Hello internet! This spinoff is set in VictoryFireStar's fic: Symbiosis. Go check it out!
The rumbling of the A-Line accompanies the bopping and popping Touhou music, as I make my plans for the day.
'Let's see; Barret M82... check.'
My second most important tool, it makes my job so much easier.
'Balaclava... check. Goggles… check.'
My most important tool. Can't let them see me.
'Well, my gloves and coat and- my full-body-covering. That's my most important tool… Check.'
I shut off the mesmerizing antics of a techno-witch fighting a nuclear hell raven, now is serious time.
'Let's see, Donovan is supposed to come to The Castle for lunch, . . hmm. No, to crowded.'
Another red X joins its siblings on the cardboard. Drawing the X is a man named Layton, dressed in the most drab and uninteresting clothing he could find, he prepares for his job. His office: a shitty hotel in the middle of New York City, rented for one night only. The floor is covered with empty coffee cups, there is pizza and a plastic-bag salad on the bed, the lights are on dim, and the sun is just now rising over the horizon, casting slats of light through the blinds.
Layton couldn't feel better if he tried.
'~Just know that what I am doing is part of a plan~!'
He desperately wants to burst into song, but now isn't the time for that.
'Ahh, the one bad thing about shitty hotels. Paper thin walls. Heh.'
With a small smile, that turns into a grimace, that smooths out into an apathetic blank look,
'Ugh, this guy knows how to protect himself.'
Yeeting myself onto the bed, I stare up at the ceiling fan trying to get a flash of inspiration, some detail I missed, something!
'I wonder if Donovan covered the river . . ?'
The pizza stops halfway to my mouth as I make a realization.
'Hmm. . . yes, yes that could work. But does the pier have a good enough angle. . .?'
Where should I come in from? How cold is the water? Am I leaving the same way I come in? All these and more are running through my head as I absentmindedly munch on pizza and salad.
'The client wants this done by the end of the day, the hotel faces the water, the pier is theoretically far out enough to get enough of an angle on the fourth floor to see the majority of the hotel room. . . The safest option for me definitely.'
Sitting upright on the bed, I think on the other options I have at the moment; Break into his room directly, if he is home; I have a fight on my hands. If he isn't, I can lay in wait and blow him away when he arrives. Assuming he hasn't bugged the place.
'Let's save that set as the last option.'
Another set of approaches; get him in transit from somewhere. His car; sabotage, an rpg, mines, a bullet through the roof or engine block. Walking to and from his vehicle; Arguably the most unpredictable option. One has to take into account bystanders, security, walk speed, surrounding witnesses, you need to be correctly positioned at just the right time, and you need to bug out fast, or your caught.
'Nah. Overpenetration is to much a risk there.'
'Alright, pier it is.'
Several things need to happen in order for this to work. But before any of that:
'Time to go!'
I've spent enough time at this hotel, time to move on before someone thinks to look here.
The thought brings a soft smile to my lips.
'I'm famous. Kind of.'
It's an odd thing to think about as you're cleaning a room; the amount of notoriety you have in the circles of the government, and the criminal underworld.
'Hmm, well, only New York's underworld. Though, at least one person must have had enough of an impression to get me a potential client outside the city. I wonder if I'll live long enough to take their call?'
A legitimate concern. My line of work is far from safe.
As my Barret M82 becomes its component parts once again, I decide where to head next. My backpack is loaded, my wallet is collected, a final check of the room is made. . . nope! Nothing forgotten.
On go the sunglasses, and the wide-wicker hat. Out I walk from this home~
'Adieu my lover~ I will think of you when I sleep in your replacement~'
My fingers run across the walls as I walk down the hallway, my feet tap and stomp a beat down the stairs, and my hands, eyes, and nose take in the cheap crackers they leave at the exit~
Snapping out of my lucid daydream, I pay the receptionist a thank you and a tip for the lovely room. Her smile is nothing I haven't seen before, but as I walk out into the city that never sleeps, I can't help but feel like it's different.
'So many faces, all sharing that same look, all working at the same kind of hotel, yet, she truly had something to be happy about.'
The thought brings a true unconscious smile to my face.
'Good for her. May she keep her happiness.'
Turning away from the decayed building and moving out into the city, I begin the part of my job I love. The hunt. Just the thought of it brings a wide closed-lip smile to my face.
'Donovan Thad Swift. My job for today, you may live through today. Or you might not.'
I start to show some teeth.
'Either way, it's gonna be fun.'
Letting my face go slack, I go about getting breakfast and finding a place to crash until the evening.
'Somewhere down by the pier preferably, . . . but that particular area is used only for industrial purposes. Hmm.'
. . .
'A Shipping container maybe? Nah, horrible idea.'
I sway to the classical music coming from a set of speakers, moving or not, I can't tell, but I get enough of the tune to see where it's going. With the music of the past in my brain, I decide to head out to Stephan R. Gregg park.
'New Jersey and New York, they may as well be the same city, or maybe they are?'
Naming conventions aside, I park my van and go to sleep in the back.
Laying on a mattress I share with my back-pack, a small bag full of toiletries, a few extra clothes, and my lab-top, I take the uncertain amount of time it takes to fall asleep to reflect a bit.
'Let's see; what could I have done better the last couple of days? Money wise, I spent around $500 on motels, $60 on parking, $100ish on food, I spent two hours every day wearing weights, . . gas moneszzzzzz.'
'UuUUGGGGAAAA! I'm UP!'
Half-asleep and rapidly waking, a quick swing of the arm shuts off the analog alarm-clock.
'UUUUGGGGGhhhh. . . realllly need to stop keeping that thing next to my head.. . . huh?'
The sleepy look rapidly shifts into shock, fear, confusion, and back into fear again.
"PPp. . pp. . PPPPOPPLIO?!"
What is going on!? Why does everything feel so wrong?! Flopping on the mattress, trying to get a sense of what is wrong;
'My spine is connected to my feet?! My arms feel more flexible but my fingers feel less!?, What is this thing in-front of my face?!'
In the dim light of my clock-face, which really shouldn't be able to light up anything, I see two blue or black flipper-hand,things!
'Calm down Layton Thatch, Deep breath in-'
Trembling, taking deep calming breaths, I think of a calming cursed song about a city and submarine where naughty and nice children get something worse than coal in their stockings.
I desperately hope I haven't been chosen.
Feeling a bit better, ok, what happened?
Looking around, everything in my van seems untouched, just, bigger.
Through the curtains drawn over the door window to the cab I see the faint light of the moon.
'Why is my vision better?'
Or, not better per say, just. . I can see much better in the dim than I could before.
Closing my eyes, breathing, relaxing myself, listening to the van, the outside of the van. . I relax myself.
Falling into the state of mind needed for my work is difficult, oh so difficult, but I do it.
I open my eyes.
My breathing is steady.
I do my best to take stock of myself.
'First; what does my body look like?'
Twisting myself, I see that I'm . . A seal? And-and very small. About a foot long? A little longer? I don't know.
'My mouth, it feels so-so, wrong.'
But it doesn't feel wrong, which makes it feel wrong. It feels perfectly natural.
Slowly, I bring my new limbs up to my face, which lowers my body flat against my mattress.
'None of this feels right.'
But it does.
'I'm a seal?'
I'm a seal. Have I always been a seal? Was I cursed to be one? Or was I cursed to be a human?
The sound of my phone alarm shakes me from the mental deadlock.
'I'm gonna miss my target! Which means I'll be hunted by my former client!'
I smash my flipper hands into the mattress, all this does is bounce me upside-down.
Gasping and trembling in impotent rage and fear, I wish I was human again, I wish with-
Frantically checking myself after that light, I find; five fingers, two legs, arms, no seal nose,
'Ahhhhh. . .'
I'm myself again!
Open mouthed and limp, I think of magic and how it suddenly became real for me.
'I hope it's real. Otherwise. . I've truly gone crazy.'
That scares me. That scares me a lot.
I abruptly sit up, slap my cheeks, and remind myself; I have a job to do. The existential shit can wait.
I gather my things,
Put on my balaclava,
Put on my backpack,
And leave the van.
Someone needs to die.