The only question left now would be how many assassins would be at the hotel? No doubt it’d be more than one. In fact, I expect three, and they’ll all be experienced. Not that it’ll matter but I can guarantee this: they’ve never dealt with someone as good as me.
I fill my backpack with a combination of normal and phosphorus 9mm rounds and several knives before zipping it up and then heading upstairs. Alex one again waves from where he’s working with a customer and then I’m gone.
My wrist computer vibrates and I push a button on the handlebars to link it to the speakers and mike built into my helmet. “Yeah.”
Janice spoke crisply and ignored the introductions. “I have your tickets ready.”
“When does the liner leave?”
“Four hours from now.”
“That should be enough time.”
“I got to get the Lacey’s shit. It appears she didn’t want to lie low and stayed at the Westin.”
“Great. You telling me to expect a shootout?”
“Not if I can help it, but the families need to understand what’s going on if there is.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Janice said. “I’ll take care of them.”
“I’ll check in later.”
Traffic continued to play holy hell with my timetable and I’m twenty minutes behind when I reach my place. After the events on Earth, I’ve always kept several travel kits ready in case I had to get off-world quick or have a job on another colony. I pick one up and then grab three of my numerous fake ID’s and stuff them into the inner pocket of my jacket. No telling what I might need to get back off earth, especially since I’m wanted there.
Lucky for me the police are expecting a red haired girl slightly younger than I am. Over the past year my body and face have filled in and I’ve started to look like a young woman, which would throw off their facial scanners. Throw in the fact I switched my hair back to brown when arriving here and the odds of them discovering me is low.
Now there was a new challenge: how to get Lacey’s stuff to the spaceport while riding a Ducati. I’d forgotten that it was a sport bike and not a cruiser so there wasn’t anywhere to store stuff except attach it to the back seat, which then mean no one could right. Fuck, why didn’t I think of it earlier?
It takes only one ring for Janice to answer. “Yeah.”
“I need you to carry Lacey’s stuff to the spaceport.”
“Figured at much. That’s why I’ve been waiting for your call.”
“How far away?”
“Six or seven blocks.”
“Be ready, this could be a hot hand-off.”
With that taken care of, I turned my attention back to the task at hand. As was the case just about everywhere I went, the security guard at the parking garage’s gate never looked from his holovid. He just presses the button and I follow the road until I reach the very bottom where I park the bike.
A quick check of the magazine and then a pull of the slide to chamber a round and I stuff the pistol into the holster under my cloak. With any luck it won’t come to a shootout, because there’s too many camera’s inside the building. If this happens I’ll have to leave Archernar for good because it won’t take the police long to figure out I’m Mareth.
The elevator stopped at the lobby and it filled with people before the door shut. I subtly look over the group and was about to dismiss them when I spotted an older man by the controls. We locked eyes and immediately I spotted another predator like myself.
So, the family had sent someone to kill Lacey, which answered my questions about whether this would be an easy job or not. See, the thing about mafia assassins is that high profile targets have more than one killer assigned to it. The idea was to send three different people, with none knowing the others were on the job, which would ensure the person’s death.
Except when I’m involved.
Gradually the car emptied out until it was just me and the man alone. We spend several seconds staring at each other, neither of us willing to make the first move, until he broke the silence.
“I don’t know who you are, but this is my job.”
“If you get in my way, kid, I’ll kill you.”
“What makes you think it’ll be that easy?”
“Here’s some free advice: stay out of my way.”
“Hey, fuck face, here’s some advice for you. Get the fuck out of here before I kill you.”
He reaches for his jacket and I explode into motion and cross the car in three steps. I drop my shoulder and ram the tip of it into his chest, sending him stumbling back to strike the wall with his back. A grunt of pain is my reward for a job well done before stepping back.
I never saw the blow coming; one minute I’m standing there, the next my face explodes in pain and my vision goes black for a split second. A metallic taste fills my mouth as I stumble backwards and then gather myself. The killer narrows his eyes and then smiles, taunting me, telling me that he’s better than I am.
Fuck that, I thought before spitting the blood out of my mouth.
“Too bad, kid,” he said. “But you’re out of your league here. Now leave me alone.”
“Yo, dickhead, I’m not through with you!”
In a move that took the man by surprise, I leapt across the car, juked to the left to miss the fist flying at my head, and then slammed a hard right uppercut to his chin. The blow staggers him backwards and I start to press the advantage. Strike after strike, I pummel him, pushing him back until he’s pressed against the wall. A quick knee to the balls and he doubles over, allowing me to grab his head and yank it down to meet my knee as I yank my leg up.
The sound of bone cracking is satisfying and he goes limp. Well, that solved one problem, now what to do if someone is around the elevator landing when the car stops. With any luck no one will be there otherwise I’ll have to kill them; wrong place and the wrong time.
In a rare stroke of luck, no one is waiting so I take a quick scan for security cameras. None are in sight to I grab the man by his arms and drag him into the closest linen room. I lift up the opening to the laundry chute and then kneel down and take the man’s head in both arms. A violent twist and his neck snaps like a twig, and his body goes completely limp.
God, I thought as I grunted and struggled to lift him up to the chute, what the fuck has he been eating? And entire fucking cow?
I get him over the edge and then let go of the assassin’s legs. His corpse banging along the tube makes a good dose of noise until he reaches the bottom and them things were silent again. It’s at this point in the James Bond or Swartzenegger movies that the I should make a one liner but I’m at a loss for words so it won’t happen.
Why the fuck couldn’t Lacey have used the noggin of hers and stayed somewhere that killers wouldn’t look? I mean, my jaw hurts like hell and the corner of my mouth won’t stop bleeding and for what? Because the dumb bitch wasn’t willing to give up her high end living. Once again, can someone tell me why I took this job?
Of course the answer was obvious and that’s the part that made me sick. I saw the seven million dollars and immediately jumped at it. If I’d only slowed down long enough to find out what the catch was, then maybe I’d be just killing folks instead of having to pretend to be a body guard. Oh well, sometimes I’m stupid as shit and this is one of those times.
I wipe the corner of my mouth one last time and then head for Lacey’s room. There wasn’t a point in continuing to kick myself over taking the job; I did and there’s no backing out of it now. All I could do was carry it out and hope for the best, which wasn’t saying much.
The room looked like a tornado hit and there were clothes everywhere. To an untrained eye, it looked like Lacey had tossed her things around but that wasn’t the case. No, someone went through her stuff, looking for any hint as to where she went and when she’d be back.
So I was right, and there was more than one killer chasing after her. While not unexpected, it would complicate things tremendously because now I’d have to keep an eye out for at least one more hitter until we board the ship. Once we get there, it’ll be harder for them to hide and then things fall firmly into my corner.
How can one day go from so orderly to being the biggest cluster fuck in a while? This morning was like any other, I went to class and then went to Alex’s for target practice. Now, they’ve got me playing protector to a girl I obviously didn’t really know, which is never a good thing.
A smart person, and I fancy myself to be one, would say “No Deal” and then walk away. And in all honesty, it’s what I should do, but fuck, man, seven million dollars is a lot of money to throw away. If for some reason I had to run from Achernar, it be more than enough to start a new life, get some surgery and go back into business under a different name.
I pull the pistol out and then slowly start to move around the room. If anyone were hiding in here, the closet or the bathroom would be the most likely place they’d be. Wouldn’t be hard to expose someone there, because they’d try to hide into the shower, but the closet would be another thing.
The soft whisper of the overhead heating vent was the only sound as I made my way across the room. After every couple steps I stop and check every angle and shadow that an enemy could hide in. One thing that could be said for Tom and his cadre of dirty cops was that they trained me to be ready for anything that could possibly be thrown at me.
Twenty minutes later I’ve checked every inch of the room and am satisfied that it’s clear. Right away a major problem emerged with Lacey and our traveling. She had entire too much shit with her to move fast if trouble struck. Haircurlers? Pens for changing the color of her synthetic nails? Was this girl serious? None of this shit should matter to her since she was running for her life, yet it did.
After what seemed like an eternity, I have two bags packed and I leave the room. Thankfully two are backpack type backs so I sling on over my right should and another on the left, which helps to conceal the pistol in my hand. If someone made a move then Lacey would just have to deal with the holes in her clothes because the nothing was worth more than my life.
A couple passes me and the odor of booze hangs around for a few seconds after they pass. People getting drunk off their asses always seemed stupid to me because all it did was slow their reactions down, giving an attacker that key split second that differentiated between life and death in a fight. But, what the hell do I know?
The ride down to the parking garage is uneventful but I remain vigilant as ever. If there was one thing dear old Tom taught, it was never to take things at face value. Just because things seemed quiet didn’t necessarily mean they would stay that way, which is something I remind myself as I attach the bags to the bike and then start the motor.
Just as when I arrived, the guard didn’t pay any attention to me as I left. Good, that meant no one had found the man’s body yet. I’ll be long gone before they ever do and hopefully will have Lacey at the space port by then.
I place a call to Janice and she answers on the first ring.
“It’s me,” I said.
“You got everything?”
“Left some unnecessary shit behind. There was another killer there.”
“What did you do?”
“He’s getting dry cleaned.”
“Who was he?”
“How the fuck do I know? I didn’t ask for his goddamn name.”
“That’s a stupid fucking question.”
“The transport for the ship leaves in two hours.”
“I’ll be there.”
“You just be ready when I drop this shit off.”