Ecstacy of Gold

I’ve decided to share the first chapter I’ve written of my long, in-the-works Hitman fanfic. I want to see what some of you might think, and any improvements that could be made to the writing style. Criticism, basically. I already had this chapter written before H3 released, under the assumption that once the WoA story was over, 47 and Diana would go back to working at ICA like normal. Naturally, I’ve had to adjust that, and here’s the latest version of the first chapter. This will be two posts because of the word limit. Enjoy if you will and offer suggestions if you can.

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HITMAN

Ecstasy of Gold

After completing his latest contract, Agent 47 discovers that both the target and the client were involved in the theft of a massive fortune in gold, hidden in a place known only to a few. Now, Diana has dispatched 47 to track down, question, and eliminate anyone who may know about the treasure, and anyone else who may be seeking it, so that they can claim it for themselves. With opposing organizations also on the trail, and rival killers closing in, the world’s greatest assassin must do what he does best, to ensure that only he and his handler walk away with the prize.

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The black Audi was half covered in dust as it sped down the dirt road, beginning to slow as its destination came within view of the driver. A few hundred yards ahead of it, a quaint little ranch sat under the sun in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert of Mexico. As the vehicle drew closer, the driver could just faintly make out a few donkeys being kept in pens on the property, and what appeared to be a preteen child riding on the back of one. Upon seeing the approaching vehicle, the child jumped off the back of the donkey and ran into the house. As the car came upon the driveway of the ranch, it turned in and slowed even more, pulling into the expanse of the ranch’s grassless front yard. Stopping roughly sixty feet away from the open front door of the box-shaped, concrete home, the engine turned off, and after waiting almost a minute for the dust to settle, the driver side door opened.

Agent 47 shut the car door and stood staring at the house for a moment, the mid-afternoon sun reflecting off the top of his bald head. His immaculate black suit and shiny red silk tie also reflected a bit of the sun’s light, and only a small amount of remaining dust landed upon them, which the hitman quickly brushed off, his black leather gloves keeping his fingers clean of the grit. Knowing that he had been seen coming, but also knowing that his business here was a little more unusual than his job normally mandated, it did not really matter. The residents of the ranch house had already known that someone was coming. They had been expecting a visit for some time, surely, and now the moment had arrived. He would need to be cautious from here on out for that very reason.

Slowly walking toward the open entrance, the killer stood in the doorway, looking inside and taking in all that he saw, marking it in the event that the knowledge should come in handy. He stared past the living room, containing a couch, armchair, entertainment center and a modest television, various pictures adorning the walls, and into the open kitchen/dining room. There was a rectangular table with four chairs situated around it, and upon the table were plates, bowls, glasses, and utensils, all set out in front of each chair. In the middle was a much larger bowl that appeared to contain some kind of soup. Next to this bowl was a plate that was stacked with something he could not see, as it was covered by a blue hand towel; most likely fresh tortillas, and next to that was a smaller plate filled with lime wedges. Two smaller bowls were also set in the table center, one filled with the greasy, shredded meat called barbacoa, judging by the smell; the other bowl was filled with what appeared to be salsa verde.

Standing next to the table was a woman with shoulder-length black hair. She was wearing an apron over her dress and was slightly bent over, having obviously just placed one or more of these items on the table before he had cast his shadow upon the interior of the home by standing in the doorway, causing her to look in his direction and freeze upon seeing him. At her side, holding onto the back of her dress and looking worried, was the child he had spotted earlier. A young boy, nine or ten years old, with dark hair and wearing overalls. Mother and child were both staring at him, but he was certain that they could not properly see his face from this angle, as the sun was at his back, allowing them to see him in silhouette only, so long as he remained where he was.

Standing at the head of the table, on the side furthest from 47’s position, was a man of roughly the assassin’s own height. He was an older gentleman near the end of middle age, awfully close to being considered full-fledged elderly, wearing a white shirt with suspenders, and possessing steel gray hair and a matching beard. His face displayed the darkened skin tone and hardened visage that suggested his lineage ran closer to the original, native inhabitants of Mexico, than to the Spanish settlers who conquered and interbred with them, in contrast to the somewhat softer and fairer complexions of his wife and child. He and 47 locked eyes across the two rooms. His target.

The man turned and looked at his much younger wife, who also met his gaze, and he nodded slightly to her. She bit her lower lip and gave a nod as well, then looked down at the boy next to her, turned slightly and placed her hands on his shoulders, then guided him out of the kitchen and through an archway that seemed to lead toward the back of the house. 47 thought he saw a glimmer of wetness build up in her eyes as she looked down at her son before leaving. He heard a door open, a slight gust of air, and then the door shutting, indicating that the two had walked out the back door of the house. Now it was just Agent 47 and the old man, alone.

47 stepped forward, entering the home fully, slowly making his way through the living room and toward the kitchen, moving all the way into the light now. It did not matter if the old man saw his face. His eyes remained locked with the old man’s the entire way, even as he maneuvered around the armchair. The old man broke eye contact first to look down at the meal that had been set out on the table, then pulled out his chair and sat down, his eyes going back up to lock with the cold blue orbs of the assassin. Once he reached the table, 47 stopped for a moment and continued to stare back at his target, who then reached for the large soup bowl and pulled it toward him. The old man grabbed a large wooden spoon and began to ladle the soup into the empty bowl next to his plate before pushing the larger bowl back to the center, his eyes never leaving 47’s the entire time.

47’s blank, vaguely scowling expression never changed as he continued to stare back without blinking. He pulled out the chair on the opposite side of the table from the old man and sat down, scooting closer to the table once he had done so, until the table nearly touched his sternum. He lifted both arms into view above the table, showing the old man that he was unarmed, the target flinching slightly at the movement, before 47 reached across the table and grabbed the soup bowl, sliding it closer to himself. Without breaking eye contact, just as the old man had done, 47 grabbed the large spoon and served some of the soup into the bowl that had been set in front of the seat he now occupied. As the old man lifted his normal-sized spoon, the killer did as well, and at the same time the two men began to eat the soup, eyes locked the entire time.

After nearly a minute of silence as the two ate their dinner, the old man stopped and slowly lowered his spoon, his Adam’s apple moving up and down and his breathing becoming a bit heavier. 47 could read the signs, and he knew that the man was not preparing to attack; he was terrified. Finally, he seemed to gain the courage to speak.

“You’re… from Baxter?” Aside from the obvious fear, his voice also held the subdued, barely noticeable accent of a native Spanish-speaker who had become fluent in English in early life and had spoken it on a regular basis.

Agent 47 remained silent, and simply ate another spoonful of soup. His bowl was almost empty. He still had not broken eye contact with the old man.

“Tell Baxter that I’ve told him all that I know, already. Tell him that I don’t want to be part of this anymore. There is no reason to keep harassing me!” The old man paused to take a sip of water, gulped it down with apparent difficulty, then continued. “I know nothing at all about where those gold bars are. The whole shipment has disappeared and has probably been added to the rest of the stash. If the ledger is correct, the grand total should be around two hundred billion in American dollars by now, give or take. I have no idea where the stash is, or even for certain if that’s where the gold was taken. Go back and tell him that!”

Agent 47 set his spoon down for a moment and stared back at the old man, paying even more attention to what was being said than he would normally do, which was no small feat.

“Word is you had a visitor here, recently. A man, one who goes by the name of Jacobson.”

The killer reached for the towel covering the plate of tortillas and removed it with his gloved fingers. He ignored the ones made of corn and picked up a steaming flour tortilla. He then reached for the small bowl of barbacoa, grabbed the spoon sticking out of it, added some to the tortilla, sprinkled some salt on it from a nearby shaker, and then repeated the process with the bowl of salsa verde. He then grabbed a table knife that was set next to the plate in front of him, picking it up in a smooth and swift motion, letting the old man see how effortlessly he wielded it, letting his imagination fill in the blanks of what the bald stranger could do with an even more lethal knife. He spread the meat and hot sauce across the tortilla, set down the knife, then rolled the item into a taco in his hands.

“Well, either Jacobson was here,” the agent looked pointedly at his host, “Or Baxter has it all wrong.” He then took a bite of the taco.

The old man said nothing for a moment, then slowly lowered his eyes down to his bowl.

“He’s not wrong,” the old man whispered, and resumed eating his soup.

“Maybe Baxter would like to know what you and Jacobson had to say about those… gold bars,” 47 responded cryptically, finishing the taco, and wiping his mouth with a napkin. “That’s not what I’m being paid for, however,” the killer picked up a pitcher of homemade lemonade and poured some into the empty glass in front of him, then took a sip. “I’m only interested in the name Jacobson is hiding under now.”

The old man made a show of looking curious, although 47 was not fooled by it. The elder gent had not expected anyone to figure out that Jacobson had assumed a new identity so quickly.

“What makes you think he’s using a new name?”

The bald assassin shrugged and tilted his head slightly forward and to the side in response.

“I would have found him already. When I set out to find someone, I find them. That’s why they pay me.”

The old man tilted his head slightly and narrowed his eyes at his uninvited guest, leaning just a slight bit closer toward him.

“How… how much is Baxter paying you?” All Agent 47 did was tilt his head back and his chin forward for a moment, indicating a large framed photo on the wall behind his quarry.

“Is that your family?”

The old man immediately turned and looked at the picture. 47 did not need the man to confirm it, he knew it was true. He had received all the intel on his target before setting out to fulfill his contract, and he knew that the picture on the wall was legit. In the picture, which had to have been taken within the last year, the old man before him stood in the middle, one arm around his wife’s waist, the other on top of the shoulder of the young boy from earlier. Next to the old man stood another boy, this one older, seventeen or eighteen, resting one hand on his father’s shoulder. The old man slowly looked back at the suited stranger, cast his eyes down slightly, and nodded.

“Yes,” he whispered.

“It’s a nice family,” 47 said, his tone flat and plain.

The old man then slammed his fist on the table, his sudden outburst and the anger behind it preventing him from noticing that 47’s right hand had moved under the table while the old man had been looking behind him, the tips of his fingers inside the jacket of his suit, waiting.

“What does he pay you for murdering me?!”

“One hundred thousand American dollars… to get the name.”

The old man said nothing, his eyes twitching from side to side briefly, as if considering the information, weighing his options. 47 was tired of the pretense and tired of delays. He leaned slightly forward, his upper body mostly over the table, his frown more pronounced, his tone a fraction more menacing.

“The name…”

After a few more moments of contemplation and gulping audibly, the old man relented and cast his eyes down, eating another spoonful of soup, then meeting the gaze of the hitman once again.

“Clayton. Ben Clayton. That’s what he calls himself now.”

As 47 nodded in acceptance of the answer, the old man looked over his shoulder a moment, then looked back at the killer, eyeing him up and down with wariness, then slowly began to stand from his chair. 47 recognized the body language to mean that the old man did not want him to think that he was about to make any sudden or threatening moves, and wanted the hitman to not attack him while he turned around, to hold off for a moment more. 47 chose to humor his target as the old man walked to the large family portrait. The picture and frame swung to the side on small hidden hinges, revealing the door to a large combination safe behind it.

Looking back at the bald man seated at the table, the old man began to turn the combination, and then after a moment he pulled the handle and swung the safe open. As he reached inside, 47’s hand slipped further into his jacket, still hidden out of view beneath the table. The old man pulled out two small, black briefcases, as well as a rectangular wooden box. All three items appeared to be very heavy, and the old man struggled to hold all the items as he walked away from the safe, not bothering to close it given the circumstances, and he moved toward the table.

Pushing aside the bowls and plates of food, the old man set the items on the table and then unlatched the two briefcases, turning both toward the assassin and letting him see the bundles of green and grey paper inside them. He then turned the box toward 47 and opened it as well, the sunlight from the open front door and the small window over the kitchen sink reflecting off the shiny metal within.

“Here you go. All of our money. Four hundred thousand. Take it.”

Agent 47 starred back at the man for a moment, before leaning slightly closer to get a good look, recognizing one briefcase to contain dollar bills in U.S. currency, and the other to contain an even greater amount of bills in Mexican pesos.

“Four hundred thousand dollars,” 47 repeated, his gaze turning to the wooden box. Gold bars with imprinted writing pressed into them twinkled in the light. “And some of it in gold. That’s an impressive sum.”

47 took one more sip of lemonade from the glass, then set it down with finality, looking the old man dead in the eye.

“But, once I’ve accepted payment on a contract, I always see it through.”

The old man’s eyes widened and his body went stiff, realization kicking in that he had only one course of action left. With surprising speed, his right hand reached behind his back and into the waistband of his pants; reaching for the pistol tucked away there. The assassin, however, was quicker.

By the time the old man’s hand had even touched the butt of his pistol, 47 had already pulled his own Silverballer from his jacket. With his hand at a level that was still below the table, the hitman squeezed the trigger once, the loud report further magnified by being indoors since it did not have a suppressor attached, but the noise was not a concern in this case, as everyone close enough to hear the shot already knew he was here. With an aim no ordinary human could possess, 47’s bullet shot through the underside of the table, into the bottom of the large wooden bowl, broke through the surface of the soup within, and finished its trajectory by embedding itself in the old man’s heart.

The old man grunted, and his arms flew out to his sides before he fell onto his back with a thud. He shuddered once and then lay still. 47 watched carefully for a moment as a red stain spread across the man’s shirt, making sure that his mark did not take another breath, before putting away his pistol into his jacket, satisfied that the target was dead. 47 reached down and picked the spent shell casing up from the floor and placed it in his pocket, then stood from his seat and reached across the table, closed the two briefcases, and lifted them by their handles before setting them on the floor behind the chair he had sat in. He wanted to avoid them being touched by the spreading puddle of soup, which was draining from the holes in the bottom of the bowl and table.

He then slid the wooden box closer to himself and grabbed one of the gold bars within. He lifted it to a level height with his eyes as he examined it, making sure it was real. As he did so, his predator’s instinct kicked into high gear, and not a second later he witnessed, via the reflection in the gold bar, a shadowy figure block the light from the open front door behind him.

47 reacted instantly, hardly giving any thought to his actions, but knowing enough to attempt a non-lethal response. He was still on the job, after all, and had already killed his target; no need to leave casualties if it could be helped. He grabbed the unused plate from the space at the table he had occupied, and spun with lightning reflexes, flinging the plate through the air like a frisbee.

The plate smacked right into the face of the older boy from the family photo, the shotgun in his hand not yet raised completely to aim at the assassin. It dropped from his hands altogether as the boy slumped to his knees, dazed from the impact of the plate bouncing off his brow. He forgot all thoughts of avenging his father’s murder as he clutched at his face, grunting and groaning.

47 placed the gold bar back into the box, closed it and latched it. He placed the box under one arm, then bent and lifted the two briefcases of money. He walked toward the open door and the boy kneeling there, smacking him in the side of the head with one of the briefcases, causing the boy’s head to also hit the door frame as he fell to the ground, knocked out completely. 47 stepped over his body as he exited the house, knowing the boy would live and make a full recovery in a few weeks’ time, perhaps even days; enough time to attend his father’s funeral. From outside the house, or even standing in the front doorway, the change in light quality was extreme, and 47 was certain that, like the woman and younger child, the boy had not gotten a good enough look at his face to identify him, as his eyes had probably not adjusted to the extreme change from the brightness outside to the dark interior of the house.

47 walked to his car parked in the front yard of the property, popped the trunk, and then placed the briefcases and box into it, shutting the hatch and then climbing into the driver seat of the car. He shut the door, started the engine, and put the car in motion as he swerved it around the yard, kicking up a plume of dust as he guided the car onto the road and began the drive back the way he had come from.

47 took one hand off the steering wheel and reached for the front of his suit jacket. One of the buttons near his chest was not a button at all, but a miniature camera and microphone that connected live footage back to headquarters. 47 turned it slightly between two fingers, turning the device off, and then placed a Bluetooth into his right ear. He ordered his smartphone to dial a number, and then he waited until his call was answered. The line picked up, and the simultaneously crisp, yet velvety voice of Diana Burnwood answered.

“Hello, 47. Job well done. I’ve wired the money to your account.”

“Only part of the job is done,” 47 responded to his handler. “I need to bring the information back to Baxter.”

“Yes, well, be that as it may, the fee for the target’s termination has been forwarded,” Diana continued, “Baxter will personally wire the remaining amount offered for the information you gleaned from the target.”

47 let the silence linger for a moment, thinking over all that had transpired and selecting his words carefully, before sharing his line of thought with the woman.

“Did you catch that bit about gold bars, a ledger, and a larger stash,” he asked her, knowing she had. Diana rarely missed anything while on the job, very much like himself.

“I did. It was… intriguing. I believe the amount I heard was: two hundred billion dollars, and possibly more? It seems that Baxter held back or plainly falsified certain key aspects of the situation when he submitted his contract through my channels. He and the target appear to have been involved in some other business that he did not bother to inform us of.”

“A client’s motives are irrelevant. They are not required to share all of their information with us,” the assassin reminded her.

“Very true,” Diana agreed with him, “however, it is still disappointing to hear of such a large amount of seemingly unclaimed capital being part of the reason for our involvement without full disclosure being made. It is not as if we would have required a percentage of this stash as payment for the contract. For all that we have done for Mr. Baxter in the past, I’m a bit upset with him now, frankly, that this was being kept from us.”

“Would you like me to express our… disappointment with him, when I meet him?”

47 was pretty much done with Baxter by this point. Nearly seven years ago, the hitman had been hired to rescue Baxter from a group that had kidnapped him with the intention of ransom. 47 had been dispatched to eliminate the kidnappers and bring Baxter back home, alive. In a rare case of the ICA’s networks not providing the most up-to-date information, 47 had broken into the stronghold of the kidnappers, only to find what amounted to a small army of mercenaries guarding the place, and 47 had been forced to sneak and slaughter his way through them, one by one, for nearly two hours, barely managing to avoid confrontation the whole way. It turned out that the clients had been aware of the mercenaries and had merely assumed the Agency was as well, and so had not informed them of how much resistance to truly expect. Although the contract had been altered on the fly, and he had been paid handsomely for each life taken during the operation, the fact that the hitman had not known what he was getting into had convinced Baxter that 47 had done it for more than just the money, and had emotionally invested himself in seeing the kidnapped man returned home, no matter the cost.

In the years since then, Baxter had sent a few contracts 47’s way, even after the ICA was shut down and 47 went freelance. He always did so with some personal message or informal composition of the contract terms. This was the reason why he had made it a condition of his current contract that 47 personally extract the new identity Mr. Jacobson had fashioned, and bring that information directly to Baxter; he felt that 47 would somehow understand why he trusted him and him alone with the info, and did not want it passed through official channels. The man lived under the belief that 47 was somehow his friend and personal protector/fixer, who simply accepted money from his friends instead of sharing a beer with them after work. This also meant that the man felt entitled to be cheap with the bill, paying within the hitman’s asking rate, but always at the low end. It boggled 47’s mind, and by this point it grated on his patience with the man. If Diana wanted him to give Baxter a thrashing for withholding information from them, he would certainly be willing to oblige.

“No, no,” Diana responded, “Unfortunately, we need all the clients we can get right now if we want to raise the money we need to re-establish the ICA, and Baxter does provide repeat business.”

47 could hear the disappointment and exasperation in her sigh. She apparently held their client in no higher esteem than he did.

“Baxter will do what he will with the information you’ve gathered for him, and our position prevents us from retaliating for it. We must honor that. Whatever he does with that stash of gold is his business, and any penalty he receives will not be from us.”

“It will be.” 47 answered cryptically, leading Diana to believe he was referring to a pattern of behavior that would land Baxter in hot water with them down the road once they finally had their own agency, in a fashion that would permit them to take action.

“Well, in any case, nothing more to be done now except to close out this mission and collect your fee for the information, then wait until the next contract, I suppose.”

47’s brow furrowed, and he looked into the rearview mirror, just barely catching a glimpse of the closed trunk hatch within the mirror’s edges.

“No need to wait. I’ve already accepted payment on another contract.”

There was silence on the line for a moment as Diana processed his words.

“You have? Another contract?”

Diana’s confusion was apparent, so 47 elaborated.

“The old man was scared, but not stupid. He knew his offer wouldn’t work, even if he hoped it might. I would have accepted only half, so he could leave something for his family to start over with, but he gave it all. No reason for it to go to waste.”

More silence as Diana took in what he was saying. He knew she would understand, and even approve. It was poor business to kill a client just for being an annoyance, but if a contract were taken out against a client, that would give them the justification they needed.

“I see. So, you are going to provide the information to Baxter, and finish your contract with him. Then, once he’s no longer your client…”

“Then, I’ll carry out my new contract.”

“Well, that is certainly an unexpected turn of events. But a contract is a contract, after all. I say, 47, sometimes I wonder if you even need me to find work for you.”

The amusement in her voice was clear as she lowered her tone to a near-whisper.

“But please don’t try to confirm that.”

If he had been capable of a more human level of emotion, 47 would have smiled.

“I’ll restrain myself from putting that to the test. It’ll be our little secret.”

47’s unique brand of surprising humor never failed to make Diana thoroughly proud and grateful that he was her agent, and that she had the honor of being his handler.

“Very well, then. Let me know once your business with Baxter is concluded, and I will see what information I can find about any shipments of gold that have recently gone missing. Enjoy your payday, 47.”

And with that, the hitman and his handler signed off.

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Agent 47 pressed the switch on the bedside lamp, illuminating the room with a soft, warm light. The room was located in the Live Aqua Urban Resort, perhaps the fanciest hotel in Monterrey, where Baxter had said to meet with him. He had come to Mexico so that 47 could give him the information personally as soon as possible after completing the mission, but had chosen the most upscale place he could find within reasonable distance, thereby requiring 47 to do the driving and come to him. Light on the fee and heeding only his own conveniences; typical of Baxter. It did not matter in the long run, however, nor did it really affect the job, so 47 had quashed his mild irritation over the matter, and had arrived as requested, managing to slip into the room without alerting anyone or obtaining a keycard, a talent few other agents were capable of. There did not seem to be anyone to alert, however, as Baxter had apparently come incognito, and had no bodyguards watching his room, confident as he was that nobody who knew him was aware of his location, and that his hired killer of choice would take care of any problems. It was enough to make a security-minded individual like 47 roll his eyes, if he had been one for such gestures.

It was well after midnight, and the man was asleep in the large bed. He appeared to be sweating lightly, and 47 noted some bandages that lay on the floor next to the bed with light, dried blood stains. Another bandage seemed to be wrapped around Baxter’s torso, as indicated by the small bit of his upper body sticking out from under the blanket, which revealed his shoulder to be wrapped with the gauzy material, but 47 suspected that it was only wrapped to hold the bandage in place, and that the actual damage was somewhere near Baxter’s midsection. A stab wound, possibly, or bullet wound, if the old man’s words about gold bars suddenly going missing were any indication. Some altercation, perhaps, or a heist gone bad, in which Baxter had been injured as a result. Definitely possible.

The assassin leaned over Baxter’s sleeping form, noting the man’s face wincing a small bit, his mustache twitching in his sleep, indicating that his unconscious mind was just barely registering the change in light of the room, which his brain still detected even in sleep. Likely, the balding man in his fifties was having a dream that just had a significant change to its quality, brought on by his brain sending signals to his dormant consciousness that something had changed, and his mind working the new information into the story of the dream he had been in before 47 had turned on the lamp. The killer had always been fascinated by how the human brain could take data from external stimuli and incorporate it into a sleeping person’s dream in such a way that the person could be alerted to what was happening in the real world. Due to his genetic makeup and lifetime of conditioning, 47 awoke immediately to external stimuli that surpassed a certain sensory threshold, one that was much lower than a normal person’s. His few, volatile dreams would cease immediately, and full awareness came crashing back. What was Baxter dreaming of, and how had his turning on the lamp beside the bed affected it? He would likely never know.

Baxter began to stir, becoming alerted to the increase in light and sensing another presence in the room. He opened his eyes slightly and turned his head, making out the figure standing over him. With a start, he straightened himself in the bed, turning over until he was on his back, wincing in pain with the move, but then relaxing as he recognized the intruder.

“It’s you,” he gasped out with relief, smiling at the hired killer who had personally saved his life and rescued him from hell, years earlier. His expression then grew excited and eager, and he leaned forward, away from the plush pillow that came with the bed, propping himself up on an elbow and ignoring the pain in his side that the action caused. “Any information?”

47 straightened his stance, nodded at the man, and took a step back toward a cushioned chair set against the wall of the hotel room, right next to the bed.

“Quite a bit,” the assassin said as he sat down, “He said several things that will probably interest you, and a couple of things that interested me.”

Baxter’s eyebrows raised slightly, and he tilted his chin forward, indicating that he was listening for more.

“Keep talking.”

47 obliged the man.

“The name Jacobson is hiding under now is: Ben Clayton. That’s your bit.”

47 noticed Baxter’s eyes narrow slightly and the corners of his mouth tug upward in the hint of a smile, plain greed showing on his face at the realization that he was one step closer to his quarry.

“He also mentioned something about a certain large shipment of gold bars, which just so happened to disappear,” the killer spoke in his driest tone of voice. “That’s my bit.”

He watched Baxter’s face carefully, and noticed the slightest widening of his eyes, a small increase in the beads of sweat on his forehead, and then his eyes shifted to the side, as if he were thinking of something. 47 was certain that Baxter had not intended for him to find out about that piece of information, and he was thus trying to think how to best explain it if prodded further about it. He need not have worried, as the hitman had no intention of questioning him. As it was, Baxter seemed to decide on sidestepping the comment.

“Anything else?”

“That’s not enough for you?” 47 kept his own answer cryptic in case Baxter was trying to prod him for info, to see how much he had learned about the gold, or the stash that it was supposedly going to be added to. As Baxter waited anxiously for an answer, 47 shrugged. “No need to worry about it. He will never tell anyone else about that gold, ever again.”

With that, a full smile spread across Baxter’s face, and he beamed at his supposed friend, looking like he wanted to clap but refrained to keep the pain in his torso from flaring up. He reached over to the nightstand and grabbed his smartphone.

“That’s good. That’s great. The info is just what I needed, and you took care of the only witness who mattered. You did a good job for me, definitely worth another hundred thousand,” Baxter breathed heavily as he began typing into the screen of his smartphone with his fingers.

Baxter had already paid 47 up front to kill the old man, but getting the name of Jacobson’s new identity and bringing it to him was the other half of what he was willing to pay for, and he was now going to reward his favorite assassin for another job well done. He pressed one last button on the screen, and then held the phone up to 47, who took it from him and looked at the display.

“There you go, see? All in your account now, just as promised. And not only that…” Baxter took the phone back and began pressing buttons again, then handed it back to the assassin, revealing that he had just wired an additional one hundred thousand dollars to him, sidestepping the need to make an arrangement through Diana’s setup.

For the old man’s life and the information he held, Baxter had at least paid Diana’s required upfront fee, and half of his chosen agent’s personal fee, with the agreement to directly pay the rest of it upon completion. He had just skipped all that and gone to directly paying the killer, continuing on his assumption that they had an understanding and that he could simply dole out contracts at will without first going through his handler or giving him the chance to accept or decline the contract. The man knew that 47 would not turn down a contract once he received payment, and was trying to manipulate the hitman’s workload priorities. The old man was one thing; he had never been a client of his before. The injured man in the bed before him knew better than to try the same. If he and Diana did not have a legitimate reason to terminate their business with Baxter before, they certainly did now.

“That’s for Jacobson,” Baxter said, still beaming at the hired killer. “Or Clayton, or whatever he wants to be called. Track him down for me, and then take him out. Then you are all done with this job.”

47 nodded, then set the phone back down on the nightstand – on the far side of the stand, where it would be the hardest to grab if reached for in a moment of desperation. The hitman then stood up and straightened his red tie, indicating he was preparing to leave, then tilted his head slightly and spoke in a tone that suggested an afterthought had come to him.

“Actually, I forgot something. My mistake. There was one more thing…”

Baxter, who had now lain back down on his pillow, looked up at the assassin expectantly, his eyebrows raised slightly in interest.

“What was that,” he asked his guest.

47 moved closer to the bed, until he was standing right next to where Baxter’s head lay on the pillow. The rather large, very puffy pillow. The older man now had his head turned partially sideways as he starred up at him, the assassin staring right back.

“He paid me four hundred thousand. I think his idea was that I kill you.”

Baxter stared back at the hitman for a moment, then the wide smile reappeared, and despite the pain that wracked his ribs, he began to laugh. It was a deep, loud, heavy laugh; the kind people reserve for when they have heard something so truly, genuinely funny that they are unable to function or think properly until they get it all out. 47 smirked, a rare thing which Baxter had never seen in the handful of times he had met with the killer, and it caused him to laugh even harder, unable to believe that the stoic assassin was actually in on the joke for once. 47 waited until the laughter died down and Baxter began to get control of himself, although a few giggles and chuckles continued to hiccup out of him every few seconds. At that point, 47’s expression became fully devoid of any emotion as he slowly reached over and grabbed the corner of the heavy pillow with his left hand.

“Of course, the thing is: a contract is a contract. And once I’ve been paid, I always finish the job. You know that.”

As the assassin began to slide the pillow out from beneath Baxter’s head, the man’s eyes went wide when he finally realized what was happening, and his face contorted with several expressions in the space of a few seconds: confusion, betrayal, and ultimately, pure terror.

“NO! 4-svhhmph–!”

The hitman pressed the pillow down hard over Baxter’s face, the man’s hands reaching up immediately to pry it away, but even with one hand, 47 was far too strong. However, he had no intention of using the pillow to smother Baxter to death. Its size and fluffy thickness would serve in enacting a faster, more violent method of dispatching the irksome man.

Reaching into his jacket with his right hand, 47 pulled out his Silverballer. The large, shiny, rather frightening-looking, .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun still did not have a suppressor attached, but it would not be needed in this instance, either. He aimed the barrel of the handgun at the center of the pillow, pressed it hard against the surface, and squeezed the trigger.

bam

The gunshot was muffled to the sound of someone popping an inflated paper bag. A smoking hole appeared in the pillow’s center, and Baxter’s struggles stopped, his arms falling limp onto the bed. 47 removed his gloved hand from the pillow, starring down at the covered face of the foolish man who believed the hitman had ever seen him as anything other than a source of business. That business was now concluded. If he had not let it all get so personal, and become overconfident and arrogant as a result, Baxter might have lived. Instead, 47 now watched as a dark red blossom began to spread around the hole in the pillow, as well as against the bedsheet beneath Baxter’s head.

47 was not sure if the old man had truly intended this to be the outcome when he had offered him the money, but he had chosen to interpret it that way, mainly due to a lack of alternatives to the offer. However, it did also allow their business to enact penalty upon the client by proxy, so that was something at least. It made sense in a way; the equation balanced out. The old man knew he was probably going to die no matter what he paid, and it was likely that he did not want Baxter to be the last one holding the cards and thinking he had won. As it was, since his own life had cost one hundred thousand, the old man had essentially paid for four lives: his own and his family’s. The old man’s life was taken at Baxter’s behest, and unless they had family or friends willing to support them until the two boys were able to fend for themselves, his family’s lives were likely ruined too, as a result. So, the old man had paid a retribution charge for each one of them. If he were able to see the results now, even if it were not what he had intended, 47 was sure the old man would have at least been satisfied with the outcome. One hundred thousand dollars for each member of the family and one well-placed bullet. Worth every cent.

47 picked up the spent shell casing from the carpeted floor, then turned off the bedside lamp and headed toward the door. His business was concluded for the day, and he was now on his own time until he heard back from Diana. He would need to track down and terminate Ben Clayton, of course; Baxter had saddled him with that one final obligation by paying him up front. Besides that, if Diana decided they should go after the gold that was the center of this whole thing and claim it for themselves, she would want him to find Clayton anyway to learn what he knew, and then silence him. But, he would wait to hear back from Diana before taking care of the business with Clayton.

He was already determining how he would use the seven hundred thousand dollars he had earned on this job. One hundred thousand to get Jacobson’s name, as he had told the old man; that amount he would use to update his weapons and ammo stock, and to set aside for food, shelter, and transportation.

One hundred grand to kill the old man, which he had not told him, but the old fellow probably understood what the hundred he had mentioned was really for anyway; he would cash that out to use for emergency purchases or bribes.

A hundred grand from what the old man had paid him, that he would transfer to his already massive savings account, to draw upon as needed for direct wire payments when all cash reserves were depleted. He would probably deposit and convert the box of gold for that part.

Another hundred grand he would send to Diana as her share for the unofficial contract on Baxter. True, it had not been brokered through the means they had set up to accept bounties sent out on the dark web, but it had been while he was on the job for them, and they had just lost Baxter as a client, even if that had been a likely outcome anyway, so it was only fair that she received something for that little side job.

Another hundred grand, he would send back to the old man’s family. It really had been foolish of him to fork over everything that they had – his entire savings, an emergency stash gathered from past heists, presumably – in an effort to save himself, when it was almost certain that he had known it would not work. But whatever; the assassin would return enough to get them through the hardest part of the times ahead, and after that they could figure it out for themselves.

The next hundred thousand he would donate to a cause of his choice, as was his practice whenever he had surplus cash, and he almost always did. It was his way of giving back to the world, not only for what he did, but for what he was: A violation of what nature intended to be human, built for nothing but taking the lives of other humans. There had to be a cost for that, and every cost had to be paid, somehow. As it was, he knew of a failing orphanage in Lithuania that was on the verge of shutting down. An anonymous donation of one hundred thousand American dollars would go a long way to giving them the support they needed to hang on a little longer, until they could secure a more consistent source of funding.

The last hundred thousand that Baxter had paid him for the hit on Ben Clayton, he would use to order a few new suits. If the assassin had one luxury in life, one vice that was his guilty pleasure, it was his considerably expensive, premium quality suits. Unless he was in disguise while on the job, or just trying to blend in with a casual crowd on a day off, 47 was never without the finest, sharpest black suits, shiny shoes, and red ties that money could buy, and Baxter had essentially just bought him a few more, at the bargain price of Clayton’s life.

His plans for the day’s earnings firmly set, Agent 47 departed his deceased former client’s hotel room, hung a Do Not Disturb sign on the door, made his way to the main lobby of the hotel, and then exited through the automatic front doors, walking off into the Mexican night.

xxxXXXxxx

So, to confirm for those who could tell, and inform for those who couldn’t, this chapter is basically a Hitman retelling of the first scene with Angel Eyes in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which this story draws very heavy influence from. The rest of the story, whenever I finish it, won’t just be scenes from that movie put into the Hitman universe. I only borrowed so heavily for this chapter because that scene was what sparked the whole idea. Still, that movie’s influence will be felt, considering that 47 will pretty much be in a race against others to get to the treasure first. Alliances and betrayals will be involved, and lots of 47 killing people in awesome ways. Thoughts on it so far?

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damn. i wish i could finish even half a sentence of a story, let alone a chapter. great job getting this done and up on the site. that’s half the battle.

i have a few constructive suggestions, if you don’t mind. i’m obviously far from an expert but they might help?:

1 - the concept for the scene is solid but it needs a little more ‘you’.

it’s cool seeing this tgtbtu scene play out with 47 in it, but it would be interesting to read this with some spin on it that is either uniquely heisenbergian or distinctly hitman.

off the top of my head, imagine building up the tension of the scene only for 47 to calmly leave once he has the relevant information. the target gives a huge sigh of relief at dodging a bullet and tucks into the rest of his dinner. outside, as 47 is talking with diana, the reader is drawn to the the empty vial of poison he is toying with. as 47 gets in his car, we hear the distant clattering of crockery as the target hits the floor and the shrill scream of a woman recently widowed.

i’m not saying that’s a better idea (or even a particularly good one), but it does take that original scene in a slightly different direction, making it more hitman-like.

you have a very particular perspective on what hitman is and i’d love to see that played out on the page in someway, especially since this scene is meant as a character establishing moment.

2 - let the reader fill in some blanks

this is probably a preference thing on my part, but i think you’re offering a little too much to the reader in terms of detail.

for example, your third paragraph primarily lists objects in a room. i assume you’re setting the scene here, but honestly, it’s not that interesting to read and it undermines the rhythm, pacing and tension you’re trying to build. unless all the objects on that table are directly relevant to the story (the target gets drowned in his soup or stabbed with a spoon), i would consider condensing that to a couple of sentences (“a dinner table laid out for four” or whatever) and then let the reader imagine what the dinner table looks like.

3 - economy of language

(like i can talk about that…, look at this bloody post! :smile:)

this is a solid first draft, but i think you need to start chipping away at some of the sentences. kill your darlings, as stephen king might say.

less is often more; the more economical you are with your words, the better the writing will flow and the more engaging your writing will be to read.

i’ll give an example…

…could instead be shortened to something like:

a woman in a black apron quietly hummed to herself. as she finished laying the table, 47’s shadow spilled across her. she turned. her eyes widened.

again (and i can’t stress this enough), i’m not saying my example is better than yours or even good; i’m just demonstrating that you don’t need 67 words where 27 can say more or less the same thing.

i think the whole piece would benefit from looking at each sentence with an eye to economising the language and considering the rhythm.

4 - don’t describe a child as a ‘preteen’, it’s insanely creepy.

just give the age or say they’re young.

that’s all i got. hope that’s helpful? i think the overall idea is really cool and i hope we get to see the rest of it soon. :+1:t4:

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This is overall a entertaing read. Not sure if I buy the idea of 47 and Diana on a hunt for gold but I’m willing to give it a go. For the longest I’ve been confusing Baxter with Absoluition’s Dexter. :sweat_smile:

I also agree with Screaming_Meat’s points, particularly number 2 and 3, but I would add that this boils down to personal preference and not necessarily a requirement. There are writers who describe as much detail a possible in order to better bring the reader into their created world which is all well and good, but I personally don’t have the patience for this style.

I’d still be interested in reading another chapter though.

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I’ll definitely have more of my own ideas take place throughout the story, while some others will borrow from various sources that I think would play well in a Hitman setting. For this opening chapter and its two scenes and two kills, I wanted to recreate the Angel Eyes scene as closely as I could, simply because, minus the sadism and chuckling, I can easily picture 47 in those scenes from the film. Those scenes sparked the entire inspiration for this story, and so I knew from the beginning I wanted to honor them by keeping them mostly intact, before going my own way. All the same, the bones of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, as well as a little bit of National Treasure, will be felt throughout the story. Although I will say, your suggestion with the poison is actually fairly close to a scene that I’ve got planned out much further in, so you’re definitely onto something.

For these points, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to do much about them. It’s just how I write. I know that its a lot of purple prose, but I want the reader to know as much about what I’m visualizing as possible, so that they can “see” what I’m “seeing” as I set the scene taking place. Also, I feel whenever I don’t put in a certain amount of detail, either of what is going, what a situation looks like, or what a character is thinking and why, that I’m coming off as lazy in the detail.

If, for instance, I write that a character walks into a country bar, and I put in bare minimum details like it had sawdust on the floor, trinkets up on the walls, the smell of alcohol in the air… well, ok, what about those things? Is it something that’s going to play a part in the events that will unfold after the character walks into the bar? Does it affect the character’s mood, or bring back some kind of memory for them? Are they confused by what they see, or have they been here before? If I’m not going to give those details further meaning, then why write them at all? Most people who have been to country bars know how they are inside and wouldn’t need such detail, and if it isn’t going to affect anything, those who haven’t don’t need to know. So I would throw in some extra details, like how the sawdust on the floor would make running out difficult if things got bad, unless I planned on actually having such a moment, in which case I’d keep that as a surprise and instead write how the character hates walking on sawdust because of how it gets into their boots so easily and they’ll have to shake them out later. Or, how the trinkets on the walls included items that could be pulled off and used as a weapon in an emergency, unless I plan on actually going through with that, in which case maybe something more like how they can’t lean against a wall like they normally like to do because they might knock something off and make everyone in there mad. Or, how the smell of alcohol was specifically that of beer, not liquor, and the character hated the smell of beer and had to hold back a gag reflex, or how it made them flash for a moment to a memory of their drunk father yelling at them, that same smell lingering around his head. Things like that, I feel like I haven’t done enough with the picture if I don’t include them, because giving just a basic description, or no description at all, feels lazy and incomplete, like a kid writing their first fanfic or something. I do tend to do it more in early chapters of stories, to make clear to the reader how the main character thinks and acts, and where they are, so that it becomes less necessary the further along they go.

Well, the idea is that it is a treasure that is not officially claimed by anyone as it was all assembled through illegal and unethical means, built up over generations in secret, sort of like the Templar treasure in National Treasure, although not quite that big and not nearly that ancient. 47 and Diana, despite their moral convictions on why they do what they do, are still creatures of money, and so the realization that a bunch of criminals has a shitload of gold and other valuables stored away that nobody is supposed to know about but now they know about it, it’s sort of like making them the clients of their own contract, with the payment being that they get to claim the treasure for themselves once they’ve killed off all the conspirators involved. Sort of a is it really stealing if it was already in the possession of a criminal kind of thing.

When I originally started writing the story, back before Hitman 3 released, it was supposed to go to the ICA overall, as a means of helping to get better equipment and weapons, higher pay for the agency’s workers who don’t do the killing part (analysts, spies, cleaners, etc.), as well as higher pay for the handlers and agents since the agency would be able to afford taking smaller cuts of their contract work to pay for those other things. Obviously that’s no longer possible since ICA is gone (if I’m being completely honest, that is at least half the reason why I’m so mad IOI decided to destroy ICA; I still love it for its integral part in the series and don’t want to see it gone, but also, they messed up how I was setting up my story), and so now I have to go down the path of 47 and Diana doing their freelance work to save up the funds to relaunch the ICA under their leadership, and claiming this treasure will make at least the financial aspects of that possible overnight. They’d be able to afford all the equipment and people they’d need to bring it back to nearly full power from the beginning. On top of that, they’d eliminating another secret society of white-collar criminals, this time ones stealing billions of dollars in gold, jewels, artwork, negotiable bearer bonds, etc., from war regions and such, and hoarding them in secret over several generations. So this story is really a Hitman story wrapped around the structure of a treasure hunt, and while I prefer heist stories, I’m always down for a good treasure hunt.

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