Keep No One Close, Especially Your Enemies

Navy Samarasinghe was the baddest assassin in all of human space. She’d been born on old Earth and managed to claw her way out of that burning cesspool, which is about the roughest start someone could get these days. It meant she was tough, smart, and plenty willing to get her hands dirty. Of course, one of those hands was a prosthetic now—Biothetica, Hercules model. It was military grade; better than the original, really. The original she’d lost forcing a rival assassin into a double roll ore crusher at an asteroid mine—pushed him in so far that the gear teeth ripped her own hand clean off. She still managed to execute the contract after that, got paid.

Koda knew all this because he’d been the one to put out that contract. Afterward he kept Navy on a retainer. They’d enjoyed a great working relationship, or at least the closest thing to it for a paranoid trillionaire industrial magnate and a five-foot-two leather clad incarnation of the Grim Reaper. Until now, that is.

Now she was stalking through the radioactive orange wastes with her pulse rifle at her side like a mirage concocted in hell. This time she was after Koda. The wind kicked up veils of sand that could be mistaken for a fog. Navy’s eyes were just as artificial as her hand and just as much of an improvement over the biological kind. She could probably see right through it. Fuck! How was he going to get himself out of this one?

He slipped inside one of the abandoned towers that hadn’t collapsed yet and flew up the stairs until he was heaving, maybe a dozen flights up, and then slid under a loose slab of burned out concrete. Maybe he could wait her out and then get a message to his assistant up in orbit; tell him to send down a hundred dropships and a thousand mercs for an evac in a hot zone. Cost was no concern, obviously, but speed would be of the utmost—

What was that? The scrape of loose rock beneath a heavy boot. From the stairwell. Koda held his breath. Maybe he’d imagined it. The wind whipped up again. Shit, he couldn’t hear a thing!

And then there was a pulse rifle pressed against his cheek. “Get the fuck out from there. We need to have a chat.”

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