Chapter 2:

Tick, Tick...Boom!

Assassin's Hunter

Once I found my way to the opera’s hallways, I moved into a box seat to get a view of the stage. People were starting to make their way to their seats. They were all dressed to the nines, fat cats and their own personnel. None seemed armed since weapons were prohibited among the guests. This should be easy. But, of course, cybernetic limbs could contain weapons, so there was that or any others who managed to sneak weapons in here.


The loud sound of a door being blasted open echoed around the house. Gunshots followed, causing panic and screams. Nix and the others made their way across the stage to the house, holding their weapons toward the guests.

“Ladies and Gents! We are tonight's entertainment. For our opening act: We’ll shoot you if you move!” Zhivago echoed.

Well, he was seriously enjoying himself. Even though the ground team had most of the audience at direct gunpoint. I had to ensure they were covered.

I pulled out my mapping orb again, but this time for a different reason. I pressed one of the dimples along its surface, to which the button flashed red as I spoke a command to sync with the sphere. “Combat Mode. Target Select: Armed Hostiles. Filter: Marked Friendlies.” I tossed it towards the center of the house above the orchestra seats. The sphere’s dimples opened up with small barrels popping out slightly. The Mapping Orb was also retrofitted as a miniature sniper drone.

As soon as some audience members moved instinctively to retrieve hidden weapons, the orb fired accurately, hitting its target. The shots were small, crisp, and powerful. This little guy might seem like a catch-all weapon, but it was only helpful for specific situations. Since the shots are fired from such a small object in mid-air, the bullets can’t be powerful enough to go through high protective gear or anything thicker than brick walls. Also, its compact design only allows a limited ammo capacity. So each barrel only contained two bullets. A standard flight drone would be preferred in an actual firefight, but the orb is suited better for tactical and stealth missions.

Plus, thanks to the discs I gave to my group, the orb would naturally avoid shooting them even though they had weapons of their own. The filter feature worked like a charm.

I shot a few armed stragglers with my own gun meanwhile. Zhivago now took the lead, going through the aisle, helping eliminate targets, and keeping the rest of the guests ‘cooperative.’ Crono and Nix followed, looking up to check the higher seats above me. Finishing up with covering them, I made my way back to the hallway in the lobby’s direction, trusting the orb to follow and protect my comrades from any blind spots.


After going through some goons, easily, I made it to the upper floor of the lobby. I could hear before arriving the gunfire reverberating off the granite walls and pillars. My orb was still floating around, following my group, who were now making their way out the door. Melody and Victor were firing into the auditorium, with the sound of more bullets answering back. The final convoy unit had caught up and was fighting their way through the front. Only a matter of time before some reached us by going around the building.

“Guys, more cops are well on their way now. We’re screwed if we’re not out of here in zero seconds!” a voice spoke into our coms.

“Planting the last bombs at the front. Give us a second!” Crono said.

“These guards are pouring out from the stage like a chorus line! We ain’t got time!” Melody yelled from the top of the stairs below me.

I noticed the charges placed all around the lobby now. Every wall and pillar had a black box with blinking red lights. The sound of gunfire grew louder and more frequent, often crossed with a few smoke bombs and flash bangs. Things were more than heating up.

“Vic, Melody, pull back; we’re done here,” Nix ordered.

I ran across an archway bridge to the large window overlooking the street, preparing to make my escape. Just then, I heard footsteps coming from the hallways behind me. Several armed men approached me with guns pointed at my head. They took notice of Melody and Victor, who were running down the main stairs shooting back every few steps to cover their way. All but one guard now had their weapons pointed at the two below.

Okay, that’s better. This should work.

“You, on your knees!” yelled the guard in front of me.

As I bent down, I grabbed a small flashbang from my thigh pocket and discreetly tossed it across the guard to settle behind him. It went off, throwing the closest guard off balance and discombobulating the others trained on Melody and Victor.

I made my move. Putting power into my heels for launch, I unsheathed the sword from my back and activated its killer function. Molten Slash. The edge of the black blade began to glow red, lightly humming from the hilt. I rode the man in front of me down, his bulletproof jacket sizzling as I cut through. Traces of smoke rose from his open wound and tattered clothes.

The rest were as good blind bats, only unaware of what was approaching. I slashed through each of them without giving them a chance to fire their weapons. I made sure to aim for vital spots. No muss, no fuss. However, as I approached the final man, he already had his gun rising toward me. From the form of his stance, he was more focused than the rest. Since the blast was further away from him, I assumed he was least affected by the flashbang. Before I could charge, a barrel was aimed at my head. As the bullet fired, my arm jolted across my vision. The next thing I heard was a miraculous sound.


My hand shook from the impact. My blade had deflected death, but I wouldn’t wait to try that again. Based on the guard’s demeanor, he was surprised beyond belief. Which was now to my benefit, for what happened next was as easy as cutting- well, you know.

I prepared for more as I heard footsteps approaching again. However, the lobby was empty, meaning everyone was now outside. Back to the main window, I shattered it with a hit from my sword’s pommel. I saw the truck below, with its side door open with Nix just getting in, followed by the rest with Victor at the tail end. The rain kept up, hopefully providing cover for all the racket we were making.

The drop from here to the main steps was about four average stories high. Luckily I had just the tool for this. So I sheathed my sword and grabbed what looked like a big “T” with a grip on the long end. Imagine an inverted gun with two barrels facing opposite directions instead of the handle.

I held the device high in the air, ensuring one side faced a solid part of the outer wall behind me, and one facing the ground below, next to the van. I squeezed a trigger near the top of the two barrels, and two cables shot out, clinging to the surfaces aimed at. A Zip-Quick-Line. The main device unit was now loose and was able to move freely along the cable. If needed, the device had internal motors to move you forward if you wanted to go upward.

Just as I was about to head down, something felt off. My heart skipped, and chills ran along my entire body. A blue flash broke the night. Lightning? It couldn’t be. No thunder followed, and the light seemed stronger in a particular direction. I glanced up towards the horizon of skyscrapers. Another flash and this one was slightly staggered; it came from a building… Dygen Corp Tower. The top of the building illuminated a harsh blue light for a few more seconds. It pulsated rapidly and then blinded my eyes as it burned once more until dimming down to nothingness. My head ached, buzzing as if hit by a car. Something was wrong, and I could somehow feel it all around my body.

A bullet whizzed past my head breaking me from the brief spell. I had no time to look, but I could take a guess that an army was at my six o’clock. I slid down the cable with the handle of the zip-line device in my hand. I looked back to find a crowd of armed men in the lobby beginning to spew out of the main entrance. Seconds before nearing the van, I clicked the device’s trigger again, allowing the cables to retract back into the barrels. Now in mid-air, I made the call.

“Blow it!”

The air grew hotter, and the sound behind me was massive. Rubble flew by, hitting the ground like meteors. I landed, breaking my fall with a roll across the pavement. Behind me used to be an elegant opera house entrance, the steps lit up leading to, with large columns and colorful flags across the front. Now there was a giant fiery hole with bodies decorated around it.

Before entering the truck, I glanced to my side near two empty squad patrol cars. There lay dead men in uniform with bullet holes in their chests. I really did try…

The door shut, and we sped off into the alleyways with the faint sound of sirens nearing closer. Smoke was looming into the sky as the fire intensified from the opera house. It was pure chaos outside of the vehicle. On the inside, the entire crew was safely accounted for, with no sustainable injuries. We did it.

“Almost lost you there, squirt,” Melody joked.

“Those gadgets of yours sure are nifty,” Nix said, referring to my mapping orb most likely.

“Work smarter, you know,” I answered.

“Lucky it didn’t get us by accident,” Zhivago grumbled.

“The filtering feature is accurate. So there was no need to worry,” I assured.

I should get one more.

I moved to the front to reach Yuno, who was driving. I grabbed his shoulder to get his attention.

“Anyone suspicious got a look at the truck- those cops?”

“No one paid any mind to it. So we’re good,” Yuno said.

“Great,” I patted him on the arm. He was the second youngest in the group. His role in our crew was the getaway driver, but he also had a knack for engineering. Even amongst a group of thieves, he still pursues to learn and enjoy the contributions he makes. I envied that. All of them, in fact… this sucked.

“The boss is waiting for us,” Crono looked at his phone.

“Get us to the rendezvous point. Quick, but without grabbing attention,” Nix said to Yuno.

“Too bad we can’t use the skyway,” Yuno complained.

One thing was still in my mind. What I saw and felt up on the opera window. The phenomenon was picking at my brain like a thorn. Best to forget about it. I was going crazy, or maybe this world was becoming more so.

With that, the truck picked up speed, and we made our way out of the city. It was still ten-forty-six p.m., and Ultima City was just starting to wake up. What a way to start off the night.