The Hidden--Episode 2: Dinner and a Date With Death

This is your future and your present. It is a warning and a story of hope. Destruction and chaos are the lords of the inner cities, despite the best attempts of authorities to stop the syndicates of New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. To brave the cities, a person must either be stupid, suicidal, or in the pay of the gang lord with the most power. Or else, they have to have a sizable weapon on them at all times. It is a world of daily killings, where murder is commonplace in the streets. Civilization has reached new heights; justice in the cities is no longer hindered by the law, because the law has practically ceased to exist in the cities.

Johnny got his gun, and he has become the judge, jury and executioner.


"Get on the ground, now," the girl hissed. "Do you see this gun? It may be old, but it still shoots. I don't need a sniper pistol to blow your brains out. You're going to handle this slowly, and very carefully, if you want to live. If you're lucky."

"How did you find me?" growled the brown-skinned man. "And why are you trying to kill me?"

"You know why I came after you. Nobody screws with me on the streets. You're new around here, I bet. Because you should know about me, otherwise. Call me Adriann, and don't forget it. Otherwise, you'll get an extra bit of carbon alloy in your brain, courtesy of this beauty." She leveled her semi-automatic directly at his forehead. "You like the sight of that barrel? It's a lot prettier from the other end."

"What do you want?"

"This time, a warning for you. Don't screw with me again. Or the last thing you will see is my cute little finger pulling the trigger of this gun. Get out of here."

The man backed up, and slowly got to his feet. The girl sneered back at him, still aiming for his head with the pistol. The man nodded slowly, one hand on the handgun holstered across his chest. He picked up the submachine gun that Adriann had knocked out of his hand, and then turned away, walking down the street. He paused, and then looked back at her. She had lowered her gun, but still held it ready to aim and fire, ready to kill him. The man held his gun loosely.

"In case we meet again, you can call me Jim. Jim Eastman. I'm looking for my dad Peter. If you come across him, tell him that Jimmy's coming for him."

Adriann watched him leave, as she stood ice-faced. Dad. He's looking for his dad.


"I'm glad you could make it, Senator Prowetts," President Keldey told the man two seats down. "After all, it's nice to have the Chief Guest at dinner."

"I was attending to a brief emergency, Mr. President," replied the man, whose suit was slightly rumpled and waterstained. "I thought I could have it done long before dinner."

"Indeed. Well, I heard that you were sponsoring the bill up for debate tomorrow?" President Keldey sliced his steak, and put a small piece in his mouth.

"Yes, the Legatus Program. They promise to deliver the same number of soldiers to our army, for half the cost. Now that's a deal we can't refuse. Anywhere we can save money, we should. This bill will cut our military costs, and let us alleviate the budget elsewhere."

"I see. And exactly how does this 'Program' promise to deliver?"

Senator Prowetts took a small sip of water from his glass. "New training techniques, cost-effective equipment, and access to raw materials. I am very impressed by them."

"Well, I'm glad that you've found a contractor you like. We'll see how the debate plays out."

Prowetts nodded, and turned his attention to his plate. He glanced up, and saw Senator Young sitting a few chairs down, across the table. The youthful Congressman narrowed his eyes for a moment, but then turned his attention to conversation with another politician next to him. Jon Young...one of the most recent Senators elected, and yet for some reason, he was gaining prestige.

Stupid kid, he thought, continuing to eat.


"Mr. Branning, what do you have to say about the people who criticize your pending government contract as 'warmongering'?" shouted one of the reporters who was shoving a microphone at the Neolabs Chairman. "Can we get a statement about the Legatus Program?"

Arthur Branning, third-generation philanthropist, pushed past the media, and said, "I'll be releasing a statement to the press. Watch for my statement."

He shook his head, going past the crowds that had gathered in front of Turner Memorial Hospital. There were definite benefits of having an escort. It helped to get through crowds. His media team had definitely done a good job on this one, covering all the bases. Message boards, a cleverly done "amateur" video online, a blog post or two...guerrilla media certainly had its perks. Branning reached the top of the steps leading to the main entrance of the hospital, and stopped, turning back towards the crowd. One second to let them start whatever video recorders they had...and then he began.

"I am very grateful for this opportunity," he said, "to give back to the citizens of Washington DC, to give them the chance that should be given to any person. This hospital will be the best-equipped in the nation, the most up-to-date in the country, and one of the best hospitals in the world. Here, any person will be able to get treatment, and we will enter into a glorious future! I thank you all for the opportunity which you have given me to give back to our nation. Turner Memorial Hospital will be the brightest star in our medical history!"


"How much for the kill?" whispered the man.

His name was Sam Browning. Every man in New York City knew his name. Every man in New York City knew that he was a wanted man. Every man in New York City was terrified at the thought of trying to capture him. Yes, there was a bounty on his head. The problem was, he would kill you probably within twelve hours of when you accepted the job. It was usually with a knife that he did it, sometimes with a blast-pistol. That was his trademark, a short-range attack. Never a sniper rifle, never a machine-gun spray, always a single, short-range attack. One that would normally be easy to stop. Yet somehow, he always was able to infiltrate any defense, able to kill his target with ease...and able to escape, undetected.

"The usual price," replied the man in the trenchcoat. "I need this job carried out quickly. Can you manage that one? I want this one in the news, too. Make it spectacular."

"I think I have to ask double for that, then," Sam answered. "Quick and spectacular."

"I'll pay double. As long as you do it."

"You've got yourself a deal. He's dead meat."

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