Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
It’s a little ticklish when the needles go in but the anesthetic keeps her from moving. It keeps her laughing on the inside.
Grown from a vat of jaguar with a splash of greyhound and a swirl of human, she’s extremely thin and toothy. This is her last treatment before she’s shipped off to Overman Ranker’s Field Farms for training.
She’ll be part of an Assassin’s Guild nick-named The Circus. All of the killers are animal hybrids. The term ‘guild’ is a bit of a misnomer. ‘Kennel’ would be more accurate. The assassins are little more than happy pets that are conditioned to be stealthy and to kill without mercy.
An animal’s nose full of the scent from the victim’s clothing is much more efficient than a photograph/dossier when it comes to tracking a man down in the dark.
Tyrania is two years old. She’s either happy or in pain. No other emotions exist within her. The pain of punishment tells her what not to do. Right now, she’s happy. The spinal tap keeps her immobilized while the nanozomes do their knitting and pearling to the building blocks of her epidermis.
After training, she’ll be able to pass for human. The skeletal creature on the table with dark spots dotting the long, grey fur will become something more akin to human when the process is finished.
She’ll be killing in the higher classes. It’s the bear-and-croc mods that they send to the poor places.
Her long nails are retracted and painted a garish red. The newborn killers always choose cosmetics that look like blood on their nails and lips. It’s comforting to them. It’s frightening to see them smile in the mirror after their first reward of makeup. More often than not, they’ve smeared a line of lipstick around their lips. The eyes glass over with the dreams of blood as they tilt their head at their reflection.
They get trained to be human on the Field Farm. I mean, they get trained to kill people in any number of ways with the aid of mental downloads and grueling days of physical training but they’re also told how to act at the dinner table and how to keep a conversation going.
We teach them to be background. They’re expendable so there’s no exit routes planned when they’re sent on missions.
I miss the ones that don’t come back. I don’t like the ones that do. They change after a successful mission.
This one here, Tyrania, is looking straight up at the ceiling as I prepare the depilatory cream. I’m in her peripheral vision. I give her a wink to reassure her.
She smiles at me.
It’s a smile I see in my nightmares for years. I won’t do that again.
My team and I get to work making her as human as we can and I try not to catch her eye again.