Seattle is a nice place if you don’t mind the rain. Granted, it doesn’t rain as much as everyone seems to think, but I grew up in Utah. If it rains more than a couple times every few months, it’s rare. Seattle actually doesn’t get as much rain as Atlanta or Washington D.C. per year, but it sure seems that it gets more. It’s the perfect place for tortured souls who like to walk in the rain. Like myself. Like Raiden.
My suspicions had grown a lot since the plane crash, but I knew it would be a bad idea to blame Raiden for Trystix’s sins. He had done nothing to me, and he deserved a chance to prove himself an ally. He owned several health care groups for hell’s sake. I arrived in the Emerald City late one evening via Greyhound bus. I think my patronage to airlines officially ended the day I woke up in a hospital bed. As I got off the bus, I took in the smell of the city. The salty breeze from the ocean was a new and pleasant scent. I could smell the fresh fish from around the corner. I could smell fresh coffee from the Starbucks across the street. I stood on the street corner and took it all in. No reason to rush new experiences.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the business card Trystix had left for me three long months ago. I reread the brief note, and the familiar dark thoughts clouded my brain. Trystix would pay. The only question in my mind was if Raiden had a price to pay as well, or if he would help me find justice. Only one way to find out. I knew that Raiden owned a lot of property throughout the Seattle area from previous discussions I’d had with Trystix, so there was no real way to know where Raiden lived. For all I knew he spent time in all of the residential areas he owned. I decided the most logical place to start would be his corporate office by the waterfront. Unfortunately, there are a lot of waterfronts in Seattle. The idea of overlooking the ocean from the workplace was definitely a nice touch. It seems the half-owner of the United States had a bit of a romantic streak. Tomorrow I’d pay him a visit. Now I needed to find somewhere to spend the night and a map of the city.
I walked up and down the streets of the Emerald City awhile, taking it all in. I saw a few smaller motels, but decided to keep walking. I had nowhere to be, and I’d never been this near to the coast before. Coast cities are like a different world when compared to the Midwest. I kept walking towards a particularly tall white building to the north. As I got closer, I saw a large ornate ‘R’ on the side of the building. I smiled. I would be staying the night in one of Raiden’s own buildings. As I got closer, The Gateway Hotel seemed like the perfect place to work out of, if not for just a little while.
The hotel was like something out of a dream. Highly polished tile floors, beautiful paintings, and high-end furniture decorated the room. There were fluted pillars holding up the massive interior structure. There looked to be about fifty stories to the building. A beautiful glass ceiling let in the sunshine on a good day and a nice view of lightning on others. I looked at all the different kinds of people scurrying about. The Gateway was busy, but not overly crowded. I quickly found a map in the gift shop, then walked up to the front counter to get a room. The rooms were a little pricey, but money wasn’t going to be much of an issue for me.
Trystix paid me well, and I have never been one to trust just one bank with all my money. Something about not putting all my eggs in the same basket. I had four different accounts under four different names, not to mention credit cards. Trystix had also supplied me with several different social security numbers, just in case I needed anything for ’business purposes.’ Before Trystix had come along, I had also spent time in prison. During that time, I didn’t spend any money that had been in my possession. The beauty of spending time in prison is your accounts still accrue interest. Not only that, but I never used any of my own money when I was working for Trystix. I still had a corporate credit card from Trysticorp. Trystix gave them out like party favors, so he wouldn’t question the usage much. Just one more way he would pay for his sins.
I checked in to a top floor room, mostly so I could enjoy the ride in the glass elevator. My room was decadent, furnished with silk sheets and feather pillows. To be honest, I was a lot more excited about the cable TV than the queen-sized bed. I spent most of the night watching some fights and bad cop shows. I drifted off to sleep laughing at the stupidity of most criminals. If only they knew how to cover their tracks. My time with Trystix had definitely honed my skills. Tomorrow, I would find out if Raiden had need of those skills.
The next morning, I took a taxi out to Veritas Incorporated; Raiden’s main office. I was surprised to see it was in a gated complex. My driver told me he could only take me to the gate. You either had to have a security clearance, or be able to convince the gate rent-a-cop you had reason to be there. I told the taxi to just drop me off. As he flipped around and drove off, I took the easy way in; I scaled the gate. The guard came out of his booth all red-faced and angry.
“You there! Stop! You can’t come in without clearance! This isn’t your mother’s house, boy!” he huffed.
“Oh really? You look an awful lot like her.” I said as I began walking up the road to the building.
“Now, listen!” He grabbed my arm and spun me around. “You can’t be here. Don’t make me call security.”
“Oh, how cute. You don’t consider yourself security? Are you the mother hen then? Just sit in your roost and lay eggs, do you?”
“That’s it! You little twit! I’ll show you lay an egg. You’ll have plenty of time to do that in prison for trespassing!”
My response was a knee to his gut and a right hook to the temple; a nice little combo I had seen on TV the night before. He was down for the count. I hooked under his arms and dragged him back to his little henhouse. I borrowed his keycard, just in case. I thought about taking his gun, but thought better of it. It would be easier to look like I belonged than to try and force my way in. I had to meet Raiden, and there would definitely be more security features here than just a rent-a-cop.
As I got to the front door, a bunch of guys with guns drawn were flooding down the stairs. Apparently, my mother hen gatekeeper was not as happy with our scuffle as I was. I stopped, thinking that I wouldn’t be going much further anyway. The main lobby was gorgeous. Fountains, art, and marble tile were strewn about eloquently throughout the room. The guards were like a blue and black stain on such beauty.
“Hands up asshole!” one said.
“Get down on the ground!” yelled another.
“Now, guys…Seriously! Make up your mind! One of you wants my hands up and another wants me on the floor. I can’t do both. If you want I can rub my stomach and pat my head, maybe even sing a Madonna song for you. You boys look like you like Madonna. ‘Like a Virgin’ anyone?”
Then the hands-up guy hit me with the butt of his gun. The world went black. I felt myself being dragged up some stairs. I could feel the bruises forming on my shins. Those were going to hurt later. Eventually, I started coming to. I was laying on a lush red carpet in the biggest office I’d ever seen. Black furniture, leather probably, decorated the massive room. Again, white marble floors, art, even a suit of armor were decorating this masterpiece. Now, to business.
“Who the hell are you?” said a voice I vaguely recognized. “What makes you think you have a right to be in my building? How did you get through the gate?”
“Well, well. Raiden I presume.” He was wearing a crimson suit, looking as tall and imposing as he ever did on television.
“WHO ARE YOU!?!” he yelled at me.
“Now, now. Let’s not get huffy. You wouldn’t want to ruin our relationship already would you? As for the gate, it’s not very hard to climb, and your little gatekeeper couldn’t stop Kermit the Frog. We have a mutual…er…friend. He sent me to you in case you had any…obstacles…you needed help with.”
“I should have you killed! Or sent to prison for trespassing! But…you look familiar. Do I know you?”
“Been to prison actually. The showering kind of sucks, but not too bad. That’s where Trystix found me.”
“Trystix…who are you?”
“Really? You don’t know me? You weren’t expecting a problem solver? Someone to burn away your opposition?”
“He said he had someone I might be able to find use for, but that was months ago…Who…You got a name?”
“Yeah. I used to be known as Jared Donovan. Unfortunately, Jared Donovan was murdered. By Trystix. Died with a hundred and fifty other people in a plane crash a few months back. I am the John Doe who walked away from it. You can call me Nemesis.”
“Murdered? You think Trystix had something to do with it? He’s claiming it was a terrorist cell opposing our purchase of the States.”
“Please. He was trying to remove a liability. I burnt twenty-three buildings to the ground for him. I could ruin him. He knew this, so he set me up to look a criminal to my sister and niece. He sold me out. He took what was left of humanity from me and then tried to kill me on that plane. He needs to pay. I will make him pay. I came to you, Raiden, because I think you are an ambitious man. I think you aren’t happy with just the West. Believe me, Trystix isn’t content with just the East. I’m sure he’s already trying to find a way to weed you out. You’ve met him. Tell me I’m wrong. I can help you. I want to help you. All I ask is you leave Trystix alone. He’s mine.”
“Leave us.” The guards filed out slowly but without incident. Raiden turned back to me. “Why should I trust you. You sound psychotic.”
“I am psychotic. I have nothing left to lose. All I live for is vengeance.”
“I don’t get it. Trystix is a good man. A little slippery, but he has good intentions.”
“His good intentions almost got me killed. Terrorists my ass. He is the terrorist. I can’t prove it, but I guarantee he was behind it.”
“Then why is he heralding you a hero?”
“Because he’s married to my sister. She loves the person he killed. I’m sure it’s to try and help her cope.”
“Olivia? Olivia Donovan is your sister?”
“You know her? How?”
“I am in love with her that’s how! I used to work for Trystix. She was my assistant right when she started. Then he transferred me out here and then fired me. I made my own empire with his severance checks, and sent letter after letter to Liv, trying to get her to come out here. She never responded. I thought she just gave up on me.”
“You aren’t Raiden are you….at least, that’s not your original name…You are…You’re Alex Ryder, aren’t you?”
“How do you know that name?”
“Liv loved you. She wrote me while I was in prison about you. Trystix made it seem you disappeared and took nothing with you…that you abandoned her. She was pretty upset even still.”
“That son of a bitch…”
“How could you still consider him a good person after that? And how does he not know who you really are?”
“A lot of plastic surgery. With my first million, I had my face redone. I thought Liv hated me because she never responded, so I decided to become Micah Raiden instead of Alex Ryder. Much like you, I consider Ryder as dead as you consider Jared Donovan. I have always enjoyed the name Raiden. I also enjoy that Trystix has no idea who he’s partners with. It’s been my personal joke for the last few years. It seems we have a lot in common, my friend.”
“So quickly you consider me a friend? You told me how good you think Trystix is, and now you tell me how little you like him. I don‘t get it. Why did you defend him, and now you tell me you have latent anger towards him.”
“Jared, let me teach you something…Never show all your cards to someone you just met. I just met you, but I know Olivia better than probably anyone. I trust her with my life. That snake transferred me away and got rid of me so he could be with her. You cannot even imagine the feelings I have towards that man. I relate to you for the same reasons. I feel betrayed. I feel that I’m a victim of terrorism too, just not in the same degree as yourself. Anyone with that much anger towards Trystix could only be an ally. We’re going to get along just fine Jared…Just fine.”
“Jared’s dead, Raiden. It’s Nemesis now.”