Hello. My name is Simon Calder, i am a six-foot-four, professionally depressive/depressingly cynical iguana, and i kill people for a living. This is not my story. This story is that of my partner in business and crime, Andrew Havelock.
He is a thirty-one year old bull, five feet nine inches tall, and almost as wide. I'm exaggerating of course, but you get the point. I'm not up on my colloquialisms but I believe the phrase 'brick shithouse' would be appropriate.
In any case, he also kills people for a living, and not as a soldier. We are professional hitmen, you got a problem, we take care of it, we're in the phone book under 'contracting'. The other thing unique about this story, is the existence of what the ignorant layman might refer to as magic. Before you get all excited, I'm not talking about the 'Harry Potter, wave a wand around, pretty lights' kind of magic, I'm talking about something very different.
The kind of magic that actually occurs is more like a force of nature than anything, it's an intangible substance that exists in everything, and some people, myself included, have managed to harness it.How it is harnessed, and what form it may take, depends on the user.
Okay, all thoughts of roleplaying game wizards and magic wands banished from your head? Liar. But we might as well continue with the story.
It began with a gunshot.It so often does. In this case the shot was fired by a skinny rodent with greasy hair and medicated-looking eyes, holding a large pistol in one hand, and a small blue sphere in the other.
The shot was fired at Andrew, who dove to the left slightly before the trigger was pulled, and landed in a pile of rusty pipes.The shot was fired in a large warehouse (what is it with warehouses and shootouts?) filled with disused machinery, and crates full of god knows what.
The second shot was fired by myself with my usual boredom, and it struck directly where the rodent should have been, but wasn't. The reason for this was that the first bullet having missed Andy, instead struck a support rope for a large beam being held in the air for no apparent reason.The beam fell coincidentally where the rodent was standing, and was quite colourful.
My bullet, having nothing to stop it, flew over the rodent's corpse, and struck his tomcat friend sneaking up from behind him in the eye.
This is the sort of thing that happens around Andrew, and is the basis for his nickname of 'havoc Andy', which he prefers to his real name i think.Andrew has very little skill with magic, but makes up for it by turning the iron laws of probability into easily breakable glass wherever he goes.
The reason for this is uncertain, some say he's the son of Loki the trickster god, others, that he's a demon of chaos, either way, it makes for a useful job talent, and an ever so amusing nickname.The only nickname I have received is the fitting, 'Storm Cloud Calder', or in more sophisticated circles,'He Who Pisseth On The Parade.'
I held a hand out to Andy, as he struggled to pick himself out of the piping. "You may want to be more careful where you throw yourself in future", I said evenly.
"But that wouldn't be any fun now would it?"he rumbled cheerfully,
"Besides, it worked out alright." "this time," I said "You won't always be lucky you know."
"Yes, I know," he replied stretching, "but for now I think I won't think about it. I think." I sighed, Andy was, despite his childish behaviour, one of the best in the business, but he did grate on my nerves. But then again so did everything.
"Come on Andy, let's go tell Vassengo we're done." "Sure thing my dear buzzkill."
He pulled his black ski mask with the red splashes on it a little tighter, and loped out beside me.I straitened my fedora, and checked that my gun was fully loaded. I didn't trust Vassengo.
Vassengo Drachte is the head of a group of a dream-twisting group of users called the Catharsis Guild, but most people just call them the league of insomniacs.They're one of the largest distributors of drugs in the city, and one of the most dangerous gangs to cross.
We arrived late. We're good at that. It always pays to have people think you're busy, even if you aren't.The location of Vassengo's base of operations was a nightclub, appropriately enough, filled with furs dancing in various degrees of drug-induced stupor, flashing lights and loud music.
This was, of course, to disorient anyone who came to visit, and it was usually very effective, but in our case, Andy was used to disorienting situations, most of them caused by himself, and I was used to Andy.We strode through the crowd of gyrating bodies, ignoring, and ignored, by the dancers, to the back of the club where a large racoon stood in front of the door.
We walked up to him,"Evening!" said Andy "We have an appointment."
The racoon nodded in what may have been understanding, and stood aside, opening the door as he did so.
The room was large smoky, and badly lit, filled with enough drugs to open a medium-sized pharmacy. Candles, or what I hoped were candles, were spread apparently at random an tables, open floor space, even on sleeping furs, who seemed not to mind, due to the "atmosphere". "You are late my friends."
Vassengo's voice was deep, rich, and what might have been called soothing in someone else.The wolfhound stood to his full height of five feet, four inches, and smiled expectantly at us. He was high. He had been high for roughly fourteen years. It made no difference. He looked to be a very pleasant man, but appearances, as they so often are, were deceiving. This 'Friend' would quite calmly kill us, if he thought we were a danger. Or at least try to kill us.
"Why are you late good sirs, pray tell me?" He almost laughed.Andy matched his smile tooth for tooth.
"Oh, you know how it is, places to go, people to kill, more people to kill, the usual." "Indeed I do know my friend", I wished he would stop calling us that,
"and speaking of killing, is the job complete? In every respect?" I raised an eyebrow,
"yes, the job is 'complete' as you say, both of them inhumed, and now, to change the subject, we would like our pay."Vassengo's smile broadened, if possible,
"Of course, of course. But grant me one favour, just to humour a humble medical dealer. The rat was in possession of a small sphere, blue in colour, which he kept on his person at all times. You would not have happened to see it would you?"If this was a bad suspense movie, now would have been the point where the main character has a flashback to something that seemed innocuous at the time, but which now is of great importance to the plot.
In my head I replayed the scene at the warehouse.'A skinny rodent with greasy hair and medicated-looking eyes, holding a large pistol in one hand, and a small blue sphere in the other.'
I had not given the sphere a second thought until now, assuming it had been crushed at the same time as it's owner, but Vassengo's interest was piquing my curiosity."No...No, I don't recall anything of that description"
I said slowly,"Andy, do you remeber anything that looked like that?"
"Looked like what?"I sighed.
"Sorry Drachte, no such luck."His smile threatened to remove the top of his head.
"You're a bad liar Calder."My eyes darted around the room, looking for possible exits.
"Well, yes. I am a bad liar. But we don't have the thing you're looking for in any case, so if you'll pay us, we'll be out of your hair.""Hmmmm." Vassengo purred (a good trick considering he was a canine)
"I'm afraid not. Although you may not have the sphere, you know of it exsistance, and I cannot afford somebody else trying to use it's power." He turned to a burly tiger sitting next to him."Marcus, take the bull." The tiger stood to face Andy, grinning. A silver dust started to shimmer around his paws.
"Well now mister Havelock" He said, flexing his claws in and out,
"they say you have almost no skill with magic at all. Let's test that theory. Hit me with your best shot."
Andy looked at me
"Can I really?"
"He did ask."
Andy raised his arms in a vaugely mystical manner, as if preparing to cast a spell. The tiger raised his paws to hip level, the dust swirling around them, as he prepared for a magical assault.
The straight-arm hit him like a locomotive, his head snapping back, and an expensive sounding crack came from his jaw. The party had begun.