When the hood came off, he was panting.
Not a heavy panting. Not like he'd been running. It was dull, slow, a body gasping for air that it had been kept from. A body working out the stress of being taken somewhere against its will.
A body preparing itself for the worst.
As the file landed in front of him, Red couldn't help but feel surprised. There were plenty of things that should have happened. His death was likely one of them. He'd prepared himself for it. You weren't often kidnapped so that you could have a fun time. Instead, there was a file, and woman sitting across from him. She was, by all accounts, completely nondescript. Her haircut was bland. It was an uninteresting color. Her face had no marks and seemed almost shapeless. Her clothes were grey and featureless. This was not the woman he'd expected to see sitting in front of him. He hadn't expected to see anyone sitting in front of him. He'd braced for the worst.
She leafed the file open with a nail.
"Why'd you have your name deleted?"
Red leaned forward, surprised. That was the question she lead with? There were so many she could ask. So many things that had happened. So many things that went wrong.
Yet she wanted to know his name.
The woman sighed and shut the folder. She rose, sluggishly, and Red watched her stretch. She was limbering up. Why? He assumed it would hurt. Oh, it would definitely hurt. He felt vindicated as she launched herself across the desk. Things seemed to slow somewhat. To go white. To just... fade into another state before his body hit the back of the chair, hitting the floor, every part of him splaying out as a hand grabbed at his throat.
"You got one chance to play nice."
Red didn't quite understand. What the hell was going on? Who the hell was this woman? More importantly, why was he being... interrogated?
"Who're you working for?"
He let his eyes connect with hers, searching them for tells.
Even they were dull and nondescript.
There seemed to be nothing to her.
"They know you beat up the good guys?"
He knew what she was.
She released him from her grip and stood again, regaining her composure as he tried to stand. He could tip his hand now and let on that he knew who he was dealing with, but she wanted something. Nothing was free. She'd take. She had to take. There was no way she couldn't take from him. What he could do, though, was stall her. No, not stall her. Derail her. Play the game. That meant keeping quiet. Quiet about her, quiet about certain details of whatever she was about to ask, and keeping quiet when she inevitably tipped her own hand and let Red take charge of things.
"So, why're you trying to beat the life out of me then?"
Watch her face. Look for tells.
"Time is of the essence."
"Tell me where Irving Sepia is."
"He's in Mas Cemetery."
Watch her face flicker.
"Don't lie to me."
See it crack as you play her.
"I can show you the Tombstone if you want."
Watch defeat set in.
"Then I'm sorry I've wasted what little time we have."
Play her for everything she has.
"Let me tell you a story."
Red adjusted his chair, setting it back upright, letting himself settle on it quite comfortably.
He smiled and leaned forward, opening the file.
"You already know the basics."
The woman in grey raised the file and stared at it, casting an eye over it, reacquainting herself. She let it fall back to the table gently.
"Then start at the beginning."
"There were a lot of beginnings. The one you want, though? It started with a man named Fujitsu."
CHAPTER TWO: ADAPTATION.