Author : Jacinta A. Meyers

So here I am, a third-class passenger bound for the floating island of a techno-civ, armed with various skins and plotting infiltration and assassination.

Ah, sounds like vacation.

Well, except for the intended target, that is. How do you disarm a human trigger? I mean, I’ve done my fair share of seduction and all, but this is a kid we’re talking about here; his twelfth birthday’s not for another four and a half months. My employers want him dead before then. Even I admit it’s a weird mission. And it wouldn’t even be so bad if I didn’t know that he’s a fair, kind-hearted kid. But what can ya do? Desperate times, desperate measures.

The skin I wear today is white, former Western European. By the time I reach their palace, oh in about seven week’s time, I’ll be wearing one of their skins. They don’t like foreigners where I’m headed. But they do let refugees in. We do their dirty work. We are an expendable commodity and we know our place. So today, I am a lowly immigrant looking for a bottom-rung job. Start at the bottom and work up, that’s how it goes. I’ll tell ’em my story if they ask, “Homeland under water, no place to go, no family, need work.” Boo hoo, they hear it a million times a day, won’t look twice at me. I’ll be just another face on the wharves. Just another grubby girl there to work the night lines in their factories or clean up their hazardous chemical waste.

Or there to kill their Emperor’s heir.

You know, one of the nice things about what I do is travel. I can just see the island up ahead, growing bigger as we get close. They had to float the whole dang thing when the sea level rose. My employers are still trying to figure out how they did it, and whether it’s still tethered to the bottom somehow. I hear that they carry their pureblood women around on platforms covered with jewels, and that the penalty for touching one is mutilation beyond recognition. Sounds neat to me. Maybe I’ll steal one of those skins while I’m there. See what it’s like to be doted on and protected for once.

Oh, and the kid. Can’t forget about him. Emperor’s got a dozen nuclear missiles rigged to go off if anything happens to his son, all pointed at the League of First-World Nations. If you ask me, it’s a terrible idea. I mean, what if the kid falls out of bed one night? Well. Maybe they sleep on the floor. . . Weird culture, after all. And anyway, it won’t matter anymore.

Because that’s what I’m here for.

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