“The First Kill”
Looking back, my first assignment was the easiest of them all and yet...it was perhaps the most important of all the seven kills I did for “The Organisation”. Each was a link in a chain of events, a chain of sequences, a design only known by the puppet master that led inevitably to the chaos that has engulfed the galaxy; and it all began with the first target – Halem Strabos.
He was a Gunjan; an amphibian species from the blue water world of Sarbossa. A pre-space flight culture only a century ago, the Gunjans have since spread far and wide throughout the system of the Three Sisters, establishing a number of colonies on some of the most inhospitable planets imaginable. They never used their real names as they were virtually unpronounceable, and so they borrowed titles from other races. They had built their small empire on the export of the rare spices and aquatic plants that inhabit their world. This underwater fauna has a thousand varieties and almost as many uses in food and drugs, both legal and illegal. Lic’Tor was perhaps the most deadly narcotic available in the galaxy, its effects ranged from violent psychotic episodes, to the emergence of all emotions; an endless kaleidoscope of feelings quickening through the mind, the body and the senses. They say it is the ultimate rush...if you survive...the causality rate on users is high. It has been banned throughout the galaxy, but of course that only made it more popular, creating an underground market whose net value was incalculable. This demand created kingpins and crime lords such as Saltar and Sinnjin Makope. As for Halem Strabos, he wasn’t even in the same league as those criminals.
He was a low down cheap hood, a punk, a pusher who had carved out a small niche for himself on “Aurora”, a seven mile long space station in the Gamma Quadrant; a commercial hub, where representatives from all over could meet and thrash out trade agreements, do back door diplomacy and mingle with celebrities. “Aurora” was a popular hot spot for those that liked to be seen and of course hosts some of the most popular bands in the galaxy. The interstellar venues and clubs on “Aurora” are second to none.
I took his soul at Club Alpha. The place was jammed packed; the patrons crammed in like sardines, the people were jumping and dancing to the live music of “Dark Star”. It was the perfect kill zone, plenty of moving bodies; I was just one more amongst a writhing sea of flesh and I blended in with ease. I had stalked Halem for two days, first picking up his trail in the seedy underbelly of the station, in its lowest levels. “Aurora” looked glamorous and was famed for its glitz, but scratch beneath the surface and you found the rust, the dirt and the slime. Being a Gunjan, he wasn’t hard to spot, his tentacle face, the gray/blue skin, the webbed feet that carried his walrus like mass of a body, were more than just tell tale signs...a blind man could have found him.
The first day, I saw him pushing Lic’Tor to the weak, the poor, and the destitute. His hand didn’t extend beyond the pariahs; he seemed to have no reach into the upper class, the rich, the powerful or the famous. Why did someone want him dead? I asked myself, he appeared no threat to anyone of importance. But as soon as I thought the question I dismissed it; an assassin did not ask questions of the one he was sent to kill, he just carried out the hit, the reasons were left to those above. There were at least two occasions on that day that I could have taken his life, but I stayed my hand as both were not one hundred percent ideal. “Patience is the virtue of the assassin.” Falstaff’s words echoed up from the dark recesses of my mind. “The killing is not important, but rather waiting for the right opportunity, the correct moment to take the shot, to plant the bomb, to insert the blade, and that is why patience is paramount. For an assassin may have to wait days or perhaps mere hours for that moment, that sweet spot, and when it arrives you must strike without hesitation.”
So I waited and watched silently and unseen in the shadows. I saw Halem Strabos exploit and bully those who couldn’t strike back. I observed his nocturnal habits, his sexual appetite for young Sprazzo girls whom he liked to take into his tank. The mating ritual of Gunjans was different to say the least; I myself have always preferred to stay out of the water, but to each their own. The next day was no different to the previous; Halem Strabos did the same thing, only to different people; however on this day he did inflict violence on a poor wretch of a beggar. I actually thought he was going to kill him, but he walked off after only putting the boot in a few times. Before moving on I slipped a few credits into the beggar’s palm. From that moment on I came to believe that Halem Strabos deserved death.
I have to confess that the anticipation I felt inside of me as I stalked the prey was intoxicating and filled me with a sense of excitement. It was the same feeling I felt that day I took my father’s life, only this time it was stronger – more powerful. The taking of a life is an abomination, a horrid act, no matter whether that person is good or bad. But the potency you feel as you see that life slipping away at the behest of your hands is like no other sensation imaginable...except that of love in its most pure and untainted form, which has no rival...but I’m getting ahead of myself once more, that feeling was still a long way off for me. For the moment I was looking forward to my first professional hit.
The method of the kill was both simple and brilliant...I gave him an overdose. Halem Strabos was a heavy drinker, Tanzana Ale was his choice of poison, and he was also a great taker of Lic’Tor. Gunjans had a natural immunity to the narcotic and the effects on a Gunjan were different to those on every other species. Once I ascertained that he took Lic’Tor with Tanzana Ale – I had the method to carry out my mission, and Club Alpha gave me the opportunity. Amidst the throng of heaving flesh upon the dance floor it was easy to follow the waitress bringing Halem his drink, and just as easily to slip a slightly more potent Lic’Tor capsule into the glass. As the Gunjan drank I offered up a silent prayer to the god Dargo, to make the taking of my victim’s soul both swift and as painless as possible. “God of the beginning, god of the end, god of life and death, take this unworthy soul into your keeping and lead him to Shar Rak Kar where he may once more take his place on the great wheel of life.”
Ten minutes after ingesting my lethal cocktail, Halem Strabos was dead, white frothy salvia pouring down his fat belly from his open mouth, where his bloated tongues drooped beneath his glazed over purple eyes. An autopsy would show that he died of an overdose and the station’s cops wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, as their inquirers would show that he was a regular user of Lic’Tor and assume that he finally just took too much. It was the perfect kill; no one would ever know that an assassin took his life.
I felt...it is hard to put into words, the feeling inside of me as I left “Aurora”, how I felt about taking someone’s life. If I’m honest, the sensation and emotions were somewhat different to those that I felt when I took my father’s life, or those I took in battle aboard the “War Child”; that was kill or be killed, for better or worse I was a soldier and I obeyed orders; and with my old man, that was the end result of somebody suffering physical abuse over a long period of time whose only option in the end was to lash out – to strike back or die. But taking a life, as an assassin, a paid killer, now that is something else all together. All I can say is the taking of a life is one hell of a thing, and while there was always some doubt about the seven I killed, before I woke up from my sleep, it didn’t last long because that’s how he trained me, to carry out my orders without questioning, to pray to the ancient gods and to live by the code of the guild, to cherish and honour my family – “The Organisation”.
As “Aurora” vanished behind me I put aside the doubts I had. Having done my first hit, I’m sorry to say that I actually felt a sense of pride. In time this would change, but for the moment I was an intergalactic assassin and the whole galaxy seemed to be laid out before me. Falstaff said I had a destiny and I began to believe that it was true ...how many other fools have believed the same thing? In the final analysis I was just a tool to be used by one of the vilest beings the universe has ever produced. There is an old Vaillian story about a ball of string rolling down a hill, and no matter how big the ball is it will eventually unravel until there is nothing left, and that no matter what you do you cannot prevent this from happening...it is inevitable, it is a tragedy going to occur. All you can do is to wait and see how it plays out.
Copyright (C) Peter Jessop 2010