A Royal Visit

Citra Corp Headquarters - Alba City - Mars

Blood pooled in the lobby. The bodies of numerous security guards were scattered throughout the building with missing limbs and faces frozen in pain and terror. Though no audible alarm had been tripped, the corporation's private military force was on high alert as reports came in from an increasing number of dying mercs that an intruder was on their way up to the main office of one Edwin Vess, one of Citra Corps more promising executives.

Screams were followed with silence. No gunshots rang out. There had been no time to react. The best mercs they had on staff were all aiming their rifles at the main door of Vess's office waiting for the nightmare that was inevitably approaching. The men just outside screamed and fell silent and the tension in the room couldn't even be cut with a knife at this point.

Vess was shaking. His hand rested on an old revolver he kept in his desk. Though he wasn't intending on using it to defend himself. As there was only one bullet in the revolver.

The silence grew. The men were sweating. Their eyes fixed to the door. So much so they didn't see the dark blur drop down from the ceiling until Vess let out a short scream. But by then it was too late. The blur had Vess in a chokehold with one arm while the other produced a silenced submachinegun that riddled the surprised men with a number of bullets before they could even turn to fully react. And then the room fell silent again. Vess was cowering in The Hand's arm, and the smell of fresh piss began to fill the room.

The Hand of The Queen removed the revolver, tossed it across the room then shoved Vess onto the desk before plunging his sword into the man's right hand, pinning him to the desk. Vess screamed and tears began to pour from his eyes. Then he looked up at the monstrous figure before him, The Hand moved to the front of the desk and faced Vess before pressing a finger to the side of his helmet. The black visor lit up with the image of a red queen chess piece with a black skull and a smoky voice slithered from the open commlink.

"Mr. Vess..." The Queen said through The Hand. "It has come to my attention that you have put a hit on one Jhonen Cross..."

Vess whimpered and clutched at his hand. He looked up at The Hand and anger filled his eyes. "You stupid cunt! Do you realize what you have done???"

The Hand responded by seizing the handle of the blade and twisting it. Vess screamed as blood began to collect on his expensive desk.

"I believe that was my question first, Mr. Vess..." The Queen said coldly.

Vess's head was swimming in pain. He continued to clutch at his hand.

"Do not make me ask again." The Queen warned.

"You... you had your dog kill that dragoon peacekeeper. All to send a message. And now every last Dragoon is on the hunt for you. They've already begun looking into various operations we've established... questions are being asked. You have threatened our good will with The Jericho Council... over one man!!! I felt it was prudent that this problem be eliminated so you wouldn't be distracted!"

The Hand twisted the blade again. "That was not your call to make, Mr. Vess..."

"And it was not your call to fucking throw our operations into jeopardy! You fucking psychopathic bitch! And now this! Attacking our main office? You've just made a powerful enemy today!" Vess said through clenched teeth. "You're fucking dead! You hear me cunt??? Dead!"

The Hand seized Vess's head in his large, gloved, hand and brought it crashing down into the desk. Bone and cartilage broke and more blood was added to the desk. Vess was cursing and mumbling incoherently as snot and tears and blood poured down his mangled face.

"I'm sure your superiors will understand when I explain the situation to them. That you acted alone, without telling me about your intentions on my world. And that if they wish to continue to enjoy the benefits I grant them, they will agree that it is you... who royally fucked up." The Hand finally pulled the blade from Vess's hand. He cowered away from him clutching his destroyed hand as blood seeped between his fingers and down his arm.

"Why this man?" Vess found himself asking. "You did all this over one man? What is so special about him? Why is he more important than our partnership?"

"Jhonen Cross is mine." The Queen said. "My plaything. Mine to torment. And mine to kill when I see fit. He is the main fixture of my Game. And it is only through The Game that he is allowed to perish. Any interference in my Game will not be tolerated."

"All of this... for a game???" Vess couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity. "A game???"

"My Game." The Queen said firmly. "One that you have jeopardized. Now... I'm willing to be civil if you would so kindly provide me the names of the agent you sent to my planet, and who they hired to carry out the hit."

Vess nodded and with his working hand produced a datapad from his desk and slid it over. "It's all in there. The decryption code is Kat-932..."

There was a long pause. Vess's hand was throbbing with his fast-beating heart. Pain jolted across his face and arm. His vision was darkening. But he was praying that this would be enough to appease this crazy bitch. It was the first time in his life he'd ever prayed to the Gods. All the while The Hand continued to stare at him, utterly blank while the sigil of The Crimson Queen flickered on his visor.

"Goodbye, Mr. Vess..." The Queen said simply before The Hand did a quick swipe with his sword hand and severed Vess's head from his body.

All was still. The Hand turned, returning his sword to its sheath as he made his way out of Vess's office with the datapad containing the location of the hapless bounty hunters this fool had no doubt tricked into hunting The Queen's most valued prey.

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