Shredded clothing matched Boyd’s shredded ego, but clothes could be replaced, so there was no use in worrying about those as he was much luckier to even be alive after that fiasco.
Thanks were due in part to his choice of these nicer fabrics and their thicker weave because they insulated his body from being scraped up when the Enforcer decided to jump out the car and onto the meaty areas of his body as if he were laying down a motorcycle.
This was not another example of the testosterone-quenched male ego at work because in black ops, posturing got people killed, and players (like Mexico) could easily sniff out posers. It was just one of those things kinda like voice recognition on customer service phone lines – a great idea in theory but excruciatingly painful when put into practice.
And on the subject of pain, Boyd remembered the bruises vividly. Those welts from the road burn of a cushioned slide in a designer outfit at fifty miles per hour had taken a couple weeks to fully heal but also served to add a bit of seared permanence to the learning of his lesson. There was an ongoing physiopsychological reminder about how a reckless tactic which was short on ‘tact’ could always cause him to wind up inside ‘i’ntensive ‘c’are. The pie’s flavor happened to have been of the humble variety, but he was not arrogant in the slightest. Confident, yes. Conceited, no. Arrogance was unnecessary because the Space Force had faith in the Enforcer’s abilities, and he had faith in himself.
As far as the lesson was concerned, it became more a comparison of results than a reawakening of acceptable ideology. Black ops was a little different beast than the overt and authoritarian nature of law enforcement or the subtlety and umbrage of sales because the occupation managed to combine both areas into a harmonious tune of cohesion.
Too much selling and not enough authority did not translate to respect. Having thrown himself from a moving vehicle because Boyd’s charms (alone) were not enough to thwart an obvious kidnap attempt proved this and also brought a chuckle to the introspection. He could laugh about it…now but was not laughing then.
Too much authority and not enough selling caught Boyd up in this current predicament – stuck within the inner recesses of a foreign planet as what could be considered a spy with an army bearing down upon him and his back up against a biological weapon. By being granted covert espionage powers via an explicit interpretation of the Space Force Doctrine which allowed certain higher-ups inside the faction to sanction the Enforcers as a black ops unit for the purposes of keeping the megapower in power, he was well within his rights to be caring about the Power Authority and Inner Corridor in such an intrusive manner. But what did any of this mean to Galaxy Bloc?
Politics. In returning to the side story, Boyd had made it back to his darkened penthouse apartment and trudged through its spacious interior while flinging articles of ruined clothing in various, different directions that all seemed to coalesce around second-rate, nonsensical piles across the floor. Thoughts were contained to formulating the strategy of getback – not quite getting revenge but not quite getting even either. Getting back.
Boyd needed Mexico alive in order to be shown the virtual on-ramp for the Indra Pallavan Trade Routes or at least until he became familiar enough to navigate the distribution channel by himself. But this did not mean that the disrespect should or would go unpunished.
A trunk resting at the foot of Boyd’s bed housed his next play. He put the palm of his hand on the DNA Recognition/Authorization contacts which lined a rectangular area along the top and front of the chest in order to unlock its latch. Combat gear was located inside and fitted. The dual LUNC’s were checked and holstered. A tattletale minicomputer was used to locate the whereabouts of Mexico via the telltale trail of unmistakeable biometric scans. Apparently, the target had decided to hop the first shuttle out of Pasma Tam, but the Class V Fighter which sat conveniently on the roof of the Enforcer’s apartment would not be too far behind in pursuit.
It took no time at all to track Mexico down, but almost a week passed before Boyd had systematically cornered his target to an appropriate setting – courtesy of some light surveillance and an amassed list of frequented establishments. The places were each somewhat of an unknown variable, but patience allowed him to settle upon a time (for the encounter) of his choosing.
The inside of Humpsman Bar was not overly seedy. It was just dark. The ambiance was of hearth and a warmth that appeared to be strangely familial. In creating a home for criminals, the bar’s ownership had made the entire establishment feel like home. Rustic lighting from tabletop candles to what seemed to be overhead pool table lights throughout. Quaint. Easy on the eyes. Prime for searching. And guns were allowed.
But LUNC’s were undetectable, so Boyd did not need to even worry about that. And within the friendly confines of this building, it was much better to be caught with a weapon than to be caught off guard without one. He just walked past a gathering of reputed Palatine Triad members on his left but made no eye contact. They were players in Atro City who were connected to businesses like Ennead Tech Corp via an unofficial relationship of being hired underground muscle, but they were not the only group in attendance that had corporate backing.
Off in the far corner, the notorious Olney was whooping it up with associates in what appeared to be some sort of celebration. Although that criminal was not the focus of this mission, the situation should not have been misconstrued that the Slorg was in any way vulnerable as none of his personal guard were at all partaking in the festivities and were probably pretty pissed about things – raring to open up on anybody who might further ruin their night by trying to put an assassination attempt damper on the evening.
Shokan Subsect members also happened to be present and were a generally younger, more randomized assortment of gangs but finally organized albeit indentured to the greater Shokan martial arts clans through the simple threat of impending death otherwise. They were putting the pool tables and arcade games to some good use. Because of a relationship that one of the Enforcers’ leaders (Chipshot) had with the Shokan, those Subsect members were potential allies, but that leader was also lying up in a coma at Atro City Hospital, so this extraction was going to be left to the surgical tact that only Boyd could provide.
The target sat comfortably in the center seat at a U-shaped booth of his own, surrounded by Corinna and Jocelin who Boyd still believed to be as deceptively dangerous as they were beautiful. Of Mexico’s intendants, a person would be making a serious, harrowing mistake by underestimating their true worth. Somewhere on them – either underneath their blouses and skirts or inside their clutch handbags hid the weaponry. With a mouthful of food, it was clear that he happened to be enjoying a late supper.
In announcing his presence, Boyd called out, “Mexico Riguez.”
“¿Señor Boyd?” Mexico looked up and greeted. “I’m honored by your haunting presence. Aren’t you supposed to be el hombre muerto?” Corinna and Jocelin began to reach for wherever their weaponry happened to be concealed, but he held them at bay with an off right hand which held a knife while his left hand gracefully wielded a fork that was preoccupied with a piece of steak that had just been carved away from its T-bone.
“See, I’ve been meaning to talk to somebody about that,” Boyd explained, “and I heard that you were the guy.”
Mexico took the chance to finally put the piece of steak in his mouth before stating that, “I don’t talk to dead men. They never pay their bills.”
The sentiment was morbid, but Mexico had clearly authored Boyd’s predicament back on Pasma Tam by putting out a hit on him. True, moving quickly in tracing after the target had avoided any sort of hired conflict, but the Enforcer found a certain irony in those previous words and suggested, “Let’s put that theory to the test.” He turned around and questioned, “So it was Olney who set me up?”
The audacity of Boyd’s utterance caused Mexico to choke down that piece of steak. He started coughing and reaching for his soft drink as Corinna reached for him to perhaps offer the Heimlich maneuver. Jocelin had her eyes peeled on Olney’s table in the far right corner.
But Boyd was not finished with his antics and dropped a LUNC into his right hand. He held the weapon down at his side as to hold off the drawing of any attention until the last possible moment.
“¡Estúpido!” Mexico exclaimed before wiping his mouth with a cloth napkin and standing up – settling for staring a hole through Boyd’s unusually cold eyes when he would have preferred for one of his intendants to put a laser pulse through the face of the annoyance.
“What’s it gonna be, Mexico?” Boyd asked. An informant’s liability would always be the lack of credibility in the eyes of those who they might potentially rat out. “Your reputation precedes you, and I’m sure that somebody the caliber of Olney might not take too kindly to being fingered for my woes and embarrassed during his dinner. ¿Comprende?”
The potential for implication created a leveraged loyalty which wound up bringing Mexico and his intendants into the Enforcer fold. A partnership of convenience – blackmail or otherwise, he became a convenient source of information for the black ops unit, and they did not have him killed.
There was more to this ongoing side story, but the lesson that Boyd took away from these first couple chapters of it was that charisma needed to be tempered to a relevance while power could also stand some much improved timing in utilization. He would never again go into a situation believing that people would be capable of considering the importance of something just because that something happened to be important to him.
Galaxy Bloc did not care about Boyd’s intentions and could care less about the whim of his employer. It was up to him to figure out a way to make them care. He took off running from his three-point stance but met the brunt of an unseen force which lifted the Enforcer from his feet, drove him through the air, and plowed him into the window which stood between Inner Corridor and the biological weapon!