The digital alarm clock on John Razlin's nightstand suddenly erupted from total silence, into a wailing siren, waking up the groggy man and causing a chain reaction in the process. At first, the mechanical wail forced him to slam his palm down on the on the button to disable the noise, which in turn knocked over a half-empty bottle of bourbon. Razlin squinted at the brown liquid, watching it seep and spread into the carpet. "It tasted like shit, anyway.." he muttered. "Never get a bottle from that liquor shop on the corner again, Johnny boy."
Razlin cringed suddenly, his neck and back stiff from the cheap mattress he slept on. He sat up, letting out a short groan of pain as he moved to stand. What really pissed him off was the fact that he had to dip into his savings to pay for this fifty credit a night room. Empty whiskey bottles and crushed cans littered the floor, Razlin actually knocked down a pile of aluminum as he made his way to the bathroom. The sound of clanging metal made him grit his teeth in pain and hold the side of his head as he looked into the bathroom mirror.
The person he saw in his reflection was barely familiar. He saw an animal of a man.. complete with bloodshot eyes, a stubby beard and a smell to match. Razlin had been living just like that the last few months, throwing his savings away on gambling and booze. Mostly just booze, though.
He glanced at a small metallic box sitting on the sink, the interior lined with a row of hypodermic syringes. Sterons. He had actually bought them from some small-timer at the station a few months back. The chemically advanced stimulant was under tight control by the Collective, restricted for use only by the military. Almost fortunately, Razlin had been too drunk to even remember they were there. He looked at the box again, seemingly begging him, the glistening needles of the syringes pleading silently. His hand rubbed the side of his face and he opened the cabinet, pulling out a razor and a canister of pressurized shaving cream.
Watching the mirror carefully, Razlin lathered up his face and began shaving away his week-old beard. He cringed momentarily as he nicked the side of his face more than a few times. He looked into his reflection and shook his head in disgust, "What a half-assed job.." and walked out of the bathroom. There wasn't anytime for a shower and he didn't smell too bad, so Razlin went ahead and walked over to his closet. His finger tapped a generic, but well hidden, button and a panel in the wall clicked open. Razlin's fingers drifted over the small armory of weapons kept in varying states, ranging from usable to badly damaged. Finally, Razlin found what he wanted.. a Kamenev AP mk2 9mm pistol. He took the weapon from the rack along with two clips of ammunition. Razlin inserted the first clip into the weapon, sliding the second into his pocket. Walking over to the middle of the room, Razlin went through a pile of clothing and pulled out his jacket and a black ceramic holster. He examined the holster and then sniffed the jacket. He shrugged and slid the holster over his shoulder, then wore the jacket on top of it. Pulling out a small, metallic tube from his jacket, Razlin screwed the silencer onto the barrel of his pistol before sliding it into the holster, concealing it.
The entrance door to Razlin's apartment buzzed slightly, opening slowly. He strummed his fingers patiently on the side of the wall as he waited. The rusted, metallic door slid only partially open before it stopped. Growling in frustration, Razlin finally kicked the wall near the console and the door finally finished the opening sequence. Rolling his eyes, Razlin walked downstairs and out the door of the slum tenements he dwelled in.
Razlin's eyes glanced up for a moment at the half-meter thick outer layer of 'the dome'. He still couldn't get used to the glare the damn thing created. Titan's atmosphere was only partly terraformed, and that wasn't exactly hospitable. You still needed a rebreather outside. Still, it wasn't close to the hell that Io could be. He mused on this for a moment before he started walking, his pace a bit more hurried than usual. Razlin's hand moved inside of his pocket and he pulled out a jagged piece of paper with an address scrawled on it. He was supposed to meet his contact in a little cabaret just a few blocks from the station. Razlin sighed, unfortunately, it was a little too early in the morning for a drink.
The bar was a sad, rundown old thing, full of half-wit drunks and tired-eyed prostitutes. The only singers in the joint appeared on blinking monitors over the bar, most of the images distorted and fragmented by cracks in the glass. Not that the patrons cared, anyway. A few of the women near the door made passes at him, asking if he was 'looking for a good time', but he ignored them. Moving to sit down at a table in the corner, Razlin noticed someone moving towards him. His contact, most likely. They both sat down at almost the exact same time.
Razlin had never actually had a face-to-face with this guy, but recognized the voice immediately. He'd heard it several times in the encrypted voice transfers the Morgans would send. They tried to be cautious, but they should've masked the voice. Razlin almost rolled his eyes as he leaned back, his contact explaining the whole 'fusion core' fiasco.
The Morgan Raiders wanted that piece of ingenious Collective technology for themselves. That's why they had attacked the remote research installation in the first place, and that was also how John Razlin had ended up knee-deep in their shit. They had contracted him out, met his expenses eagerly, planned with him.. cooperated with his every request and whim. He had to commend them, that was something his employers rarely did. They were either too cheap or too stupid to relize what was needed. After all the resources they had pooled into the operation, the Morgans wanted results.
And John Razlin didn't have any. Someone had gotten there first, or the prototype had been removed earlier, possibly even destroyed. He didn't know. Then again, the Morgans managed to get him to do their dirty work; destroying the installation with explosives and forcing him into executing all the survivors. There were some civilians among them, Collective-employed research scientists. None of them were spared.
"Razlin, you haven't been able to produce what we wanted. You can't even believe how important this operation was to us.. if we had known you had been so.. so.. unreliable.." he flinched, "we wouldn't have hired you out in the first place. We don't know if you sold the package to another bidder or if you destroyed it. You could be a Collective plant, working for those bastards on the inside. It would explain why the fusion core just 'disappeared'.." his contact reached for something under the table, but Razlin picked up on his movements. In a reflex action, he pulled out his pistol from its holster and trained it on his would-be assassin.
"Not so fast, 'friend'. You and I both know I was only paid half in advance, so why would I jeopardize my paycheck? Think about it. I also had to take out some Collective soldiers, so I can't be a plant. You paranoid flunkies really piss me off.." He nodded towards the pistol in his hand, exercising his control of the situation. "Go ahead and put both hands on the table, yeah, like that.. that's a good boy." He suddenly pulled the trigger and looked surprised when the only result was an audible "click!" Damn. The chamber was empty. And the Morgan noticed. Razlin moved his free hand towards the slide of his pistol. The contact had just recovered from the shock, grabbing for the submachinegun underneath the table. He aimed it at Razlin but his grip wavered as three nine milimeter bullets penetrated his chest, the only sounds uttered were his gasps and the sharp hiss of the silencer.
Razlin scooped up the shell casings and shoved them into his back pocket, re-holstering the Kamenev AP mk2. Discreetly, he moved over to his former contact and searched him, shoving a wallet, a few assorted notes, and an encrypted data receiver into his jacket. Razlin quickly left the bar, smugly noting that not a single raised eyebrow or strange look was thrown his way.
He couldn't stay here. The Morgans would be looking for him actively soon, and Razlin needed to be gone. He walked briskly back to the tenements and to his apartment. Strangely enough, the door was halfway open. Razlin remembered shutting the damn thing on his way out, but apparently it was acting dysfunctional again. Damn, he would be glad to get out of this rathole. His mind was obviously somewhere else when he walked into the apartment, planning out his next move and destination. As soon as Razlin squeezed through the partially opened door, the wall next to his head erupted into a hail of automatic weapon's fire..