Location: Castella Residence Surroundings – Richmond, Virginia
Ketra watched Horus with a wide eyed expression on her face. The assassin pressed a button fastened on his sweater, above his left shoulder. A clear liquid seeped away from the button, in all directions. It crawled over his entire body, adhering to his form as it did. It had a metallic sheen to it and if Ketra hadn’t known better, she’d have mistaken it for a thin sheet of aluminum. Experience however, told her she was witnessing trillions of Nano-bots spill out from the button Horus had pushed, and envelop his entire form. In seconds, a midnight black wingsuit had been formed by the Nano-bots, complete with a visor similar to the one Set wore.
“Horus, what are you doing?” Ketra asked, just as the assassin pierced the tree stem with his right glove.
“Set’s lost the target. I’m going to take her out.”
“I need you to be my eyes, Ketra. Whatever you do, do not follow me in there.”
Horus looked directly at her, as he said this. For once, his cold eyes seemed to reflect some concern. She would never have guessed he had that in him. Ketra wondered who he was concerned for. Was it himself, her or the target? She decided to push him a bit.
“The target said something about missing a Miki and never getting the chance to find him. When she said that, you shuddered slightly, then started making preparations to go in as well.”
Horus did not respond. He tested his balance and began climbing further up the tree trunk, till he was at the thinnest possible point that could support his weight.
“Are you Miki?!” Ketra yelled against the howling wind.
Horus looked back down at her and let out a wry smile.
“I am many things, Ketra.” He said and quickly dived off the trunk, letting the wind sweep him away.
Ketra was left alone on the tree branch. She picked up the multi-modular scopes she knew she would need very soon and peered through it, watching Horus’s flight trajectory.
“Yeah… one of em’s being an asshole. Whatever you’re up to, you better not die on me… asshole.”
The wind whistled past Horus’s face as he shot through and weaved in between tree trunks. His take off angle hadn’t been as steep as Set’s and as such, his flight path was fraught with more danger. Any miscalculation would end badly for him. Horus continued to bank this way and that, using the updraft of the wind to keep himself just above the tree line. As he approached the house, he could just make out the breach in the window Pane Set had made, earlier. Horus spoke into his microphone.
“Ketra ever heard about threading the needle?”
Yes. High risk maneuver involving falling through a narrow opening at high speed and breaking the fall, just before impact. I believe it was inspired by a dare devil who did it in 2014… Treyvon?
Yeah! Travis. Wait… Wh… Horus what are you doing?
“Is my angle of approach good or bad?”
Is it good or bad? It’s insane! You could get yourself killed!
“Insane is not an option? Good or bad? I’m closing in fast.”
Adjust by two degrees left… Jesus fucking Christ.
Horus banked left, ever so slightly making the adjustments Ketra had mentioned.
Horus nodded instinctively. He could see the breach clearly and his drop would lead him right through. He reached out and held the release cord for his parachute.
“Releasing in three… two… one…”
The breach rushed towards him like a great monster’s open mouth. Horus fell in with a whoosh and immediately pulled on the cord. The howling cold wind disappeared immediately, and a raging fire took its place. Horus was falling sideways and through the inferno, when he was suddenly yanked back by the releasing parachute. Two men stalked out of an open room, their guns trained on him. It might have been anticipation, instinct or experience, but Horus had already withdrawn his gun and took aim in midair. His right index finger pulled twice on the trigger while he arched his arm in a sweeping motion. A few bullets whizzed past him, one grazing his left arm as it flew past. He was quickly being drawn back to the breach. He let himself get pulled out of harm’s way and then reached out to unlatch the chute straps. Suddenly, he was falling but it was a very short drop as he crashed on the floor of the hallway. His arms shot up, holding his gun steady, but the two men lay still on the ground.
“Ketra, I’m in. You will be my eyes and ears. Where is the target?”
Heat signature places the target in the kitchen… judging from the blueprint.
Horus got up and hugged the right wall, moving in step with the shadows. He took in a deep breath to calm his rapidly beating heart. Nothing however, could numb the throbbing he felt in his head. She was in the kitchen. How far away was that? How close was he to facing her again? Seeing her face. Horus was grateful for the visor that hid most of his facial features. He stepped over the two guards who had attacked him earlier and quickly checked to see if either of them was still alive. The first guard had an ugly red hole in the center of his forehead, his eyes wide in the last expression of shock his face was able to form. The second, had been hit right where his heart lay beneath his chest. Both lay still, unmoving and unbreathing. Satisfied, Horus straightened up. That was when he felt the cold barrel of the gun press into the back of his neck. Horus stiffened.
“I do not recall ever being able to sneak up behind you.” Set said, his voice heavy with mild amusement.
“There’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?” Horus responded.
Set lowered his gun and Horus turned around.
“In our line of work, the first time might also be the last. If you had been my target, you’d be dead.” Set grinned.
“Your target wouldn’t agree with that. Which is why I’m here.”
The grin slowly left Set’s face and a more serious expression replaced it.
“She is resourceful, I’ll give her that. There was a feature of the house, not covered in the blueprint. They have a path and two hidden rooms leading to the study through a secret entrance. She escaped before I could reach her. That was not in the blueprint, Horus.”
“Then I assure you, it was not in the original blueprint.”
“We need to split up and search for her. There might still be guards in the house and reinforcements may be on the way.”
They both made their way down the stairs. The fire had spread down here, eating and licking anything in its path. Their Nano-suits kept them insulated against the heat and constantly purified the air they breathed in, making it less tasking on them to move around. They picked up shouts and yells, just as a few guards scurried around the bottom of the stairs and opened fire on the assassins. The assassins crouched, making themselves smaller targets and opened up suppressive fire on the guards.
“Cover me.” Horus said, before jumping on the railings. He slid down, firing in intermittent bursts, on the guards. Their attentions divided between both men, served to be their undoing as they were cut down one after the other. Horus hopped off the railing, as he got to the end. He was quickly staring down the barrel of an automatic weapon. Horus sidestepped a spray of gunshots aimed at his chest. The loud jarring sounds made by the recoiling chamber, reverberated in his head, and his ears throbbed painfully. Horus’s hands grabbed the weapon and dismantled it instantly. He cocked his elbow backwards, smashing it into the nose bridge of the guard. The man’s head violently snapped backwards, a trail of blood ejecting from his nasal passage as it did. Horus placed his right foot behind the guard’s sending him crashing to the ground. A gunshot rang out and the last guard who had been aiming his gun at Horus, slumped to the floor. Horus finished off his own attacker with two shots to the chest, just as Set jogged down the last flight of steps. Horus jerked his head towards the kitchen. He’d thought he heard a whimper.
“The guards were trying to keep us pinned upstairs. She’s gotta be either here or in the kitchen.” Set said in a low voice.
“Sweep the living room. I’ll check the kitchen.” Horus was off in the kitchen’s direction, before Set could respond.
Meghan hid behind the kitchen counter, letting out slow shuddering breaths. Every gunshot, and every sickening thud was followed by an involuntary twitch of her muscles. The fear of her impending death was probably worse than death itself and a part of her, weary of running, urged her to stand up and give herself in to her killers. There were at least two of them. She had determined that much. There could be more. The protective detail assigned to her, had been decimated. She looked right, to see the last of them, Frank, eyeing her with wide eyed fear. She couldn’t blame him. Those who had come for her could not be human. She held unto the patch of cloth he had used to suppress the bleeding from the injury she received from a bullet grazing her shoulder. The bullet had ripped through the bookcase just as she swung around with it. A second too late and she would have been dead.
“Frank…” Meghan whispered but met a finger to her lips.
That’s when she heard the slow steady footsteps, walk into the kitchen. Frank gripped his gun tightly, closed his eyes and exhaled. When he opened them, the professional was back. This was what he had been trained to do. She could see it in his eyes that he would protect her with everything he had. She just didn’t think it would be enough. Meghan and Frank had been trying to make their way from the kitchen to the bunker where they were sure they’d be safe. But with the firefight happening so close to them, he had hesitated for fear of her being cut down by a stray bullet. As the footsteps drew nearer, she wondered if that had been the best decision. Frank gave her one last look before whirling out of his hiding place and opening fire. She could hear the running patter of footsteps and the grunt of a dive. Frank hurtled himself over the counter and Meghan scurried to the side to peek at the ensuing scuffle. Frank’s opponent looked like the same man she had seen in the hallway upstairs. His visor, with the blinking green light, gave him a cyborg like look accentuated by the suit he wore.
Both men had disarmed themselves of their firearms and Frank was laying a flurry of punches into the assassin, with all his might. However, his opponent was frightfully quick. He bobbed his head down and up, swaying this way and that as Frank hit nothing but air. Occasionally, he would block a punch that threatened to connect. Frank went in with a hard right that was blocked and deflected upwards. With his midriff exposed, he took three quick and furious jabs to either rib before a crunching blow to the solar plexus, sent him reeling backwards. Frank regained his footing and picked up a ceramic plate, hurling it like a discus, at the assassin. His opponent shielded himself with his elbow and the ceramic plate cracked into pieces. The assassin in turn picked up a glass cup and launched it at Frank, who ducked underneath it. However, the assassin had picked up a small shard of the broken plate and broken into a run. He sliced down on Frank’s face with the serrated edge of the broken piece, eliciting a blood curling shriek of pain.
Meghan watched as Frank’s face was driven into the counter with such force, the marble topping cracked and pieces of it fell to the tiled floor. Frank staggered back, his face a bloody mess and the assassin stalking him like a predator surveying its prey. Frank flailed his arms about in a hopeless bid to defend himself. However, his hands were quickly disabled with the assassin’s deft disabling attacks. Each bone cracking sound made Meghan quiver in fear. Frank was on his knees, the assassin prepared to deliver the final blow when Meghan spoke up.
“Don’t!” She yelled and quickly covered her lips.
What had she done? These men were heartless. There was no way they would listen to her pleas and Frank’s sacrifice would be in vain. Yet she had to forge on.
“Don’t kill him. You are after me.” Meghan said, her eyes flashing with the last defiant strength she had.
The assassin stared at her as he pushed a quivering Frank, sending the special agent crashing to the ground. He slowly walked over to her and picked up his gun, sliding a selector on the side and pointing it at her forehead. He held his position for what seemed like an eternity. Meghan could not bear the indignity anymore.
“Do it already!” She screamed as the tears flooded down her cheeks. “Do it, you fucking bastard!”
“Horus, put her out of her misery.”
Meghan’s eyes found the second assassin who had walked in. She immediately remembered him as the first one who attacked her. The one whom she’d assumed this other one was. She turned back to the one they called Horus and let out a gasp. What she heard was impossible. If it was real, it was a lifeline. Was her mind playing tricks on her? Was this a last ditch attempt by her mind to ease her passing?
“What?” Meghan coughed out a whisper, while looking at the assassin identified as Horus.
“I said, trust me.” Horus let out a small smile.