Tina turned in surprise as the condo door clicked shut. She jumped up and rushed toward Hideki as the young man stalked into the living room. She stopped short as he brushed past her and headed toward the liquor cabinet, hardly even noticing her.
“Where have you been?”, she asked. “You just disappeared and no-one would tell me where you went.”
Hideki drained the entire tumbler of whiskey and slammed it back down on the bar, shattering the glass. Tina jumped at the noise and took a step back in fear. She was torn between the desire to get out of the place before he got drunk and wanting to fix what was upsetting him.
Instead of filling another glass, he turned and looked at her with rage in his eyes. Tina took another step backward, regretting her decision to not leave immediately.
“Nikeo is dead. And they have my daughter”, he hissed.
Tina’s mind struggled between “Nikeo’s dead?”, and “Your daughter?” and finally settled on the most sophisticated response she could manage.
Hideki stormed across the room and threw himself on the sofa.
“He’s been blackmailing me for years. Threatening to tell Father about the little girl. An elven woman I knew years ago, left her when Father disapproved. Don’t know how Nikeo knew about the girl, but he brought proof a couple years ago. Just after our team broke up.”
The man stood up from the sofa and began pacing the room. Tina took another step back.
“We’d found an ancient temple years ago, just after we all graduated. One of our first missions together. Nikeo was obsessed with the carvings and history of the place. Two years ago, he found a carved wolf skull, oozing magic. Said it was the key to a ritual. Didn’t know what it did, but said it was powerful. He needed a subject, someone with a specific heritage. Searched for months before he found someone who matched. An employee of Hypersense, go figure. The guy was reluctant to consider a job transfer because of his family, so Nikeo removed that impediment.”
Tina gasped in horror at the implication, but Hideki just gave her an annoyed look.
“Oh, don’t be so fucking dramatic. ‘Unfortunate accidents’ happen all the time. You’d know that if you paid any attention to what your daddy does with TI.
“Well, the ritual went to shit. A corp strike team hit the place, and some black-ops commando team. Created a bloody astral rift, nearly killed everyone in the ritual room. Nikeo barely survived. We never found the poor sap who was the subject.
“He searched for the next year for another skull like the first. Found one too, on that crashed suborbital, but someone stole it from us before we could get it out of the city. Took me six months to track down another.
“But Nikeo slipped up. He’d also been using my daughter to blackmail her mother into doing his dirty work, but her friends got sick of it and grabbed her whole family. Turned out it was Terrence’s daughter. Yeah, my niece was really my daughter.
“Terrence called, to tell me what Nikeo was doing, but I got there too late. Nikeo had taken her and Terrence’s wife, and left him for dead. My daughter was his next ‘subject’.
“When I got to the temple, he was already in the middle of the ritual, this time with more mages and more power. Then they arrived, and started shooting everyone, disrupting the ritual and everything went out of control. Nikeo’s own ritual killed him. And they ran off with my daughter.”
Hideki threw himself down on the sofa again and hunched over miserably. Tina stood staring at him for a moment, before crossing the room to sit down. He tensed when she touched him, but allowed the young woman to put her arms around him as he shook with rage.
They sat like that for a long time before Hideki finally spoke again, his voice quiet and full of menace.
“They killed my brother, bastard that he was, and took my daughter. They’re going to pay. And I’m going to get her back, even if I have to use every last nuyen to kill them all.”