Chapter 30: Wait For Me
The Nephilim weaved in and out of the crowd as she made her way through the commercial district, allowing her to remain incognito as she stalked her target.
The data she had stored identified the target as Sonia Sabbatini, known drug queen and arms dealer. It was thanks in part to her merchandise that various areas in Africa and Asia continued to be ravaged by poverty and chaos, even as their neighbors experienced slow, but steady economic growth.
The people in her areas of operation shared common characteristics; for one thing, a bare few of the total population in these areas controlled sizable chunks of the economies of their respective countries. This was in stark contrast to the rest of the population who were mostly poor and drug dependent, in addition to being caught in tribal conflicts and turf wars fought by no less than their own children.
Capping off her list of crimes was her status as a financial backer of the Assassins. It was bad enough that her actions ran counter with Abstergo's, thought Siren as she watched the target enter a condominium – Silkwood Place, according to her internal GPS – from a safe distance away.
Ultimately, her collaboration with their mortal enemies was what led to her being marked for death.
When Siren came out of the elevator on the seventh floor, Sabbatini was but a few feet away. She no longer needed to follow; the target might become suspicious, and in any case, the information provided by their allies told her exactly where she stayed. And so it was that she went to a closet at the opposite end of the hallway, where she procured a maid outfit that had been left specifically for her.
Finally, having finished changing, she made her way to room 727, equipped with all the tools she needed for her work.
The irate expression on Sonia Sabbatini's face as she greeted the maid persocom at the door was explained by the fact that she'd barely just settled in her room. She hadn't been back for half an hour, actually, she thought as she eyed the persocom like a snake would its next meal. Didn't these things come programmed with the concepts of good manners and right conduct, at least?
"Good morning, ma'am," greeted the persocom, bowing at the waist as she opened the door. "Pardon me, but a person claiming to be an associate of yours left this for you at the front desk."
Sabbatini was puzzled; she'd gone there just a while ago, and there hadn't been anything. Of course, it was possible that whoever it was missed her by just a few minutes, so…
"Oh, alright," she said to the persocom, who just stood there.
"Well?" Sabbatini prompted impatiently. "Let's have it, then!"
Cables shot out of the persocom's ears like tentacles and throttled Sabbatini by the neck, lifting her bodily into the air as the persocom entered the room and closed the door behind her. She could feel the pressure on her neck intensifying as she struggled, kicking in vain at the persocom in an attempt to free herself.
"You–" Sabbatini gasped with difficulty, her vision growing black from her rapidly depleting oxygen supply, "Why me–?"
But the persocom said nothing as she pulled a silenced pistol from out of her frilly apron, cocking it before levelling it in front of her and then pulling a trigger.
A flash of light, then a burst of pain.
And the next moment, everything was gone.
After locking the corpse in the bathroom – having left the pistol in her hands before propping her up on the toilet – the Nephilim opened the sliding doors to the balcony.
This first mission of hers went successfully enough, though she could probably have done with finding a more discreet way to dispatch her target. She'd been told to make it look like accident if possible, and if she were to do that, strangling Sabbatini to death probably wasn't the best choice. The way she'd left the scene, though, it passed rather convincingly for a suicide – at least, it should have.
It was moot and academic at this point, though. Regardless of how she'd done it, her first task had been completed, and that, at least, counted for something.
Returning to base.
Siren leapt off the railing, the wind whipping her face as she descended to the ground with arms wide open.
By the time he entered the dining hall after the morning's training session, Rei Mikage was bruised and aching all over his body.
He wasn't that resentful of the physical pain, thought Rei as he looked over the ham and cheese sandwich that comprised today's lunch. After all, it was to be expected that his training would inevitably include hand-to-hand combat. And besides, it wasn't as if he was a complete novice there anyway, given how his past self had gotten into all those fights.
It wasn't that he resented being beaten on, either. Rei realized perfectly well that the road he had chosen was not an all an easy or painless one, and Daniel had been kind enough to warn him ahead of time in any case. He understood that if he wished to become like Daniel and his crew, he needed the endurance and perseverance to make it through such trials. No pain, no gain, they said; therefore, by the same logic, a lot of pain equated to a lot of gain.
If nothing else, thought Rei, there was nothing he was experiencing now that his new comrades hadn't experienced before. Getting beaten in sparring sessions was hardly worth getting so worked up over, after all.
Rather, what did irritate Rei, was exactly who had beaten him.
For today, his opponent was some cute, red-haired girl; Reina, Pinocchio had called her. Her bright, cheerful demeanor couldn't but remind him of Freya's sister, and she also contained something of Shana in that she had a penchant for acting all cutesy and insisting on her own way, and then complaining loudly when she didn't get it. Oh look, it's some hyperactive schoolgirl type, I'm sure she's nothing –
Needless to say, getting beaten by a girl like that, was utterly embarrassing.
"Hey Rei, why don't you join us over here?"
Rei looked up from his lunch where, two tables in front of him, Daniel, Pinocchio and Mancini were waving at him and gesturing at him to join them.
"C'mon, you!" Daniel called. "It's not cool to be such a loner all the time!"
He sighed to himself as he transferred to their table and sit next to Pinocchio.
"Something the matter, Rei?" he asked, glancing at him as he cut up a slice of meat, "You seem sulky for some reason. You're not upset, are you?"
Rei merely grunted, giving a noncommittal answer in response to his comrade's inquiry as he took a large bite out of his sandwich. He definitely resented being beaten by a girl, but he wasn't petty enough to gripe about it. And besides, it was his pride –
A certain redheaded girl entered the dining hall and got her lunch, before walking over to their table. Much to Rei's chagrin, Daniel gestured for her to take her seat across him; it was all he could do to fiddle with the songs on his mobile phone to avoid having to look at her. Still, their eyes met for a moment, enough time for her to flash him a cute, yet somewhat seductive smile.
Well, she is kinda cute…
Oh shut it, you –
"Oh, I haven't introduced you two yet, have I?" Daniel remarked offhandedly. "This is Reina Carmine. She joined us around the same time you did, Rei."
"I see," Rei nodded. "Well, I suppose I'll see you around, Reina?"
Her response was a flirtatious wink and a V sign, which caused Daniel and the others to chuckle. Rei couldn't help but think that something was up, judging from their reactions. It was as if they were enjoying this somehow. Like they were having a laugh at his expense.
And the next words out of Daniel's mouth only served to confirm it.
"You'll take care of her, won't you, Rei? You'll be partners from now on."
Rei bit his tongue.
"Oh, yeah. 'Scuse me, guys, I got something to attend to."
Daniel could barely choke back his laughter as he walked away.
Meanwhile, in the Kokubunji mansion's basement laboratory…
"Intruders last night?"
Yuzuki nodded in response to the question posed by Minoru as they stood before a long table, on which lay the same persocom she and Freya had personally disabled the night before, its arms and legs securely shackled. Beside her lay a pair of bracers she knew contained hidden blades, as well as at least half a dozen knives, each half a foot long.
It was just lucky she'd managed to hold out long enough for Freya to disable this enemy, otherwise…
Yuzuki didn't even want to think about it.
"Yes, Lord Minoru," she finally replied to his earlier inquiry. "There were at least six of them, but the house security systems dealt with the others. This one," she gestured at the figure lying before them, "Miss Freya helped me disable."
Which was true, in a manner of speaking; it was thanks to Freya's gift that she'd been able to put up a fight at all, while it was Freya herself who did whatever it was that finally forced this enemy of theirs to shut down.
"She suggested that we reprogram this persocom, actually."
"What for, though?" Minoru asked.
Yuzuki told him.
Analyzing the data she'd wrested from this one shortly before Freya shut her down told Yuzuki that this thing had been designed to support the offspring of the so-called Project Nephilim. The designation – PND-000 – could have told her that by itself.
What Freya had done had caused it not only to shut down, but to reset upon activation. The programming that had driven it to kill Minoru had been erased, along with all the combat data it had also possessed. As it was now, it was a blank slate, to be reprogrammed and remade by Minoru as he saw fit.
Yuzuki had a feeling she knew what Freya was planning. While Freya hadn't spelled out her reasons behind that particular suggestion, Yuzuki figured that Freya intended for them to reprogram this persocom, not just to erase its ties to Abstergo, but to spare it what Freya would have gone through had she not escaped.
"Yeah, that's pretty much it," said Freya's fragment that resided in her.
"I can't allow them to have more monsters like me running around."
Freya's voice was matter-of-fact as she said that. Nevertheless, Yuzuki was sure she could detect a hint of sorrow in the words.
An hour had passed since Siren dispatched her first target, and still she saw no signs of the police as she made her way through the streets.
Not that she was surprised; the way she'd done the job, it'd take at least a day before they'd notice something was wrong, and slightly longer to actually find the body there. Probably even longer than that, if their inside man had anything to say about it.
Either way, it was only her first hit. Satisfied as she was at her success, Siren realized that much remained to be done. She had a total of five targets, and Sabbatini had been of the lowest priority among them. She had neither the time nor the right to revel in her achievement, not while those four other targets yet drew breath.
Will you be proud of me?
As she made her way back to her mother, the Nephilim wondered just what her mother's answer to that question would be.
"Rei…" whispered Freya as she traversed the rooftops, her white robes fluttering around her.
Her travel time was short, as she'd arrived at her destination before she even knew it.
"I'll get you out of there. I promise."
Freya looked up at the mansion before her; Chateau Solange, it was called. It was his face that she saw, however, even as she continued to stare at the white walls. With some difficulty, she calmed herself, the better to focus on the task at hand. If all went well, she'd see him again, for real, soon enough.
Wait for me, Rei –
"Oh, hi there, Freya," said a voice.
"Don't worry about Rei; we're taking good care of him."
Freya felt herself flare up with rage as she turned to face Daniel Cross, standing before her with a faux-affable grin on his face.