This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
bha! bhu! bhap!
God I love the sound of my fists punching this asshole’s face.
Especially after he jumped into the ring wearing a stupid grin, going on and on about how he was going to hand my “pretty little ass” to me. He even had the gall to mention something about females not belonging in the ring.
Well then, they probably shouldn’t be highly trained assassins either. These death fighters all underestimate me, but that’s totally fine - just another weapon at my disposal.
My last combo to this guy’s face has him laid out in the far corner of the ring. It’s moments like these that remind me how much I enjoy feeling the power within my own body, a power I work very hard to achieve. I like knowing that I can bring men twice my size down with nothing but my bare hands. I’ve been trained to be a well-oiled killing machine, and I’m not gonna lie, I love it.
Well…Normally I do.
I take in the crowd surrounding us tonight - Mostly men with the unfortunate few female waitresses taking drunken orders and getting groped by almost every man they walk past. I don’t know why Chezzy, the club owner, doesn’t just use drone servers. Probably because the drones would cost more to keep up then he pays his entire human staff.
I normally ignore the blatant derogation, but tonight is different. I find myself feeling sorry for the wait staff- Which is truly concerning.
The only person I worry about is me, no one else matters.
Worse still, I even start to feel bad about beating up the fuck head sprawled out on the matt!
What is wrong with me?
I’m not supposed to feel at all. If I do, it’s certainly not petty emotions like guilt and empathy!
As soon as these weak ass emotions start to filter in and take over, a switch flips on inside of me. I start to sense every single body around me, even the roaches hiding under the grungy bleachers. Energy is surging out from me like some sort of life-form radar. I know where everyone is, what they’re doing, and to some extent, even what they’re about to do next.
I was trained to constantly be aware of my surroundings, but this is on a whole other level.
As I continue to take in the surroundings, I also start noticing what I’m pretty sure are people’s auras. The crowd is bathed in a brightly colored haze, making me wonder if a pot of gold is hidden somewhere among them. The colors move and mix, which seems to be the key to knowing the persons intended move - The colorful cloud seems to change depending on what the persons next thoughts and actions will be.
It’s kinda creeping me out, but mostly it’s starting to disorient me. The new sense is flickering on and off rapidly inside my head. I try to suppress the new perception by ignoring it. When that doesn’t work, I try to utilize some mental pain-erasing techniques. Like visualizing turning it off, or even smothering the strange ability out, but nothing seems to work.
I turn as much attention as I can back to my opponent and try to focus on only him instead.
The extra focus has the opposite effect.
Once my eyes lock onto his broken body, the energy level turns up to eleven, magnifying my readings on the fighter as if he’s been put under a microscope. I feel every cell in his body working desperately to keep their host alive. It’s way too much for me to understand, my head starts to ache in retaliation.
After much effort, I ‘zoom’ back out and attempt to just survey his outer injuries. He was sorta handsome at the beginning of the match, but now he’s far from it. His left eye is swelling up pretty bad and his lip is cut wide open, bleeding down the front of his chest.
I don’t care what Chezzy thinks, I gotta end this sooner rather than later. I can’t stand this; I can feel his pain, his fear. All his emotions bleed into his aura much like his blood seeping out of his wounds. Seeing his despair paint the air in dark colors is making me feel something I haven’t felt in a long long time.
I need to get home and figure out what the hell is wrong with me. I shouldn’t be feeling anything, and I certainly shouldn’t be worrying about what other people are feeling. Didn’t I learn that lesson back at the Institute?
My competitor slowly starts to rise back up and shakes his head haphazardly. No doubt trying to shake away the concussion I just gave him. His blood sprinkles the musty floor mats with bright red dots - a canvas of pain and regret.
“Any last words?” I ask him. The words feel forced as they fall from my lips.
“Yeah, go to hell you bitch!”
The intoxicated crowd all jeers in unison. I’m usually not remorseful about getting rid of these wanna be killers, but feeling the panic coursing through this guy makes me feel like the monster I truly am. It makes me hesitate, which I never do.
I sense his nervous frustration, and before he actually moves, I know the exact moment he chooses to rush me. It’s strange to see his emotions through the lens of his aura: he attacks out of anger and pride, but he knows subconsciously that his life is going to end soon, so it's mostly out of cowardice. I don’t have time to give his feelings any more thought, as he charges forward.
I quickly match his speed and meet him in the middle of the ring, my years of mind numbing training taking over. I slide underneath his outstretched arm, grab his wrist and pull up. His own momentum painfully yanks his arm out of the socket. He yells out and falls to his knees as I quietly mutter my usual parting words.
“Meet you in the next life.”
I quickly snap his neck, causing the crowd to roar loudly in excitement. I step back and look at the life I just took. The wall of cold stone emotionlessness deep within me cracks just as loudly as the mans neck. I can hear the sound echoing around me even above the obnoxious audience.
As my feet find their way off the mat, I use all my remaining strength to patch the fractures splitting my mind before it becomes irrecoverable. As I do so, the electric mind radar goes black.
After sanitizing and a change of clothes, I meet Chezzy at the door as he counts out my credits.
“Cuttin’ it a little too short tonight, Kavirra. I already got people breathing down my neck, thinkin’ I’m cheatin ‘em, wantin’ money back. You should lay low for the weekend, kay? Stop scarin’ everyone away. In fact, make it two weekends!”
I let out a shallow laugh.
“Whatever you say Chez. This place is starting to bore me anyway.”
He shakes his head at me quizzically.
“I certainly never understood why ya waste your time roughin’ up these poor boys - we both knows you don’t need the counts.”
“Ya, well it just looked like so much fun.”
Chez just nods his head, losing interest in our conversation to count the remaining credits in his accounts. I grin while walking away.
Chezzy has a way of growing on you. For being in charge of a fight club, though, the guy is comically a pacifist. I guess I’m going to have to find some other activity to keep me busy when my real work isn’t. And real work seems to come less and less these days. I guess the Illuminati finally ran out of people for me to kill.
My studio apartment is about ten blocks from the club. The walk home is a good cool-down, but I hate having to smell the air in this disgusting city. Even the cool breeze coming in from the bay can’t whisk away the musty stank. You’d think that with all the great tech we have now, we could clean up the old cities a bit. But just like everything else, only the Pures up in the sky cities have the privilege of comfort and wealth.
Little worker ants don’t need to smell good, they just have to work until they die.
I look at the disintegrating buildings around me - such a shame that this world has gone to absolute shit. I’ve seen holoscans of what Earth looked like in its prime. The place use to be breathe taking! Now everything is dried up and polluted. All the churches empty and the graveyards full. I’ve never understood why we let everything get so bad. No one does anything about the the state of our planet, no one does anything about the barbaric fight clubs, no one does anything down here except work and die.
I guess there really is no one left to care, everyone is too busy trying to survive.
Even though this is the year 2222, we have essentially regressed back to the medieval era, just with better weapons. I wish things could be different, and I’m starting to wish I could be different.
I slow my pace a bit as my head starts to ache. That switch is flipped on again, and I’m instantly bombarded by the electrical readings coming from the thousands of San Fransisco inhabitants. This damn energy-radar is driving me crazy, I really need to figure out why it keeps turning on and off. I was hoping that it had permanently gone away after the fight, but apparently the ability was just “resting”.
As I approach a set of shadowy figures up ahead, my radar spikes. Once I'm close enough I can see that they are Wrecks and lower the threat level in my head. I arch as wide away from them as the side walk will allow. They know I have no interest in their business, and leave me alone. I dislike looking into their dead soulless eyes. These unfortunate women had their lives ripped away, some as young as twelve. An overwhelming sense of sympathy washes over me and makes me feel sick. These girls never really had a chance.
But then again, none of us down here really do. So why in the hell do I feel so damn bad for them?
A light fall drizzle starts to come down, sweetening the air with petrichor and making the concrete glisten. A tiny smile crosses my lips as I tip my head back and let the wet drops kiss my skin and curesses my hair. Rain feels like a new beginning, a sentiment I’ve always cherished, and one I could defiantly use right now.
I round the corner half-way to my apartment when I sense two people hurriedly walking my way. The readings are off though, like they are clouded or muffled. It doesn’t take long to see why as the two Illuminati R2.6’s approach me.
Uggh, what do these hunks of junks want? The Illuminati stopped patrolling the streets down here years ago, these guys shouldn’t even be down here. Out of instinct, I start appraising them and my surroundings. A wide red band around their metal arms mark them as retrieval drones. My employers usually only send these out to burn the dead bodies I leave behind. Did someone have a target in the area? Just as I try to pass them, they stop and block the sidewalk.
“Kavirra Saever, you are instructed to follow us immediately.”
I back up a few steps and try to put some distance between me and the R2.6’s. I know I should follow them, but I just can't. I know something’s not right here. In an attempt to quell my apprehension, I try to get more information about their intentions.
“Umm, yea. You’re gonna have to give me a little more information, like where exactly you’re taking me and why.”
“The location is not relevant. Your cooperations is required. This is a direct order.”
Alarm bells are loudly going off inside my head. My compliant mind demands that I obey and report, but my instincts know better. None of this makes sense.
I slowly slip my hand into my gym bag, searching for the familiar texture of a worn leather handle. The war going on inside my head makes me feel like a glitching holo. My brain is about to blow a god damn fuse. The cracks in my mental barrier keep getting wider and wider, letting so much flood through. I just can’t mindlessly follow these drones, so I guess today’s the day I officially start ignoring fifteen years of mind control.
“Aah, I see. Well sorry to disappoint you boys, but I’m pretty tired and plan on just going home. So send me a comm message and we can figure this all out on Monday.”
“This is your last warning, follow us or we will restrain you. If you resist, we have been cleared to use all means necessary to bring you in.”
Whoa! Okay, I really don’t like where this whole situation is headed. If they were given the okay to kill me if I resist then I don’t see things going any better where ever they’re wanting to take me.
“Dead or alive, huh? Who gave you these orders?”
“We are programed not to answer any of your questions.”
“Of course you’re not. Well that only leaves me with one course of action, and I’m gonna warn ya now, its not gonna be pretty for the two of you”
My hand finally finds what it was searching for, taking the sword handle out and up to my lips. I whisper my passcode to activate the blade. The tiny titanium sections slide out one by one and click into alignment. The extremely sharp edge begins to glow bright blue as it becomes super heated.
I raise the blade above my head and crouch in a fighting stance. My beautiful sword reflecting brightly in the rain puddles collecting on the sidewalk.
“Come and get it.”
The drones look at one another, confirming their intended actions with who ever is controlling theses goons. They look back to me, and to my surprise, the drone on my left equips two fifty-cal machine guns in place of it’s arms.
They’ve certainly upgraded since the last time I saw this type of drone- Its a little overkill in my opinion.
The drone on the right charges me with the precision and speed only a machine can posses. It maneuvers in front of me almost instantly, swinging reinforced titanium fists at my head. I duck under the punches and make a hard slice up. My sword connects, slicing the mechanical arm like butter as I simultaneously swipe out the machine’s legs from underneath it.
The second drone immediately starts firing in response. I stand and flip over the tumbling mechanical body in front of me, just barely dodging the machine-gun fire. Once my feet hit the ground, I lunge forward to close the distance between myself and the gunner drone. My movement is unpredictable, and the drone can’t react before I drive my glowing blade into its head. There’s a reason they still use human assassins even in this day in age- we’re still better.
It took less than a second, but in that time the other drone is already up and coming at me from behind. I position myself directly between the two drones, waiting for the right moment. When the charging drone is close enough, I move to the side and smile at the sight of one drone tackling another. I didn’t think disobeying orders was going to be so much fun! This should be a sport! I can’t even remember feeling the sensation of ‘fun’… Maybe when I use to compete with my classmates in Knife throwing competitions- That was fun I think.
I bring my attention back to the task at hand. I can already recognize how much of a distraction these emotions are going to be for me.
While they are both momentarily tangled, I swing back around, whipping my blade right then left. The heavy titanium skulls hit the cracked pavement with a loud clunk. The now headless bodies quickly begin to wander around aimlessly as they try to locate their missing appendages.
“Well I’d love to stay and help, but I need to be heading home... Ha! Get it? Heading...”
The poorly programed drones ignore my feeble attempt at humor and keep searching for their heads. No one is ever around to appreciate my terrible puns - the downside to the life of a loner-assassin I guess.
I switch my sword off, watching as the blade instantly cools and retracts. I need to get home like right now, so I take off in the direction of my apartment, taking a slightly different route. It won't take long before the drones reattach their empty heads and start searching for me again.
I can only hope that those two pieces of walking scrap-metal don’t actually know where I live. Nobody registers where they live nowadays, or even buys homes for that matter. 'Finders keepers' is the name of the game. If you can take it and defend it, it’s yours. So I should be safe from the wired idiots for a while.
My long graceful stride brings me two blocks closer to my home, but I come to a halt as I sense four cloudy figures running towards me.
More drones? Why in gods name are they trying to retrieve me? Dead or alive no less.
I don’t have time to think about what this might mean right now. Just gotta keep moving.
I turn down an ally and leap onto a fire escape. Climbing up with feline ease, I make it to the roof before the drones can see where I’ve gone. I pull my leg over the roofs edge right as the drones turn the corner of the ally. They do a quick scan and determine I’m not there - what morons. They didn’t even look up once!
That's what all the best tech gets you, stupid on two legs. They’ll upgrade their weapons, but not their programing. Completely idiotic.
I think that makes the Pures in charge of these drones the real morons.
I turn to start roof hopping back to my place, when I trip over a large fluffy thing at my feet. As I turn my head to see what brought me down, my gaze falls upon two light blue eyes, outlining a wet nose and a pink tongue hanging out the side of a furry mouth.
What in god’s name is happening tonight? Six drones try to terminate me, and now I trip over a giant dog on the roof. How did it even get up here?
After getting back up on my feet and brushing the gravel off my legs, I give the dog a stern look.
“Just so ya know, it’s not polite to lay right behind people and trip them. Now get out of here before someone makes dinner outta you.”
The dog continues to stare up at me and I swear he starts smirking at me.
“Fine, have it your way.”
I start towards the opposite edge of the roof when I hear four paw steps following behind me.
“Oooh no buddy, you can’t follow me! No way! Go back to where ever you came from - Shoo!”
The animal just looks up at me as if I’m the stupid one. Whatever, there’s no way he’ll be able to make it across the gap and onto the next roof anyway.
I sprint and leap over the eight-foot gap.
As my hands land on the edge I hit a vertical handstand, flip over backwards, and land on my feet in a crouch. I look across the roof to see if the dog attempted the leap, but he’s not there. Not wanting to check the ground just in case he did try but failed, I start to walk away when I trip on something fluffy yet again.
“God dammit! What the hell dog! How’d you even get over here!?”
He’s most definitely smirking now, which is starting to piss me off! I lean down and grab him by his wet nose and glare into his eyes.
“If you trip me again, I’m gonna make some comfy slippers out of you, got it? Now go somewhere else.”
Without looking back, I cross to the roofs edge and make the leap again, this time checking in front of me before I step.
Glancing around, there’s no sign of the dog on either roof.
Wow, maybe I’ve finally gone insane…
First, I have weird radar vision, then I imagine a giant wolf…
Ya, I’m definitely crazy.
I locate my secret roof-hatch and slide down the ladder into my living room. Sweet baby jesus, I’m home. My favorite place in the world. Nothing strange will be able to attack, trip, or magically appear in here.
The bosses pay me pretty damn good, so I treat myself pretty damn good. I tried to make this place feel like paradise compared to my hellish surroundings. I also had to live in military confinement the past fourteen years of my life. I believe a girl deserves a little luxury at least once in her life.
The far wall is lined with bookcases, filled with last editions of old classics. Big pillowy couches that are actually comfortable circle a huge fireplace along the parallel wall, and in the corner is my most prized jewel: an antique grand piano with a grandiose view. My floor-to-ceiling windows watching patiently over the decaying city below.
I love to just sit and look at this piano. It took more credits than I’d care to admit just to find the damn thing, and considerably more to get it up here. It was quite a hassle, but so worth it. Nobody plays music down here anymore, so it’s a real luxury. An old friend taught me, I try to play as much as I can in her honor. Music has been my dark secret throughout the years. I was very fortunate to have been able to learn.
I drop my bag near my bed in the opposite corner, then move to the kitchen. I pop open the antique fridge, praying that there will be food inside, but to my disappointment, there are only moldy left-overs. Looking over at the replicator, I consider just materializing some food, but that thing freaks me out too much. I prefer my food come from soil, not air particles. Real food is another privilege I pay a lot for, but tonight I may not have a choice.
As I close the fridge door, I see two blue eyes staring up at me and instinctually strike out. The white fluff ball yelps while jumps backwards.
“God! You scared me!...How’d you even get in here?”
Ignoring my question, he lays down to rub his snout where I jabbed him.
“Oh, it didn’t hurt that bad. We’ll call it even for all the times you’ve tripped me this evening.”
I bend down and search for some identification, and when I can’t locate any, I just study the giant pooch. How he’d get in here though, seriously…
“So, do you have a name? An owner perhaps?”
He just stares back at me, clearly still disgruntled that I hit him.
“So you’re just gonna follow me around now, is that it?”
I pause, waiting for his reaction. When I don’t get one, I tell him how it's gonna be if he stays.
“I’m not gonna feed you if that’s what you’re after, I don’t even have food for myself! And I’m not exactly pet owner of the year. You’re gonna have to take care of yourself. Ya got that?”
The dog doesn’t seem swayed by my statement. He seems determined to stay.
Dear god, am I really gonna let this shedding nightmare stay here? He is a beautiful dog… or is he a wolf? His coat is mostly white, with grey and black brindle around his face and down his back. He’s also huge, his shoulders easily reach my waist. Is he even a he? I lean over to check - he’s defiantly a he!
The dog eyes me suspiciously and then quickly sits down as if figuring out what I was looking for. I laugh to myself.
“Shy are we? ”
He’s clearly talented and smart if he managed to find a way in here too. I designed and installed state of the art security on the whole building. There are only a handful of people who could manage a break-in, and they all have opposable thumbs! That…or there’s a huge hole in my system. I’ll have to do a system check before I go to bed.
“Well, I’m going to go shower, and if you pee or shit on anything I’m gonna make good on my promise to turn you into slippers.”
I turn and walk into my lavish all-black bathroom, leaving the pooch to either succeed or fail my first test on his own.
After peeling off my drenched sports bra and boxing shorts, I turn on the sonic shower and step in. The cleansing sensation doesn’t ever feel quite as good as actual hot water, but with each layer of grime that disappears, my skins begins to glow.
For the first time since my first kill a million years ago, I pretend that the sanitizer is also cleaning the sins of the night as well. I don’t bother fantasying the machine cleansing all the dirt off my soul.- that would be impossible. My heart might as well be made of dirt and blood at this point.
I know I won’t ever be able to atone for all the atrocities I’ve committed.
And come one, who am I kidding? I’m really good at what I do, great even.
“A real talent,” my mentors use to say.
I think it’s obvious I was made to do this… to be a murderer, so why should I feel bad about it?
Why am I feeling anything at all? I haven’t been this recklessly emotional since I was eight. I know from experience that I’m gonna pay dearly for my disobedience tonight.
Once every last speck of filth is gone, I step out and stare at myself in the mirror. I usually like what I see, but right now I feel ugly... hollow…
When did I become so disconnected?
Is this me reconnecting?
In an attempt to compensate for the emptiness inside, I search my face for any redeeming features. I’m prettier than most, and I have a killer body - pun intended. It’s covered in one too many scars, but I think it’s still pretty hot. To my disappointment, however, everything I’ve just identified is physical, and ultimately not uplifting at all. I try to shake these ridiculous “feelings” by focusing on detangling the long mess of brunette hair knotted on top of my head.
Just as I finish wrestling with my hair, I notice something - my energy radar from earlier is gone again. It ended up being pretty handy tonight, perhaps it’s an extra ability they finally activated from my training… But why activate it, then try and kill me? Was this all a test? I’ll have to add it to my list of things to ask about, alongside ‘why did you send upgraded retrieval drones to kill me?’ and ‘please don’t torture me for defying direct orders!’
I’m pretty sure I know the answers to both of those two questions, but I really don’t want to think about any of that quite yet. Just like I also don’t want to think about how I’ve apparently adopted a giant fur-ball.
Exiting the bathroom, I walk to my closet and see the dog lying on the carpet by the bed. After a quick scan of the room doesn’t reveal any disgusting accidents, I’m momentarily pleased with the animal.
He lifts his head to look at me, and then immediately averts his eyes. I laugh out loud - What a strange dog.
“Don’t be such a prude. I’m sure you’ve sniffed plenty of ass.”
I reemerge from the closet after donning a large T-shirt and some underwear. Once I check for food in every last corner of the kitchen one more time, I resign my search and settle on a nutrition bar from one of the drawers.
Man I hate these things.
They’re designed to impart maximum nutrition within every bite, which automatically makes them taste like moldy cardboard. They’re also a painful reminder of my last year in the Institution. Spending twenty-four-plus hours hiding outside in the cold, covered in mud, just waiting for the shittiest of targets that none of the graduates wanted isn’t exactly my kind of fun. Especially when all I could eat were these awful things.
I’m so glad that ninety nine percent of my assignments these days don’t require me to camp out in B.F.E. for extended periods of time. They certainly tried to prepare us for every possible scenario in the Institution- Even the eventuality of our deaths.
The reminder sends chills down my spine and instantly raises my blood pressure. If they were terminating my contract, the least they could do is send another professional to do it! I think back to the day our instructors informed us that we all have an expiration date. All of us students decided right then and there, who would kill who when the time came. We even made a blood oath to each other before we graduated.
So what was with the drones? Was there no one left to send for me? That thought stops my heart beat for a second. The implication behind the Illuminati killing off all their own assassins isn’t a good one. As my enhanced brain goes to work, thinking of what that could mean exactly, I finish off my disgusting power bar.
I know better than most how cruel the Pures can be, but they never like getting their hands dirty, so I couldn’t be the last. They need us, don’t they? Maybe my joke about having no one left to kill was truer than I thought.
First things first, I need to find out if there is indeed a kill order on my head. I’m usually keen to the things going on in this city, maybe I should have a chat with a few of my sources. I’d hate to think that all the assassins were being terminated without my knowledge.
I go and sit on the floor next to Mr. Fluffy, leaning my back against the bed.
“What am I going to do with you? It looks like it’s about to get really dangerous to be around me. You might get caught in the cross fire.”
As I stroke his head and ears, he closes his eyes and seems to really enjoy it. I continue my pathetic rant as I pet my new furry therapist.
“I’ve learned to never get attached to anything. It can be used against you and be taken in an instant. Caring is weakness. Love is just a liability.”
I give a shallow laugh. Why am I saying any of this to the trespasser laying against my leg.
“You should take notes, because I’m giving you invaluable life lessons here Bub.”
He opens his eyes and gives me a very sad and knowing look, as if he feels sorry for me. He rests his head on my lap in a reassuring manner, and I can’t help but appreciate the gesture. I return the favor and begin petting his ears again.
“I really hate to admit to this, but since you can’t understand me anyway, what the hell. Having no weaknesses is kinda lonely sometimes. This is the first time I’ve ever even let anyone in my apartment - not that I really let you in... but let’s just say if I don’t die in the next few days, I might actually enjoy having you around.”
He gives my leg a small lick in agreement.
The rain starts to pick up as we sit in silence, listening to the AGV’s flying above, and the drunks yelling below.
What in the hell am I thinking letting this dog into my life? I know better than this…
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Deleted User: This is a very clever story in the style of 19th century (and turn of the century) Gothic writing, very reminiscent of Stevenson's The Body Snatchers or even of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (less so of Frankenstein itself, since the author is more minimalist than Shelley's florid, Romantic rhetoric). ...
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