Beauty Meets the Beast

Several weeks had passed since Ryu Yopparai’s brief appearance at the Corpo’s award show. Oroku Shuriken’s plans for replicating the Hoodoo’s brainpump equipment were beginning to come to fruition as the first few deliveries of Corpo equipment entered Japan Town. Negotiations had been tough as Corpo CEO Geoff Hunter wasn’t satisfied with money alone for granting access to Corpo supplies. The Tygers had needed to offer something of their own to balance out the deal. Business was anything but straightforward in Cyber City.
A meeting had been scheduled to discuss this matter in Japan Town. Hunter, flanked by a heavy security entourage, made his way out to meet directly with Oroku. Madame Lily, Director of Real Riot accompanied him in his limousine as the Corpo convey levitated over the dense traffic below.
Far from the tech powerhouse they once used to be, the Tyger Fangz did still have connections in the augmented reality industry. The faction had exclusive distribution rights within Cyber City for a powerful new headset, something Hunter was interested in for his own nocturnal hobbies. His evil alter-ego Krueger much preferred coding and previewing his holograms with an immersive headset.
The faction leaders sat on either side of a long meeting table. Security stayed outside. Despite being ruthless leaders, Oroku and Hunter had mutual respect for each other.
New to the high-level discussions was Azura, a charming young woman who stood up and began the presentation. She showcased the features and benefits of this impressive new model, an ultra-rapid quantum visualizer with applied super-intelligence. Oroku looked on with pride as the young lady gave a convincing explanation while answering Madame Lily’s numerous questions. Of all the 26 Corpo subsidiaries, hers would have the most to gain from such a novel product.
Hunter had something else on his mind. His eyes were fixated on Azura. Her beautiful blue hair blissfully complemented the short blue dress she had worn for the presentation. He studied the elaborate intertwining pictures of flowers and dragons that decorated the skin of her arms. In his cruel twisted life, never had he seen such a combination of confidence and beauty. The words from her presentation sang in his ears like young birds chirping in early Spring.
The presentation neared its end but Hunter seemed oblivious to the notion of time and space.
“Isn’t that right, Geoff?” Madame Lily nudged his arm gently. “Geoff?”
“Oh, sorry,” rasped the CEO. “What, what was it?”
“The headset. We’ll receive a demo unit to try out. Azura will deliver it to HQ next week.”
“Perfect,” hissed the CEO, eyes still fixated on Azura who had now finished and sat down beside her leader.
Oroku, aware of the impact his young initiate had on Hunter glared at the CEO from behind his mask. It was pointless, the Corpo CEO’s stare was frozen.
“This concludes our business for today,” said Oroku as he stood up and motioned gracefully for the visitors to leave.
The Corpos bowed respectfully and were escorted off the premises towards their limousine. Within moments, they were elevated above the Japan Town traffic and on their way back to their offices.
“Interesting tech, Geoff. I certainly see a few opportunities for this in our roadmap. It complements our current product line very well.”
“When will she visit?” said Hunter, once again oblivious to the discussion or his surroundings.
“I saw you looking at that Azura girl, Geoff. Keep things professional, old chap.” Madame Lily was one of the select few Corpos who dared tell Hunter what they really thought.
Hunter stared back menacingly. “Oh I’m professional, Lily. Don’t you worry about that.” The quiet words crept out of his throat in a deep croak. “You just make sure those numbers line up.”
The following week, Azura came to the Corpo HQ, accompanied closely by high-ranking Tyger Ryu Yopparai. Hunter, dressed in a dazzling blue suit, met them personally at the reception. A personal greeting from the CEO was a rare sight indeed at the Corpo head office.
They took the lift to the top floor, walked down a corridor, where two very large security men waited.
“You’ll have to stay here, Mr Yopparai,” said Hunter as he led Azura past the oversized henchmen.
“That will be all. Thank you.”
Ryu could barely peep between the shoulders of the two large men as he watched Azura turn into the meeting room at the end of the corridor.
Hunter and Azura sat down at a heavy-looking mahogany table. Azura opened the briefcase to display the headset but Hunter’s eyes once again remained fixated on her pretty face. Azura’s female intuition sensed the weight of the heavy glare as she looked into her briefcase to prepare the demo.
Hunter stood up and came around to the other side of the table. He took the seat next to Azura and pulled in close.
“I’m sorry but you’re making me uncomfortable, Mr Hunter.”
“I apologize, young lady. I just want to get a better look. Please continue with your presentation.”
Azura nervously took the assembled kit out of the case and placed it on the table. Hunter leaned in closer, mere inches from her shoulder now.
“Mind if I touch?”
Two blocks away, on the roof of a tall building lay Mercs marksman Ryder Mace. Ryder had just finished setting up his sniper rifle’s tripod and was patiently lining up his shot. He called in to report on his comm set.
“I found Azura, but no Ryu in sight. She’s alone with Hunter. They’re looking at a briefcase on the table. Looks like they’re angry about something. I’m lasering in.”
Ryder tapped a button on the side of the rifle, switching the gun’s laser to listen mode. After a brief calibration, the laser began picking up the faint vibrations on the meeting room’s window, translating the resonance into audible text on his headset.
“She’s talking business, but sounds like he’s got other plans. Wow! Now the old creep’s trying to cop a feel!”
“Proceed,” barked the order from the far end of the crackling comms line.
Ryder pulled the trigger, letting out a screamer of a shot, instantly shattering the office window.
The orders he received for this contract were clear: nobody gets hurt. Being the ladies’ man that he was, Ryder found it hard to let the creepy CEO get away with moves like that. The bullet shattered the glass but nobody was harmed. Azura ran away, Hunter lay on the floor in a state of shock.
Ryder saw his opportunity. A carefully placed shot on the meeting room table would drop it onto Hunter’s lower half. Might hurt, but he’d survive no doubt.
The angle was perfect. The shot ripped two legs off the thick mahogany table, sending it crashing down into Hunter’s waist. The CEO lay there trapped.
Ryder reported back.
“I got him, Oroku. He’s alive, but he won’t be going be going anywhere anytime soon. Azura got out. Still don’t know where Ryu is.
“I’m getting out now before I’m spotted. Curt will be in touch regarding this job. Pleasure doing business with you.”
As Ryder packed up his gear, Hunter lay there silent. He knew that security would be arrive to clean this mess up and get him on his feet in no time. He also knew that messing with a Tyger’s girl had probably not been such a smart move. Never mind. He looked over beyond the mess of splinters and crushed glass. There on the carpet floor lay the prized AR headset. He reached over to grab the gadget and clasped on to it tight.
He’d be back in the comfort and safety of his office tonight, finetuning his algorithms and preparing new holograms to carry out his menacing deeds. In fact, he was planning on working extra hard tonight to repay Oroku Shuriken for this little round of cat and mouse.