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Of Assassination and Murder - Part III
Aria hadn't left immediately after leaving Nox at the warehouse ruins. It felt odd being without his caustic humor. But she had to do this and he couldn't stop her. If she fell into the darkness then the world would eventually take her out. She'd be on Atharim radar - she already was.

She fought the darkness, the depths of the despair that tugged at her as she looked into the man, Lei Hou - a high end banker that was highly vocal about some of Ascendancy's policies. She didn't need to employ the use of the Atharim resources to get any information on him. He was that high profile.

But Aria did use the Atharim to find his last known location. And after she prepared herself for the journey - a new wardrobe was the top of the list of things to do as well as re-equipping her standard issue items. She was thankful that she had at least one sword, but the new dagger was lost to the rubble and likely confiscated upon it's retrieval if it survived the heat of an Atharim made bomb. They left nothing to chance. She doubted much could survive that explosion.

Flying was not her favorite thing to do. But she booked her plane, and it was relatively painless but still uncomfortable as she flew with a bunch of strangers and no place to go to escape their bombardment of emotions. Thankfully no fearful children or overly anxious persons were on the plane. And thankfully there were no dark thoughts lingering in their thoughts. Aria drowned out the noise with her headset and loud music and before she knew it they were preparing to land.

Everything was going smoothly. Sadly she wasn't getting paid to kill this man, so everything was coming out of what little she saved on her Atharim stipined. She would have to hunt a monster while in China. There had to be something easy to find and give her reason to cross the border of the CCD other than because this is what Lei Hou was. Some Atharim reason anyway.

Aria was grateful for her limited Chinese, very limited but she could mangle her way through finding a shabby little place to stay at. But she was directed to a place much finer than first appearances. English might be the CCD's official language, but here in China, you spoke what the natives did and were lucky if they spoke English.

Inside the little shabby place that wasn't so as bad as it looked from the outside, Aria took a small room that could barely be considered a closet but it would do. Her stomach rumbled and Aria found herself outside her rundown looking room at a tiny little hole in the wall restaurant that the hostel owner claimed was the best food around. Aria could only hope that it passed as edible.
Rajani Misra had settled down to eat. The fare of food in China had been different than what she was accustomed to in Malaysia, yet she was not unaccustomed to it either. Her time in China, and mostly in Beijing had been peaceful. Entering her dreams had become easier and easier for her to do, though the odd dream she had once had. The dream that continued to haunt her waking moments, attempting to pull her towards Moscow. That never went away in the back of her mind.

Yet she also knew that she was not ready for such a venture. Something within told her that and Rajani was more inclined to believe that part of herself then the vision her dreams beckoned her to. At the same time, her dream entering had been a level of comfort though it was noticeable she was not sleeping as well. Part of that may be due to her now routine of sleeping during the day, though curtains that could blacken the apartment she currently lived in ensured that was not the case.

It was easy for her to find a man to let her stay in his house for days on end. Most would gladly give her keys and access, all for promises and perhaps a kiss. More if she favored them, though it never seemed to mind too greatly for them to be teased. Though Rajani made it a point to never stay in one spot too long, there was such a thing as teasing too much and she would not push to that limit either. A delicate task, yet one she was well used to walking along.

Her platter was served, this restaurant had a reputation as being of the finer in the area and she had taken a liking to its dishes. Taking up the chopsticks she swirled the noodles on the platter as the door opened to the restaurant. Rajani always made it a point to face the doorway, better to entice someone to sit with her. Her midnight eyes glanced and took in the woman entering. A traveler, yet not a tourist from her estimation, come here on her own. She shrugged. Sometimes it was preferable to hear someone’s tale.

Not being tall, yet she was able to stretch enough without appearing to be stretching to push the chair across from her out a few inches. If the woman took that for an invitation it was up to her, if not all was fine with that as well. Moving her black as night eyes back towards the platter before her, Rajani took her first bite of the meal. It always built a giddiness and excitement to wait on moments and see which way they would land. Even if they were not the most pivotal, it was a simple delight for her.
It had been a long time since she'd been in China and she'd never been alone before. Her handlers were always with her before and then Moscow and she soon found Nox. This was the first time she'd been away without any other Atharim around. It was both freeing and disconcerting.

Aria pulled her long leather coat around her as she entered the restaurant. The weather was still as brisk as Moscow in these late winter months. But she did it more to hide the single sword. She still missed the unique sword of old she had. One day she promised herself she'd find the bastard who took it for experimental sake. Or rather he would find her, but right now there were other matters to attend to. Food then search out Lei Hou.

The place was well lit and there were several locals and a few other foreigners around. One in particular felt of curiosity and edge the chair out in invitation. She wasn't unattractive, but it was neither the time nor the place for extra-curricular activities. She had an assassination to plot, but curiosity was always a draw, particularly if she could play to it and make feelings worse.

Aria shook her head. The darker thoughts had become prevalent as the days grew farther and farther from finding out Lucas was gone. Her heart fell even farther with each memory. The snowballs in Moscow. Aria pushed the thoughts away and focused on the light on what he'd want her to do. She took a deep breath and forced one foot in front of the other and pulled the chair out further. Her Chinese was rusty, but she asked polietly, "Mind if I join you?"
Rajani finished another bite of her food before placing the chopsticks down and offering with her hand as she said in Chinese, though a slower twang influenced by her Malaysian upbringing, "Please, do."

One the other woman had seated herself, Rajani offered a moment to take another bite as she settled into her chair. Before the waiter could come over, Rajani asked, "Have you come to China previously then? This is my first time here, though I’ve stayed far longer than I expected coming in. I’ve always been one to move at my own time though. When you’re comfortable, it’s always difficult to leave that security."

The waiter came taking her order as Rajani continued eating, once he had left. Her midnight eyes danced over the other woman trying to size up just who was sitting across from her. It was easy to imagine things, yet she did notice a defensive, no, not defensive. A prepared nature to her. Perhaps sitting with a stranger was the cause of that. It very well could be, yet still she wondered. Rajani asked simply, "What brings you to Beijing?"

Then she began thinking of what she would say as a lie for her own response to that same question.
The woman was polite but with the curiosity from before she was also cautious. Aria would be too. Strange town, strange person. This was a unique situation for Aria.

They continued to speak in Chinese. "I've been here a few times, but this is the first time I've traveled alone."
Though Aria was certain had she asked Nox would have come with her even though they would be flying. Aria was grateful not to have to deal with his fear of flying. Though the thought brought back memories of the last flight and the last time she saw Lucas. Aria tried not to dwell on it. He was gone, and her father would pay in the end. She would kill him, and he would suffer for his misdeeds.

The waiter came over and Aria ordered quickly. She didn't really care, there was only one thing she disliked and it wasn't a traditional part of Chinese cuisine. Aria pointed at the menu instead of butchering words. He nodded and they two were soon left alone again.

"What brings you to Beijing?"
Aria smirked. Why was it that everyone always wanted to know why you were there to do.

Aria laughed. Aria wanted to say, "To kill someone of course." Nox was having a very bad influence on her. But despite the jest of the comment Aria didn't say that. "A job brings me here. I won't be here long, I have an appointment elsewhere."
Aria sighed, "Do you speak English? I find practicing Chinese all well and good but it's better to speak in a language I can actively think in."
Every language other than Italian and English required Aria to actively think of the translations. Chinese and Russian were the hardest. Spanish required special thinking to insure she didn't butcher the words with Italian and French was just French but was probably the best known language other than English. Antoinette had been a good teacher. That brought back memories of her first time here. Oni were such hard to kill creatures.

"What brings you here?"
She sounded more like a gypsy than anything the way she discussed moving around and staying too long. Aria didn't particularly like that, she liked having a bed to go home to that was hers. She sighed, but right now she didn't have one of them either. The Atharim had blown her home up. The thoughts pulled the darkness in around her and Aria had to fight to stay above water.

Edited by Aria, Nov 10 2015, 11:13 AM.
“I do,”
Rajani said in english to the other woman. Her English was not as good, but it was passable. Enough businessmen only spoke it to force her to have to learn the language, even if only to a degree. A job. Rajani did not have much experience with jobs Her life had afforded her not to hold such concerns as employment, she did feel for those who needed to toil their lives though. But not to a great degree if truth be told. “A job often seems to me like a leash. It can only be tempered if it is a leash willingly put on, otherwise it is always a chore. I have little experience with such though. Do you see it differently? I’ve never spoken so fully with someone who had a job.”

Rajani took another bite of her food, there was no risk of manners when the other woman joined her already mid-meal. It was hers and she would not stand for it getting cold on the other woman’s behalf. No, no. She enjoyed the bite before going on, her words hesitant yet not unclear in English, “I travel about, luxuriate wherever I settle. To Beijing specifically, a dream I once had. Or perhaps the fear of it. Who can tell? I have stayed because it is comfortable, but perhaps I will go elsewhere soon. These are the ways of the world in which we live.”

“I suppose I will have to find a purpose to all this, but in the end my own enjoyment seems to come to the forefront,”
Rajani waved the chopsticks in her hand as if this was only the slightest of things to regard or consider. “Sometimes I feel humanity has the oddest sense for making us desire to create reason for actions. That may be the path for some…for others it seems outdated. At least to me.”

Aria listened as the woman went on about a free life style. The idea that her life was tethered couldn't have hit closer to home, but it wasn't something she was willing to share with a stranger. The Atharim allowed her a life of travel. But it didn't come without many strings attached. It was rather ironic that this particular trip had nothing to do with the Atharim, but everything to do with the one thing the Atharim stood against - gods. And in particular one god - Apolyon.

She was willingly working for the destroyer to allow herself to live another day. Her task was to kill him, instead she ended up working for him. It didn't matter one way or the other, her life was forfeit.

But Aria answered the question none-the-less. "I don't know if it's a chore. I actually enjoy my job immensely, not that it doesn't come with it's own leashes of the sort."
Aria wasn't about to admit to this woman that she enjoyed killing. She had never considered herself an assassin - never killing a god or godling only the changed monsters. But still after today that is exactly what she'd be. She knew she was a murderer. That was a fact she could not forget. She could feel the darkness ebbing inside at the thought of killing our dear banker friend. It made her wonder what Dane would think. If he'd enjoy it the same.

Aria had to shake off the thoughts. The focused on the woman's English and realized she was a pampered woman. One that was no where in any sort of range of Aria's like, more to the Elite of Moscow. "I wouldn't know anything about living that kind of life style. I've lived one way for most of my life and then it only changed slightly once I was let free to fly."
She'd actually been set free to die, but her perseverance was better than Father Dimitri had ever hoped. She survived monster after monster that he'd sent her on, and so he let he free in Moscow hoping a real life would kill her. So much for that.

Her food finally arrived and Aria pulled the chop sticks free and started poking at the noodles on the plate. "I would think a life with of such luxury would be boring."
Aria took a small bite of the food in front of her and chewed before continuing on. "I mean sure you meet some fine men and women. Buy what you want, but without a purpose you do nothing. You are nothing. I can say that my job is fulfilling me in ways that it only can. I know my place in the world. I know what I do is for the good of humanity."
Granted that wasn't the job she was on, nor the reason she was what she was. Or why she enjoyed her job so well. But it was the original intentions of her upbringing - meeting Dane Gregory had changed her life whole-heatedly and not for the better, and the ache of the loss of Lucas pinged at her heart with every breathe only making it worse.

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