Author Note Number Two (5/5/03): I'll leave the antique author note below on for the hell of it. But this chapter will be minorly rewritten and lyrics added to the rest of the chapters. All chapters up to Coffee With Bullet will be rewritten but only to correct spelling, formatting and grammar. As my beta reader said when I started this fic, I should have stuck to humour. There will be no notable plot changes. However if you wanna read the start of each chapter again then you can see why I chose to name the chapter after the particular song I did choose: there will be lyric quotes except for the following chapters:

Army Mood: This is from the Shadow Hearts soundtrack

Trying Your Luck: I am REALLY stuck finding lyrics. So I picked a title that suited instead. The song is by The Strokes, by the way.

Coffee With Bullet: This is also from the SH soundtrack.

These lyrics are randomly collected from browsing everyone I know's CD collection. They haven't all been released as singles or whatever, but that is what the lyric quotes are for.

Disclaimer: I don't own Shadow Hearts because when I turned up at the Midway office and threatened to fusion into Death Emperor unless they handed over the rights they sent me for a holiday in this lovely little room with padded walls.

Author note: This is my second Shadow hearts fic !

Roger Bacon, reading over Miffy's shoulder: And I'm not even in it! Or the last one!

Miffy: Hey! Who said you could come out of your box? Get back in there and do my maths homework!

Bacon: This is no way to treat the legendary alchemist

Miffy: Hey, you're right! Do my chemistry homework! Anyway, about the ficthe events reflected in this work do not reflect the plot of the game completely. But that's the point of it being a FIC, right? Shadow Hearts didn't even happen REALLY, you know

Bacon: If it didn't happen, what am I doing here?

Miffy: You're a figment of my crazed imagination!

Bacon: OH NO! I told Midway I wasn't doing ANY more "crazed imagination" jobs since the *shudders * Ketchup Incident

Miffy: (grins) What Ketchup Incident?

Bacon: I don't like to talk about it and you should remember, it was your fault

Miffy:oh yeah*giggles * Anyway, just to let you know that I do not always mean to make Margarete the bitch, but it just kinda happensshe throws no bricks this time thoughand that I hope you will forgive me for twisting certain facts and making up the rest of them. I think I've talked enough crap, on with the fic which I can this time guarantee free from the random lunacy of my last two!

Part One, Chapter One: Army Mood

A woman is standing in a long, well lit corridor with white-painted walls. She has long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and wears a white coat which reaches her knees over a short blue skirt. She walks up to a heavy wooden office door with a frosted glass panel and knocks loudly. A brisk, clear voice calls Enter.' She pushes the door inwards. It swings smoothly on its well oiled hinges.

The room she enters is spacious and mostly bare, save some maps on the wall, a large window and an immaculate desk. The Japanese flag adorns the wall behind. This is the Japanese Army base at Kawagoe, a small town near enough to Tokyo to be useful to the army, yet still out of the way. The base is backed by the Kanto-Sanchi mountains, which appear black and foreboding against the sunset sky.

Inside the office the woman draws her eyes away from the window.

Agent Malkovich,' says the owner of the brisk clear voice. She is another woman, with clipped short brown hair. She wears a grey suit jacket and sits at the desk, a neat pile of papers in front of her. She shuffles the papers.

Yeah, Kawashima?' the blonde woman asks, pulling up a chair to the desk, sitting down and crossing her legs. Kawashima looks disapprovingly at her.

Agent Malkovich,' she says again, this time sternly, like a teacher addressing a disobedient pupil. Kawashima was used to people treating her with utmost respect. She didn't like Malkovich much, but she was good at her job, and in this precarious time, that was what mattered. The briefings for your latest mission, your most important to date. You have learnt of the plans of the adept Dehuai, I presume?' However this was a statement, not a question, and she continues. And no doubt you are also aware of the Japanese Army's attempt to . . .' She searches for the right word. '. . . eliminate him.'

Yeah, but. . . 'Malkovich begins. Kawashima swiftly shoots a silencing look.

Now I don't know if you have been informed of the events on the Changchun-Fengtian express train last night-'

Well of course, even the cleaners know all about THAT,' says Malkovich disparagingly.

Kawashima is extremely annoyed at having her secret information leaked to such an extent. For one thing, she felt it rather took away her upper hand in the conversation.

Well,' she says, trying to regain her lost footing. The girl involved-'

- Alice Eliott,' Malkovich interrupts. Kawashima bristles. Malkovich is only trying to goad her into losing her temper. She does it every time they end up together on a mission.

Perhaps you'd like to tell me what your mission is, since you're so clever,' snaps Kawashima, sounding even more like an angry teacher. Malkovich smiles slightly and leans back in her chair.

I bet I could make a pretty good guess.'

Kawashima grits her teeth. The worst part is, she'd probably be right.

Well,' she says quickly, before Malkovich can turn the advantage around completely.

We have inside information that Eliott is heading for Fengtian with intent of defeating Dehuai. She is also rumoured to be travelling with a -'

Young man. I heard THAT from the janitor this morning.' Malkovich informs her smugly. Kawashima snorts.

I can easily get someone else to work on this mission, you know,' she says, but it's an empty threat. Malkovich knows it too and taps her fingers lightly on the arm of the chair, letting Kawashima's words wash over her. This is the worst way to annoy her, as Malkovich learnt on their first collaboration. She had performed well then and had only got better since. In fact, she was the only spy Kawashima knew never to have failed a mission. She would have preferred it if Malkovich would slip up once in a while, to give her something to throw back in her face when she got overconfident.

So,' Malkovich asks calmly. What do you want me to DO about this pair? Monitor them? Or kill them like you usually -'

A warning look from Kawashima tells her not to push it. Normally this wouldn't have worked, but Malkovich was intrigued by this mission. And when all was said and done, Kawashima was her senior, who could, and very probably would, make sure she too was "eliminated", if she got too far out of step. Kawashima had a very ruthless attitude towards lives, especially those of subordinates who knew something about the army's workings. It was the one thing Malkovich hated most about her.

Your mission is to infiltrate the group, and journey with them until Dehuai is defeated. Then capture the girl and return her to us.'

Why capture her?'

For mass murder of guards on the Changchun-Dalian express train last night. Here,' Kawashima hands Malkovich a blue cardboard folder. This is your mission outline. You leave for Fengtian tonight at 23:00 hours, from the airbase at Tokyo.'

Malkovich takes the folder, tucks it under her arm and stands up. Kawashima picks up a note from her in-tray and begins reading.

Well?' asks Malkovich. Aren't you going to wish me good luck?' She looks at Kawashima with a hint of a sarcastic smile. Kawashima ignores her and continues reading. Malkovich turns round and walks towards the door. As she exits she can hear Kawashima start to dial a number on her telephone.