She sat on a small bench at the San Pierre recreational park, waiting quietly. A flock of small birds had gathered on the road in front of her where she scattered week-old bread for them to feed on. Valerie propped both elbows against her knees. With her back arched forward and the back of her hands pressed against her jaw, she observed the creatures feasting on the food she left them.
Footsteps echoed from in front of her, forcing the birds to suddenly abandon their food and scatter. The sounds of flapping wings filled the sky, prompting her to look up at the approaching stranger.
"The dragonflies of Fedora sing pleasant melodies at night," the man said in a coarse voice.
"Dragonflies don't exist in Fedora," Valerie pointed out. "You're FireFox?"
"You don't recognize me?"
The man shook his head. "It was a silly question. Anyways, it's nice to finally meet you, Lady Dragonfly." He offered a hand.
Val stood up and shook it. "Likewise. Please, take a seat."
The stranger remained rigid. "I'd rather stand," he said calmly. "Can I see the disk?"
"Let me see the money," she insisted.
He took out a single plastic card and handed it over. She took it, inserted it into a small slot of a handheld device. Eight digits lighted up on the small screen, confirming the amount they had negotiated prior to the meeting. Satisfied, she produced a small optical disk from her pocket and handed it over.
The buyer took the disk, sliding it into his own handheld computer. A few seconds later, various images appeared on the screen that confirmed the authentication of the data on the small optical disk.
"I must say," the stranger said. "You really outdid yourself, Valerie Corwin."
Her eyes widened. She looked up at the stranger.
"Who are you?"
"Who I am is none of your concern. What you should be worried about is what happens now."
There came a sudden deep undertone in her voice. "The Coalition sent you, didn't they?"
"You have one of two choices. Follow me back or die here."
"This was never about the transaction, was it?"
"You're a smart girl, Valerie. Now I'm not going to repeat myself."
Instinctively, she reached for the gun holstered by her side when he shook his head. "I wouldn't do that if I were you."
She realized why when she noticed five tiny red dots floating across her chest. A quick glance around the surrounding environment told her that a team of sharpshooters hiding behind small shrubs and bushes were already in place to take her down if she tried anything funny.
Valerie remained unfazed. "Two can play at that game," she said.
He raised an eyebrow and pondered for a moment before realizing what she meant. The stranger shook his head in disappointment. "How could I forget? Your sister Venice must be here also." He didn't even bother to look around to know that Venice probably had the crosshairs of some high-caliber sniper rifle trained on him.
"Now we play by my rules," Valerie said. "We can both walk out of this park unfazed and go about with our own business."
"I'm afraid I can't do that," the stranger said. "My employers would be most displeased to find out that I let their most prized assassin get away again."
"Then I'm probably sure that they wouldn't like her dead, either."
"You're right about that," he said. "But that is a measure I'm allowed to take should you refuse to accompany back."
"Then so be it," she said. "We'll both die here."
"I guess this is goodbye then." He looked blankly into her eyes. "Tell Venice I send my regards.
He nodded, and held up his hand, ready to give the order at any time. Without saying anything else, he squeezed his hand into a fist. The staccato of gunfire rang in the air for approximately ten seconds before dying out.
The body of Valerie Corwin lay on the ground, motionless and lifeless.
The stranger remained unfazed. He gazed down at the corpse where blood began to form a pool around. "You and Venice didn't have to go out this way. But… I guess this was inevitable. It always puzzled me how the Coalition's most prized assassin could be … a schizophrenic."
Seconds later, his reached inside his jacket pocket, taking out a cellular phone. He pushed the first speed dial button and pressed the phone against his ear.
"It's been done. The Dragonfly is dead, sir."
"That makes this the sixth failure in the past three years," the man on the other end muttered, the hint of anger evident in his voice. "We're running out of options here."
"She figured out that there was a transmitter in the data disk—something our previous specimens to pick up." He paused, taking a moment to choose his words carefully. "But the end result is that she's still dead. This goes to prove, sir, that clearly, there's still some flaw with the Phantom Project, even if it is able to resuscitate the dead. I mean the first five experiments didn't have the split personality this one had. Perhaps it's the fact that all the subjects have been female…"
"We went through this once already," his superior said sternly. "You know that only women are capable of surviving the resuscitation process."
The underling sighed. "I understand."
"Just dispose of the body, Larry. We'll figure everything out later."
"I understand," he said, and hung up. Larry and took one last look at the body before motioning for the others to come forward. The sharpshooters emerged from their hiding spots and proceeded to pour gasoline over the corpse. Larry turned his back and slowly walked away.
He had forgotten to mention one fact to his employer: although Valerie had a multiple personality disorder, there was one distinctive fact that made her unique; she was the only one that could bear children. But Larry would never divulge that fact or that she was pregnant with his child. It was a minute detail that needn't concern the higher-ups.
Although it pained him to kill the mother of his unborn child, the success of the Phantom Project took priority any personal preference he had. In the end, Valerie Corwin was just another experiment gone wrong. Larry could only hope the next specimen would be more interesting than this one. He was getting tired of killing