Strings of Retaliation – 23b – First Night Out

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I sat the sleeping guard against the closed door. His even breath confirmed he wasn’t allergic to my beads.
What would have happened if he was? My communication chip relayed Vexx’s accusative tone perfectly.
You’re the squeamish ones, I retorted. I’m getting the job done. Allergic reaction had happened once. Yes, the guy had died because he relaxed so much he forgot to breath, but it was exceptional. Besides, my mission was to create terror and no matter how Lorelei window-dressed it, terror wasn’t clean.
Vexx coughed.
Don’t worry, Angel. I’ll follow the plan to a T. But you should both prepare for the inevitable collateral damage.
I bent to pick-up the train of my dress and gave it a couple of twists. Two clasps, hidden amongst the metallic decorations, allowed me to pin the train up against the small of my back, freeing my movement. Lorelei fashion didn’t make a lick of sense, but at least she knew what an assassin needed to get the job done. I tugged my satin gloves back up above my elbow. No fingerprints!
To your left in 200 meters, then two doors down, Vexx prompted.
I know. I started in an easy jogging, made the proper turns and headed up the flight of stairs behind the second door. A cyan plate, crisp against the taupe walls, labeled the third floor as the stage management for the Sahasrāra room. The aerial part of Lorelei’s performance required the space of the thousand-petaled lotus dome.
Three guys, all focused on the stage, Vexx informed me. He must have hacked into the security system. Visual looped.
I squatted and cautiously cracked the door open. While I plucked three beads off my dress, I edged the door further with the tip of my left foot. The guys came into view, each wearing a full-body black technician suit. To preserve their hearing, the management room was completely sound-proofed. The soundman had a pair of headphones on so he could hear the music properly, but all the other two needed to do their job —aka make sure the pre-programmed sequences ran without a hitch— was the visuals and a speaker playing the tunes at a reasonable volume.
The soundman slurped a drink and set it down without ever peeling his eyes away from the stage. He then leaned backwards, balancing his weight on the hind legs of his chair. Too easy.
I aimed for the small patch of skin between the soundman’s hairline and collar. With a flick of fingers, a bead dropped him. The thump he made when he hit the floor startled his colleagues who turned around, offering the full expense of their face for my beads to land on. The first one fell asleep towards the floor, but the second wobbled. I lunged to wrap my arms around him, and planted my feet as he started falling towards the console. Tilting him against me, I lowered him to the floor. Messing up the light show would have been a dead giveaway.
Nicely done.
I’m a professional. I pushed the door shut with my foot. Tucked in the far corner under the consoles was a mini-fridge for the technicians’ refreshments. I reached behind it where Dom had tucked a case for me. Gotcha.
Five minutes to window.
I freed a corner of the table by swiping the mounds of paperwork to the floor and propped the case open. A few tools rested beside the rifle and I picked the small rubber tube first. Stretching over the console, I drew a nuzzle-sized circle on the plasma-proof glass. The chemical compound sizzled as it converted the glass to harmless silicon. It would need some time.
Next, I pressed the lock against the door and its frame. I held it in place until the indicator turned red, telling me it was secure and would slow down anyone trying to come in. One push of a button and it would release so I could get out.
How fast can you assemble a rifle? Vexx asked.
A small dose of adrenaline coursed through me and I smiled. Is someone coming?
Oh! No! Sorry, that’s not what I meant. I was just curious. Lorelei spent a lot of time mastering each of her guns.
Chuckling, I pulled the canon out of the case. Not very. I don’t use guns often. Dom though…
My average marksman skills were better than Dom’s, but only because he had no patience for finesse. He was a “make plasma rain and God will sort his own” kind of marksman who could assemble anything in less than 30 seconds. Most guns under 15.
Note to self: don’t become a hostage if Dom is the only one around to save me.
Don’t become hostage, period. If it came to that, Dom would drop the gun and charge. He’s deceptively swift and agile. I plugged the plasma-generator in its support and locked it in. Between “good, he dropped the gun” and “Shit! A bear is charging me”, most guys don’t process events fast enough to avoid a crushing defeat.
I bet.
The laser sight clicked in place and I set the gun aside to peel the hole I made in the plasma-proof glass. Sound blasted in as if the whole window was gone. On the stage, Lorelei jumped from trampolines to trampolines, covering the full extent of the stage with a flock of menacing men in her wake. I steadied the rifle’s foot on the flat top of the console, aligned it with the hole and cradled it against my shoulder.
Window in fifteen seconds. Vexx’s words also meant that he wouldn’t be talking until I asked him to. I closed my eyes and concentrated on my control chip. I needed to be cold-headed, hyper aware and ready to shoot.
A rope dangled from the top of the stage and Lorelei grabbed onto it after one of her jumps. The men jumped back-and-forth between two trampolines and attempted to grab her, but she balanced herself out of the way every time. This was my window.
I aligned the rope in my sight, ready to shoot it clean off as soon as momentum would send her to land safely on one of the trampoline. Movement on the catwalks drew my attention. A technician was edging toward the rope, almost invisible in his head-to-toe black outfit. Nonthreatening. But then, light reflected on something.
Faster than thought, I aimed and squeezed the trigger. The technician stumbled off the catwalk. His body hit the stage and a gun flew out of his hand. Panicked yells rippled from the performers to the audience, all the way back to the balconies.

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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