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September 14, 2005
A Story, Bit-by-Bit
Superego: Part 28 - Seeing the Arrow Meant to Kill You
* * * *
As I headed to the little park area in downtown, I noted all the eyes in the crowd following me but pretending not to follow me. Basically, I was surrounded by murderous women. It was going to be hard to keep a straight face in my chat with Morrigan, but it was not going to be required for the entire conversation.
I casually hit a button at the keypad on my wrist.
"This is Robin," I heard Dip say through my earpiece, "I have now spotted the target heading in from the east."
He let me hear the rest of the radio chatter as the other snipers announced they had spotted me.
I headed into a small park area where Morrigan was seated on a bench. When she saw me, she smiled and walked over to greet me. "I've heard so much about you, Rico."
I shook her hand and squeezed hard to test her grip. She had more strength then her petite frame portrayed. "And I know nothing of you."
"Then, to start off, we're on the same side. I've always been with Corloni... including the Welsern job. Apparently there was a screw-up with two assassins put on the same job."
"I prefer the title hitman." Other people were in ear range, but I didn't care. I doubt she did either.
"Well, it's just lucky you didn't kill me that night."
It was lucky, because I'd rather deal with someone I've seen in action than an unknown. "Screw-ups tend to lead to needless killing. So, is your presence here yet another 'screw-up’?”
She smiled smugly. She thought she had all the cards. It was my understanding that pity would be the appropriate emotion now, but I kept my face stoic. "I'm back-up this time. With the leak of the hit, some extra precautions have been made. I'm going to help clear your path to the Senator on the day of the hit, plus I have one of my people in place to take out the Senator more subtly if you fail."
"Why hadn't I been informed of this?" I put some anger in my voice.
"You're being informed now."
"So who was the leak?" Like I didn't know.
"I'm not privvy to that information, but I've been assured it was taken care of."
"I have this feeling I'm being jerked around." I put my threatening face on. It works wonders. "I don't work well with others. I just get my job, and I do it - no interference."
She tried to match my expression. For a woman, she did well. "Your job is still to kill Senator Gredler while he's giving his speech."
I laughed. "That's half the job, sunshine."
She looked confused. "What's the other half?"
I put on my "mysterious" smile. "You've done this long enough; you should know."
"You have no other assignment," she asserted.
"So you say. Nothing personal, Morrigan - if that's your name - but I sorta feel like killing you just to express my anger at this whole situation... since the organization don't exactly have a complaint box, that is."
She was unfazed. I was acting as she expected me to act. Good. "Do you know how many snipers you have aimed on you right now?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "Uh... five?"
She couldn’t hide that look of a predator gazing upon its prey. "Close."
I grinned and looked her right in the eyes. "How many snipers do you think you have trained on me?"
It took a couple moments for that to register. She stared at me uncertain for a few moments, and then spoke into a hidden radio receiver. "Nesters, report in."
I was able through my earpiece to hear them all respond, the last one being Robin who said, "I'm afraid to report that I'm actually dead and have been replaced with a computer simulation. The good news is that the computer algorithm doing the simulation is finding this exercise to be quite educational."
Her face was a mix of shock and anger.
"So which one of us was right about the number of snipers?"
She was about to respond, but I casually pulled out a remote with one big, red button. "I bet you want to know more about me, Hyena, and one thing you should know about me is I like big red buttons that do things." I pressed the button.
I was unable to hear anything or know the results, but I just had to assume for the moment all snipers were in the positions I saw them in earlier and the mechanics performed as advertised. I guess this was a bit like religious faith. I don't why I kept thinking in those terms; maybe it was from dealing with the Muslim terrorists and the Xian Bible thumpers.
"There," I announced, "now there are zero snipers aiming at me."
Morrigan's face went pale. "Nesters, report in again."
"It's not just that you placed snipers on me that's insulting," I told her, putting anger in my voice, "It's that you used rookie women from your little Lilith Organization. To me, that means you don't take me seriously."
"Those women were skilled at what they did!" Morrigan seethed, "You killed them for no reason and..."
"That Robin I slit the throat of was hardly qualified to massacre a playground full of schoolchildren. Maybe some of your girls are quite skilled - I have a certain respect for your abilities, at least - but you're not applying them properly. I'm sure you have some pretty young Corridian wooing the Senator as backup, but, while your average looking women wandering the downtown right now would work well for surveillance in many cases, they might as well be wearing signs saying, 'I'm a hitwoman!' when you're dealing with me. If you really wanted to have backup against me out of fear, maybe you should have been less sexist in your hiring practice and got some qualified men for the job. I hope you understand that I could easily slaughter the whole lot of you if I chose to, but I think six dead is enough of a lesson right now."
She so wanted to kill me right now, but I knew she was professional enough not to even try it (and smart enough to know she would fail). "Those were six good people..."
"Six murderous scum... or people aspiring to be murderous scum. Our kind are hardly people to lament. It's touching you care, though; that's why you can be a leader and I can't. Anyway, why don't you consider them six noble deaths for your education."
"We're on the same side, you idiot!" Morrigan shouted, completely loosing her cool which made her very unattractive.
"So perhaps you understand why what you did was such a mistake - that and how you underestimated me. You already have a scar for the first time that happened."
"I had the tissue repaired," she said, showing me the arm I shot years ago.
"I guess women are more concerned with aesthetics. Me, I keep my scars as reminders of past mistakes."
"Maybe you should be more worried about current mistakes."
I smiled. "I think we're done talking for tonight. Now, I want you and your girl scout troop to stay out of my way. If I fail, then you do your thing. Do we have an understanding?"
Morrigan had recovered now. She still had her future assignment (which she was ignorant enough to think I didn't know about) to comfort her. "Fine, Rico."
"And I'd clean up those six messes before the locals..." I pointed to me. "Or the feds..." I pointed to her. "Start asking questions. Also, next to the corpse of Robin is an expensive piece of machinery. If you could put it back into its carry case and return it to me tomorrow, I'd be very appreciative."
She hid her anger. "Sure, Rico. See you tomorrow at work."
"Later, sunshine." As I turned and left through the crowd, I tapped a number of women on the head saying, "You're one... you're one... and you're one." One was foolish enough to start reaching for her gun, but Morrigan yelled at her.
I think I played her well; I was pretty sure Morrigan thought I was upset because she was encroaching on my job. Plus, I reinforced the idea that I was an unhinged, murderous psychopath (when I am in no way unhinged).
Back at my hotel, I relaxed on my bed, content I now knew about everything I wanted to know about this mission. The only thing I didn't know was what I was going to do.
"Dip, good job, by the way."
"Thank you, Rico," Robin answered.
"Please go back to your original voice."
"Certainly, Rico. I have a question."
"Is Morrigan really here to help you? If so, why antagonize her?"
"To answer the second, I wanted her to know how outclassed she is and thus make her consider bringing in reinforcements."
"Against you? I would think you would want her to underestimate you and have less people to stand in your way."
"That would consider what my goals are, Dip."
"What are your goals?"
I'm not sure. "Let's go back to your first question. You know what the second half of a job is?"
"Yes, you've told me numerous times."
"While I'm sure Morrigan is here to be backup if I fail in killing Senator Gredler, her main task is to prevent me from completing the second half of my job."
"That's very bad, Rico."
I was silent for a moment, but I wasn't going to let myself get upset. "I have a riddle for you, Dip."
"I love riddles. They help me look at concepts from different perspectives and help my learning significantly."
"Well, Dip, I have a job I am not supposed to complete. If something is in the imitation of another thing, but does not produce the same output, i.e., this job I'm not supposed to complete, what's the best word to describe that?"
Dip was quiet for little while. "I think the word 'game' would best fit."
"Do I like games, Dip?"
"In my experience, you do not. You once tried to overturn a virtual chessboard."
"But maybe we can make this a game I like."
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