The Royal Assassin

1.

My name is Brent. I have no last name, I barely even use the name Brent anymore. Brent died twelve years ago. It made front page of the New York Times. I remember the headline like it was yesterday. "Family brutally slain in own home." The article went on to explain how police believe that five or more men broke into the house in a suburb of New York City, and proceeded to torture the mother and father, then abducted the only son. He is presumed dead, for the killers are still at large.

The police never caught the killers. They were at large for eleven years until I finally caught up with them. I was the boy mentioned in the article. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was sleeping peacefully when I was roughly dragged from my bed by two men. They forced me to watch as they tortured my parents for five hours. I was only ten years old, and helpless to retaliate. After they finally killed my parents, they left me there. Maybe to haunt me, maybe because torture is not beyond them, but killing a ten year old kid is. I have no clue.

What I do know is that after they left, I took off. I had no clue what to do so I ran off into the night and never returned. Even at age ten all I could dream of was revenge. I moved into the city and began learning everything I could from anyone I could. For eleven years I trained how to kill. Only then did I move on my parents' killers. I hunted them down one by one, saving the ring leader for last. I took pride in how terrified he was as he heard about the deaths of his men one by one. It got to the point where he couldn't sleep because he would sit up all night with a shotgun in his lap, jumping at the slightest noise.

I know this because I watched him. I made many of the noises that made him jump, just to keep him awake. He never knew I was in his house until I finally made my move. He died very slowly indeed.

As I said, Brent is dead. I am listed as presumed dead, so I have no file, no fingerprints recorded, no address, or anything about me at all except concerning my birth and 'death'. That is something very useful for an assassin. For that is what I became, a contract killer. Since death and revenge had become my life, it only made sense that I made it my own personal business. Now I helped others get their revenge, for incredible sums of money.

I am what is known as a royal assassin. I rely on timing, stealth, and precision to accomplish my goals. The term royal assassin goes back to ancient times. Every king had an assassin in his employment, hence the royal part. The man usually doubled as a body guard, accompanying the king wherever he went. This was just cover to scout out the places he would have to infiltrate. These men were so good that there was never any evidence of the hit, except the dead body. The method of entry, exit, and murder weapon could never be determined. They had the best equipment, best training, and most important of all, are the most efficient.

At this precise moment I was on assignment. The target was a two bit arms dealer. Recently he had been making moves on another arms dealer's turf. So naturally the second arms dealer hired me to take out the first. The job was almost an insult to my abilities. I would have refused if it wasn't for the overly generous compensation I got.

But the amateur of a dealer was begging to be killed. He was staying at a suite in a large and populated hotel. He had the two adjoining rooms for his men, and he stayed in the suite, living in luxury. It wasn't even hard to find out where he was staying, let alone scout out the hotel.

While scouting I discovered many useful things. First of all, the dealer left each day to go to his warehouses and supervise his little empire. He left at exactly eight o'clock each morning, and was at the warehouse by nine. He was at least smart enough not to go directly there, however I had no trouble tailing him. While he was gone, the maid came to clean the floor. He was very careful not to leave any incriminating evidence in the hotel while he and his men were gone.

The maid herself was very unique. She was notoriously claustrophobic. So that meant, the small hotel rooms were constricting, and bothersome to her. Every room she worked on she immediately opened the windows, so as not to feel so contained. This applied to the suite as well, even though it was very open, but old habits die hard, as they say.

This would be my mode of entry. While she was cleaning, I would silently slip in through the open window, and wait in the room until the arms dealer returned.

To this end I commandeered a window washer's platform and lowered myself down. As I passed the suite, I planted a tiny wireless camera on the window ledge. Then all I had to do was go down one level, and watch in my hand held screen as I pretended to wash the window below.

It wasn't long until the maid went into the bathroom to clean it. There are several things she needs to do in the bathroom, so she will be in there for several minutes. Knowing this, without hesitation I moved the platform up a little bit, then leapt silently into the room.

My soft padded shoes made no sound as I sprinted across the room. From my pouch at the small of my back I took out two climbing suction cups as I continued my sprint across the room. I then used the table as a vault, and leapt upward as high as I could. I attached the suction cups to the wall, and hung there silently for a second. I had made no sound as I ran, but I did bump the wall slightly as I attached the cups. However the maid's humming remained constant and unwavering.

I climbed higher using the cups. When I was in the corner where the two walls met the ceiling I attached one cup to each wall, right up against the ceiling, then I clipped a strap from the harness I wore around my waist to each cup, and allowed myself to hang suspended there.

I did not move a muscle. I would wait silently, not moving for days if I had to. I knew it would not be that long however. The arms dealer would be back around eleven, he always was. He prided himself on being insanely punctual. That punctuality would get him killed, for it allowed me to plan precisely. I knew that after he came back from his warehouse he would have exactly an hour to himself to handle all sorts of paperwork. His men knew never to disturb him, because he absolutely hated paperwork, and wanted to get it done as soon as possible.

Exactly when I expected him, my wonderful friend the arms dealer walked into his suite. He tossed his coat onto a chair and proceeded to head towards his desk with his folder full of papers. He would never make it to that desk however.

I drew forth my pistol. No pistol is greater for assassination, made almost entirely of plastic it didn't show up on metal detectors. It uses compressed air to fire high impact darts, so it is the quietest gun in existence. The sound it makes is easily drowned out by breathing.

I aimed the gun carefully, the info-red laser sight was only visible to me, or anyone else who happened to be wearing info-red goggles. I squeezed the trigger. A soft pffft of sound escaped the gun, but nothing else. The dart flew strait and true and embedded itself in the man's back. Within hundredths of a second the deadly toxin was pumped through his system.

The entire shot was a precise thing. The tip of the dart penetrated so deep it pierced his lung, therefore he was unable to make any sound as he died, no matter how hard he tried. The poison would take him down even before he felt the stab of the dart. Then the most beautiful thing happened. A fragile glass capsule embedded in the rear of the dart shatters upon the impact, and releases its' contents. The incredibly strong acid leaks out and proceeds to melt the dart and the surrounding skin on the body into nothing more but a cauterized film on the body. But that does a wonderful thing. It not only destroys the evidence of the dart, but it also burns up the poison in the person's blood stream, for the poison hasn't spread very far by the time the acid reacts.

The last thing the acid does is it always makes roughly the same sized hole, at precisely the same angle every time. So that way the angle of the shot is unable to be determined, so whoever comes to investigate will only be able to tell that he was shot from behind. But they will only be able to guess where I was when I took the shot, not be able to tell exactly.

I unclipped the climbing cups from the wall and dropped noiselessly to the floor, and sprinted silently to the window. There was no need to check the body, he was dead, nobody could survive the poison.

By the time I made it to the washer's platform, I had my pistol and goggles tucked back into their respective concealed places, and had grabbed my micro camera from the window ledge. I looked exactly like a window washer again. I rode the platform back up to the roof, left it as I had found it, and then made my way innocently to the lobby of the hotel, and out the door. I had a full hour until the body would be discovered, so that was plenty of time to get away. I disappeared effortlessly into the crowd of people on the New York street.

Sergeant John McKinley lay asleep, his face resting on his desk, his own drool pooling on the piece of paper that had become his pillow. An empty glass with just a small swallow of a clear liquid that was definitely not water lay still clutched in his hand.

John is somewhat of an outcast on the police force where he works. No one wants to partner with him because of his radical ideas, and him smelling conspiracies around every corner gets annoying fast. He is the only person on the NYPD that believes there is an organization of assassins based somewhere in the city.

He spends hours upon hours at the station pouring over any kind of record or rumor, or anything about any kind of strange killing. His favorite topic are murders where the weapon cannot be determined, the physical evidence left behind on the scene is next to none, and no suspects or culprits are ever apprehended. His theory is that these crimes are the result of people known as royal assassins. The best of the best, who will only deal a killing blow if they know there is absolutely positively no way to find out the cause of death or murder weapon.

John's only fiend is a reporter for the New York Times, who also writes conspiracy stories for the supermarket tabloids. He is the only other person who believes John about the assassin guild.

The phone right next to John's head suddenly rang, jolting him from his doze into an upright position quickly. Groggily he fumbled for the phone, knocking the receiver onto his desk before he was able to get his fingers to work properly and lift the receiver to his ear. All he heard was a loud crinkling sound as the paper that was plastered to the side of his head by his own drool was pressed between his ear and the phone.

Coming to his senses slightly, he ripped the paper off his head, and spoke groggily into the receiver. "'lo." He mumbled as his scratchy throat refused to work. He cleared his throat loudly, and downed the last swallow of the alcohol in the glass, then repeated, "hello?"

"John, it's Tim." Spoke his reporter friend on the other end. "I got a hot one for you. I caught wind of it as I was covering some story down town. Some dude, a suspected arms dealer with some bogus front was just found dead in his suite. I managed to pull a few strings and get some info off one of the uniforms. Seems it's that guy who uses the acid to get rid of all the evidence. They have just begun to process the crime scene, and if you hurry your drunk ass up you can get a piece of it."

"Thanks Tim." John spoke into the receiver as he jolted from his chair, returned the receiver, and ran from his office as he grabbed his coat from the back of his chair and sprinted across the department's floor to the elevator.

A few minutes later he was in the parking garage, and leaping into his unmarked car. He hit the gas and sped from the garage. As soon as he was clear of the garage he slapped his light onto the roof and hit his siren. It was against policy for him to do this. He wasn't assigned to the case, and there was no need to rush, he couldn't help the man he was going to investigate, and he knew for a fact the killer was long gone. But he wanted to be able to get there before all the other cops had finished and all the evidence was collected.

It was a haul, and especially in New York traffic, but he made the trip as fast as possible. He parked quickly on the side of the hotel, it was a sloppy job, but what were they gonna do, tow him? He flashed his badge to the officer keeping people from entering the hotel, and asked him which floor to go to. It took all his strength to resist the urge to sprint across the lobby. He still had to maintain some kind of professional manor.

Swaying back and forth in the elevator out of impatience, he anxiously waited to arrive on the twenty-fifth floor. Finally at long last the elevator stopped, and he stepped out. He now really had to maintain his professional attitude.

The room was taped off, but the officers in charge were still in the photography stage. That meant they hadn't collected any evidence yet. That was a good sign.

"McKinley!" Roared someone directly behind John. "What the hell are you doing here. Your not a homicide detective!"

"I got a call, seems there's need for someone from my branch." Replied John, turning to face the man who accosted him. Homicide detective William Redlin stood before him. All six foot five inches of muscle looking every bit intimidating, and every bit out of place in the three piece suit he wore. His close cropped hair and mean looking face were very hard to lie to in the interrogation room.

"Bull shit!" He roared. "There's nothing here for you. You just want to dig for some kind of conspiracy."

"Look Bill, I deal in repeating crimes, now isn't it one large coincidence that this is the seventeenth documented case of a death exactly like this?" John said.

"You don't deal in anything of the sort. You are a reject to all forms of police work and investigate break ins, and robberies. This room has a dead body in it, that means that this is a homicide case. You have no business here. Get out of my face, and especially out of my investigation. Now leave the area or I will have you escorted out."

"But Bill, in order to commit the murder, this man had to break into this room, so doesn't that mean that I am sanctioned to investigate exactly how he got into the room?" John said, mad he had to pull his ace right off.

"Fine I don't have time to deal with your bull shit right now. I have an investigation to begin. But here's the deal, you can determine how he got in, but you must turn over all evidence that you find to me. This is my case, and I'll allow you to help with that part. But don't give me any of conspiracy bullshit, or I swear to God I'll crush your balls right here and now you little prick."

"Fine, I won't get in the way, I'll just find out how he got in, that's all." John replied.

"You better not!" Redlin growled as he stalked off towards the body.

John pulled on a pair of gloves, and went to the door, kneeling down he pretended to inspect the knob and lock. He was actually watching the body, attempting to see the wound for himself.

After a few minutes he could no longer pretend to inspect the door. He didn't really have to check the door. He knew he wouldn't get anything off it. This guy who committed the murder was too good to leave any kind of evidence of forcing a door open, or scratches to denote the lock was picked. He's the type of person who if he wants a door opened he steals a key card from the maid opens the door, and returns it without the maid ever knowing. Or better yet he steals the key card, makes a copy, and then returns it, so he can have all the time he wants to perform the hit.

He made a note in his notebook to check with the maids. Right now he had more important stuff. He walked across the room to get a better look at the body.

"I'm checking the windows." He protested when Redlin accosted him with a harsh glare. But he had accomplished what he wanted. As he walked along, he had taken five pictures of the body with the small camera he had clutched in his hand. The snapping sound was what attracted Redlin's attention, but by the time he looked up John already had the camera tucked away.

He walked to the windows and began inspecting the panes, and locks and other things. Immediately he noticed the cables going down by the window. He leaned out, and spied the window washer's platform about seven or eight floors below. He made a note of that in his notebook as well.

He continued to walk around investigating other various ways to enter the room. They were all useless however. He had two theories of how the assassin had gained entrance to the room. One was he produced a key card somehow. The other was he entered through the window using the window washer's platform. He moved off to talk to the maids.

The maids would all be detained for questioning, but for now they were being held in one of the lounges by a uniform. John found his way there, and walked in.

"What the hell are you doing here McKinley?" The uniform asked. He was a man named Higgins, and a royal pain in the ass, by the book street cop.

"Redlin gave me the go ahead to investigate how the killer got into the room because of my expertise in robberies. I think it's important that I speak to the maids." John replied.

"All right fine. But I know the deal, make sure you give everything you get offa them to Redlin, this is his jurisdiction."

"I know the drill too Higgins, don't worry."

"That's exactly what worries me McKinley."

John ignored his last comment and moved towards the fifteen or so maids.

"Now ladies I am going to ask you some standard questions." John said in his best soothing police voice. "How do you get into the rooms, is there a generic key card that allows access to all the rooms, or is it perhaps split up by floors?"

"There is one card for all the rooms." Replied the maid manager.

"Now where do you keep these cards while your working?" John asked.

"They are attached to our uniforms from the pocket." She replied, showing him how it was in her breast pocket, attached by a spring loaded rope so she wouldn't leave it in a room by mistake.

"Now when you go home at night, do the cards go with you, or do you turn them in?"

"We turn them into the manager, and he locks them up." The maid manager again.

"Have any of you seen anybody you didn't recognize hanging around the key card room?" John asked. They all shook their heads.

"There's been nobody reported as snooping. There are cameras all over the hotel and back rooms. There's always someone on station watching the monitors." The maid manager offered.

"Okay that's about all I've got to ask, I'll let you boys in blue handle the rest of the interrogations." John said, as he got up.

"You've been such a big help, you waste of a human being." Higgins said as John opened the door.

"A charmer as always Higgins. How many divorces is it now? Three? Or is it up to four now?" John taunted. "Oh that's right, you have no clue I'm boneing your fourth wife."

John dashed out the door and slammed it in Higgins' face, as the street cop lunged at him.

"You don't belong here you reject!" Screamed Higgins through the door. "Why don't you take a nose-dive off the Brooklyn bridge and do everybody in this world a favor!"

John had learned all he needed to know from the maids. It was too much hassle to steal a key card. A skilled man could avoid cameras, but it would have been much easier for the assassin to enter through a window.

He rode the elevator back up to the suite, and walked back into the room.

"Ahhh the intrepid explorer returns from his exploits." Redlin mocked as John entered the suite again.

"I spoke to the maids, it is my official conclusion that he didn't enter through the door. He must have come in through the window." John said, ignoring the snide remark.

"Oh he came through the window did he. That's it boys, he's solved the case." Redlin said. "We know exactly who killed this man. It was Spiderman." The whole room burst out into laughter. "How else can he enter through the window on the goddamn twenty-fifth floor!" Redlin finished while laughing.

"He could have..." John began, but Redlin cut him off.

"It doesn't matter what he did or didn't do. What does matter is this. I can't trust anything you did. I'm going to have to talk to the maids myself to double check what your telling me because I don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth." Redlin said.

"But ask..." John tried to say but Redlin cut him off again.

"But nothing! Your entire presence here is a waste of time and an annoyance. Now Sergeant Murphy, will you please escort Sergeant McKinley back to the front entrance."

"Right." Murphy responded. "Let's go John." He motioned towards the door. Defeated John followed him. The pair got in the elevator. As soon as the doors were closed Murphy began to speak. "Look John, your walking a fine line. My advice to you is to stay in your own area. This is New York, there are hundreds of robberies every day. I don't see why you have to keep running around with all these conspiracies."

John was silent.

"Your very much in danger of suspension for going out of jurisdiction, why don't you go home and get some sleep. Then tomorrow come back nice and fresh, and not thinking about any kind of conspiracy, and just work on those robbery cases that are piling up. You know the chief isn't happy about how backed up you get. It's a wonder he hasn't suspended you before."

Still John was silent. The elevator reached the ground floor and John stepped out. Murphy didn't even bother to see him to the entrance. He just assumed that he would make it.

John walked slowly towards the entrance, his measured steps very defeated. He took out his badge and stared at it as he walked, resisting the urge to chuck it into the street as hard as he could.

"Officer." Someone said, John ignored it. "Officer!" The person yelled. Finally John was forced to look up. He looked at a young girl in about her twenties who was standing before him. She was a tad bit homely, her brown hair a tad bit frizzy, not the usual sleek and strait common to women obsessed with their appearance. She did have very nice brown eyes, even if they were hidden behind a pair of glasses that were a tad bit too large.

"Yes ma'am." John said, in a dazed sort of way.

"Did something bad happen in the hotel?" She asked.

"Yes." John replied in his hollow defeated voice.

"Can you tell me what?" She persisted.

"I'm not supposed to, but since I have ceased to care I guess it's all right. A man was murdered in his suite." John said.

"I may have some useful information for you. This may seem a tad bit weird, but if it helps..." She let that trail off, but John didn't care, he had perked up as soon as she had said she had odd, useful information.

"Step over here where we can talk." He indicated the lobby with his head. She crossed under the police tape with him and they found a spot on the side of the lobby. He indicated for her to begin.

"Okay don't think I'm weird, but I live across the street from the hotel in the apartment complex." She began, but paused.

"Generally we don't think people are weird for living in an apartment, there aren't many houses in New York City." John said cheerfully, trying to lighten the mood.

"No it's not that that's weird, it's... well..." She hesitated. John implored her to go on, not wanting to rush her. "Well there is this window washer, this really really attractive window washer, who I kinda like to watch. Since I'm across the way I usually use binoculars to watch him as he works."

"How does this pertain to the murder?" He asked.

"I'm getting to that part. Well usually he doesn't come to work until ten, so when I get home from my job he's not there yet, but will be soon. I get home around nine thirty. But today when I got home there was someone on his side of the building, and they were near the top. Usually they go down floor by floor, then start over again, and I had watched him do those floors just the day before, so it struck me as odd. Then I didn't recognize this guy at all. He was definitely not the man I usually watch."

"People call out sick all the time, and the replacement might have messed up where your guy left off, that's not so odd." John said, feeling a little bit disappointed.

"Let me finish." She replied defensively. "He was acting really weird despite all that. He was just sitting there below an open window, washing the same spot over and over again. He put his squeegee in his bucket a few times, but it almost looked like there was no water in it cause it wasn't dripping. He seemed to be watching something in his hand the whole time."

"Go on." John implored, really interested now.

"I watched him for a while, because this was really weird behavior. Then suddenly he rose up a little bit, leapt into the open window, and was gone for several hours. I couldn't just sit there and wait for hours, so I kept checking back every now and then as I did odds and ends around my apartment. But it was bugging me the whole time, so I kept looking back. Then suddenly one of the times I was watching I saw him leap back out onto the platform, he almost looked like he was tucking something into his belt behind him. Then he rode the platform all the way back up, got off and left. And I didn't see him come back all day."

"This is really important information ma'am. I think that this man you are talking about is the murderer. Could you possibly give a description of him to our sketch artist?" John said.

"I could try my best, but I'm terrible with faces, and while I was using binoculars, it was really hard to see, you know how it is, you can't keep steady and stuff. And most of the time he had his back to me. I only saw his face as he ran back out." She said.

"That's true. Oh well. This is very important information miss..." John stopped because he was so excited to hear her news he forgot to ask for her name.

"Clark." She replied.

"Well Miss Clark, I'm gonna have to have you come down to the station and give a full statement. Here's a card. You call this number and talk to the operator there."

He dashed off with out further explanation. He sprinted to his car, leapt in, and sped as fast as traffic would allow to the station.