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I thought I saw a ghost

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“You’re a hard man to find, Mr. Ghost.â€Â

The man on the phone had a smooth and pleasant baritone voice, yet it was underpinned by hidden malice. Even through the crackly machine, it held power. And try as one might; no hint of emotion could be heard.

“I have a proposition for you, a job, if you will. Meet me outside the Atlantis at 10:00, look for the man in red glasses. I will wait for one hour, if your not there by 11 I will assume you have no interest in the …position. Have no doubts, Mr. ghost, I can make it worth your while. â€Â

The glistening lights shone like a beacon, advertising the sweet sins that only the boardwalk could provide. And the people of freedom swarmed, like moths to the flame, bedecked in their best wings, and stepping over those already burned. In the madness of the crowd one could find anonymity, making it an excellent place to hide. And on that boardwalk, among the filth of those robed by the casinos false promises, a man searching for something in the teaming crowd, a man he was to meet, a man who wanted to stay hidden, a veritable ghost.

The watcher was of average height, dressed in grey robes and carrying a package. His face was hidden except for the red glasses that shown in the light of the board walk. He didn’t look too out of place, but enough so that he stood out. He was fidgety. Perhaps whatever he was waiting for would arrive soon.

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The Ghost watched the man wearing red glasses for about thrity mintues. He kept himself with in the crowd and far enough away to be sure that he wouldn't be detected. The message on his machine he used for jobs was interesting enough for him to come out and at least see if the person would come or not.

Looks like he's alone. I wonder if this is something Lady Fortune is sending her favorite solider. This will be interesting.

The Ghost started making his way towards the contact,moving carefully to avoid detection until he was just up to the man.

"I believe you're waiting for me," he said in a soft voice next to the man.

The Ghost wore his signature black clothing with a black backpack on his shoulders. He looked to be at least mid twenties and stood with an slightly lazy lean. The laziness was most likely deceptive, but he didn't seem to be watching out for any trouble.

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The contact turned with a start, revealing his face. A teenage boy; his face lacking in age and experience. He grinned, almost manically, behind the dark red goggles.

“The ghost, yea? Your late.â€Â

He looked around quickly.

“The walls have ears,†he said “come this way.†The boy quickly hustled down the crowded board walk until he came to an alley. Beckoning you forward, the boy entered the shadows. On either side the Casino buildings raised high into the sky, allowing only thin strips of moonlight to filter through to the ground. The noise of the street, and the ringing of chips, seems distant in this alcove. At the end of the short alley, stands “Our sister of the immaculate heart†an tiny, old chapel, set up around the heyday of the Palace, a forgotten relic off shoot of “Our lady of mercy.†The sisters used to try to convert sinners here, but when the Mob thought it was bad for business, they kindly asked the sisters to close it down, but kept the property open, out of respect. Now it’s boarded up, the old cross still hanging above the door, tilted and gathering dust, and the alley used as a place to store the dumpsters.

Behind one such dumpster the boy scurried and beckons closer, so that you are out of the light of the street and hidden from view.

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The Ghost frown when he saw that it was a kid that was the contact. A kid? What is the world coming to these days? Well, he better have deep pockets for wasting my time."

"Alright kid. I'll play along but if you're wasting my time..." The Ghost let's the threat hang in the air as he follows the young boy into the alley. Again he follows the young boy when he gestures behind the dumpster. Humor has faded from his expression but he keeps his eyes open for any dangers that might be hidden.

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The coast seems clear in the back alley as the Boy motions you closer.

“If anyone’s wasting your time, it’s not me… it’s him.†He says darkly pointing behind you, as a shadow doubt for the first time enters the boys face.

Suddenly the sound of creaking hinges is heard, as the doors of our “Sister of the immaculate heart†open slowly.

Large metal boot steps out onto the ground in front of the abandoned chapel. Half covered in shadow an intimidating man stands in the door way. He seems to fill the cavernous space of the door, though he only stands no more than 6’ tall. He is dressed in medieval armor, colored flat grey, which seems to absorb the filtered moonlight rather than reflect it. He radiates an aura of command and his steal grey eyes seem to stare directly into the soul.

Next to him stands a wild, white haired man, who seems dwarfed in comparison. He wears a lab coat over a shirt and tie, but on his face he wears the same red goggles that were on the boy. His face seems truly crazed. In the chapel you can see maybe a half dozen more red eyes reflecting in the darkness.

“My apologies for the deception, Sir. Ghost†The armored man speaks in a familiar smooth baritone, stepping into the light. “but I wish to remain as… discreet as possible. This is my associate, Smith, but you may call him Herr Doktor. As for me:

I’m Maximums Greyâ€Â

Grey motions for you to come in side.

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The Ghost whirls around in surprise as the huge figure appears. My goodness! What in the world is he? As he felt the man's aura reach out towards him, Ghost attempted to hide his unease at meeting with the man.

"Hmm. This might be very interesting afterall."

The ghost slowly followed Maximus into the building. His pace was slow but steady and he hoped that the armored man would not notice the slight shake in his hands.

Once he entered the room, he let his eyes roam around to get a better understanding of the layout, but he stayed near the wall. If this guy tries anything funny, I'm out of here!

"So, what do you have in mind, Mr. Grey?"

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The inside of the chapel had been cleared out long ago. Now it belonged to the rats and lowlifes. Apparently, however, a card table and three chairs had been set up in the center of the small room, the one last flickering florescent bathing the card table in a yellow light. The sound of feet clapped on the linoleum floor as from the darkness many eyes watched the proceedings.

As the ghost passed, Grey waved a hand to the kid out side and he ran off.

Please, have a seat, Mr. Ghost.

Grey sits at the table, straight backed and proper, his amour strangely silent. Herr Doktor sits as well grinning at some joke that hasn’t been said. Grey looks calm, stoic, almost bored. It’s difficult to see what it is that he is thinking. He raises a hand and the grey robed figures around the room disappear into hallways and doorways, the last two exit the from door and close it behind them, leaving the only source of light, the blinking florescence.

"Mr. Ghost," Grey begins, "before we continue I want to make it clear that my involvement in this matter is to remain a secret. The rather useless display tonight was to help make that point clear. Succeed or fail, I am to remain a silent partner. I need to make sure that is understood?â€Â

Grey leaned forward in his chair, the light of the florescence bathing his face in strange shadows. Still his face remains emotionless, but lhe fixes his steal grey eyes on the ghost's.

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The Ghost watched as the room cleared of all but the three of them. He moved over to the offered seat and sat down. He nodded his head, "I know the deal. If you had checked up on me before conatact, you would already know I keep my mouth shut which is why it is so difficult to get a hold of me. Your invovlement will not be mentioned."

Ghost looked at the table and leaned slightly forward. "Now, tell me. What is it that you have in mind?"

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Grey’s eyes stared forward, unwavering

“I have… faith in you. Otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here.

Normally I would do this sort of thing myself, but this place is … strange, and I and my men lack the skills needed to perform this task. To… survive in this world, I need power. And the only kind of power that matters is … information

Have you ever heard of the Albright Institute?â€Â

Herr Doktor sinkers wickedly.

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Ghost frowned at the question. He searched his mind on information on the name. He had heard of the place but not really much beyond the fact that it was some scientific place in Hanover.

Why would he be interested in that place? Not really one of the things I'm known to hit.

"Albright Institute? Not really. Why don't you fill me in and stop dragging this out. I do have things to do."

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Grey seems to search in your eyes for knowledge of what he is talking about, he continues.

“Of course Mr. Ghost. My apologies. The job is simple. I want you to sneak into Dr. Albrights laboratory, within there is some kind of magic mirr…â€Â

“Computer.†Herr Doctor interrupts with a high-pitched voice with a soft German accent. “And we want you to download all the information on his research onto this:â€Â

Herr Doctor pulls out a small black portable hard drive about the size of large CD player and attachable cord and sets it on the table. “you may have to hack in to it,†he continues, “if you need help we are prepared to offer some assistance, but you may have another in mind who is better at such things, yes?â€Â

“A team might be useful†Grey continues, “Because Albright is a known Avata…â€Â

“Superpower†Herr Doktor interrupts. Grey gives him a piercing stare and he backs off.

“Superpower†Grey continues, “Who’s power may exceed your own, as well as security designed to stop intruders. At your request we are also prepared to offer a diversion for the police and any noisy...superpowers, if you think that would be helpful. So Mr. Ghost, are you interested?â€Â

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Ghost looked at the small device and listened to the details of the job. He keeps his thoughts to himself for a while as he studied the relationship between the two men. After a moment, he spoke up.

"So far, I've heard what you want but not what you're offering in exchange for my services. What do I get out of this deal? It would be me putting my neck on the line."

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“What indeed Mr. Ghost.†Grey stared across the table at the black suited man. “I have no problem paying any price you ask.†Grey says as he pulls a bag out from the folds of his armor and sets it down with a rattling of metal. He reaches in and pulls out a gold coin of strange make, and with untold lettering. He holds it without care or longing, then puts it back in his bag.

“but you seem like a smart man, and you realize the kind of …person I am. So name your price Mr, Ghost,†and Grey leans across the table to stare directly into the ghosts eyes, “and remember, if you work with me, anything is possible.â€Â

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The Ghost's eyes light up with interest when he sees the gold coin. "Gold coins. Nice. Kind of hard to move these days without drawing attention, but still nice."

Ghost leaned back in his chair simply mulling over the offer. Obviously there's something major about this information or he wouldn't be trying to get his hands on it. On the surface of things, it seems like a straight up job. Still, I wonder why he isn't simply getting the information himself.

"A job like this one has a lot variables to it. I don't know the layout of the building nor exactly where the computer is located. It will take so research on my part to get that information. Also, though I am knowledgable about computers, I have no shame to admit that it isn't my strong point. If the information you require is protected with high level security, there's a very good chance that I won't be able to get it out. A hacker is going to be needed for the job." Ghost leans forward in the chair as his mind switches to the job.

He holds up his hand counting off the items needed to pull off the job. "So there's myself and at least a hacker to get the information. There's the problem of not knowing the layout or the security that might be in place. Add to that no knowledge of who might be hanging around the place to disrupt things."

"I've worked with a group of people before in the pass, but they all flaked out on me. Left me holding the ball. If it wasn't for Lady Fortune watching out for me, I might not have pulled off the jobs. You got some people in mind? For that matter, it seems you have a large number of people you could call on to get what you want. Why do you need me to do the job?"

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“Have no doubt, Mr. Ghost, I am a powerful person. I can get what you ask for.

As for help I can provide the good doctor here as assistance, his skills may prove …adequate, but he has no experiance as a rogue. My men and myself lack the … finesse for this kind of job and I heard you were the sort who could provide finesse.

But I suppose I heard wrong and you’re not interested in my offer or my money. Perhaps I’ll find another way to accomplish my goal; I wonder what people will think of the Ghost to learn he's frightened of a challenge.â€Â

Grey looks at the ghost, takes his bag off the table and puts it back in the folds of his armor, and makes as if to leave.

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Ghost shrugs his shoulders when Grey gets up. "You came to me for a reason. Walking away now instead of answering my questions is your choice, but you're not going to find anyone else able to do what I can do."

The Ghost turns around to watch Grey and a smile crosses his lips. "I'm no flunky, Grey. I'm not a mindless soul that would do anything for moeny. I don't walk into a deal unless I feel it's something I can do. So far, you've given me very little reason to do the job. I don't need to know what the information is, but I do need to know why you're not getting it for yourself."

"You finesse was needed. Fine. I can do finesse. What I need to know is what's going to happen when they find out the information has been taken? If this job is going to call the Freedom League down upon my head, I'll pass. I don't need those uppty do gooders breathing down my back. That's bad for business."

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Grey standing is somewhat more intimidating than him sitting. The large man across the table is now only a grey amour suit, his face shadowed by the constantly blinking light. The mood in the room changes. Herr Doktor stops snickering and his maniacal look fades. His face looks at grey, as if in fear. Silence engulfs the room, leaving only the soft hum of the fluorescents. A pin could drop.

"It seems I have underestimated you Mr. Ghost."

Herr Doktor sighs relief and looks toward the ghost with added respect. But when grey does not sit again, he remains apprehensive.

You guessed correctly. The information is volatile. However, I do not ask you to take anything. If I understand the good Doktor correctly, the mirror will provide a copy of the ...information. If your good, and I heard you are, there is no real reason for anyone to even know you were there.

You can see the gears turning in his head, a plan is forming.

I will share a little information with you. Your right, I did come to you for a reason. They say things ...malfunction around you and they don't know why. They say whole security systems don't even record your passing. Security systems like the one at the Albright institute. I could bust down the door and take it, but I prefer the subtle approach, the approach where no one knows it was taken untill the trail is cold. They call you The Ghost, I'd pay to see you live up to your name.

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The Ghost smiled as Grey decided to give him teh information he wanted. "Then it seems you'll have your chance, Mr. Grey. I like the challenge you've put forth."

Ghost stands and brushes off his jeans. "From the sound of things, the only major problem is the computer. How quickly do you need the information? I would like to brush up on my computing skills before I had to do the job. It would be easier if I go in alone. As for payment, half that bag of gold you got now, and the other half when the job is completed."

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“Money is only a tool, Mr. Ghostâ€Â

Grey pulls the bag out from his armor and holds it in the palm of his hand. Squeezing the coins through the bag he turns it over and pours whatever he’s not holding on too onto the table. A small fortune of gold coins lies on the table in a glittering pile.

“There is no rush Mr. Ghost, and it will be …beneficial to me to have the good Doktor available. When you’re ready, give a call to this number.†He says as he puts the gold back.

Herr Doktor hands him a card with a telephone number printed on it.

“One last thing Mr. Ghost.â€Â

Grey put two armored hands on to the table.

“I will not underestimate you again, Mr. Ghost, and as you know that you should also know this…â€Â

Grey leans into the light of the flickering lamp. Herr Doktor falls over in his chair. The face of grey is contorted with anger. His eyes seem vacant and far away, but his expression is one of all consuming passion, and coming from an emotionless man, it is truly intimidating.

“I do not abide traitors!†On traitors he pulls his sword from its sheath and holds it near the coffee table, where it slowly burns the enamel giving off the smell of horrid fumes. The sword crackles with black energy, exuding fears and hopelessness; you can almost hear the cries of a thousand tortured souls calling out from the black blade.

Grey’s eyes and expression fade back into the same emotionless visage and he quietly sheaths his sword. His eyes turn upward to meet with the Ghosts, eyes now focused again.

“I look forward to hearing from you.†With that grey turns and walks into the darkness Herr Doktor close on his heels, shivering.

A few moments later the front doors of the chapel open flooding moonlight into the dark chamber. All sign of Grey’s men are gone. The small pile of gold glitering in the moonlight.

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The Ghost visibly shrinks as Grey exerts his powerful presence. Somehow, he manages to limit his intimidation to that inital reaction. He quickly nods his head in understanding but not trusting his voice, remains silent.

The Ghost watches as Grey departs and even then he waits a bit longer before gathering up the gold coins. What have you just gotten yourself into, Sammy. This guy is way over your league and from the sound of things, he really wants this information. At least now, I have a reason to sharpen up some more skills.

Ghost again looked around the empty room for a bit before heading out, his bag now holding the gold coins. It wasn't long before he disappeared from the area just as his namesake.

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