I came up with a plot, which means...chapter 2! Wheee! Thanks for the reviews for chapter 1...since review answers are no longer allowed, I'm answering them by PM from now on.

Misdirection

Kurtis shifted his head slightly, getting the idea that he was in agony even though he couldn't really feel much of anything.

"I guess it all started when I woke up in a hospital bed…"


Sometime previously...

Opening his eyes, vision blurry at first, Kurtis found himself in unfamiliar territory. There was a white ceiling above him, an empty bed with chipped cream paint on its metal frame to his right, and an occupied one to his left. He was in a hospital ward.

The man in the bed next to him stared, waiting until Kurtis' wandering gaze returned to him before baring his teeth in what may have been a smile, and pressing a button hanging down near his pillow.

Kurtis lay still, quiet, just looking around the room as much as he could without moving his head. His stomach ached deeply but dully, his head hurt, and his vision kept losing focus as if he was overtired. Not a single concern ran through his medically drug induced apathy.

A few moments later a nurse hurried in, saying something in a foreign language to the man in the next bed and waving a hand at him as she swept past, making directly for Kurtis. She took his head and moved it to peer into his eyes, let it drop to take up his wrist and check his pulse and then took a plastic cup from the bedside table, placing the straw at his lips and allowing him to drink the water it contained. She then said something to him, again in the foreign language and apparently with the intent of creating a soothing impression rather than being understood, and hurried back out.

Kurtis blinked a few times.

The ward door swung open and a tall man, apparently in his late thirties to early forties, wearing a doctor's coat and carrying a clipboard, came to stand at the side of Kurtis' bed.

"Mr Trent? Is that right?"

"Yeah," Kurtis replied croakily, after a pause.

"I'm Doctor Ptaszek. Do you know where you are?"

"Hospital."

"That's right. You're in Prague. Do you know how you got here?"

Kurtis gave a barely detectable shake of his head. "No."

"You were found in the parking lot by another patient coming into the hospital, late last night. You were bleeding heavily. You'd been stabbed. Do you remember anything?"

"Yes…mugged."

"Do you remember who brought you here or where you were attacked? There wasn't enough blood for it to have happened outside."

"No."

"Alright, Mr Trent, I won't trouble you any more for now. You're going to be fine but you need to rest." Dr Ptaszek busied himself checking the monitoring equipment next to Kurtis' bed for a few moments and then flashed a smile before turning to leave.

"Wait," Kurtis whispered. "How do you know who I am?"

"We found your passport in your bag," replied the doctor. "We needed to find out anything about you that we could, you understand." Kurtis nodded. "Your things are in your bedside table, by the way," Ptaszek concluded, smiling again before leaving, uninterrupted this time.

Kurtis lay, thinking. At last, he reached out and fumbled for the handle to the bedside table drawer, managing to open it at last. He felt around inside, recognising the feel of his clothes underneath his leather bag, which he pulled out. The detachable strap with the holster for his Boron X had been removed and upon opening it he found his ammunition gone. Everything else – everything non-criminal – was there…along with a folded scrap of paper with 'Kurtis' scribbled on the outside. He opened it.

Kurtis,

Your father is taken care of. Your belongings are with Pierre back in Paris. There are still some things to be sorted out but I have it well in hand. Do not follow me. Rest and find peace.

He re-read the note. Then he fell back into his pillow and dropped his hand to his forehead, the note still trapped between his fingers.


"Alright, Pierre," Kurtis said, throwing open the door to Café Metro and striding in, "where is she? And where's my stuff?"

"I am sorry," Pierre replied in his heavily accented English, "I do not know what you are talking about."

Kurtis, not even breaking step, carried on straight past the counter and through the door marked 'Private'. Pierre, considering a protest but then deciding against it, smiled at his only other customer with insincere reassurance before tossing his tea-towel onto the counter and slinking through after him.

"My things?" Kurtis asked again threateningly, leaning against a shelf. Pierre's eyes quickly found the floor. "So help me, if you've sold them, Pierre…"

"It's been a month!" Pierre defended. "The woman, Lara, she brought me your things and said to look after them, that you were in hospital…"

"Pierre," Kurtis growled, voice growing in volume and anger as he took a step forwards and grabbed the tiny man's collar with one hand, "where – are – my – weapons?"

"There's a herbalist's!" Pierre cried, frightened. "It's near here, just follow the signs…he moved into the black market after the Monstrum put Renne out of business! I sold him your weapons, but only yesterday! I didn't think you were coming for them and it's dangerous to keep things like that lying around! I didn't sell everything though! The strap from your bag and that lump of metal…the herbalist didn't want them."

Kurtis eyes suddenly became focused and questioning, searching for something in nothing as he stared blankly at the wall behind Pierre. A short moment passed, the café owner barely daring to breathe, and then recognition flared in the mercenary's eyes. The soft beat of blades thumping air started from above them, joined momentarily by the scraping of cardboard against wood. Pierre wailed shortly as a box fell down from a high-up shelf just behind him, the lid falling free and landing flatly on the floor as the previously inanimate lump of grey metal that had been stored inside took flight, hovering for a second in a glow of orange and spinning blades before dashing straight into the waiting hand of its master. Kurtis looked down to find the leather strap from his bag half out of the skewed box, flopped lifelessly over the side. Shoving Pierre away, he bent to retrieve it.

He straightened, examining his belongings protectively for harm. Just as the pause became uncomfortable, he fixed Pierre with a glare once more. "Lara Croft? Where's she?"

"I don't know," Pierre said, and then repeated the words with scared fervour as Kurtis began to move towards him again. "I don't know! Honestly! She brought me your things, paid me to look after them and then left! That was it! She didn't tell me anything, why would she?"

"Did she say anything at all?"

"No…no," came the thoughtful reply and then, 'yes! Yes, she asked me if I knew anyone who could help her catch a plane quietly…you know, without the police knowing…?"

"And?"

"I sent her to the same place as your weapons."

Kurtis humphed, folding up the strap tenderly and putting it into his pocket. "Tell anyone I was here or what I can do and you'll find out just how good this 'lump of metal' can get, right?" He waggled the dormant chirugai at Pierre, who took a step backwards into a corner and nodded fervently.

Sighing harshly to himself, Kurtis marched out.

He'd screwed up.

He'd sent a civilian to deal with a Lux Veritatis problem and she hadn't finished the job – that much her note had made clear, and now he had to go to Turkey to clean up her mess. If she'd been smart enough to figure that much out for herself then he could finish the whole affair right there instead of chasing her all over Europe, at least. Scowling up at a signpost, Kurtis stalked off to take back his things.