It was a black, chill evening, and portents of snow pranced through the night air. The street was well-lighted, and made brighter by the flickers from the display of televisions in the window of an electronics shop.
On the multitude of screens of various sizes, a slender brown haired man was discussing his platform for the upcoming election. He was stressing the reform of law enforcement to cut down on crime, especially seeing how criminals were becoming more clever and devious. Following his words, a picture flashed across the screens, of a pale-skinned, dark-haired man with aristocratic features, a stoic expression, and a look of condescension about the eyes. This man, the candidate explained, was B-kun, a very dangerous criminal that was currently eluding authorities.
The man to whom the face belonged strolled past the display without pausing, but pulled his hood more tightly around his head. No doubt the affluent candidate’s even more affluent ‘friend’, Patrick “Trick” Moriarty, had put him up to it. A deep frown creased B-kun’s face as he thought of the man.
After the lead ‘expert witness’ had been taken out, and Trick’s bevy of highly-paid attorneys tore the remaining case apart like a pack of rabid dogs, the state had no choice but to let him go. And then the charismatic young man had gone on national television to tell ‘his side’ of the story...of how he had lost his parents at a young age but been taken in by his Godfather, Harold Mortimer, who had turned out to be the kingpin of a criminal organization and had beguiled the ‘poor boy’ into dipping his hands into the mess. One 30 minute spot with those large teary violet-blue eyes, pretty face, and Manchester accent was all it took to go from criminal to media darling. Now he was head of the newly formed Evitceted Corp, which he swore bore no ties to his Godfather’s criminal organization, IETNAT, and there was talk of an appointment to Secretary of State.
Over my dead body, B-kun thought. But that was exactly what Trick wanted.
Suddenly, B-kun noticed the sound of footfall behind him. He sped up his pace, and the steps also sped. He slowed down and his pursuers followed suit. He stopped. So did they. Suddenly, he broke out into a sprint, veering to the left after a block, hopping over the prostrate form of a homeless man occupying the alley.
The pursuer closest behind him also turned...right into a well-placed fistpalm. The one after slowed so as not to run into his compatriot, but he couldn’t avoid running into the limber B-kun’s sweeping roundhouse.
After adding a few extra blows for good measure, B-kun frowned. He could have sworn he had heard three sets of footsteps. He twisted around...
...To face the barrel of a pistol pointed in his directions. The man holding it, out of reach of even his quick kick, sneered. “Guess your kung fu’s not so tough now, huh?” He licked his fat pink lips and raised the firearm into position. “Oh, the Boss is going to reward me well for this...”
A loud sound reverberated throughout the alley, and a moment later, the goon’s large substantial form crumpled to the ground. Over it loomed the homeless man, a broken bottle poised in one hand.
“That’s what you get for disturbing my sleep, boy,” he grumbled in a hoarse, raspy voice. A long scar ran down the side of the man’s face, which itself was being devoured by an overgrowth of beard. He turned to scowl at B-kun. “And you...” he started to admonish, but then stopped and pursed his lips. “You...you look familiar...haven’t I seen your face somewhere before?”
B-kun ignored his question and stepped over to the nearest unconscious goon. He felt around the man’s pockets and pulled out a cell phone.
“Yes!” the hobo exclaimed in recollection. “You’re the man on the TV...on the most wanted list. You...killed someone, right? And tried to kill someone else...” He snorted. “And here, to think, I just saved a criminal.”
“I’m not a criminal,” B-kun replied curtly. He frowned at the phone. There was a four-digit passcode.
“So you didn’t kill anyone or try to kill anyone?” the man asked.
B-kun didn’t respond. He searched around some more and produced a folded scrap of paper from a hidden pocket in the man’s suit. On it were typed some phrases:
Year A was published
Sun’s country code
It’s not easy to be a gem of the day of independence
At the bottom was scrawled a note in hasty handwriting: Don’t let anyone see this. In summation, better dead than read!
B-kun’s eternally frowning face creased further. He pulled out his own cell and performed a series of actions. Then he inputted four numbers into the goon’s phone.
The screen darkened and then a new screen presented itself. Another four-digit code, but this time the hint was on the screen. No doubt this one changed weekly/daily/hourly, synced by some central computer of the organization, to keep out those who didn’t know the code:
Superman (aeons) Batman
After a moment, B-kun’s usual impassive expression was replaced by one of rage. He had used her to rid himself of the things standing between him and the power he coveted, and now, he was using her code. How dare he...
Seeing, and perhaps misunderstanding, his anger, the hobo shrugged and placed a not-too hygenic hand on the young man's shoulder. “Well you owe me a bottle of vodka, but you’re lucky I been near. Funny thing, that’s my name, Ben Near.”
(To be continued...find the codes!)