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.
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.
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.
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.