Part 1: California, Rest In Peace

I didn’t look up as the emissary entered my office. My pistol was in pieces, scattered across the desk in front of me. With a thump, a manilla file landed among the parts.
I slowly raised my gaze, the leading edge of my flat-brimmed black hat rising to reveal the young man’s face. I watched, feeling a dispassionate, disconnected interest, as his face blanched slightly. The Company didn’t employ many of us, and I was known for my skills. With three fingers, I delicately lifted the slide of my Colt off the table and locked it into place. I kept my eyes on the emissary’s face as I reinserted the recoil spring.
“Job for you,” the young man stammered out, licking his dry lips. “Er, from the Company. Bank robber.” His eyes followed every movement of my fingers as I slid the clip back into my pistol.
With the tip of the barrel of the reassembled weapon, I flipped the folder open on my desk. My eyes dipped briefly to examine the pages, but the barrel of the Colt held a steady bead on the emissary’s head. “Indiana Central Bank and Trust,” I read aloud.
“Yes sir. The robber’s a girl, from the south. Pretty brazen robbery. Wears a black bandana, but that’s about as far as she goes for disguises. We have more background in the file.” I flipped to the next page in the file as the man spoke.
“Interesting parentage,” I commented. “Cop and a protester? Odd pairing, especially in the Deep South.”
The emissary shrugged. “Suppose so. The whole girl’s a little odd, if you ask me. Just look at the name she goes by.”
“Indiana Bank and Trust? Doesn’t seem a big enough incident to merit a Priest.”
“Ah, but it’s not just one bank,” the other man interjected. “She’s hit three, so far, and probably another one today. The Company’s taking a hard stance against criminals, so they’re calling in the big guns. You’re to send a message – she’s stealing from our network, so the Company steps in to take care of the problem. And you, as a Representative of the Company-”
I stood, pushing my chair back. The young man took a reflexive half-step back as I rose, cutting off mid-speech. “I’m to ensure the problem goes away,” I finished his sentence. “Understood. Now, out.” The emissary didn’t need me to tell him twice, and scurried away.
Pushing aside the lapel of my long black coat, I slid the Colt into its holster under my left shoulder, balancing the weight of its fellow on my right. Scooping the file off the table with one hand, I checked my reflection briefly in the mirror on my wall. My white collar stood out, the only bright spot against my black clothes. Below the brim of my hat, the eyes of a trained killer gazed back at me.
When the Company had a troublesome issue, they would send a machine gun priest to take care of the solution. We had earned our name – messy problem, messy solution. But we guaranteed that the problem would go away.
Leaving the office, I glanced down at the name on the file. Danni California – she probably hadn’t intended to cause much trouble. But the Company had sent me the file, and I was going to make Danni California go away.

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