Chapter 8:

Chapter 5: Spreading Wings

Flight of The Blackbird

And so, life went onward. When I wasn’t taking missions, I was helping out at the restaurant or hanging out with Kota and Shiro. Kota and Shiro had both gotten jobs at Benny’s, and now worked some shifts with me when they weren’t at school, because unlike me, they were normal teenagers with somewhat normal lives. Our favorite thing to do together was to go see any movie we could at the theater down the street from our house. We made it a bit of a game, to see how many movies we could see, no matter how good or bad they were. Some were so laughably bad that they ended up being entertaining. Shiro had some interest in being a movie critic, so she would leave reviews online for every movie that we saw.

The days and weeks passed quickly due to my busy schedule. I jumped from D-rank to C-rank after only a month, then C to B in another month, which is the fastest recorded rank-hop since Flamingo twelve years prior. The bodies I left began to pile up, until I grew somewhat numb to the thought of killing others. Thankfully, I had something most other assassins didn’t: friends and a family to keep me grounded and to stop me from turning into a monster that killed indiscriminately. The shaky hands and moral questioning went away, too… mostly.

At B-rank, I could take on more difficult foes with ease. My fighting had improved in the previous two months, and I forced myself to work on my situational awareness after the night of the party. That night had unpurposefully brought me to the realization that no matter how strong, fast, or intelligent I was, there was always room for improvement.



I felt the gust of air blast past me as I narrowly dodged the rubber bullet being shot at me from a steel gun in the wall. I’d recently asked for these to be installed to help train my mind and my senses. I essentially wanted to be able to dodge bullets. Three more rubber bullets whizzed past my face, narrowly missing.

“Shit! This… is harder… than I expected!” I shouted between dodges.

I could dodge competently for a minute or two, but I would always slip up. Like I was now. One of the bullets flew out of the barrel and smacked me in the forehead with a thunk. When the bullet hit, the machines automatically stopped firing.

“Ouch… sonuva-”

“NEW HIGH-SCORE: 22 BULLETS DODGED,” a robotic voice blared from the wall.

I was slowly getting better at dodges, meaning my mind was getting sharper. It was definitely a sharp learning-curve and an even sharper pain, but it was working.

Sweat dripped from my forehead and I put my hands on my knees to steady my breathing. I’d been doing it for nearly two hours now, and it was starting to get draining. Right then, my cell phone rang. The ringtone was the one I had set specifically for Oakman. I grabbed it and held it to my ear.

“Yes, sir?”

“Doing anything at the moment?”

“No, just finishing up a bit of midday training.”

“Good. Are you up for a mission?”

“Always. Who are we dealing with?”

I heard him inhale on the other end of the phone.

“Leon Perry. Rank B. A known serial-killer we’ve been hunting for weeks. The reason he’s so hard to catch is the exact same reason that we have. His hideout is in the Wildlands. We finally tracked his home down early this morning, but he wasn’t there. His lair is close to you, only thirty minutes if you use your wires. We want you to stay there until he gets home, then take him out.”

“Got it. Send me the location of his hideout, I’ll get my gear and be there waiting.”

The familiar ping of a text message alerted me of a hologram-style map, showing me the route I was to take. I studied it carefully as I walked to the armory.

The armory is a room in the dormitory-style lodging area. It looks as one might expect. Guns and knives line the walls in an orderly fashion, extra jackets hand from hangers in multiple closets. My weapons of choice, fitted as I like them, were sitting on the wall under a sign that read my codename in fancy font. It reminded me of an old spy movie I’d once seen.

I grabbed my spare jacket off the rack and put it on, then attached my weaponry, which included a poisoned dagger and my two handguns. I attached a silencer to the 1911, but not to the Piledriver. Because it fires buckshot, a silencer would cause an internal malfunction and likely destroy the gun. And besides, if it gets to the point that I need to use it during a one vs. one assassination attempt, being quiet is the least of my worries.

I ran out the metal double-doors and flinged my wire at a tree. Hopping off the ground, I went flying across the dark, green forest and towards my destination.


Twenty-five minutes later (never tell me the odds!) I arrived at the hideout. Perry was still walking back, so I used this opportunity to sneak in through his window and wait for him in his bedroom. Though instead of a lover, he’d be coming home to a blade in the gut. I sliced the lock off the window and slid it upward, then crawled inside.

It was a mistake.

Instantly, my nose was assailed by the most putrid odor I’d ever smelled. It had to be at least four separate rotting corpses. I pulled the mask-piece on my jacket up and pressed a button on the sleeve. It tightened around my nose and mouth, pumping fresh, clean air into my face.

“Dear God, how does anyone, even a psychopath, live with that god-forsaken smell?” I whispered to nobody in particular.

I’d made up my mind. I had to search through the house and give the bodies a proper burial. I’d bury them after burning Perry.

That son of a bitch is going to pay.

I began to do the disgusting work of searching the house. Bodies were hidden in different rooms in various states of decay. One had been dead for so long it was merely a pile of flesh and bones. I’d learned about the stages of human decomposition in one of my assassin classes, so I could tell immediately that this one had been dead for over a month.

The bodies had both metaphorically and literally begun to pile up. It was gross work, but I managed to get the corpses outside before Perry showed back up. My cell phone went off again, alerting me that Perry was ten minutes out. I ran back inside and up the stairs, then his in one of the now-empty closets, mask still up over my face. I thankfully couldn’t smell the odor of death much anymore.

After a few endless moments of waiting, I heard the makeshift door creak open and slam shut. Thudding footsteps echoed throughout the wooden structure. I stood in that closet, breathing shallowly with my knife in hand. He lumbered up the steps until he was right outside the closet, then stopped. Due to his shadow and the sound of his steps, I could tell he had turned toward me. He began to whisper something, raising his voice gradually until he was screaming his lungs out.


I heard a movement in the air and slid my head to the left side. A second later, a massive, jagged-edged knife came through the door. It got stuck in the wall only a few inches from my right ear.


I lifted my leg and pushed out a bit, then slammed my foot into the door. I heard a grunt and a thud, then saw him on the ground but standing up. The jagged blade was still stuck through the door, which gave me an opportunity. I shot my wire through his left hand, nailing him to the ground. He paid it no mind, however, looking down at it and laughing before sliding his hand up the wire and tearing it out.

It’s like he doesn’t feel pain at all!

And that’s when it hit me. There’s a performance-boosting drug popular in anything from MMA to cage-fighting called Heatblast, called that due to the fiery sensation you feel when taking it. It essentially turns off pain receptors, but it also makes the user erratic and ridiculously strong, hence why Perry could stab directly through a door. It was like steroids on steroids.

His destroyed left hand dripped copious amounts of blood onto the wooden floor, staining it a deep red. The maniacal grin never left his face. His laugh was unsettlingly deep, like Satan himself was laughing in my face.

I have to finish this quickly, or this’ll be the end!

I backstepped and pulled the 1911 from its holster on my hip. I aimed at his head and fired, but he dodged the bullet. I fired a few more shots at his torso, hoping to hit him, but I only grazed his side and arms.

“What the fuck is with this guy?!” I shouted in frustration as I holstered the 1911 and pulled out the Piledriver.

He charged me, trying to knock me down, but I retracted my wire and fired it again, this time at a wall. I shot backward and hit the wall with enough force to shake the shoddy structure. Birds flew out of the trees, squawking in irritation at our scuffle.

I fired a shot at him from the Piledriver, which he tried to dodge, but the spread of the buckshot hit him in the arm. Holes were punched up and down the right side of his body, but he was still standing. In fact, even though both of his arms were useless now, he still continued to charge me.

It’s like fighting a fucking zombie in a roid rage!

That gives me an idea. Against a zombie, go for the head!

I holstered the gun and slid a sword’s length of wire from my right wrist, but didn’t pull it taut. I charged the raging maniac in front of me, dodging one tackle, then a kick, before using my uncanny speed to slide behind him and wrap the wire around his throat. At that moment, I pulled with every ounce of strength in my body.

It was enough.

Leon Perry’s head flipped through the air and landed at my feet with a thump. Similarly, the headless body fell to its knees, before limply thudding to the ground, splattering blood and viscera all over the floor. I kicked the head over to the body and did as I always do, lighting the corpse ablaze.

Figuring that fire and wood don’t mix too well, I jumped from the second-story window and grappled to a nearby tree, watching the poorly-built wooden structure slowly catch fire and burn down. All of Perry’s victims were out behind the lair, so I went back to them. It was only at this point that I realized my back ached from flinging myself across a room. I flopped backward on the ground and let myself rest for a moment before getting back up tending to the bodies.

Four hours later, I had dug a massive hole with the help of a few gadgets lying around back at the training facility. For some reason, I felt… compelled to give these faceless, nameless people a grave and a burial. I put all of the remains into the hole and covered it back up with the irritatingly heavy topsoil. I made a little cross out of sticks from a tree. I stood in front of the hole and cleared my throat, hoping my voice would reach these poor souls.

“I didn’t know any of you, nor you me. Nobody deserves to die this way. None of you should have had your lives shortened and ended in such brutal ways. I’m sorry nobody is here to say goodbye but me. Just know, I’ve avenged you. He’ll never kill again. I’m just sorry I couldn’t get him before he got to you. May your souls find peace in whatever afterlife you believe in. Goodbye.”

I’m sorry.

I turned my back to the grave and solemnly walked back to the training facility. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky was glowing orange. I had to get back to my house, but I wanted to stop by Benny’s first. I shot a quick text to Oakman telling him the mission was complete and the bodies buried, then a text to Benny asking him to keep the restaurant open a bit late. Both replied almost instantaneously with affirmative messages.


Another few hours later, I was sitting at the bar in Benny's restaurant having an iced coffee. I wasn’t planning on sleeping much tonight, so I could drink and eat whatever I chose. My gloomy mood had somewhat subsided, but I still wasn’t feeling much better than earlier. The cold drink definitely helped a bit, returning a small bit of lost energy I’d expended digging a mass grave. Benny could likely tell I wasn’t in a great mood, because he didn’t speak to me much, just brought out a plate of warm comfort-food and an iced coffee. It was little moments like that that reminded me just how kind Benny always was to me. He’d even arranged the ice cubes in my drink into a smiley-face, which made me feel an inexplicable happiness.

I finished the last of my coffee and talked with everyone for a little while, letting them know that I was okay, then walked outside. The air had started to get a bit cold, due to it being around midnight in the middle of September. It wasn’t to the point that I could see my breath yet, but it was noticeably cool. I took a turn down an alley on my way back home, when I saw something odd.

There was a girl on the ground, probably around my age, squirming in fear. Above her was a tall, fat man with a large knife. He seemed to be threatening her for either money or sexual services. I gritted my teeth and my mind hopped in to help decide.

This is my chance to save someone! You can make up for all the bodies you buried! Don’t let this chance go to waste!


I flicked a knife out of my jacket sleeve. It glinted in the pale moonlight as I got my arms up in a stance.

“Finally, a chance to do some good.”