Chapter 1 – The Walking Wounded
She held her breath. Her own footsteps sounded unbearably loud to herself, but she knew from experience the four men she was watching had not noticed her. She slid a dagger into each hand. It was not a hard feat anymore. On the contrary, I had become quite a natural reflex. The sensation of the cool metal was soothing to her somehow. And God knows she could use the comfort, knowing what was to come.
She had followed the men for quite a while now – they were Fingermen, she could tell from just looking at them – but she had intended to give them the benefit of the doubt. While the old Government had officially fallen, there had been no permanent replacement. The Provisional Government tried its best, of course, but the country was in turmoil and chaos ruled the land. And so it came to be that Fingermen still walked the streets on occasion, albeit without official capacity.
They had found an easy prey.
The girl was a prostitute. She would not be missed, even by the good people in this country who had acquired the new-found bravery to stand up for themselves. But in every society – good or bad – there are those who live in the shadows or on the edge of society. They would only rarely be missed, let alone protected – or avenged.
And for a brief moment in time – as she waited for the men to make their move – Evey Hammond knew that she too would not be missed if she were to be killed tonight. Sure – she could have been a local hero of sorts – had she chosen to come forward after November 5th, but she had remained in the shadows. She was wrapped in the cloak of the man she had loved, hiding her face behind his mask. For all intents and purposed she was V.
V for vigilante.
One of the men lifted his arm to slap the girl. But before his flesh could ever touch hers, an icy scream disrupted the calm night. The man stood, looking in absolute horror, as he saw his own hand pierced straight through and pinned against the alley wall by a shining dagger.
It was not until the blood started running down his arm, that he realized the scream had been his.
Evey did not lose time. She appeared from out of the shadows and hit one of the other men over the head from behind. He fell to the ground, unconscious. The two remaining men now stood before her, ready for her attack. One of them came at her, his arms in a boxing position. But Evey had learned. She knew how to incapacitate people effectively in ways that were far more elegant than mere muscle power.
She waited for him to strike.
She avoided his blow, and with lunging forward he gave her exactly what she needed – a clean opening to quickly hit some pressure points. The Fingerman merely let out a sigh and collapsed.
Evey looked at the last man standing.
"Just you and me then, sir. Do you wish to continue, or would you prefer to run like the coward that you are?"
Evey was slightly amused by the words she spoke. It was not her speaking, nor her beloved V, but an entirely new dramatis persona that she had created. This – if anything – was her true mask.
"You…you're a woman!" the thug cried out.
"How incredibly perceptive of you, sir. You get 10 points for stating the obvious."
The revelation of her gender had somehow made the Fingerman more confident. Before Evey could blink, he had drawn a gun on her.
This was not good, she thought. Perhaps next time she should hold her tongue. But no matter, it was too late for that now.
"I will shoot" the man said, yet his hand were shaking.
"Oh, I am quite sure you will" Evey replied. "A duel, then?"
Evey narrowed her eyes under the mask. She watched the man's face. She knew his eyes would betray him a mere instant before his finger would pull the trigger. She would have to be fast.
He blinked. A shot was fired. A dagger swooshed through the air.
The two figures stood, unmoving, still facing each other.
Then the man seemed to lose balance, stumbling a few steps to his left. It was not violent, it was simply a display of a lack of control in motor skills, not unlike the clumsiness a young animal would have just after being born. But this man was not coming to this world, he was exiting it.
He was dead even before he fully reached the ground – and as soon as he had reached it, a pool of redness started to flow out from under him.
Evey stepped towards the body. She pulled out the dagger – not for shock effect - she was merely retrieving that which was rightfully hers. Then she stepped towards the first man – the one whose hand was still pinned down by her dagger and who had been forced to watch her entire "show". He shrunk back as she approached him, pleading for his life. Evey reached for the dagger penetrating his hand and pulled it out with one elegant move. The man shrieked in pain.
"If I see you doing this again, you will not get off so lightly – do you understand?"
The man nodded, halfway in shock, and ran away in retreat.
Evey let her eyes wander to the young prostitute. She was shaking. Evey knew by now the girl was probably as afraid of her as she was of the men that had attacked her. So Evey did not approach. She merely bowed politely and disappeared back into the darknesss.
You see, Evey Hammond had bigger problems now than a frightened girl. For the bullet that was fired that night, had not entirely missed its target.