White Lily

Continued (Part 03)

Written By | Series: Noir | Part of

Scene Eleven

The morning light filtered softly into Mirielle’s room. She woke, feeling oddly complacent – a feeling which worried her immediately. There was no room here for relaxation or hesitation. At any moment a chance might present itself and she would have to be ready to act.

As she stood and stretched, she wondered if her food had again been drugged, but her mind felt sharp and her limbs light. The woman, Veronika, had said they were not drugging her meals here and she believed that, although she could not say why.

Why? That was the question Mirielle had to ask over and over. If Soldats wanted her out of the way, why not just kill her? If they wanted to recreate the true Noir, surely it would be easier if she were simply dead?

A knock sounded briefly on the door, and it opened softly. Hugo entered with breakfast. Mirielle could see the tray was laid for two. She smiled happily up at the large man.

“Are you joining me?” Her voice was like silk, and her eyes met his eagerly. “I’m so glad.”

A short laugh interrupted the scene. “I am afraid not,” Veronika spoke from the doorway. “I will be your partner.”

Mirielle tore her eyes from Hugo’s impassive form, to the redhead, who filled the doorframe seductively. A cold glint shone in her eyes as she spoke. “Thank you Hugo, that will be all.”

The guard closed the door behind him, leaving the two women alone.

Veronika smiled wryly as she moved into the room. “I was told that you were formidable. I thought I was prepared.” Her smile vanished for a second. “There were so many things I did not think of.” Her sigh was exaggerated and dramatic. “Little Kitten, don’t waste anymore of your time on seducing our poor Hugo. It tortures him so. He only has so much self-control…and you are a very attractive woman.”

Veronika slid past Mirielle to take a seat at the table. “I will admit to a small amount of jealousy, Little Kitten, but I see now that we were wrong about you and your partner.” She watched the blonde take the seat across from hers.

Veronika’s eyes were dark, boring into Mirielle’s. Her smile was, when it came, painfully genuine. “Ah well…if you should ever change your mind, I offer myself as a target for your…seductive efforts.” She reached out, stroking Mirielle’s hand. “I had hoped that, after this was over….ah well…” her voice faded out on a wistful sigh.

“But, now we find ourselves in a difficult situation, do we not, Little Kitten?” Her voice had returned to its usual briskness. “You should stop bothering Hugo, I hope that’s clear. And I will stop bothering you. I think we can safely agree to these terms, can we not?”

Mirielle nodded, just barely acknowledging the words.

“Good, good.” Veronika poured coffee for them both. “And now we come to the larger problem…what to do with Mirielle Bouquet.” She helped herself to a croissant as she spoke. Mirielle watched the redhead, as she sipped her coffee, reflecting.

“I think we misjudged the situation and now, sadly, I find that you may be expendable after all. So, what shall we do with you, Little Kitten?” Veronika met Mirielle’s steady gaze with her own. “We could kill you – I am sure you are aware of this. We did not, because we needed you as leverage against your partner. But now…she will come, of course. But you are not worth what we thought,” she said candidly. “So, maybe you can help us – maybe you cannot. Here are our choices.

“We can kill you. This would be a terrible waste, I think,” Veronika’s eyes stroked Mirielle. “On so many levels. We cannot let you go, of course. My superiors have commanded the former, to be carried out immediately.”

Mirielle’s muscles clenched, waiting for gun or knife to appear. Perhaps it would be poison. She gazed into the depths of her coffee.

“But I argue – I say there is another option,” Veronika’s voice was urgent, a harsh whisper. “I tell them that there is another way. You can join us.”

Mirielle shot from her chair as if she had been hit. “What?” she hissed.

“Yes,” Veronika stood, her arm outstretched, “Join us, bring your partner to us, and we can all go on as if nothing had happened.”

“What? What are you saying?” Mirielle’s rasped against a dry throat. “Join Soldats? Are you people stupid? What part of this farce makes any sense to you?”

Veronika’s arm dropped to her side, as she stood for a moment in silence. She gazed at Mirielle with undisguised amusement, then seated herself once again. Refilling her coffee cup, she drank leisurely, unconcerned.

Mirielle stared at the woman, unsure, angry, shaking with rage.

At last, Veronika looked up at the blonde and smiled. “Come, sit, Little Kitten.”

Mirielle didn’t move. Her fists clenched as she waited for something to happen.

Veronika’s face was filled with irony as she gestured to the empty chair. “Please, sit. Because, you see…” her smile was warm, friendly, “We are not Soldats.”

 

Scene Twelve

Kirika slept fitfully during the ride. Her senses were aware enough to know that they were in the country now. But she felt tired – more tired than she had felt in a long time. This game was boring and she longed to have an end to it. The rules were opaque, the goal unknown and she was tired of being seen as a mere pawn. She yawned.

The estate was not visible from the road, but as they passed through the gate, Kirika could see a glimpse of a large house on landscaped grounds. The manor stood, as all of its kind does, apart from trees or gardens, dominating the landscape. Kirika watched as they approached, noting the guards on the perimeter, the men at doors and windows.

The car stopped some distance from the house. One more of those anonymous men. Kirika found herself wondering, not for the first time where all these faceless men came from, from what kind of lives they were recruited. One of the nameless men opened the door and gestured for her to exit the car. She did so with another yawn. He scowled at her and directed her towards the house.

“Things have changed,” the man said gruffly. “You are to be taken directly to the boss.”

Kirika shrugged noncommittally, but inside she considered the words. Things had changed? What did that mean? A change in leadership? Mirielle dead and they’d lost their bargaining chip? She pondered the possibilities fruitlessly.

The walk was short; they entered the estate through French doors at the side of one wing. Kirika stepped through the doors into a classically appointed study. She took in the decorations, the furniture – all appropriate for the period of the house. Very tasteful.

“Welcome!” A cultured voice spoke smoothly from behind the desk. “Welcome to my home. I am Bernard, please make yourself welcome.”

Kirika stepped away from the lackey and took the seat offered to her. She felt no anguish, no concern. The part of her that was human, that could reach through a vague and unknown past to touch another human – that part was gone. All that was left was the machine – the highly trained and efficient killer. She noted positions of objects, heft, length, weight. Number of men, how they were armed, where they stood, how they acted. As Bernard waved her to a chair, she had come up with three plans that would have them all dead within a minute. She lifted her eyes to Bernard’s face as he spoke once again.

“I am sorry for the informal reception,” he seated himself and leaned forward on the desk. “Some changes in plan had to be made at the last moment.” He smiled pleasantly at Kirika. “I like to be flexible.”

Bang, she thought, mentally pulling the gun from the hand of the man to her right, shooting Bernard through the forehead and killing the other two on her way out the door.

“I suppose we should deal with the most important thing first,” Bernard continued. “Your partner…”

Kirika tensed slightly.

“Is alive and well. If we conclude our business today, then you will see her shortly. Perhaps we can have dinner together. It is a long ride from Paris to this place.”

In her mind, Kirika used the fire poker to attack the man behind her, put him between her and any gunfire and calmly shot his gun five times to kill the men in the room. She saw two of the men converse and leave. Bang.

“So, perhaps I can offer you a drink?” Bernard stood and walked to a small bar on a sideboard. He shook his head at her. “No, no, you don’t want, am I right?”

She watched him walk into the crossfire between the man on her left and the one in the corner, as she used the chair to trip the one by the door. The paperweight would distract the one in the far corner…

“Well, then, let me just say what a pleasure it is to play host to the True Noir, here in my humble home.”

He had Kirika’s full attention now.

“And I hope,” he lifted his glass, “that I am not awry in drinking to the beginning of a profitable partnership between us all.”

 

Scene Thirteen

“I can see that I have surprised you, Little Kitten.” Veronika looked pleased at that. “But I speak the truth. We are not Soldats.”

“Who are you?” Mirielle still stood away from the table.

Veronica’s tone was enigmatic. “Do you think that they are the only organization in the world? Do you think that they are the only ones who can use…Noir?”

Mirielle said nothing, but stepped back to the table, laying her hands on the chair back for support. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Veronika spoke triumphantly, “that we oppose Soldats! That we wish to wipe them from the face of the earth – and that we, that *I* wish to free Noir from their grasp forever!”

Mirielle sank into the chair. “Then why not come to us directly – why this façade?”

Veronika laughed, “Oh, Little Kitten, how naïve you are. Do you think there were only three girls raised to be Noir? Don’t you realize the nightmare of pain and anguish Soldats spreads across the globe?” Her eyes blazed with anger. “Not three, not four, but dozens of us – our families killed, our minds taken, our wills warped, until all we are is playthings to be tested, to be defeated and forgotten or to win and become…the True Noir.” Her voice weakened on the last two words. “I,” she continued, “failed. I should have died, but my opponent was careless – she too failed. We all did. Even that girl from the Manor. We all failed, because you and your partner are the True Noir.”

Mirielle thought about this for a long moment. “You are offering us the chance to take revenge?”

Veronika smiled. “If you had wanted that, you would have taken it already. We *were* going to have used you as leverage to get your partner to work with us, to take down Soldats, to free our organization…but now I see that that will be useless.

“No, now, I appeal to you, as one woman to another. I, we, have the one thing you might want. We know the truth about your partner –about Yuumura Kirika.”

 

Scene Thirteen

Kirika hissed in surprise.

Bernard beamed, then laughed. “I surprised you, did I? Good, Good!” he laughed again and finished his drink off in a single mouthful. “Maybe I can distract you from your murderous fantasies for a moment.”

Kirika’s eyes widened, but Bernard had returned to the bar and refilled his glass.

“Yes, we know the truth of who you are, what you are. The deal is a simple one – you help us, we help you. You help us to dislodge Soldats, we give you the history that has been taken from you.” Bernard stood and moved past the table, extending a hand in Kirika’s direction. “So, do we have a deal?”

 

Scene Fourteen

“No.” Mirielle said firmly.

Now it was Veronika’s turn to react as if being bit by a viper. “But why?” she grated. “Why? Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted – to find out that girl’s real identity?”

To Veronika’s shock, Mirielle’s only answer was to laugh.

 

Scene Fifteen

The dungeons, Kirika assumed they were called. Cold, damp holding cells designed to demoralize, to keep safely hidden away any person or idea that simply did not fit.

“Two days,” she said.

“What?” The guard who held her roughly and marched her down the dank corridor asked, startled.

“You have two more days to live. At most.” Kirika would not say another word, even after they roughly patted her down, and shoved her into her cell. She lay slumped against the wall where she had fallen and stared up at the grayish-greenish stone ceiling. Two days.

 

Scene Sixteen

“Idiot!” Veronika said, as Hugo grabbed Mirielle by the arms. “What did you think to accomplish by coming here?”

Mirielle simply smiled at the enraged redhead.

Veronika stared at the blonde for a long moment, then sneered. “Take her away. I never want to see her again.”

As Mirielle was forced out the door, she turned to address Veronika. “Once more…and then I promise, never again.”

 

Scene Seventeen

The cell was three meters by three meters, had one bed, a small window and a toilet. The walls were stone, with no visible cracks or chinks. Kirika spent a long minute walking the cell, noting all the few things of note. She lay down on the bed, and slept.

She woke with a pain in her neck and jaw. A moment later, she realized that it was from clenching her teeth. Relaxing her jaw, the pain lessened. She sat and waited, as the sun moved slowly across the sky and night fell heavily. An entire day had passed. No one had come, no food or drink had been brought. She slept once more.

She awoke to the faintest sensation of air movement over her face. Sitting up, she cocked her head at a noise in the distance which echoed down the corridor. Someone was coming.

She sat on the bed and waited. Steps sounded faintly, then louder, until she could guess the height of the person who approached. Her eyes lifted to the window, where grey light of dawn filtered through the pane. It was time.

 

Scene Eighteen

The room was dark and stank of mildew. Mirielle could barely make out the shape of the bed she occupied. Hands gripped her arms, dragging her from her prone position, out into too-bright light. As she was marched down the hallway, her eyes adjusted to the sunlight just breaking through the morning clouds.

A day had passed and she had been moved twice. The first time had been underground, the second in the east on the ground level. Now they ascended. As they passed a row of windows that overlooked the gardens, she watched the grapevines colored by brilliant morning sunshine.

It was time.

 

Scene Nineteen

The footsteps paused. Keys jingled, the door creaked. Two steps into the room, then pause. A gasp, then steps backward, turning, then a run and shouts for help.

Kirika’s blood pooled silently beneath her arm as she lay, barely conscious, on the floor.

More steps now, the sounds ringing violently in her head. Two people, entering the cell. Frantic speech – not French.

The sound of a gun drawn, a step closer, kneeling, the smell of metal and oil in her nostrils.

Kirika’s eyes shot open.

 

Scene Twenty

Three men burst into the room simultaneously. Bernard and Veronika looked up with a shared expression of annoyance.

“What?” Bernard snapped, his face red.

“They’re loose.”

“What?” Veronika was on her feet, but Bernard was already two steps ahead of her.

“What do you mean they are loose?” Bernard took the messenger by the collar. “Quickly!”

“The girl was wounded, and the guard brought help. Françoise says that he heard two shots and came running, but the guards were dead and the girl was gone.” The man’s head snapped backward as Bernard slapped him.

“And you?” Veronika pointed to the other two men. “How did Mirielle escape?”

“We…we don’t know,” the lackey spoke hesitantly, with an eye on Bernard. “The glass in the walkway is shattered and Michel is dead. We came here right away.”

“Where is Hugo?” the redhead demanded.

“Hunting for the woman,” the third man said. His mouth opened, but three gunshots rang out and shouting outside the study interrupted him.

“Go!” Bernard ordered. “Kill them or take them, I don’t care – they don’t leave. Do you understand?”

All three men snapped to attention, and left the room at a run, drawing their weapons.

Bernard faced Veronika. “What do you think?”

The redhead drew a long breath. “I think, dear brother, that we have failed, once again.” She walked to the desk and opened a drawer. She removed a gun from the drawer, she clicked off the safety and chambered a bullet. “I think,” she smiled sadly, that this is good bye.”

Bernard took a step in her direction, but she waved him off. “These two – they have been playing our game by our rules…but they are not small pieces to be manipulated.” She took another deep breath. “They are the True Noir.” Veronika turned towards her brother, leveling the gun at his head. “And you and I are not worthy.”

Her brother stepped away, his hand moving towards his pocket, but Veronika waved the gun at him.

“Don’t try and draw your weapon. You know I am faster. Now go and die by their hands – the black hands over the green fields. Go and be hunted by Noir. I will wait here.”

Bernard looked at her for a long moment, then turned and left the room. Veronika sighed and dropped the gun to her side. She walked to the bar and poured herself a glass of wine, then seated herself at the desk.

The sun was high over the grounds now and a warm breeze blew through the French doors. It wouldn’t be long now.

 

Scene Twenty One

Kirika stopped to reload, and rip her shirt to form a makeshift bandage for her wrist. She strapped the gun into her hand, leaving only enough slack for her finger to pull the trigger.

The two men behind her were a moment’s work. The four ahead took not much longer. She made her way slowly but steadily down the passage, stopping only to remove obstacles from her path. The obstacles were frequently unaware of her presence in the area until it was too late.

She knew where she had to go – in Bernard’s office, where the answers were. She shot another man and moved forward once again.

 

Scene Twenty Two

Mirielle bit back a curse. Stone chips hit her in the face as a bullet ricocheted off a pillar. She was surrounded and her options were few. She let off a few desultory rounds, but knew they’d do nothing. She glanced around quickly, looking for a way out.  When she found what she was looking for, she let off a round, firing haphazardly, hoping to confuse her opponents and dove across the floor at a window. The glass bit into her, raking her skin like sharp nails, but she was outside and for the moment, she was free.

 

Scene Twenty-Three

The sound of shots were louder now. Veronika downed her drink and held the gun on her lap. She looked at the man by her side and shook her head. It had been such a good idea, she thought. She and Bernard would gather together Soldats’ castoffs, those who had been betrayed; they would, together, bring Soldats to its knees.

The man at her side moaned and shifted, his eyes fluttering. She tsked at the pathetic form. He was, she knew, her last card, her ace in the hole. This wretched figure, this creature of Soldats, would be the thing that saved her. She pulled back the hammer on her revolver and hefted it.

She did not have to wait long. The gunfire grew closer, louder…then ceased. Veronika laid the gun on the man’s neck, the barrel pressing into his skull. His breathing changed quickly, coming in short gasps. He was conscious now – and knew that he was moments from death.

An instant later, they were in the room. One second she and the man were alone, the next – they were four. She smiled at the blonde, who did not return the greeting. Veronika transferred her attention to the younger of the two. She pulled in a slow breath. So, this was the one all the trouble had been for. She watched the expressionless brown eyes and for the first time in this whole affair, she was troubled.

Veronika turned back to Mirielle, then back again to the other. No, she was not mistaken…there was a world of difference in those eyes. Veronika exhaled with a hiss.

“Well,” she said quietly to the younger of the two, “I suppose I should say, ‘we meet at last.’” Her smile was short and ironic. There was no reaction from the girl, except perhaps, the slightest flash of sadness in her face. In that instant, Veronika knew she had her answer.

She turned back to Mirielle, who had never lowered her gun. The barrel was clearly leveled between the redhead’s eyes. Veronika started into the gun and spoke. “We can still work together.” She nudged the man at her feet with the gun and he moaned. His eyes opened, unfocused and wild. He started, but the weight of the gun on his neck stopped him mid-motion and he subsided, shivering, staring up at the two women.

“I have what you want – what you have always wanted,” Veronika said smoothly. “He is Soldats only true historian…in this man’s mind is recorded every fact of Soldats’ history.”

Mirielle did not move, but Kirika lowered her gun to her side.

“Tell her,” Veronika commanded the man, “tell her what she wants to know.”

The man lifted himself to his hands and knees, then collapsed backwards, groaning.

“Tell her, Peter,” Veronika prodded him again. “Tell her what she wants to know.”

The man’s eyes rolled. He grunted, then coughed as he tried to find his voice. “Eighteen…” his voice was rough and slurred all at once. Veronika nudged him once more and he started again.

“Eighteen years ago,” his eyes lifted to meet Kirika’s. “You were born to be the True Noir.”

Kirika met his gaze and nodded, once. Something in his eyes flamed in response.

“I know who you are,” he coughed again. “I know what they did and why.”

Veronika pushed gently and the man collapsed where he sat. “You see?” She spoke to Mirielle alone now. “I have the one thing you desire…information. But like all things it has its price.”

Mirielle lowered her gun. “What do you want?”

Veronika smiled happily. “I want you both to join me. Help me defeat Soldats. I know you want that, as well. And I think you owe me at least a little. Bernard was my brother and a good man.”

Mirielle looked at Kirika in askance. The girl’s eyes narrowed, and the blonde turned her attention back to the woman behind the desk.

“And what will we do, to defeat Soldats?” Mirielle asked.

“We have Peter here – he knows every cell, every leader, we can undermine their power, take out key peop…”

Peter, who had lain motionless this whole time leapt to his feet, shouting. “Don’t believe her! She will set the world on fire – we will die in flames! Soldats is the rock upon which many governments stand, if you destroy them…”

Veronika stood and lifted her gun, but two barrels faced her now and she did not shoot.

Peter turned away from the women. “The information you seek exists elsewhere. Look for it in the rock. Look for Noir in the rock!” And he launched himself towards the redhead. Man and woman wrestled for a moment, but the man was weak with drugs, or hunger or grief and in another second it was over. Peter lay on the carpet, while his blood seeped out slowly around him.

Mirielle pulled her eyes away from the sight, turning her attention once again to the redhead. The gun was rising, slowly, carefully. Mirielle’s mouth opened, as she tried to stop the inevitable, but there was a flash and Kirika’s gun jumped slightly in her hand. Veronika slipped to the floor next to Peter’s corpse.

They watched the redhead struggle for a moment, then collapse. Her hand lifted slightly and waved them closer.

The two women stepped over the man and leaned close to the redhead. Blood bubbled from her lips as she tried to speak. Mirielle wiped the blood away with her sleeve.

“Stop….them,” Veronika wheezed. “Stop them.” Her eyes closed, but she still breathed.

Kirika leaned down and watched her closely. “We will,” she said into the woman’s ear. Veronika’s eyes opened and she gasped, then like sank backwards into the floor. Kirika reached over and closed her eyes.

Both women stood, looking around at the desolation of a tastefully decorated room, now marred by the smell and stain of blood.

With a sigh, Mirielle turned away from the desk and walked out of the study into a day turning into night. Streaks of color painted the sky, turning it into a fantastic landscape. Behind them, the first stars twinkled brightly in a crystal blue firmament.

“Let’s go home,” Mirielle said tiredly.

 

Scene Twenty Four

They did not speak of it.

The words the dying man has spoken rang in their ears, but they were not up to the puzzles of the insane or obsessed.

They did not apologize.

Kirika and Mirielle returned home by truck, bus, train and taxi, and they simply never mentioned the ordeal. There would be time later to talk.

Days passed and the silence between them lengthened.

Kirika returned home one day with a parcel…a new laptop for Mirielle. It sat, unused, on the pool table for another week.

It had been nearly a month when the damn finally broke. Mirielle had thrown the windows open to let what little breeze she could find enter the apartment. The heavy smell of water lay thickly on the streets. Nothing was moving in the early heat.

Kirika stared passively at a newspaper, turning the pages without seeming to read the words. Her gasp was loud in the silence.

Mirielle looked over her shoulder at the younger woman, surprised to see Kirika pointing at the print. “Look.”

Leaning over Kirika’s shoulder, Mirielle read, “Visit the Rock! Day cruises to Mont St. Michel – bring the whole family!”

They were out the door in seconds.

 

Scene Twenty Five

There was something, Mirielle reflected, melancholy about riding on a ferry. Her own childhood loss lay heavily upon her as the land receded, and she tore her eyes away from the quay, only to find Kirika watching her intensely.

“I’m sorry,” the young woman said abruptly.

Mirielle regarded her seriously for a moment. “I am too.”

Kirika blinked in surprised. “But I lied to you…I betrayed you and you almost died.”

Mirielle sighed and crossed her arms, leaning back against the ship’s rail. “I lied too.” She lifted her face to the sun, enjoying the salt smell permeating the air, the wet breeze in her hair. “I lied to you, to myself, too.” She lowered her gaze to meet Kirika’s eyes. “I said that I did not want to play this game. That was a lie. I love this game – I live for it. I want, more than anything else in the world, to continue playing this deadly game.” She closed her eyes. “When you left, I realized that what I was afraid of was that *you* would not play…and I would be left to fend for myself.”

“I won’t leave.” Kirika’s voice was soft as always. “I can’t.” She turned away, leaning her arms against the rail. “I am the game.”

 

Scene Twenty-Six

The tour was typical of its type – full of cheap thrills and superficial history. The two woman faded in an out as the guide spoke.

“They call this the Pont Noir,” the guide said, his sharp voice echoing along the vaulted chamber. “The stone is volcanic obsidian.” The tour moved on, but Mirielle and Kirika stood, watching the shaped rock for a long while.

The sun moved across the sky, the shadows lengthened along the wall, until the Noir’s shape, elongated and distorted, took on the outline of a hand, it’s finger extended. Galvanized, the two women followed the pointing finger to the end of a wall, where the rock folded into itself, leaving a small crevice.

Kirika reached in carefully, feeling around, until her hand met a cool smooth texture. She leaned a little further and soon pulled back, clutching a strong box in her hand.

They opened the box without ceremony to find that it was full of papers; copies of documents and contracts from long ago, similar to the contracts they had seen during their first contact with Soldats. Carefully, they put the papers back in the box and walked quickly to catch up with the tour.

 

Scene Twenty-Seven

The wind had picked up and the small ferry was tossed by the waves, Mirielle clung to the rail, as Kirika opened the box. Before the blonde could speak, Kirika had overturned the contents into the water. Mirielle reached out, but was able only to grab a single sheet before the rest slid into the black water. As the storm struck them and began pounding them with warm, fat drops of rain, Mirielle stared open-mouthed at her partner.

“That…did you…your history?” She was unable to get the words out, she was so dumbfounded.

Kirika said nothing, but simply stared out towards the ocean.

Mirielle looked down at the paper she held. It was a list, approximately two dozen names, from many nations. All were crossed out, except two. The names were their own and the document was titled, “Outer Trees.”

Mirielle let the paper go. The wind picked it up immediately and whipped it fiercely out into the darkening water. A wave reached up to grab it and pull it under, where it disappeared forever.

“I know who I am, ” Kirika said. “I am Yuumura Kirika, eighteen, an assassin by trade.” She stood upright and smiled at Mirielle. “And I am one half of Noir.”

Mirielle looked out once again after the sheet of paper, then back at her partner.

It felt very good to smile.

 

Epilogue

The night was warm, the sound of people loud outside. Song and music and laughter filled the city on this gorgeous summer evening.

At the computer, Mirielle hit the last few keys and looked up. Kirika nodded without taking her eyes off the screen. Mirielle hit the return key with a flourish and sat back. In a moment, the message flashed across the screen.

Open for Business

Noir

Before a count of three had passed ten messages popped into their mailbox and the two woman smiled at each other.

“I hear Provence is nice this time of year,” Mirielle said pleasantly. “Or, maybe,” she opened another message, “we haven’t been to Bermuda, have we?”

Kirika pointed. “I’d like to take this one,” she said.

Mirirelle clicked on the message and drew back with a gasp. The email was in Japanese.

“Come to Japan,” it read, “the game awaits you there.” It was signed, “Yuumura Satoichi.”

“Well?” Mirielle asked.

Kirika took a deep breath. “The game continues.”

“Yes, it always will,” the blonde agreed. “It will never end, until we die and the next Noir steps up.”

“Yuumura Satoichi,” Kirika mused.

“Could he be a relative?”

Kirika looked down into the eyes of her partner. “We won’t find out if we stay here.” Her face softened into a smile as Mirielle answered the email. She watched as the letters formed on the screen once more.

 

To be continued…

 

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