The first thing you notice about him is that his eyes are too close together. It is such a stark deviation from what people consider average, that you have to ignore the gun he has against your temple (usually the second thing you notice) to take in his facial features just in case anything else is weird.
He is used to the double take when people first see him, he’s been getting it ever since puberty played its cruel trick on him. That doesn't mean he likes, or isn't offended by, the look. Some have said that it was part of the reason he was so good at what he did.
All that is rendered kind of irrelevant when you realise that there is still a gun pressed against your head. After all, the only time most people ever meet him is when they deserve, by someones reasoning, the business end of a standard issue police pistol pressed hard against their head.
I tell you all that only so you have an introduction to the man. Right now, as far as I know, his pistol isn't going to be used to settle your debts or coerce information out of you. Others who meet him aren't as lucky as you are, being told all that up front. Not that it will do you any good. He is very good at his job and part of that is being able to take care of things when you least expect it.
Of course, you are encouraged to ensure you are not a job for him to complete. The higher ups are not fond of setting him loose. He costs a lot of money and, as a contractor, plays by rules we do not endorse. I'm not threatening you. Consider it full disclosure. You do your part, as you have agreed to, and we wont have to renegotiate our deal.
You and I wont see each other again. There will be others, of course. We understand that things can change during the course of a job and within reasonable circumstances, we do accommodate this. You wont see any of them, however, until a decision has been reached on whether the situation requires our intervention.
“That was the message left with the case,” the detective said. “There isn't a lot to go on, but by the looks of it we are getting closer.”
“To a lot,” one of the younger investigators said.
“We have to remember we are after this enforcer. Any information regarding the cell he’s currently employed by or the larger organisation that operates the cell needs to be passed on to the other projects.”
“Are we sure this should be its own investigation, Detective?” one of the longer tenured beat cops asked.
“That's not a decision for us to make and until we’re told otherwise, the aims remain as they have always been – get this guy.”
“No worries,” the cop fell silent, but he was only expressing thoughts others around the station had been saying quietly for a number of weeks now.
It was true that this suspect had been his own investigation for a long time. Crimes he had been linked to didn't link to any other investigations. But due to some interesting developments stemming from an informant almost a month ago, the case had broken open but had also started to bleed into at least three other investigations. The overlap in resources and information had seen a number of busts ruined and strained relationships between otherwise friendly officers.
It would not be an easy fix going forward but if the operations continued as they were going, something was going to break.
The city is fairly typical as cities go. There are stereotypical good parts and bad parts and depending on who you listen to, any number of reasons why this is so.
One of the more universally recognised bad parts of town was the neighbourhood adjacent to the docks. Ironically, and counter to many TV shows and movies, the docks were one of the more respected areas, mostly because the value of things imported and exported through them was high enough to warrant high security and all the impediments to crime that incurred.
Next to the docks, though, was the warehousing that was used by various logistics companies and this part of town, along with the lower cost residential neighbourhoods beyond, were the bad part mentioned before.
It was in one of these warehouses, which - not coincidentally - was empty, where a small meeting of the people who were partially responsible for the reputation this neighbourhood had was taking place.
Concern had started to make its way up the ranks of the organisation they all claimed to represent about the encroaching police efforts. As a mark of how much attention the leaders of the group were giving to the situation, a very high ranking organiser was also present.
“The issue is real,” the organiser said. “The police have struck some agreements with ex-employees of ours.”
“And what exactly are we to do about that? They're cramping our style, you know?”
“I do know,” the leader said calmly. “We have arranged for accidents to happen to anyone who even breathes near a police officer.”
“What about the tales about the gunman?”
“What about them?”
“Rumour on the streets says they're close to catching him.”
“So? He has never presented himself as an issue worth taking care of. And if caught, I'm sure he can take care of himself.”
“He’s a mercenary, can’t trust mercenaries.”
“He is a loyal, trusted asset. We will not move on him.”
“You're scared of him,” one of the others blurted out. “You won’t deal with him, a weak link, because you're afraid of that little pistol of his.”
“I promise you, there are worse things to be afraid of than his gun,” the organiser said, motioning to one of his guards who pulled out his own gun and shot the other man straight through his forehead.
There was silence in the warehouse before the person who had been talking about mercenaries took a deep breath. “Regardless of his weapon choices, he is a mercenary. What if the cops offer him more money than we do?”