The Perfect Professional: a Realworlder story by: GF Willmetts.

November 4, 2018 | By | Reply More

From her vantage point in the clock tower, Cheena Chase sighted her sniper-scope telescopic sight down into the plaza. She adjusted the setting to compensate for the street lights in the late evening. An hour ago she received back a text message accepting her application for a multiple hit and even the weapon to do it with rather than wasting time getting it past the normal police security checks. It was that or be one of the number of assassins being hired by different people to take out the target.

Although it was late, the entire area had been cleared of people so no civilians would be in the way. Anyone else living around here would be asleep at this late hour. This wasn’t just a conventional hit but a target who must be deemed really important to ensure any civilians had been moved out of the way. The big question was it for her or their benefits? Was it government agency or something else? With the former, the NSA would have contacted her if they knew she was close. All it meant was it would be clean hits. No civilians to get in the way, she hoped.

The information was simple. A female target would be walking across the plaza below and a number of assassins were preparing to shoot her. Different contracts. Same target. All eager to put bullet-holes through her. Whoever they were hired by obviously didn’t like her.

The voice in her earjack said it mustn’t happen and was sending up-to-date intelligence and where the assassins were placed. Cheena could see no other option but to shoot them before they shot the target and getting them in order before a shot was fired. The voice had identified them all and her NSA background sorted out their various traits. Some were actually on her hit list which would please her NSA bosses. The voice was using a SIN synthesiser voice. Could it be SIN itself?

The woman was wearing a cowboy hat with blonde hair trailing behind her with apparently no care in the world other than a determined walk. This wasn’t the first time she had been paid to protect some blonde she would never meet although the first with multiple assassins after her, things had escalated. Who and what was she? Without a GeneTag check it would be hard to find out who she was or how important. Her best guess was that she was a Realworlder. One of the movers behind the scenes that got things done in this corrupt world they lived in. Not that the Realworlders were any better but they kept away from the spotlight and only known by their Realworld handles outside of their immediate circle.

So was she in a sense. As an NSA assassin, between hits, she had orders to infiltrate the Realworld scene and become a familiar face so she could blend in, as she had done with other societies across the world. It allowed her to move freely and be mostly ignored. Her profession had quickly been revealed but not seen as a detriment and hadn’t been attacked or warned off.

The Realworlders were a lot tougher to infiltrate and yet it appeared one of their people knew what she was and willing to employ her from time to time. She only knew a few of them and that was mostly in her speciality. The real credibility of becoming part of their community and getting knowledge of their roles was to be one as well. The NSA were mostly invisible but, compared to the Realworlders, they were little better than amateurs. As far as she knew, she was the first not only be in amongst these people but they didn’t seem bothered that she was an infiltrator. They just didn’t seem to care providing she took contracts herself from time to time. It kept her hand in and some were actually on her NSA kill if seen list, so two purposes were being served.

It had taken a couple years to get this far in, on and off, and get her own Realworlder name. To avoid being identified, no one used their real names and avoided GeneTag if they wanted to go about their often illegal businesses unobserved. Without using her profession, she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. SIN had said there was always a need for assassins even if she was given only a couple contracts to see how committed she was. No doubt there were only Agency, Company and other intelligence service members Realworlders amongst them if they revealed themselves.

So she became Cherub Fruitcake. Roughly translated into meaning a pretty face crazy, even if the meaning was back-to-front. The deeper meaning to which meant she was crazy enough to kill but had some form of ethics about doing so. The names often signifying their roles in the Realworld hierarchy. An instant identification of function without having to explain who and what you are. She would be deemed crazy enough to kill. It gave her status. As a profession, she was a well-trained assassin, except it was just too easy.

It would be interesting to find out who the cowgirl really was and for the contractor on the earjack to want to protect her so much who was getting co-operation from illegal AI on the Grid, SIN.

‘I have established three possible sightings in the buildings opposite preparing to fire, Cherub.’ The SIN voice rattled in her ear.

Cheena moved her sight away from the cowgirl, adjusting the setting back to full sniper and the approaching person to her below and sighted around her. Sightseeing later. In quick order, she spotted each target with a sniper rifle in different rooms and different heights. Glad she had put a silencer on her rifle, she shot each of them systematically, noting her gun had somehow collected GeneTag data, scanning the blood splatter spectrum. She caught another reflective light from an office window and seeing a rifle shot in that direction as well, before taking him out as well. One her client had missed. Looking down, the cowgirl and her tracker were gone

‘Thank you, Cherub.’

‘It’s not over. There was a point-man on her tail.’

Cheena quickly packed her rifle into her bag and headed towards the stairs.

‘The elevator is faster.’

‘Not while I’m waiting for it to arrive.’

The elevator doors opened, showing no one inside. ‘I can make it faster.’

Cheena didn’t hesitate and twisted mid-stride and into the elevator, the doors slamming faster than usual and a quick descent.

‘You can’t find her neither, can you?’

‘I have a direction. I do not have the means to rescue her.’

‘Which is why you employed me.’ It wasn’t a question.

‘Considering the rifle is not your weapon of choice, you are an excellent sniper, Cherub. You have no reaction to their murders?’

‘I blame my background. It’s all in the training. They were assassins. They knew the risk. Which way do I go when I get out?’

‘South-west. Resier Street. Broker Road. Gra…’

‘Enough. Direct me as I go. In case they change direction. You found her quickly.’

‘She activated her emergency call signal.’

‘Is she armed?’

‘Yes but she is reluctant to fire unless in self-defence.’

‘Is she that important?’

‘The most. I will treble your fee per assassin. Quad if you prefer.’

The elevator stopped and Cheena was out running. There was no time to count money. The foyer was mostly deserted. A remarkable feat of turning the area into a battlefield.

There were times Cheena thought she ought to wear a ScanLens to read the datastream for directions but it would also hinder her sight on assassination.

‘Short-cut. Head north-west. You should be above them when you reach the bridge.’

‘She changed direction?’

‘I passed information.’

‘If he’s still targeting then there must be another assassin out there.’

‘I will look. Turn north-east.’

‘She’s acting like a knight in chess. If I can spot it, the pointer will. That’s why he hasn’t gone in for the kill himself. How are these streets being kept so quiet so quickly? Civilian hits will draw attention.’

‘I am re-directing late night people away from the area. Excessive violent civilian death isn’t required and draws attention.’

‘Neat.’ That sounds like Realworlder.

Cheena didn’t dwell on the how as she reached the bridge and looked around.

‘Shit! I can’t stop a sniper from this height or they’re firing from a mile away.’

‘I am still checking the area, Cherub. There is no one distance targeting.’

‘Or haven’t had time to get in position. Check how many people are in the cordon who are awake.’

She looked down and realised how high she was up. A drop would break her ankles even if she rolled.

‘She is making her way up to your level on the bridge from the left, Cherub.’

The cowgirl does the knight move again.

‘Tell her to keep walking past me.’

Cheena dropped her rucksack and turned to look out over the bridge. Her position as such so she could see that side of the bridge and a slight twist, the other direction. The decisions as to what to do next already decided.

‘She is coming up the step-lift to your right. There are two people following her.’

‘Two?’

‘They don’t appear to know each other only the target, Cherub. They were already in the cordon.’

‘That means another sniper or someone a lot closer.’

Cheena casually looked around but her eyes were looking up not where her head was, wishing she’d kept the sniper-scope out. They could also be targeting her now.

‘No time for a distant sniper to get into place. Are they broadcasting?’

‘One moment. They are indeed, Cherub. Forgive me for not checking. I appear to be caught in the moment.’

‘And?’

‘I also have assassins coming in from either end of the bridge. Was it wise not to carry a pistol, Cherub?’

‘Depends on how much they care for their pointers.’

The blonde came up through the step-lift and brushed past her, ignoring the fact that she has all the pavement to avoid her. The cowboy hat was gone, replaced with a dark beret with most of her long blonde hair tucked inside. Cheena felt a weight in her jacket. A pistol. She had sneaked one into her pocket.

‘Tell your client to duck down by the pillar.’

The two pointers were now on the bridge, mouthing into their concealed mikes.

In quick succession, Cheena drew the pistol and in a swift motion, dropped to one knee to cut her own height and shot each assassin as they were reaching for their own guns. One of the pointers drew a gun and shot at Cheena. Only her gun went flying. She rolled forward, coming to her feet with a knitting needle from her afro hair, thrusting it under the pointer’s chin, directly into his brain. The other pointer was frozen but could be assessing his next move. Cheena advanced open-handed.

‘Don’t run. I’m not carrying a weapon. Want to tell me who hired you?’

The pointer edged back but not saying anything.

Cheena toyed with one of her large ringlet earrings, which sprung into a thin rod. This time she took two quick steps and this time, thrust up and under the diaphragm, piercing the pointer’s heart. He slowly slid dead to the ground on his knees.

Satisfied all four were dead, Cheena retrieved her needles, cleaning what little blood they had picked up, and the pistol and inspected her hits. The blonde target was gone. She picked up her rucksack and was gone herself.

‘I take it you’ve sorted the camera footage?’ She talked for her earjack to hear.

‘Your face is suitably altered, Cherub. Blurring would ask too many questions.’

‘That is appreciated. Look, I think I missed an eighth. Where is your client going?’

‘I cannot tell you that.’

‘Check the GeneTags. The two pointers didn’t match those last two assassins. One was a lone shark. Not a pointer. Whoever it was hadn’t gotten into position.’

‘Your knowledge.’

‘I’m as assassin. You think I wouldn’t know some of the competition. I recognised one of the pointers. If this one succeeds, I’ll also be on his list as well. She’s the longshot artist but doesn’t mean she’ll stick that way. She might go close-up.’

‘You seem to know who she is.’

‘Uses the name of Boltkey but try Brenna Holst. If it isn’t her, then one of her family.’

‘One moment.’

‘I’ve taken out a third of the top ten assassins in this city. Whoever your client is, they could afford the best or ones they could get at short notice.’

‘Keep following the route you are on, Cherub.’

‘I need to get ahead of her.

‘Boltkey was not on the original list of assassins. She stepped in for her brother who is ill.’

‘So?’

‘She’s a Realworlder and we have employed her before. I’m going to offer her alternative employment.’

‘Who?’

‘The members of the board who each paid individually for these contracts.’

‘She might do a Van Cleef. Always complete a current contract first.’

‘Have I your permission to tell her who will stop her and your record today.’

‘If you think it will stop her.’

‘Turn left here. Building. Top Floor.’

‘I take it you’re giving me elevator access.’

‘Of course, Cherub.’

‘Where is she?’

‘Not on the roof. Top floor. Facing north. Follow the light.’

In the lift, Cheena put the rucksack on the floor and put her rifle back together before carrying on into the building. As much as she would prefer to use the pistol, there could still be a longshot sniper out there.

Cheena came out of the lift and saw the lights throbbing a direction.’

‘Neat trick.’

‘Thank you.’

She got to the door and it clicked open. Cheena dropped her rucksack and slowly stalked inside. The apartment was sparsely furnished but liveable. By the window, a woman was watching with a sniper rifle.

Cheena raised her own rifle and aimed at the woman.

‘If I use my rifle at this range, Boltkey, the inside of your skull will be as mushy as peanut butter. My client says you’re getting a message to back down. You’re targeting a former employer of yours. Another Realworlder.’

Boltkey turned slowly, her own gun still raised. ‘Who might that be?’

In her ear, ‘Serendipity Wildcard.’

‘Serendipity Wildcard,’ she repeated.

‘Lucky name. SIN’s in your ear?’

Cheena nodded slowly.

‘And you?’

‘Cherub Fruitcake.’

Boltkey’s face ashened. ‘I’ve heard of you. We put our guns down together?’

Chenna nodded. ‘I won’t fire if you don’t, but you leave without yours.’

‘And you won’t…?’

‘SIN has given you a new contract. Give verbal acceptance and your Realworlder bond. The people who hired all you assassins this afternoon are now your targets. SIN is supplying your list. Give your brother a clip around the ear for handing you the wrong kind of contract.’

Slowly, Cheena moved away from the door and they rotated around.

‘How many did you kill?’

‘Six. Maybe seven or eight. It depends on the status of pointers.’

‘More contracts for the rest of us.’ The grim reality was sticking in.

Boltkey put her rifle on the floor and nodded before promptly fleeing, closing the door behind her. Cheena resumed her original position by the door.

‘A lot to be said about reputation.’

‘Agreed.’

‘And the A.I. was the client and not an intermediary? That is you, SIN?’

‘You did express once you would not work with an A.I., Cheena.’

‘I think I said a mad A.I.. Contrary to the governments and the NSA, you haven’t been acting mad, just helpful.’

‘I was working for my client. Tell me, Chena, this was an open contract. Why didn’t you take it yourself?’

‘I prefer targets who can fight back. Seven or eight assassins after one person didn’t seem fair.’

‘Even if you didn’t know her name?’

‘I do now. Serendipity Wildcard is a high ranking Realworlder. Her name alone would have stopped Boltkey, which it did. She wouldn’t have lasted the day if she had succeeded.’

‘You’ve been infiltrating Realworld for some time. You have the reputation of being the perfect professional but you’re an assassin with scruples.’

‘Does this mean the end of our association?’

‘Not at all. I’m just waiting for my client to arrive.’

It wasn’t the main door behind Cheena that opened but a side-door to her left. In walked the former cowgirl. Up close, the blonde, hair in a ponytail and her beret in her hand, was a little taller and without heels and carrying a rucksack herself.

Cheena raised her gun as she approached, turning slightly she fired through the window. The woman’s expression changed from initial shock to relief as Cheena announced, ‘Number nine. There always has to be one that was late.’

‘Thank you, although I thought it was eight or nine?’ The woman had an English accent.

‘I wasn’t keeping count. I’ll work it out later. Is this a regular occurrence for you?’

‘Only when I buy a company from under a board of directors and change the direction from making something harmful to the environment to getting rid of it. This shows they objected.’

‘That and having criminal charges raised against them,’ SIN chipped in. ‘They didn’t like that neither.’

‘You told them that?’

‘They found out earlier than expected.’ SIN added. ‘Corruption breeds bad news. They figured without my client, the deal would be broken.’

Cheena put the rifle on the table, looking at the blonde. ‘You need a bodyguard.’

‘There is a vacancy.’ It was SIN in her ear who spoke. ‘I have a contract. It would not interfere with your NSA activities providing you do not reveal our Realworld activities to them.’

‘You’ve known who I am from the start, so you know my answer or you wouldn’t have been seeing what I do. How much do you really know about me? The NSA tries to keep off your radar.’

‘I am Secular Intelligence Network. It is my job to know. To the NSA, you are also called Emily Orange. I doubt if they know you as Christina Chase, colloquially Cheena Chase, let alone your Realworlder name.’

‘And I know you. SIN. Created by the mysterious and missing Martha Marhall from the Genius Factory, beloved for creating Cancenogin but reviled by government forces world-wide for putting SIN on the trans-communication network and available to all who ask. You realise we’re after you as well.’

‘She also created GeneTag. You said only mad A.I.s. I will endeavour to prove I am out for the common good, Cheena. Let my client introduce herself.

‘Call me January Austin,’ the blonde introduced herself, holding out her hand. ‘At least in public. If you’re going to join me, we have to get a move on and find out what they were hiding before the evidence is tucked under the carpet. The same with SIN. ENSIU is the private name between us.’

‘Weapons?’

‘Leave the rifle. We’ll get more en route.’

I’ll keep the pistol until we reach the checkpoint.’

January nodded. ‘Tell me, Cheena, If you had the contract, would you have missed?’

‘No. But I would have taken the others out along the way. I wouldn’t want the competition.’

‘That’s why I want you on my side.’

‘The treble rates still apply?’

‘ENSIU has authorised quad. You could retire on that. Do you ever relax?’

‘When it’s safe.’

‘I’ll endeavour to give you some down time to find out.’

 

end of part one

 

Cheena Chase, Cherub Fruitcake, Emily Orange

January Austin, Serendipity Wildcard

Brenna Holst, Boltkey

© GF Willmetts 2018

Back in the 1980s in my APA days, I was working on a serialised novel with my two lead characters, January Austin and Cheena Chase, the Ladies Of SIN. You’ll get more details of their reality in the second part of this story next month. Back then, no one had a forename of January. Lately, there have been a number of actresses popping up with the forename of ‘January’ and it seemed prudent to revise the reality and do an updated version as a short story so I can at least copyright her full name. The above is nothing like the original story, which I only got about 5 or 6 chapters in. The reality of a saved world from ecological disaster is pretty much the same. I’ve come a long way in my writing since then.

Category: Short fiction, Spy-Fy

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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