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The urban cascade of the Heishi palatial district sprawled for as far as the eye could see. The neatly organized blocks of luxurious housing blanketed the landscape, falling into the misty valley and rising again with the distant mountains. From where she stood opposite the windows of a splendid hillside estate, Zhao Zemin could gaze as far as the sun could reach. It was as if the whole district was laid at her feet. Here was the home of the titans of industry and politics that dominated the continent-spanning city of Heishi. Here was the playground of the powerful, guarded against the grinding sounds of industry and the constant cacophony of the slums. Here was the land of sheep, wealthy men with soft hands and weak stomachs. It was no wonder the triad thrived here.

“Could I get you something to eat or drink?” Zemin turned her attention away from the window, facing the source of the question instead. His name was Cutter - he was some sort of foreigner who had fled his homeworld and started a business in Heishi - built an empire from nothing but some borrowed money. Recently, that empire was rumoured to be declining. “My full staff has not arrived yet,” he continued. “But I’m sure we can make do. Lobster from one of my containments in the southern sea, perhaps? I’m assured they are completely protected from the regular oceanic acidity, grown in full from my personal stock of the finest genetic material.”

Zemin eyed him carefully. Cutter didn’t look broke - he was wearing an expensive evening robe in a house filled with expensive things. Still, Zhao Wu had decided those rumours about his faltering coffers were worth investigating. “Yeah,” she said. “One of those then. You have white liquor?”

“White liquor? Which kind would you prefer?”

“Kind?” Zemin frowned at him. “It tastes the same. Just get it.”

Cutter hesitated as if he was unsure of how to respond. Finally, he nodded. “Certainly. I’ll be back with those in a moment. Make yourself at home, and we’ll discuss business when I’ve relayed our conversation with the staff.” He patted the sides of his robe, smoothing it out before leaving. Zemin watched him walk out of the room. Once he was gone, her hand instinctively drifted towards her belt and she wrapped her metal fingers around the grip of a pistol. The handle hummed as the firing-lock was disabled by the familiar signature of her mechanical hand. She moved the side of her coat over the weapon, hiding it from sight once again.

“I have returned, and bearing gifts!” Cutter exclaimed as he reentered the room, followed by a platoon of smartly dressed servants carrying their platters of lobster. He gestured to the table on the other side of the room just as the servants brushed past her to set it. “I choose some imported vodka for you to drink, I’ve been told its one of the better brands. Haven’t tried it myself - too harsh.” He pulled out one chair and then sat down in another opposite it. “Please, sit down. You can tell me why you’re here and I will see what I can do to help.”

Zemin sat down and drew the glass of vodka towards her. She had no intention of drinking it, nor eating any of the food she had asked for, but it made the discussion seem more amiable. “I've been told that you borrowed a great sum of money from the triad a few years ago. Eleven-million cash, that's the number I was given." She raised her eyebrows, making a show of examining the various paintings and vases that were displayed around the dining room. "We want it back. I have come to collect, with interest." The staff still stood nearby, listening to the exchange with their hands stowed behind their backs. Zemin waved at them to gain their attention. "Do you people not understand this is a private discussion? Out, and lock the door behind you."

The servants glanced nervously from Zemin to Cutter. He swallowed hard, gesturing for them to obey the command with a flick of his wrist. The group seemed to stall for a moment, but after a few seconds of heavy silence they filed out of the dining room and closed the doors behind them. Cutter looked up from the table, his face now pale and flat. “I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?”

“I thought the monetary issues that I had with your organization were already solved,” Cutter furrowed his brow, speaking with a note of genuine confusion in his voice. “The meeting your organization had with me last week, does that not stand anymore?”

Zemin narrowed her eyes. “What meeting?”

“I met with another Zhao representative last week. We discussed the monetary issues that you seem to be hung up on - he said that I would be exempt from payment as long as I consented to another meeting to iron out the finer details of our deal.” Cutter frowned. “Were you not made aware of this? Seems like an internal issue. I happen to own a small augmentation company that produces in communication implants, you know. Perhaps I could, erm, sponsor you.”

“No.”

“Well, I’m sure there is something else I could sell—“

“No, just be quiet for a minute.” Zemin scanned the room, searching for any slight disturbance. Did Zhao Wu really arrange another meeting and forget to tell her? Impossible - everything the leader of the triad did, he coordinated carefully. This had to be something else, a set-up. Zemin drew her gun, causing the man sitting across from her to shrink backward in his chair. "Who did you meet? What did he look like?"

"I didn't really think to make a note of his appearance!" Came the rapid response. "I suppose he was Tianxian, with augmentations and tattoos all over his body. If you put that gun away, maybe I'll be able to remember better without the fear of..."

His voice trailed away as the sounds of crashing pots and pans became audible from the other room. Muffled voices quickly spoke in hushed tones, and soon, the air was full of silence again. Cutter looked to Zemin, finally seeming to realize the situation that they were in. Before either of them could speak, a knock came from the door separating the dining area to the kitchen. "Mr. Cutter, you have a private call. Please come and take it."

Zemin silently rose from her seat and aimed her gun towards the doors where the voice had emanated from. With her free arm, she made ready to overturn the table to act as cover. It probably wouldn't do much if the killers waiting in the kitchen were carrying long guns, but it would put something between her and the bullets that were probably ready for her. Cutter watched as she steeled herself, his panic silently rising. Zemin pointed the gun at him. "Open that door, and then get out of the way."

He knew better than to protest. Rising from his own seat, Cutter padded across the floor and placed his hand on the door handle. He waited for a moment, breathing faster and faster as he readied himself. Just as he seemed to start turning the handle, a shotgun blast tore through the wooden door and blew an enormous hole in his midsection. Cutter crumpled to the floor, instantly killed. Zemin immediately pushed the table up, sending the platters of lobster and the vodka clattering across the marbled floor. The ruined door swung outward, kicked open by a mechanical leg. The perpetrator rushed through the breach, getting two more wild rounds fired before Zemin's pistol put a hole in his neck. He staggered backward, dropping his shotgun and falling into the two other hitmen that had been following his lead. Zemin fired several more bullets at the reeling attackers, mostly hitting the first gunner but scoring a few shots on his two followers.

The assailants quickly composed themselves, pushing the tattered corpse into the doorway and retreating to the kitchen. Zemin heard more than two voices as the killers reorganized themselves, swearing at their wounds and reloading their guns. Zemin did the same, taking the half-spent magazine from her pistol and replacing it with a fresh one. "Red Pole!" One of the attackers shouted from the kitchen. "There are six of us back here! If you surrender, we'll abide by gang law and take you for ransom."

Zemin didn't respond. They wanted her to speak so they could try to pinpoint where she was behind the table, and besides, they were lying. She instead kept her eyes focused on the doorway, waiting for any sign of movement. If they were smart, they were flanking her right now. That was worrying - this dining room was a fairly open space, and if these cutthroats really numbered six they could easily surround her.

Suddenly, a flash of metal sailed through the doorway and clattered across the stone floor. Grenade. Zemin curled inwards, trying to protect her vital organs with her metallic appendages. Every window in the room shattered as the grenade exploded, sending shrapnel in all directions. Zemin felt the blast violently push the table backward, but surprisingly, nothing seemed to make it through the hardwood top. She rose instantly, knowing that any delay would mean the hitmen would be able to enter and kill her while they thought she was disorientated. She surprised a gunman walking tentatively through the doorway with a bullet to the gut, killing him shortly after with a shot that cracked his head into several pieces. She moved forwards, leaving the safety of the table and advancing across the room with her weapon raised. She killed another attacker struggling to get through the door as he tripped over the bodies lying there. Picking up the body of one gangster and holding it in front of her, Zemin pushed through the door and caught the other three hitmen taking cover behind various appliances and features. They shot at her but they lacked accuracy due to the amount of smoke still lingering in the air. Zemin ran through her magazine as she fired at them, also inaccurate due to the hazy air. When it was all said and done, however, she had managed to catch all three of them - one fatally in the top of the head, two in the midsection.

Zemin dropped the torn body she had been using as a shield and let out an exhausted breath. The dead man's blood was mixed with her own - as her adrenaline faded, she realized she had been shot in the very left portion of her abdomen. Her arms were also riddled with damage, but there she felt no pain. Using one hand to keep pressure on her wound and the other to reload her empty gun, she approached the writing body of one of the hitmen. He was shirtless, which made it rather easy to make out the tattoos that streaked across both his implants and his skin. They were Kong 49s. She shot him in the head to finish him off, doing the same for the other gangster lingering to life at the other side of the kitchen.

Staggering out of the kitchen and into the blasted dining room, she struggled over to the overturned table and slid onto the floor, resting her back against the hardwood top. She could already hear the sirens in the distance - the military police were expected to actually arrive on the scene in the palatial district. They would find her, but the Zhao triad owned the police. Even if these MPs decided to be difficult, she would simply bribe them and be on her way. Zhao Wu needed to hear about this ambush, this declaration of war from the Kong triad. First, though, she should probably see a doctor.


wow what a dumb name
still a c c e p t e d tho




you are hereby a c c e p t e d my dude
post your stuff in characters when you get around to it
BLACK SKIES AND BLACK FLAGS


It has been more than a thousand years since humanity first journeyed forward into the stars. Earth remains only as a broken reminder of those who came before - a shattered planet, enveloped in molten fire and acidic clouds. The civilizations that originated there have long since moved onwards to other areas of the galaxy, settling in vast swaths of space far from their original home. Aliens and humans now live in close proximity, interacting in both peace and warfare. The undying ties of trade and economy sweep across the galaxy, transporting goods and material through routes that stretch for lightyears on end. These vast tracts of empty space are subject to a constant battle between crime and law which seems to grow more intense with every passing year. With the stability of the galaxy continuing to decline, men of order and opportunity now venture into the void with dreams of wealth, glory, and eternity.

























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