intro ;; My first story for AoT that's going to be more than a chapter! Whooo! This is a completely unrelated thing, probably set AFTER the first game but I cant say I've beaten the first game because China is f'n hard. So many guys running around its ridiculous! Besides not having a specific time-line, here is the story which I really, really enjoyed writing. Reviews are much appreciated. ~

The call came in at quarter to seven. Passed out on the couch, face-down in an old pillow, Elliot Salem hesitated to wake. His dream was far too sweet to be taken from so soon. It wasn't often that he had a good dream. Most of them involved gunfire, bleeding, fires and death. When he dealt with it on a regular basis, it was the last thing he wanted to see. When he had been younger, he'd spent years watching every gore-fest he could get his hands on. Watched all the war movies, new and old. Jarhead had been a particular favorite when it came out, but ten years later, he couldn't look at the movie without a rush of urgency pumping through him.

The phone rang again. His hand twitched, intending to pick up the call, but a furry body pounced on him, wrapping its claws around his hand. Yelling, he bolted upright, tossing the shaggy gray cat off his arm and snatching the phone up. "Goddamn, Bandit," he growled, phone to his ear.

"Elliot?" Alice sounded less worried and more amused than anything. "Morning wakeup call again?"

"You're good at that," Salem grunted.

"Thank you."

"It's not a compliment."

"Whatever it is, I have something for you."

Salem paused as he reached for the half-empty beer can beside his couch. "Something being across seas and in hostile territory?" he asked.

Alice laughed, no doubt smirking as she stared at her computer screens in that dark little room. "You got it."

"Damnit." Leaving the beer can, Salem stood up, wearing nothing but his pinstripe-blue boxers. Scratching at his belly, he made his way into the kitchen. "When do I have to be ready?"

"Meet Rios at the airport in an hour."

Salem's shoulders slumped. "You couldn't call earlier?" he asked. "You know how busy these streets are at seven? I'll never make it to the airport in the hour."

"Well, I've been calling you for an hour now. You finally picked up. I figured you were busy," Alice said calmly.

"Ha-ha," he said mechanically. "I'll try my best."


They ended the phone conversation with Salem feeling distinctly as if he were at the end of the long-distance relationship. Rolling his eyes, he grabbed a slice of bread, biting it and holding it in his mouth as he searched for his pants. Producing them from behind the couch, he pulled them on, hopping his way towards the bathroom. He brushed his teeth as he combed through his tangled black hair, The stray cat that wandered into his apartment two years ago wove through his legs, purring loudly. Salem wasn't really a cat person, but he certainly wasn't a dog person. They were too much work and demanded too much attention. Salem lifted his foot, scratching along the cat's back as he put the toothbrush and comb back on the shelf.

"Pain in the ass," he told the cat, leaving the bathroom. Tossing a shirt over his head, he wiggled into it. "I'll be back whenever," he said to the cat, who sat in the hallway, tail wrapped around him. "You know where the food is." The cat meowed to this, and he grabbed his keys. Locking the door behind him, he hurried down to the parking garage. Three spots left of the door, his orange Lamborghini Gallant sat in the darkness, catching the dim light caged on the ceiling. No other car in the parking garage commanded as much attention, that much was clear. Full of sedans and import luxury cars, the sporty Gallant held it's own in New York's confining streets, all while sucking down the gas like dehydrated Arabian sand.

Roaring to life, the vehicle pulled smoothly out of the garage, merging onto the street perilously close to a black minivan. Salem's driving was as irrational as his conversations, and it earned him more than a few honks as he slipped through the tiny space between a taxi and a moving truck. A red light dampened his moods. Still seven miles (and probably three hours, at this rate) from the airport, he tapped the steering wheel impatiently, humming to the tune of some strange song on the radio. Something about bad romances and a bunch of strange grunting. Salem didn't care, it was something to take his mind off the red light.

It turned green, and he revved his engine in anticipation as the line began moving forward. As they cleared the traffic, he looked out towards the piers. Separated by the sidewalk, several feet of concrete barriers, and thirty feet of wooden planks, the water looked incredibly inviting. The heat wave rolled over the city several weeks ago, and it hadn't relented. The windows up and the AC blasting, Salem was still hot. Must be the mission.

Turning back towards the road, he caught sight of a black car out the corner of his eye. Turning his head, he felt the car jerk to the side, metal screeched into his ears over the obnoxious rah-rah-rah on the radio. He memorized the car, the face behind the wheel, before his beloved Gallant hitched up onto the sidewalk. He pulled the wheel, desperately trying to get it under control, but the black car jerked sideways, the fender hitting the side of the Gallant, pushing it over. The front passenger wheel of the sportscar ran up a bench, hit the concrete barrier, and groaned in fierce protest as it flipped over the barrier, crashing onto the pier and skidding across, momentum carrying it through a second string of decorative wooden barriers and into a docked yacht before it stopped moving. For a chilling second, he hurried to unbuckle his belt, suspended upside down in his vehicle.

Then it all began to sink.