Two guards fell to their knees, their hands dropping their guns and going instinctively for the sudden gush of blood from their throats. One thumbed his mic before collapsing to the ground, gurgling out his last breaths. The shadowy assailant landed in a three point stance, having dismounted from her roost in a nearby tree. She scurried over to where the men were laying. One strained, turning his eyes towards her. She gave him a glance, before taking his mic and his HK-MP7. Professional security guards were never a serious threat to Jessibelle, no matter how well armed they were. She gathered the two throwing knives and sheathed them back into her boots. The blades were sticky with blood and posion. Even a cut from them would have been fatal, even if her throws hadn't been perfect.

The inner gate was easy as well, a dash of white dust and she could see the buttons the guards pressed to get in and out of the central compound. Inside was her goal, her prize, her paycheck. She ducked inside the structure, avoiding a routine patrol. She had about a minute before the walking guards found the dead guards and sounded the alarm. She crabwalked along a wall, avoiding the security cameras. Once she reached the door to the computer lab it was simply a matter of sliding her ID card through the lock. The light flicked red to green and the door popped open. She discarded the ID card, which was a shame because for a moment she had a real smile on her face, in the picture. Too bad for them that they didn't do background checks well enough. They assumed that Jessie Lillis was exactly who she said she was, a silly girl from Italy looking for some good safe work.

She found the computer terminal, and a minute later the data was being downloaded to her gig-drive. The alarm sounded. They were slow tonight, Sullivan must have stopped for a smoke by the break area, laziness like that was what made her job easy. She inserted a second flash drive, this one a smaller capacity gate-crasher that unloaded a toxic payload of viruses and malware into the mainframe. The AI would take hours to sort out the damage done, and if the tech wizard was to be believed, no one would know what she had taken. 

Jessibelle heard shouting, some panicking from the night staff; Dolores and her hideous dress, Theresa addicted to her PDA, and Janet struggling to not sneak out for a break to snort a pill in the bathroom. She paused, then jerked the fire alarm handle, setting off a second set of alarms and flashing lights. Raid, stay inside, fire get outside. The next half hour was a whirlwind of chaos and carnage. Three more guards were killed, one with a knife in the throat, one with an execution style bullet to the back of the head and the last was blown to bits by one of his own hand grenades. The news would claim a militant attack, insurgents storming the base, they wouldn't dream of using her real name.

Kunoichi, ninja.

The Girl with the Striking Red Hair

Jessibelle d'Magenta is not the sort of person who goes unnoticed in a crowd. She is tall and lean, with a certain vivaciousness that draws attention. She can chew at her bottom lip, or look pensive with a fingernail on her lip and most red-blooded men are suddenly present to assist her. Her most striking feature is her thick mane of red hair. Jessibelle favors tight fitting long sleeve shirts that typically bare some of her midriff, miniskirts, and knee high or thigh high boots in the japanese Zettai Ryouiki style. She wears the long sleeves constantly since her arms bear terrible scars from burns suffered as a teenager. She has a natural disarming charm, passing herself off as a poor migrant girl looking for a better spot in life. She also has a taste for the finer things in life, such as jewelry and designer clothing which she indulges when she can.

This facade is completely fake. Jessibelle is a cold woman. She is action at heart, and would much rather be dealing with problems with weapons or her own hands rather than simpering for some machismo fueled would be Casanova to 'rescue' her. But, a kunoichi, a female ninja, she knows that deception is one of the best tools she has. With her charm and smile she can slip inside secure locations (I forgot my ID card at my desk, I'm new and I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached) or infiltrate the retinue of important people (Are you sure I'm not on the list, they said the transfer should be completed by nine this morning, and this is my first assignment, then tears). As she snakes her way through the halls and installations, bases and complexes, she is a serpent in the home of her enemies.

'I deny your truth and your love, I don't need or want either,' Jessibelle said, letting the pearls slide between her fingers. She silk dress felt good, where it was loose and where it squeezed her tight. Edward watched her, his hands were tight as his face. She had come sashaying into his life leaving it in shambles. He had turned to a dirty cop, ended his 11 year marriage in a matter of days for her. His credit cards were maxed out buying her the silk and jewels, the expensive perfumes she wanted. He had kissed her, they had groaned and rubbed against each other like teenagers, and this was the thanks he got? Edward walked up behind her, putting his rough hands on her shoulders. He was finally going to get what he wanted, that ass, the way it moved under the silk. He had been teased with her bare stomach, a hint of pale breast through the low cut shirts she wore.

He tossed her to the ground, tearing the dress as she fell. The fabric ripped along a sleeve and he saw a lovely pale breast, but then also the spidery whorl of fires scars on her bare arm. 'Do you like what you see?' she asked, pulling closer to him, 'It was men like you who caused it, dirty bastard cops. Weak pathetic men like you. How quickly you threw Marta to the dogs. For what?' she stood up proud and regal, letting the dress slide off of her shoulders. It was ruined anyway. His angry hungry eyes devoured her body. 'You never touched me, you never smelled me,' she trailed one hand across her chest, accenting her breasts, drawing his eyes to them, 'You never tasted me,' she said in almost a whisper. Edward's eyes were already going glassy as the poison slowly killed him.

'Naja's bite is easy to overlook,' Jessibelle says softly. She changes into some of Marta's unclaimed clothes. The serpent hissed, but obeyed her gesture to coil and wait. Edward groaned as the realization struck home in his poison addled brain. His lips parted and he half spoke, half sighed the word 'ninja'.

She took Marta's ID and a few other things and borrowed the Edmondson's car to drive to the headquarters where Edward worked. With all of his passwords, whispered in her ear along with lewd pornographic fantasies, she crashed the Metropolitan police mainframe, wiping it's data and causing a cascade of failures all the way down to the PDAs of the officers in the department. Two dead bodies, and $250,000 in cold cash for a job well done.

The Boss would be pleased.

An Interesting Childhood

Jessibelle d'Magenta was born in the Eurasian Alliance state of Italy to Maya d'Magenta, a famous partisan protestor. Maya was involved in terrorist operations being waged against the Eurasian Alliance by resistance cells across central and southern Europe. Rather than becoming pawns of a resurgent Soviet empire, she fought along with many other local leaders and fighters. Jessibelle was at school when the Rome riots were quelled by the Alliance military. Students and militia armed with rocks, molotov cocktails and a few pistols and rifles attacked an Alliance policial office in the city. The commander of the Alliance Military base at Aviano responded by deploying soldiers, as well as a group of 4 light mecha. The massacre was politicized, prisoners were tortured and many of the cells were exposed and destroyed.

Jessibelle was left an orphan, one of many who ran the streets of the cities around Italy, the Balkans, and other European states of the Alliance. Jessibelle ended up living in a street gang of kids. Once she was old enough, she started riding motorcycles and gained a reputation as a girl not to be messed with. Eventually her freewheeling thuggery was ended when she among a group of teens rounded up by the local police. Rather than putting these kids in foster care where they could run away and return to their own haunts, they were to be deported to other states. Jessibelle was relocated to Aqtau, Kazakhstan. There she was forced through a re-education camp and placed in an Aqtau medical school. Angry and sullen, she was eventually dismissed from the school, where she was placed into telecommunications. She did work as a tech intern for almost a year, and for a few months, was part of broadcasting. She had since grown into maturity and her red hair, strong body lines and perky breasts made her the prime candidate for weather girl.

This was to be the beginning of the worst part of her life. The media control officer decided the redhead foreign girl would be better for morale on a more visceral level. Jessibelle was moved from telecomm and meteorology and relocated to the Ayaguz Film District. She was forced to first work production on pornographic feeds, then production on the actual sets where the events were being filmed. She ended up being forced to perform herself in the films. She escaped the regular degradation and obscenity (Always the doe eyed Federation girl, raped by the victorious Alliance soldiers) by trying to take her own life. She refused their offers of mind numbing alcohol and drugs and she ended up in the low security medical center at Ayaguz.

Jessibelle sat in her suite, overlooking the sparkling lights of the Pearl River arco-parks. Dozens of arcologies churned out the weapons, appliances, and export goods of the ACPS, the pulsing heart of China. She sipped a glass of wine, music played softly in the background. She had approved the cash transfer an hour ago, almost all of it gone to a variety of charities and resistance groups in the Eurasian Alliance. She didn't forget the women who helped smuggle her out of Kazakhstan, or the rebels who helped get her and hundreds of other refugees out of Alliance territory and into the surprisingly accepting ACPS. She always sent checques to the shelter organizations where she had eaten bowls of plain broth and shivered and cried until she thought she would be sick.

The largest went to a monastary near Hong Kong. Master Wu had taken her in with a group of abused teens. He was a wise man, and he healed them where medicine couldn't. Discipline, meditation, and exercises healed her mauled spirit. He noticed that she had great potential and started teaching her more and more advanced techniques. She learned hand to hand fighting, and a variety of martial arts. Once she gained enough skill, Wu sent her to a hidden temple where she received her most valuable training, a school for Kunoichi; female saboteurs, assassins and thieves. She learned the sundry skills of stealth, improvised weaponry, posion use and impersonation and seduction. Life was peculiar, she had come full circle to become her mother. But she had no intention of attending rallies, waving signs, or running online petition campaigns. Her protests would be seen only by a small group of people, her messages written in blood.

A Secret Gift

One of the great weapons of the ACPS is the quasi magical art known as the Hadou Shintai. This scientific martial arts training has allowed students to unlock unimaginable chi powers in a few years of study, rather than decades or a lifetime. While Jessibelle didn't learn the any of the Hadou Shintai she did learn how to manipulate her chi to summon and control y?kai or spirit beings. These spirit beings are rare, but dangerous, often even to the shujenga and magi who summon them. Jessibelle's y?kai is a large naga spirit. The serpent, which she has named Naja. The spirit serpent appears as a twenty foot long hooded cobra,with fire like eye spots on it's great hood. The spirit serpent has potent venom that can harm almost anything that is, or was alive. It can also have a corrosive quality if the cobra spits it. As a spirit beast, it can do things that a mortal creature cannot. It can emit a haze from it's mouth, obscuring vision and even thermal cameras. Jessibelle will often summon the serpent to lavish attention on it, such as bathing or giving the creature time to bask in the middle Kingdom. As an effect of this, Naja is very fond of Jessibelle and is very protective of her.

Jessibelle knelt, dragging her fingers through the sand and dirt that years ago had been her home. It was now part of a park, and part of a parking lot. The old neighborhood was gone, the old warehouses were she had lived as wild child were gleaming uniform cookie cutter villas. Important Politburo officials summered in the villas. They took local prostitutes to those beds, the mostly unwilling and poor daughters of old Italy. She felt hate burning inside of her, for the Eurasian Alliance turning her home into a brother for dreary neo-soviet bastards. She hated the Atlantic Federation for abandoning Italy, and the rest of the Mediterranean, because they were poor. The square where her mother was killed was cleaned and polished, and there was no sign of the struggles more than a decade before. It was rare that she came home, home was full of sadness, and bitter tears and hatred. 

'Come Along, Jessibelle,' James said, 'I don't know what is worse, your attempt at grief or how tacky everything is here.' He looked around, a sneer on his fine spanish face. He plucked distainfully at the rose pinned to the lapel of his coat. She stood and smoothed her skirt down, James was right. It was time to move on. There were no tears left to be shed here.

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