The Engelhardt Encounters
Prologue: Rough Night
This was a city of over seven million people, a mass of humanity all packed together in one giant cauldron. He ought to be able to go completely unnoticed. Yet as he moved though the back streets of Hong Kong on this very late night, he felt like the entire city was aware of his presence.
Logically, he knew that to be untrue, but he knew that, just the same, he would never be able to go unnoticed here. A man like him, as he well knew, stuck out like a lightning bolt in the night sky; like a gunshot in an otherwise quiet forest.
He absolutely hated it.
This man did not call this city home. His home was on another continent entirely. He had next to no familiarity with this city, with this metropolis, except for the small part he had reconnoitered in order to complete his assignment. He knew enough to see him through to the end of his mission and nothing else.
And this man, with his blonde hair and distinctly European features, and his complete inability to speak the native language, was constantly having to remind himself of the need to stay out of sight. This was why he had chosen to stick to the alleyways and narrower streets as he moved across the city. The crowded main streets held no appeal to him. Even if this was a city that many foreigners found themselves in on business, this man's business was far from typical.
He had to stay out of sight, because he knew that the Hong Kong police would not look favorably on the idea of a foreign assassin in their city.
As he made his way towards the location he had been given, where a major crime lord and member of the Triad, was known to frequent, he could not help but reflect on how his life had come to this. How he had gone from a relatively stable career as a heavyweight boxer, to someone that took lives for money. How he had gone from that, to a career he despised.
These reflections were cut short when he realized that, while he'd been contemplating his entire current existence, he'd arrived at his destination.
Here, he couldn't help but hesitate. This was the part of the job he always dreaded, his main reason for his hatred of his occupation. To him, the action of taking a human life was a despicable one, even if, in this case and every other case, the people he was tasked to eliminate were the world's most dangerous. Those who were literally too dangerous to be left alive.
Even though he tried to keep that fact in mind, it was never easy to pull the trigger. It never got any easier to kill another man, no matter how many times he did it.
Silently, he made his way towards the main street, his footsteps on the pavement all but imperceptible. Checking his weapon of choice, a black Walther P22, to make sure that it was loaded, he caught sight of his target standing in the doorway of the building across the street.
His target, and the bodyguard that loomed large beside him, an automatic rifle clutched in one arm.
That was just typical, he couldn't help but think. Of course the man would have a bodyguard. Not that this posed any undue trouble; he could take down two just as easily as one. But he didn't want to have to kill anyone else if he didn't have to. Killing one was bad enough.
He took a step forward just as the bodyguard looked in his direction. He saw the other's eyes widen and could hear the shouted curse. Even with his concealment in the shadows, there was no doubt that he'd been seen.
There was no more time to hesitate. Without making a sound, he ducked behind a nearby car and took aim at the big man, hoping he could do this in only one shot.
Before he could pull the trigger, however, the sound of automatic fire from the guard's weapon split the night, and the man heard the sound of shattering glass as the bodyguard blew out the windows of the vehicle. He remained crouched down, and he did not move until he heard the unmistakable click of the magazine, indicating that the bodyguard had just run out of things to fire.
This was what he had been waiting for. He got to his feet, took aim and fired. His shot hit the bodyguard square in the middle of his forehead, and the automatic rifle fell from lifeless hands as the body of the guard hit the ground.
It was then that his true target bolted, running through the crowd, desperate to get away.
He did not get far. Another shot fired, and he fell to the ground, face first.
The assassin leaned against the wall of the building and took a moment to try to calm his nerves. His heart was pounding and his hands were starting to shake. He knew the full weight of what he had done would hit him later.
Right now, though, he knew he had to get out of here. He could already hear the commotion of people awakened by the gunfire and the sirens already starting towards the area.
By the time the police arrived on scene, he was gone, the two dead men the only evidence he had ever been there at all.