Billows of smoke spilled out of the man’s nostrils and lips as he exhaled, before he spat out the now extinguished cigarette into the greyish-white snow. Out of the corner of his eye, the man spotted a young woman dressed in a woolly grey overcoat turn the corner and trudge her way through the snow towards him. Her scruffy black hair fell loose over her shoulders, and her gloved hands were stuffed into her pockets. The black of the night prohibited the man from seeing her hazel brown eyes. She came to a halt when she was about three steps away from him, and shook her head. “He isn’t here, commander.” She told the man.
He sighed at that, before pulling out his box of cigarettes; wedging one of the small white cylinders in between his teeth before lighting it. He paused for a moment to think, occasionally puffing out halos of smoke into the brisk winter air. Finally, he nodded to the woman and turned to leave.
“This is disappointing, but not unexpected. With me, Anastasia – there is one last place to check.”
The woman named Anastasia nodded to her superior, and began to follow him down the street. She couldn’t help but appreciate the delicacy of Paris in the middle of winter. The street lights shone brightly, reflecting off of the snow to brighten the streets. The murky black sky was dotted with stars, smiling down upon all those who lived happy lives within the confines of France.
“I almost died here once.” Her commander spoke up, snapping Anastasia out of her trance-like state.
“Sir?” She queried, hoping he’d divulge further into the matter.
“It was some thirty-five years ago,” He explained. “I was a little younger than you, and had been tailing the murderer of my first commander. It had taken me a week or so, but I finally found a lead that brought me here.”
“Is this why you believe you will be recognised, sir?” She asked him.
“Our organization still retains infamy in this part of the world my dear,” He pointed out. “The ambuscade at the Commonwealth Palace made sure of that. And while it is true that our organization is believed to have been liquidated, I cannot be too careful.”
Turning off of Rue de Maubeuge, the duo made their way down what Anastasia read to be Rue Lamartine. She spotted a couple embracing under a streetlamp, before turning to find a middle aged man stumble out of fine-dining restaurant. As she continued to spot out these unimportant details, her commander nodded towards a set of glass doors and swung them open, Anastasia quickly falling in behind him.
For a brief moment, the woman was forced to cover his mouth and nose and the smell of alcoholic beverages and other, much more deplorable scents, overwhelmed her. As the woman began to cough violently, her superior marched towards the counter and took a seat, turning his ever so slightly so that he could get a better look at the bar. After a brief moment of reprise, a stout, elderly man with a messy white beard limped over to him, cleaning a shot glass with a ragged towel as he did so.
“What’re ya ‘avin?” He grumbled in a thick, French accent.
“Information,” Anastasia’s superior answered. “About a man named Antoine Boucher.” The old man snorted, before pointing his thumb towards a man slouched over a wooden table. “E’s da bastard ya want.”
The commander nodded, and marched over to where his target was sitting. “Antoine Boucher?” He asked the man.
“The fuck you want?” Boucher belched, the scent of whiskey dancing across the other man’s nostrils. He would need work.
“I’ll have to ask you to come with me,” The commander told his target. “It’s of the utmost importance.”
“Up yours bud!” Antoine slurred, darting out of his chair. “You’re probably with fucking Edouard! Tell your boss I don’t have his money, and I don’t plan on giving it to him anytime soon.”
“Mister Boucher, please.” Anastasia’s superior insisted. “You are under the influence, and aren’t thinking rationally. If you would just come with me…”
“I said up yours!” Antoine shouted, before a stake of ice materialized in the palm of his hand.
“Oy!” The bartender shouted from behind the counter. “If ya shit’eads are gunna fi’ht, den take eet o’tside!”
“Fuck you!” Boucher belched again, before he clumsily hurled the spike of ice in the bartender’s general direction.
Impatient, and unwilling to deal with further complication, Anastasia’s commander charged Antoine, grabbing hold of his throat before using his own powers. Boucher spasmed as electricity discharged violently into his neck and throughout his body. He went limp, and the commander handed his unconscious frame over to his subordinate, before marching towards the bartender.
“Sorry for the inconvenience.” He told the elderly man, before he slammed a handful of euros onto the counter. He and his subordinate left without another word, and only spoke once they had stepped outside.
“Well, this went smoother than the time we recruited Oliver.” Anastasia mussed. Her commander wasn’t listening. Instead, he pulled out a small, wireless communications device.
“This is Commander Li-Pau Nao,” The commander of the Globally Honored Organization of Specialized Tasks spoke into the device. “We have the target. Sergeant Ibori, bring about the transport for Lieutenant Volkov and myself.”