Without a Heart
Chapter One: Numb
They say assassins have no heart. They say this because, if they had hearts they wouldn't kill another human being for something so petty as money. Maybe that's so, but I know that I used to have a heart.
You see, there are two kinds of assassins. There is the kind the does it because they love the sport; the hunt; they love the kill. These are the assassins that people think of and know to be cold and cruel. Then there is the kind that is forced to it by some mean. Sometimes, they are threatened or better yet, they're loved ones are threatened; or because that is the only thing they can do and the only thing they are good at. These kind were bred to be assassins and didn't have a choice, not until someone shows them the light.
I'm the second kind. I had a heart before my world was thrown upside down. I was human before they killed my father, my brother, my mother, my baby sister. I was human before they killed me. Now, all I know is how to kill. And I hate myself for it.
I don't do it because I love it or do it for the money, I do it because I don't know how to do anything else. I hate being the monster everyone knows. Every time I look into that person's eyes and see the fear and knowledge that this is the last moment they will live, I want to cry until I can't cry anymore and I always do, even if the person deserved it.
Maybe that makes me worse than the assassins without a heart. I just know that somewhere along the way, I became numb.
Shadow City, New York, United States
The hallway was stark in the sleek metal décor which radiated a retro, early twenty first century sci-fi look. It was the latest fashion for buildings these days and people liked to think back to a time when things were simpler, or at least a lot less technological. Above, the flat paneled lights were constant and spaced every tile to precision. Every once in a while a door sunk into the wall with its keypad and scanner discretely hidden and a little silver plate with the number and name. Nothing was individual.
Several sets of footsteps echoed down the corridor belonging to three black uniformed men and two women. In the center walked a woman with long, red brown hair, dark eyes and the longest legs most had seen in years. Her face was firm was cold, not unlike her uniform counterparts, but the thing that stood out was the red ribbon tied around her arms and the way her uniform wasn't, well, a uniform. She was clearly not military.
The group made a stop in front of an unmarked door, one man stepping forward to press his thumb to the scanner and key in the code. The door slid open with a cold hiss and the men stood aside to let the three women enter first.
"Such gentlemen," the woman with red remarked with a smirk that seemed so natural that it must have been her usual state.
Inside five more men lined the room, armed and masked. At a conference desk as stark and sleek as the rest of the place, sat a man in a white suit with blonde hair, graying on the sides and eerily green eyes. He stood when they entered and the armed escort moved to take seats at the table, leaving a chair closest to the white clothed man free.
"Welcome, Diamond. I trust you've enjoyed your accommodations. I'm sure your previous employers were not so kind."
The smirk returned to her elegant face. "I enjoy them well enough for you to consider it a compliment. Am I meant to sit?" She raised her eyebrows to the empty chair.
"If you'd like. I wouldn't force you." He smiled politely.
"Good." She sauntered over to the chair and sat down with little flair. "Why am I here? My policy is for you to send me the information however you wish, but I never meet the employer in person, stays less personal that way. You're lucky I thought this worth my time."
He regarded her for a long moment, which made her uncomfortable, but she didn't let that show in her face. "Fair enough. I'm Richard Jones and I'm the Secretary of Underground Affairs. This isn't your usual illegal dealings, Miss Diamond."
Diamond froze, gripping the armrests of her chair. There were too many for her to get out without taking some sort of injury and alarming the entire floor. Still, she could do it.
"Relax," he raised a hand. "We're not going to arrest you, as long as you do what we ask."
She took a deep breathe. "What are you asking?"
He smiled, then slid a slim data pad in her direction, which she stopped with a hard and annoyed slap. "It is time for you to do your service for your government. An underground rebellion has come on our radar, one that threatens to cause a revolution so catastrophic that the entire country could turn to anarchy."
"Or to a leader not so corrupt," she muttered darkly.
He went on as if she had never spoken. "They plan to assassinate every person in this file and we know because they told us. They want us to know."
"Seems a little odd. Most of the time, rebellions want that to stay between them." She frowned, looking over the list. Every official in the Washington DC government was listed, even down to their secretary. The list was hundreds of people. "This would take years."
He slid another one to her. "This is the present list."
She scanned it. It was the shortlist: those to be assassinated first. "What do you want me to do with this."
"They've hired an assassin."
"I would assume so." Diamond cocked her head.
He sighed, irritated. "Not just any assassin, or I would not have called you. I would simply have had my men come and take you away in electro-chains."
"If you had caught me. I've a very tricky person to find." Diamond leaned back in her chair. "Unless I want to be found."
"The assassin," he continued, "is Orion."
Diamond's head snapped in his direction. Orion was one of the world's greatest assassin. His name was legend, but no one had ever seen his face and lived. The only evidence that it was Orion's kill was the little holographic display of the constellation Orion. It was this that had given Diamond's inspiration to leave a little diamond heart on the chest of her victims. This was a man she hated for his love of the sport, but a man she admired for his methods.
"Yes, Orion," he repeated.
"What would you like me to do? If it is Orion, then they are as good as dead." She shook her head, pushing her chair back to stand.
Jones stood with her. "We need to you to kill Orion."
Diamond laughed, a genuine laugh. "You want me to kill the greatest assassin that ever lived? You are out of your mind."
"You're second best. Even Orion wasn't able to kill Governor Norris, but you did. Trust me, we know. You lovely gift knows and we know that Orion tried because, he was on his list, top of it actually, before you killed him." Jones stuffed his hands in his pockets.
"I can't assassinate an assassin. It has never been done. I can't kill Orion, not because I'm opposed to it, because I can't." Diamond balled her hands into fists.
"You don't have a choice, Diamond. If you don't kill him, then we'll kill you." His face was horribly neutral.
A man from behind her grabbed her arm, and though she had known it was coming couldn't escape the three other men who surrounded her. They held her down as Jones came into the circle with a syringe. "This won't hurt a bit, love."
"You're going to track me?" She fought, as hard as she could, but Diamond relied on her wits and speed, not strength.
"No, dear Diamond. I don't want anything to even record what will happen. No, we will ensure you fulfill this job because if you don't and decide to go rogue, then this little device will send a poison into your blood stream and kill you. I have to warn you though, the pain is excruciating at first, but it will subside, after you are unconscious." He smirked at her much like she had done to him.
"No, wait. No! You don't need to do this! Stop, Jones!" She begged him and Diamond didn't beg very often, but this was a scenario too close to her horrible past.
"I do, love, I do." He ran a hand along the side of her face.
Diamond screamed as the poison hit her body and she screamed until she passed out, which she was incredibly thankful for. She promised herself, though, in those last moments of horrible agony, that she would kill Richard Jones for what he was doing to her.