She couldn’t believe he’d done it again, the assassin-for-hire known to international law enforcement agencies as Hellspite had eluded the American FBI, CIA, and even the unnamed British Agency she was on loan to.
Mikiko Jahn was a unique individual. Six years ago, she nearly died in a nuclear power plant accident and would have if the brilliant and eccentric scientist Daniel Hunt hadn’t saved her, literally rebuilt her from scratch with new and revolutionary processes and materials collectively known as Synthecon.
Now, even though in every manner conceivable, she looked, sounded, smelled, and acted like any other woman, only portions of her brain, nervous system, skeleton, and internal organs were biological…human. The rest, which made up over ninety percent of her physicality, was a set complex biosynthetic structures, maintained by hundreds of thousands of nanoscopic probes coursing through her bloodstream.
After the accident, the Japanese and British governments gave Hunt unlimited funds and resources. They only had two conditions. The first was to give Mikiko back the ability to be human, to interact with society normally, to seem to be the person she had been before. The second was to, as much as the technology would allow, make her more than human, augment her abilities, senses, even her emotions. They had plans for her.
The woman standing in the driveway was the result and the two governments had given her the job of finding and destroying a ring of human traffickers operating in the United Kingdom. However Hellspite had gotten there first, but only because he had a personal vendetta against the leader of the British crime cartel, famed attorney Richard Singleton, now a corpse with a missing head lying in a morgue.
Last night, Mikiko discovered the Hellspite’s secret, he had told it to his half-sister Sienna who hadn’t known of his existence or his relationship to her or her mother twenty-four hours before. He told her he wanted to help her escape her mother, the second-in-command of the cartel of human slave runners. Mikiko had found them, stopped Hellspite and turned him over to the police. Now he had escaped and taken Sienna as a hostage. He said he’d kill her if pursued. He thought no one would follow, not even Mikiko.
The Japanese woman’s enhanced senses allowed her to shadow the two of them by their scents alone. Mikiko had unerringly followed the pair from five kilometers behind. She could “smell” that he would not murder his sister, though he had made over twenty confirmed kills in the past five years.
Until last night, Mikiko didn’t think she could kill either, but she discovered that when her body was rebuilt so had her personality. She didn’t know for sure if it was her who had the desire to end the threat of the Hellspite once and for all or if it was simply a software program being run by the cybernetic implants in her brain. Either way, the compulsion was almost overwhelming.
The Glock 17 in her right hand felt good. During the past two years, she had been trained to kill using a vast number of different methods, over a hundred of them just with her bare hands. She walked up the driveway. He could see her of course, he could kill her right now. He was an excellent marksman.
He had chosen this place as his last haven, a sanctuary where it would be safe to be a brother to his sister for the first time in either of their lives. She was only nineteen and had been sheltered since the day she was born. He had told her the ugly truth of her existence and his, but now all he wanted was peace. He wouldn’t kill Mikiko in cold blood right in front of Sienna. He’d wait until she made the first move, and then could claim self defense.
Mikiko was at the front door. It wasn’t locked. She walked into the foyer. The only light was from the study ahead, firelight. The door was ajar. She slowly pushed it open and walked in, handgun still down by her side.
“Good evening. Do you intend to shoot me again, this time for the kill?” He was standing near the fireplace, very much looking like the lord of the manor.
The last time, she had intended to kill him thinking he meant to harm his sister, not knowing their relation. As far as Mikiko knew then, he was just one more man who liked to rape women acquired from human traffickers. When she found out the truth, she only wounded him.
“I don’t know. It depends on whether or not you’ll hand her over to me willingly. If you do, I’ll take her home and then you and I will meet another day.”
He wasn’t obviously armed but he was considered one of the most dangerous men in the world. She had no doubt he had a weapon close at hand. If she pressed him, whose reflexes would win?
“This is my haven. I promised my sister she would be safe.”
Sienna was sitting in a chair behind him and slightly to the right. She looked terrified but was it because of her brother or Mikiko…or both?
Mikiko couldn’t decide if it were instinct, training, or programming, but she knew that she could raise and fire the Glock killing Hellspite in less than half a second. He was standing only four meters in front of her. With her enhanced reflexes, balance, and eyesight, he would be impossible to miss.
She wanted to kill him, needed to kill him, needed to save the young girl, but if she murdered him right before her eyes would she be saved?
Mikiko Jahn slowly bent down, placed the Glock on the floor, and then stood again. It’s possible if he suddenly produced and fired a handgun that she could move out of the way of the bullet in time, but it was a calculated risk. If she was wrong, she was dead, but then what about everything he had told his sister?
“You called this your haven, Hellspite. Perhaps it is mine as well. You can kill me, or we can both do what we started out to do, keep your sister safe by not exposing her to danger or violence.”
He seemed to sigh with relief. There was a plush armchair next to his sister, a twin to the one she was seated in. He took it and then motioned to Mikiko’s left. Another chair. It would hamper her movements. This could all be a trap. His scent, body language, pulse rate, she was close enough to hear it, all indicated he was generally calm but also very alert.
“Now then, what was your name again?”
“Now then, Mikiko. What shall we talk about in this shared haven of ours?”
I wrote this for the Thursday photo prompt – Haven – #writephoto challenge hosted by Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. As near as I can understand it, the idea is to use the photo at the top of the page as the inspiration for creating a short story, and then post a pingback to the story that will appear on her blog.
For my regular readers, I’m obviously leveraging my Mikiko Jahn series although I’m not sure if I will include this current offering as part of her “canon.” The story is set days later than the most recent one published, and I had to be circumspect in my writing not to give too much away. I hope I’ve managed to create the proper suspense of a confrontation between two people who have already killed but for the sake of one innocent young woman, do not want to kill again. In this context, “haven” can mean many things.
Follow this link to learn more about the conditions of the writing challenge and find links to other tales written based on the prompt.