Missing a kill shot is never a fortunate thing.
Especially now, when the world is in such... turmoil.
Bracing for an impact that never comes, I feel the searing heat as streams of red plasma hiss by.
Chunks of hempcrete explode all around me: it’s complete and utter chaos. Just an average day in the life of an assassin.
Fletcher’s gentle yet scratchy voice sounds in my ear. “Breathe deeply in... and let it out slowly. Calm your mind Aero.”
“Kinda busy now Fletcher.” I say aloud dodging a searing chunk of shrapnel. Sometimes I hated being so connected to everyone but I guess that comes with the territory of being an apprentice assassin.
As my mentor and Prime Assassin, it’s Fletcher's responsibility... No, his ‘duty’, as he says to lecture me.
“Now Aero, what did I tell you about breathing...”
“Goddammit Fletcher.” I say flipping over half-crushed and capsized sani-drone. “I’ll call you back when I’m not fighting for my life.” With that, I disconnect our Neuralink connection.
Fletcher’s voice rings once again, “I don’t appreciate when you hang up on me Aero. This is an important Z-drop. Our Hosts insist we recover it–at any cost. Also, see if you can reclaim one of the Anarchist’s goggles.” With that, Fletcher disconnected.
Neuro-telepathic communication, being one of the many technical marvels our new alien Hosts have granted us.
With all the technology innovations in the past three years, I feel more like a guinea pig since the Ascension. In a nutshell, Earth now has alien overlords, and we, the Assassin Core, are their dogs.
Fletcher gets pissed at me when I say that, but it’s true. He prefers the term, ‘servents of order.’
“Stop you little cyber-bloodsucking shit!” The red-masked time-shifting anarchist yells.
Turning with a cocky smile which he obviously didn’t see because I had my assassin’s mask on, I spit out, “who are you calling little? And I don’t technically suck blood jackass.” With that, I see my next move as it projects in front of me like a virtual map of future happen-chance.
My Neuralink activates again just in time to calculate the trajectory, speed and coordination necessary for me to pull off my now late, but still death-defying kill shot.
Projected lines light up my vision and create transparent, overlay geometries all around me. The data and statistics predict the success rate of each of my potential decisions: all calibrating and re-adjusting in real time. Neuro-geometric overlay, another cool feature of my Neuralink.
Fletcher, albeit annoying at times, is a genius and is the mastermind behind all the Neurotech innovations.
Should I jump? Swerve left, or right? Stop or keep running? Neuralink has ranked these as most practical options.
Another option, deemed less successful by Neuralink; is to launch myself off a solitary sani-drone who was autonomously cleaning the busted rubble.
My decision was obvious.
I launch myself up and over the drone, knocking it off kilter. As I twist through the air, I dodge three poorly aimed, red-hot plasma streams, while simultaneously executing a back flip over a stray cyber-rat punk on a beat up hoverboard.
The cyber-rats, were parentless, displaced kids that had overrun the Central District years ago. These days, they seem much more like cockroaches than kids. I know this, because I was one not long ago.
My breath calms, and I zero in on the anarchist’s carotid artery for the insta-kill. Everything slows down.
Now I’m Zen. Fletcher would be proud. Of course, he has selective timing and missed this show of athleticism.
In mid-air, I see the cyber-rat’s buggy eyes follow me, his dirty face stupefied.
He mouths something, and I can’t make it out, or don’t pay attention: I’m in the zone, as Fletcher would say.
Before I hit the ground, my psi-dagger slices through the man’s neck, cauterizing it instantly and delivering the no-mess, kill shot.
My psi-dagger, an absolute must for any assassin worth his coin, is a highly versatile and compact weapon. The blade isn’t solid, it uses psi-energy pulse tech–think, precise and high-devastation electrified laser knife. Another cool tech from our Hosts.
Like an oldschool boomerang, it inverts with several clicks, spins and snaps back into my open hand. I clip the now unarmed psi-dagger safely into my belt.
I have exactly one minute and thirty seconds to retrieve the Z-drop from the Anarchist’s body before it self-detonates.
Kneeling now, I look at the red goggles and contemplate whether I will attempt to pry them off again. Last time, I received a ferocious shock.
My gloved fingers wiggle with anticipation, like they instinctively recall the pain. Maybe if I used my psi-dagger. But that might damage them.
Shit, one minute left before detonation.
Unclipping my psi-dagger, it instantly energizes and I carefully bring it to the base of the Anarchists goggles without contact.
I can see the electromagnetic forces of both the goggles and my psi-dagger repel one another causing sparks. I need to make a decision quick. Time is running out.
To hell with it. I jam the dagger under the thick frame of the red goggles. A searing charge shoots up my arm and spreads throughout my whole body.
Instantaneously, I regret my decision.
After a bloodcurdling and guttural yelp, I see the Anarchists body several feet away and groan.
Shuddering like a gentrified old fart, aftershocks of the electrocution temporarily immobilize me but I’m grateful for my Assassin suit otherwise I’d be dead.
Ten seconds later, I feebly crawl back to the lifeless body. Fletcher’s gonna hear about this one. I’m done with those stupid goggles until the Core can develop some kind of anti-shock protocol.
Intensely, as much as my traumatized body allows, I rake him in search of the elusive Z-drop. Finally locating the disc around his neck, hidden in a cheap chain, tucked under his jacket, I rip it off.
Standing on wobbly legs, I stuff the glowing alien metal-alloy disc into my Z-drop cylinder housing unit on my belt. That is the technical term Fletcher calls my belt container: it’s really just an oldschool, magnetic coin-roll tube soldered to my belt.
Not as fancy as Fletcher makes it sound, but what it contains though, that’s the mission and is the purpose of the Assassin’s Core.
What we’ve found so far, is that each Z-drop predicts the next, and ultimately leads us closer to understanding who and why these Anarchists are terrorizing the Central District.
Each Z-drops contains an EDMC, or encrypted digital messaging code and is carried by all Anarchists so far.
Pulling my jacket sleeve back, I look at my wrist and the 7:45-50 STT–or Solar Transition Time as our Hosts would say, flashes in bright blue letters on my skin.
Ten seconds before the Anarchist detonates and makes a mess all over the corner of 12th and 12th, Central District.
That miserable sanitization drone will have a generator failure scrubbing that mess, although, I’m not too concerned because those drones are almost as plentiful as the cyber-rats.
Turning the corner, I hear the telltale hiss of the detonation algorithm: three seconds later, I feel the rumble of two-hundred pounds of organic matter discharging all over the hempcrete facade.
Like I said before, it’s disgusting.
I’m Aero, a cyber-vampire assassin who hunts time-shifting anarchists in order to recover these elusive Z-drops.