Noir: Contracts

In the tradition of Hitman: Contracts comes a stunning new OAV series from Ryoe Tsukimurabazadadadadadadalet'sago. Our intrepid heroes relive some of their most thrilling hits as they try to escape from their most dangerous situation yet!

Not.

Warning: may cause (sympathetic) cranial trauma.

Chapter 1: Ne Cede Concussu

Sweat trickled down her forehead.

The end was near.

There, before her, was her nemesis. Cold. Implacable. Merciless. Fiendishly clever. Yet ever so beautiful. The shapes, the colours, that siren song...

The clock was ticking. No time, no way out. This was it. End of the line.

Wait!

THERE!

Move! Aim! Now!

Her finger stabbed downwards.

Click.

Dink. Dink. Whoosh.

"Level Up!" a voice croaked.

"YES!"

Mireille Bouquet, professional assassin and Bejewelled™ addict, had cheated death once more.

She cackled with delight, and took a triumphant victory swivel. My god, she thought, Level 87! And look at that score! HA! This'll show that punk 'L1n0fT3hW1r3d' who's the REAL Queen of the 'Net!'"

She screamed. "The game!" Breath coming in gasps, one bloodshot eye twitching slightly, she clicked madly, staving off sudden death.

Never had she felt such a rush. She was in the zone! She was thinking three, four, ten moves ahead, hand moving like lightning, eyes focused like lasers, mouse clicking like a machine gun. Assassinations could go stuff themselves; this was her new anti-drug. This was better than any hit. This was better than chocolate. Hells, it was better than se --

Okay, said a voice in her head, let's not get carried away, now.

"Who said that?!" She whirled about, nerves jangling with fear, paranoia, adrenaline, and raw caffeine. Someone was here! Trying to stop her! Ruin her perfect game! But who?

Soldats!

Of course! Damn them!

But where? Where?!

Behind the couch?

The plant?

THE ROOF!

"DIE SOLDAT DIE!" she hollered, as she slung hot lead towards the opposite roof.

Glass shattered. A pigeon squawked, and plummeted to earth. It hit something. Tires squealed. Metal crunched. Curses flew.

Mireille blinked, and then ran to the window.

The pigeon had stunned a passing bicycle courier, who had careened into traffic, causing a Mini Cooper to swerve into the side of a passing cargo truck transporting chickens. Feathers and furious poultry were everywhere. A crowd of bystanders variously tried to help up and mug the courier. A fistfight threatened to break out amongst the drivers. And in the midst of it all, in a circle of blood and scattered feathers, with three little children waiting at home, was the poor, defenceless pigeon, cut down in its prime.

A passing nun, standing over the fallen, looked up at Mireille, and shook her head, sadly.

She slowly backed up, and then slumped down in the chair, numb. She looked at the gun in her hand, as if seeing it for the first time. It was shaking. Carefully, she placed it on the pool table. Someone was hyperventilating. Eventually, she realized it was her.

She looked at the computer screen. Those shapes, those little gems, all laughing, laughing at her, why, why were they laughing?

Then the room warped like a bad trip.

She caught the edge of the table before she hit the floor. "Woah." She clambered up, and reached out with one shaking hand for her elixir vitae. The pitcher of V-8 spiked with vodka and Jolt Cola paused halfway to her lips as some part of the fireworks show that was her brain remembered that that might not be such a great idea right now, what with the hallucinations, the paranoia, and her heart threatening to explode in her chest. Also, the plant had been telling her to cut back lately...

The plant?

"Maybe it's time to take a break," she mumbled. She clicked 'Save,' then slid unsteadily back on the chair's casters. Trying to get both eyes to blink in sequence, she checked the clock on the wall. Thank God. Only 11:00.

No. Wait. That's AM, isn't it.

Was it still Tuesday?

She tried to remember when she'd started this mess, but her head was an electric fog of gemstones, high scores, and, for some reason, penguins. And she hated penguins. She really did. Stuck up little bastards, think they're so hot. Oh, look at me, I can hit 45 knots in the water, and look good doing it! Twerps.

Where was she?

Oh yeah.

It's all Kirika's fault, really, she thought. She knows I have a problem with the Internet, yet she goes and jets off to Japan and leaves me all by my lonesome, all alone, with the game only a mouse click away, alone. So close to the joy, the glory, the heaven, the Top Ten All-Time High Score Hall of Fame...

A less muddled part of her brain reminded her about how she'd arranged the flight herself, and told her partner to go. "All things must come to an end," she'd said. "Take as long as you need. Try and find some closure. I'll be here."

Another, more belligerent portion, told it to shut up.

A third wondered how they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar, and then got back to the issue of Prada versus Calvin Klein.

"Bed," she mumbled, as she tried to swat the legion of jackhammers pounding her skull. "Bed, definitely, definitely bed." She tried her legs, and nearly toppled over. Great, she thought, slumped back in the chair, now what?

Inspiration! Wheels! Chair has them! Move chair -- bed = sleep, yes! Her sense of logic lodged a feeble protest, citing the case of "Why not just sleep in the chair, then?" before it was sucker punched by her libido. Taking another swig of her tonic for the road, she pushed off with both feet and slid across the hardwood floor. Gosh, this was FUN! Left, right, off the wall! Oooh, you can go sideways in this thing! A spin! Whee! Over there, that way, ha ha h --

A .45 calibre hollow point round, one of several carelessly scattered about the room, caught in one of the casters, jammed it, and flipped the chair right over.

The back of her head connected with the floor with a solid thud.

Okay, she thought, as stars wheeled overhead and every part of her brain shouted at once, that hurt. Best get up, I suppo --

The pitcher, in accordance with gravity, completed its parabola and cracked against her forehead, splattering crimson everywhere.

"Damn...penguins..." she mumbled, as the world faded to black.

Find yourself...

...starting back...