FPO password accepted. Access granted. Begin Plunge.
The warp-catch threw me against the wall of an empty sixteen by sixteen foot apartment. I landed with a thud and gasped as my breath was forced out of my lungs. The air was pungent with the smell of sewer and water dripped in from tiny holes in the ceiling. The place had been long abandoned.
My cam-cloak was wrapped around my throat choking me. I pulled with all my might and nearly tore it. Through rapid breaths my eyes began to focus. Well, my right eye. The other eye was still in-transit. I grunted as the particulate of my body caught up to time, painfully piecing me back together molecule by molecule. It was night and raining heavily, judging by the hammering of drops on a glass window facing the rest of the city. Tall skyscrapers could be seen with a great halo of Chinese sky-lanterns and multi-color beam lights crossed the clouds giving the city a luminous aura enough to give the aurora borealis an insecurity complex.
‘We did it! I can’t believe my theory worked…um not like I’m surprised or anything,’ sputtered a voice from a cypher pack on my belt. I took the hexagonal metal object and tossed it to the floor with a clatter. A holographic projection of my A.I. flashed on beside me, garbed in semi-transparent robes. Her hair was done up like a dancer of yore.
‘Where are we?’ I asked sitting against the wall, realizing my left arm hadn’t arrived just yet either.
‘My limiter has yet to track your body. It seems there is a lot of lag this far forward.’
‘Great, so I just wait?’
‘All you can do-.’
Suddenly, the apartment lit up with blinding pink and blue light. A neo-pop hologram almost as tall as the skyscrapers blinked on, and I realized I was staring at a city-size image of…me.
I forced myself to stand up as an announcer’s voice echoed through the city.
‘One-hundred and forty years ago our supreme leader was in grave peril, but he was saved at the last moment by our hero and savior, Lu Gengxin! She saved the emperor from a terrible assassin and spared this great city from impending doom. All praise Emperor Xun Song and his hero!’ The holograph flashed in between my depiction and that of the emperor.
‘No!’ I said, slamming my fist against the window. ‘I fucked up.’
‘Wow, they really got everything right about you. From your wide ears to your pointed nose. It’s so uncanny he remembered so much about you in only a few moments. Wait, weren’t you supposed to kill him?’ asked my A.I.
‘I did! He bled out in my arms as I sliced through his neck.’
‘What are you going to do now? Your entire mission failed,’ mumbled the A.I. as she tapped her chin staring at the giant hologram.
‘I have to finish what I started.’
‘I don’t recommend that. It’s impossible to get into the royal grounds twice. You failed in the past and people learn. They don’t forget,’ said my A.I. ‘I mean, really, what’s the worst about this? Everyone thinks you’re a hero. You could really come out ahead now.’
‘I don’t care. I can’t let him get away with it. We do what we did then and you are going to help me.’
‘There’s no way this is who you’re meant to be, Lu. This is no way to live when you can have your life back. If you do this you will die, I beg you to reconsider.’
‘Nothing can stop me from my revenge.’
‘Well, you traveled one hundred and forty years to kill me and turn me into this, where’s my revenge?’ sputtered my A.I.
‘You’ll get yours when I’m dead.’
The cam-cloak made easy work of the visual security of the royal outskirts. The walls were well guarded by sentries and scarab-turrets. I had no difficulty slipping past them; however, once inside the walls, I knew the heat scanners would make things tricky. So, I devised a plan.
‘It won’t work,’ said my A.I.
‘It will and I don’t need your negativity. We’re stopping his tyranny once and for all.’
I could tell the hologram wasn’t happy, but it had no choice. ‘I can still end your existence.’ I held up her hexagon in my fist to emphasize my point. ‘You are here at my leisure.’
‘Ok, ok, please just…put that away.’
She sighed with visible relief when I set the hexagon back into my belt. I will not hesitate again.
‘Where to?’ I asked. The last bits of my body had materialized on me, and I activated my augmentics.
‘I marked the path for you.’
A golden line formed along the floor, and I saw two targets through the wall marked in red. The helmeted guards were garbed in flowing robes holding arc-spears. They would make quick work of me if I wasn’t careful.
‘You need only disable them. They don’t have armor.’
‘But they have weapons. That makes them dead,’ I said as I rolled onto the floor flinging three ultra-steel blades at the royal bodyguards. The blades pierced their necks with lightning speed, and they fell to the floor headless without as much as a whisper.
I could tell my A.I. was upset. She would get over it.
I made my way through a hallway and into a ventilation duct. Fortunately, I could adjust my size as I saw fit thanks to my recent upgrades. There was no entrance too small I couldn’t fit through.
After half a dozen turns, I found the royal study, and there he was standing at a window with his arm behind his back. His black suit was neatly pressed and his hair was slicked back into a top-knot. I could see the reflection of his face, sternly staring out over the night-lit city. The emperor stood still like a statue.
Still camouflaged, I fell from the vent onto the floor silently. I drew a zipper blade from within my cloak and activated it, the edges glowing with electricity.
‘Father, look out!’ shouted my A.I.
‘Shit!’ I drew the hexagon and clenched it but not before Song turned with a needler pistol in hand. He shot my arm, severing my hand from forearm. The metal piece clattered to the floor along with my hand, the hologram sputtered my A.I. out with a horrified look in her face. ‘Please, Lu. Stop!’
‘I didn’t know the emperor had a daughter,’ I muttered, ‘Unlucky me.’
‘Bastard daughter,’ corrected Song. ‘One I never thought I would see again.’
He stared at me solemnly. Song had a deep scar running just below his chin. Scar tissue had left it an ugly second smile. I crouched but before I could move he held his hand up. ‘Please, wait Lu Gengxin! I knew commemorating you as a hero who saved my life would inevitably goad you into coming to find me again in an attempt to finish what you started. I have waited every night here for you for more than a century, but please, before you die, I would like to know one thing.’
I cocked my head to the side. ‘You want to know why?’
He shook his head. ‘I know already. You blame me for your lover Saeki’s death. Her reconnaissance ship was stranded in orbit and my men were sent to--.’
‘Kill her. I saw the video feed. You blew it up after what they found on the moon. You wanted to keep it a secret from the rest of the world.’
‘Not true. The ship experienced mechanical difficulty. We tried to save them, but we were too late.’
‘Save it. I don’t buy the propaganda you feed this godforsaken city. I know you’re lying.’
Song shrugged. ‘Denying something doesn’t make you right, no matter how strongly you disagree. That just drives you mad. That’s not my question, however.’
‘Alright, you have your one question,’ I said, ‘then, you pay for your crimes.’
‘When you murdered my daughter, did you even know who she was?’
‘Sincerely, no.’ I craned my neck at the fluttering hologram. ‘She was in my way and I ended her like I end everyone that tries to stop me.’
‘It’s been mere hours since you last saw me, but I’ve been waiting one hundred and forty years for me to see you again and I have been waiting patiently for your response. My daughter was a technological genius with a bright future and her augmentological advances would have saved the lives of millions. For her to die to a snake like you is the worst injustice of all,’ said the emperor.
He raised his pistol and squeezed the trigger, an ultra-light beam sizzling through the air, but I had already cloaked myself. I jumped, twirled in the air, and released two humming blades at him. The emperor twisted and a forearm body shield sprang to cover his upper torso enveloping him in a blue hue. The blades struck the field and clattered to the floor harmlessly.
Then, before my feet touched the ground, he held his fist up and the blades, in a blue hue just like his body, rose before him. He opened his palm and the blades flung at me impaling me against the wall. The cam-cloak deactivated and I was powerless to move, the thin fibers shooting anti-aug nanites into my bloodstream began to shut my body down.
‘You didn’t have that the last time we met,’ I choked.
‘I’ve learned a lot since then,’ said Song. He collapsed the body shield and relaxed, slipping a robe over his shoulders. ‘I kept the wound you gave me as a memento that I would indeed see you again. This isn’t exactly how I thought it would be.’
He walked to the metal hexagon and picked it up in his hands.
‘Father,’ sputtered the hologram, putting her hand just over his cheek.
‘I should thank you, Lu,’ said Song, tears collecting in his eyes. ‘I thought I had lost my daughter to time. At the very least I have a small piece of her to remember her by.’ He raised his needler pistol, aimed at my chest, and--.
First Person Observation Ended: Subject deceased after GSW to heart.
The two autopsy technicians glanced at each-other.
‘I didn’t know that’s how it went down,’ said one.
‘I told you the whole hero thing was a ruse. He wanted to trap and kill her all along,’ said the other.
‘Why Emperor Song wants her augs stripped now is beyond me. What would anyone do with sweeteners like these? They’re so out-dated.’
‘Not sure, but if you know what’s good for you, you’ll never speak a word of what you saw here. We could be killed just for seeing it.’
The other stared into the time-assassin’s cold blue face. The augmented organs had been taken out and set into a silver tray. Her mechanical humanity had been stripped and all that was left was the empty flesh husk now descending into decay. Her glossy blue eye remained open wide. ‘Are we even sure it’s her?’
‘Of course, it is. Who else would it be?’
‘The nose is all wrong.’