The sixth hit before the betrayal was a pirate mercenary by the name, Sharmar Maleif. A second rate pirate at best, a Harkon, his outfit operated in the Trevell System, preying mostly on cargo and passenger ships. He was a thorn in the butts of the authorities, but nowhere near as bad as Commander Treally or Captain Sarkomee, who were the real bad asses in the region. Yet to Sharmar’s credit he had managed to carve out a little niche for himself amongst the big boys. Sharmar had raided several colonies in the last week and so his trail was not hard to follow, I tracked him to his hideout on “Cemetery World 2”.
“Cemetery World 2”, as the name suggests, is exactly that; it is one of six planets in the galaxy that the decease have been buried on, whole worlds covered in graves, tombstones, monuments and mausoleums. I suppose it is a good idea, as space on most planets these days, to bury the dead is at a premium; and of course the freight costs to send someone’s remains back home could be astronomical and so this is a more practical and cheaper solution. In truth they are dreary places filled with sorrow, regret, forgotten memories and ghosts. It made the prefect hideaway. Sharmar and his crew had set themselves up in an old and grandiose tomb belonging to some Zartor family, many generations judging by the size of the place and the number of graves. These worlds also made easy picking for treasure hunters as robbing the dead is always a simple task. The robotic security patrols were easy to get around...there was just too much territory to cover.
I picked up Sharmar in my scope on the second night. I had found a perfect spot behind a broken wall, on the ridge of a small hill opposite. Although the Mantis was the weapon of choice for assassins at close range, from a distance however...the MX-IV sniper rifle was the best tool for the job. The weapon felt so at home in my hands it is actually quite frightening if you think about it; I might as well have been cuddling a pet rather than an instrument of death. Sharmar was smoking near the fire and thus made a perfect target, his half a dozen eyes shining brightly by the flickering light of the flames. He had no idea that this cigarette was to be his last, no idea that the burning wood of the fire was to be the last thing he ever saw, no idea that he was mere seconds away from the end of his life, of his existence. I lined up the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger. The silencer muffled the shot but I felt the vibration from the nozzle run up my arms and I saw through the scope Sharmar’s head explode like a melon.
This time I offered up no prayer for the departed soul; ever since “Moth’mor” nothing has felt quite right. I felt uneasy, a crisis of conscience...perhaps. Although what was about to happen would change me forever, I suppose that even without a ton of bricks falling on your head, we all change slowly over time, no one single event causing it, just steadily growing tired or becoming more appalled at the horrors we have done. If matters hadn’t panned out the way they did I truly believe that I could not have continued with this job. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, that decision was taken out of my hands. Two weeks later I was once again in the presence of my old master and this time he came to see me.
The galaxy had already begun to catch on fire, but I didn’t see it, all I saw was the galaxy the way it has always been. Falstaff visited me in the middle of the night at my apartment on “Aventi”. He woke me gently, like a parent waking a child. I am a light sleeper – all assassins are – but Falstaff was as silent as a Tiberian Cat. How he got into my locked and secure apartment is something else, sometimes I believe he can walk through walls...a farfetched notion...I have come to learn that nothing is impossible for a Krull. “I have a most important assignment for you.” His voice whispered in the dark and yet his black eyes shone, clearly visible amongst the pitch blackness of the night. “You will take the soul of a Draconian General, an individual who wants nothing more than to bathe the galaxy in fire and blood...to achieve apotheosis he will kill millions...if not more. He will be your most difficult target to date, and yet this kill will be the most important one you will ever do.”
I asked him why?
“That is not for you to know, or understand, all you have to do is obey. Besides, the reasoning of the insane can never be understood, just like the reasoning of the sane, or even the gods. There are matters in the universe that beings of lesser stature cannot comprehend and in fact have no right to be aware of. Only those of a more omnipotent status can truly see all ends.” He fell silent and not another word was spoken. He stood in my room watching me and I felt myself drifting off to sleep, prompted by his unspoken telepathic suggestions. As the sweet embrace of slumber took me in its arms I did not realise then that he was in fact talking about himself.
When I awoke in the morning I found the details of my next assignment on the data pad by the side of the bed. He was right; killing General Darken was going to be tough. And yet in the clear light of day I could almost convince myself that last night was just a dream...almost. Over the next couple of days I made my final preparations, putting my affairs in order, as surely this next assignment was a suicide mission. I fully believed that I would not return...and I didn’t, but it was not death that awaited me, but betrayal, love and redemption.
Copyright © 2010/2011 by Peter Jessop