* A tale involving the “other” side of Miss Hermit. Feel free to comment *
** Miss Hermit bows respectfully, “This chapter was written by Miss Pulsa and I believe her first Babbage story. Please welcome our new word-smith.” **
Target No. 55: Ms. Queer Hermit
First Contact: Early March Approval Received: Yes
Payment One Received: Yes
Payment Two Received: En-route
Upon Receiving the Notice from my clients in Japan I set to work tracking my target, and getting to know her as much as possible. Very rarely do I get a target that stands out so easily in the crowd. I have to get close to them and then take care of them later on. Sometimes I like to drop hints of their impending doom to see if they catch on. Few rarely do. I’ve managed to learn Ms. Hermit’s whereabouts through silent tracking and the sense to stay far enough away. It is interesting though that she openly carries a sword. This might be easier than I thought. One who relys on swordplay rather than the efficiency of a firearm.
After observing the target’s residence for a few days I believe I’ve nailed her daily schedule. Now all I have to do is set up a decent location to send her out with a bang. Not meeting her and dropping the hints rather throws off my style and if I’m off, so will be my skills. I’ve followed her to the Loki Pub and will start an impromptu conversation to test the waters and learn some more information that just following her doesn’t fulfill. Luckily I believe she thinks I’m new to the area and still exploring. Surprise is on my side. In the event she is smarter than I assume, i have my pistol hidden upon my person as well as a distillate of cyanide as a last resort.
“Sorry about the other day, when we met Miss Pulsa. I wasn’t quite myself.”
“No worries. I was just browsing around the city.”
Katerina Pulsa notices the the sword on Ms. Hermit’s back and frowns a bit, before softening her expression. Could she be on to me this early?’
“Pardon the curiosity Miss Hermit, but may I ask why you are carrying a sword around with you?”
Queer Hermit reaches back to touch the haft of her katana. “Well, there would be several reasons for that. First it is part of my heritage. I come from Japan and am a female warrior within my clan, what is known as a kunoichi. The second is that I have found that I am not as well liked as I thought. Occupational hazard one might call it.”
“Ah I see, I have a similar problem in my line of work.” Katerina Pulsa smiles and pats the side of her dress.
“You say you are from Japan?”
“Oh yes, I am a Miko of a Shinto temple and I am traveling to broaden my mind before moving on in my studies at home.”
Katerina Pulsa sighs “Oh, I love traveling, practically one of the most relaxing things in my life time was the ride here from Ireland.”
“You come from there Miss Pulsa? I spent some time in England to study western religion and to be taught English. The castles are amazing in that part of the world. They remind me of the Emperor’s home…perhaps not as large but just as imposing I think.”
“Ah yes, the castles are indeed impressive, though most of my neighbors there considered them symbols of the oppression of our people. Aye, my heritage is a strange one, looking at my name. I was born to a Russian father and an Irish mother.”
“You knew your mother then Miss Pulsa? How lucky you are!”
“Yes, you did not know your mother? Saddening really. I’m sorry to hear that.”
Poor woman, its almost a shame I have to end her life before she can meet or see her mother. Though who knows? She might meet her after I’m done.
“Father does not speak of her. I could not ever find out why. But I have the monks of the Temple as my Uncles, the other shrine maidens as my sisters, and the young acolytes as my brothers. It is a large family when you think of that in that fashion.”
“Hmm. So you know your Father?”
“Oh my, yes. Father and I get along famously. He asks only for my love which is something he never had to ask for in the first place.”
“That is nice, Sadly my father left the family about five years after I was born. I ran into him a few years ago actually.”
“A happy reunion I trust?”
“Poor bloke’ll never be the same. Ha-ha.” Katerina Pulsa catches herself a bit. C’mon Kat. Need to slow down on the Absinthe. “Er.. yes it was happy by the end of it. Though we argued a bit at first.”
Queer Hermit giggles “What father and daughter don’t fight at times?”
Katerina Pulsa smiles “Aye, tis true.”
“However I must think your Mother was quite the Irish beauty, to look at you is to see Ireland.”
Katerina Pulsa can’t help but to blush. “Thank you, though sadly she succumbed to illness a year before I moved to New Babbage.”
“I am sorry to hear that. Life is so mean at times, to take away that which we love.”
“Yes, tis saddening at times, but one must take pleasure in life in all aspects. So, you said you used to work in a temple Miss Hermit?”
“Oh I still do. I send messages back to the monks letting them know my progress in my travels and to ask question when I get stuck.”
“Ah I see. I can’t help but think that being a priestess and a warrior would contradict at one point or another. Does it take an edge off of your skills? Or hone them?”
“Oh, I should say sharpen them. I have learnt to focus when fighting. It is a hard skill to master but a monk with a willow switch is a great teacher. Of course at first I was marked more by the monk than by my opponent.”
Katerina Pulsa chuckles quietly. “True, teachers can be hard on their pupils.”
Queer Hermit nods “I would rather be sore and alive than coddled and dead. But then, that’s just me.”
“Aye, that is true indeed. Do you only use a sword? I’ve learned that in this day and age every poor sod and dandy has some form of fire arm on their person. Swords are becoming outdated, it seems.”
“At home, it is the weapon of honor and silence. None hear the slice as it approaches the neck or arm. I find guns are so noisy. Both the Temple and my clan think this way. I know it is a symbol of our culture and perhaps it is outmoded in Babbage but I find it my way of defending myself while here.”
Katerina Pulsa ‘s expression hardens a bit. Good she uses just a sword. I don’t even have to worry about using a dagger on this one.
“Aye, as long as it works with you I guess. Few would bother a person carrying a sword out in the open.”
Queer Hermit smiles grimly. “It does make it hard for a gentleman to ask me for a date. Might I ask a slightly religious question Miss Pulsa?”
“Yes, you may.” Katerina Pulsa raises an eyebrow in curiosity. Religious Question? I’ve only asked those to the targets that have been devout in something or another.
“In Ireland, how do people think about ghosts? Do they believe they exist?”
“Hmm, That is a good question really. It isn’t part of our religion though. More of a folklore and superstition really. In our local legends we have stories of ghosts giving bad omens or trying to right the wrongs done to them that ended their existence in this plain. The most popular one visitors hear about are the Banshee’s.”
“When I was in England, they tended to be very formal in their belief system. Nothing warm about it at all. I never had the chance to visit Ireland while I was in that part of the world, so I was curious from an educational point of view.”
“Ah I see. Well some folks in England, especially the higher classes view ghosts as a parlor trick or hobby. In our legends they either bring bad news. Some even are said to take the souls of the still born or their mothers during child birth, such is the Banshee’s purpose.”
“Goodness that is fearsome. For what purpose do they use the souls Miss Pulsa?”
“Well they don’t use them for their own purposes really. The Banshee, more or less acts as a guide to the afterlife. In the case of the stillborn we accept it, but if either are still alive when she comes to the door, you must do everything to keep her out or away.”
“I wonder what it would like to talk to one of them? I am sure it would be an interesting chat.”
“It might be, though the only stories they are included in end with one of the party that sees them dying within a few minutes. One of my neighbors actually told me in later years that the Banshee came to my door during my birth.”
“But you are still here Miss Pulsa. Was the story told wrong about someone dying?”
“Not quite. It will only cause death if you see it in the open. In the case of childbirth normally you have to invite it inside or offer it something to take the souls place.”
“Ah, such a fascinating ritual! I should think I would like to talk to a Banshee someday. I am sure with Father and the senior monk of the Temple to support me it could be done.”
“It might be, though all I was told it did was wail and point in the direction of my mother’s womb.”
“A screamer? Well, at least I can carry on a normal conversation with the ghosts here in Babbage.”
“Ha ha probably true. Some of my friends actually gave me the nickname ‘Red Banshee.'”
Katerina Pulsa cocks an eyebrow and smiles. Maybe she’ll get the hint I’m dropping.
“So you can talk to ghosts?”
“Yes! It is the divine gift from the Gods to the Miko. The gift is stronger in some, less in others. The talent is never questioned however. The Gods give the talent to us.”
Katerina Pulsa sips her absinthe slowly, “Oh? That is a gift I wish not to possess. I have yet to see any and would rather not.” If I had that gift my past targets would try and find me. Hopefully she won’t go asking the dead about me.
Queer Hermit bows her head while blushes very slightly, “I am honored and cursed to be the strongest in the Temple with the talent. You see, I am an albino. Many say I was touched by the Gods.”
“Ah yes I did noticed that.”
“So that is why I can talk so well with them since I look like them to start with.”
Katerina Pulsa thinks and smirks before quickly hiding it. You’ll look more like them when I’m done, that’s for sure.
“Father says that I will never be wed. I shall have no children either and that the Temple and himself will be the only family I shall ever know.”
“Oh, is this by his choice or yours? Tis true, you could pass as a ghost, but no disrespect Miss. I’m sure you’ll find a husband here or at home. The people here have an open mind. You seem pretty despite your affliction and by the sound of it you have the personality to attract a great many men in this town.”
Queer Hermit looks up slowly, “No…Never…The Gods have chosen me and what man in his right mind would question the Gods.”
Katerina Pulsa smirks a bit, Maybe You’ll find one in the afterlife.
“Well I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Might I share a private thing with you Miss Pulsa?”
“Aye, if you are comfortable with it.”
“Within the clan…because of my skills with weapons and my divine talent…I am known as the “shini megami”, the Goddess of Death.”
“Ah, I see. An apt name. I’m sure it strikes fear into your opponents.”
Katerina Pulsa sips her absinthe and smiles behind the glass, Too bad it doesn’t scare me.
“As surely as my blade finds its’ target Miss Pulsa. Father and the monks have tempered me into a weapon as hard as my sword.”
“Impressive. The story behind my nickname is similar though more out of jest than merit. My friends decided to coin the name because it seemed that a few of the men or important people I met during my travels have seemed to have suddenly died within a few months of meeting me. Almost like the banshee of my heritage’s folklore.”
Queer Hermit nods silently and listens
“Yes, they tease me a bit on occasion calling me Red Banshee when I’ve had no hand in their deaths. I mean how would someone such as me be able to cause an overdose in Laudanum or cause some sod to forget to unload his gun before cleaning it?”
Queer Hermit nods, “Quite understandable”
Katerina Pulsa smiles, “Aye, though I’m sure few would be so bold as to do something like that to you.”
“Just another reason not to pack a gun and why I drink from only my own bottle of sake and none other Miss Pulsa.”
“Aye, quite smart of you. Though I probably shouldn’t have mentioned this bit of information to you, this Absinthe does hit me a little harder than the usual rum. You know, it sometimes frightens others, or makes them suspicious that I carry a weapon Miss Hermit. But like you I seek only to protect myself from hazards.”
“A wise precaution Miss Pulsa. A lady must be ever so careful in cities today. Our honor must be guarded with passion.”
“Aye tis true. Well Miss Hermit, I must be going, I’m expecting some mail from a client and have a meeting with another. It was was pleasant running into you! Perhaps our paths will cross again in the future.”
“That would be interesting. I was happy to have met with you also. I felt obligated after that odd meeting to more properly get introduced.”
“Aye, twas enlightening. Be safe Miss Hermit.”
“I wish you cheerful adventures Miss Pulsa.”
“Thank you, I know they will be cheerful indeed.”
After allowing the target to leave and get a bit further along her normal route to her home, I leave the Pub and take a winding route to the spot I have set up to take her out as she enters or even exits the door to her home. Then all I have to do is stage a failed break in and I should be set.
Sadly, I have begun doubting myself in this course of action. Ms. Hermit had a point about the guns creating a large noise, and I am in the open.
Blast! she’s managed to foil this plan. Plus poison won’t work since she uses her own Booze.
I need something quiet, effective and will not leave much in the way of a trace.
Time to go shopping. Mr. Tesla might have a tool suited just for this occasion….