I know this is quite long, so if you don't want to read it don't feel obligated.
That being said, this is a book that I have been writing for some time and someday plan on publishing. I would love to hear feedback, even if it is criticism
As an aside, you are the first people other than my cousin Gamewiz to see this
Thanks and enjoy!
*NOTE* I am contemplating making this a book geared toward adults by adding some more mature language to instill a sense of realism. (nothing over-the-top) Let me know what you guys think of that too
*Other Note* I tried to tab out all the paragraphs but it didn't work so I had to separate them all.
“So after time, and the restabilization of the land, the Confederacy resumed control over Europe proper and secured 100% dominion over the Uprising, eventually leading to the…” the Professor lectured to the class.
Her lectures were always so dull, especially the History and Government ones. River much preferred her Physical Education courses. Running, Sparring, obstacle courses; these were the things she enjoyed. Plus, they got to get out of the ridiculously boring school uniforms. She was proud of her figure, and rather liked Wills too.
She shot a quick glance in his direction. He was seated right between her and the window, and as she looked at him, his face jerked away from her and his eyes locked on the professor. For such a good looking guy, he was awfully shy. To River, that just made him cuter. She despised the popular guys for their pride. It made her sick, like they thought themselves better than her, like they would be doing her a favor by sleeping with her or something. But Will, he was a genuine young man, and his lack of self-confidence made way for his purity, and his humility. Not to mention he had excellent… features.
As she shot a glance toward the Professor to make sure she would not be discovered, she slipped a note beneath his thigh. He nearly leapt clear out of his desk, startled by the sudden invasion. River couldn’t help but let out a giggle. Thankfully, the Professor didn’t seem to notice. She was still rambling on about the old wars, meaningless babble to River.
She looked with a smile as she watched Will read her words. She normally thought it tacky for the girl to ask the guy out, but she knew Will was way too shy to every go out on a limb and ask her, and it made her tingle to see him blush. He scribbled something sown and passed it back to her.
‘Ok, what would you like to do?’
‘How about you’re the guy so you plan the date?
As she passed her reply, the teacher struck Rivers hand with her pointer.
“How many times must I tell you to pay attention, River!” she shouted. Without warning she shoved her sharpened pointer through River’s throat.
River emerged from the gelatin coated liquid pod like a child emerging from the womb, unable to breathe, grasping her bleeding neck. In an instant she remembered everything, and simultaneously was completely unsure of what was happening. She remembered the Conditionings, and could explicitly remember her recent life inside the facility, but had no recollection of who she was, where she was from, or why she was here. She forgot these things because they were unimportant, or at least that’s what they told her.
She knew they were watching her struggle, lying naked on the floor, bleeding and still unable to breathe, but she also knew they wouldn’t help her. Help was for the weak. They needed her strong. She looked around, the room lit by only the dim light of the containment pod she was just inside. The green haze created by the light and the slime over her eyes made it so difficult to see. As she wiped the mucus from her face she could discern machinery and mechanical and electrical components, used to create the dreams from inside the liquid prison. She saw lab equipment that uploaded her brain functions onto the computers and processed it as data to be analyzed by the specialists who studied and refined her. She vomited as she pulled wires out from her mouth, forced down her throat before her dream was induced. She hurled them at the one way mirror that she knew the scientists were watching her from, leaving a sickening streak of bloody bile on the pane. She knew they were there, because she could hear them recording and analyzing her every action and brain function, both while she was in the dream state and as she emerged. She couldn’t hear them physically, but she knew everything that was happening in that other room.
River was a psychic.
It took her a moment to discern that she wasn’t waking up to another dream like she did just moments before, waking from the classroom dream into the laboratory dream. Less than a second after she woke up, the blinds opened, letting sunlight fill the room. It was warm against River’s cheek as she slowly rolled over to check the alarm clock next to her bed, already knowing what time it would read. For the last 8 years, River had methodically woken up naturally at 7:00 am every single day without fail. However, this morning River felt slightly more agitated than normal.
It had been over a year since the nightmare had stopped recurring, and the fact that she had it again last night set her on edge. She thought she was past it, that she had moved beyond the point of dwelling on the past, and had settled on focusing on the present. She knew that most of the nightmare was in truth what had actually happened, even though the details might not be entirely accurate, but what she didn’t know was what in the dream was the truth, or what her mind had made up, or what was put into her mind during the Conditioning.
Ugh, the Conditioning. They honed her mind, sharpened her psychic skills and refined her abilities, they told her. It felt more like torture to her. She would never endure it again if she was presented the option, but she had to admit, they did something right through all the hell. She was the best damn psychic out there, not that there were many, and not that anyone knew who the psychics were except the other psychics and the ones who “created them,” mainly higher-ups, or Influencers in the Confederacy and their lackeys, and psychics and the Influencers of the Confederacy made a point of avoiding one another. Most citizens of the Confederacy didn’t even know they existed.
She rolled back over and out of bed, the sheets slipping off her on her way to the shower. She didn’t bother to pick them up, it’s not like anyone would see them anyway. She lived alone, never getting married after her time at the Conditionings came to an end and she was unleashed upon society. She tried to have a boyfriend at one time, just to see what normalcy was like, and she soon realized it would never be within her reach. As a psychic, and a good one at that, she could control her mind to do just about anything she wished, short of change anything in the physical realm.
She could read the thoughts of others, initially their conscious thoughts, what they were thinking at the moment, but in a instant she could enter into their subconscious and discover whatever information she wished about them or anything they had ever been exposed to, and be finished before they had even completed processing their current thought. They would have no hint at the intrusion, no matter how deep she went, unless they themselves were a psychic, and even then she could venture a little without being caught, if they had their guard down. The only restriction to her ability was that her subject need be within line of sight, or if her vision was blocked by an object, within earshot for her to hear their thoughts.
She could also broadcast her thoughts to another person, or persons, provided they were within her line of sight, or earshot if her LOS was blocked. A skilled psi such as herself could control the fervor of her thought so as to make the listener aware that it was she who was broadcasting, or to mask her thoughts as that of someone else, like another psi, or even to make the listener believe it was their own thoughts they were hearing. Many times she persuaded others to do what she wished of them by convincing them that their own conscience was compelling them to do it. The weaker the mind of the individual, the easier they were to manipulate.
She had even been taught how to use her mind as a weapon, in a sense, a biological EMP, disabling not all technology, but rather flooding any mind or minds she focused on with so much thought information all at one time, that they essentially shut down, and depending on how powerful she focused it, she could subdue, or even kill. The only downside, the inevitable downside, is that this biological EMP drained her of energy, the amount increasing proportionally to how much focus she put forth, making it a last ditch effort which she rarely used. Lesser psychics didn’t even dare to attempt to use the ability, but she was the best.
So, because of all these abilities, after she left the compound, River found life in society to be too daunting. Her perception of humanity dwindled every day as she saw nothing but greed, lust and evil intentions written on the minds of everyone around her. Yes, there were beacons of light, but they were few and far between. There weren’t many Will’s out there. Her one failed attempt at a normal relationship ended not even a month after it started. He was truly a wonderful man, but his mind harbored many evil things. River knew she had her own faults too, but she had the advantage of keeping them secret. Unfortunately, in the case of relationships, her abilities were a curse through and through. She knew she would never find a perfect man, but living with someone and always knowing what they think of you at any given moment, their disappointments, their angers, their lusts, is unbearable. All were things they would never say aloud, but all were things she could hear nonetheless. Obviously she couldn’t tell him she was a psychic, or he would have left, but that didn’t help her stay. She resolved that she would remain alone, and she accepted it. On occasion she felt lonely, but she forced the feeling past. Besides, in addition to being what she was, her profession would make it difficult to maintain a family, let alone a relationship.
Psychics were originally researched into and trained for the purpose of developing a more effective method of spying on members of the ruling class within the Confederacy, making sure that the subordinates were all behaving for the actual men and women who ran the show.
They were known as the Influencers, the wealthiest of the wealthy, and they used their wealth to control from behind the veils of protection that they set up, and gave orders to the psychics through various methods of communication, from emails to video messages to holograms, none of which the psychics could read their minds through. They made well certain that they would never meet a psychic in person, allowing them access to their minds. They had too much to hide, which made no difference to River. After they used their spies for a while, the Influencers determined they weren’t tapping the full potential of the psychic abilities at their disposal. Nearly every time they spied on someone, that person was found to be conspiring in a manner that harmed the Confederacy in some manner for their own gain, and were thusly assassinated. So after some time, the Influencers decided to cut out the middle man and have the psychics gather whatever information they needed to justify an assassination, and report when it was completed, unless no substantial evidence was found to give reason that the target was not fully loyal to the Confederacy. They were given free reign to use whatever means necessary, on the condition that it cost the Confederacy as little as possible. After all, the Resistance was becoming more of a nuisance, but they also made an excellent target to blame for the assassinations.
River did not care for the politics involved. She merely wished to be left alone. She bought a house outside the capital city of the Confederacy, New Hope, and there wasn’t another house for miles. She preferred her solitude to living surrounded by thoughts she couldn’t help but hear, like being in a room with everyone speaking at the same time, and nobody listening but her, yet she could discern every thought from every person she could receive from at once. Peace and quiet were her friends.
Her house was a two-story, overlooking the city from a hill, surrounded by a forest. There was a small brook running alongside the house, with a waterfall in plain sight out her bedroom window. She liked the way the moss grew undisturbed on the rocks, the shadows from the leaves covering them as the light gleamed off the stream. It was here that she felt like she belonged.
But in order to remain there undisturbed, she needed to fulfill the obligations she had to the Confederacy, namely, the contracts they sent her. She would periodically receive a message from an Influencer with a target and a time frame, and she would be at work. She felt no remorse in killing those she was sent to kill. After searching their minds she found that they were truly despicable people, corrupted by their power, and traitors to the Confederacy. Even though she didn’t care for the politics, nobody likes a traitor.
She was happy though when the Confederacy stationed her at New Hope. Even though there were more contracts here than at the outer rims of the Confederacy, where life would have been more peaceful, there were also 3 more psychics in New Hope merely because of its size, compared to each of the other cities having only one psychic to handle all the jobs. Here she only did a fraction of the jobs, and since she was the best she only did the most difficult, while the other psychics did the rest. So because of all these things, she actually worked the least out of all the psychics, and that was fine with her. But when she did work, she was magnificent.
She did her job to the utmost. Infiltrate, gather information, assassinate, and slip away before anyone knew she was there. Some psychics preferred a more straightforward approach, running in guns blazing and cutting down anyone in their path to their target, which made it easier for the Confederacy to blame the Resistance, but that was also why they were not the best, and could not handle the hardest contracts. They relied more on their physical prowess and less on their mental abilities.
River always only worked with the same weapons, 2 silenced pistols, with enough extra ammunition for any circumstance, a fan of knives, and 2 Kodachi. She preferred close combat because it allowed her to utilize every psychic ability she possessed to their full extent. In addition, most adversaries failed miserably at close quarters combat, preferring to fire from the safety of distance. Well, once distance is gone, they are no longer safe.
She entered the bathroom and turned on the bath. She liked the water to be as hot as she could stand it before it burned her. The slight pain caressed her muscles and eased the tension of a hard life, relaxing her amidst the steam. She lay there, in her own private spa, contemplating who she might have been before she was a psychic.
River hated work. That wasn’t really true, she hated having to go to work, especially on a perfectly sunny day when she could have taken her dog Max to the park and played Frisbee with him. There was rarely anyone else there, and Max loved it. She loved Max. Dogs were great; they didn’t have any qualities in her eyes that she didn’t love. They were noble, pure, and loyal and she couldn’t read their minds like she could a human. She could almost feel what his mood was in her spirit, but she couldn’t read his thoughts. She didn’t know if he didn’t have actual thoughts to read, or if it was an animal thing, but she liked to hang out with him. Plus it made her feel normal to have a dog, and less lonely to have a companion.
Work just got in the way of all of that, and chances were she wouldn’t be back in time to go to the park with Max, so she was in a sour mood. The only good thing about work was that it brought the promise of having the Confederacy off her back for a while, at least until they needed her again. And, when she was honest with herself, she really didn’t hate what she did either. She was good at it, she was helping the Confederacy in a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” kind of relationship, and she didn’t have to do it too often, so it never got old or dull. Plus, she could reinvent the wheel each time she worked if she wished. Nobody ever said there was a right way to assassinate someone.
Of course, she had her preferred method (dual Kodachi, which were similar to Katanas but shorter, making them better for close range combat, and a fan of knives for when the occasion called for it.) However, today she was tasked with the assignment of eliminating not one, but five Senators at once, all of whom were found to be corrupt according to the Influencers. Normally, they would have her scout them out and read their minds to determine whether or not they were corrupt, but these Senators were foolish, and poorly hid their betrayal. She didn’t even need to read their minds, and that was fine with her. For this particular assignment, she chose to bring along two silenced pistols, along with her normal array of blades and her other equipment she never left home without. If any one of her targets managed to escape, she would fail her mission, and be severely punished by the Influencers. Thus, she decided against the show of solely bladed combat. Although she could likely accomplish the mission, the guards that they would likely have with them would make the outcome too unpredictable to risk. So with pistols, she had no chance of failure. The Influencers would not likely kill their best assassin on account of one prideful error, but she did not want to taste whatever punishment they would surely give her.
Transportation was another area that had seen great leaps in due to the Confederacy, especially for an agent of the Confederacy, to whom they catered with whatever luxuries she desired to maintain her loyal effectiveness. They did not enforce their assassins with fear and threats, but with rewards and blessings. As she opened up her garage, River gazed with glee upon her various cars and bikes, including old foreign cars from before the war, and experimental militant ones developed specifically for the top agents in the Confederacy’s military, and that of course included River and the other assassins. However, her pride and joy was a bike that she herself had custom designed and paid for on the Confederacy’s dime. It was a one of a kind, and she loved it. Every time she rode it she couldn’t help but smile as she hovered only a few feet above the ground, soaring at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. The Confederacy had just started to create hover vehicles, and River’s was among the first of the hover-bikes, and was the first combat-ready hover-bike.
It hovered anywhere from 2-10 feet off the ground, depending on the terrain, and handled like nothing she had ever ridden before. The acceleration, the turning, and the maneuverability of the vehicle were extraordinary, and coupled with no need for traction, the vehicle was hard pressed to find anything it could not chase down, or escape from. She typically rode this vehicle when she worked, and every time she still felt giddy at the opportunity. Another major advantage it had was its combat readiness. Dual front and rear 10mm auto-cannons each with a 90 degree horizontal and 45 degree vertical rotation, and two frontal laser-guided small-grade missiles were guided by an on-board computer that could pick up her brainwaves and relay commands on what targets to attack, essentially allowing her to control the weapons systems with her mind. Her helmet linked directly into the computer, picking up her mental commands and feeding her optical array into it, which determined what the target specified in her commands was by tracing what she was focusing on at the time the command was given. The entire process was over before she had time to switch to a new target. The vehicle itself was a strike force to be reckoned with.
Again she felt herself smile as she was already halfway to the city.
When she arrived in the city she went directly to the building the Congressmen were to be in. Many of these men lived in extravagant homes that resided on top of great office buildings, which the Senators themselves owned. It was a symbol of status among the Senators, who constantly competed to gain the most wealth and influence in the Senate. These homes, more often than not, took up many stories on the tops of these skyscrapers and generally had entire floors devoted solely to entertaining other distinguished guests. Two story day spas, indoor pools that made Olympic pools look small, and other gestures of wealth were common among them. Most of them couldn’t actually afford the luxuries they lived with, but most of these Congressmen had the financial support of the Influencers, who basically owned them.
To the Influencers, these men were a face to their political endeavors. They bought Senators for votes, and influence in the Senate and with the people. They pulled the Senators strings, and offered money in exchange. The Influencers, a select few very, very, very rich men and women, ruled the Confederacy from behind the scenes.
Yet, some of the Senators that used the Influencers money did not hold up their end of the bargain. The Influencers did not pay good money to have their investments change the rules on them, so they utilized the services of another utility that they owned. The Influencers were all of like mind with the first Influencer, the man who supported and funded Michael Roland’s project to explore psychic possibility. Their only term to the scientists in return for their funding was the control over whatever psychics that were born of the program. When it turned out to be an outstanding success, more in the amount of progress than the number of legitimate psychics, they Influencers found themselves the owners of a new breed of weapon. These psychics were the perfect asset to help encourage the Senators to stay in line, or remove them from office if they did not.
River was on her way to relieve five such men from their duties. She neared the building, parking her cycle just around the corner. She looked up and gave a small wave to a traffic camera. She knew the Influencers would take any tape of her in the city that day and destroy it to conceal their assets, so she felt very confident in that wave. She planned the course that she would take on infiltration and execution the previous day, taking into account unexpected details and backup plans. Barging in through the front door would be too tacky, and leave the Senators too much time to escape before she could reach them. Playing the invited guest and working her way casually to the room would bring her to too many checkpoints, all of which she would fail. Using the air ducts was way too cliché and she felt like trying new things.
No matter what, River decided she would never degrade herself to becoming the charge in with guns blazing, shoot-em-up cowboy type of assassin like some of the other psychics had become. One of them in one of the outer provinces blew up the entire building his target was in. That showed an extreme lack of class and skill in River’s opinion. The Influencers weren’t too happy about it either, and sternly warned him not to let it happen again, and removed his fingernails, replacing them with a concentrated mixture of hydrochloric acid tablets, burning his exposed flesh severely. The only reason they didn’t kill him right off, or at least the only reason River could think of, is that they could so easily blame it on the Resistance.
That style of completing a contract was foreign to her. She preferred to use the contracts to sharpen her skills, finding ways to make already difficult jobs harder. For that reason, she decided to implement the strategy she had chosen.
The first thing she needed to do was to establish a visual, either physically or mentally on all five targets, and wait until they were all together. She could kill them all one by one, as long as she did it before the others had a chance to find out and escape, which wouldn’t have been too hard, but she wanted to make it challenging. Also, she was getting paid to kill the Senators, and not their bodyguards, so why do more work than need be? There was another building on the same side of the main street right across a side alley from her target building that provided an excellent visual vantage point of her target area. This building was a few stories taller, totaling 35 stories off the ground, and the top few stories were under construction in order to accommodate the company’s CEO being recently elected into the Senate. He was, ironically, one of the five Senators she was going to kill that day.
The CEO/Senator had the construction crews set up external elevators to haul up equipment and supplies without disturbing the business too much that operated inside the building. It was right after noon, and the workers had gone down into the company cafeteria for lunch, so River used the opportunity to take the construction elevator to the top. She would have to admit that she wouldn’t have wanted to ride it to the top with one and a half tons worth of equipment on board. As she looked down from a beam towards the room she knew they were in, like a hawk looking at a rabbit hole, she searched the building for the location of her targets. The windows were all tinted glass, creating a mirror effect that seemed to go on forever with the hundred or so other buildings in the city with the same windows, making whoever put them in a very happy man.
He probably ended up an Influencer, River thought to herself with a chuckle. She spotted her portal into the location of her prey. A man dressed in black wearing a wire in his ear, obviously one of the Senators’ bodyguards, came onto the roof, checking that the coast was clear. She searched his mind, and instantly gathered his last known location of the five Senators. They were all in the steam room, which she instantly got directions to via his mind, and had been there for the past half hour. They were just getting started, so they would be there for a while longer, which was perfect for her. The guard ventured back inside once he was satisfied, and the rooftop was once again clear.
Lunchtime was almost over, and River was right on schedule. The distance between the buildings was nearly 25 feet across, with a three story drop. She backed along the beam, one foot behind the other, and focused intently on the other rooftop. Her muscles flexed under her skintight black and velvet hybrid leather combat suit, which allowed for much more breathe-ability and flex than regular leather, as she bent down into a crouching position, hands on her toes, preparing like a racer waiting for the gun.
Focus, she told herself.
Part of River’s training was to use her mind to increase her physical ability through intense focus. Her reflexes, physical prowess, speed and even muscle limits could be increased merely by focusing intently enough on them, and through the proper training, releasing the needed chemicals from the brain to fuel the tasks she focused on. Her muscles could drink in the chemicals and gain a boost to speed, agility or even strength for a short period of time. It was the closest psychics had come thus far to altering the physical. She briefly entered a state of tranquility, meditating on the process her body was involved in. She imagined it like she were opening floodgates and allowing the waters, in this case chemicals emitted by her mind, to pour out. She didn’t want to let out not enough and not be able to complete her task, but neither did she want to give too much, and risk severely tearing her muscles. As she willed her legs to give her the necessary boost she would require, her eyes snapped open, and she bolted toward the edge. Her concentration was great, and her footing precise. She ran incredibly fast, faster than most runners could. As she planted her last step on the edge of the beam, she leapt into the air, still intently focused on the edge she was striving toward. Her lips tightened and her eyes narrowed as she soared through the air, her focus unwavering. The ledge was all that mattered to her now, and for a brief moment she forgot all about the job, her abilities, and even the Confederacy. Then, as soon as she had departed the other building, she met the ledge. With an instinctive roll, she shifted her momentum to bring her gracefully to her feet, leaving her unscathed and feeling proud. That was a long jump, even for her. A single bead of sweat trickled down her neck from the excess adrenaline, and she composed herself before continuing down from the roof into the building. She would need her mind to be alert in order to complete her goal according to her standards, and she always set the bar high. Dude, what the hell is your problem?
Man, Sam is so hot. I’d totally…
How long is Phil going to take? He’s been in the bathroom for like an hour.
I’d kill to have as much money as these idiot Senators. Freaking stupid.
I wonder if Jenny is gonna return my call… it’s been like 3 days, and maybe mom is right. Maybe I should call her again, just in case.
Oh God, I hope nobody heard that.
These were some of the thoughts River heard as she entered down into the top story of the building and proceeded down the hallway. She glided gracefully, body half-cocked to the left, sidestepping along the wall, hands poised to subdue anyone who might happen upon her out of a closed doorway. Unfortunately, these newer buildings all had sound-proof walls, so she couldn’t read the minds of anyone only a few feet from her on the other side of the doors, giving her no forewarning of their exit.
Most of the thoughts she heard were the useless babble of bored or distracted guards. Each Senator had brought their normal attachment of security, and so the building had five times the amount of guards that it essentially needed, leaving many men bored, watching posts of no significant purpose. One man grumbled to himself about what possible reason they could have to need him to guard the bathroom. These types of thoughts didn’t help River’s mission, but they didn’t hinder it either. She already knew the way to the Senators, all she needed to do was get there without being detected.
River looked up as she snuck down the hallway. Security cameras were mounted in every corner of the ceiling, rotating down the hallways to see around corners with a panoramic view. She needed to remain undetected by them, and as the camera turned in her direction, she picked up her pace to get underneath it before it saw her. Suddenly, a door opened from behind her, and she read the mind as it walked out of the door. Scientist delivering lab chemicals to another room. He was nervous because the contents yet again didn’t have the expected results that his superiors desired, meaning they would no doubt be upset with him. As he turned down the hall toward the direction River was, he reviewed his notes, hoping there was something he could do to remedy the situation. Without glancing up from his papers, he walked underneath her, and proceeded towards his destination.
River was right below the ceiling, her legs pressed against the walls in a perfect split, supporting her weight, and one hand pressed against the wall and the other on the security camera for balance. She slid down from her perch and stood under the camera as the technician rounded the corner out of sight.
Crap, he thought suddenly, I forgot the friggin’ chemicals.
As he came back around the corner, River had nowhere to go. The nearest door was too far away, and he would see her before she would get to it. He was not a threat, but she couldn’t have his shout to the guards either. Luckily, the security camera was facing the other direction from him, so it wouldn’t be alerted by whatever was to happen.
He rounded the corner, and his eyes went wide as he saw River decked out in her combat suit with pistols holstered at her hips and swords on her back. His mind was too frazzled by the shock to think anything coherent, and before he had a chance to make a sound, River reacted. She utilized an ability that she didn’t often get a chance to practice, but benefited from every time. She focused her thoughts and the thoughts of all others within her range of telepathy and broadcasted them all to the mind of the stunned scientist in a sudden burst of psychic energy. His mind, overwhelmed by the sudden invasion and with no way to defend against it, went unconscious. She didn’t need to focus too hard on him to knock him out. Too much harder and she could have rendered long term damage to his mind, or even killed him. She would be the first to admit that she would need to practice with the amount of focus necessary to kill someone and not drain too much of her energy at the same time, but to simply knock out one non-psychic was a simple task for her.
She dragged the body of the technician to the nearest door and peered inside. Thankfully, it was a janitor’s closet, and she stowed him inside. He would remain unconscious for more time than she required for her to finish her task, so she left him there untied so he could walk out after she was gone. She was thankful that she didn’t have to kill him, ruining her challenge she had given herself to kill nobody but the Senators. Plus, had he alerted the guards, she would have been much more hard pressed to reach the targets without killing any of the many agents.
She emerged from the closet and silently shut the door behind her. As she walked down the corridor her padded soles made no noise on the marble floors. She was once again filled with the consciousness of others, and maneuvered her way through the building without being detected. The most difficult obstacles continued to be the cameras, and she discovered that some were stationary, which required her to find alternative routes to avoid detection. Her thin black gloves kept her fingerprints off of any surface she touched, allowing her to not have to devote any focus to covering her tracks. Her presence of mind allowed her to retain a vivid memory of all unlocked doorways and ventilation duct openings, so that if she ever did need to quickly hide, she could. At one point she entered a room in order to avoid being detected by a security guard, only to find three lab technicians enjoying a smoke. There was an awkward pause for a moment before she quickly dispatched the three of them with swift jabs to their throats and kidneys. After she locked them in another closet, she proceeded, mentally kicking herself for being so careless.
Too clumsy… she lectured herself. She didn’t become recognized as the best by making foolish mistakes like that, or by ever being surprised. She needed to stay one step ahead in everything.
More alert and cautious now, she stuck to her initial plan, intending to kill only the five Senators, but to be more liberal with who she incapacitated. After being forced to take the long way to avoid cameras, she reached the key junction that she had learned from the guard. The door to the sweat-room that the Senators were in was down the right hallway, but it was guarded by two intent guards. She could read their minds at that moment, and they were focused on what their job was. They were too intent to fall victim to mental manipulations that she could send them, and if she merely charged them, the guards from inside the room would no doubt hear. Upon further searching the minds of the two guards, she discovered that all five Senators were inside a smaller sweatbox inside the larger room. The box itself was large enough to house 10 men comfortably, and was surrounded by 13 guards stationed throughout the room. There were no guards inside the sweatbox itself, however.
As much as she grumbled inside about it, she knew that the ducts were the best way to get to a good position without being noticed by the guards, who would defend the Senators with their lives, unfortunately. Its not that she didn’t like the ducts themselves, she merely didn’t like the idea of using them on a fresh, new hit. The ducts in some of the older cities that hadn’t seen as much renovation as New Hope were at least a little bit more challenging, because unless you focused intently on being silent, even the slightest movement could make noise. But the Senators in New Hope demanded only the best for their homes and businesses, so the ducts in these newer buildings were ½ inch thick reinforced steel, which allowed no heat to escape into the places where the Senators did not pay for it to go. It was vastly overkill, but the Senators didn’t care. But because of the extreme thickness, they were an assassin’s best asset, making absolutely no noise, even if you jumped inside them. So because of this, they were used by every average Joe assassin out there, and she saw it as incredibly tacky. But in her particular situation, it was the only realistic option.
To her delight, this particular Senator must have done some remodeling recently, installing fusion lasers within his ducts. The lasers would sear through whatever they touched, and would prove to be impassable by any average assassin who would have hoped to use the easy ducting as his ally. She unclipped a small pouch on her belt and pulled out a small mirror. She placed it in front of one of the lasers in an attempt to divert its course. According to physics, lasers are another from of light, and as such could be reflected or refracted. Since the holes in the laser grid were too small to fit through, she would need to make room. Upon contact with the mirror, the laser pierced it, nearly singeing her finger. Upon the intrusion, the laser grid started to rotate, each laser going in a different loop.
Must be too particle dense, she thought, melted the mirror before it could reflect it. She wondered why an alarm hadn’t sounded, but then she realized that they didn’t want a false alarm every time the lasers cut down a rat or a large moth. She peered at the moving web of light, and pondered a way across. She saw that the lasers came from holes in the steel. They must have been imbedded in the ½ in. steel, and as she followed the beams, she saw thin tracks in the other side of the duct where the small absorption points followed the lasers’ paths, keeping them from simply cutting through anything and everything in their paths. She saw in one brief moment, a hole appear through the field that was just large enough for her to squeeze through if she timed it right, and with no other alternative, she waited until she saw it again. Soon, it showed itself again, the same size and placement as the time before. Immediately, she started mentally timing the duration between then and the next time it came. It was exactly 22.4 seconds, and lasted for .8 seconds.
She again started counting, this time down from 22, and backed up a few steps. She was still crouched, so she would move slower than if she were standing tall, and took it into account. At 3 seconds left, she started to move toward the field. If she rotated her body and arched her back as she flew, she could easily squeeze out another .2 or .3 seconds to get her feet through. At one second left, she was nearly on top of the lasers. Her target area was still riddled with the deadly red lines, and she lunged at the spot where the hole in the field had appeared, head first, with her body fully extended behind her. At the exact moment that she reached that spot, the lasers moved clear of her path, beckoning her to pass through, unscathed. She rotated her body and arched her back as she flew over the now rising laser that was intent to fill the normally empty space that was occupied by her legs. As she landed on her back, already rolling backwards to land on her feet, she kicked upward, narrowly avoiding the laser which pursed her feet. Satisfied with her victory, she bowed to her opponent as she continued through the ducts.
A few moments later, she rounded another corner until she was right above the sweat room. There was a maintenance hatch leading to the top of the ducting, which ran through the top of the room right below the ceiling. She carefully opened the hatch to avoid any creaking sound that would alert the guards to her presence, and slid through the opening. She spotted the sweat box, a 10’ tall by 20’ by 20’ windowless enclosure that contained the five targets. She could hear the guards, each of them as intent and focused as the two at the door. There were two directly at the inside of the main door, four along the large tinted window that provided the view to the city, nearly 30 stories below, and two directly outside the door to the sweatbox. The rest were stationed at corners of the room and the other side of the sweatbox. The duct was high enough that she would not be seen by the guards’ peripheral visions, and she crawled along the top of the vent until she was directly above the sweatbox.
The first challenge that she faced was getting down from the vent to the top of the box without being seen. The only guards that would see her were the two at the main door, who were facing in toward the room. The guards at the window were looking out, and the corners of the room with guards stationed there were too close to the box, or blocked by other walls. She focused on the two guards, and implanted her own thoughts into their minds. She didn’t need to influence them for long, but just long enough. She transmitted a single thought to each of them with enough will behind it that they were convinced that they were their own thoughts, and that they had a great desire to do them for no particular reason. She influenced them each to look at the opposite guard simultaneously, and as they did, she instantly slunk down the other side of the duct and silently landed on the box, instantly lying on her stomach. The guards shared the awkward moment for less than a second, but it was all she needed.
Now that she was on the box, she had no way of effectively entering it from the top. There was no top hatch, and cutting a hole was very unrealistic. The box was made of hard oak, and was too firm to break through, even with enough focus. The door was obviously locked, but no doubt was not well enforced, considering the prize was inside and all their protection was outside. If at all in her power, had she had the option of going in stealthily and silently killing the men and slipping back out before the guards would notice, she would have opted for that. Unfortunately, the only way in was through the guards, and that eliminated any possibility of stealth. She lay on her stomach, and focused on her body. She would need the burst of speed, reflexes and strength.
She let her mind erase the world around her, and after a little while, she slipped into a meditative lull, and the world was hers to create. The voices in her head trailed off into silence, and her thoughts were the only thing she knew. She saw her body, lying flat on an invisible plane. She did not have her swords, her knives, or her guns. She mentally removed her combat suit, and saw her bare skin. Then, her skin dissolved, revealing her inner components. She could see her heart pumping, her blood flowing, and her muscles pulsing. She imagined her brain creating and distributing adrenaline and her muscles glowing with approval as they drank it in. She flexed her arms and her legs, marveling at the instant boost of power.
And in a blink, the world rushed back to her. In one fluid motion, she rose to her feet as she started for the edge of the box that was right above the door. She leapt into the air and rotated her body in a half-circle as she started to arc into a dive. She caught the lip of the edge and used it to propel her body downward, her feet catching the heads of the two guards watching the door, propelling them into the ground and rendering them useless. Instantly, the remaining 11 guards reached for their pistols and shouted commands into their mikes ordering all units to make for the sweat-room. The main doors opened as she crouched down, still allowing her legs to coil like springs from the jump. She used the kinetic energy she generated and propelled her palm into the door, backed by all the force her body had just channeled. The door flew open and she entered it before the Senators had time to react. They were all seated in a circle around the room, and all were in a state of shocked horror. She slammed the door behind her and drove her swords into the edges, pinning it closed from the inside. Only a few seconds had passed since she broke the door open, but the Senators hadn’t moved a muscle. It wasn’t until she turned to them, pistols drawn that they scrambled to find any shelter at all. There was none to be found.
The guards all rushed for the door, but two were already trying to break it down, not making progress. She had obviously barricaded it from the inside, and they could only sit by and listen helplessly as the men inside started to scramble and scream, followed by a fast barrage of silenced fire, and then pure silence. There was an air of tension as the guards all surrounded the entrance, guns pointed at the direction of the only exit she had. After a few moments, nothing happened, and everyone was nervous. The door slowly opened, seemingly of its own volition, and steam poured out. There was no figure there, however, and nobody made any move to go in or out.
River could hear them all coming. There were 13 guards pointing their weapons are the only exit she had, the 11 from inside the room and the two from outside the main door. Approximately 50 more were incoming, and would be arriving within a few minutes of each other. She could feel the fear in their thoughts, and nobody wanted to venture inside. They all knew it was certain death. They resolved to simply wait her out, knowing that at some point she would have to come out, and they would be ready. She knew that she had bought some time by implanting that strategy into their minds for them, and saved many of their lives too.
She walked to the steam controls for both the sweatbox and the rest of the steam-room that encased it, which were located inside the sweatbox for easy access to the late Senators. She turned all the dials to maximum output, and the steam began to build. The guards began noticing it, and to her delight, it only increased their fear. A few of the late arrivers managed to muster the courage to venture inside the small room, and she was waiting for them. She incapacitated them silently and swiftly, allowing a few of them to fire their unsilenced guns to strike fear into the hearts of the other guards. When she had knocked them all out, another guard called for a report to break the silence, and she threw out their pistols in response. The other guards all resolved to stick to the original plan, this time without the need for her mental input. She bought herself more than enough time to allow the steam to build.
The guards became more and more nervous as their range of vision decreased and decreased, until they could only see the other guards as shapes and shadows in the mist. The Senators were dead, they had no doubt of that, but they had a duty to bring their killer to justice. River had decided that she had waited long enough. She slipped into a prolonged state of semi-meditation, allowing herself to still hear the thoughts of the guards, in case they decided to mount another assault. They did not, and after a few minutes, she had gained the necessary focus she needed for the speed and agility she required.
She stood and walked over toward the open doorway. She stopped right before it, took one last breath, and ran into the room. She sprinted out through the guards. They were aware of her presence, as she was the only fast-moving figure in the room, but were very hesitant to fire on account of the fact that they couldn’t see who was stationed beyond her, and couldn’t risk collateral fire. Nobody fired a shot, but many men lunged to try and stop her. She was moving too quickly for the men who dove at her to even graze her, and she blew right past them, steam swirling in her wake.
She sprinted directly toward the large tinted window that opened up to the city outside. Guns drawn, she fired four shots into the glass to break the surface tension. As if her shots jolted them from a trance, all the guards opened fire in the direction they last saw her going. None were killed in the firestorm, and even though she could have reasoned that their deaths by their own hands would technically not have counted toward her challenge, she would have still felt like she failed it somehow.
She continued racing toward the glass, muscles pulsing, with sweat dripping off her neck, this time from nervousness instead of adrenaline. She leapt at the weakened pane, and as she shattered through it, all the firing stopped for a brief moment. Every guard looked at her, able to see her clearly because of the new light that seemed to cut through the steam. She turned onto her back in the air, and as she started to fall, she blew them all a kiss goodbye, and gave them a sly wink.
She turned around so she was facing the city she was plummeting toward. The wind beat against her face and her black hair whipped behind her furiously. She was falling at a fast rate, but the ridges in her suit gave her enough wind resistance to slow her down slightly, and when she angled her body right, gave her some lift, allowing her to glide down at an angle, rather than free-fall straight down. She gained speed as she fell, and directed her body horizontal, gliding parallel to the main street. She broadcasted a message to her bike’s computer, telepathically giving it orders. It roared to life as it rounded the corner from the spot she left it and screamed down the main street, a riderless, self-propelled death machine. She looked below her and saw the bike maintaining the same speed as her, directly on course with her, except for when it deviated to avoid obstacles like traffic. It used her automated GPS locator in her suit to track her speed and direction and copy it. The guards watched the entire scene from the window, unable to fire due to the busy streets below. She couldn’t help but smile a little.
Her pulse was racing as she continued her decent. The distance between her and the bike was closing, and traffic was starting to become denser. The bike was veering off course more often to avoid collisions, and that left her more opportunities to miss it. She looked ahead and saw something that made her heart sink. A huge truck was directly in her line of descent, and at the speed it was going, it was sure to hit her. It was too tall for the bike to glide over, and if something didn’t happen, she would hit it for sure. With only moments left, she ordered the bike to fire one of the rockets at the ground in front of the truck. The truck driver slammed on his brakes, buying her just enough distance to land on the bike and immediately swerve to the side, narrowly missing the truck, but surviving the jump and sealing the mission success. Yes, it was unorthodox, but she was pleased with herself. She had completed the objective and her challenges too.
She resumed control of the bike and started off in the direction of her house. It was still early, and maybe she would be able to take Max to the park after all.