The spotlessly clean steam train wound its way sedately through the perfect 1:1 scale scenery of Switzerland. The grandeur that was the Alps lined the horizon, each detail perfectly crafted to the finest point.
It chuffed its way past villages, stopping occasionally at picturesque stations along the way, before continuing past gently rolling green fields full of cows that never moved.
Sitting in a first class carriage, sipping champagne from a silver hip flask, Veto Lark had noted with interest that no one ever boarded, nor departed the train at any of the stations. The few people milling around on the platforms never once glanced at the train. All merely stared in random directions, never talking, never moving.
He had also found it curious the fact there was only ever one guard at any given station; a guard who looked remarkably similar to all the other guards in every other station; one who always stood in an identical position, one hand forever raised, grasping a red flag which never fluttered. Even had there been a wind to ruffle it, sturdy plastic tended not to move much at all.
"Remarkable, isn't it?"
Veto looked up at the woman who had silently entered the compartment, and was now sitting opposite him. Disguising his sudden shock at the unexpected intrusion, he feigned the cool unflappable calm he was famous for, by taking a quick glug from his flask. The desired effect was temporarily dented by an unsubtle burp as his innards objected to the sudden rush of fermented bubbles.
"Yes. Quite. Indeed it is..." He made a mental note not to fill the flask with anything effervescent in future.
The woman wore confidence and finesse as comfortably as she did her luxurious llama-fur coat and matching hat. Her cold, slate grey eyes regarded him with mild curiosity and, quite possibly, amusement.
"You have it for me?" Only the barest flicker of an eyelid indicated a chink in her emotions, her nerves hidden well behind her perfect exterior. Veto would have applauded her control had not the situation been so serious.
"I might have."
"Do you have it, or not?" The flicker turned to anger.
"Do you have the payment?" Veto assumed his most relaxed pose, only just preventing himself from slipping off the hard, plastic seat. Sitting himself upright once more, he maintained the stand-off.
A vague narrowing of eyes before she deftly withdrew a slim envelope from her bag.