Murder Has Blue Eyes
A cold, sharp eye peered through the tiny hole, its partner squinted tightly closed, creating a clear perspective through to the other side of thin, black crossed lines. In complete silence, the center of the site loomed, wavering slightly until the target was in view. The exact center of the crosshair settled on the target, following it as it moved, waiting until it stopped. All breathing momentarily ceased in anticipation of the perfect moment when...NOW! The trigger was squeezed, and a single shot rang out, it's blast ricocheting from the rifle and echoing through the woods. The target was hit square in the chest, dropping it with a thud, and then it was still. One clean shot through the heart. A few seconds later, two more identical shots rang out in the distance as a deer bounded past, shying at the first target now laid out in the dried leaves, scampering off.
By the time they found him, they'd think they accidentally shot him themselves. Mission complete.
Daniel Hutchison had been a very successful stockbroker at a leading firm before his accidental death. Frequently Broker of the Month, he was well liked and good at his job, that is, when he took it seriously. But good times and good money had started to make Daniel a little sloppy and a little greedy, and his clients were the ones who eventually began to pay the price. In all his headiness of being the success that he was - he had an expensive house, drove an expensive car, and owned numerous vacation properties and other investments - he started to take for granted the nature of his work. Brokering was not something for the weak or the careless, and Daniel had gotten careless with other people's money. Other people, including one of his best customers, Alexander Hearst.
Alexander was a well to do businessman whose fortune lay now in the stock market. He'd been a client of Daniel's for over ten years now, and believed the man's word to be gold when it came to the market. Daniel had never led him astray, always taking care that his best client was well pampered in exchange for a considerable percentage of the gain. But when Alexander started noticing discrepancies in his accounts, the first person he went to was his accountant, who couldn't explain them. He then went to Daniel, who got caught red-handed, skimming from Alexander's accounts. When all was said and done, the total amount that had been unaccounted totaled higher than a million dollars, with Daniel at the center of it all.
With the sudden revelation, Daniel's firm began to explore his other accounts. What they uncovered was that he had apparently been helping himself to a share of his client's profits with most of his accounts, embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes more, depending on what he thought he could get away with by hiding in the paperwork. When this all came to light, the shit hit the fan at the brokerage, and suddenly the firms owners found themselves crawling with lawyers, and with huge debts to pay back, all thanks to Daniel's sticky fingers. Clientele at the firm dropped drastically, causing the release of many people, and leaving the corporation in bad shape indeed.
There is one thing that is understood in big business, and that is never to cross that invisible line in the sand that means the difference between a company's profitability and its demise. Daniel crossed that line.
When the investigation was complete, there would be nothing to see, other than a hunting accident. There would be no footprints, no evidence, nothing. The gun used was the same as carried by both of Daniel's sporting partners, with the same bullets - fairly standard issue for deer hunting. Daniel himself carried a similar rifle, only of a bigger gauge, since he was a more experienced huntsman, but neither of the friends he was with acknowledged the difference in the sound of the shot that was fired prior to theirs. When that first shot had been fired from the vicinity of where Daniel was hiding, they simply assumed it was his gun.
One more job complete.
Heero Yuy was a loner for as long as he could remember. Born to an American woman and fathered by a Japanese businessman, he was given into adoption as an infant, unwanted. His mother was a professional of the streets, having neither the desire nor the ability to care for a child. His father, a one-night stand in the midst of business negotiations between two large computer firms. By the time he'd been abandoned outside the steps of a hospital emergency room at only a few weeks old, his mother was already counting the dollars she'd lost while being indisposed, calculating the amount of work she'd need to do to pay back the ones who cared for her in the meantime. She cursed her infant son and left him in God's graces one crisp fall evening just after dusk and paramedics would find the cold, screaming bundle a few minutes later.
For the first few months or so of life the infant resided at a city-run care facility for orphaned children, until he was placed with an American foster family. He remained with them until shortly after his fifth birthday, when childcare services removed him from the loving home that had raised him, to place him with a Japanese-American family in the effort of "allowing the child to get to know some of his cultural roots." With many tears shed, child and foster-parents were parted, creating an emotional scar that would run deep in the small boy and follow him through most of his life.
Even though having been given a name by his first foster family, the new family thought better to give a traditional Japanese name to the boy, so not only did his home change, but his identity as well, as he became known from that day on as Heero. Since adoptive services had stressed that the boy be introduced into his own culture in an effort to give the child a background and a historical past more illustrious and traditional than his actually was, they permitted the change of name to a more traditional Japanese label. This was all very similar to the handling of many adoptions of African-American babies and children, who were eventually placed with their own culture in the hopes of creating pride and self respect, but unfortunately that system failed more than it helped because of the broken bonds that it created when children were pulled from the homes that they already loved and knew to be placed somewhere else.
New family, new home, new name. Nothing was the same, everything was different, and soon young Heero Yuy, already suffering from the shyness that frequently plagues children in adoptive homes, began to withdraw into himself. His new family was good to him, but they never seemed like a real family, like his previous family had. It felt more like he was living indefinitely with friends, friends that were caring and trustworthy, but by no means gave the feeling of being a single unit. Before he was old enough to understand why, he'd initially thought that his first foster family had abandoned him by sending him to live with other people, punishing him for some unknown deed. Then when he was older, and could understand the reasoning behind his transplant, Heero questioned himself as to how it could be expected of him to simply move on and assume a family role with new people. People that he'd neither chosen himself, nor had he even met them before, there being no bond what-so-ever between himself and this new "family."
He spent most of his younger days alone, opting not to join other children in play as he played by himself, and it carried over to his teenage years. Throughout his school career Heero remained a good student, passing his classes with ease, but no matter how well he did, he could never make friends easily, nor blend in with people. He just didn't care to be around them. He did eventually begin to develop a bit of a better self-esteem in his later teens, making life a little bit easier for him after high school, but he continually avoided people, preferring instead to remain alone, as he had spent most of his childhood.
By the time he was twenty, Heero had moved out of the family home and found himself a tiny loft in the city, which he enjoyed immensely, since he could hide himself away from people easily. He took college classes by day, studying in the journalism field since he'd always loved to write - it was the one way that Heero could comfortably express himself and stay away from the masses at the same time. By night, he did computer work for a number of companies, tasks that included invoicing, web design, and whatever else he could do to earn a fee. Except to go to class or pick up food, he very rarely left the loft.
Came the afternoon one day during his final semester of his last year of college, as Heero was wondering what he was going to do with his life when the time came to actually start working in his field of study, that he came across an employment listing that piqued his interest. It guaranteed excellent salary, all expenses paid and medical benefits. Just like every other job offer on the web. But this one seemed a little different in that it also offered the solitude that he so desired. "Be your own boss, while we pay you," the ad had claimed, insinuating that it was like being in business for yourself, only with a paycheck that was guaranteed to come in. The requirements were "good math, reading and computer skills, technical and mechanical dexterity, ability to work hard and unassisted for long periods of time for a private company that takes care of its employees," Heero had all of those abilities. Still, he stared at the computer screen, wondering what kind of a hook was waiting for the unsuspecting interested party who was looking for some get rich quick scheme. He wondered if it was an MLM scam, or even better yet, some new hot product to market to people who don't want to buy it. Thinking there was really nothing to lose though, he emailed for more information. At the worst, he'd shake his head and delete the email if it turned out to be another farce.
The return email was intriguing, to say the least. The organization presented itself as a private investigation firm, and they frequently had openings in various positions. Surveillance people, computer technicians, and investigators. The pay offering, according to the email, seemed too good to be true. $40,000.00 per annum to start at the lowest level, in surveillance, with other positions offering more. With money like that, Heero could pay off his student loans in a couple of years and never have to join the corporate throng, that is, if this email was for real. He took a couple of days to contemplate the information that had been sent, and then called the 800 number provided to schedule an interview with a local representative, and see just what the job was all about.
Two weeks later, Heero was employed as a computer technician, or what is commonly called by others, a hacker. It worked out quite well for him, since most of it could be done at his loft, and hardly anyone knew him, so he managed to stay out of any limelights. A couple of time he'd considered the legality of what it was that he was doing, since technically he was breaking and entering other people's computer systems looking for information, but that was quickly washed over when the first paycheck came in. It was over two thousand dollars, cleared, for about twenty-five hours worth of work. That weekend, Heero splurged and treated himself to Chinese takeout and picked up a couple of new DVDs to watch.
Heero quickly rose in the ranks of Freedom, Co., a company which fronted itself as a data storage company, affording itself an excuse to be in possession of other people's information the way it was. He finished school, graduating eighth in his class with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, and never wrote another piece after that, concentrating instead on his job, which was beginning to afford him with the means for a lavish lifestyle, although all he did was put the money away for later. Whatever later there would be. If there was a relationship, or a house, or a new car in his future, Heero didn't know at that moment, but he did know that he was extremely good at what he did, making him very popular with his supervisors.
What also made him especially popular was the fact that he learned early on not to question anything, and just get the job done. It was none of his business, what his supervisors at Freedom were asking him to find. They wanted the information; they were paying him to get it. Period. It was the unwritten law of the company, and one that Heero memorized quickly. The ones who did usually got the better jobs to do, and thus, were able to make the most money in reward for their indifference. It suited Heero fine, and soon he received a phone call - he was invited for a meeting about an opening in a different branch of the company, and he had been recommended for the job.
He was flown to Los Angeles, where the Freedom main office was. It was not only Heero's first time away from his home city, but his first time on a plane as well, although the future would hold that that would be changing drastically. The hotel suite he stayed in was a mansion compared to his tiny loft apartment, and he was overwhelmed by the sheer lavishness of it, and the preferential treatment he had been receiving, since arriving at LAX. His meeting was at 9 am the next morning, so he had the remainder of his day to simply relax and take in all the luxury, which he did, eagerly. It was definitely something he could get used to, that was for sure.
At eight-thirty Friday morning, a black limosine was waiting outside the hotel to drive Heero to his appointment. Dressed in his best suit, black Italian silk, bought specifically for this trip, he blended well into the corporate hum that went on around him. Heero had been warned, much to his curiosity, about looking conspicuous while in LA prior to his departure, so he made it a point to dress the dress right down to the sterling silver cuff links - he always preferred silver over gold, but never had any reason to wear jewelry before this. No one had any reason to suspect that he didn't belong there.
He was delivered to a tall office building in the center of Los Angeles where he was met by another man at the curb, who had been waiting for him.
"Heero Yuy?" The man had asked.
Heero nodded in response.
"This way." The man, dressed in a similar dark suit and portraying a similar look of importance, said nothing more as he began toward the tall skyscraper and into the lobby, and Heero's nervousness was definitely beginning to nag at him. He was silently led to a private group of offices on the 64th floor, then ushered inside as the door was held for him, the other man then remaining outside, presumably to guard the door. The situation, Heero thought, was getting very strange, indeed, with all the secrecy, and he was wondering just what he was going to find waiting for him.
What he found waiting for him was a job offer of the most interesting, and morally disturbing kind, but somehow Heero held within himself the desire to accept it.
Now, almost twenty-four, Heero Yuy had everything that Freedom Corp. had promised him. Moderate wealth, healthcare, a place to live when he wasn't working, and most of all, protection. Because in his field of work, there occasionally came the time when protection was needed, in order to live to see the next job, although Heero was good enough at what he did that the times were few.
In his time off, the young man blended quietly into his surroundings, residing in a nice condominium neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. He still lived alone, still preferring solitary to the public eye, and in his case, that was part of the reason he was where he was in life. Heero jogged in the morning, waving politely to the neighbors he encountered along his way, even smiling at them occasionally, but rarely stopped to chat. They knew he traveled a lot for his job, and they knew he was in "securities," as he would tell people who naturally would always ask what he did for a living, but that was all anyone outside of Freedom knew about what Heero did for a living.
He kept busy by keeping physically fit, exercising at the local fitness club as well, and beyond that tried to stay out of sight as much as possible. Average height, average build, with loosely styled hair that fell in wild clumps over his face, he was the picture of every day America in a town with as many types of nationalities as it had nightclubs. His only betraying trait was his eyes - deep, glowing blue, which - were odd for a person of Japanese descent. Heero's mother had had blue eyes, unbeknownst to him, although nowhere near as vibrant. However, his eyes were the one distinguishing thing about him that Heero kept guarded as much as possible, most of the time under wraparound sunglasses.
He'd been an employee for Freedom Corp. for almost four years now, and had been one of their elite ever since that first meeting in LA, three years ago. He'd been thoroughly caught off guard by the job that was offered to him that day, to say the least - first, because of the amount of money that was offered him, and second, because of the nature of the job. The reason the meeting had been so secretive was because the very nature of the company lay in the balance between the people who were brought in, and the people that were kept out. The hacking and surveillance, it turned out that they were positions created first and foremost to watch over any potential candidates, plus they also did well to create a front for the company. The "qualified" individuals, or those who showed evidence of having what was required to move up the ladder, were brought in, and beyond that, no one else knew that this part of Freedom Corp. even existed. Now Heero was one of those that were in the know.
The job itself was really quite simple, but it could be dangerous. Exterminating. Heero Yuy was now an experienced, well-compensated "agent" for a company that was in the business of person removal, or murder.
From a person who had never left home soil before his first plane ride to Los Angeles that fateful day, Heero had been transformed into a professional world traveler, frequently having to visit far reaches of the earth to perform his duties. One of only a handful of agents employed by the company, he was the best of all of them - the most cautious, the most quick-witted and quick thinking on his feet. He was careful, he was cunning, and he always got the job done the first time, which made him the favorite among the people handing out the instructions. They loved him, and once more, for the same reasons they loved him as a computer hacker. Heero didn't meddle in the affairs of those higher up than he was. He merely took his assignments and completed them, no questions asked. He had long since put aside his own reservations about what it was that he was doing, helped along by some of the explanations he was given during his training, so Heero was able to do his work without the interruptions of emotion or guilt or hesitation.
They explained to him that, while he wasn't ever going to get the facts behind the people that he targeted, in most of the cases they were people who were a nuisance, a threat, or a disease to humanity in one form or another. However, Freedom Corp. also plainly admitted that they were not playing God by screening the jobs either - it was a rough business, and there was no room for remorse so, whoever could pay for the hit qualified to be a customer. The reasons, Freedom had quoted, were not personally appreciated by the corporation as they were by the people looking for resolve, therefore they could not judge them as unimportant, and anyone who could pay to cover Freedom's risks was treated equally. The identity of the company was kept in strict confidentiality in order to protect its employees and most importantly, the agents, and that automatically limited the amount of people who could request a job anyway. This created just enough work to keep Freedom Corp. busy, but not enough for them to get sloppy. A perfect in-between.
Heero's first job had been an eye awakening experience. As per his training, he was provided with a name, a photograph, and a general schedule. If he required more information to get the job done, that was up to him to find out, and then only if he wanted to take the risk of somehow becoming associated or knowledgeable about the person he was to exterminate. Most times, Heero did his job with as little information as possible. The first few times, however, to build his confidence that he could actually do it, and not bump the wrong person, he did delve a little bit into researching the lives of his victims. He'd done it to try to assure himself, but it turned out to be a mistake to familiarize himself with people that it was his job to do away with, so he didn't do that anymore. It was much easier to remain a total stranger than to feel some amount of familiarity.
The job had come to him, an easy one, to end the life of one Dolores Markham, and make it look like the inevitable had happened. Most of the jobs were made to either look like accidents or like natural death if possible, unless it was certain that there was no way for the agent to be found out. Dolores was ailing at eighty-three, and suffering badly from emphysema. The wife of a well-to-do heir and business owner, she had declined to the point of misery - both to her and the rest of her family. It was her husband John who paid the bounty on Delores, hoping to aid her to a better place where she no longer felt the pain that every day life brought. That and, John was at his wits end with her suffering - it was causing suffering of his own, to watch her fade away, yet hang on indefinitely the way she was. Their children too felt the pain of watching their mother wither, and nary there was a get together with them anymore that didn't end in tears. So John solemnly paid his deposit and made the arrangements for Dolores to be assisted into the next world.
The job itself could not have been easier, but then, Heero was given an easy job for his first hit for a reason. While the actual extermination would be over in a few minutes time, and with very little preparation necessary, the difficult part would come after, while he lay in his bed that night, questioning what it was that he was doing. Delores was gone in two minutes time - so weak that pinching off her vital flow of oxygen from her tank, while she sat in her wheelchair out in the sun on the sun patio of her expansive home, was all it took. She passed on quietly and gently, unaware that anyone was with her. That night, John Markham would rest without the sickening noise of her respirator clattering and gurgling from the next room, knowing that she was with the angels now. Heero, on the other hand, did not rest at all.
As anticipated by the organization, and as the case usually was whenever there was a new agent, Heero took a few days to return to sorts after just having killed Dolores Markham, his first in what would become a long, long line of paid murders. He spent a few days in his condo thinking very deep, very complex thoughts, about life and death and what right he had to try controlling them. He also visited the psychologist that was employed by Freedom Corp. The psychologist saw every one of the new agents after their first jobs - not that it was a rule, but because they always wound up there sooner or later, usually sooner. They never dropped out of the group, though. The selection process was intense enough that they had always, always picked the right people. Even if the going was rough at the beginning, the agents always eventually came around and became hardened enough to their work that they could continue, their emotions sealed away, with duty forging its way to the front. It was the psychologist's job to see to it that they became OK with themselves, enough to enable them to continue, and Heero eventually did, with guidance, become OK.
Now three years later, Heero was a skilled professional, who was able to complete his missions without a second thought, and then go back to his home a totally different person. Within him he had found the ability to cut off his emotions completely, enabling him to perform his job, and then never think about it again. It was a fact of life, as he had come to understand. Some people created, others healed, and others still spent their lives catering to everyone else. He, on the other hand, killed. After enough time for him to become familiar and tolerant of the strangeness that went through his body after just completing a job, Heero's world became very black and white, with no shades of gray in between.
He was, after all, an unwanted child, with no real purpose in this life. He'd spent his entire youth hiding from people because he didn't trust them, because they caused pain in him time and time again as his life had gone on. Why did it matter now if he performed the duty of exterminating some of those who were ultimately causing the same pain and suffering to others? It didn't. He'd been unloved as a baby, had been torn from the family that he did have feeling for and placed with other people amongst whom he felt like a nuisance more than a son. Then growing up around other people who harassed and teased him simply because he hadn't had the benefit and fortune to have a regular family structure behind him, it left him not just antisocial, but somewhat sour towards humanity as well. This is what the people at Freedom Corp. had obviously detected in him, what had made them so sure that he had what it would take to be an agent. And so, Heero Yuy made it OK within himself to perform this job that he'd taken, because in his mind, he couldn't do anything else.
Five days after the murder of Daniel Hutchison had been completed, Heero received new orders from Freedom through coded email. He had another job to do.
Jobs usually came once a month or so, occasionally twice, and that was more than enough for any of the agents to handle. For each hit they received fifty-percent of the fee - forty-five thousand dollars. Technically, he could do one hit a year and be comfortable, and he'd contemplated that. But Heero was now at the point where he would probably be able to shoot his own mother in the back for abandoning him as a baby and have little remorse afterward, so, he kept up with as many jobs as they sent to him. It was the organization's thought too, that if the agents did not have enough work, and too much time to think, they would begin to have regrets, and that was the last thing that the Freedom Corp. needed.
In between jobs, however, Heero did think. He thought about how long he was going to allow himself to keep doing this job - would he become old and hardened, having spent a lifetime killing unsuspecting people and causing unexpected accidents? Or would the day come when he'd decide that he'd had enough, enabling him to simply walk away from this life he'd built for himself and never reflect on it again?. He had plenty of money, since he spent very little, so that was of small concern to him. But what would he do if he stopped? That question alone was probably the single biggest thing that kept him killing - the fact that there was nothing, and no one, to fall back to if he stopped.
Heero had disassociated himself with his adoptive family shortly after graduating high school and moving out. It wasn't really a formal disassociation, rather, it was one that he was upholding by not going back, even though he was sure that his adoptive parents were broken hearted, but he just never felt whole with them, so he stopped visiting eventually. He wasn't even sure if they knew he had long since left his home city, but if they didn't it was probably all that much better, since he didn't want anyone from his past to know him now.
Life these days was lonely, but he was living the life of a lonely man. Unable to get involved in a relationship of any kind because of the nature of his work, Heero decided that it was just easier to stay that way, than try to hide his true self from someone. Besides the fact that he had never had a romance, and honestly didn't even know what infatuation felt like. For what he did know, watching as other men would ogle and find great interest in the many beautiful women who could be found around any corner in the Los Angeles area, none of them, not one, appealed to him. He tended to look at men and women as the same, and no one ever caused anything to stir in his emotionless body, so as it was, that was probably for the better right now anyway. Maybe there would be someone in his future, Heero thought, but as for now, he would just continue doing what he was doing, and wait until after he quit, if he quit, to form relationships.
As the image files of his new job finished downloading, Heero opened the first one and studied it. The attractive young man looked about his age, about his build, but with exceedingly long braided hair. Most striking about the man was his sparkling violet eyes, a color that Heero had never seen before. He wondered then what the story behind this one was as he read over his instructions and the soon-to-be victim's general schedule that had been provided by whomever had paid for the hit.
Then looking back at the picture on the computer screen, Heero quietly repeated the name out loud.