Chapter Two


It was very convincing.


The photos were a nice touch.


But then I remembered photoshop existed.


I had done something like this myself, constantly in fact. Editing pictures was easy with that program. Layers and filters paved ways to completely ruin photography as a form of forensic evidence. Relaxing back to work, I put it in the back of my mind as I got back to what little work I actually had.


It sounded interesting. They had done something similar back when I was in University. An assasin’s guild, where you had to ‘kill’ the target assigned to you. I had missed the chance to register back when it had begun, but every so often you’d see signs of it. Onew person would jump at another with a cardboard knife, or insert a piece of paper with ‘poison’ written on it into someone’s sandwich. It was pretty interesting until everybody got bored of it within the first two weeks.


This apparently was taking itself more seriously it seems.


Maybe it was George from uni, posting a new copy of the game to me. That would make sense. George had the amzing ability to actually remember people’s birthdays and even I wasn’t sure of my height and weight, so all he had to do was guess. Since he had photos of me back from the trip to France, he could easily edit them andcheck the colour of my eyes.


Of course, George hadn’t contacted me since uni. He still had a few things of mine from the last wargame he coerced me into playing. Was it too out of the blue to contact me about this, though it could be others. Even Jason or Tim were likely to do something like this, and all they’d have to do is post it and wait… Maybe that’s why Tim was willing to go that far with the game?


That makes sense. Though of course I doubt anyone left me any sort of clue as to who actually sent it. There’s at least ten people it could be that I know of, and all of them could have got this data. And since one or two of them had to know about my scars by now even that doesn’t help.


If I could figure out where the photo’s had been taken…


Examining the mugshoits again, I saw nothing particulqaar about any of them, except that iw as devoid of emotion, my eyes staring blankly forward. It must be how I looked every morning coming into work. The background was a dark blue background, with no gradiants except for my own shadow, meaning there was a light in front of me. I studied it hard for a few moments.


Pointlesly of course.


I sighed. It’s not like I was going to find a hidden clue trapped somewhere in there. Some hidden logo in the background that would have showed my exact location at the time. Even the white collar of my shirt was far too generic to say which one of the seven that I owned it could have been. Well, it wasn’t the one with the blackcurrent stain at least.


I wasn’t wearing either of my pairs of glasses in the picture either, the old (brand) or the new (brand). No jewellery. No makeup. Not that I wore much. Nothing that allowed me to see when the pictures had been taken beyond the last year or so.


How could a picture be so suspiciously absent of any defining traits except that it’s me?


Of course, photoshop was possible for doing this, so it means that the person doing it went to the effort because he knew I could find out.


Even so, that doesn’t narrow it down.


The rules were just as unhelpful, except in their primary aim of telling me what they wanted to. The syntax of the piece was scattered, going from technical to glorifying complicated and overly dramatic. The person most likely to do that would have been me, but perhaps James and Tim as well. James is more likely. He would have also sent it to me before sending it to anybody else.. I don’t think Tim got a similar envelope, though that doesn’t mean anything.


Each turn consists of a set time period given at the start of the turn.” So that would mean the game had already started then, though of course if you’re depending on the postal service to deliver the envelope some people would get a few hours head start than others.  That can’t be helped I guess, if the person who’s doing it is trying to be anonymous


And a person is assigned a bounty that has also been assigned a bounty? And so on and so forth? So that means that hunters are being hunted just as much. It is like the Assassins’ guild game then, though it also doesn’t actually mention killing. It just says Remove. Is it trying to be clever. It’s quite flexible though.


If a bounty is removed from the playing field at any time during that HuNTer’s time period, then the point of that bounty is rewarded to him and the HuNTer receives an additional amount as designated on the bounty’s profile.


That’s not a bad rule. It basically says you can do whatever you like in wehatever manner, and as long as that person dies, you get the kill. It also prevents people killing those that they don’t need to kill, since they won’t get points for them, while at the same time leaving the option alone without penalty. That’s kind of cool. I could actually make another hunter kill my bounty for me, then I’d get the cash and…


And now I’m actually taking it seriously.


Whoever sent it could at least of told me how we were playing it. Are we doing role play or just another assasin’s guild game. I like both, but I’ve got too much on my plate at the moment where I can’t be paranoid thinking Bob is going to thrown a paper bag saying 1000tonnes at me and score a point.


If it’s a role play, I’ve got to make a character, and I don’t even know what rules to base it on. So annoying. It had nice shock value but just leaves me frustrated.


I took a few minutes off work to make some texts, asking everyone I knew who sent me the game,making a point not to sound annoyed and whiney, and more ‘wishing to know more’.  I’m definitely making an Appleby character if that’s what we’re doing, but I only have Saturday nights off at the moment…


“Jenn,” someone said behind me. I turned with perfect grace to stare at Sue. “Can I see you for a moment?”






At the tabletop session, no one had a clue what I was talking about.


“So no one sent me an envelope about a game. Anyone?” A general murur of passive disagreement filled the meeting hall. A few of the people I suspected weren’t there, now living about a hundred miles away, and it was disappointing not to get a swift answer. No one looked like they were trying hard to hide a smile or pressing the issue further to help show their ‘ignorance’.


“What was it about?” James asked besides me, carefully touching up a Grim Stormrider for me with his collection of aptly named paints.


“Never mind,” I replied, not wanting to give too much away in case someone revealed themselves. “It was probably just a prank. If I amuse it too much, then we’ll be getting real life spam for it.”


“I thought we already had that,” piped Tim, now fully awake and wishing to go back to sleep.


“Well, more idiotic spam then.”


“We have that too,” he muttered between the pages of his Technicators novel. “Got one from Singapore the other day. It was amazing how this one rich, dead billionaire just happened to have my exact name. So amazing in fact that the person who wrote the letter requesting my aid and bank details must have forgotten to write in down on account of being so shocked.”


We began play shortly after that, and I attempted a progressive march with my stormriders against Jason’s Dark Cattle Brigade, my opponent using his naturally comedic army to its best advantage, a simple forward charge with half of his squads, leaving behind the rest in reserve and artilary. I let him go so far, doing my best not to make light of the fact that my fastest riders were on both my flanks, ready to spread out.  It paid off, and only the effects of the great hamburger spirit prevented him from getting completely crushed for around five more turns. His hoof burners removing twenty units of my front liners before they were overrun.


“You’re good, Jenn,” Jason told me on the way home. “you should really try going to some of the competitions sometime. You might actually be able to win.”


There was nothing more painful than being told such a thing by someone who had only ever won against you when he was teaching you how to play.


“I don’t have time nowadays,” I replied, sounding frustrated. “I barely have enough time for this sort of thing.”


“I know what you mean. If I hadn’t stayed for my masters degree I would have never time for this. Even now I forced to work most nights, and I have to give tutorials Monday and Thursday morning.”


He had certainly improved, I thought to myself as the inane banter, as I poked fun at him for his shortcomings and freshman assignees and it wasn’t too long before we all split up after that, James following me and Tim only so far as he tried to get comments about his paintings from me. As always though, he had done a good job, and I only teased him for it, the three of us chasing each other down the streets for some time until it was time to part ways.




When I got home, the envelope fell into my sight once again, laying on the bed next to my figurine army. I watched it for a few seconds, epecting it to grow tired of me and start doing cleaning itself or something, before I dashed forwards and grabbed it, looking through the rules again


Bounties are assigned randomly to each HuNTer. Therefore, a bounty may have two or more HuNTers assigned to him. They may also have no bounty placed upon them for a turn. However, Bounties will not be informed if this has occurred or not.


Bounties will not be informed of the identity of their HuNTer.


Do not worry. All Bounties are aware of the rules of the Game.


If a HuNTer decides not to hunt their bounty, or fails to remove their bounty from the playing field at the end of their turn, then they will not score any points for that round but will still be included in the next round.


There is no penalty for not participating. A player will still however, be allocated their turns.


A turn will still be allocated to a player even if you leave the country for an extended period past your last turn.


That was sort of a contriduction of itself, I noticed as I passed the multiple hunters to one bounty rule. Surely if that rule went into effect, it would mess up the rule about the bounty just needing to die in order for you to get the points. Who gets the points if several hunters go for them. The obvious would be the one who ‘removes’ the bounty, but then that prevents another hunter from getting any credit for any manipulation they may do to the other hunter.


Shaking my head free of being overly critical, I got back to thinking it through.It was unlikely that anyone at the session tonight was responsible for this, since they’d be no point in hiding it if they did actually want to play it. Though saying that, I would have thought others would have received similar envelopes as well. Perhaps this is supposed to be a joke on me.


If it’s not, that leaves George, Phil and…very unlikely, Vicki who were still at uni. Only Phil had replied to the text messages I had sent, denying it of course, the klepto would hide it for as long as he could, so that wasn’t helpful. This was getting annoying without any more information…


Of course…


For some dramatic reason, I realized I hadn’t looked at the forth sheet of paper yet and pulled it out of the confines of the envelope. Printed upon it was my supposed bounty.


Turn: 01


Turn period ends at:  …day…month…year.11:59pm


Name: Francis Betterman




D.O.B: 16/10/1968


Height: 5ft 9


Weight: 13st


Natural hair colour: Brown


Natural eye colour: Green


Other distinguishing marks: Double Chin




Shoe sizes: size twelve


Prescribed accessories: Hearing aid




Since I didn’t have an addressed, it was easy to assume that was supposed to be part of the challenge. Find the bounty and eliminate him. The rules made it easier for me, since I knew he could only be in United Kingdom, but that didn’t exactly narrow it down.


Then again, I may not be looking for a person here.


I didn’t know Francis Betterman at all. Have never seen him and never heard of him. Until this moment, as far as I was aware, this guy didn’t exist.


And he may still not exist.


What if  it’s a special code of some kind, the identity of the one behind all this. The surname does kind of clue me ain about it. A narracistic trick for me to fall for. If that’s the case, then there’s no one else in the game and this is directed at me by Phil. Lifting myself off the bed, I nudged the mouse and got it to wake up the computer, about fifteen conversation windows springing up at me. I got rid of them all and headed for Google.


Now I couldn’t say I made a habit of this at all, but it’s amazing how fast you can find someone online nowadays. A lot of people who don’t use the net would think it’s obvious, because almost everyone has data online, but those who do use the net know that this turns it around. There’s too much data on the net. Typing in my name alone gets me about seventeen entries before I find anything about myself and even that requires a bit of pot luck mixed in with paitient deep searching. But knowing where to look, you can find people. I wish I could say it involves secret haxxorz techniques But going onto telephone directory websites is a great start.


Fifteen minutes later and I had the young, middle aged man staring in front of me along with his wife at a caravan park in Scarsborough. He ran the place apparently, along with the rest of his family.


That just made it confusing.


The person did actually exist.


No one I knew came from Scarsborough.


Perhaps they had been there in the past or something, and decided randomly to pick this guy to confuse me. Or perhaps they did want me to go up there and actually shiv the guy with a cardboard cut out in front of all his customers.


Whatever it was, I spent the rest of the night digging up info on him, and trying to figure out where the envelope came from. It was postmarked Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which I had never been to, so that was no help.


I gave up at quarter to midnight, my brain remembering that it hadn’t slept the night before, and collapsing me onto the bed in my clothes. I’d have to change tomorrow anyway. Hopefully, I could actually have an opportunity to iron this time.