Shortest prologue of the bunch. The shadowy figure's ability to remain a shadowy figure even while walking through what are most probably brightly lit hallways is far more impressive than immortality, in my opinion. Enjoy.
Edit: There are a metric shitton of spoilers in the comments of this post for various bits of this and later arcs; read at your own peril.
Alice in Jails - Prison Episode
Color Pages & Epilogue I
Chapter 1 Front
Chapter 1 Back
Chapter 2 Front
Chapter 2 Back
Chapter 3 Front
Chapter 3 Back
Chapter 4 Front
Chapter 4 Back
Chapter 5 Front & Back, Connecting Chapter, Remaining Chapter
Alice in Jails - Streets Episode
Peter Pan in Chains
Nebula Corporation Headquarters
It was a strange room.
No, to call it a mere room would be doing it a disservice. It was a facility.
Countless documents and books lined one of the walls, and several untidy piles of the same littered the wooden work desks as well. Even the floor had been decorated with books loose sheets of paper.
A microscope peeked out from under a small mountain of paper; a closer look would reveal that many other peculiar instruments lay scattered about, giving the room the appearance of a laboratory and a reference library that had been violently smashed together.
If the room had been deserted, it could easily have been mistaken for an abandoned facility, but that was not the case. Several men and women in white coats ran busily to and fro, frantically jotting down notes on any sheet of paper that came to hand, answering phone calls, and altogether giving off the impression of getting great amounts of work done while not actually doing that much at all.
"Umm... Oh, no. What do I do? What do I do?" one of the scientists said to herself, raising one hand to adjust her glasses as she shuffled around. She was so preoccupied with whatever had her attention that she didn't notice the book at her feet and stepped awkwardly on it, and with a great crash she tripped and fell to the floor in an inelegant heap.
A small cloud of scattered papers rose into the air. The woman's coworkers looked at her incredulously.
The farcical atmosphere would have easily led one to believe that the lab was located in some college or university, not deep within the headquarters of one of the most powerful companies on the planet.
But that sophomoric air only extended halfway across the room, up to the thin cubicle wall that cut off the rest of the room from view.
A young man dressed in a business suit sat there, his hands folded neatly on the desk.
He looked to where the curtains had been drawn--more accurately to the shadows there. The silhouette of a man stood there, stiff and silent, as though to trying to erase his very presence and become one with the darkness. The man in the business suit, however, didn't much seem to care.
"Do you really need to hide your face here?" he asked, sighing. "I understand you have a reputation to keep, but honestly, it's sort of awkward talking to a shadow."
The silhouette did not reply, and it did not move.
The man sighed again, shrugged as though to say, "Fine, have it your way," and moved on to the order at hand.
"Well, whatever. Our job for you this time is very important, and it's also pretty much impossible. Well, normally it would be, that is. Of course, that's why we called you."
The silhouette kept its silence, ignoring the man's attempt at initiating a conversation, but seemed to take it in stride and continued for his mute audience.
"The target's name is..."
If the shadowy figure recognized the name, it didn't show it.
"He's currently staying at Alcatraz--you've heard of the place, I'm sure. And not just in any cell, either. He's getting the VIP treatment, I suppose you could say. And, well... Alright. I'll be honest with you. He can't die."
For the first time, the silent silhouette showed emotion. It frowned, and a shadow passed over its face.
Now it was the man's turn to ignore the shadow, and he continued talking calmly, without regard for its confusion.
"...I'm not joking, I assure you. You've been working with us for quite some time now, so I trust you understand what I mean when I tell you that Laforet can't be killed. You have seen some of our experiments, right?"
Now the faceless figure's silence seemed somehow curious, as though he wanted the man to continue.
"Of course you have. But I must warn you. Laforet is a bit different from our specimens. He's been alive for over two centuries... In other words, he's a true immortal. His intentions are inscrutable, and he has countless underlings, many of whom he has brought up himself from childhood. He orders them around even now, from safe inside his cell."
Again, expectant silence.
"Well. Hmm. We have our reasons for asking you to go after an immortal target. Oh, no. Don't get me wrong. We're not asking you to kill him, of course. Heavens, no." The man paused. "At least, not this time. What-"
"Excuse me, I hope I'm not interrupting," a woman's voice said, just as the man prepared to move onto the real reason for the meeting. "I made some tea for the gues- Owww!"
The voice's owner was a woman in a white lab coat, the one who'd tripped on a book earlier. She yelped as she struck her little finger against the edge of the cubicle wall and reeled backward, throwing up her arms and sending black tea and tableware flying everywhere.
Both the man in the business suit and the dark silhouette noticed the accident at the same time, but they reacted in distinctly different ways. The man yelped and shrunk away, still seated, and took a flying tea tray to the temple for his efforts, while the shadow silently slipped to the side, away from the spray of boiling hot tea.
"Agh! Oww! Jesus!"
"Eek! I'm so so sorry! Are you alright?" the woman cried, tears welling up in her eyes as she apologized frantically.
The woman wore a pair of black rimmed glasses, her pretty face twisted with a combination of exhaustion and guilt. Her bangs were scattered haphazardly over her forehead, while the rest of her long hair had been pulled back from her face. In contrast to her rather disheveled looks, the body hidden behind her lab coat was so voluptuous that in another time, another place, she wouldn't have looked altogether out of place in the pages of Playboy magazine.
Even her loose lab coat proved unable to hide her curves as she stooped to pick up the fallen tableware, and the way her cleavage came enticingly into view would have been more than enough to catch the eye of any red-blooded male. The young man in the business suit, however, merely glared at her and shifted in his seat, coughing ostentatiously as though to pretend that the accident hadn't happened.
"...She'll fill you on the rest."
"Hmm? Fill who in on what?" the woman asked, looking up curiously.
The man sighed and slapped a hand to his forehead. "Fill him in on the job that you requested this very morning, Director Brinvilliers!"
The woman clapped her hands together, scattered cups forgotten as her subordinate's exasperated complaint jogged her memory.
Renée Palamedes Brinvilliers turned to the shadowy figure standing in the corner of her office, blinked rapidly as though seeing it for the first time, and said, "Oh! Oh my! It's been so long since last we met, hasn't it? You really should've told me you were coming. I would have prepared some better snacks for you."
She sounded more like a lackadaisy housewife than a scientist, and apparently her absentminded musing was the last straw for her harried underling. All pretense of composure left him and a vein began pulsing where the flying tea tray had struck his temple as he threw up his hands in exasperation.
"...You told me to call him this morning, Director! This! Morning!"
"Eep. I'm sorry! I just didn't think he'd come so quite so quickly..." she admitted, looking quite apologetic. The man only let slip a sigh that sounded more like a sob and cradled his head in his hands, while the shadow merely kept its silence as always.
Hesitantly confirming that no more yells were coming her way, Renée turned to her lackey. "Mmm... How much did you tell him, anyway?"
"Just that we wanted him to go to Alcatraz and go after Huey Laforet," the man muttered gruffly. Renée didn't seem to notice his surly tone, and instead clapped her hands together once more as she turned to the shadow.
"Oh, of course! Mmm... What I'd like to ask for you to do is to go and meet Mr. Laforet," she said brightly, just as chipper as when she'd been offering the figure snacks.
"And then I'd be ever so grateful if you'd gouge out one of his eyeballs and bring it back to me!"
"Bye, Mr. Walken! Good luck!" Renée said cheerily, waving to the figure as it walked away.
Her underling in the business suit sighed. "Don't call out his name like that, Director!"
"Eep! I-I'm sorry! I didn't mean to!" Renée squeaked, clapping both hands over her mouth.
The shadow finally broke its long silence and sighed once.
"I've told you time and time again, Ms. Brinvilliers. I gave that name to someone else a long time ago," it said over its shoulder, its measured pace not slowing in the least as it walked away.
"Oh! Right! Silly me! I'm sorry, Mr. Assassin!"
"Don't call out his occupation like that, Director!"
"Eep! I-I'm sorry!"
It was the ninth job the shadow had taken from the scientist and her department, but despite its frequent visits, it had never once asked just what went on in that strange, haphazard mishmash of laboratory and library.
Nebula was a huge conglomerate with a hand in many different businesses--one of the United States' largest, in fact--and any normal person would most surely be curious as to what went on in Renée's section upon stepping inside. Perhaps they would even wonder why it had its own separate area, completely isolated from the rest of the building, but the silhouette had never asked a single question regarding that, either.
Today was no exception, and the shadow let the sound of squabbling scientists wash over it and fade away as it walked, silently judging its client.
Renée Brinvilliers was not a consciously evil being.
The silhouette that had once gone by Felix Walken judged that she had no idea that the acts she performed were evil, but from an objective standpoint they could be nothing else.
Granted, not many people did evil while being fully aware of and accepting their heinous acts, but even taking that into consideration, she was special. Unique.
The shadow decided that she was a completely innocent woman.
That she meant no harm, but all the same she cast people down into the depths of Hell without a second thought.
The shadow had, once, walked in on her as she performed an experiment on a human being.
It had asked her where she'd kidnapped the girl from, and Renée had replied without hesitation.
"What do you mean? I didn't kidnap her!"
Renée had smiled, deftly plunging a needle full of some unknown liquid into the half-conscious girl's veins.
"I paid exactly what they asked for her," she'd said, and her smile had not lessened in the slightest.
The scientist--the researcher--did not doubt. She did not falter. She asked no questions. All she could see was her own work.
The man who'd once been called Felix Walken walked away from the sound of her voice. He, too, did not falter, and he, too, asked no questions.
It was as though to him, such insanity was nothing more and nothing less than the natural way of the world.
Prologue III End