Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

It's dark when my ears finally stop ringing. I lie deathly still and carefully inventory my corpse.

“Not such an unstoppable bastard now, are ya?”

Docherty is still here. That explains the pain in my jaw. He put one in my head, two in my chest, smashed my teeth, gouged out my eyes and snipped my fingertips off at the first joint. The only way to identify me will be by DNA. Which would come up blank, but he doesn’t know that.

Now to earn my keep. I click once and echomap.

“What was that?”

Ah, Samuel is here too: enhanced hearing. Oh well, nothing for it except to click again on a lower band to echolocate.

“He did it again.”

“Did what?”

“High frequency clicks.”

“It's just his cybergear winding down. He's dead, we're rich.”

My guns have been left where they fell. I push a lot of adrenalin and endorphins into my bloodstream, along with extra clotting factor. Cybergear is good; I'm better. Bioengineered to be more than these peasants with their implements grafted in, taking immuno-suppressants, psycho-stabilisers, steroids and antibiotics with breakfast for the rest of their lives. My brain resides in a keratinised tissue shell sitting in the left side of my pelvis, with my spare heart on the right. My ribs form natural maximillian plate and I can consciously use ninety percent of my muscle capacity. The improved bat sensorium in my brain and echo chambers in my cheekbones are personal refinements to the build.

I've killed enough time. Time to kill.

I click to update the echomap as I sit up like my upper torso is being pulled by strings, truncated fingers grabbing my trigger-less guns. They interface via neural pads and are live by the time I level them at my two erstwhile killers.

“What the frack?”

As last words go, they leave nothing for posterity. They're also surprisingly common from unfortunates facing me.

I lay back down and safety my guns. A subvocal mike in my throat links to the transceivers woven into my scapulae.

“Robin! Where the hell have you been?” Janet's voice is husky with genuine concern.

“Sorry, darling. I got kidnapped and assassinated again.”

“Oh, for the love of Pete! That's the second time this year. How bad?”

“Proper job this time. Going to need a cranial rebuild, phalange implants, a cardiac replacement and a left kneecap.”

“A kneecap? The bastards.”

“They used a Labrador gun.”

“Oh, the poor thing. Did they shoot it afterwards?”

“No, I did. That's how they got the drop on me.”

“You really have to work on that soft spot for strays, Rob. Medtechs will be with you inside five minutes.”

“Thanks, darling. I'll stay away until my face is on properly so Tabitha doesn't have nightmares.”

“That's one of the reasons why I love you, Robin Summerson. See you soon.”

“Kiss her goodnight from me. Love you.”

“Love you too. Hurry home.”

“I will.”

With that, I relax and wait for the medical team. Now that’s a hell of a way to make a living, flying all over the place to pick up the pieces. I couldn't do their job.

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