Shadaloo safe house, somewhere in the Bay area, Metro City

"My lord, you must be still and don't rub your eyes," urged the Shadaloo medic as he tried rinsing out the pepper spray from Vega's eyes. "You risk contaminating more of yourself by getting the spray all over your hands!"

The response was a low groan. Vega's head felt like an inferno. His eyes were squeezed shut and wouldn't open. Mucus flowed out of his nostrils while his face felt like it had been pressed against a hot plate.

"When I find that woman, I'll flay her alive," Vega snarled raspily with spittle flecked lips. "How dare she do this to me?! My face...oh, my beautiful face..."

Balrog sat opposite him in the van, clenching his fists. The veins in his forearms popped out from the tension. He was having a similar physical reaction to the spray, but was handling it better.

"Shut it, pretty boy," the boxer demanded. "Your whining is getting on my nerves! You've never had someone pepper spray you before?"

Both he and the Spanish ninja had spent over five minutes wandering blindly about the street screaming and gagging. The latter's condition was slightly worse because he had rubbed his eyes in a vain attempt to clear them. No one in and around the hotel had dared try to help them for fear of inadvertently incurring their wrath.

Finally, an unmarked black van showed up, collected both of the street fighters as well as their equipment and shot off into the night. It took them to a spacious house overlooking the Metro City bay. Unfortunately for the other Shadaloo operatives, the quick rinsing inside the van caused the chemicals to spread as the contaminated water splashed all over the floor. While not as potent as the full spray, the driver had to lower the front windows to air the van out.

Once they were led inside, the two Shadaloo lieutenants stripped down and took showers, trying with some difficulty not to let any of the persistent spray get elsewhere on their bodies. The effects gradually wore off after some time. The two were given fresh clothes before being led to a closed dining room. The staff closed the doors behind them, leaving the pair alone to further 'discuss' the night's events.

"Pray tell what you were thinking when you decided to go ahead with this foolish cash-grab scheme," Vega inquired while shooting Balrog with a withering stare. "Did you really think you could get away with this idiotic stunt? He will not be pleased upon learning of this."

The boxer's reddened eyes smoldered as he glared back at the Spanish ninja, who had to grab a tissue and blow his nose.

"Oh, I doubt you'll be telling him anything, you sissy chump," Balrog shot back. "Unless you want to lose some teeth. How do you think you'll look with some of them missing?"

"You stole Shadaloo property just to make some money, you idiot," Vega said, while wiping his nose. "You know how important that technology is! At the very least..."

A knock interrupted his reply. The Spanish ninja let out a frustrated sigh.

"Yes, what is it?" he hissed. An underling who had stayed behind at the hotel entered. His body trembled as he knelt before the imposing pair, but he didn't speak.

"If you have something to say, do so," Vega warned. "Or else I will rip your heart out where you kneel!"

The agent finally found the courage to speak, though he still shuddered.

"My lords, all traces of the fight as well as the deal have been removed," he began. Vega's eyes narrowed.

Of course they were, you idiot," he replied acidly. "We own that hotel! And of the eyes?"

The underling started to shake.

"The briefcase was there, but the eyes...they were gone," he explained. "I swear that I looked everywhere in the room!"

Balrog slammed a fist on the table, cracking it. Vega's hands shook as they started to clench and he came close to screaming.

"Get out!" the Spanish ninja hissed. "And don't breathe a word of this to anyone!"

The underling scurried back out quickly, relieved that he wasn't executed on the spot.

"Aiden!" Balrog growled. "The son of a bitch must have grabbed them while we were beating on Juri!"

Vega rubbed his forehead and shook his head slowly.

"This has gone from bad to worse," he muttered. He glared at Balrog. "This is your doing! Is Shadaloo not paying you enough already?"

The question brought about a sneer from the boxer.

"Get real, Bison bucks are useless outside our bases," he replied, rubbing his thumb against his fingers. "I want real money."

Vega bared his teeth.

"You have compromised everything with this foolishness," he spat. "We don't have many of the prototypes left and full production is still some time off. We had doll unit models that were supposed to be implanted with those. You will be lucky if he..."

The boxer growled and interrupted him. He had enough of the Spanish ninja's accusations.

"Don't give me that shit, pretty boy," Balrog snarled. "You've also sold Doll tech to an unknown party, so you're in no position to lecture me. Besides, it's not like we aren't building more of them."

Vega's eyes widened in shock. The boxer gave him a smug grin.

"Oh yeah, I know all about that one," Balrog continued. "You should cover your tracks better. I doubt the big guy will like that any better than what I did."

Vega looked away and frowned. He brought his hand to his chin and rubbed it for several moments, caught off guard by the boxer's accusation. He had underestimated Balrog's resourcefulness.

"Hmmm...I don't know how you...ugh, it doesn't matter," the Spanish ninja finally answered, still perplexed. "Very well. So we're at a standoff. Perhaps...we should agree to sweep this matter under the rug, so to speak. Even make sure we get our story right."

Balrog nodded slowly, his grin broadening.

"See?" he replied. "I knew you could be reasonable."

The boxer's grin faded as his thoughts turned to Juri.

"However, if I see that witch again, I'm gonna beat her so bad, they'll need dental records to identify her," he snarled. "I lost a lot of dough because of her."

Vega inclined his head in agreement. The two women they encountered had caused a lot of problems for them tonight.

"As long as I get to deal with that female driver," he responded, licking his lips in anticipation. "I'll get much pleasure watching her scream as I tear her skin off bit by bit."

Their mutual dislike temporarily set aside, the two men turned to their discussion of how they would present this setback to their leader.

Roof of the Royal Metro Hotel, Uptown, Metro City

Aiden's eyes spotted the rapidly approaching black helicopter. When it touched down on the roof of the hotel, the Illuminati agent ducked down as he rushed towards it, not wanting to be decapitated by the blades.

Aiden hopped on and grabbed a seat before setting his briefcase down. He nodded to the other passenger sitting next to him; a tall, striking ebony woman with grey eyes. She regarded him for a moment and dipped her head in return. The helicopter lifted off into the night. The woman frowned upon seeing the briefcase on the floor.

"Did the deal not go through?" the woman asked with a French accent. "Why do you still have the money with you?"

Aiden grinned in response, pulled out two small ring boxes from his pocket and handed them over. She opened one of them and inspected the contents. The woman brought her index finger close to the artificial eye, but pulled it back before actually touching it. She studied it for several more moments before closing the lid.

"Brielle, wound me so," he answered. "It turns out that I didn't need to buy anything. They practically fell into my pocket."

The female Illuminati agent arched one eyebrow, her lips allowing the hint of a smirk. She then let out a deep sigh.

"I suppose you're going to regale me with one of your typical stories," Brielle said. "But please leave embellishments out of it, would you?"

Aiden chuckled and went over the details of the fight in the hotel room up to the point when Juri fled.

"Balrog was so mad that she escaped, so he rushed after her," Aiden continued. "He didn't even think about securing his merchandise. The other one followed him, so I waited a minute, got up and simply took them."

Brielle shook her head and snorted.

"So you let this 'Juri' woman win," she sniffed. "Well, whatever it takes to complete the mission, I suppose. Perhaps I might have done the same thing myself."

Aiden laughed loudly. He couldn't picture the woman throwing a match to anyone.

"We do what we must, darlin'," he replied with a smile. Brielle rolled her eyes at his term of endearment. "I'm assuming that you dealt with the Q that was trailing us?"

The female Illuminati agent brushed back a wisp of onyx hair from her face and nodded. She briefed him on the battle.

"He put up a good fight," she replied, rubbing her raw knuckles. "But his moves were...predictable. Heavy handed, but predictable."

Aiden nodded admiringly. He noted that her business dress was mussed, but other than her knuckles, there were no visible wounds.

"Yes, they are indeed tough fighters, that's for sure," he agreed. "Are you certain that the Q was dealt with permanently?"

Brielle gave a small shrug.

"Not unless it can survive a fall from a six story building," she said. "You're right though, they're heavier than they look. Fortunately, the Q was off balance when I threw him off. I'll be sore for a couple of days, but nothing truly serious."

The female Illuminati agent changed the subject before Aiden could ask about her injuries.

"Speaking of foes, how did this Juri woman fare?" Brielle asked. "She's the one with the bionic eye, no?"

Aiden bobbed his head in response.

"Yep, she's the one," he answered. "Capable, though very offensive minded. I got some easy hits on her because she left herself open and told her as much. I likely could have taken her down if the circumstances allowed for it."

Brielle folded her hands across her lap.

"Of course," she said,shaking her head. "Always explaining your opponents faults to them. I believe Napoleon once said 'never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake.' "

Aiden barked out another laugh and received a scowl from Brielle in return.

"Close," he replied. "I think the latter part was actually 'when he is in the process of destroying himself.' "

Brielle simply let out an annoyed 'humph' while her eyes narrowed. The hulking redhead simply laughed harder. It wasn't often that he was able to correct Brielle. She looked down at the briefcase.

"Well, we were supposed to get three 'eyes,' but Lord Urien will have to be content with the two," the female agent said. "I hope that the money saved makes up for the missing eye. Perhaps we will be sent to retrieve it."

Aiden nodded in agreement. Anything was possible and it would be interesting to face Juri in combat again.

"We'll find out soon enough," he said. He turned to another topic.

"I wonder how Lord Gill will react to this news," he mused. "I'm reasonably certain he'll send his secretary for a progress report on Lord Urien's proj..."

Brielle's bared her teeth as she cursed in French for several moments.

"Bah, Kolin is nothing but a parvenu," she barked. "An outsider whore! And her attitude...ugh!"

Aiden had to turn his head to stifle his laughter. Although he wasn't too fond of Lord Gill's favorite himself, it was always enjoyable to watch Brielle's reaction whenever he brought the subject up.

The helicopter co-pilot turned his head back towards them.

"Agents, we'll be at the airfield in a few minutes," he announced loudly over the noise of the chopper. If he overheard any of the conversation going on behind him, he gave no notice of it. "A jet is already prepped and on standby to take you back to HQ."

Brielle turned her eyes to him and gave a curt nod. Aiden gave him a thumbs up sign.

The pair silently looked out their respective windows at the night lights of New York City below. They had made good time across the water. This mission was at an end, but there would be more, that much was certain. Theirs was just a small part of a war in the shadows against a powerful foe. Lord Urien needed to be notified of the Q they encountered. Rumors were spreading in the Secret Society that G's foot soldiers were becoming more emboldened than ever. If so, it meant the two would have to be more prepared than ever to fight and win. The alternative was too terrible to contemplate.

Author Notes: This "chapter" features Brielle, another Illuminati operative alongside Aiden. Both will be recurring characters in the Sidekick series.

Vega's Doll Project deal to an unknown party is referring to another bit of Street Fighter lore by Steven Mane, the author of the blog: Mane Street. He specializes in this game's lore and it's very extensive. If you haven't already, I invite you to take a look at his blog.

The article in question from Mane Street is called Rose & G: From Zero. In this article, Mr. Mane explains how Vega is selling Shadaloo technology (specifically the Dolls, genetically enhanced super soldiers) to G. Very interesting stuff!

Since FF won't allow me to put a direct link, a Google search of Steven Mane Street Fighter will provide a link to the site.