Prologue: I Should Have Been a Botanist
Outskirts of Ko-Wahi, Present Day
"And you are aware of the dangers of this procedure, yes?"
With these types of questions that doctors always ask, it's a wonder that more people don't just get tired of it all and inject an air bubble into their bloodstream. That'll kill you in about thirty seconds flat and it leaves very little evidence. The horror stories doctors have to tell about patient suicides, well, it gives a professional assassin an inferiority complex.
Why didn't I come up with that?
This Skakdi comes up to me with this mad grin, flashing me teeth the size of piano keys with that same dim ivory piano color to boot. He knows, and I know, that he's about to make history. Nothing of this magnitude, this sheer idiocy, has ever been attempted by a rational doctor.
Of course, he knows, and I know, that he is anything but a rational doctor. This is Ilya Drayzen, Skakdi mad scientist, ex-paramilitary operative, and all around madman. Everyone who's anyone who has access to the Mata Nui criminal underground has heard of this nutcase. Thing is, he's supposed to be dead.
Some patients, they get really tired of their suffering and mix together Viper's Breath and Bula berries. If you asked anyone but the most learned botanists, they'd tell you that this was no big deal, but the experts would quickly get this shocked look in their eyes and babble on about how the compounds that make up the sweet-smelling Viper's Breath herb activate a hidden toxin in the Bula berry and trigger anaphylactic shock. It kills in a minute, too.
How do I know this? Because I'm one of the best assassins in the world, and if I don't keep up to date on these things, I'll get caught. Amateurs get caught.
I'm no amateur.
*****The really hardcore patients, the ones who are tired of spending each day waiting around for their souls to evacuate their bodies, they cut the left brachial artery and laugh as the life-sustaining blood of their bodies sprays across the room. You ever seen a really rotten, diseased berry just sitting there, its juice lying around in a puddle around its deflated, sad corpse?
Picture that berry smiling defiantly, as doctors and nurses scream and run in circles and beg for help while coated in juice. Substitute berry for "dying patient" and juice for "really, really nasty, acidic blood" and you've got an idea of another one of my murder scenes.
This is how I spend my time. Instead of gossiping around the newest, hottest Kohlii techniques or spending my days catching waves on the Ga-Wahi sands, I sit around in one of my various houses and toss a pen into the air, stopping every now and then to sketch out a stick figure of me and a stick figure of a victim, and then I'll start the cycle all over again.
There are two kinds of people in the world, my father used to say, who sit around all day and wonder how they can best kill people. One kind is comprised of psychopaths. The other?
This is the part of the joke where he would begin to laugh, slowly at first, before bursting into a guffaw. After a minute, his lungs would circulate enough air and spray enough saliva that he could choke out an answer.
The other kind of killer, he would wheeze, is a mother-in-law.
Cue the laughs. Cue applause. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
But I digress. Ilya Drazen is prepping this huge needle, flicking it, making sure all the air bubbles are safely exiled from the syringe, and he turns to me with that piano-sized grin and winks.
Stab me, already.
He shrugs and stabs the hypodermic needle into my chest, pushing down on the syringe.
"Ten minutes on the clock. Begin countdown."
Suddenly, I begin to feel like Drazen just cut my left brachial artery: my hearing starts to deaden, my blood starts to cool and slow, and my brain begins to lose vital oxygen as the compound lowers my blood temperature.
And then, for the second time in as many days, I'm dead. And yet still, my brain is whirring at maximum speed, cycling through memories in a rapid, synchronized fashion. Scenes and blips from my past begin to whir through in flashes, and I close my eyes...
Ta-Koro Hospital of the Guard, Ta-Koro
Two years ago...
"Are you here to kill me?"
I shrug, pushing my doctor's coat to the floor; disguising myself is pointless at this point. To his credit, the man in the bed doesn't scream.
It's okay if you want a minute, I offer helpfully. He smirks.
"That's very generous of you."
What can I say? Dead people bring out the humanitarian in me.
The man in the bed before me is nameless, faceless, another ghost in a ghost town. The less I know about him, the better I can do my job. The better I can do my job, the better chance I have of getting paid and living. What I do know, however, is that he is very, very rich, and if I do this job right, I will be, too.
The guy is the son of the creator of Mandala's Magic Bula Juice, one of the top three selling brands on the island of Mata Nui. The guy eats, breaths, and sleeps widgets, and his son was no different.
Well, he wasn't, until he "fell ill" at a meeting with my employer. After a couple weeks of waiting around, my employers had decided that the problem needed a...firmer grip. So he came to me. Ironic. Bula juice, one of the primary givers of life and energy on this island, is about to lead to so much bloodshed. Poetic, really. It could be in a book.
Note to self: use money from this job to write a book.
Twenty seconds have gone by. The man's still zoned out, staring into the space between my elbow and my rib cage as I stand, relaxed and ready. On one of my past jobs, my boss, a real piece of work, this guy, he tells me that I remind him of a cat. He said I was feline, psychopathic, a touch feminine, really. He said it was an endearing quality.
Two days later, my employer found himself lying face down in the bottom of the Naho Bay with a cat's face carved into his chest and the word "MEOW" scrawled in his own blood across his back. Fricking shame, really. I dated his girlfriend for a while afterwards.
Forty seconds have gone by. The man sighs and throws up his hands.
"You want to kill me? Go ahead. It won't do you any good. My fortune is protected in ways you can't imagine..."
Enlighten me, then. I'm all ears. The longer you talk, the longer you live. If you're a good boy, pray real hard, and eat all your vegetables, then I'll withdraw all the water from your blood and give you a nice good slice with a knife. You'll bleed out in a couple seconds and feel little to no pain.
His eyes close, but not in fear, not in pain. More of...acceptance.
"Have fun searching."
He withdraws a flask of Mandala's Magic Bula Juice and mixes it with Viper's Breath as I stare, slightly bored. I can't help but check out the window. Sun's almost setting. I wanted to catch a play in Le-Koro tonight, so if this guy would just finish up with the suicide thing I could be out of here...
With a crow of triumph, he finishes shaking the flask and takes a sip. His eyes widen and he tries to spit it out, but it's too late: his mouth is too dried to produce any saliva, and I begin to laugh.
Looking for this?
My cold blue eyes dance as I withdraw the pouch of Viper's Breath from my pocket. I pull another, empty pouch labeled "MF" from my pocket and toss it onto the bed.
Any good botanist will tell you that Makuta Fern poisoning is not one of the top ten ways to die. The fern is found only in the darkest sections of the Le-Wahi jungle, far from any prying adventurers or foolish fans of the occult who would use them for their odd, selfish purposes. The plant, when undiluted, kills within hours. When diluted, however, those afflicted can survive for up to a week, suffering physically and mentally as they begin to lose control of their muscles and dreams.
Those who finally succumb to the poison will often be found in their beds, twisted into a backwards fetal position with their fingers outstretched and pointed towards the sky, their wrists wrung and purple from bruising, and their eyes wide and rolled into the back of their heads, forced to watch their final, worst nightmares on repeat until the moment of neurological collapse.
Pictures from anatomy books play their way through my head as I stare at the juice mogul's slowly widening eyes. I shrug, pick up the discarded lab coat, and throw it on with a smirk as I turn towards the door.
Sweet dreams, I think, and as I walk out into the hallway and walk towards the exit, I smirk a bit wider as I hear the first of his screams echo through the cold marble prison behind me.
Edited by Tyler Durden, May 18 2012 - 06:26 PM.