The setting sun. Bold in its heaven-stroked colors. Welcome in its fading warmth. Much has been written of sunset, but few have heard it sing. That it remains so powerful a muse to humanity is laughable. Saga doesn't know why she finds it funny. She just does.
She laments the Akaishi Mountains, for Saga very much wants to see the sunset's reflection in the Sea of Japan, but she's been ordered to Izu for pickup. Maybe tomorrow she can catch the beginning of the sunrise over the Pacific, but the colors aren't the same. Given her situation, she'll take what she can get.
The middle-aged taxi driver asks her, in Japanese, if she would like to stop for dinner. She shakes her head and turns her attention to her package. She's not seen her American passport in years. The surprise she experienced upon finding it at the drop-off has hung around, and she relishes in its residue. Saga's not been surprised in a long time. Things have been so... menial.
America has long been a no-go area for her organization, and the fact she's being sent there means that something is wrong. She smiles, careful to keep her lips together. She's caught the taxi driver stealing glances at her - whether from attraction or curiosity is of no importance - and, though the thought has crossed her mind, she's no real desire to reveal her true identity. Any discrepancy or, Heaven forbid, interference from law enforcement might make her as-of-yet unknown mission more difficult. And Saga will be damned should Home Office decide to send someone else - someone less reckless - in her place.
The taxi driver asks politely if he may stop to pick up a snack and she nods. It is an unusual request from a taxi driver, particularly in this country, but then again, so is asking for a cab ride from Nomi - her chosen hideaway - to Shimoda. It hadn't occurred to her to request a closer pickup location. Subconsciously, and even if she had, she knew the answer would've been no. Home Office has a reason for everything. Vague though they tend to be, she trusts that she'll soon know why she's going to Shimoda.
Looking at the driver paying for a sea food box and a coffee, she catches her own reflection in the taxi window. There's nothing striking about Saga, save for her extremely pale skin. Many of her friends have asked why she chose Japan to hide in, since her appearance makes her stand out quite dramatically, but she finds that the local populace respects those who wish to keep to themselves. It's rare she notices anyone staring at her. And usually the stares come from tourists. Besides, Japanese was one of the first languages she learned, and there's something about Samurai movies that turns her on. Precision in movement and gratuitous blood. Why wouldn't she choose Japan?
The taxi pulls away. The driver no doubt ecstatic - in that subdued Japanese way - at the overly generous tip. Saga even gave him extra money for the fuel required of the return trip to Nomi. They hadn't talked much, but she appreciated his patience and professionalism, and she always makes it a point to reward such admirable characteristics.
"You're late," a voice says. In Romanian.
"By Japanese standards," Saga replies, in Japanese. "Not by anyone else's. What am I doing here?"
"The director," the voice switches to English, "requested your unit. We haven't located all of you yet. Any hints?"
"Legacy is in Australia..."
"We found him."
"I think Wolfe is in Ecuador. Hawke was heading to the Ukraine, last I knew. Haven't heard from any of the others. Are we being reformed?"
"Hawke's not in the Ukraine. Not as far as we can tell, at least. Wolfe was killed two years ago." The voice pauses, letting that sink in. Saga, to her credit, shows no emotional reaction. Wolfe must have really pissed her off. "And, no. Not officially."
"What am I doing here, Archangel?"
The man finally steps out of the shadows. He is even more pale than Saga, but his appearance is striking. Well over six feet tall, his is an imposing presence. Dressed in expensive suit, his strong jawline and angular features scream of Hollywood megastar. Out of the shadows, two more men dressed like him carry another, this one bound and gagged.
"We're being hunted," Archangel answers, equally as emotionless as Saga's responses have been.
Saga gestures tiredly towards the prisoner. "By him?"
"And others like him. Have you eaten?"
Saga shakes her head no and slowly allows a smile. This time, lips apart, the extended and sharpened canines of vampire unmistakable.
"We had his partner for breakfast. This one's all yours."
She glides up to the prisoner, smelling him. Definitely an American. And one who eats a lot of red meat and cheese, she gathers. He'll be tasty.
"Has he been interrogated?"
Archangel smiles. "Not yet." He's going to love watching her work. And eat.
The interrogation is terrifying. Saga punctures the man's carotid artery, though she does not draw her meal from there. The purpose is only to make the man lightheaded and less resistant to questioning. Instead, she feeds from his femoral. The blood is as rich, and it affords her the use of fellatio as a method of finding out what she wants to know. Create confusion, and the mind struggles to find clarity. Often by whatever means necessary.
Wiping her mouth clean, she makes eye contact with Archangel. Though most of the now-dead man's responses offered no new information, his dying words are cause for alarm.
"We know the Storyteller lied. We know he lied."
The fact that the man knew the name "Storyteller" changes everything. And both Archangel and Saga know it.
*Continued in The Man With Wings