A neck snaps against a wall.
A man’s ribs are crushed under the weight of a punch.
An orchestra of pain and suffering echo throughout the building.
Strewn across the floor are broken bodies, blood, and fearful eyes, each one as unremarkable as the last. The whole area is a wasteland, punctuated only by the shuffling of footsteps and humming.
Nothing about that impresses me nor brings me any substantial satisfaction. Just a middling acceptance of what came to be, with perhaps the slightest bit of pleasure.
Contemplating that fact, I continue my strut.
Tip. Tap. Tip. The ends of my leather boots skid across blood and linoleum.
There’s no need to hurry.
Making my way towards my inevitable destination, I stop for just the briefest of moments, concentrating my ears through a pillar.
The sound is unmistakable. Something clearly resembling kevlar is rubbing up and down a concrete wall.
Confidence pivots me to face a nearby wall, bringing with it a smile on my face.
They say to never shoot at a flat surface, much less one made of concrete.
They also failed to consider my existence.
Pulling a pistol from my inner waistcoat, I aim at the wall in front of me.
Then within the next second, pull the trigger.
A bullet ricochets.
After a distinct echo of whining metal, a heavy weight falls.
Affixed to the ground, an armoured man with a bullet to his head. Towering over his body, I approach him, making sure to inspect his gun.
The Mortius L-50 Positron.
Though most often colloquially referred to as, and I quote “that really big and expensive fucking machine gun.”
Allowing myself that lovely weapon, I lift it up with my right hand.
Pardon my previous use of the 'f' word, but I thought it a good time as any to lead in with a joke.
Now that all the medium-sized fries are dead, I can finally loosen up a little you know. I might be skilled, but I do like to take my job a little seriously sometimes.
Just a little. Not so much that I wouldn't enjoy doing it, but to the point where I wouldn't be thinking about my dinner, certainly.
So where was I again?
The city of Walpa, United States of Aoel, at the top floor of the Lapla Office Building, another plain old mishmash of concrete and glass.
Frankly, I've gotta say I probably wouldn’t miss much. Buildings around these parts, much less a boring office tower aren't exactly works of engineering marvel. Then again, maybe it's precisely that dullness which makes it so remarkable in the first place.
A wayward haven of boredom within a frantic garden of lunacy.
Right at that moment, when I shuffle my feet ever so slightly forward, a small ray of light reaches my eyes, ushering some strange wonder in my soul.
The temptation to see what's before me is strong now, the unruly wish that leads a free soul like me astray.
That is the beauty of life after all, to ever move from one thing to the next, experiencing all that it has to offer.
While there is beauty in the dark, there's a lot more in the light.
That isn’t nearly as poetic as I make it out to be but it’s too late at this point to take it back.
Putting my left hand to the back of my head, I untie a soft piece of fabric.
Then, to secure it, I tuck what is in actuality my tie into my pocket.
Now, there we go!
With my blindfold off, I can finally see everything in perfect detail. I take a moment of respite, just looking and observing all the minute details around me.
So I was right after all, heh. Having studied the architecture of the building, it seemed my estimation of a pillar right at that spot was on point! That, and well, the countless dead bodies around my feet.
But those really are just extra details.
Noticing my supposed entry point no more than a few steps in front, I approach.
I can almost envision it. The panicked expressions on the face of my victims. Their thin, straightened bodies, trembling under the pressure of impending death. My sadistic desires surface, conjuring both thoughts and smiles.
I wonder what they're thinking. Usually it's something along the lines of 'Why me?’, the sort of idea that belongs to those unsuspecting. That idle thought occupies me for a single second before I press forward.
Raising my left leg, I break down the double door, turning my gaze to those in the large business room.
All around, there are sixteen people.
Fourteen spaced evenly across the long table, waiting with bated breath. Two at each of my sides. One to the left holding a VILA 10mm pistol, one to the right holding a MoLs 7mm magnum.
A chuckle escapes my lips. Before they pull their triggers, my legs split without thinking.
I’m at a lower position now, below where they intended to shoot.
Splat. By then, instinct has done its duty.
The two men stumble backwards. They struggle against the force of their own bullets, each one implanting itself on the others’ chest.
But they’re still alive, protected by armour and raw musculature.
Click. No matter, the time they take to recover will never be short enough.
“Say hello to my very big friend!”
My LMG whirrs to life, and the bullets spray out in a horizontal line.
In doing so, I shoot just above the businessmen’s heads, sending glass shards flying. The reason I forgo just killing them is not because I’m weak or incapable of aiming.
It’s because after all this time, the knife on my waist is still unused.
Now wouldn’t that be a shame.
Chk. The gun empties itself to its last bullet.
“It’s Azamin time.”
A clean caress of steel against leather produces a whisper. My melee weapon rests firmly within my grip.
Sprinting towards the desk, I slide over it with momentum still in hand.
Before they can so much as scream, they die.
The only thing that comes out of their throat are spurts of coughed out blood.
One by one, the figures fall, a clean sweep of my blade is all it takes for each and every kill.
My hand moves through their waistcoats, snubbing a thumbdrive from three of no particular order.
None of the bodyguards dare shoot in the meanwhile. Afraid of what is and what may be.
That’s their mistake. The last one they’ll ever make.
I throw the knife at the bodyguard to my left. Then, while it’s still in motion, run to the one on the right.
His trigger finger tightens. So does the muscle in my right arm.
I launch out with my right punch, incorporating a rotation of my torso to support it.
The moment after, he’s dead, sent flying against the wall.
Everything, from his ribs to lungs are destroyed.
No doubt, this is the point where I can ease up my muscles.
With every man dead, save for the one still gurgling from the knife in his throat, I think we’re set.
Sheathing my blade after a quick flourish, I then touch my forehead for any trace of sweat.
As expected, there’s none whatsoever.
I should probably learn to take small fry a little less seriously in the future.
No mages, no Resolved, and yet I still put in that much effort.
I mean it was fun and all, but it could’ve been more interesting if I gave out a few more one-liners or a chance to retaliate.
Mr. Azama, you goofy goofy mercenary, sometimes you have to relax a little.
What’s the point of doing all that killing if you can’t even have a good amount of fun while doing so?
Speaking of relaxing, let’s move onto something a bit more lighthearted.
“Now onto the nuances and merits of explosions and chaos!”
If I’m counting correctly, there should be forty seconds until the foundations of the building go kaboom. More than ample time for some pre-epic takeoff fun.
Giving one last glance to the gas giant in the sky, I then begin my calculations.
One eye closed, left thumb out, then repeat, only closing the current eye and opening the other, then finally aligning it in just the right position…
Perfect. Now if we factor into the fact that I’m 184cm high and I can fit 4.5 of myself into the space ascending from this floor and that the building is 160m high…
Approximately 314.3 metres from current position to place of landing. As for a final examination… Between calculating the distance, I also extend my tongue, getting a taste of the wind’s speed and its direction.
Yum, there’s a little bit of delicious cold rain in there too.
Conclusion, the wind speed is 9km/h, coming from the North-East, and the distance is 314.3 metres, all in all, absolutely marvellous.
That leaves thirty-eight seconds left. Do I do some more calculations, or do I do an early landing? Actually, let’s stick with neither. Silly me had completely forgotten about another possibility.
My eyes dart from side to side, glancing about the room, in search of any souvenirs or cute trinkets I can take back. Ooh, now there’s a nice one!
Someone’s antique coin is on display, presented in a nice glass casing nonetheless.
Oh well, no one’s going to mourn that being gone!
Considering you know, everyone is dead and all, (afterlife not included).
I feel like it’s dragged on for long enough, so I make my way to the shattered window. Storing the objects safely in my pocket, I begin to step back for take-off, an unnecessary but ultimately routine step. Running my hand through a button, I then feel a wingsuit activate, and before long, leap from the floor.
Straight down into the streets of Walpa, under the cover of night, and free from any witnesses, I fulfil my duty.
Then following due process, I make my way from the area, change into a disguise completely different from myself, and contact my employer. Just in time for me to walk stylishly away, disregarding the explosion behind without even a glance back.
Azamazing, if I say so myself.
It takes a second or so, but some witness to my little crime, dressed in suit and tie, soon approaches me. He’s the exact sort of guy the government employs. Some newbie, completely inconspicuous, with a generic face that can be seen everywhere and a perfectly normal demeanour. Compared to the loonies I face, he’s also very run of the mill.
The man smiles. “You have the wine?”
I take a bottle of wine from my waistcoat, and present it to him.
“1924, House Rutana, a delicacy if I say so myself.”
He laments, no doubt, about to express his concerns with passive frustration, before I stop him.
“Check your inner right pocket.”
“What? My inner…”
Raised eyebrows, lowered jaw, and a tinge of tensed eyelids. Nice. It seems my joke paid off. Other than the literal wine I presented, I of course, had given him the figurative one. Three separate thumb drives, each with the information demanded, each stored in a pretty little box.
“And the food?” He asks, the wave of displaced composure long gone.
“Served with the chef’s compliments.”
“Then it’s settled.”
This was the routine. In addition to every mission came an epilogue that was almost identical to this. It had gotten stale over the course of many repetitions, so as per my jovial self, I added some twists. When you reach the peak, there comes a point that no matter what you do, that it doesn’t matter. If I chose, let's say, to don a fish costume, and speak with wet gurgles, then the outcome would be the same. A curious glance or two maybe, but ultimately, they would just get passed off as eccentricities. Odd, but ultimately excusable behaviour.
“Will you be coming for dessert?”
“Depends, on what we’re having.” I reply, a pensive look in my eye. “Are they serving white cullberry pudding topped with cream?”
I do have to give credit though. He plays along quite well. Sure, he replies with an unremarkable and downright boring placitude, but at least he tries.
Points for effort!
“Anyways, shall we get going?”
There’s nothing left here for me to do. Therefore, in line with common sense, I follow him out of the damp street, making my way to the limousine just situated on the road beyond. As per custom, the man opens the door with a bow, and I, being the gentleman I am, respond with a nod and thanks.
It was therefore, that the true conclusion of my mission came to be. A simple yet refreshing quest, filled to the brim with mindful slaughter and mild thievery. Unfortunately for me, it would also prove to be the last. Wasting no time, my employer reveals herself, presented in her usual long blonde hair and business garments.
“Azama, we’re gonna need you to kill the strongest mage in the world.”
In truth, she spoke the name ‘Rainee Althaiez’, a name synonymous with the strongest mage. So, in essence, what she demanded was practically the same thing.
About time I get myself a real challenge, am I right?