Athol Novel Rough Draft Snippet 2-4-2014

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Combat veterans will tell people that on the battlefield, sleep is fleeting and when they did get some, it was always with one eye open. It’s much the same way for assassins; we never know if the police are coming or if someone will try to kill us because  we’ve eliminated targets.

This was the case tonight as I lay in bed looking at the ceiling, with my pistol in my hand. I can’t stop thinking about that assassin, and only a fool would believe that Julia was her name or that mine was Jessica, and whether it was bad luck that we encountered each other or did she hunt us out. Either way, the identity of at least one was known, which left me with the problem of what to do about it.

Gunfights on starships didn’t normally happen; that was something only seen in the movies. Even the military shied away from them unless absolutely necessary because the risk of hull ruptures preyed upon their mind. That meant the girl would have to make direct contact because there wasn’t a chance I’d let Lacey stop eating at communal tables. And when the killer did make her move, I’d be ready to care of her.

Lacey, damn her, is sleeping like a baby and snoring like a chain saw. How one human being can be so relaxed while being pursued beat the hell out of me. People have said that I’m cold as ice and don’t have any emotions whether it’s doing a job or being pursued but Lacey doesn’t have nerves of steel like me, she’s just plain stupid.

Either way, I’m stuck having to protect her and all I want to do now is go back to my apartment and eat Chinese food. At least there I could go back to being an assassin and not have to sit back and try to be a bodyguard to a dumbass bitch who didn’t have a clue how serious of a situation she’s in.

Its times like this that I love to take walks to give myself time to chew on the problem. However, that’d leave Lacey alone in the room and I’d be exposing me money maker to unnecessary risk. Second, I’d hate to have to face Janice after letting Lacey die and explain how we didn’t get the money promised. That’s one conversation I’d rather not have.

Fuck it, I thought as I entered the luxurious warmth of the shower.

Yes it was a risk to leave Lacey unguarded but I needed the time to myself. The number one rule in assassinations was to keep your identity a secret, yet this girl had decided to throw it away. That was just one of many unanswered questions that were rattling around in my mind as I exited the room.

The liner’s owners took great care to make the concourse and atrium beautiful, and that included how it was light during the “night time” hours. Streetlamps, each made to look like an oil lamp, lit the walkways and Christmas lights were wrapped around several of the trees. It made for an area that proved to be both peaceful and romantic at the same time; in fact, I bet even at this hour that there were couples having sex back amongst the shrubs and grassy openings.

A voice in the back of my mind screamed at me to be careful as my senses went onto high alert. If the other assassin was awake, this would be the perfect time to make a move. The area was dim, keeping a person from seeing more than a few feet into the trees, making it a great location for an ambush.

While anyone looking would see a non-threatening teen girl out for a walk, I was anything but. Since firearms were out of the question, nothing kept me from carrying a knife and its hilt bounced against my back as I walked. Let the other woman come; it’d be a fatal mistake.

Its times like this that I wonder what life would’ve been like if Dad hadn’t died. Of course the cold streak that allows me to be such a good killer would’ve remained, but would I have chosen the course Tom put me on? I’d love to say that it wouldn’t have but that’d be a lie. While it would’ve taken some serious work to keep my activities a secret, I still could’ve pulled it off.

Not that it mattered now; Dad was dead and Tom trained me to be a killer. It’s who I am and I doubt I could function in any other job now. Besides, could a normal everyday job allow me to make the kind of money being an assassin did? The answer would be no.

Going back to Earth wasn’t high on my list of things to do. Because I eliminated Tom’s cadre, thus saving the Darbytown Police Chief embarrassment, he allowed me to escape to another colony. In return, we’d agreed on the condition that I’d never come back to my home, which basically exiled me from ever visiting Dad’s grave.

Dad was a good man, everything that Tom wasn’t, and while I don’t think about him much, I do miss him. Birthday and Christmas were the best time of year; we’d get together, have dinner and just enjoy the day together. And he always knew how to give the perfect gift for every occasion.

Tom had always been cold, aloof and borderline assholish to me when I was growing up, so the thought of having to live with him had upset me as Dad slowly weakened from the cancer. I doubt any of us truly knew what my uncle was capable of until the night of the funeral and Tom raped me for the first time. This went on every day for three months until I’d learned enough from my training to have him begging for his life one night. From then on, he kept his hands off me.

Training to be an assassin is hard work; something that takes more than one day or one person. To be successful, I needed to know martial arts, marksmanship and how to hack into security systems of all types. So, Tom’s cadre of corrupt cops each handled a section of my training.

It didn’t take long for the five of them to realize I had natural aptitude for killing, and they made sure to take advantage of my cool nature. While most people would rebel against such manipulations, I reveled in it and my skills continued to grow to reach what you see today. So, in many ways I owe my success to Tom, which to be honest galls me to no end.

I round a bend and to my surprise the assassin is sitting on a bench with her legs pulled tight to her body. It makes the young woman look younger and vulnerable; almost as if she were an older version of me from the Tom years.

“You don’t need a weapon,” she said. “I’m unarmed.”

“Don’t mind me if I don’t believe you.”

“Can’t blame you.”

“I’m so glad you see it my way.”

“You know that you don’t have the slightest chance of protecting your little friend.”

“Bitch, I’m good at what I do. You won’t get close enough to kill her.”

“Give it up, Mareth,” she said, “you’re up against something bigger than you.”

“You know, I always wanted to go big game hunting.”

“I don’t know if you’re stubborn or a whole lot dumber, but adults are playing here. Keep sticking your nose into it and it’ll get chopped off.”

“I always wanted a nose job. This thing is entirely too big.”

“This is your only warning, Mareth. If you don’t back out, I will kill you.”

With that she gets up, turns her back to me, and then walks away. What the fuck? Did that bitch have so little respect for me that she wasn’t afraid of getting a knife to the back?

I’m tempted to run up and ram my knife into her back and kill her, but I’ve got the feeling it wouldn’t work. She was right: there was something bigger going on then I’d been told when taking on the job. And I doubt seriously that Janice lied to me either, which leaves one option: Lacey’s playing me.

If that was the case, what did the little rich bitch have to hide? And who the hell hired the assassin? To be honest, she’s frighteningly confident and skilled, almost as if she worked for the government. Christ, I hope not because that opens up a can of worms I do not want to deal with.

When I get back to the room three hours later, I’m relieved to see Lacey up and preparing for breakfast. Maybe if I’m lucky the girl will tell me what’s going on if I badger her enough. More than likely, she’ll just deflect the questioning and leave me in the dark as usual, so I stop and send a quick text message to Janice.

“Good morning,” Lacey said.

“That depends on your definition of ‘good.’”

“Huh?”

“I had a little encounter with our assassin this morning.”

“Oh, is she dead?”

“No, but I’d like to know why she’s telling me I’m involved in something bigger than I know.”

“Damned if I know.”

“Fuck you, Lacey. Goddamn it, you do know what’s going on! I need to know if I’m going to protect you.”

“Now you listen to me, Mareth,” Lacey’s tone is colder than ice, taking me by surprise. “I’ve told you everything there is to know. Just do your goddamn job and go back home.”

“I don’t know who’s fucking worse,” I grumbled. “You or that prick Tom. And you know what happened to him.”

“Are you threatening me, Mareth? If you are, that’s not good for your long term health.”

With that, Lacey stormed into the bathroom and slammed the door behind her. Where the fuck did that sudden cold streak come from? Yes, I know that Lacey isn’t who I thought she was in school, but up to that moment she’d been some ditzy playgirl. Now, she shows that she can piss ice water and I’m not sure what to do about it.

My computer vibrates to let me know that Janice has answered. The message is brief, to the point, and I raise both eyebrows before closing and then storing the message. It would be useful later.

Since I have nothing better to do, I take a seat and wait on Lacey. Knowing her, it’ll be another hour at least before she’s ready to go to breakfast so might as well get comfortable.

Exactly one hour later Lacey exits the bathroom and starts to get dressed. My instincts are screaming bloody murder because all signs of the coldness from before is gone and it’s been replaced by the ditzy childishness of before.

“Ready for breakfast?” She asked.

“Yeah, I’m starving,” I lied.

“Lead on.”

It’s not often that someone gets the drop on me, but when they do it’s always a doozy. Soon as I open the door, something heavy hits me in the stomach, making me stagger as my breath rushes out in one large wave. Metal gleams in the bright lighting before the pistol slams into the side of my head, causing my vision to black out for a moment, and I fall to the floor.

The Asiatic woman steps over me and then starts to move towards Lacey, who freezes. Simply breathing is a challenge as I try to overcome the pain in my stomach. What the hell did that bitch hit me with? A two by four?

“It’s over,” the assassin said. “You should’ve stayed on Mather Nine and made this easier for both of us. Now I got to kill Mareth too and my bosses aren’t going to like that.”

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