01. Black Cats Are Bad Luck

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BLACK CAT DIDN'T EXPECT HER FIRST TRIP TO JAPAN TO BE UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. For the umpteenth time, she glanced down at the silver briefcase in her grip, as if checking her hand was still clamped around the handle, as if to make sure someone hadn't stolen it while she was walking past. She knew she had things under control, anyhow; she was a professional, certainly well-respected in her line of work, and definitely knew what she was doing.

When this anonymous source, supposedly originating from inside The White Death's circle, contacted her about infiltrating a separate mission regarding the white death himself and a briefcase of money, Black Cat couldn't wait to be in on it. She was always up for pushing new boundaries and honing new skills, and proving her courageousness. and this was exactly how she earned her name.

Black Cat. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Black cats are known to be an omen, one of bad luck, sometimes of death. Cats in general are known to be courageous, venturing further through the earth as they knock off each life one by one, starting with nine and ending it with zero.

As for this black cat, however, the lives she had taken was probably countless; most deliberate, some accidental. And whenever she strikes, bad luck is bound to strike, too.

In this field of work – contract killings, snatch-and-grabs, drug deals, etcetera – Black Car was known for her stealth and impeccable timing; she was always, consistently for every job, in and out with no trace. And the way you knew it had been she who'd struck, was the black cat pendant left behind, strategically placed at the scene of the crime, indicating everything that it had been her, apart from the give-away fingerprints.

Black Cat stepped into the train station, pushing down that sense of overwhelm that bubbled in her chest as she found herself emerged in a sea of people, all eager to board the Shinkansen bullet train.

She was to get on, swap out the real briefcase for her decoy, and get off at the next stop with the real case in her grip.

Bright neon lights lit up Black Cat's vision as she stared at the wide array of Japanese snacks on display. A short woman stood behind the counter, grinning expectantly over at Black Car, waiting for her to buy something.

Normally on missions, Black Cat didn't let something as small as grabbing a snack distract her. But, when in Tokyo, as they say.

On public transport, like trains, the concessions were usually costly for what the portions were, and so Black Cat felt this short pit-stop before the Shinkansen pulled into the station was very much needed.

One manicured nail tapped eagerly at her bottom lip as her eyes glazed over the various snacks. So many colours and flavours and funny little cartoons on the packaging, that she was finding it incredibly difficult to just make a choice. And it didn't help that she couldn't read Japanese either, so she had to make her choice based solely on the colour of the packaging and funny little cartoons.

"Can I have... Uh..." Black Cat rolled her bottom lip between her teeth, eyes narrowing at all her options. The vendor's smile was beginning to wane, the muscles in her cheeks aching from forcing such a sickly sweet grin, her eyes losing their expectant sparkle.

"Oh! Uh.. No.." She muttered to herself, still stuck on what to choose.

Black Cat was thrown completely off her snack decision-making when a shoulder knocked into her as they walked past, and the woman automatically held the briefcase into her chest defensively.

She glared over at the man who'd bumped into her; taller than her, slicked-back hair. He wore a beige overcoat, matching with the slightly taller man next to him, more broad in build. "Excuse you," she grumbled, sending her worst stink-eye, only to earn a careless glance from over the first man's shoulder.

As she turned back to the snack vendor, apologising to her for getting thrown off, Black Cat ran a couple fingers through her tied-back curls as if to get her back in the snack-picking moment. "Can I please have a pack of Strawberry Pocky and that pack of mochi?" She finally asked, pointing over at a box of mochi that had caught her eye.

The vendor seemed to visibly deflate, letting out a discreet sigh of relief. She smiled, more genuine now, and turned to grab the packets off their shelves.

When she turned back around, she placed the Pocky box and packet of mochi on the counter top, and uttered the price to pay. When Black Cat saw the number 1072.56 pop up in green lettering on the digital till, her breath hitched in her throat. Of course, to natives, this wasn't a large sum of money, and was around 10 dollars in comparison, but when she wasn't used to pay so much money, this was a lot. She didn't even want to imagine paying this amount in Pounds Sterling.

Regardless, she pulled her purse from her inner blazer pocket and paid the amount, and backed away from the snack stall with her newly-acquired food.

Warm air began to fill the platform as the bullet train began to slow down in the distance, rolling in quickly to Tokyo Station. Energy began to fizz in Black Cat's chest, the excitement of a new mission beginning to pan out. Although her job wasn't the most positive, Black Cat always found herself looking forward to the adrenaline rush that was bound to fill her veins as she pulled off her directions.

The sleek silver Shinkansen came to a stop in front of the passengers standing at the platform, air brushing up through hair and dancing with longer items of clothing.

With a satisfying zip, the closest door to her slid open, and a fresh smell – similar to that of the inside of a new car – filled Black Cat's senses. With a soft smile, she tucked her snacks away into a pocket of her brown overcoat, and stepped inside the train.

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