I murdered three more people in the next couple of years; an arms dealer; a senator; and an activist; Zardos Marlock; Tensha; and Judy Rockwell. I was just the trigger man for an evil organisation and its decrepit leader. But that is no argument for absolution of my sins. Vaillians believe in a place called Sharfar, similar to the human belief of purgatory, where the dead await final judgement; I fear my stay in Sharfar will be along one.
The activist, Judy Rockwell, was a Martian; the Rockwell name was like royalty to the inhabitants of that red world. It was Simon Rockwell who helped to set up the first colonies from Earth and established the great terra-forming projects; and it was Jasmine Rockwell that organised the Martian Independent movement and became the first ambassador for the newly formed government; and now their descendant was to be executed...but she didn’t go quietly. At first, it was strange setting foot on Mars; it wasn’t the planet itself, but the close proximity to my father’s home world of Earth, that tranquil blue planet looking down upon me, compelling me to come and visit. I knew that I had family there, and for a moment it was a strong urge to fight, not to go, but as quickly as it came, it past. I’ve often wondered how different events would have unfolded had I followed that instinct to visit my kin, what new pathways may have opened up for me. But life is filled with little decisions like that, whether to go right or left, up or down, opening sliding doors that lead to a different life. But these philosophical ponderings are for another time, for the moment there was killing to be done.
Why she was marked for assassination, I assumed at the time, was due to the rumblings of independence coming from the Lunar Cities of Earth’s moon, of which Judy Rockwell was actively involved in, and no doubt she made powerful enemies from the Earth Interstellar Conglomerates. Whatever the case may be, I followed her for a day, looking for the right moment and place to strike, when she made me. Sure, it was only my second kill, but it was my own stupid fault, I broke the cardinal rule of direct eye contact. She was a very beautiful and desirable woman and one’s eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to her. She ran. I chased. I could have let her go and picked her up later on in a day or so, but my killing instincts kicked in, my body was acting before my mind realised it. She hopped onto one of the many monorails that crisscross the planet. But the advantage was still with me as she had been visiting the construction site for the new Martian suburb of “Red Rock” – and the workers that were around, were few, as they were on strike, that it why she was there, it seemed that the old gods were watching over me.
I clambered on top of the moving train, the wind from the speeding monorail almost toppling me off. But I stuck like glue. I was the predator hunting its prey. I was in full battle mode; all my senses were tuned to the moment and the environment around me. I was going with the flow, coping with whatever situation I found myself in and adapting to it, just as I had been taught...it was all second nature to me. Even over the noise of the wind and the train I could hear her heavy breathing within the carriage beneath me. She had no idea where I was. I sensed that she felt that she had given me the slip, yet she was still on guard. I had only one chance. I readied myself. I offered up a silent prayer to Datmar – ‘The Hunter’, for my soul, and then in one fluid motion, I leapt down into the carriage. My Mantis drawn – the gun of choice for assassins. I fired. The plasma charge bullet struck her between her stunned eyes. She stood for several seconds looking at me, no doubt wondering why, before toppling forward. I uttered the words to Dargo, that which is held so sacred to all assassins after a kill: “God of the beginning, god of the end, god of life and death, take this unworthy soul into your keeping and lead her to Shar Rak Kar where she may once more take her place on the great wheel of life.” And then I was gone. When the train pulled into the next station all they found was her dead body and no trace of her killer. One more statistic to add to the ledger of life and death.
Next came senator Tensha; a Gabralite from the Whirlpool Galaxy M51. The Gabralites are of course a humanoid species who have been at war with one another for over a thousand years. Their history is filled with bloodshed and conquest. Although they are a very advanced techno society, they are not a spiritual one. But the different warring factions of the Gabralites have made strong alliances with some of the more powerful empires in the galaxy, and thus have managed to keep outsiders from interfering in their internal affairs by supplying them with new weapon technology. Tensha was slime, for the three days I tracked him, I saw nothing but a person void of compassion or empathy for his fellow kind. His whole purpose for being on the Prima 6 shipyards was to oversee the completion of a new secret weapon, a planet killer, capable of burrowing into the molten core and causing it to break a part.
Only a week before, on the floor of the senate, he was speaking of new opportunities for peace, a new beginning for their race, and had actually garnered guarantees from the other factions to attend a peace summit next month. But it was all for show, a slight of hand to bide time for their new weapon to be deployed. Tensha was the one person who could tip the balance of power in his favour, and could perhaps end the conflict...but at the cost of how many million Gabralites. I slit his throat in his quarters while he brushed his teeth. He didn’t even know I was in the same room with him until he felt my hand across his mouth and my blade slicing his jugular. It was over in seconds. Another life snuffed out. But there was more to Tensha’s story than I knew, just as there was more to all of those that I killed. The truth of which would eventually tip me into the mouth of the abyss.
Six months later it was Zardos Marlock’s turn to make peace with his gods. Marlock was a particular vile Hammerlock. The Hammerlock’s are a beast species, large, brawny and stupid. But what they lack in brain power they more than make up for in strength and fighting ability. Their horned heads make for a deadly melee attack in battle. I once fought a mercenary band of Hammerlocks during the Teygetian/Draconian war and it was a confrontation I will never forget. There were fifty of us and only a dozen of them. When it was over the butcher’s bill showed all Hammerlocks dead and only seven of us left. I have been around killing all my life and yet there is no real way to convey what it is like unless you have experienced it yourself. But I will continue to try, otherwise how else can we prevent it?
The one weakness that all Hammerlocks have...is sex. The pleasure palaces and workers of Chameleon are renowned throughout the galaxy for their capability of being able to handle the sexual orientation of any life form that exists. And anatomically speaking, Hammerlocks don’t mix too well outside their own kind, except on Chameleon. I once spent a month there, purely for research I must add, although there was some R & R involved...but that’s another story. Zardos was returning from Canis, having just completed an arms deal with the last remaining Teygetian rebels, when he stopped by Chameleon for a little indulgence. And that’s where I took his life. I drowned him as he bathed in the sulphur mud baths of pleasure dome 6. He struggled. It was all I could do to keep him down. It took over five minutes before he stopped twitching, his extra lungs didn’t help matters. But in the end he didn’t stand a chance.
Once a contract was accepted by “The Organisation”, it would be fulfilled no matter how many assassins it took to achieve it or how long. And the one thing that a really good assassin should always have on their side...is time. And that is what Falstaff knew. His plan would unfold over years; there was no need to rush. After all when you live as long as he has what else do you have but time. But my time was fast running out, although there were still a handful of years to go.
Copyright (C) Peter Jessop 2010