Chapter 1

With a soft shrip, the package tore open. The two tablets dropped down into the crystal liquid, and instantly began to dissolve, causing the liquid to go from clear to smoky, and causing a great deal of fizzle. He set picked the glass up, took a sip, and then set it down on his desk next to the name plaque that read Administrator Gooley. He sighed and rubbed his temples for a bit while he waited for the antacids to dissolve further in his water.
The door of his office slid open, and in entered a pair of the most voluptuous, statuesque women he had ever laid eyes upon. Most men, he supposed, would have happily welcomed their arrival, at least those who did not know their identities. But in the years he had known them, a visit by the Kei and Yuri, the Dirty Pair, had come to cause him more stomach acid than a heavy Cajun meal.
They both clicked their heels and gave him a salute. He gave a casual wave of his hand, and they both relaxed.
"You wanted to see us, Chief?" Kei asked. She promptly sat down on the edge of his desk, and Gooley arched an eyebrow at her. She moved to his couch.
"Yes. Its your new assignment." He said, and with that started to tap away on his desk computer unit. "You've heard of the planet Nostramos?"
"Of course." Kei replied.
"Who hasn't?" Yuri added.
"Good." He took a sip of his antacids and went on. "As you are probably well aware, there is a considerable criminal presence in the capital city of CentOps…"
"At least three food riots in the last four years…" Yuri interrupted, "More than a hundred murders recorded each week, amount unrecorded unknown."
"Gangs, assault, intimidation…" Kei added, counting off on her fingers.
"Yes" Gooley said, a little louder so that he could get their attention again. "Well, that was all before The Night Haunted showed up."
"The who?" Kei said, sticking her tongue out in distaste.
"The what?" Yuri asked, her face contorting.
"The Night Haunter…" Gooley said, and turned in his chair to face the viewing monitor on the wall behind his desk, "At least, that's what the tabloids call him."
The Lovely Angels found themselves starting at images of a striking figure dressed all in black. The images were hard to discern, due to the background darkness, but close ups made it a little clearer. He was wearing a long, a mask that covered his entire head, except for a pair of gleaming red goggles over the eyes, and a pair of metallic claws for hands. The image finally froze, giving them the best possible view of him.
"For the past six years," Gooley went on, "He's been waging a one-man vigilante campaign against the criminal activity. Wasn't doing a bad job either-curfews in some parts of the city were eased, narcotics usage dropped when dealers got scared to be on the streets, citizens started to turn in illegal weapons…"
"What does all this have to do with us?" Kei finally asked, looking rather bored with the whole presentation.
"Well," Gooley said and shifted back in his chair, addressing them both seriously now, "The Night Haunter is about to be…arrested for murder."
This caught their attention. Kei and Yuri both sat up straighter, and watched with interest as the images on the screen resumed. This time it showed a small room, occupied by several well dressed men and women. A variety of papers were scattered on a table, and they sifted and sorted through them while speaking things that were hard to hear. Then, a door burst open, and the same figure from the earlier videos barged into the room and sprayed it with an automatic weapon. He hesitated a moment to look at the massacre, and then left. It all happened in less time than it takes to describe.
"Those people" Gooley said, pointing to the bodies scattered around the room, "where all executives in the mining industry. No one knows why he did it, but its thrown the planet's economy into turmoil. No one knows who's in charge, and it could take months to sort out. Meantime, he's still running loose in the streets, doing God knows what."
"So that's it?" Yuri said, sounding rather perturbed. "You want us to just go there and catch this guy?"
"There's more than that." Gooley leaned forward now, looking them both squarely in the eyes. "3WA believes that this was not just a random act of violence. That's now how this man operates. There are rumors of corruption in the local government and law enforcement. A lot of money being spread around, greasing palms that should be dry. And since these murders, there has been very little news from CentOps about just what is going on. We want you two to do some digging and find out just what is going on down there."
"Aaaaw!" Yuri whined, "why can't we ever get sent someplace pleasant, with lots of beaches and sun?"
Gooley felt a retort rise in his throat, and then swallowed it. Truthfully, he couldn't blame them. Most agents would consider being assigned to Nostramos as some kind of punishment. It was then he considered something else. He looked them both over for a moment.
"You might want to consider a change of wardrobe…" he added, "the two of you would stick out like flares in the night on that planet."
Kei and Yuri looked at each other for a moment, noting their well endowed figures and revealing outfits.
"Noted, chief." Kei said with a nod.
"Very well." Gooley gave them a wave of dismissal, they rose to leave. He prepared to take a sip of his antacids, when a sudden urge overcame him. "Oh, and girls!" he called after them.
"Yes?" they said in unison, turning to face him.
"I know I say this every time but…please, try not to cause too much destruction this time!" his voice quivered for a moment as painful memories of never ending mountains of paperwork flooded him, and dread of more to come.
"We're always careful!" Kei added with a huff, and with that they both turned and left.
Gooley sat in silence for a moment, considering how many times he had heard that before. He shuddered, and finished his drink in one gulp.