This story is by Roy Lord and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
“Control, I have eyes on target,” Luke whispered.
“Is target alone, OP-1?”
“Stand by Control.”
From his perch high in the jungle, Luke tracked ‘El Presidente’ walking in and out of view through the bamboo garden to the west of the palace.
The presidential palace was considered impenetrable. The front of the grounds was surrounded by a 20-foot wall facing a dense jungle and the back of the palace was set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the country’s main river. Cameras and motion sensors monitored every inch of the grounds. State of the art anti-aircraft radar and weapons watched the skies. No expense had been spared to protect the palace from an assault by the president’s enemies by land or air.
Fortunately, Luke wasn’t approached by the CIA to assault the compound, only to remove the president. They had spared no expense to provide him with the finest gear. Top of the line communications equipment, an AI AX308 rifle system, and the Predator suit. The suit was beyond state of the art. Composed of millions of microscopic reflective scales, it resembled highly polished chrome from a distance. When powered on though, the suit projected whatever was behind the wearer onto the entire front of the suit. A virtual invisibility cloak invaluable to an assassin.
Luke sucked in a sharp breath as the president came fully into view.
“Negative Control. Target has two packages.”
Said packages were two children wearing hooded white robes with scarlet sleeves, walking hand in hand with the president towards the Zen garden.
“Finally.” Control replied. “OP-1 you have clearance to remove all three.”
“Negative Control. Packages are civilians.”
“They’re children. The mission was to take out the president.” Luke hissed.
“Change in plans. Remove the packages first. They are of higher value and deadlier.”
“You will be compensated accordingly. Consider it a bonus.”
“OP-1, we know who and where Andrea is. Copy?”
The implied threat chilled and infuriated him.
How did they find out about her? he thought.
“Do you copy?”
“Copy,” After a pause, he added, “I don’t like this Control. We’ll talk later.”
“Awaiting confirmation and request for extraction. Control out.”
Luke breathed deeply, trying to regain focus and consider his options.
Deadlier? The president’s ability to launch nuclear weapons and drag the world into chaos seemed deadlier to him.
Fine, I’ll take him out and tell Control I lost the opportunity to take the kids.
He slowly raised his 308 and zeroed in on the back of the man’s skull.
After years of training and over 50 kills, muscle memory superseded thinking. Nonetheless, Luke went through the steps.
Center. 3 breaths. 1, 2, 3…squeeze. All the way back on the trigger then slow release. See the red mist. Observe.
Luke felt the recoil and watched the president crumple.
Suddenly, one of the kids turned, locking eyes with Luke.
“Impossible.” Luke checked his suit to verify the camouflage was working.
Looking back, he saw the child step toward his position, face contorted with rage, and raise both arms with fists clenched. As the sleeves fell, an intense glare stunned him. Recovering, he saw the young one’s blazing arms hurl forward as if flinging an object towards him.
A tsunami of light hurtled his way as he heard Control say, “Damn. OP-2 and 3, get him out.”
Luke awoke in a hospital bed, but the dilapidated walls barely keeping the jungle out and the canvas ceiling told him he wasn’t in Kansas, or a hospital.
Coming from the foot of the bed instead of through his coms, a familiar voice said, “You failed.”
“I completed the contract,” Luke replied. “Something the others failed at twice before.”
“There were no failed attempts. The missions were aborted,” Control said, stepping to Luke’s side. “That fool was never the prime target, hence the mission change.”
“I tried. My suit must have malfunctioned. I thought I saw that kid’s arms ignite.”
“No malfunction. I told you they were dangerous. You should have followed my orders.”
“I don’t take orders. I’m a free-lancer, remember? I did what you hired me to do. I don’t kill innocents. Period.”
“They are far from innocent. If you could travel back in time and kill Hitler as a child, would you do it?”
“Oh lord, now we’re talking sci-fi? He was a madman. I get it. But those kids are not Hitler.”
“No. They’re much worse. They have powers you can’t comprehend that will grow stronger as they mature. One will end up enslaving us all if we don’t take them out now. I’ve seen it.”
“So, you can travel to the future?”
“No, we have a device to SEE the future,” Handing him a stack of photos. “These pictures were printed last year.”
He scanned through grainy images: The White House in ruins, a half-shattered Washington Monument, tanks overturned and bodies scattered in the streets. The last photo was the National Mall reflective pool packed with people dressed in rags, surrounded by strangely armored soldiers, a blurred figure standing in front of Lincoln’s statue.
“Let me guess, Die Hard 22: Die D.C.?”
Stone-faced, Control handed him two more photos.
The first revealed a tall, hooded figure, arms raised over its head with a familiar radiance emanating from the fists. Next, ‘El Presidente’ standing with his back to the jungle holding hands with two small, hooded children, Luke’s shadowy figure in the trees behind them.
Confused, he looked to Control, “These can’t be real.”
“They’re real. If you agree to complete the mission, you’ll be fully briefed. If not, we can visit Andrea.”
Luke felt trapped and incensed, yet intrigued. He had to accept, but he would do this his way, by his code.
“Fine. I’ll remove them. Let’s get started.”
Formulating plans for moving Andrea and taking those strange kids somewhere to assess for himself, Luke pulled out the IV and rolled off the bed.
This should be interesting.