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It was supposed to be simple.  Get in, learn what the group of thugs in Last Chance were up to, report back and collect an easy paycheck.  Instead Viola found herself half collapsed from exhaustion in a back alley with a trail of blood in her wake.  As roaches crisscrossed at her feet the young woman brushed hair out of her face with a quivering right hand. It wasn’t the violence that had bothered her, no, it was the fear of what the authorities would do or what the merchant guild that had contracted her would report.  As the sweat began to collect around her brow and descend down her cheeks the blade-for-hire arose from her huddled crouch and used her left arm to brace herself. As she regained her balance she tried to recall what had just happened.

 

A guild of merchants loosely associated with Argus Incorporated had asked her to look into a group of thugs that had been eyeing their contraband.  The group was believed to have been tied to various wings of the black market and possibly to a larger criminal organization. The merchants had feared that the ruffians were sizing their operation up, possibly to shake them down for “protection money” or to dissuade them from ever being fully immersed into Argus’ larger organization.  Of course the merchants had no interest in splitting profits with Argus nor with a criminal element and thus hiring someone who seemed as capable as Viola made a lot of sense.

 

A portly alchemist with a long braided gray beard had informed her, ”go to the Prosperity Inn & Casino.  That’s their hideout, they’ll be easy to find. Once you connect with them find out why they keep sending brutes to our district and report back.  Four-hundred coins if you can get us anything useful. Double that if you can convince them to stay away.”

 

It sounded simple enough, however… it turns out that a few bourbons and losing one, two, or six hands of poker are a bad combination.  When a group of three of the vandals took her out to the back of Prosperity to collect she was already in a foul mood. Instead of learning anything about their organization or intimidating the shady customers she instead used violence to avoid paying for her losses at the aforementioned poker table.

 

“Ok missy, you can pay what you owe or we can beat it out of ya,” one of the bruisers firmly stated.

 

Viola looked at him enraged, though she had lost fairly she wasn’t about to part with the coin she earned.  Especially since she was certain that her luck was just about to turn! Had they given her just a few more hands she would’ve been up.

 

“Hold on,” Viola replied, “let me grab your pay for you.”

 

A flash of steel, a glint in her eye, and suddenly there was just one bouncer standing where before there had been three.  As the young woman slashed her katana towards the remaining criminal he backed away, causing her to barely slice a part of his forearm.  With terror in his eyes the last of her foes cried for help whilst retreating back into the grime of Prosperity’s Inn.

 

The reckless youth did not wait around for reinforcements.  Running and zigzagging through alleyways until she was certain no one had followed her.  Now arisen to her feet with one arm holding to the walls of the establishment on her left and the other arm adjusting her sheath she let out a sigh.  Her face was dirty, she was hungry, and it was likely she had just blown her one chance to infiltrate and dissuade this gang from carrying out whatever their sinister goal had been.  

 

“There goes my paycheck,” the hapless mercenary exclaimed, “though, perhaps I can convince someone else to go in my stead.”

 

Viola continued to fumble around the alleyway as she contemplated her next move.

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