The rustle of dry grass.
The hum of the gravity well assisted docking port.
The smell of the high desert sunset air mixed with rocket fuel and the cuisine of hundreds of different species of humanoids.
He feels it all. It’s like he is there. Waiting. Waiting for the moment.
Through the augmented reality that surrounds him he takes in the mix of the old religion and the new plutocracy.
The crumbling pyramid is ten-thousand years old. The outpost is less than a decade.
But somehow they fit well together. It is definitely a place he would like to visit in person.
There is something about it that calls through the generations. Maybe it’s the sense of history, or a touch of magic, but he certainly feels God here. Not one of the new Gods but an old one, one of the first.
The 1 does not know why specifically, but his soul yearns to walk these hills and breath the actual air not just the implanted sensory information.
The voice of one of his clones comes through the com and his personal desires are forgotten in the face of completing the job.
“He arrives.” Clone A taps the display on the tablet and the screen goes black. They are one and the same. Each knows their roles and need not be instructed . Clone C is already moving off to claim his position, he is security. He will run several three minute miles and guard against any encroachment before the shot is taken. Clone D will take the shot, the target will be two miles down range, Clone B will spot.
The whole mission will done be complete in less than thirty minutes, an old advertising jingle wiggles its way into his brain, “it’s easy peasy with tech assisty.”
Tech assisty was an old computer ap from the twenty second century. Years of worth could be gotten from that purchase.
Not the case with his clones. Once they complete this mission they will die. Melt actually with all their encoded genetic information coalescing into a puddle of pink goo inside the generic combat armor.
They start with a bland versions of himself, The 1, and then he smooches their DNA until they are human shaped killing blobs with traits geared to an assignment.
The 1 is the master, the owner, the father. He is a God in his own right. He owns the illegal tech that makes this all possible.
He presses the buttons and does the math.
He invented it all and is the soul of the operation, the owner and because of which he is rich So rich he could not spend his fortune in twelve lifetimes.
He irony is he probably won’t make it to a full one.
The clones are advertised as skills, enhanced, modeled and better, more efficient.
These four are the perfect killing machines. The perfect sniper team.
The 1 has played around with the possibility of making the clones last longer and build an army to claim the known universe for himself. But no matter what they go crazy after a short while. He could get a month out of them maybe take a planet before they devolve into cannibalistic infighting and incestual rutting.
Besides he prefers anonymity and would rather die unknown then nefarious.
The 1 clicks over to Clone C’s feed. He is in position. He has set a shape charge ten yards away and waits in ambush a silent unmoving predator, thanks to the inclusion of tiger DNA the man can wait perfectly still for hours.
It won’t take that long.
There is no way his team is expected. Clone C is only there for redundancy.
An insurance policy.
And well maybe as a way to pad the bill a little.
The 1 clicks over to the outpost’s security system. He hacked it a week ago and has spent most of that time wandering aimlessly around the small town getting to know its details and charms.
Augmented reality really makes his life so enjoyable.
He watches the ship come in and land with a hiss of air. The hull is sprayed with a anti biological and after a few minutes it taxis to the gateway. The doors pop open and the passengers begin to disembark.
It’s a personal shuttle. Private. There are only four people on board. Two pilots. A man and his lover.
The 1 isn’t suppose to know who the target is.
But he does. He makes it a point to know. He would know anyway. Fame has its burdens.
“Targets acquired, awaiting command auth,” Clone A reports. His voice a deep male monotone.
The man engages with the customs official. The 1 watches. the functionary says he is sorry. “You know preventing terrorism and all. We have to be diligent, because you can never be sure.”
The man smiles and then laughs at the joke.
The 1 knows his face. The whole known universe knows his face. He wears an expensive looking grey suit cut in the thawb style under which is a heavily starched white button down with a high collar. His hair is silver. His skin is bronze.
Next to him is an impossibly beautiful Telurite. Blue skinned, grey hair, sexually mature, but not much more then. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. She lays a slender hand on the man’s shoulder. Its an intimate gesture and The 1 gets jealous. He could never have someone so perfect. He could never visit this distant colony and its interesting outpost. He can’t even stand unassisted.
He gives the command, “Kill.” And watches the beautiful hand disappear in a cloud of perfect purple blood as the expensive suit covered shoulder is penetrated with a high caliber subsonic round. A second shot and her brains liquify against the far window. A third shot and the customs officials chest is perforated.
Then the shuttle explodes.
Leave no trace, its an old timey motto, from some kind of youth military movement. Its also his company’s promise to clients. Of course it’s a lie. Nothing he can do about the dead bodies and liquefied genetics.
He turns off the augmented reality and is back in his chair. He tries not to look down at his muumuu covered flesh. His own genetics played a cruel joke on him. Gave him the mind of five genius but the body of an overflowing refuse bag. He long ago stopped being able to support his own weight. Hunger invades every moment of his life. He is never satisfied, or far from pain.
With a sigh he requests a secure call to client 4567.
An older distinguished lady answers, “yes?”
He can see her but she can’t see him.
She also has a face easily recognized. Plastered all over the tabloids of late because of her high profile divorce from the man who just bought it on his little paradise outpost romantic getaway.
“It’s done,” The 1 informs her and as expected she breaks down into tears.
He hangs up.
Already working the details of the next job.
Band of Assassins by Pat Presley
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