The laser-garrote silences the first goon outside the gate. Carefully downing the body’s mass, Exen breathes with ease. After quickly disposing of the body behind the hedge, he crouches and continues to survey the courtyard leading up to the manor. Just approaching dusk, the fading sun rays shine over the rooftops like spotlights aimed by snipers.
He counts a dozen silhouettes standing up there, all armed with long range weaponry. There is at least the same amount milling about on patrol in the courtyard. No telling how many were inside. This was going to be a lot of work. Once again, Exen’s employer had either underestimated the amount of security there would be, or overestimated his own ability. No complaining. Nothing for me to do now but get this over with.
Running the H.A.S. (Heightened Awareness Scan) into his ocular HUD (Heads Up Display), Exen marks all of the hostile folk he can see. Continuing to run the program to pick up anything new in his field of view, he crouches and runs up the side court’s wall just behind the hedges, leaping over without a sound. Got that parkour.
He pauses. I need a plan: distractions, mayhem, stealth, quick ends. Let’s wrap this up before half past dusk.
To start, he would use some old tricks.
Exen aims his arm at one of the snipers on the far end of the roof, furthest from his own post here on the ground. He looks like he has eagle eyes and a solid trigger finger, he’ll be very problematic later. Steadying his arm with his other, he focuses a non-lethal beam straight into this guy’s eyes. It blinds him instantly. The sniper begins to yell in pain and then flail in shock, startling the men around him.
Before they can fully react, Exen has his arm now aimed directly at the man on the roof just above his position and closest to him. He wears a balaclava and carries the biggest automatic weapon of the entire group. Hothead badass, no doubt a troublemaker. Stray bullets can be allies. He fires a radioactive heat ray into his chest, just a bit to his left. It induces cardiac arrest.
As the man collapses nearly soundlessly, Exen moves to his left closer to the manor’s side entrance and the pool area. He’s moving fast, with intention. Men above him are shouting, the manor begins to roar to life. Before he crosses under an awning while the rooftop begins its predictable act of chaos, just over the horizon of the gutter, he sees one of the commandos in the center of the squabble with a grenade or two on his belt. Exen smiles and uses a magnet function to pull a couple of small pieces of metal from his person with pin point precision. The man doesn’t notice as he runs to the aid of the heart attack’ed guy. The mercs, foolishly, crowd around their fucked up fellows in confusion. They need to clear out, they’re not giving him any air!
The roof explodes in the hellish shrapnel and a soundful blast of hastily silenced yells. Exen rolls underneath the house’s shade and puts his back to the wall, waiting for everything to play out directly above him. He places a laser trap on the small set of stairs leading up to the courtyard and between the two pillars marking the side gate from the massive front doors. He is already planning his exit strategy. Every little bit helps. She always told me to plan ahead.
Exen, expecting reinforcements patrols from inside any second, quickly climbs into a large basket full of towels on the poolside. The sun beams off the rippling blue, so much calmer than its surroundings. Closing the top and crouching, he waits like a trap door spider for approaching and panicked prey. Through one of the holes in his basket, he shoots an electrified ray into the massive pool. Hope that was enough juice. Two men come running by, he lets them pass, thinking it okay to burn one of his tripwires. The next two men follow right behind and he springs his trap right as his lasers burn the blood of the former two.
Exen leaps from the basket, towels in hand. He throws them over the two armed men’s heads and torsos, rolling out of his own encumbrances and striking each in the solar plexi, to incapacitate and quiet. Spinning one around in his toweled form, he pushes him into the pool while simultaneously donkey kicking the other in the face through the towel. The crunch of his face coincides with the zap of the water’s splash. Exen kicks the man with the broken nose into the death swim as well. While the electric shock rebounds off the tiles and some of the remaining rooftoppers run over to investigate, they become distracted by the smoke engulfing the two other bodies at the gate.
In these intervening moments, the sun sets over the Californian countryside and Exen slips inside.
Reformatting his HUD for the internal schematic, Exen starts to count. There were still too many left. More tricks! He looks inside. The side entrance leads to the garage, which was about the size of a house in of itself. Crouching in awe, Exen looks at the inventory before him. There are three McLaren’s – red, yellow, blue. Lambo, Lotus, Tesla, a pair of old Mustangs, and a Jag. All kinds of colors, designs. Some of them banged or dusty. But there were also spots missing. Even more! Fuckin’ rich guys…
Somebody shouts at him from his side.
“Hey!!” Exen responds with a laser.
Right through the forehead, the man falls. Exen scrolls through the many passageways of the mansion’s interior, mentally noting the most likely locations of his target. The swirling storm of thoughts in his mind try to formulate a better plan that just torching the place. Stop being lazy and be better. Remember, more for a live extraction. Less casualties, the better. Before entering the main house, he preps the Tesla at the front of the pack as a potential exit strat, planting an Automator.
Exen slowly opens the door from the garage into the main house, checking his corners. He enters the kitchen at a crouch and surveys the visible indoor areas. Through the massive kitchen landing lies the grand ballroom, the largest room in the house. The room faces the backyard and the greenhouse to the west, where the sunset has descends over the vineyard. The room juts out into the yard where a spectrum of glass windows give the full view. The ballroom itself is empty other than a few tables on the fringes. A small contingent of guards stand, guns at the ready, aiming at the front door, expecting a stupid assassin. Not me! Despite the quality of their weaponry, Exen can’t help but feel disappointment at their lack of skill and awareness. At this point, they should realize they aren’t dealing with someone entering through the front door.
Once again pulling up the live schematic, Exen tracks the enlivened rotations of the goons outside. He plots anew. After remaining in position for many minutes waiting, Exen fires a light telekinetic bolt at the switch to tint the window matrix at the western end of the ballroom into pitch darkness. Now, no one would be able to see in or out. For a bit. Promptly, Exen fires a holographic image of himself, pre-recorded, to the stage before the darkened windows and fires another kinetic bolt to fire the spotlights upon his glowing digital form. With his back to the windows, the hologram-Exen begins to sing obnoxiously.
“Naaaaaaaants INGONYAMA bagithi BA-BA!”
It’s the absolute best performance he’s ever done, and he always loved it. So glad I recorded it when I was in that Veletrixian Baccana… Unable to contain his smile, laughter, tears, Exen watches himself. On queue, the soldiers turn in shock and aim their high powered weapons at holo-Exen.
“Good-bye,” Exen whispers to himself.
The rifles fire in unison at and through the hologram, cutting through the windows and into the fresh dusk outside. At the same moment, another group of guards patrol the path outside and are caught up directly in the fire, shredded to pieces. The holo-Exen leaps and jumps, appearing as if he is successfully dodging their fire, real Exen leading his wrist in figure eights to guide him.
Eventually, the firing squad rushes his holo-figure to try and finish their mark at closer quarters. Exen fires a single slicing beam at the cord holding up the chandelier as they pass under it. The gunfire and resulting boom from the ridiculous object crushing the unsuspecting men awakens the remainder of the house into motion. Reserve forces upstairs, waiting for when they may be needed. Time to come off the bench, bozos!
Exen hears their footsteps coming and breathes fast three times in, three times out. Three men soon rush into the kitchen, the source of the beams. Exen leaps out of a cabinet from within the island and throws a kitchen knife. He tags one in the throat and slices upward at another’s gun, cleanly severing it where the barrel met the clip. The third raises to fire his gun as Exen socks the gun-sliced guy and grips his neck hard and strong. Crouching to hide his own body, he lets the bulletproof vest take the automatic fire as he rushes his body forward and into the screaming shooter. Exen places his hand firmly over the man’s face and shoves the back of his skull violently into the shooter’s face, using it like a rock, like how early Man killed his brother, how Cain killed his. Exen slams the one guy’s skull into the other guy’s face three times. One, two, three. He stops when both men, severely bloodied and no longer conscious, fall to the kitchen floor.
That was brutal, good lord Exen.
I need to get upstairs and end this, honestly before I slip up. Exen slowly moves through the hallway in between the now darkened and deathly silent ballroom, and the entrance area near the front door. Peeking his head out, Exen sees the two spiraling staircases leading from just inside the front door, into the different wings of the upstairs. Seeing no one, Exen takes the left stairwell, knowing his destination lies upstairs. But before taking those steps, he rigs the front door with a simple explosive and places another laser tripwire at the base of both stairs. Reinforcements should be at the house soon. Running out of time. Make sure they get here too late.
Checking the schematic once more, Exen weaves down the winding hallway upstairs, heading directly for the master bedroom where his hostage awaits.
Exen kicks open the double doors leading into the room; the aspect ratio shifts. Inside, he sees the man, waiting and calm.
“You are here to take me, shadow-man! I was hoping you would be killed by now, but I was ready for this too. So be it. Let us be off,” the man says with only minor irritation in his voice. A fat oligarch, eating in bed, half-naked, balding and stupid.
“Pffft,” Exen chuckled.
“I’m not here for you dumbass,” Exen responds while his eyes are away, looking into the vast aquarium on the right wall of the room. The owner of the manor was not the target. He was just some rich asshole who had enough money to buy a certain rare fish, one of the last of its kind. The fish had specific medicinal and psychedelic properties. So Exen’s employer tasked him with retrieving it. Killing or taking the owner with him was a side objective. A bonus.
Exen glanced to the scared old man on the bed, his face shocked and hurting. Nah. Don’t have time. Exen sights the golden fish, bottled it in his special container and replaced the orb in his vest pocket. He spit a glance toward the trembling man on the bed.
“W-wait what are you going to do now?” he stammered. Exen lowered his arm, sighed.
“I am going to leave,” Exen responds while approaching the door. “I want you to rethink your life, spend some time trying to do some good with your money instead of buying fish and hiring murderers.”
“O-okay…. So you aren’t going to kill me or kidnap me?” the kingpin asks.
“No,” Exen said. “But if you act up, I’ll know about it and I’ll come back here. For the last time.” He walked out of the room but leaves the door open so he could stop at the stairs and look back menacingly one last time before departing from view. Eye contact is made and the man on the bed exhales slowly. He considers his life choices. For about a thirty seconds. Then, he rushes to his closet and starts to gather his cash.
Exen walks back down the stairs, carefully avoiding his own trap, and looks out the windows into the courtyard. There were more vehicles outside. These mercs milled around the house, taking a more measured approach to their plan of attack, pointing and aiming. Waiting for me.
On the other side of the house, in the laundry room, Exen finds the emergency ladder which leads up to the rooftop. He sneaks past a few of the guards which begin to enter the interior of the house and ascends the rungs. As he reaches the ladder’s last, emerging into the cool evening air of the Tuscan country, Exen hears the familiar sound of triggered explosions throughout the inside of the house.
Exen surveys the roof scene as the house rumbles: blackened marks of the previous grenade explosion mar the landscape of the roof. All the men previously occupying the space are dead, in pieces, unconscious, or gone.
All but one. A black cloaked figure sits in the center of the large roof’s space, cross-legged and with his back to Exen as he emerges from the ladder. He approaches cautiously but keeps his distance. Something about this guy signals he is a dangerous player. He is for real.
“You will not leave before facing me,” the man in the cloak croaks as Exen stares at the back of his head. Long and wild hair, as black as night, splatters over his shoulders.
Exen whispers as he holds up his wrist, “Start the car and launch the Predator Missiles now.” In order to finish off the forces remaining, he had lasered in markers in the specific zones all around the villa, far enough away from the main house and the garage to not cause undue damage. The missiles launch and are en route.
The Cloak stands and spins around slowly. He has an eye patch and a very long sword, he speaks with the conviction only an eye-patched master swordsman could summon.
“I am contractually obligated to fight you. But even if I wasn’t, I think I would on principle. Your power intrigues me.”
Must’ve paid top dollar for this piece of work. Exen heightens his awareness once more for what will no doubt be an epic, as hellfire rains down from above on all sides of the manor.
“So you’re the dragon,” Exen asks, trying his best to outwardly scoff at the flamboyant warrior.
The Cloak charges forward right, hand on the hilt by his side, as the missiles begin to connect all about them.
Flames engulf the air around as booming missile strikes rain in the front and back yards. Exen hears the sound of a blade being drawn. Long steel cuts down through the flames as Exen rises to block with a laser-shield now shading his arm in crimson glow. Cloak raises the blade once more, and strikes down again and again upon Exen. He blocks and dodges, dancing like the flames. In the back and forth, Exen does not strike back with any attacks of his own. He opts for positioning. He two-steps across the roof while locked in the struggle between blade and laser-shield, narrowly avoiding decapitation again and again.
Admittedly, this guy is skilled. Unfortunately for him I don’t play fair.
The blade strikes down hard onto the shield, locking the two warriors into a prolonged stare down. Sweat streams down their faces; the inferno encircles their pupils. Cloak presses the sword closer to Exen’s face, “Why don’t you fight back?!”
“I am fighting,” Exen responds. Cloak disengages and brings his blade back around, swinging it horizontally with gusto. Exen drops to the ground in a flash and double kicks into the swordsman’s gut. He staggers backwards as Exen reverse rolls off the edge of the rooftop and into the night’s heated atmosphere.
Exen glides down in a somersualt, landing directly into the driver’s seat of the convertible Tesla awaiting below, while one last predator missile drops directly onto the roof where he once stood.
The swordsman drops his blade and yells a ferocious battle cry into the sky, instantly silenced by a louder one, while Exen drives through the flames of the courtyard, zero emissions, absolutely blasting For Whom the Bell Tolls. ~