Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Phyx crossed the street at the East end of the bridge, the soft neon glow of the street vendor drawing him in out of the evening drizzle. As he stepped under the shelter of the umbrella, implants stimulated muscles and patches of tensile fabric beneath his hairline, pulling the flesh of his face taut. The vendor would likely survive the evening, and it was a young man he’d remember from the moments before the mayhem began.

He selected a small tray of sushi and a bottle of mineral water. Paying cash, he smiled and nodded, allowing his face to relax only after he’d turned and stepped back into the darkness. Phyx ate slowly as he walked onto the bridge, taking a position along the railing. There was nothing to do now but wait.

Images of the evening’s target flashed through his mind. A volatile cocktail of stimulants and memory enhancers would render every feature of the Senator in immaculate detail. The exact proportions of nose, chin and eye sockets; the slight difference in flexion between the two knee joints from a recent surgery; the nervous left eye twitch. Every characteristic with crystal clarity. In time, these would become just memories, but for now, they carried the intensity only a professional could bear.

He slipped the empty tray into a recycling bin as the first two members of the Senator’s security team jogged onto the other end of the bridge. Phyx smiled at the kevlar plate armor the two men would be forced to maneuver in, making careful note of the exposure points for arterial penetration. The Senator himself came into view next, flanked by four more men, and in the distance, Phyx could make out two motorcycles following quietly behind.

As jobs went, this one was unremarkable. The Senator was pushing legislation that was threatening a lucrative patent. A stake holder had an eager assistant find Phyx and with the payment of his fee, he simply had to live up to his name and reputation.

As the first guard reached the middle of the bridge, Phyx studied the Senators gait, it was even, steady, wrong. Phyx knew the left knee joint couldn’t flex like that, the re-knitting of his ACL was still too fresh. Turning from the decoy, Phyx started walking West, off the bridge, slowing as a car pulled up, blocking the road. Two men stepped out, weapons in hand and began walking towards him.

“Freeze. You’re under arrest for the attempted assas…” The words were torn away in a pink mist as the limp form toppled backwards onto the street. Phyx crouched low, sprinting across the roadway, his jacket flowing, obtuse angles deflecting high velocity fire from the other end of the bridge. Three steps and he had a clear view of the vendor’s cart, a single shot punching into the gas cylinder on its side, the neon umbrella suddenly enveloped in a cloud of blue and orange flame.

The explosion bought him a few seconds of distraction, and he capitalized by taking two more shots at the closest men; gaps in their armor exploited with startling precision. Return fire peppered Phyx, most bullets glancing off the fabric of his jacket, or merely bruising with the impact, but a rifle shot punched through and tore into his heart.

Phyx staggered and fell to one knee, reflexively pulling the coat around him. Blood pressure dropped precipitously, triggering valves to iris off around the damaged muscle, drugs released, numbing it, preventing it from emptying his bodily fluids out through the gaping wound in his chest. For a moment, he was frozen, vulnerable, but then a second pump took up the task, adrenaline and oxygen enriched blood flooded his body, and he was running again. He cleared the railing, diving towards the river below, and his mind raced.

He’d been betrayed, most likely by the assistant looking for a political posting. As Phyx hugged his chest and propelled himself down the river, he knew his targets were now two. Not being a vengeful man, the assistant he’d do simply as a matter of public service.

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