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PostPosted: Wed Apr 4, '12, 1:55 am
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Taming the Lions

After grieving for some time the realization that the situation she had gotten herself into was terrible, Anna tried to calm down and to think rationally again. Crying, wishing it was not true, or denying would not help her. Her problems would still be there. And her biggest problem at that moment was to find a way to accomplish her mission. Everything she had was the mental image of a picture that had been shown to her for less than ten seconds and a pair of handcuffs. Those scarce resources had to be enough to arrest that certain crime lord. As if her life was not difficult enough.

The blonde guardian didn't even know where to start. Thinking about her conversation with the man who had assigned her the mission, she realized that the man didn't even tell her whether she should expect to find her foes in the lakeshore or not. Besides, the lakeshore was so crowded that finding the right man was like finding a needle in a haystack. She had no better guess, no resources, no help, nothing. So, she decided to take a walk in the shoreline, like hundreds of people were doing, expecting to find the crime lord by chance, hoping the providence would help her to find a way to accomplish her mission.

However, her plans were already marred by her usual lack of luck. Her outfit was inadequate for her task. Who in Motavia would walk in the sandy lakeshore wearing hunting boots? No, she had to meddle with the passersby if she wanted to stand a chance against the crime lord and his minions. It meant to wear bikini and beach sandals. Anna had none. Although she was a little fashion-conscious, exposing her flesh was not something she was fond of doing. She used to wear short dresses, but they had a practical purpose by not constraining her movements, and not showing her legs, for she knew her beauty was useful only to attract unwanted men. However, if she wanted to be a secret agent, she had to make some concessions, and it included dressing in a way she would not do willingly.

Anna considered her options, but she had to discard the easiest alternative. Her lingerie didn't resemble a bikini. If she just took out her dress, she would attract more unwanted attention than walking in the sand wearing hunting boots. Besides, she risked being arrested. For Anna, it was a very stupid rule, for the average bikinis, according to the current Motavian fashion, left more flesh exposed than most of the comfortable underwear women wore on a regular day. However, discussing the society's hypocrisy would not help her in achieving her goals, so Anna resigned to go to the beachwear store to buy her a swimsuit and a pair of sandals that would allow her to meddle with the common people.

The experience of buying clothes was unpleasant, as Anna had predicted. She entered the store shyly, not knowing what to look for. Certainly, there were many bikinis, but to choose something appropriate was a hard task. There were colorful ones, plain ones, those who exposed too much flesh, those who were appropriate for older ladies… many choices and many doubts in the mind of the blonde bombshell, who, surprisingly, didn't want to use the generous attributes mother nature has prized her to her advantage. In fact, she wanted to conceal them as much as possible. But her confusion didn't last long. It didn't take long for one of the female clerks, a short red-haired girl, to notice her puzzled face and come to her help.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Do you want me to help you choosing a bikini?"

"Well… No… I mean, yes…" Anna was clearly embarrassed.

"Don't worry." The clerk smiled at Anna. "I'll help you to find something that will make you look stunning. Let me first take some measurements. Would you please uncross your arms?"

Anna uncrossed her arms and waited. She had no idea what would come next. The female clerk stretched her arms towards Anna's body and measured Anna's chest and hips with her hands. The blonde guardian was feeling embarrassed to have her measurements taken in public, but the other customers seemed to be unaware of her, or they didn't care. After the inspection, the clerk turned to the shelves and selected a few different models, showing them to Anna and addressing their qualities. Anna discarded the ones that looked smaller and settled with a blue flowery one, not so small, not so large, hoping it would help her go unnoticed among the crowd. The clerk commented her choice.

"Terrific! You will surely shine inside it."

Anna blushed and answered hesitantly "It is exactly what I was not looking for."

The clerk tried to be friendly and cheer her up. "Come on, you are so pretty that you already shine on your own. Why wouldn't you want to show yourself?"

Anna shook her head. "You wouldn't understand."

Not wishing to prolong that conversation, Anna thanked the clerk and hurried to the counter. Near the counter, there were some beach sandals on display. Anna chose one of her size, paid for her swimsuit and left the store.

The next step was to rent a locker and then go to the dressing room, to change to her casual outfit. As Anna put on the brand new bikini, she immediately realized it was too short for her, probably one number smaller than her size. She didn't know if it was a deliberate move by the clerk, but her well-proportioned body looked even more attractive. If it was not already enough, the many scars acquired during her days as an officer and a hunter were perfectly visible. Besides, she had a hard time to conceal the pair of handcuffs inside her small swimsuit. Her plan to blend well on the crowd without attracting any particular attention failed miserably.

However, once she had gotten herself into that situation, she had to go on until the end. She had wished so much to be made a guardian that she didn't want to bail out without even trying. As bad as it looked, to play the attractive-teenager-showing-off role trying to lure a crime lord into a trap was less embarrassing than admitting her failure without even trying. She might be reckless, selfish, boring, obnoxious, cruel, and even evil, but one thing she had for certain: she was no coward. She would never falter in her obligations; waver at the dangers of her current or past occupations. This courage and sense of duty was what made her so competent at the military and so successful as a hunter. And that same courage would be the key for her success in her new endeavor as a guardian.

Therefore, Anna started walking by the lakeshore, pathetically trying to find the man in the photograph she had looked at for less than ten seconds. There were so many faces, so many people coming and going, and she didn't even know for sure if the crime lord was to be found at the lake resort. Many times, she thought she had found the man, only to learn that it had been only her imagination working against her. There was no evidence that any of the men who resembled the guy in the picture was the man she was looking for. Not to mention the hundreds of pairs of eyes set on her, especially on the parts of her body her small bikini uselessly tried to cover. It was particularly annoying because the only chance Anna stood against a group of armed men was a stealthy arrest.

After walking up and down the lakeshore for hours, suddenly the guardian's eyes spotted something suspicious. There was a group of men seated in beach chairs, drinking beer and laughing. The group, per se, was not unusual, for Anna had seen dozens of groups like that on that day. The suspicious thing about that group was that there were four men standing near the group, forming the corners of an imaginary square, all with serious expressions, arms crossed, formally dressed, and using sunglasses. They looked like security guards. That was what caused the click on Anna's mind.

Taking care of keeping herself at distance trying to avoid attracting the attention of the group, Anna started examining them. She could barely remember the face features of the man in the picture the guardian agent had shown her after all those hours, but, from what she could remember, none of the men in the group resembled the guy in the picture. There was a man who seemed to be the leader, as all the others constantly addressed him. Besides, they seemed to be making fun of each other, but never of that man. The only problem was that the leader of the group was bald on the top of his head, a bit overweight and had a goatee, and the man on the photo didn't have any of these particular features.

Trying to act naturally, Anna laid on the sand near the group and pretended to be getting suntanned, while she kept an eye on the group. Some minutes passed and nothing suspicious happened, but the four men who kept on guard. The guardian concluded that she was observing the right group, and that the man who instructed her showed her a picture of ten years before. That didn't surprise her, as all that guardian affair had been so amateurish that Anna couldn't believe the group to have such a mythical reputation. Or maybe it was deliberate; to test her skills and see how well she could fare in a mission were she was certainly unprepared and underpowered. Therefore, if they wanted to test her, she would prove herself better than they had expected. All she had to do was to wait for an opportunity to arrest him.

Waiting for an opportunity was not the problem; she could stay there, pretending she was getting suntanned for hours. The problem was that there was always someone bothering her. From time to time, an illegal seller would offer her some products she was not interesting in buying. Sometimes, a man from one of the snack bars came to offer her some food or drinks. The worst, obviously, was the harassment by flirting men. She has not been there for fifteen minutes when a middle-aged man sat beside her.

"Hello, princess. I was wondering why such a pretty woman has no company…"

Anna, startled, turned to the man and eyed him through the corner of her eye, with a menacing expression. "Buzz off!"

"Hey, princess, there is no need to be angry. I just want to have a friendly chat…" The middle-aged man insisted, in a calm and confident manner.

"Sorry, I'm not interested." Anna interrupted him harshly. "Besides, I'm busy."

"Busy, heh? Busy getting prettier and prettier…" The man commented with a smirk.

"Oh, my God, what did I do to deserve this…" Anna shook her head and tried to ignore the men's advances, returning her attention to the man she guessed as the crime lord. She desperately noticed that the bald man with a goatee was standing up, after having received a call on his portable phone. He talked briefly and then left the group for a while, followed by two of the four suspicious bodyguards. If she wanted to stand a chance of arresting the crime lord, that was the opportunity, so she tried to stand up and follow the group, but the middle-aged man tried to stop her, holding her arm.

"Hey, don't leave yet. You still owe me an answer…"

"What?"

"I won't let you go unless you give me the answer you owe me!" The man looked at Anna with an air of defiance.

"I owe you nothing, idiot!" Anna pushed the man away and stood up. The man, somewhat shaken, tried to babble some words, but the blonde girl was already far enough to not hear him. Realizing he had played the fool, he yelled one or two offensive words at her, trying to put the blame on her and not feel humiliated in public. Anna blushed. She was angry with the man because he was attracting the attention of people to her. She shook her head and mumbled, "I wish I were ugly, like Lizzie…"

Then, the memories of her former friend flooded her mind. She slowed down her pace and meditated about what she had just said. Being ugly didn't save Lizzie from hostile men's advances, and what Anna had just endured was nothing compared with what had happened to her dearest friend Lizzie. And she reflected about the meaning of wishing she were like Lizzie, realizing that it was her wish she had died in Lizzie's place. She was just wasting her time and her life in useless and meaningless missions like the one she had gotten into, with the excuse that she was trying to help people. Lizzie, on the other hand, could have married, be studying to become a doctor, effectively helping people, and, moreover, bringing happiness to her family. Anna had nothing and no one to live for. She felt like an agent of doom and sorrow, for no one wanted to cross her path, and for those who were unlucky to run by her randomly always ended in a worse state of mind than before, if not dead.

Trying to dismiss her thoughts and bringing doom to someone else, Anna tried to concentrate on the mission ahead. A few passersby had reacted to the middle-aged man's yells, but they were at loss, for, no one was actually paying attention to him or her before he started his hissy fit. Moreover, the crime lord was walking slowly, carelessly, and he had not taken a great lead, making it possible for the blonde guardian to try to catch up with her plans.

Hoping the annoyance was gone for good, the blonde guardian tried to make up a plan in her mind quickly, in order to arrest the man successfully. The lack of resources was almost depressing to the ex-lieutenant, used to the best resources available, but as it had to be that way, lamenting would only consume the scarce time she had to think in a way to accomplish her mission. She trusted her barehanded combat skills, and all she needed was an opportunity to strike, get rid of the bodyguards, and arrest the man. It would not be the most dangerous thing she had done in her life if there were no other dangers nearby.

She discreetly followed the group until the edge of the sand, where the crime lord met a newcomer, who was obviously not ready to join the group, as he wore a dark suit and shoes. They had a brief exchange of words and they exchanged something Anna could not see from the concealed position she placed herself into, behind some food crates, by the wall of a snack bar near them. Soon, they exchanged some goodbyes and the crime lord started returning from his rendezvous.

The blonde guardian was anxious in her concealed position. She knew she would have to act very fast in order to arrest the man and run away with him. She had no doubts that his bodyguards were armed and she would not stand a chance against them in a direct confrontation. So, she had to deal with the two man escorting the crime lord, arrest the man and escape unnoticed, as fast as she could, for she knew the other men would start looking for him as soon as they noticed his absence. She prayed silently to her God to help her control her feelings. Not that she feared failing or even being killed; she was afraid of herself, and what she might do in the heat of the moment.

When the crime lord was passing by the snack bar tent, he was pulled by something holding his left arm. He tried to disengage violently from the hold, but it only hurt his wrist. As he looked back, he realized that he had been handcuffed to an iron pipe that sustained a tent placed by the side of the snack bar. He became angry and screamed some bad words, attracting the attention of the bodyguards. As soon as they turned to look, one of the bodyguards was hit in the back of his head with a piece of wood and immediately collapsed. The other bodyguard didn't even have the time to react properly; as he turned to look what had happened to his companion, he received a punch on his throat, injuring his windpipe and making him fall on his knees, gasping for breath. Meanwhile, the crime lord started cursing the blonde girl who had attacked his bodyguards, yelling offenses.

Anna simply ignored the man's protests. She knew that it would not take long for the other men to discover her attack and follow her. Unarmed, she was able to defeat two unprepared bodyguards, but she knew she stand no chance against a bunch of armed men who would shoot her back before asking. So, she opened the handcuff extremity tied to the pipe and closed it on his right wrist. Then, she punched the crime lord in the face and started dragging him away, pulling him by the handcuff chain.

The man protested and cried for help, but Anna kept dragging him through the beach, and then the nearby street. She advanced with difficulty, as the crime lord was heavy and tried to resist her pull. Besides, she didn't know what to do with the arrested man, for she was not given any specific order. Knowing that hesitation could cost her life, the blonde guardian walked away from the lake shore trying to increase the distance between her and the gang members that would surely be looking for them in a matter of moments. As soon as she left the beach area, she started walking towards Zema's downtown, where she expected to find some police officers and hand the captured man to them.

The task was not easy not only because of the difficulties already mentioned, but because the yells attracted the attention of every person passing by. The crime lord was seated, kicking and screaming offenses towards the guardian. For a moment, Anna considered finishing him off with her own hands and then running for her life, but she remembered the promise she had done to her God few minutes before and shortly dismissed the idea. Maybe knocking him unconscious would be a good idea, but she didn't have the time to stop and safely do it, so she kept walking fast, trying to reach the first crossroads before being spotted by one of the gang members.

The psychological ordeal was taking its toll on Anna, and many times, she considered abandoning the man, and subsequently abandoning that life, always living on the edge. She could not stand for much longer. If all the missions would be like that, it would be a matter of months until she found death, either during one of the dangerous missions, or by complete exhaustion. Thinking back, she has been living in a hallucinating rhythm since she had left the orphanage, wasting all her adolescence pursuing some kind of job she didn't seem to be cut out for, for it always turned out wrong in the long run.

Looking back to the times of her tender infancy, she used to be a delicate child, cute, like a doll. At the age of eleven, she was much like all her school friends, just a schoolgirl in her pre-teens, dreaming with pop artists and naively experimenting with the idea of romance. Now she didn't even have the mind frame to think of herself as a woman, the woman that she should be. On a sunny day like that, she was supposed to be having fun at the beach, like any other girl at her age. Not trying to solve the society problems mechanically. Yes, she felt like a machine, one of those combat robots that she had seen often while in the military academy, that would follow blindly the orders, even when they were questionable, or given in an inappropriate manner. She couldn't call herself a professional, as she just looked like a brainless mercenary, thirsty for blood and money, although the later was a false premise. Her parents would certainly cringe at the idea of her daughter joining the military, especially when most people were doing nothing. However, they would eventually digest the idea if she was an honored professional, but not the hideous agent she had become.

Although these thoughts seemed to be very uncomfortable, they had a positive effect on the blonde hunter, as she felt less the anxiety of being chased by men who would not think twice before killing her. The crime lord was still screaming and attracting the attention of the passersby, but there were not many people in the streets at that hour of day, and those who were there preferred not to meddle with their affairs. If Anna hated the apparent passivity of the average citizen, she was benefiting from their apathy.

Relieved that she was able to take a turn at the crossroads and advance without being found by her pursuers, the guardian then had to choose where she would take the arrested man. Her muscles were already strained by the continuous effort of pulling the heavy man, and changing arms occasionally was not enough anymore. There was a police station three blocks away, but it didn't seem feasible to keep pulling the man like a bundle. Knowing that he had his legs all scratched, and probably he was in a greater pain than she was, she tried to think in an alternative of dragging the man faster to her objective.

"Can't you make the things easier?"

Anna asked the crime lord, but he ignored her and kept screaming for help.

She insisted. "If you walk, we can get there faster."

"To the police department? You must be kidding!" The man spat on Anna's face and resumed yelling and cursing her.

Anna was very angry. She had to use all of her self-control not to finish the crime lord right on the spot. However, it was her fault to think a rogue would cooperate with her. The scheme she had in mind only satisfied her needs. It was obvious that the criminal wanted to delay his arrest, hoping to be rescued, or for some opportunity to run away. Under Mother Brain strict laws, the crime lord was sure he would serve in jail for a long time, so there was no reason for submitting to the officer's requests, even if the alternative meant death. So, the guardian had to stick to her current strategy.

After some minutes, which looked like years to the hunter, she had finally advanced most of the distance that separated her from the nearest police department. Her limbs were aching, but her exceptional resilience made her keep pressing forward, yard per yard, towards her goal. Maybe as a lucky twist of fate, despite the fact that the crime lord was acting like a fire engine siren, no one came to rescue him. And it was a great relief when the blond hunter finally climbed up the steps and crossed the police department gates.

However, it was not as she planned. The scene confused the police officers and it didn't take long for some of them starting making jokes about the hot blonde in a bikini and the middle-aged man in handcuffs yelling like mad. The officers were insinuating that it was a romantic fantasy gone wrong. It only helped infuriating the blonde guardian, who threw the arrested man towards the chief constable's desk.

"Take it!"

"What? What does it mean?" The chief constable was perplexed by the unusual scene. He has always striven for order and discipline, but suddenly strangers in an unacceptable conduct had raided the police department, and the officers stayed placidly watching and making fun of the invaders.

"Weren't you looking for him?" Anna asked nonchalantly.

The chief constable immediately recognized the face of the famous crime lord. "How is it possible?" He refused to believe that the notorious criminal, who openly defied the authorities by going to public places and challenging them to arrest him, had been brought by a mere teenager..

"I was dragged all the way by that b…"

"Shut up!" The constable interrupted the arrested man, who would protest against the way the guardian had pulled him to the police department. "Nobody is talking to you, scum! You'd better be quiet if you don't want to be dragged back by the tongue!" Then, he turned to Anna and, with an inquisitive expression, waited for her account of the facts. However, the blonde guardian was not inclined to talk and turned back to leave, so he asked, "Who are you?"

Among laughter and whispers saying she was the crime lord's mistress, lover, plus some vulgar flirting, Anna answered without turning her head. "I'm a guardian." Then, she left the building, leaving all the officers stunned with the jaw-dropping revelation. They have never expected that blonde teenager in bikini to be a guardian, and they knew that it had been a big mistake to make fun of such a powerful person. If she denounced them, they would face a severe punishment.

Nevertheless, Anna could not care less. As she left the police department heading home, all that she wanted to do was to forget about what had happened that afternoon. Surely, it was an exhilarating feeling to have accomplished such a dangerous mission with the miserable resources she was provided with, and the astonishment on the officer's faces was already an enormous reward for her ego. The cold orphan girl with a life filled with tragedies, though, could not care less about all that. Everything she wanted was to forget about all that guardian business and to get over her silly dreams of becoming the paladin of justice. Her only desire was to think about a way of regaining her humanity through an honest, decent, and womanly job. And trying to compensate for all her teenage years lost as a heartless killing machine.
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