looked to Ricardo. “Dinner? My treat. We’ll go somewhere posh.”
Ricardo glared at her. “Why don’t you take your parents? Maybe your sister?” His end statement sounded more like pleading than a suggested idea.
Sepia laughed, “Fine, I get it. I’ll bring you back something.”
“So you’re not taking your sister?” Ricardo questioned.
Sepia chuckled as she headed to her quarters waving her hand over her shoulder. “She is doing the hit tonight, and I have to go meet Maxi. No time before or after to do that.”
“Well at least she won’t be here,” Ricardo replied.
Sepia chuckled and disappeared into the shadows, Sepia changed her clothes slipping into a tight long sleeved light gray V-necked shirt and a darker gray V-necked sheer blouse top. The skirt she wore was a thigh length, light gray that matched the long sleeved light gray V-necked shirt of her attire. She slid her feet into a pair of gray heels. She finished off with a shoulder length; dark auburn wig then strapped a holster to her leg under her skirt. There was no rule against looking good on the job. She then grabbed her 9mm, Alpha, a conveniently ready and waiting black duffel bag, and left the room. Once in the cargo bay she climbed into her craft, ol' Blue, and took off for Mars. The not so red planet nowadays was spotted with cities trapped in rings of oxygen and finding a place to land was like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Most people required a guide to finding the right place to land. Or a sniveling, perverted, druggie of a contact. Sepia had no worry on that concept, though. Having a personal landing area was an added perk for her.
Finally, she landed and took off on foot to meet the informant. The pathetic excuse for a man met her in an alley across from the landing port. His light-colored hair was a mess, his clothes were ruffled and probably unwashed, and his eyes were redder than cherries.
“Hey, O.” Even his voice sounded sleazy.
She groaned at the sound of his voice. “He has the information,” she had to remind herself. “What do you have, Maxi?” She could taste the vomit forming in her mouth.
“The guy lives in Lower Town, nothing special. Skims from his drug deals, and recently found the balls to hold out on his last deal.” Max smiled; his toothy grin was stained with tobacco. “Here’s his address.”
“Hm…,” Sepia let escape.
Max looked to Sepia, “Question?”
“His Bounty went up again today. Seems a little high for withholding on a deal, don’t you think, Maxi?” Sepia said.
Max laughed, “If you want more money for his ass you have to talk to the man in charge.”
“He takes good care of the payroll. It’s information he likes to leave out,” Sepia informed Max.
“Don’t look at me for that either. Vicious don’t tell me shit, but where and when to meet you. Half the time he meets you himself. I think he is sweet on you,” Max said slightly irritated.
An annoyed look came across Sepia’s face. She snatched the tattered scrap of paper out of Max’s hand and turned, walking away.
“Hold on, babe.”
Her eye twitched. “Don’t kill him… Don’t kill him.”
“Word on the street is that some high-class hacker has been looking for you. They’re saying it’s a dude called Radical Edward.”
Sepia turned around. “I thought he was supposed to have gone underground after he was said to have left Earth.”
Max shrugged. “Not my care. I just thought I’d be more helpful than usual.”
Sepia tossed him a wad of cash and left.
Meanwhile, not far off from Sepia…
“This is a wild goose chase, Spike,” Jet spoke as they walked toward the Red Planet.
“It’s not, trust me. It's the only place she can go to get off the streets if ISSP rolls in before she gets out,” Spike informed him.
“Look, Spike, I know what you told me back on BeBop, but do you really think she'll be here?”
“Yeah, I do,” Spike replied.
“So you’re taking that junkies word on this?”
“How many 9mm's have you heard of that are named Alpha and Omega?”
“None, but if she is as good as everyone claims, she knows we are on her trail. She is not going to be foolish enough to flaunt herself in the open,” Jet said. “And to prove she is the one. You’re going to have to get a look at her guns. How are you going to do that?”
“One step at a time, Jet,” Spike replied as he took his hand from his pocket and opened the door to the Red Planet.
Once down the street and far enough away from Max, she met up with her other partner Lethia.
“Hey,” Lethia greeted Sepia as she walked into the alley. She was leaning against an old abandoned building. The cherry on her cigarette glowed bright red as she took a drag off it.
“Don’t you think your life span has been shortened enough with the career line you chose without smoking and shorting it more?” Sepia asked her.
“Don’t matter what I do, you're going to bitch, and I did not choose it. It chose me,” Lethia complained tossing the cigarette to the ground and putting it out with the toe of her shoe.
“Whatever!” Sepia replied handing Lethia the tattered piece of paper Max gave her and the black bag she brought from the ship. “Here is the address Maxi gave me. Everything you need is in the bag.” Sepia then reached up placing her fingertips to the hairline of the wig and pulled it off handing it to Lethia.
Lethia took the items and looked at the address. “Lower Town. Not far from home.” She looked up at Sepia with a smile.
“Get in and get out, Lethia,” Sepia told her.
“Aww, why? I thought we might sit and have a cup of tea before I killed him,” Lethia said, sarcasm lacing her words.
“I don’t want a repeat of your last job!” Sepia retorted her eyes narrowed. “No playing with the victim. Got it!”
“You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?” Lethia replied.
“Nope,” Sepia said as she turned and walked away. “Leave the bag somewhere after you change back to your street clothes. Once you’re back on EEK contact me with where you left it. I will pick it up after the heat clears.”
Lethia just nodded as she looked at the address on the piece of paper.
Once Lethia had the wig on, she walked toward the address scribbled on the tattered piece of paper. The plans wandered through her mind. It was simple: blow up the target. The explosives were easy to acquire, and the target rarely left his hideout. All she had to do was get some distance before the blast. Taking a detour, she stopped at an abandoned building to conceal her identity even better. She removed her shoes, shirts, and shorts sliding into a tight long-sleeved black V-necked top, tight black jeans and her black heeled boots and leaving the shoulder length dark auburn wig on.
She thought to herself as she slid into her black leather jacket and tucked her guns into the holster. “An implosion was the best charge to set. It would get the job done right and no casualties outside the target.” She zipped her jacket.
Once more she reached into her bag, lifting out two small charges, wire and two detonators and tucked them into her jacket pockets. She zipped her bag, hid it under some fallen boards and left the building.
Once there, the man was easy to deal with as he was paying too much attention to his newly found fame on the television. Shaking her head at his disgust, she struck him from the back. However, she caught him before he fell forward to the floor. Pushing him back up in his chair, she set the two charges. Both were placed on his body. The charges were foolproof. Even if the hit woke up before the blast, he would have no clue he was wearing the charges. His death was inevitable.
“Seven minutes and you’ll be meeting your maker,” Lethia said to the guy, even though he was unconscious.
She left the television on and locked and jammed his front door on her way out. She had more than enough time to get some distance and would have succeeded if it wasn’t for the cute little corgi that rounded the corner. She was no more than a block away from the hits hideout.
“Aw,” Lethia was unable to stifle the coo. “Aren’t you a friendly one?” She squatted down to pet the dog as a woman came around the corner.
“Ein, what are you doing?” The busty, black-haired, green-eyed, dressed in yellow beauty spoke in the ‘oh so’ sultry voice.
“Your dog is adorable.” Lethia stood and discreetly got in the woman’s way.
Lethia knew of the woman, she was Faye Valentine, a Bounty Hunter. Lethia was certain Faye was going for the bounty on the hit. Could Faye save the Bounty Head? No way. Faye would have lost her life as well if she were too close to the man. But why have extra casualties out of this? Faye was not a threat to them. At least not at the moment…
“He’s not really my dog. But he has his uses.” Faye was looking over Lethia’s shoulder.
She smiled. “I was just heading out to eat. Would you like to join me?” Lethia said hoping to detour Faye.
“Sorry, don’t swing that way.”
Lethia raised her hands, “Can’t blame a girl for--”
The explosion shook the air leaving only pieces of the target behind. Lethia shook her head and looked back toward the blast. “Just like Lower Town, always causing trouble.”
When she turned back, Faye was gone, along with Ein.
“That went well,” Lethia said.
Quickly, Lethia made her way back to the abandoned building. Just in time to, as soon as she closed the door behind her the blaring scream of the police sirens filled the neighborhood. A few seconds after, the emergency vehicles swarmed past her as well. Lethia quickly changed; removing the wig then tucked the bag back into its hiding place. She slipped her guns into their holsters, straightened her shirt, smoothed her hair, turned toe and casually walked from the alley behind the building as she called Sepia to tell her the location of the bag.
At the time of the call, Sepia was walking nearby in the downtown junction of Lower Town. Just in case things went dire. As she walked another block, two police cars sped past. She paid no mind to them until one of the police cars stopped a few yards away from her. She ended the call tucking her phone into her pocket and took a quick right, crossed the street, walked another few yards and opened the door to her left into a hole in the wall bar. However, unbeknown to her, she made the night of two men with her arrival at the bar.
Entering the building and being in her professional mindset, she automatically took in her surroundings. On the back wall behind the bar hung a huge mirror with the words, ‘Red Planet’, etched into the glass. Six patrons--two female, four male--occupied the bar seating. The bartender was tall and lanky with dark gray eyes, pale blonde hair and looked as if he had not slept in days. To her left, three of the seven tables that seated four were occupied, and one out of the four billiard tables were in use, three females and five males to her left. To her right were five more tables, a broken pay phone, the lavatories, and a crooked Coke sign that beckoned for someone to straighten it. At one of the five tables sat two men. One, a well-built man half bald supporting some short black hair to the sides of his head, and a beard with no mustache, his left arm was cybernetic prosthetic, a scar sat a crossed his right eye with an angled piece of metal attached to his cheekbone. He wore a dark blue jacket and pants. The sleeves were ripped off the jacket. His short-sleeved dark red t-shirt sat snug against his muscular chest and arms. The other man, lean and tone, spiky dark green hair, but his eyes grabbed Sepia’s attention more than anything else about him, his left was brown as the right was a dark reddish-brown. He wore a blue suit with the sleeves on the jacket and the sleeves of his pale-yellow shirt rolled up, stopping just under the elbow. His black tie was loose and shirt slightly open. The cherry on his cigarette glowed red as he inhaled. Sepia fixed her eyes forward and took a seat at the bar.
She knew the two guys to her right, Spike Spiegel and Jet Black. Two notorious Bounty Hunters. They had been tailing Oblivion for months now, every day collecting more information on her. Sepia was well aware of this, but she had an ace in the hole. The people that truly knew of Oblivion were more afraid of her than the ones questioning them. Also, the two did not know if Oblivion was male or female, nor did they know what Oblivion looked like. Sepia laughed to herself. “How ironic,” she spoke softly.
“What’s your poison?” The bartender asks her.
“Anything on the rocks,” Sepia responded cocking her head slightly to look over her shoulder. She felt a little uncomfortable as if someone was watching her. Turning back, so not to seem paranoid; Sepia watched the bartender pour her drink then slide it toward her. Suddenly, a hand from her left stopped the glass short. Sepia’s eyes followed the length of the man’s arm.
“This stuff will kill you. We don’t want that now, do we?” He started pushing the glass away from her. “Give the lady a Starburst,” he told the bartender.
She watched as the guy pushed her drink toward the bartender. Placing her hand atop his hand and her drink, she made eye contact with him and smiled softly.
“I’m already dead.” Sepia took the glass from under his hand and lifted slowly. “Too a long life,” she placed it to her lips.
The guy chuckled and watched the glass quickly go empty. “Sure if that’s what you want, doll,” he tapped his beer bottle to the side of her glass as she lowered it back to the bar.
Sepia could feel a twinge as she watched him, “One more.” She told the bartender pushing her glass forward.
She was trying hard not to lose her composure with the man that stood to her left. One of Sepia’s pet peeves was the little pet names, men loved to give to women.
“We do have names you know?! So use them!” Sepia recalls telling a guy she laid out on the floor one night.
The annoyance at the bar then turned his attention to Sepia, “Names Tony.”
Sepia nodded as she watched the bartender pour her drink, “Hello Tony.”
Tony stood there waiting as he watched her pick up her drink and quickly down it, then push it forward for another. Again, he watched her pick up her glass and slam that one down as well. When she lifted the fourth glass, still with no reply, Tony stopped her by placing his hand on her forearm.
“And your name?”
“Don’t have one…” She told him, “I am dead, remember?” Sepia stood from her seat and walked toward the lavatories.
As this went on at the bar between Sepia, and the guy Tony, Spike and Jet were watching the whole ordeal. She walked by their table as Spike turned watching her walk past. She stopped just before opening the lavatory door. Turning slightly, she took one step to her left placing her in front of the Coke sign. She fidgeted with it a few seconds then straightened it. She then disappeared into the lavatory.
Spike smiled wide and looked over to Jet.
“What are you thinking? I don’t like that smile of yours,” Jet said.
“Oh nothing really,” Spike said as he stood from the table and walked to the bar. “Hey Larry, give me one of what the lady here was drinking.”
“You got it, Spike,” Larry said. He poured the drink and slid it down the bar.
Spike picked up the drink and walked back to his table, sitting the drink in front of the empty chair. He then sat back down.
“She is strapped. You know that, right?” Jet informed him.
“Of course, she is strapped. I’m not an idiot, Jet and that there makes me believe it’s her even more.” Spike retorted.
“And what if it’s not?” Jet replied in an annoyed tone, then took a drink of his beer.
“Then we get to have an enjoyable evening with a very beautiful lady,” Spike told him his smile wide.
Just then, Sepia came from the lavatory. Spike turned looking her way.
“WOW!” Spike exclaimed softly, “Look at her. It has been years since I have seen a beauty like her.” Spike said almost at a whisper.
“As beautiful as she is dangerous. If that's her,” Jet replied softly.
Spike watched her as her raven hair flowed behind her. Her graceful silent steps, slender tone body, and long shapely legs made their way through the dim lighting of the bar. He turned looking at Jet. “Look at those legs.” Spike turned looking at Sepia again.
“She definitely has a great shape to her.” Jet replied glancing back at him as Spike stood from his seat. He walked over behind the empty chair at their table and pulled out the chair just as Sepia approached them.
“Join us?” Spike asks her. He gestured to the drink at the table.
Sepia looked at Jet sitting there. She smiled softly at him, “It beats the loser at the bar… Sure why not.” She walked over and sat down as Spike helped her. “After all, what kind of person would I be if I turned down your generosity of a drink?” At that Sepia was now an actress, and Spike and Jet were her audience.
Spike took his seat once more as Jet offered his hand to Sepia, “Jet.” He then gestured to his friend, “That there is Spike.”
Sepia nodded taking his hand; she then shook hands with Spike, “Sepia… Crazy night out tonight, don’t blame you two for being in here.”
“Sepia? I knew a girl named Sepia years ago.” Spike told her.
“Really? The names not that common. It's nice to know someone else shares that name with me.” Sepia said.
Spike smiled at her, “So were you out there when the explosion happened?” Spike asks her.
“No, but I heard something about it on the cab ride here. The cabbies radio was going crazy with drivers talking about some explosion in Lower Town.” Sepia replied. She took a sip of her drink then placed it back to the table. “Do you know what happen?”
“No, not a clue.” Jet answered.
“My gut tells me it was our Bounty Head that went up.” Spike offered.
“Bounty Hunters, huh?” Sepia asks.
“Yeah.” Jet replied as he lifted his bottle for a drink.
She looked to Jet, “Make good money at it?”
Jet looked at Spike, “Depends on how much gets destroyed during the hunt.”
“Hey now!” Spike retorted. He looked to Sepia, “It could be better.”
Just then, a huge hulk of a man that stood 6’4”, a bald head and reddish-brown eyes burst through the doors of the Red Planet. Sepia turned quickly to the noise. It was Tiny, the only Bounty Hunter alive that knew of her true occupation. Sepia moved quickly to get out of sight, but she was not quick enough with the drinks she consumed. He took a quick glance around seeing her move from the corner of his eye.
“BITCH! YOU TOOK MY BOUNTY HEAD!” Tiny exclaimed turning her way. By the time Tiny spoke his words, Sepia had disappeared into the shadows of the bar.
Spike and Jet stood, backing away from the table as the towering man came toward them. They watched as the table and their drinks disappeared when Tiny grabbed it, sending it sailing. Sepia stood in the shadows shaking her head.
“I should have killed him when he dumped us to become a Bounty Hunter, and what the hell is he doing on Mars anyway?” She thought to herself.
She watched as Tiny grabbed Spike around the neck and lifted him from the floor. Spike gasp for air as Jet hit Tiny with a hard right in the rib cage. Tiny looked down at Jet, drawing back his fist. With one flex of his muscles, Tiny sent Jet airborne into the wall. Spike quickly struck Tiny with both hands at the neck, but Tiny did not budge.
“Where is she?!” Tiny raged squeezing Spike’s neck tighter.
Spike choked trying to breathe, his face pale and turning a soft shade of blue. Sepia sighed and drew her gun. Like a flash she was at Tiny’s side, her gun pushed into the side of his head at the temple.
Spike glanced at her gun quickly then back at Tiny.
“Put him down, Tiny,” Sepia ordered calmly but firmly.
Tiny looked out of the corner of his eye at Sepia, “You took my Bounty Head!” He exclaimed. “I needed his ass!”
“Orders are orders, Tiny. You know how the game is played. Get over it.” Sepia told him. “Now put him down. He has nothing to do with this.”
She could see the rage in Tiny’s eyes growing. She did not want to kill him, but if he forced her, she would drop him right where he stood. Her mind flashed with scenarios of this outcome, “Spike is not a threat at this very moment like Tiny is. If I drop Tiny, it’s one less worry. Plus, I would rather not watch Tiny snap Spike’s neck.” “I am not saying it again, Tiny. Put. Him. D--.”
Before she finished her last word Tiny flung Spike across the room and over the top of the bar. Sepia ducked knowing what was coming her way. Just then, Tiny’s giant fist soared over the top of her head. Moving slightly away from him she kicked the front of his knee causing it to fold back. Tiny drop to his other knee screaming in pain, he swung his massive fist at Sepia again but missed catching another guy trying to get out of the bar. The fight was on. Chairs were thrown, bottles were broke. Tables were being used for shields once the sound of gunfire rang out in the bar. While making her retreat Sepia turned before she walked out the door. Her eyes caught Spike coming up from behind the bar. He locked eyes with her as Sepia mouthed to him.
“You owe me one, Spike Spiegel.”
Sepia then turned making her way out the front door in which she entered. Once out in the street Sepia muttered to herself, “Welcome home, Sepia,” she gave a soft laugh and headed out to finish up the evening.
On her way through, she made a couple of stops. One at her parents and the other at Le Meurice for eats. However, the people at Le Meurice were not too happy with Sepia’s request for a to-go box for Ricardo’s food, but they saw to her needs when she flashed a couple hundred Woolong’s to the waiter.
Back on EEK she landed in the cargo bay, saw everything was in order, shut off the lights and headed for the common room. When she entered, she was greeted by a thick manila envelope.
“Your boyfriend came by,” Ricardo told her as he extended his hand with an envelope in it.
“How sweet of him,” Sepia stated dropping the duffel next to the couch. “What does he think we are, machines?” She walked over looking at the envelope in Ricardo’s hand, “it would have been nice to get a break, even for an evening.” Sepia groaned taking the envelope from Ricardo and handed him his dinner. “Le Meurice…” She told him as she turned and walked over to the couch where she took a seat.
Ricardo took a seat across from her opening his to-go box. “My favorite. Thanks. Did you take some to your parents?”
Sepia thumbed through the papers of their next hit as she replied. “No, but I was able to go by and visit them for a bit. Oh! And on my way to retrieve the bag I did meet a couple of very interesting Bounty Hunters, not to mention, I ran into an old partner of ours.”
“You should have killed him when he left,” Ricardo told her.
Sepia nodded to his comment still looking at the papers.
“So? Who were the Bounty Hunters and, are they still alive?” Ricardo said with a full mouth.
Sepia looked up at him and gave a disapproving look.
“Hm…” Ricardo swallowed, “Sorry. Who were the hunters?”
“Spike Spiegel and his partner Jet Black,” Sepia told him.
“I know of Spiegel, but who is Black?” Ricardo asked.
“A former ISSP cop turned Bounty Hunter.” Sepia informed him.
“Ah, so bad news, huh?”
Sepia looked up from the papers with a Cheshire grin, “For them maybe. We will kill them as quickly as a hit if they get in the way.”
“The disregard for life around here,” Ricardo said shaking his head.
“I have plenty of heed for life. As long as they don’t get in the way of the hit they will live. Plus, I spared Tiny’s life, again.”
“You might, but what about Lethia?” Sepia just smiled at Ricardo, “Also, not only do they hunt the same people we hunt. Spiegel is looking for us. They are going to get in the way.” Ricardo reminded her.
Sepia was about to reply when Ricardo chimed in again.
“And about Tiny, if you don’t kill him soon, he is going to let your secret out. Then what are you going to do? Kill everyone that knows?”
Sepia looked up from the orders once more, “Well first off; the Bounty Hunters. If they get in the way, we will just add them to the many other Bounty Hunters we have killed that got in the way.” Sepia replied. “In Tiny’s case…” She stood, tossing the hit papers into Ricardo’s lap. “His days are numbered… I am turning in. I’m beat.” She walked toward her quarters. “We have a busy day tomorrow. Set the autopilot for Earth. Big hit and I would like to be there by early morning.” Ricardo watched her as she walked into the shadows of the ship.
“Oh, just so you know, Troy called for Lethia while you were out.” Ricardo looked down at the papers on his lap. “Big, huh?”
Back on Mars, Spike and Jet were in the streets licking their wounds from the bar fight.
“I wonder where Sepia made off to,” Spike said.
“If she was smart… As far away from that goon as she could.” Jet told him.
Spike got quiet as he looked across the darkened street, “It’s her, Jet.”
Jet quickly looked to Spike, “You’re sure of this?”
“I got a good look at her gun,” he looked at Jet, “As clear as day I could read the word Alpha on the slide.”
Jet sighed softly, “I was kinda hoping we had the wrong lady.”
Spike nodded lightly in agreement, “I saw her leaving the bar. She told me I owed her one.” Spike said slightly confused.
“Owed her one? One what?” Jet questioned.
“Favor, I guess. She must have thought I was not going to survive Tiny.” Spike replied.
“I don’t think many do.” Jet commented rubbing his chest.
All of a sudden there was a laugh emitting from the alley. When it stopped, they heard, “You’re right, not many do survive Tiny. Why do you think she hired him?”
Spike and Jet turned looking into the alley, “Come out of there!” Jet ordered.
A guy with light colored hair and unkempt clothes walked from the shadows. He stepped up to Jet and Spike, his eyes were red as cherries and he smelt as if he had not bathed in days.
Spike held his nose and waved the guy back a few steps, “Don’t you ever bathe?”
Jet looked at the guy from the alley. “Who are you?”
“Max, but to the little tart O, Maxi,” he told Jet.
“O?” Spike questioned.
Max nodded with a wide tobacco stained grin, “Tiny’s former boss,” he gave a deep laugh. “Surprised you made it out alive,” he elbowed Spike, “I am sure you had the same thought?”
Spike stepped back from Max with a peculiar look on his face, “I don’t know who you’re talking about and if I did… I don’t see how it applies to us.”
Max straightened himself up and gave a huff, “Tiny’s former boss, Oblivion. No one survives her either.” Both guys quickly glanced at one another as Max rattled on, “She would rather pop a few rounds in your ass than deal with you. Or blow you to kingdom come.” Max started to laugh. “That’s what happen to the last guy that saw her.” Max paused with a thinking look in his eyes, “and I do believe the one before him got his neck broke by her.”
“Huh?!” Spike and Jet replied simultaneously. They looked at one another again then at Max.
“She's a Black Widow?” Jet asked playing dumb. Spike followed suit.
Spike drew his hand to the back of his head, “I still don’t know who he’s talking about.”
Max laughed, “No wonder you two never catch your Bounty Head. You’re dense.”
Max was caught off guard as he was grabbed by Jet and Spike at the same time. His face paled as they drew him closer.
“It was a joke!” Max exclaimed.
Jet and Spike shoved him back. With that, Max stumbled and fell into a pile of trash bags next to the building.
“Let’s get out of here. The place is starting to stink.” Spike replied as he turned, walking away.
Jet turned and joined Spike as he left. While walking away they heard Max call out.
“Stay out of O’s way, or you’ll be on her ‘Top 5’ list…”
Spike nonchalantly waved over his shoulder as they continued walking away. On their way to BeBop, both of the guys agreed to keep some information away from Faye. They knew if they started getting close to Oblivion and Faye was aware of this, she would jump the gun and they would end up losing Oblivion, or worse, lose Faye because she went and got herself killed.
The next day on BeBop, Spike lounged on the couch holding a magazine. Thoughts of the night before and past lifetime events ran through his mind. Faye walked from the galley looking at Spike as he gazed at the ceiling. She shrugged her shoulders and continued on to her quarters.
A grumbling noise entered the room as Spike heard, “Four hours and not a damn thing on him! All I have is general information. Not even as much as a littering violation.”
Never taking his gaze from the ceiling Spike mumbled, “He’s a good boy, huh?”
“He’s a Bounty Hunter and he worked with an assassin. He can’t be that good of a boy.” Jet retorted.
“I know he has one hell of a punch,” Spike said, rubbing his jaw sitting up from his lounging position.
“Really?! I would have never figured that one out!” Jet replied in a cynical tone as he rubbed his chest.
“Fighting?” Faye questioned as she walked back through to the lavatory. “Who?”
Jet and Spike looked at Faye, “A guy named Tiny. He busted in the Red Planet, looking for the female Spike was hitting on last night.” Jet told her.
“I had to save the poor girl from the loser at the bar,” Spike said with a clever grin.
“Whatever,” Jet answered with a wave of hand.
“Hey! If I didn’t, you would have. That’s no fun,” Spike said defending himself.
Faye shook her head as she continued on to the lavatory, “Men…” she said under her breath, “Out chasing tail, while I was out digging up information on the person that has been killing the Bounty Heads.” With that said Faye closed the door hard behind her when entering the lavatory.
Spike looked to Jet and gave a clever smile, “Alright, so what do we have on her so far?”
With a nod, Jet rattled the papers in his hand and started to read from them, “Word on the street says it's a woman named Lethia.”
“So the name the girl gave us last night was fake or the wrong person with the right gun,” Spike added in.
“She goes by the call name Oblivion and she was behind the explosion last night.”
“Which we knew,” Spike said. “She also goes by Assassin O or just right out ‘O’, to her snitches or the ones that employ her.”
“Funny thing, too. Everything we heard about this woman fits the description of a woman about 25 in age, 5’9”, shoulder length dark auburn hair, and brown eyes. She is notorious for dressing all in black and carries two 9mm's a G24 and a G17 which she named Alpha and Omega. The woman we saw last night was nicely dressed in all gray, with heels and long raven hair. Only one gun and it just so happened to have the name Alpha scrib--”
Just then, Faye barged back in the commons room. Her hair wrapped in a towel on top of her head, her bathrobe on and dirty clothes balled up in one arm, “I can't believe you two. While I was out risking my neck you two were out whoring around.”
“We were not whoring around!” Jet expressed glancing toward Spike.
“No, we were not. We got a little on her as well. The guy Jet was talking about was one of her goons. At least we know she is an assassin, right?” Spike replied in a doubtful tone as he fell back to the couch.
“That or another Bounty Hunter I would guess.” Faye replied, “And damn good.”
“She can’t be a Bounty Hunter, Faye. Bounty Hunters don’t kill the Bounty Heads. They are wanted alive. Did you get anything else on her?” Jet asked turning to the nearby computer as he listened to Faye.
“She is a god in weapons, explosives, fighting, making things disappear without a trace, and making herself invisible. I heard a couple of guys talking about her and one commented to the fact that she could be in the same room with you and you would never know it until it was too late. By the time you did, you would be dead.”
Jet nodded, “A trait of the assassins.”
“And something else we already knew,” Spike said looking upward.
“Assassin O,” Ed blurted out as she entered the room. “She’s good. Even Red Dragons are fearful of her.”
With the mere mention of the Red Dragons Spike looked over to Ed as she entered the room on her hands. “What are you talking about Ed?”
Ed sat down on the floor in front of Spike. “An assassin, Ed does not know anymore. Just that she is very dangerous, and only the, El Extraordinaire, are given the title of Oblivion; male and female alike.”
As Ed and Spike talked, Jet was typing something on the computer once more. “Read this!” Jet exclaimed as he stepped back from the computer.
Spike, Ed, and Faye walked over to where Jet was standing. They leaned over and read what was on the screen.
“Assassin O” (aka ‘Oblivion’)
Assassin O is a covert agent who specializes in the removal of unnecessary people. The functions of the assassins include espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination, and open combat in certain situations. Outside their extraordinary martial art talent, they are masters at survival and scouting techniques, making themselves disappear and still being close to their target, as well as mastering information regarding poisons and explosives. Their physical being is as extraordinary as their knowledge. They can run long distances; climb any type of surface, they know stealth methods of walking and swimming. They can also withstand extreme heat and cold, and go days, sometimes weeks without food or water. Also, they are knowledgeable of common professions, required if one was expected to take a certain form in disguise. Some medical training is involved as well, so they can care for themselves if ever injured. Assassin O is known for carrying a small inconspicuous compact or container filled with blinding powder called Happō. This is used to facilitate escape if ever needed. Their skill and knowledge make them as deadly and dangerous as the Grim Reaper himself. Their instincts are keen, sharp and lethal and their hits are like decree. Once a hit is ordered, Assassin O will not rest until they or their hit is dead. As history goes there has never been more than the existence of two of these assassins at one time. Thus, has been recorded throughout the centuries.
“Only El Extraordinaire you say, huh?” Spike said looking at Ed.
Jet was typing away at the keyboard again as Ed talked.
“Ed doesn’t know her real name. Ed just knows that Assassin O has been very busy the last few months.”
“She has been reported on Venus, as far out as Neptune, and every place in between,” Ed informed them.
Spike nodded, “Yes she’s been very busy. Her last hit was on Mars, last night.”
Jet then chimed in, “Assassin O was last reported on Earth. She killed the chief commissioner and his family. Seven dead in all,” Jet looked up from the computer, “including a waitress and the limo driver. Time of death was at 9:18 this morning.”
Spike looked at his watch, it was 10:15 AM, “You think she’s still on Earth?”
“It depends on the gate, Spike. If they’re working right, we can make it there in a few hours, but if she had another hit, I am sure she is long gone.” Jet informed him.
“That’s sad. Those poor children,” Faye replied.
“She is a killer; no one’s life has value to her.” Jet told her.
“She is trying to stay hidden, not draw attention. I don’t think she would move so soon after a big hit like that.” Spike said.
“I am sure her ship hides her well. It probably looks like an old trade ship, but on the inside…” Jet paused, “I doubt the Swordfish could keep up with her ship.”
Faye shook her head and walked over to a chair and sat down.
“So what do we do about her?” Faye questioned.
“Stop her,” Jet replied.
“Right! And how do you propose we do that. She is an Ace killer.” Faye said.
Jet looked to Spike, “How do we stop her?”
Spike shook his head, “I told you once before... A setup. It’s dangerous, but the only way.”
Jet nodded with a wide smile, “Still want to go to Earth?”
“She’ll be coming back here,” Faye told them.
“How do you know this, Faye?” Spike asked her.
“Part of the information I collected on her. She was a poor girl on Mars. However, when she took on this profession, she made enough money to get herself and her family out of the slums. Her family has some classy home on Mars.”
“Where?” Jet asked.
“No one knows exactly where,” Faye replied.
“Well, then that’s your job today, Faye,” Spike told her as he headed toward the cargo bay.
“And where are you going?” Faye barked at him.
“To Earth…” Spike told her with a broad smile.
“GRRRRRR!” Faye growled as she threw a magazine at Spike.
The magazine hit the wall sliding to the floor to rest as Spike walked from the room.
Earlier that same morning Sepia awoke, her head pounding with fatigue. Her night was as restless as they had been for the past seven years, so she was annoyed right off the bat this morning. With her white and pink ‘Hello Kitty’ flannel pajama pants, pink tank and fuzzy pink slippers; she made her way to the galley. She grabbed the coffee pot from the stove and proceeded to make coffee. Once the pot was on the stove and the flame burning on high, she walked over to the refrigerator.
“What’s for breakfast?” Ricardo’s slurred voice asked breaking the morning silence.
“Drinking again, huh?” Sepia questioned her head still in the refrigerator.
She turned from the refrigerator with eggs, butter, bread and grape jam. She saw Ricardo from the corner of her eye as he sat slumped over at the table, his head resting in his folded arms.
“Yeah, what about it?” He replied lifting his head.
Sepia set the things to the counter; folded her arms over her abdomen then turned looking at Ricardo. “We have a very big hit today. I am going to need your assistance. Didn’t you read the papers?”
“I did, and had a few drinks,” he answered.
“You need a clear mind and be quick to react. Did you really think you would be physically ready in the morning with drinking last night?” Sepia asked him.
“I can handle this, don’t preach at m--”
Ricardo was cut short as the loaf of bread hit him upside the head. He turned looking at Sepia, his eyes narrowed and the veins in his neck bulging.
“Yeah. You can handle this.” Clearly annoyed Sepia glared at Ricardo walking out of the galley. “I will handle the hit alone.”
Back in her room Sepia got dressed and put on her dark auburn wig. She then packed a small black duffel bag with a few things she needed for the job; grabbing extra to deal with Ricardo’s job as well. Inside her leather coat, she wore a holster that carried and concealed her two 9 mm’s, Alpha and Omega. Sliding the silencer to the G17, Omega, into the inside pocket of her jacket she then strapped and concealed six double edge, four-inch throwing blades to her left thigh. On the inside of her right boot, she tucked a six-inch double edge dagger. She then picked up her black leather gloves, her bag and the keys to her bike. She walked from her room to see Ricardo, he was leaning against the wall on the opposite side.
“Troy’s coming last night left us with two. I can do this, and you need me.” He told Sepia. He didn’t look up, just continued talking.
Sepia glared at him, “I won’t save your ass if you fuck up.”
“You say that like I don’t already know,” he shot back at her.
Nodding, Sepia turned and walked off to the cargo bay were her craft awaited them.
It was 3:30 in the morning once they were on Earth’s surface. She and Ricardo headed off on foot towards a small storage unit. There being stored about a block away was their rides. Ricardo slid open the door on two Italian Ducati motorcycles. One was black and red, the other a dark burnt orange and black.
She looked to Ricardo, “It’s going to take about an hour to get there.” Sepia looked at her watch. “It is now 3:45.”
Ricardo looked at his watch and nodded letting her know his watch had the same time.
“When we get to the Country Club, we will eliminate a waitress and you will take care of the Commissioner’s limo and his driver when they arrive.”
“You did pack what you needed for this, right?” Sepia asked him still doubtful he was going to be able to pull this off.
“Yes, I did,” Ricardo told her. “The vials of poison and explosives are safe in my bag.”
“Good,” Sepia said. “I have extra just in case.”
Sepia strapped her bag to the bike, slipped her helmet over her head and straddled her black and red Ducati. She slid the key into the ignition and fired up her bike. She nodded to Ricardo and pulled down the visor on her helmet. Slowly she pulled out; waited for Ricardo as he strapped his bag down and pushed his bike out, closing the door. Soon they were headed toward their hit.
As they rode Sepia and Ricardo talked of the details for the job on the two-way radio they had in their helmets.
“The chief commissioner is a stickler for doing things on schedule,” Sepia said.
“Yes, at 6 AM everyone in the household is up. By 6:30 they are doing their morning exercises. At 7:30 they are bathing and getting ready to leave for the Country Club.” Ricardo told her.
“Yes, by 8:50 they will be at the Country Club being seated for breakfast. The Commissioner will then tell the hostess what they want for their drinks. He and his wife will have coffee. Black. Of his three children, they will need a large OJ, small milk, and one hot chocolate.”
“We’re only poisoning the drinks, right?” Ricardo asked her.
“Yes, there is no need to poison their food. Their drinks will do just fine. By 9:15, when their breakfast arrives at the table, they will be lucky to get a single bite in before they are all dead.”
“Why the kids? They’re so young still,” Ricardo asked in a quiet voice.
Silence took over the airwaves. Sepia herself wondered that as well. She did not like the idea of killing someone so young. However, she kept that to herself. Questions like that only got in the way on the job. Looking Ricardo’s way as he rode next to her, she replied, “Revenge factors.” It was close enough to the truth.
Silence filled the airwaves once more for a few miles after Sepia answered Ricardo’s question. Finally, not able to hold it in any longer Sepia broke that silence.
“Don’t ask questions like that, Ricardo. Detach yourself from your conscience, do the job and move on. If you don’t, it will only drive you insane.”
“Hm…” Ricardo replied looking her way.
Ricardo could hear in her voice she was not pleased with removing the children as well. However, she had to follow orders, or they would be the next ones to be removed.
“Remember to set the detonator on the limo to blow at 9:20. As soon as I serve their drinks, I will head back to our rendezvous point.” Sepia told him.
“We are still meeting at the old pier a few miles away, right?”
“Yes,” Sepia replied.
Ricardo nodded and the two rode the last few miles in silence.
Riding along, Sepia thought about the night before when she was at the Red Planet. Meeting Spike and Jet was rather nice. Neither one was anything like she had herd.
“They were very nice and pleasant company. Spike was very handsome indeed.” She thought to herself.
Though, her father always told her to never judge a book by its cover. Something she learned to do at a young age. She always gave someone a chance, but she always watched her back. It did not matter who the person was Sepia could never really trust anyone fully. She could not blame that on anything or anyone but herself. It was just her. She knew with the information she was getting about them looking for her; she would have to watch Spike and Jet much closer now. She just hoped they never got their hands on the right pidgin and offered up enough money to get them to talk about her. The ones that knew her well enough Sepia knew they would take it to their grave. However, there were a few informants out on the street that might talk if the price was right and they promised to take Oblivion out so she would not come after them. Thinking a little more on this Sepia’s mind then dwindled back to the job.
At the Country Club, Sepia hid out in the shadows waiting for the right person to be removed, and she could take their place as a server at the club. Finally, Sepia saw her. She was the perfect victim.
The sun rose on the horizon, leaving enough shadow to take cover in, but enough light to see in. The first job went down quickly. A young girl, maybe in her mid-twenties pulled into the parking lot. She climbed from her car and walked toward the building. However, she forgot something. She turned and went back to her car, committing the biggest mistake on her part; for in the shadows behind her car awaited Sepia. As soon as the young girl opened her car door, Sepia was behind her. She wrapped thin wire around the girls’ neck and held it tight until the body stopped fighting. Sepia pushed the lifeless body into the front seat, took the girls car keys and drove off in her car. A mile or so down the road awaited Ricardo. She pulled the car off the road driving a few yards down an old dirt road. There she parked the car where Ricardo was waiting with his bike and the stolen car. Sepia quickly changed into the waitress uniform she had packed and slid the two vials into her apron pockets.
“Her name is Rachael,” Ricardo told Sepia.
“Thank you,” Sepia answered slipping into her non-slip sole shoes.
“What are we going to do with her?” Ricardo asked.
“We’ll dump her and her car into the lake just down this road.” Sepia told him pointing down the old dirt road they were on, “Make sure the car is clean of any prints.”
“I have my gloves on still.”
“Good, don’t remove them until we are back on EEK,” Sepia told him.
Ricardo nodded and slipped into the driver’s seat, started the car and drove off. Sepia then climbed into the car they stole and followed in behind Ricardo. Once at the lake Ricardo sat the young girl up in the driver’s seat put her seatbelt on her and set her dead heavy foot on the accelerator. The motor revved loudly, however, did not move for being in neutral. Sepia closed the car door, reached through the open window and put it into drive; the car sped off toward the lake and off an embankment. They both returned to the other car and rode back to his bike.
“You have thirty minutes before you should appear at the Country Club,” Ricardo told her as he looked at his watch.
“We’re making excellent time on this job. Fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.” Sepia said.
Ricardo then reached into his duffel bag and grabbed his pack of smokes. While Ricardo sat there smoking his cigarette, he and Sepia enjoyed the idle chit chat between them. As soon as he was done, he put out the cigarette, placing the butt in a zip-lock baggie and shoved the baggie into his duffel bag, Ricardo then returned to his bike. He turned to Sepia as she started the car.
“In and out, Kingsley.”
She smiled as she put the car into drive, “Yeah, you too.”
Deep in thought, Ricardo watched her drive away until he could no longer see the taillights on the car.
Before Sepia walked into the Country Club, she slipped her black leather gloves off and slid her hands into a pair of tight transparent latex gloves. The long-sleeved shirt she had on it hid the cuff of the gloves, so you could not even tell she had them on. She then entered through the employee entrance. Walking in, she started acting, looking slightly disorientated as she wandered around the kitchen. One of the other employees walked up to her and asked.
Smiling sweetly, she replied, “Yes I am. I just started for the temporary company a few weeks ago and I have never worked here before.”
“Ah! So who you covering for today?” the girl asked her.
“I believe they said her name was Rachel,” Sepia replied.
“Ooo, the Commissioner’s favorite waitress. I hope you can keep up with that man. He is very needy.” The girl informed her.
Sepia smiled and thought to herself, “Today must be my lucky day. Not only was she an easy kill, but she is the Commissioner’s favorite waitress. No need to figure out how to get the poison in their drinks now.”
The girl that was helping Sepia smiled at her, “You seem like a very happy person.”
Sepia looked at her and gave a slight laugh, “Yes. Yes, I am. Thank you.”
“Well, here is the section you will be working today and here are your tickets for the orders.”
Sepia took the ticket book and looked around the room; she had a total of 6 tables to tend to. The Commissioner and his family would be in, in a matter of minutes. She turned looking at the girl one last time.
“You’re very welcome and good luck with the Commissioner this morning.” The girl told her.
With a slight nod of head from Sepia, the girl walked off not to be seen again. The time ticked away as Sepia waited on two tables before the Commissioner and his family was seated.
“Right on time,” Sepia said to herself.
Sepia smiled as the hostess walked up to her and told her of the drink order. Sepia nodded and made her way to the waitress station. She made two cups of steaming hot black coffee, one large OJ, a small milk and a hot chocolate. She then added the poison with no one around any the wiser of what she did. She placed the drinks on her tray and proceeded to their table. She served them from their left starting with the man of the family first. After she placed all their drinks, she asked the ever-popular question you’re ask when at a restaurant.
“Are you ready to order?” She directed her question to the Commissioner.
“Yes, we are. Thank you, and may I add you got our drinks to the table in record time, young lady. Even better time than what Rachel does.”
Sepia smiled, “Well thank you, sir. I do try my best. After all, my tips are my paycheck.”
The Commissioner smiled and placed their orders. Sepia took leave of the table with their order giving it to the cook. She then disappeared to the car.
She drove the car to a nearby Gas Station where she had hidden her bike. Pulling her bag from the car she sat it on the ground next to the front driver’s side tire. She then cleaned the car being very careful not to damage the latex gloves she wore. Locking the doors before closing them, she then headed to the lavatory jamming the door closed so no one could come in on her. Getting quickly dressed, she put on a pair of dark blue jeans and a long-sleeved V-necked dark blue and cream-colored horizontal striped shirt. She stepped into her black boots, zipped them up then paused to look at her watch.
“I am sure the Commissioner and his family are feeling the effects of the poison by now.” She thought to herself.
She shoved everything in her duffel bag, including the dark auburn wig and the latex gloves she stripped from her hands. She grabbed a paper towel, turned on the water, careful not to touch anything to leave prints behind. She washed her face, applied make-up, washed her hands and shut off the water. All done with her preparations, she took a peek at her watch again.
“Ten minutes and the limo will go up.”
Picking up the evidence, she flicked open a trash bag from her duffel, looking at her hair in the mirror.
“I will take the pins out once I am outside.” She thought.
She tied the trash bag closed, picked up her duffel bag and exited the lavatory leaving not a trace of her person anywhere to be found. At her bike, she strapped her bag down, took down her hair putting the pins into her duffel bag. She fluffed her hair then put on her gloves, her jacket and then her helmet. She spotted a dumpster in another parking lot, so she straddled her bike, started it up and drove past throwing the trash bag away. She was finally on her way to meet Ricardo when she felt the earth beneath her tremble. Stopping the bike, she pulled up her jacket sleeve and looked at the time.
“It is done.” She spoke aloud.
She revved the motor on her bike and rode off to meet up with Ricardo. On her way she passed five police cars, two ambulances and a fire truck racing toward the Country Club. She flipped her radio on, switching the channel to the one the police use to communicate with one another. After a loud static her radio settled, and she heard two of the officers talking.
“They’re dead! All of them!”
“All of them?! Even the children?!”
“None right now. We are trying to find the waitress that waited on them. She is nowhere to be found.”
“Well then, there is your lead. Get to it.”
“I know, b -- no one he-- --ew he--. We --- tr--”
Sepia shook her head turning off her radio; she could not hear what was being said as she moved out of range of the signal. Revving her bike, she sped off to the rendezvous point.
At the rendezvous, Ricardo waited patiently for her arrival. Sepia pulled in as she saw Ricardo rub his stomach. She lifted her visor and stopped her bike next to him.
“Your stomach hurt?”
“No, I am hungry.”
“There is a place just down the road a few blocks. It serves the best burgers and the coldest beer around… So I have heard anyway. It’s called ‘The Joint’.”
“Sounds like ‘The Joint’ is for me.” Ricardo straddled his bike and started it up as he looked to Sepia, “no pun intended.”
Sepia laughed and slid her visor down. The two of them took off down the road toward ‘The Joint’ for something to eat. While pulling into the parking lot Sepia noticed the hideous addition to ‘The Joint’. “Now that’s a total eyesore. Why did he build that over the top of the place?” Sepia questioned to herself.
She shrugged her shoulders as she and Ricardo parked their bikes close to the building. Sepia then removed her jacket and tucked it into her duffel and proceeded in with Ricardo. The second she entered the place she heard.
“SEPIA KINGSLEY! WELL I’LL BE DAMNED!”
She smiled wide as a middle aged, average height, potbelly, gray haired guy walked up to her giving her a big bear hug. Sepia moaned slightly from the tight squeeze he gave her. Ricardo just watched as they interacted.
“I have not seen you in a dog’s age. Where you been keeping yourself and how’s the family doing?”
“They’re all doing well. I have been keeping busy with work. A girl’s gotta make a living you know. How are you and your family, Gus?” Sepia asked him.
He led her and Ricardo to the bar as he told her, “We are doing rather well. You see our little shelter we built over The Joint?”
“Yeah, how could a person miss it?” Sepia joked.
Gus laughed a deep belly laugh, “I know it is an eyesore, but it has saved our bread and butter a few times,” he took a seat next to her, “three plies, their tiles from the old space shuttles. This area has been really lucky with the meteors falling to Earth, but the few we have seen came pretty close. So we took out our own type of insurance.”
Ricardo chuckled, “You’re in good hands with Shuttle Shelters.”
Sepia and Gus laughed at Ricardo’s comment, “Sorry Gus. This is Ricardo Alfeldt, my partner in crime.”
“How ya doin’?” Gus said offering his hand.
Ricardo shook Gus’s hand, “I’d be better if I had some food in my stomach and a cold one to drink.” Ricardo replied.
Gus rose from his chair quickly, “Well then, you come to the right place!” Gus turned to the bartender, “Take this young man’s order and give him the best ice-cold beer we have.” Gus looked at Sepia, “Anything for you, Kitten?”
She smiled with a slight giggle, “Yeah, I am a little hungry myself.”
“Then order what ya want. It’s on me.” Gus told them.
“No, Gus we can’t do that.” Sepia said.
“Oh Bull Pucky!” Gus exclaimed, “If I charged you for eating in here the place would burn down around me. Plus, Mama‘d skin me alive. You know you’re her daughter she never got?”
“I know Gus, but times are not like they were year’s back.” Sepia reminded him.
“Pooy! Kitten…” Gus exclaimed, “Just eat and enjoy the surroundings. Mama and the boys should be back soon. They will be happier than a hog in a mud hole.” Gus started walking toward the kitchen, “gotta get back to work. See ya when Mama gets here.”
Sepia nodded as she and Ricardo laughed at Gus and his whimsical wording, they watched him disappear into the kitchen.
After they placed their order and each had a cold beer in hand, Ricardo looked to Sepia, raising an eyebrow.
“Watch it! That will get you hurt.” Sepia told him.
“Why not him?” Ricardo asked.
“Gus and his family have kinda been part of my family for years now. He used to live on Mars down the street from us. Then his Uncle passed and left him a bundle,” she looked around from where she sat, “and The Joint. He moved his family here and kept the place alive. Every year Mama would come to Mars and pick us up for the summers here on Earth. Like he said, ‘I am the daughter Mama never got’. I was part of their family and Kitten was the name their two-year-old son, Trey, gave me because he could not say Sepia. It stuck ever since.”
“So him and his boys are the only one allowed to call you by a pet name?”
“No, only Gus is. His boys call me my name nowadays.” Sepia replied.
“Ah,” Ricardo responded.
“Yeah, so remember that,” Sepia told him, her voice slightly demanding. Only Gus, an innocent could call her a name that was so far away from the truth without it hurting her. Just like her older brother and the pet names he had for her. Sepia felt her heart ache at that thought, “How I miss him and those crazy pet names.” She thought, and then shook the feeling away not wanting to dwell on it.
An hour or so later, after a good lunch a few good ice-cold beers and a couple of games of Pool. Sepia was sitting around talking up old times with Mama and Gus while Ricardo was shooting another game of Pool with Trey.
Sepia and Mama were laughing when Ricardo and Trey returned to the table. Trey sat next to Sepia as they sat down at the table. He kept watching her like he had something to say or tell her, but he kept quiet as her and Mama talked.
After a few minutes Sepia looked to Trey and asked, “Is there something on your mind, little brother?”
“Mhmm,” Trey replied.
Trey was the quiet one out of the three boys, and a little on the shy side, his soft blue eyes full of life and his wispy brown hair added to his boyish charm. He was two years younger than Sepia making him 22. Her little brother; that’s how she looked at Trey and she would do anything in her power to keep him safe. Of the three boys, she and Trey were the closest. Back in their younger years, Trey always followed Sepia around like her shadow. Mama told her it was because Trey had a crush on her. Sepia could never understand this, in her eyes she was one of the guys. Never choosing to be the type of girl that would attract a boy, jeans and tees was her attire. As a kid growing up, she was tough and a bully. More like a boy then a girl. She blamed that on being brought up in the neighborhood she was raised in. For if you did not stick up for yourself, you were bound to get the crap beat out of you.
“Well what is it?” Sepia asked softly.
“Well… I was wondering…” Trey started then drifted off.
Sepia raised a brow looking at Trey, “Go on.”
“I want to be just like you. I want to clean up this galaxy.” Trey said at lightning speed.
Sepia felt like the world had dropped on her. She blinked a few times then stood from her chair, “Excuse me. I’ll be right back.”
Everyone watched as Sepia walked away and out the front doors of The Joint. Once outside Sepia fell against the building, sliding to the ground. She sat, pulling her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around her folded legs and resting her head to her knees.
“Trey? Of all of the boys? Why Trey?” She thought to herself. A small tear trickled down her cheek.
She knew he was not aware of her being an assassin. She had to keep that well hid from everyone, but her partners, so she knew that was not what he was asking of her, but a Bounty Hunter. Even as a Bounty Hunter; in time he would come looking for Oblivion… come looking for them, come looking for her. With a 100,100,000 Woolong bounty, every Bounty Hunter in the galaxy was looking for Oblivion. She did not want the same fate for Trey that her brother met with. Her heart breaks enough with losing one brother. She could not bear losing another.
After about ten minutes, she pulled herself together and thought of an idea that might work in the case Trey said something to her about it again. It needed to work. She stood from her sitting place and dusted the dirt from her person when she heard.
“Come here much?”
Sepia turned in the direction of the voice, it was Spike Spiegel.
Spike took a drag from his smoke then flipped the butt to the parking lot.
“Are you okay?” Spike asked her.
“Yeah, just needed some air. So let me guess . . . you’re here looking for a Bounty Head?”
“Good guess,” Spike chuckled, “How about a beer? I’ve had a crap day. None of my information panned out and I heard this place has the coldest beer in the area.”
Sepia smiled, “Well that piece of information is true. Gus’ beer is so cold that when you pop the top it ices over.”
“Well, it seems you do come here often.”
Sepia approached the front door, “Not as much as I should, and sad to say, the only reason I am here now is for a Bounty Head as well.”
Spike grinned and opened the door for her, “So are you a Bounty Hunter as well?”
Walking inside she said nothing. She walked over to the table with Spike in tow.
“Everyone, I would like you to meet Spike Spiegel,” Sepia announced to the ones at the table.
They all greeted one another shaking hands and saying hello. After the introductions, Sepia walked towards the bar to get her and Spike a cold beer. Spike however remained at the table talking to Gus and Mama. When Sepia returned, she sat Spike’s beer in front of him and took a seat in the chair next to him. The four of them sat and talk for a while, not watching the time, laughing, talking of old times and drinking a few beers. They even stayed and had dinner with them. Sepia knew she’d remember it later and hoped it stayed a good memory down the road. There were so few to be had these days.
Soon the sun was setting behind the horizon and the evening was moving along great. Sepia sat back in her chair listening to Mama and Gus chatting and she finally remembered what she was missing from not coming to visit more often. She shook her head and smiled.
“I have really missed you guys.” Sepia told them.
“Well, Kitten we’ve missed you something tremendous too.” Gus replied.
Mama nodded with a tear in her eye, “We thought you and your sister done went and got yourself killed hunting down all those bounties.”
Sepia gave a slight giggle shaking her head, “We’re too good to let those slimeballs get to us.”
Spike smiled as he looked to Sepia, “Plus you have your partner to watch your back if needed.”
“Very true,” Sepia said raising her bottle to the center of the table. “Here’s to partners, an awesome family and new friends.”
“HERE! HERE!” Everyone at the table exclaimed as you heard the sound of glass clinking together in a toast.
Once the toast was over, Trey thought he would try his luck again with the question he asked earlier.
“Sep?” Trey started.
Sepia looked Trey’s way, “Yes, little brother?”
“About that question earlier?” Trey responded.
Sepia smiled, “I’ve been thinking about that.”
“And…” Trey asked.
“I can’t train you.” Sepia told him.
“But why not, Sep?!” Trey asked slight disappointment in his tone.
“You know me, Trey. I am a bad teacher. I am not patient enough. If you want to be a Bounty Hunter, you need someone patient to teach you.” Sepia told him.
“Yeah, like who? I don’t know any other Bounty Hunters but you.” Trey came back at her with.
Sepia sat quiet for a second then it hit her. Spike. Tell Trey to ask Spike. He would never do it because he doesn’t know Trey. I am sure if something was said Spike will try to find a way out of it. Even if she used the old ‘you owe me’ bit, Spike would never repay. Sepia then looked to Spike. Spike sat there for a moment then glanced over at Sepia.
“Oh No!” Spike retorted, “NoNoNoNo. I can’t train the kid.”
“Please Mr. Spiegel; I won’t get in the way. I learn fast and I am really good with a gun.” Trey informed him.
Spike got an odd look on his face with being called Mr. Spiegel. He just looked at Trey.
Sepia giggled, “You do owe me one, Mr. Spiegel.”
Spike looked quickly to Sepia, “I am still trying to figure out how I owe you one, and just call me Spike. Okay?”
“Uh, last night at the Red Planet. If I would not have stepped in, Tiny would have snapped your neck.” Sepia reminded him.
“Tiny? You mean you're still dealing with that killer?” Gus questioned.
“I am surprised he has not been locked away yet with him working for that assassin person back in the days. Not to mention he is a loose cannon. He is dangerous.” Mama added.
“No!” Sepia responded shaking her head. “Tiny just shows up unexpectedly from time to time. Then I have to deal with him.” Sepia stood excusing herself from the table, “Potty break.” She then disappeared to the lavatory.
“You’re lucky Sep stepped in, Spike. Right here in The Joint, he killed a man because he drank his beer by mistake.” Trey told him.
“Wow! You’re kidding?!” Spike said as he watched Sepia leave the table from the corner of his eye. Now was his chance, the next opening he will try to get some information out of Gus and his family on Sepia, but he had to hurry. He was not sure how much of a window he would have.
“The man’s not stable.” Ricardo said.
“Sounds like it,” Spike replied. He then turned to Trey, “Let me think about it, Trey.”
“Huh?” Trey questioned.
“In training you, right now we are busy with the BeBop and this one Bounty Head. I don’t know if I can squeeze any training in at this time.” Spike told him.
“That’s understandable. Whenever you have the time is fine with me.” Trey said.
Spike just nodded to Trey as Gus offered up the next question. Opening Spike’s door of opportunity.
“Do you have a Bounty Head that’s being a pain, Spike?”
“Eh, more of an annoyance than a pain. They don’t have any photos of this person, so we don’t know what they look like. They say it is a woman, but I don’t think they really know. They don’t belong to any one syndicate. So it is not like we can go knocking down their doors looking for them.”
“So this person is a mercenary?” Gus asked.
“No, they don’t act on their own. I would say more of a freelance assassin.” Spike informed him.
“Are you talking about the Assassin Oblivion?” Trey asked.
“Exactly,” Spike said. “Do you know anything about them?”
“What I do know is very little.” Trey replied.
“What might that be?” Spike asked.
“Well… if any of the rumors on the street are right… On Sepia’s 18th birthday, Oblivion or another…” Trey shrugged, “killed Eric, her older brother. Shot him through the heart at point blank range. Blew his heart out his back, he was dead immediately. Sep and her sister were devastated. They came home from school and never returned. Sepia took it the hardest though. It took her almost a year to even come back to reality. When she did, she was not the same Sep we all remembered.” Trey informed Spike. “After that year of Sepia hiding out, she became a Bounty Hunter. She was determined to hunt down the one that did this to her brother and make them pay. She has not given it up or even rested for a minute in her search for the creep either. I remember her leaving for a while to…”
Spike sat and listened to Trey’s story. His mind wandered as this new information now flooded in. The woman Sepia, the one he believed to be the Assassin Oblivion was losing all credibility. She was nothing but a simple girl turned Bounty Hunter to seek revenge for the death of her older brother. However, he could not deny a feeling, the feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him there was something about this woman.
“…training because she is so dangerous. So be careful if you come across her, Spike. No one really knows the facts on this because if it was Oblivion, it was when she first made any type of appearance to the galaxy. What makes me believe it was Oblivion is the way the killings went down… The night Eric was killed the police found a hooker and two other guys in the alley. All three of them were dead as well. The killer killed the two guys with one bullet and snapped the hooker’s neck. I don’t know anyone that good. It had to be Oblivion. She is deadly I tell ya.” Trey finished with.
“That’s what they say, but I have a feeling this one person is not alone. They have a partner, if not a few.” Spike said.
Returning to the table and hearing Spikes comment, Sepia asked, “What are we talking about?”
“Oblivion,” Trey told her.
Sepia looked to Spike as she took her seat, “So you think Oblivion has a partner if not many?”
“Some of the jobs they do. One person alone could not do them.” Spike said looking her way.
“Well, they say she is good,” Sepia commented.
“I don’t care how good someone is. I know from experience. Some of the jobs she did needs a second person to get it done.” Spike told her, a hint of ice in his tone.
“You have experience in the field of assassination?” Sepia asked him with a raised brow, paying closer attention while taking another drink.
Spike looked away from Sepia, “Yeah, I was part of the Red Dragon Syndicate.” His voice hardened further.
The ones at the table gasped at the news as Trey asked, “How did you get out alive?!”
“They think I’m dead.” Spike replied.
Sepia was the only one that held her surprise back, “You don’t have to go any farther, Spike.”
Spike nodded as he stood from the table, “Excuse me. Anyone need another beer?”
Ricardo was the only one that offered up an empty beer bottle. Spike took his bottle and walked over to the bar. While he was away, Sepia excused herself from the table as well. She walked outside and over to her motorcycle. She rummaged through her duffel bag grabbing her jacket and zipping the duffel bag closed, she then slipped into her jacket. When she turned around Spike was a few feet behind her. She jumped back placing her hand over her heart.
“Sorry, did I scare you?”
“Just a little. Put some sound into those steps of yours.”
Spike smiled and offered her a fresh beer, “You know I could say the same thing about you.”
Giving a slight laugh, Sepia took the beer and walked over to an outdoor table sitting to the side of the building. She propped herself on the edge of the table and looked to Spike.
“So you’re dead, huh?”
“No more than you are.”
“The night at the Red Planet, you told that guy you were dead.”
Sepia nodded with a wide smile, “I did, didn’t I?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Spike said making himself comfortable next to her.
“Long story,” Sepia told him.
“Aren’t they all?” Spike responded.
Sepia laughed, turned and looked at Spike. He looked her in the eyes and returned her smile.
“Your smile reminds me of someone.” Spike told her.
“Is it a good memory or a bad one?” Sepia asked him.
“Both,” Spike replied. “Her smile was so beautiful but so sad.”
Sepia blinked a few times, “You think my smile is sad?”
“Mhmm,” Spike said then took a drink of his beer. He lowered his bottle, “You have memories that weigh on you. Things you wish you could get away from, but you can’t. No matter how far you run. No matter how many times you die. Those memories are always right there to haunt you again.” He paused. “Another way you remind me of her.” His glance moved skyward.
“And you keep telling yourself it’s just a dream,” Sepia whispered.
Also looking skyward, she sighed, “I keep telling myself it’s not that bad. That one-day things will get better and then I can live free like I have always wanted,” Sepia sighed, “but even now seven years later. I still can’t get away from it.”
“Just walk away,” Spike told her.
“HA!” Sepia said looking at Spike, “I will walk away if you do.”
“Mine’s not that simple.” Spike told her, the hint of steel returning in his voice.
“And you think mine is?” Sepia retorted.
“It’s simpler than mine.” Spike replied.
Angered, Sepia stood from her resting position and placed herself in front of Spike, “Only because you don’t know my story,” She turned and started to walk away, “so don’t assume it’s that simple.”
Spike gently grabbed her arm pulling her back to him as he stood up; they were inches apart, “Then tell me your story.”
Spike looked into her eyes once more. “So beautiful…” Spike replied at a whisper. Sepia felt the blood rush to her face and new feeling flutter in her stomach like butterflies. Uncomfortable Sepia gently pulled away from Spike, turning and walking away from him. Her words trailed behind her.
“It’s not a story I can just tell without consequence.”
She then disappeared from Spike’s sight, not to be seen the rest of the night.
Later in the week, back on Mars, Sepia was out and about in town. She was shopping for supplies for their ship and clothing for herself. She was enjoying the beautiful day, but thoughts of the other night weight on her mind. Spike. She knew he was part of the syndicate, but an assassin? She could not believe it. She never pictured him as an assassin back when they met seven years ago.
“It goes to prove never judge a book by its cover.” Sepia mumbled to herself as she walked along the aisles of the store. “Why were we not aware of this information?” She thought to herself. “Vicious should have told us.”
Sepia’s mind then started to wander more on things about Vicious. What he has held back from her on information. What has he lied about again to get her to take some of the jobs she has performed for him? She had little trust in the man as it stood. Now with this new information about Spike, what trust she did have, has depleted, and what about this feeling. The one she had a few nights ago when her and Spike were only inches apart. A feeling she knew all too well. One that scared her to no end, it was something she was told to beware of, for it could bring her death much sooner than later in her lifetime. She ran from it once a few years back and now here it is again, and this feeling is toward none other than Spike Spiegel. However, Sepia was not the only one shopping and lost deep in their thoughts. Another shopper walking the aisles was lost in a dream state as they walked along as well, so lost in thought as they walked the grocery store. Passing by other shoppers and items on their list, rounding an aisle Sepia ran into this other person’s basket as they shopped. She heard the person groan as their baskets collided. Quickly Sepia snapped out of her trance of thought.
“I am so sorry! Are you alright?” Sepia asked them looking their way.
To her surprise, it was Spike Spiegel. “Spike?!” She exclaimed softly.
“Hello, Sepia.” He returned, “And I am fine. Are you alright? You seem to be on another planet.”
Sepia’s smile was awkward, “Yeah, I just.... Have a lot on my mind.”
“I know that feeling all too well.” Spike replied.
Sepia nodded, “I am sure you do,” she looked around the store then back at her list, “Dammit!” She exclaimed under her breath.
“What?” Spike asked her.
“I was so deep in thought I forgot to grab some things.”
“Ah,” he said.
“Well, it was nice to see you again, Spike. I need to get done here. I will talk to you later.” Sepia then started walking away.
Spike drew his hand to the back of his head, “Yeah… you too.” He stammered.
He turned looking her way as she turned the corner to proceed down another aisle. “What is it about her?” he thought to himself, “every time I see her… Hell, I don’t even have to see her, it’s just worse when I do. I can’t get her off my mind.”
He shook his head and went about his shopping. As he approached the checkout, he saw her again. He froze in his steps and his heart sped up. His palms started to sweat, and he felt as if his knees were about to buckle.
“Pull yourself together man!” he exclaimed aloud to himself.
Another shopper that of course was a male overheard Spike and looked his way. “Excuse me?” He asked Spike.
Spike looked the guy’s way, “I was talking to myself.”
“Oh,” The guy replied and moved on.
Spike shook his head and moved up closer to Sepia. “Well hello again.” He said to Sepia.
Looking up to the familiar voice she said, “Hello again to you too.”
Her smile was bright and cheerful, and her beautiful brown eyes sparkled in the light, giving Spike a warm feeling. “Are you busy after you're done here?”
Sepia looked up to Spike, “No, actually after I am done here my errands are finished. Why do you ask?”
“Would you like--” Spike stopped short as Ricardo walked up behind Sepia.
“Just about done here?” Ricardo asked her.
Looking his way Sepia replied, “Yeah, maybe about ten more minutes.”
Ricardo smiled and gave Spike a slight wave, “Hey.”
Spike smiled and nodded at Ricardo, “Yo,” he returned.
“Alright then, I will be out in the car when you finish.” Ricardo told Sepia.
“Alright, be out in a few.”
Once Ricardo was out of the way, Sepia looked back at Spike, “Want to take a walk in the park later?”
Spike was overjoyed at her question as a huge smile crossed his face, “If it’s with you? I would love too.”
Sepia giggled softly, “No it’s not. I thought I would ask you because my dog needs to be taken for a walk.”
Spike’s eyes widened, “WHAT?!”
Sepia laughed aloud, “I am kidding, of course it is with me. I don’t even have a dog.”
Spike joined in her laughter as he nodded, “where do you want to meet?”
“Serengeti Park. It’s not far from my place. You know where that is, right?”
Spike nodded, “I know Mars like the back of my hand.”
“Same here,” she told him.
“What time?” he asked.
“Say about an hour? That will give us time to get our things put away.”
“I will see you then.” Spike told her.
Sepia nodded to Spike, paid for her things, grabbed her basket of goodies and proceeded out to the car where Ricardo was waiting for her.