Currently on hiatus. Will resume in July, or sooner.

Current story updates:

Current story interludes/Side stories:
Every other Saturday

Other pieces:
Every other Saturday (Saturdays I don't run the Interludes/Side Stories)

During certain periods updates may come more often; at other times updates may come less often. This schedule is my hoped-for goal.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Hunting you Hunting me: Part 2

So, I should probably give credit where credit is due. Peter Zhou gave me the idea for this story. I asked people for a story idea because I felt like writing, and after giving me some very unhelpful answers Peter gave me one very good one. Both the sniper and the artist incorporate character... bits for lack of a better word, that he suggested.
So thank you Peter for the idea behind this story. Without it this blog would not exist.

“I feel your eyes on me sniper. I feel them burning me”

“You cannot hide from me artist. I will find you. I will end you”

The artist turned away from the window. She had cut her hair, and changed her clothes. her knives were hidden up her sleeves, but she wore her guns openly.
She smiled as she looked around.
She had traveled halfway around the Arcring to find this place.
This was the place where they had given her her legs, her fingers, her arms. This is where they had made her strong and fast.
Now she needed them to make her the best.

The sniper turned away from his window. The monorail would take him to her in time. For now he would use his time productively, not stare out the window like a lovesick boy.
He sat in his seat and pulled out his rifle.
The boy beside him looked at him askance.
“Do not worry young man. I am a Arcerment trained assassin and peace keeper. I have my neural inhibitors functioning at full capacity. I could not cause you harm even if I wished it”
The boy scooted away from him. Maybe he had sensed the lie at the end there.
The sniper went back to cleaning his rifle. The boy was pretty, and would have made good art, would still
“NNnghhhggnnnaaa!” the pain ripped through him, excruciating, horrible, dulling everything but the pain. His thrice damned neural inhibitor going off, punishing him for his thoughts.
He had not had it activated in many years. The artist must have gotten to him more than he had realized.
He sighed, and looked at the boy. He was curled up, as far from the sniper as he could be, crying.
“It is ok boy. I wanted to hurt you but my implant stopped me. You are safe unless it fails, which it never ever will. You are safe”
The boy didn’t stop crying. The sniper could understand why. He went back to cleaning his rifle.

The artist smiled at the place she saw before her. A chop-shop, they would chop you up and put you back together again, for a fee.
The artist saw no need for money, but she took the Arc credits from those she killed as she knew that they were needed by others. Needed for things like making her strong.
She walked to the counter of the unassuming store. The man behind it widened at the sight of her. They knew her here.
“You’re back. They said that you had been caught, made to serve. We all thought-”
“You thought wrong Michael. I am back, and I am free. But I may not remain free unless you do this for me”
“What do you want this time?” Michael asked.
“I want you to make me better than I am. Take what you have given me and make it better. Make me faster, stronger, tougher. Make me able to use these” she gestured to the guns with distaste “Things. I don’t know how to use them, but you can give me that knowledge too”
Michael looked at her askance “You in trouble artist? If so, you know our rules”
“Yes yes, double normal fee, all in advance. I have it”
She scattered the plastic Arc creds across the counter.
“There. Now make me best”
Michael gulped, and nodded.

The sniper got off the train and watched it as it sped off. The boy had still been on it, had still been scared when he looked back.
Poor boy. He did not deserve to be wound up in this fight. This battle between him, and his past. No matter though. He was but a boy.
The sniper turned and looked around at the station, and the new world almost.
Poletown, named because it was above the north pole. There was another pole town over the south pole. Real original people the architects.
The place was grimy, a veritable criminal hive. Crime festered like an open wound, like a sore, and there was nothing that the Arcernment could, or would, do about it. Even agents like himself were forbidden from doing anything to change it.
Not that he would have. Not today. He had something to do, someplace to be. Important things to do.
He cracked his knuckles and took a moment to stretch, limbering up. In theory his muscles didn’t need it, but even with all the goo and genetic restructuring they had done to him he still kept his old rituals. Never knew when that fancy goo could fail.
The sniper dropped to a crouch, satisfied that his muscles were ready for exertion, and sniffed at the ground.
He knew that she had come by this train. He had seen her get on it, but there had been too many people to take the shot. But he had seen her get on, and this was the only place she could be going.
He caught the scent. Excellent. he had been right.
He stood, the direction fixed in his mind, and caught a group of thugs eyeing him, or more accurately the rifle.
Wrapped in cloth as it was it didn’t look all that high-end, but anything with that power was wanted. They must have been very green or very stupid to not see the dangerous grace in the way he moved though.
No matter. Either they would leave him alone, or they would approach him, and-
They were approaching him.
“Can I help you gentlemen?” he asked, thinking to avert this and so avoid the waste of time “I will have you know before you challenge me that I am a trained assassin”
They, there were five of them, looked at him for a moment before the leader laughed.
“You expect us to believe that twitchwad? You expect that to scare us? You’re in our territory now, and that means that you either pay our fee, or you get hurt then we take our fee”
They all smiled, and some pulled knives as they drew closer. They likely thought him unable to get the rifle down fast enough to hurt them, and he carried no other visible weapons.
“I may as well try and resolve this peacefully. I have places to be. What is your fee?”
They sneered at him.
“You scared little man? We’ll take your rifle and whatever creds you got on you. You hand em over now, or else the price goes up”
The sniper looked at them and shook his head sadly. So tedious filling out reports over incidents like this, but he could not surrender his rifle.
The gang leader stepped closer.
“Did you not hear me twitchwad? I said -gghhurk”
He cut off midsentence, his threats turning to gasps for air as the sniper chopped sideways into his throat. It wasn’t the most effective way to kill, but it might let him survive, meaning one less report. It may also cow the others.
“You see what he did? Get ‘im!” another shouted. No such luck then. They charged him en masse.
He ducked the swing of the first one and brought his fist up under his ribs.
Even while his hand knifed its way through to put pressure on the diaphragm he snapped a kick into the hand of a second, disarming him.
The first man collapsed, his diaphragm bruised, maybe hurt more seriously, as the sniper leapt into the air. He turned a somersault more for style than practicality, and landed behind the third man. He grabbed the man’s chin with his left hand and wrenched with all his strength while snapping a kick into the nose of the fourth.
With a cracking of cartilage it collapsed, and was forced upwards. The man collapsed. Likely his nose had pierced his brain.
The sniper dropped the third man, whose head now faced the wrong way and slammed his elbow into the chest of the disarmed man. He felt ribs crack, and followed it up with an uppercut that caught him under the jaw.
The force of it snapped the man’s head all the way back, and then further. With a crack it snapped past maximum extension, and he too fell.
The dagger he had kicked fell to the ground with a clink as the sniper stepped back and surveyed his handiwork. Four men dead, one suffocating.
The scent of blood filled his nostrils. Damn. he would need to catch her scent all over again.

The artist sat up. Her implants were inserted now. There was no taking them out. She could feel them integrating even as she stood up.
Not accustomed to her new strength she launched herself across the room by accident, and smashed a bank of monitors before getting control of herself.
“That’ll cost you extra” the surgeon said “You should take some time to get used to them before going haring off. Let them finish integrating”
“No time” the artist gasped out, and launched herself to the pile of her stuff at the far end of the room. She pulled out another handful of credits and tossed them in the surgeon’s general direction, being careful not to turn them into projectiles with her new strength.
She shed the medical robe and began pulling her clothes on heedless of the onlookers. They had all seen her naked during the surgery anyways.
“You have the other information I asked for?”
“Yes” Michael stepped into the room holding a portscreen “The train arrived ten minutes ago, and the locations of the safehouses are going to be marked on a map for you. Why do you insist on using paper?”
“Because paper cannot be hacked” she grabbed the page from Michael and slammed the cartridges into her guns “I am glad that you taught me how to use these. I will be needing them soon. As for you all, you should run. There is a sniper coming”
She walked out, ignoring their cries of protest and shouts of dismay. They were no longer her concern. Though Michael was nice he would either be dead soon, or he would have to move shop. Either way she would never see him again and she had already paid him far more than what he was owed.
She stepped out onto the street and sniffed the breeze. The stench of sewage filled the air, but that was fine. She did not mind. It smelled of life, of the world, of those who she could make art of.
But not right now. She had a hunt to undertake.
She ran off into the everlit streets, calloused feet slapping against the ground.

The sniper looked up, then back through his scope.
The chop shop had been boiling with activity since he had arrived, but nobody had left.
Finally a man poked his head out the front door. As it swung closed the sniper could see a lobby full of men with guns, all pointed at the door.
He sighed. More time wasted. If she was in there at all.
But she had to be. Her scent had led right to the door. She could not have gotten away. He knew that the chop shop had no secret exits, no tunnels or other exits, and he had followed the edges of it, sniffing at windows and back doors. Then he had placed cameras watching them. He would know if anyone left via them.
Yet as time passed he was more and more sure that she had in fact gotten away.
Somehow, and he had no idea how, she had changed her scent, avoided his tracking.
That was frustrating in and of itself, but to leave him waiting here, hunting her where she no longer was? If he did have to make her into one like him then she would be better than any other.
He was about to get up and ask the people in the chop shop, nicely if possible, where she had been headed when he caught a whiff of a familiar yet new scent.
“She is here” he whispered, thrilled at the prospect “But where are you, and how did you change your scent like that?”
Ahh. The chop shop. They must have added new pieces. He had not known that adding new pieces to someone changed their scent. He filed that piece of information away at the back of his mind for later.
Now where was she? He scanned the streets with his rifle, looking, searching, searching, but seeing nothing.
At the last moment he realized, and rolled to the side.

The artist growled in frustration as her spray of bullets missed the sniper by centimetres as he rolled.
“You were supposed to die nicely little man” she snarled as she tracked him, still firing.
“You’ll find that I’m not so easy to kill” he said as he changed the direction of his roll, somersaulting forwards, bringing his rifle to bear.
It kicked as he fired, and the bullets tore through only metal plating as the artist threw herself backwards with all her superhuman strength.
She had been practicing, testing the limits of her muscles, and she thought she knew them, but she flew too far.
She grabbed for the rails of the catwalk she had been crouching on, but missed.

The sniper ran to the edge, in time to see the artist fall, but not in time to take a shot at her as she vanished through the wires and pipes into the outer ring.
He shook his head in annoyance and looked back up at the chop shop so far overhead on the other side of the ring.
He supposed that he could leave them alone now. They had nothing more that he needed.
He began to pick his way slowly down to where the artist had fallen through. He knew she wasn’t dead. She was too tough for that fall to kill her. No, she wasn’t dead.
Not yet.

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