Felix Leiter moved his pawn to finish off his opponents last remaining Knight, only to have Oz, his opponent move his Bishop into the square previously held by the pawn and declare, "Check Mate."
Leiter looked closely and saw that it was true; his king was surrounded by his own pieces and Oz's. "Bravo." he said as he took a sip of his bourbon.
"Another match?" asked Oz as he started realigning the pieces on both sides of the board.
They were in a room of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, he and Oz, along with four other men. They were the members of a Black Ops team working for the CIA with a childish name; the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He thought back to when he heard the name the first time, around three weeks ago in his superior's office. He had just returned from a mission in Europe, one that saw him attempt to strong-arm a banker of the World's terrorists into giving the CIA all the information they wanted through of all things, gambling. Then mission didn't bear the expected success and he was asked to return to Langley, Virginia, where he expected to be scolded for his failure, but instead found himself in the position of leading this group of people.
"League of What?" he remembered asking as Swanbeck, an man nearing seventy years of age turned in his swivel chair, grinning in amusement at his subordinate's astonishment.
"Yes, It's a silly name, I know." said Swanbeck, "Sounds like something out of a comic book. But hey, its tradition."
"Sir, I don't understand."
"You are to lead a team of civilians in a covert operation. Most of the members of your team have been informed and recruited already.
"I don't blame you; it's a little out there. The League, Leiter, is an old staple of the practice, but for obvious reasons not very well known. It was first conceived by British Intelligence in the late eighteen-hundreds. It is a Black Ops team, completely disavowable, composed of civilians and lead by a government Agent, which in this case happens to be you."
It took him several minutes to register the idea back then. He was then informed of his mission, to track down and stop a terrorist organization planning on launching an attack on US soil very soon. Within that week he had met the members of his team and they began working towards their goal.
They had trouble developing any kind of comradery with each other, as most prefered to keep to themselves, as each had a dark past they were not keen on sharing.
The young man sitting across the table of him was short and thin, with spiked blonde hair and facial stubble. His name was Daniel Osbourne or Oz as he preferred to be called; California musician and college dropout of his late twenties. He was recruited by CIA operative named Riley Finn while he was traveling in South-East Asia. His dossier mentioned something about him having a radical physiology, which grants him enhanced senses, stamina, agility and strength. He had already proved useful by tracking down an Operative that had managed to elude them.
Standing by the window and looking at New York at night was John Goodkat, a man of his mid fifties wearing a suit and trench coat, looking like a teacher. He was a former Marine who saw action in Vietnam, then became a CIA operative, formerly doubling as an Assassin to New York's mobs, one of the best in the business by several accounts. He was generally soft spoken and cold and displayed an appearance of a true professional.
Sitting at a table by himself reading the Times was Gabriel Hellsing, a tall man of thirty-seven with short brown hair, wearing an expensive tailored suit. His dossier said very little of him, notably not containing a year of location of Birth, Merely stating he was a master of seven forms of martial arts, an expert marksman and fluent in five languages. He avoided socializing with the other and when he did, he displayed an arrogant and impatient behavior.
Max Payne was laying on the couch, he was in his mid forties and had black hair, wore a black leather jacket on a gray shirt and blue jeans. Payne was a former Agent of the DEA and a highly decorated New York Police Department Detective. Aside from his taciturn efficiency with all manners of fire arms, the most remarkable thing about him was his overwhelming kill count of a thousand, two hundred and eighty-seven. Although he was aloof, he was easy going and civil towards the others. There was a suspicion of him having a substance abuse problem due to his penchant to pop painkillers several times a day.
And then there was Steve Buscemi, a nervous man of slight build in his mid forties. A Hitman he was, working for various criminals all along the west coast, he was sprung out of jail to serve, as he was spending a life time in prison for his crimes for the last fourteen years.
They were all Extraordinary Gentlemen, working under the command of Leiter Himself, who was a former Marine recruited by the CIA fresh on the heels of his participation in Operation Dessert Storm.
Hellsing grunted in unabashed contempt as John Keeler, President of the United States of America appeared on the Television Screen, preparing to address the nation on the validity of his reasons for the War abroad. Hellsing got off of his seat and turned off the television before heading to the mini-bar and making himself a Screwdriver.
"So what now, Leiter?" asked Buscemi, "Are we just gonna sit around here all night?"
"That's the plan." said Leiter. That was not the case of course, Leiter simply liked to keep all the information on a need to know basis. Buscemi rolled his eyes as Leiter said in response to Oz's offer of a new game, "Nah. I'm not one for Chess. Texas Hold 'Em, that's where I shine. 'You play it?"
"Cut the crap, Leiter. You didn't gather us all here just to watch you and the boy play games together."
"Payne, are you up for a game?"
Max rubbed his eyes, then sat up and said, "Yeah, Deal me in."
"Hellsing? Goodkat?" asked Leiter.
"Thanks, but I'll pass." said Goodkat, while Hellsing simply took off his jacket and tie and walked to the table and sat down, Payne did the same soon after.
"Leiter-" started Buscemi but was cut off as Leiter said, "Buscemi, unless your next words are 'Deal me in, Felix', I want you to shut up."
In Leiter's opinion, Buscemi was the weak link of the group, the very least of them suitable for covert work.
Present company excluded, Leiter had a small detail of Systems and Surveillance Specialists working under him and they had minimal contact with the other operatives. Those specialists were working on an encrypted file on a Memory Stick retrieved by Hellsing and Payne earlier in the week, once they were decoded, the information obtained would lead them to their next course of action.
"Yeah, fine. Beats the hell out of sitting on my hands." said Buscemi as he sat at the empty chair between Payne and Hellsing.
The cards were dealt and the game began. Buscemi was the first casualty. The game progressed, eventually coming down to Leiter and Hellsing, each kept raising the stakes till the others had to leave the game. But just as they were about to reveal their hands, the phone rang and Leiter had to answer.
It was the Specialists. Leiter listened intently as they told him they managed to decode the memory sticks and had found some valuable information.
The other five watched in anticipation as Leiter talked laconically with the other side, a minute or two latter he hung up and turned to face his underlings. Pointing at the clock he said, "We've got work to do."