Hunting License

The morning dawn came relentlessly, forcing its luminance over the horizon and into the sleepy town of Hillmansville. Rupert awoke to the light in his cell, the dew of the fall morning chilling him down to his bones. Stretching atop the dingy cot, he was thankful for even the few hours of sleep he had been granted.

The small town cops had questioned him briefly, refusing to believe the validity of his MIST ID badge and deciding to lock him away for the night. He had been denied use of the phone and legal counsel. This was no surprise to him; in the eyes of those officers, he had murdered Agent Brecklin, a well-regarded figure in the community and especially in the eyes of the police force, who were in awe of such a high ranking officer in the Bureau. He felt no need to disclose the truth behind the man. After all, Brecklin hadn't always been a bad man.

Still, he had rights, just like any citizen or criminal in the system. He knew that last night was not the time for struggle, and so he had simply said nothing, asserting his right to remain silent. A newspaper reporter had come by just before dawn, somehow learning of the story and seeking a scoop. The officers had turned him away rudely, denying Rupert the chance to have the reporter make contact with his field office.

He rubbed the last bit of fatigue from his eyes, pressing his shaven head against the thin bars to see the clock on the nearby desk. He was still angry that the officers had insisted on confiscating his personal watch, but that could be dealt with later. It was just after 6 AM, so he had slept for nearly three hours. Plenty of time to bounce back. Time to rattle some cages.

A young officer in his twenties responded, his hand resting nervously on the butt of his holstered pistol. He approached the cell slowly, his apprehensive eyes never leaving Rupert, still dressed in his immaculate suit and tie.

"W-w-what is it," he stammered, trying to sound authoritative.

"I want my phone call now," said Rupert calmly.

"You'll have to wait till the captain comes back," replied the young man. "They're tossing your hotel room right now, so you'll get your lawyer soon enough."

Rupert slammed his hands against the bars, making the young cop jump back.

"Goddammit, you country bumpkins are violating my rights," yelled Rupert. Seeing the raw terror in the boy's eyes, Rupert suspected that another approach might work better.

"Look," he began, this time quietly. "You realize you're violating the Bill of Rights, right? By denying me due process and legal representation, you're jeopardizing your entire case against me. Don't you see that?"

"Th-the captain never said anything about that," he said nervously. "He would know; he's been captain for over ten years."

Rupert scoffed, seeing how impressed the boy was by this minor feat.

"You ever watch Law & Order, kid? You see how quick a judge is to throw out a case when the Bill of Rights is violated? All I'm asking for is one little phone call; the phone's right there," he pointed, down the long hallway.

"I dunno," said the boy, but Rupert could see him wavering with doubt.

"Sometimes, important men like your captain don't sweat the small details. They're big picture kind of guys; they need detail-oriented people like you to stay afloat."

The boy's chest swelled with pride at the words, and he nodded with a distant look of appreciation in his eyes.

"I suppose I can drag the phone over here," said the boy.

"Good," said Rupert with a smile. "I'll even reimburse you for the long distance when I get my wallet back."

"Again, we apologize for this…misunderstanding, Agent Broderick," seethed the captain.

"You were just doing your job," replied Rupert magnanimously. "As well as you possibly could…given your experience."

"Of course we are ready to make any restitutions in light of the…mistake," offered one of the officers, under the glaring eye of the captain.

"I'll settle for my 'toy badge' back," answered Rupert, remembering the captain's disbelieving comments from the night before. "You all can keep your toy badges, though," he added, staring the captain full in the face.

"Watch yourself…boy," he fumed, the last part said under his breath as he turned to walk away. Rupert grinned; he'd had experiences with cops like the captain in other parts of the South, and it pleased him to no end to watch them lose their cherished power with a single phone call.

"Thanks again," Rupert said to the young officer who had given him the chance at the phone. "If anything should happen to you because of this mess, call me," he added quietly, handing the young man a business card.

"Thank you, sir," said the young officer, still in awe at the morning's revelation. "Your friend is waiting outside for you."

The noon sun was high in the sky, its brilliant light warming the countryside. Trees swayed in the light breeze as Rupert began his walk down the white stone steps of the police station, feeling the burning eyes of the captain on his back. He checked his watch, not for the time, but for the familiarity of his most cherished possession sitting on his wrist. It had been a present from his late wife, the last she had given him.

"Sure you're cut out for this kind of work," asked the woman leaning against the hood of a dark green GTO. Her short hair was ruffled, but a few long strands of blonde hair fell about her youthful face in such a perfectly haphazard way that it shouldn't have been accidental, but he knew damn well that it was. She was simply beautiful, with or without the effort.

"Aya," he said grumpily. "You sure took your time getting here."

"Hey, I had to get a whole new car," she replied with a faint smile. "Besides, it's not like you were going anywhere…"

"I thought they were sending Pierce," he said, sliding into the passenger seat.

"Pierce found his true love yesterday," shrugged Aya, as she started up the car.

"What, you finally gave him the time of day?"

She laughed lightly, the kind of laugh that held no ill will towards even one's most hated enemies. It was like the joyful laugh of a young child, which fit her appearance. As beautiful as she was, Aya had the appearance of a young twenty something. Far too young for Rupert's tastes, but ideal for a horn ball like Pierce, who had made a habit of fawning over her.

"No, I introduced him to an old scientist friend of mine," she replied, still smiling. "Name's Maeda…sort of like your gun."

"I like her already."

Aya laughed again, this time from her gut, nearly doubling over with laughter. Rupert reached for the steering wheel to settle it, but he didn't need to bother; Aya was, as always, under control.

"You're in for a surprise."

"So what's with the good mood," asked Rupert, curious. He had seen her happy only a few times, rarely ever this pleased. "Were Pierces' affections really that bothersome?"

"No, nothing like that," she insisted. "Just had a really rough spot the last couple of days…barely got out of it alive."

"I know," said Rupert gruffly. "Jodie briefed me on your situation."

"As she did me," replied Aya, getting down to business. "How's the hunt going?"

"Not well. Three of the four targets had already been…assassinated before I could arrive."

"Any clues as to by whom," she asked, her eyes on the road but her concentration wholly on his words. Again Rupert had to remind himself that she wasn't the young woman she appeared to be. She was one of the few field agents in MIST that he considered completely capable and reliable. Still, he didn't trust their surroundings; you never knew who was listening.

"No idea," he lied, staring out the window as the countryside flew by.

"Probably the same people paying them off in the first place," said Aya, looking over her shoulder as she switched lanes. "To shut them up as to their identities."

"Most likely," agreed Rupert, sensing that Aya possibly knew more than he did about the whole affair.

"Anything unusual regarding the MO's," she asked, and he was certain then that she knew something.

"I missed the last target's assassin by only a few minutes," he replied. "And he had one of those remote transmitters you found in the Akropolis Towers."

"On his ear?"

"Yes, on his right ear."

"Any idea if he was wearing it before he died, or if it was attached postmortem?"

"I can't be sure; there wasn't much left in the way of forensic evidence."

"Not with that hand cannon you carry…"

"Agent Brea," began Rupert, patting the comforting bulge under his left arm. "This 'hand cannon' has saved my life more times than I can count. No other handgun has the stopping power and accuracy of the Maeda special. Forensic evidence is secondary to our survival."

Aya seemed to think over his words for a moment. "Ever consider the Wildey .454? It's got an 18 inch barrel extension, and comes with a rifle stock to steady it."

"I'm not going to discuss my gun preferences with you."

"What, too personal," jeered Aya, casting him a humored glance. "Just think how badassed you'd look with one of those bad boys…it worked for Charles Bronson, too."

"Drop it, Aya," he said, annoyed. "I suspect the device was implanted after death, as it would have been unnecessary to kill him with such a device already in place."

"But it was able to transform him even after death, huh," she said thoughtfully, her mind wandering. "That's not good…"

"A master of understatement as always, Agent Brea."

"It's my specialty," she added. "How many more names are on the list?"

"I must attend to a few more things first," he said, directing her to the ramp that led to his temporary lodgings.

The hotel was aged, but well kept. Its long string of owners had kept it running for well over a century, back when the area still employed slave labor at the nearby plantations. Despite its shady history, Rupert had taken a room up at the quiet hotel, ignoring the strange looks and sideways glances he got from the locals for his neatly pressed designer suits and clean shaven head.

He tore the police caution tape away with a grunt of disgust, noting how poorly the local officers had secured the scene. Most of his luggage had been taken as evidence, and returned to him earlier in the day, resting securely in the trunk of Aya's car. But what the police hadn't taken, they had tossed to the floor or ripped up. It appeared more likely that burglars had gone through the place, and with a vengeance.

"This looks personal," remarked Aya from behind him, standing up on her toes to see over his shoulder.

"Everything in this type of town is personal," grumbled Rupert as he walked into the room to survey the damage. He couldn't believe they had taken it this far.

"Goddamn, look what ya' brought upon me, boy," cursed the hotel owner, standing in the threshold of the door. "This is what I get for bein' kind to yer people," spat the chunky middle aged man. Noticing Aya leaning against the closet door, his attitude changed, his eyes flicking suspiciously back and forth between the two people in the room. "I don't abide none of this type of monkey business," he added, visibly disgusted at some thought of his.

Aya and Rupert looked at each other for a moment, before Aya burst out laughing.

"Wait, you mean you think…Rupert…and I…? Haha!"

"Sorry, but you know how you city folk can be sometimes," apologized the owner, relieved. "Cross breeding and all…"

"Yeah, I know what you mean," said Aya, still having trouble breathing from her laughter. "But you know how you local country folk can be sometimes," she said, walking towards the door. "Close minded pieces of gutter trash and all," she added, brushing the astonished owner aside.

Rupert followed her, pausing to stare the owner in the face so intensely that the man cowered.

"Send the repair bill to the police station," he called out as he walked towards the car. "They'll be expecting it."

"So, how many other names on the list," she asked again.

"…Are you sure this car is clean?"

"Pierce washed and waxed it only ten hours ago," she quipped.

"I meant for bugs."

"He and I each did a sweep for transmitters," she replied. "It's safe to talk."

"Oh, ok," he said, but he wasn't entirely convinced. After all, he hadn't swept the car for bugs.


"There's ten more leads, but six of them are 'maybes' at best," he answered, deciding to trust in their skills. "I got a feeling about one of those six, though. I knew him in training."

"Not a fan, I take it?"

"He was one devious son of a bitch. Cheated every step of the way. Stole from roommates, sabotaged other students' projects…"

"Doesn't sound like someone they'd let into the Bureau or MIST."

"His father is an important man in Washington."

"Aren't they all…?"

"He moved up far too fast in the Bureau. As cunning as he was, he wasn't that smart. He must've had help from the 'outside'."

"Just because he rode daddy's coattails, it doesn't make him a traitor."

"It doesn't help his cause either, does it?"

"I suppose not…how has the hunt been going otherwise?"

"You didn't read the report?"

"No, it's been classified."

"That shouldn't be…"

"You're telling me. I've already been disciplined twice for trying to get into files I apparently no longer have access to."

"Of course someone like you wouldn't let something like that set you back, though, am I right?"

She grinned in response.

"It seems the higher ups want all of this business wiped away."

"Well, it does make them look bad, after all."

"What doesn't? Those guys are idiots."

"They might be the ones who are one step ahead of us."

"What do you mean?"

"I…I saw Risa at Brecklin's. She was the one who offed him," admitted Rupert.

"What?! Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

"I wasn't sure it was safe to speak here."

"Jesus, Rupert, do you realize what this means…?"

"I do," he said quietly.

Though mind reading was never one of her powers, she said exactly what he was thinking at that moment.

"MIST is done for."

Note: I actually started this fanfic about a year ago, over a few days, and lost it in the shuffle. I was really into the games then (first time I had played through them), so please forgive any inconsistencies with the PE universe. Anyways, I thought I'd post it here because I love some of the character dynamics. The character of Rupert with everyone else, particularly. I thought of him as having a very Delroy Lindo-vibe to him, but angrier. I tried to put a different spin on Aya too, from my usual leading ladies. Hope you like it.