And at that very moment of Daggerfjord's reflection, on the far side of the world a young woman was being thrown out of a hotel window.
It was not Melanie Lustiger's first time being thrown out of a window, though perhaps it was the strangest. As she landed in the boxwood bush, which gently arrested her fall, she looked back at the open window, not a foot above the bush. A few dollar bills came fluttering out of the window to land around her in the foliage, as the window was rapidly shut.
Yes, for Melanie, as she gathered up the bills to stuff into her sequined purse, the whole incident was a sad reminder of how far she'd fallen, metaphorically. Here she was, a pathetic street walker in Covington, Kentucky. Forced to accept cash from pathetic specimens of manhood so that she could feed her addiction to truffles. She had been more than this, she thought, half rising out of the boxwood and pushing the tangled purple hair out of her eyes. Yes - she had been more. In an instant, her mind brought her back to the windswept days in Alaska. To warm igloos, hiding secret entrances to the vast underground complexes of the Inuit Secret Service.
Far from being a common prostitute, Melanie Lustiger had been a rising star - an intelligence agent without peer, moving amidst the highest circles of the ISS. And perhaps she would have continued to climb, had she not met that vortex of doom, that irrisistably attractive Colonol Rupert Snack of the Royal Canadian Mounted Marines.
As Melanie adjusted her leather skirt and naugahide tube top, and shuffled off into the Covington night, the man who had thrown her from the window watched her go. He couldn't help but admit a certain satisfaction - an quasisexual impulse that had been gratified by throwing the hooker out of the window. But the satisfaction was not complete, for there had been only a two or three foot drop before she had landed in the bush, and for Luko Dbrovnic, it wasn't quite the same if the fall was less than five stories.
Of course, it was one thing to pay a hooker to allow herself to be thrown out of a ground floor window, and quite another thing for Luko to have tossed a strumpet off of a skyscraper. Luko could not afford to indulge in a real pleasure, for he was anticipating that most sublime of thrills, a paid assassination.
Yes, Luko was going to have had a great year. He had defenestrated men and women on every continent, in 25 different countries. And tonight, in Cincinatti's Pickle Tower, his greatest achievement of all would be complete. And maybe then, he could finally earn the alias he so longed for. For no matter how much he desired to be known as "the Mad Defenestrator," people kept calling him Lucky Luko.
Filled with these thoughts, he grabbed the satchel off of his bed and opened the door from his room. Stepping out into the hall, he heard no more, and as the hydrashock bullet expanded into his brain, Lucky Luko was lucky no more.
Angelista Rasmussen sheathed her .40 caliber Beretta in the holster at the small of her back, and let her black leather coat fall back into place. It had all been too easy. Trailing Luko from Greenback had been among the easiest missions of her life - the man had left a trail of defenestrated prostitutes that could have been followed by a blind rat-catcher. Angelista stepped into Luko's room, looked around briefly before stepping into the bathroom to make sure her makeup looked ok. Ravishing, as always, she thought to herself, and she smoothed a couple of those flaxen hairs back into place. Making a quick surveil of Luko's room (and wrinkling her nose at the odor), she decided there was nothing more worthy of note, so she stepped back into the hall, did a sort of skipping/hop over Dbrovnic's body (difficult in heels!) and slowly walked down the hallway of the hotel.
Angelista had good news for her employers. Not only had she taken out Lucky Luko, but she had done it with a bullet, not allowing the Czech to have the glory of being thrown from on high. In taking out Luko, she had not only fulfilled the terms of her assignment, but she had done so efficiently and with minimal expense, and this would matter more than anything else to the accountants who really ran the show at the Central Twillings Oil Works. Angelista, more than anything else, wanted to please her employers. It was a sort of defect - one that she was aware of, but one that she was helpless to divest. Ever since she had graduated summa cum laude with her masters degree in Dynamic Accounting from the Japanese University of Vladivostok, Angelista had known she was meant for the big time.
Sure, there had been those five years working as a stripper in South Korea, but she was one to seize her chance we she got it, and the day she saw the accounting team from CTOW walk into the lobby of the Chilseongno Grand Hotel, she knew her ship had come in. A couple of lap-dances later, she had the opportunity to talk general-ledger with a young Brit named Clive Darkins, and from there everything had fallen in place like a well-balanced clearing account.
And here she was, triumphant; a short plane ride away from glory. She opened the door of her candy-apple red Porsche Boxster and revved the powerful engine. A moment later she was blown to smithreens as fourteen pounds of C5 detonated below the driver's seat.
One of Angelista Rasmussen's stiletto heels landed, smoking, not five feet away from the polished black saddleshoes of Ragnar Patinki. Ragnar smiled, and extended a metal pointer, lifted Rasmussen's shoe into the air. He held it up to his Ray-Ban Aviator glasses, where it was reflected, still smoking, against the blaze that filled the night outside the Classy Inn of Covington. In the distance, the lights of Cincinatti were as bright as they ever got. And Patinki had an appointment at the Pickle Tower.
He negligently tossed Rusmussen's shoe onto the blazing remains of the Boxster, and strode away toward his more modest vehicle, an aging Chevy Impala station wagon, rust colored and decrepit, but masking the four-barrel 350 engine that would outmuscle anything on the road.
Patinki had long disdained these professional assassins with their sports cars, high heels, and lipstick. Particularly the males. He was old-school. Wet-work meant dirty-work, and a man wasn't a hired gun if he wasn't up to his ankles in Krispy Kreme donut boxes and Skyline Chili bags. In fact, Patinki had to push quite a mess of them aside as he leveraged his 400lb frame into the Impala. Unoticed on the pavement as he sped away was one of those aforementioned Skyline Chili bags, crushed flat and bearing the none-too-subtle tread marks of a 1983 Goodyear radial.
The drive into Cincinatti was short and boring, passing famliar landmarks and ruminating on the versimilitude of life. The bridge over the Ohio River was crowded, but Patinki weaved his way through traffic carelessly, taking the exit on 70 past Riverfront Stadium. A couple of detours later, and he was pulling into the Valet Parking at Pickle Tower - the astounded valet nodding mutely as Patinki pushed a 50 into his pocket, as yet more junk food bags fell from the Impala onto the polished pavement of 1 Pickle Place.
"Back in an hour", Patinki said, as he strode toward the revolving door. It was a revolving door he would never leave alive. For just as he entered, a shower of sparks were emitted from the hub at the top of the door, and the door began to spin at 4400 rpm. The force of the plate glass slapping the 400lb Patinki in the back caused a ripple in the air that flattened a half dozen tuxedo-clad porters in the lobby beyond. It was more than enough to instantly kill the Hungarian hit-man.
"Look at this damn mess," drawled Lieutenant Frank Corky of the Cincinatti Detectives Office, "looks like a polar bear playing patty-cake with an oyster."
"What ze fug are you talking of," responded Herve Quisleau, his thick Parisian accent betraying his impatience, "polar bear playing ze patty cake? What does zis mean, you stinking American heelbilly?"
"Up yours, you damn frog bastard," Corky replied. He was sick to death of having to haul this Frenchman around Cincinatti, ostensibly for the protection of that mild-mannered visitor in Pickle Tower, but more, Corky thought, for the opportunity provided to Quisleau of tormenting his American hosts.