Phantom Assassin

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Chapter 07

In Phantom, each assassin retains a special power called a Tool. This power shows itself in a weapon of the assassin and can apply a number of techniques to the assassin’s overall fighting capability, Trace’s Modifier clicked with information.

“Yeah, whatever,” Trace rolled his eyes and shoved a piece of cold, stale bacon into his waiting mouth. It wasn’t crispy anymore.

Hailey sat across from him, and the other members sat, eating their food silently, on the sides.

“Your Modifier alerting you of something random again?” She mocked, cutting her soggy pancake into mush before swallowing it.

“Yeah,” Trace mumbled, chomping down the flavorless food. Everything tasted bland, even when it was still hot from the griddle. “Something about ‘Tools’ or whatever.”

Hailey choked on her mush and grabbed a napkin in her reach to wipe her mouth. She blinked rapidly and gagged on the food, her eyebrows creasing in.

Dereck gave Trace an accusing stare. “Trace, you aren’t supposed to speak of trivial matters in public places.”

“Why not?” Trace chuckled, amused, as he stabbed a crunchy, dry chunk of scrambled eggs.

Phantom had inconveniently bumped the mission up right as breakfast was being prepared. Coincidentally, they missed serving time. Missions lasted longer than they seemed to the assassins, so they had been gone for an entire hour before they could come back to eat. What seemed like five minutes turned into twenty minutes, and what lasted a whole hour sometimes turned out to be a day.

“It’s something private you can only discuss with yourself and your comrades,” Hailey sighed, clearing her throat. Her face was red, but she seemed okay.

“With myself?” Trace asked, confused at Hailey’s explanation. How comical, that she would consider him a psycho that talks to himself!

Hailey nodded. “It’s strange, but as you complete more missions, your Modifier warms up to you, and instead of that annoying robot version of you, you start hearing yourself. You can relate to your own voice and have discussions with yourself.”

“What if the discussions held private information?” Trace felt on edge. He set his fork down and settled with chewing a piece of fatty bacon, staring at Hailey intently.

“Just be careful not to ever attend mission reports. The Ambassadors can sift through your Modifier, take out things they don’t want an put in things they do want, along with altering your memories in the process. Some of us don’t remember anything, an others know it like it was a recurring nightmare.”

Trace sat there, sucking on the bacon. Don’t attend mission reports? Done. Easy as pie, right?


“We can explain Tools and such later, okay Trace?” Hailey lowered her voice.

“Why not now?” Trace asked, but his Modifier blocked out his own words.

Mission report #2 start, his head filled with the worst ache he had ever felt.

He was lifted from the ground, his legs immovable and his body stationary. Panicking, he tried his hardest to struggle. Sweat appeared from nowhere, as if he was actually moving.

Hailey smiled up at him and right before he was swallowed in blackness, she said a soft: “Good luck, Trace.”

He was blind for a few seconds, floating in the pitch-black vacuum that was his teleportation device.

Before he knew it, the leather chair hooked into his cloak and his body was completely numb. Short breaths puffed from his lips as he squinted his eyes, looking for anyone to approach him.

Hands from behind him massaged his shoulders.

“How’d you enjoy the new feature on the Modifier? It’s the enemy alert censor,” a female voice whispered softly in his ear. It tickled slightly as Trace shivered.

Now that she mentioned it, he remembered the strange alert when he was on the mission.

“I’d like to fight on my own, with no cheats,” Trace requested, gulping quietly. The woman was silent as she continued to rub his shoulders.

“Donovan, the client received a negative response to the update. Immediate reparations requested,” the woman spoke into the darkness. She must’ve been on a speaking device.

“Be there soon,” a heavy blurred voice echoed from a walkie talkie.

“What’s going on?” Trace questioned. He needed to know exactly what Phantom was planning. The least he could do was squeeze questions, right?

For a moment, the woman was quiet. Then, she hesitantly responded: “You won’t remember, so it won’t hurt to tell you, I guess. Phantom needs to prepare all of their clients for the battle wave. We don’t know when it’s going to hit, so we must fix the Modifiers.”

Trace almost laughed. “Okay, now tell me what you’re really after.”

The woman didn’t respond, but started working on his Modifier. “I’ll remove the enemy alert censor and replace it with a weapon manifest to make for easier mobility. How does that sound?”

Amused at her awkward subject change, Trace chuckled. “Yeah, that’s fine.”

“Okay,” she said dryly. “How was your mission today?”

Trace sighed. “Too easy.”

“Your next mission won’t be so easy,” the woman said proudly, as if she knew exactly what mission he would venture on next. Maybe she did.

“Yeah, right,” Trace scoffed, rolling his eyes in the darkness.

“You don’t have to believe me. But believe Phantom. It’s for your own good,” the woman went dry again and poked something in the Modifier. A brief pain spiked through Trace’s shoulders.

He shouldn’t argue. The woman was right. Phantom was taking care of everything. He had nothing to worry about.

“I think that’s good enough,” the woman mumbled to herself. “Do you think it’s tight enough, Trace? It’s the character I inputted into your system.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Trace responded. The chair seemed to release him slightly. “Ma’am?”

“Trace?” The woman addressed him back.

“How old am I?”

“Oh, I can’t share your information with you, sorry.”

Before Trace could respond, a man dropped into the room.

“You need help with the new update?” His voice was loud and powerful, and his large finger brushed away the woman’s small ones. They worked only a few moments on Trace’s Modifier before he left. “Done. Have a good day.” Before they knew it, he was gone.

“Trace, you’re done for now. I’ll be ready for your next mission report,” she leaned forward to look at Trace. A small smile curled her lips, and Trace flinched when she brushed his cheek with the tips of her fingers.

Where had his cloak gone? Had it vanished?

“Go on back and discuss with your team. Be sure to report everything to them. That is,” she leaned forward and her lips touched his ear, “if you can remember anything.”

His teeth clenched, bone against bone, and he couldn’t move them from their locked position. He ground them together and felt his body tense up all over.

“Trace, there’s one thing you may want to remember about Phantom. If you disrespect or turn against us, we can kill you through the Modifier. One tweak and your brain is toast,” the woman massaged Trace’s temple with her thumbs and then backed away.

The chair released him, but his body was stiff all over. He kept his head foreword, running through everything he had learned. He would remember it this time. He would remember, for his team. For the lives of his team.

The private quarters for WP7 dripped into place like wet paint. Hailey stared at Trace as he floated down. A red circle illuminated under him.

“Is that the new update? Location hologram?” Dereck scoffed, sticking his jaw out at Trace.

When he was safe on the ground, he shrugged. “I guess so. Don’t you get updates?”

Dereck stared at Trace, a look of utter boredom. “We resist the Modifier. Like Hailey said, we have conversations with our machinery. We can convince our computerized selves to mute any incoming messages from Phantom, other than mission alerts.”

Trace nodded, folding his hands in front of him. So much had happened in so little time. It seemed like a week of events, when it was only two days.

“Trace, now that you’re back, we’ll explain to you what our group Tool is as well as what personal Tools have to offer.” Hailey perked up, falling into a leather recliner. Was it there before? Trace hasn’t noticed it, but the other three assassins plopped into chairs behind her.

“Great,” Trace tried to sound enthusiastic, but could only muster a slight rise in pitch.

Hailey smiled, hiding her irritation. “I’d like to start off by dividing the different levels of status.” She rubbed her hands together and crossed her sweatpants like an X. “I’m the Captain of WP7, the highest rank in our team, as well as the third highest of all Phantom assassins. Dereck is ranked second in our team, and the rest are ordered according to agility and overall speed, strength, and formation.”

“Where would I fit in?” Trace asked curiously.

Hailey smiled, irritation shining through. “You don’t fit in anywhere until you complete the designated task I assign you. It decides your rank. Before you are assigned the task, however, you’ll need to discover your Tool.”

Simple, Trace thought. “Okay, how do I do that?”

“Well,” Hailey’s lips curled into a lopsided smile. She took a step towards Trace. “You have to fight me.”

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