Xhak - Patreon - Master
Jessica - Patreon - Initiate
Jupiter/Enis - Patreon - Initiate
Tessasgoat - Patreon - Apprentice
Selene S. - Patreon - Initiate
Ko-Fi Club - Xhak, Mieren, Jesteronimo, Crazy Cookie Lady, Kelly, Rhaelyant, Tom, Hstevens5, Notos, Cecil Azul, AriZo, Becca, Caitlyn
His mouth tasted like foul cotton and he grabbed his phone, turning off the offensive noise, yawning as he sat up. His muscles ached as he pushed off the bed and moseyed into the bathroom.
He was careful and precise while cleaning his teeth, checking for injuries to his mouth. He double-checked his gums and the remaining tissue of his cheeks for any signs of necrosis. It had been years since the last time he found something but knowing the state of his mangled mouth area gave him one less thing to think about during the day.
He noted the state of the scar tissue and it was as sore as always where he had slept on it, but it was the kind of pain that he was used to and the dull ache would be gone before long. If not he would take a painkiller.
There weren’t any cuts in his mouth this time from sleeping without a mouth guard; Something he forgot to do before he fell asleep yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. One of many signs of working too much that he was ignoring.
When he was done cleaning up, he stepped out to grab the appearance kit. Because yesterday’s job involved killing, it was time to make a drastic change to his appearance and attempt to look like a completely different person.
Using the cracked mirror on the wall, he set about changing his haircut and the color, walking the tricky line of too bad and too good. He hasn’t done the natural onyx black of his hair in a while but going from light brown to blonde would be too obvious for authorities to notice, and a brown-red was too close to the previous color.
After the hair, came the “distinctive markings”. A few well-placed fake tattoos in places that were just visible enough to be eye-catching to someone scrambling to remember his appearance.
The marks didn’t need to be big and glorious, just enough to be noticed and warrant a thought or two.
With a few small tattoos that would fade off in a week or two, his new appearance was complete and he checked it over as a whole to make sure it meshed well.
Crafting appearances was something most — if not all — criminals could benefit from, but not everyone had the eye for it. It was easy to make mistakes if you didn’t know what you’re doing. Plus, most people don’t wear a mask 24/7.
Having nothing distinct about you aside from the specific things that you pick out and fake, is like wearing armor into battle.
Of course it’s more useful for people who operate in the shadows, and most people are attached to their appearance. So even if it’s a good idea, it would be foolish to underestimate the mental strain of not looking like yourself.
However, in his case he would never look like himself again. So it wasn’t a problem.
Not everything about your appearance has to change. Even he has some things that always remain, like his mask — the real one. (His calling card, which remained hidden under a normal black one, until it was needed.)
Anonymity is key to this sort of life. Losing it is the reason most professionals have short careers.
The urge for people to know how good you are and what you’ve done; To take credit where credit is due — especially if someone else tries to pass off your work as their own — is a strong one, and many either can’t resist or get unlucky.
They become too infamous and get just a little too close to that tempting stage light. It’s unavoidable to graze it sometimes even for him because of the types of criminals he deals with.
There are always scrapes and close calls, and risks of exposure, but the smart and the careful like himself last for a reason.
Never being the same person twice is personally his preferred method.
In the event that a new client tries something (rare but it happened on occasion), they wouldn’t be able to give any good descriptors other than the obvious. He’s decently tall, has a strong build; his hair was whatever color he had it at the time; he wears dark clothes and a face mask; he has some small tattoos, and doesn't speak a word.
That, although detailed, is not a very useful or reliable information for authorities.
Could you imagine being a detective trying to find such a person from that description? Take a walk outside and at least half the people you see will match 60% or more of that description.
The only solid info they would have is the tattoos and they would focus on those, leading their own investigation straight into the ground.
For a cop, it’s a nightmare case. For a criminal, it’s a gold-star job.
The tattoos took the longest to apply but he could do other things while the temporary ink was soaking into his skin, so he headed back into the room and checked his phone for today’s schedule, then changed into something for exercise and went out.
He focused on running, strength training, and full-body exercise because they were the most useful for keeping up his endurance, agility, and being strong enough to deal with strugglers who put up a desperate fight.
As much as he hated it, it didn’t take very long in a life like this to figure out his work goes much smoother if he just sticks to an exercise routine.
He wouldn’t sugarcoat it, exercising was an acquired taste, but once your body got to a certain point, the mental hurdle shrank drastically and it started to feel worse if you stopped. The hardest part was getting the ball rolling.
After exercising and returning, he got ready and went to pick something up for a quick breakfast, even though it was almost dinner time.
After eating, the sun started to set and Ry changed into something suitable for work — and slightly warmer than yesterday, to avoid another night freezing his fingers off while he tried to work.
While most people were going home from their workdays, Ry prepared to start his by sending a message to his new client, instructing the man not to leave his office tonight.
This CEO should already have the information ready when he gets there but new clients always ask lots of tedious questions and try to tell him exactly how to do his job. They tend to try and talk to him. All wasted breath on their part but on occasion, it’s useful for acquiring additional information about them that he would have had to go digging for otherwise.
Almost immediately upon leaving the building, Ry brushed shoulders with strangers and joined the nighttime bustling stream of people on the large sidewalks of downtown. All of them on their way home to get ready for one of two things, either a night in or a night out.
Normally he would opt for stealing an actual car as they provide much more protection and concealment but this time he needs something fast and easily ditched, just to get to the building quickly without much notice.
That means the man who just parked his motorcycle on the corner a block down, is gonna need a taxi tonight.
The dark wooden door of the modern business skyscraper was open already, giving a direct view into the office.
To be honest it was a little surprising that someone this successful was stupid enough to meet with someone like Ry completely alone. It says something about the client’s intelligence and arrogance when they meet with him alone.
In the initial-contact-stage of a new contract, Ry specifies that the client has no more than two others present if they’re meeting in person and most people choose to have at least one person with them, men like this usually have their secretary or personal assistant, but it’s certainly better for him if the client is alone.
He learned the hard way that if he lets them have a couple of their people around, the smart ones are far less likely to go against this condition and hide more people, and two or three people are easier to deal with than twenty.
They usually pick a couple of their best guys who they trust to protect them or their right hands who are there for negotiating purposes and whatnot.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter who they choose. Each kind of person has their own merits during a meeting like this, but to choose no one? ...That’s a little suspicious and reckless. And that’s never a good thing to see in a client.
It either means they think they’re smart or they’re new to this, and if either is true it can make things complicated.
Walking in unnoticed, Ry’s dark eyes looked around, taking in the spacious room.
The entire right wall was made of industrial glass, overviewing the city nightscape in what must amount to a billion-dollar view. A dark blue carpet with a subtle pattern covered the floor, keeping his steps unheard and contrasting nicely against the four dark-grey sitting chairs around a brownie-brown coffee table in the center of the room.
Unfortunately, nothing can disguise how positively hideous the rug is. It actually evokes a powerful need to set it on fire, and that’s saying something from someone whose home decorating expertise is exactly zilch.
A sleek, expensive white desk rested at the back of the room, a comfortable leather chair behind it, and behind that was some black deep-set, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with thick, professional-looking books. In front of the books were strategically placed “status-promoting” ornaments, like trophies for things that didn’t matter and gold statues; a few patriotic things to show how much the company “loves their country” and the like, etc.
Overall the room has far too much of a “false patriot” and political feeling for Ry’s tastes. But he’s never actually been in a CEO’s office that wasn’t like this; aside from one that was run by a young foreigner and had much more of a futuristic/technology theme. It was definitely better than this place.
To be honest, the big fish gangsters who had progressed with the times and moved their activities from mostly violence, to mostly white collar crimes or legitimate businesses, had the nicest offices, surprisingly enough.
They were still gangsters and/or syndicates, but in Ry’s book, that usually just meant they were good clients with nice taste.
And the ones who were dead-set on spoiling and protecting their families and lovers were the best people to work for. They paid well, didn’t give ridiculous commands — sometimes the job itself was a little silly or strange but that was fine by him, and nine times out of ten they were the most trustworthy.
That being said, Ry’s never been in an office he actually liked.
The thought of spending all day in one place day-in and day-out didn’t sit well with him. And trust me, he’s speaking from experience when he says an office is one of the easiest places to grab someone or get all the information you need.
The room was mostly dark, aside from a single desk lamp sitting beside the computer that the Ceo was distracted enough with to overlook the experienced killer who had entered the room and walked right up to his desk, unhindered.
A frosted-glass block with the words ‘Ceo Ko Dae-Hee’ carved in elegant black font would have given away the man’s name if Ry didn’t thoroughly research his clients before he even considered letting them know that he — the nefarious person they were trying to track down — existed.
Watching them search for him is the only ‘fun’ Ry entertains these days. That, and giving bad hostages false hope of escape, or deliberately providing the smart ones with a subtle path to false freedom; just to see if they’ll figure it out and entrap themselves further all on their own.
Leaving himself like a piece of bait in a trap that wasn’t set, gave Ry more confidence that if he needed to get rid of this guy it would be painfully easy, but it also made him reluctant to work with him because it screams ‘careless’ and there’s a certain kind of person who does this.
Still... nothing — not even the client himself — could compete with the sheer level of posturing this room displayed. It was an assault on his eyes and almost made him nauseous, knowing exactly what sort of client this is going to be.
The ridiculous, prideful sort, that are obnoxious and difficult to work with. Who think they’re your boss just because you’re doing a job for them, and have to do everything they say because they’ve thrown some paper at you.
The only upsides to this type of client are they pay ridiculously well, and are usually easy to intimidate or downright strong-arm into doing things your way — especially if you withhold as much information as possible from them and only give them the highlights when they’ve been good & patient so that they’re satisfied enough to not stick their nose into the details. And it keeps them from getting jumpy. Jumpy clients are the worst.
At least people like this stay out of Ry’s way for the most part; Not wanting to touch their own issues with a 20-foot pole made of gold and inlaid with jewels. They’d rather just leave it to the professional they hired.
In that sense, they can be considered smart. But that can be dangerous too because they’re the type of clients that usually try double-crossing after they’ve gotten what they want, thinking themselves smart and trying to “protect” themselves, when really they’re knocking the paint bucket over with their own hands.
Businessmen. Ry almost rolled his eyes at the mere thought of them. He should charge extra. He can probably double his fee for this slimy balloon ass.
A tall — larger around the middle — man of 36 years, in a fitted light grey suit and the most hideous orange tie Ry’s ever seen, sat in the cushy leather chair; unaware of the presence beside him.
Ry wanted to scoff.
If he’d been contracted against this lazy douche pilot, it’d be almost too easy. Unfortunately, he’s the client, not the target. Unless this is a shady assisted suicide, cause if so, he is more than happy to oblige.
Reaching over, cold hands grabbed the file off the desk and startled a yelp from the fat man who finally noticed that he had company. (Took him long enough.)
Ry could already feel the impending headache from this job, and he hasn’t even taken it yet. He might not. If he’s being honest, this job already seems like it could be more trouble than it’s worth.
He has no shortage of other jobs he could take right now. He’s quite busy these days and has dropped even the idea of taking certain jobs, focusing solely on the less troublesome and/or less complicated, higher-paying garbage sacks that he takes out for a living.
The higher-paying jobs can have clients that are difficult or unpleasant, but the jobs themselves are usually fairly easy in comparison. And the clients have no real standards because they’re accustomed to throwing money at their problems and won’t ask too many questions that can’t be avoided, unlike versed criminals who sometimes even ask for full-detailed reports before, during, after the job.
“About time you showed up. Do you have any idea what time it is?” The man before him straightened up, an obnoxious air of demanding superiority oozing from him like bad BO.
It made him want to gag and put that letter opener through the man’s thick greasy throat and see him try to talk his way out of that.
He really hates people like this. Cause when they go down — and they go down like the Titanic — they drag everybody they’re in with, down with them.
That’s precisely why they are a one-hit-wonder for Ry. He does one job, collects his money, and drops the client, but he will only accept the job in the first place if the money is too good to turn down.
With these guys, he has a strict rule of having no physical ties whatsoever. trades nothing but money with. No cash. He doesn’t let them pay with anything other than a wire transfer, even if they have tempting resources; and he routes the money through some of the best hackers he knows to make absolutely sure it’s clean.
When Ry leaves here tonight, he’ll get his hacker buddies to scramble his existence and make certain that there’s no record of him ever even heading this way. Half the city cameras will get a scrub or a hard-to-notice looped feed on a number of routes including the one he took, so even if someone clever works out that someone was trying to cover up a meeting, there’s no way to tell who it was, where they went, or which people met. It’ll be a camera-feed wasteland.
Ry opened the folder, ignoring the living rot’s question, and stopped in his tracks; Struck by the unexpected picture of a human being that could only be described as breath-taking.
Ry wasn’t a great judge of looks but he had seen some fine people in his time, and you wouldn’t need experience or a good eye to recognize someone on this level.
Words like ‘Peerless beauty’ and ‘Could topple empires with a face like that’ came to mind.
Short, brown-sugar hair styled in a ‘sexy mess’ perfectly framed a face that once upon a time would have incurred the wrath and/or interest of ancient Greek gods.
The smooth slopes of the man’s face were sculpted like flawless marble, leading down into a jawline that could probably cut deeper than the lasers used to shave down diamonds. A cute soft nose and a couple of small beauty marks with all the charm that Marilyn Monroe’s once had; one of which was just barely on the underside of his jaw. Tan, unblemished and cream-smooth skin surrounded passionate and dark bedroom eyes and brought sinful attention to plump cherry-red lips, of which were smiling in an unusual but not unappealing box shape around a straw that could make a person jealous of a plastic tube. Everything set in perfect harmony to create a living, breathing definition of allure; captured and frozen in time in an obviously personal photo.
This whole picture looked like it should be in a magazine, advertising adult activities or other.
Hell, it could be advertising hemorrhoid cream or divorce lawyers and there would still be a stampede of people, screaming, “Shut up and take my money.” They would probably sign anything without even looking if you put this man’s face anywhere near it.
Ry isn’t one to notice these things usually, but even his eyebrows were raised at the photo, much less if he saw them in person.
He vaguely wondered if it had been photoshopped. It probably had. Nobody is this good-looking in person, not even if they’re wearing makeup. Maybe if they had plastic surgery or something, but even plastic surgery wouldn’t stop what organic bodies just naturally do and the consequences of living with such bodies. It doesn’t matter how much you cover up, you will still get sun damage at some point, you can still get zits and infections, you will still age and everything will leave its mark.
This was even a fairly crappy picture but if this person actually looks like this, then holy Hell. He probably can’t take a bad picture.
“I’ll get straight to the point. His name is Chol Taehyun. He hangs out in clubs all over the city, but his favorite is a place called Paradise.”
Ry looked at the man in the photo and inwardly smirked. ‘Not a chance in Hell that that’s his real name.’
After the initial shock, Ry took one more look and could tell this man’s a grifter.
Nobody like this would go for someone like Blobfish over here, without a very good reason and with a face like this, money or fame would not be an issue to obtain, and if it had been anything else, he would have found out about him when he researched this CEO. But he had found nothing.
No trace of this person’s existence within orbit of this CEO’s life whatsoever. Which meant someone is covering this beauty’s tracks, and if he made personal contact with this CEO then well… he could only be a grifter.
Ry can honestly admit that if “Chol” here wasn’t so attractive, he would have walked out of this office by now. But it’s ridiculous to hire someone like Ry — as expensive and dangerous as Arson because you got dumped by some pretty piece who finally got whatever it was he wanted from you (or the beauty’s prize no longer seemed worth whatever effort he was putting in).
This settles it. As long as it isn’t too troublesome, he’ll be taking this well-paying job.
The prospect of seeing this face in person alone might’ve been enough to sell him, but large sums of money are always a good motivator. And to be perfectly honest, Ry hardly ever finds a job that he doesn’t think is utterly ridiculous for one reason or another.
At least this one has some sugar-coma inducing eye-candy to smooth things over; assuming this person is even a tenth as attractive in person, as they are in this — likely altered — photograph.
“He made a fool out of me.”
The CEO sat back in his plush chair, eyes set in a hard seething glare that while directed at Ry, was blatantly not aimed at him. If he had the audacity to actually glare at Arson like that after crawling to him begging him to take him on as a client, Ry would have made the nine circles of Hell look like a vacation to the Bahamas. And then maybe go find “Chol” here and take a look, out of sheer curiosity.
“I’ll triple your fee, but I want him found and brought to me. Alive.” the seething pig growled, steam practically billowing out large, oddly shaped ears. Ry was almost tempted to give him the nickname Dumbo. For a number of reasons. But Heck, he can’t even blame the man. As much as he dislikes him, he could understand his reasons. If Ry lost a beauty like this, he’d raise Hell too. Regardless of the reason.
The only difference is, Ry doesn’t lose people. He’s the one who makes them disappear.
Once he finds this guy, “Chol” won’t get away. And something tells Ry he’s gonna be pretty hard to miss. He can probably just do a facial recognition search online and pinpoint him through the pictures that random strangers have taken of him on the street.
Black irises side-eyed his client as Ry rubbed his thumb against his middle and forefingers in a recognizable gesture.
The CEO huffed through his nose, sitting up straighter as though his pride had been restored just by getting Arson to take the job.
He switched over to a different tab on his computer screen and clicked a few times. “You get the rest when he’s at my feet, begging for his life on his knees.”
Ry watched the money transfer on the screen and slipped out his phone, receiving an alert a few seconds later.
The millisecond he got confirmation from the hacker handling this payment, the folder dropped on the desk with a ‘smack’, and the masked man headed for the door.
“You have one month before I find someone more capable.”
Now that Ry scoffed at; already out of the office and headed down the stairs. There isn’t someone more capable than him.
If he can’t find and take this guy, no one can.
‘Now…’ Ry pulled the photo he swiped from the folder out of his pocket as heavy boots clattered against the stone steps, echoing through the stairwell.
His eyes lit with an inner fire he hasn’t felt in a long time; staring deep into lavishly dark eyes as if they were right in front of him.
‘What’s your real name, “Chol Taehyun”?’