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Assassin

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Storm DeVille

Assassin

Storm DeVille

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Assassin

Copyright Š 2011 Storm DeVille All rights reserved. ISBN: 146647517X ISBN-13: 978-1466475175

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Storm DeVille

Dedication For my other half, best friend and love of many years. Thank you for your support and patience.

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Chapter One

Marisa Del Barro glanced around the

hover port warily. So far no one had approached her with any knowledge of who or what she was. Perhaps the reports had not exaggerated the ready acceptance of strangers on Quintar. Even of a Vegan, such as herself. Violet eyes reflected back at her in a steel plated wall, distorting her stunningly sharp features, but not the purple blaze of eyes common to her world many light years away. Bronze skin was almost metallic in its glow, hair falling to her shoulders in a sweep of startling white, more accurately termed ecru on her interstation pass. The black sleeveless top teamed with leather pants and boots the open trademark of a bounty hunter belied her true calling of warrior. They had put her occupation as exterminator. Well, in part that was the truth. Warrior races such as her own did exterminate 6


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the inferior, or savagely brutal. They worked as state sanctioned assassins, removing the debris no one else wanted to dirty their hands with. A lime skinned Delfarnn who had taken her card from her at the entro-tube was working reception, the clear tubular desk one had to go through before being allowed to roam freely on the prosperous, industrial planet of Quintar. The moist skinned alien went over her opalescent card with the icy calm of a computer, then studied her for a moment. Five foot eleven. One hundred forty-five pounds. Twenty five cycles, or years, as it were on Quintar. Exterminator. Identify by black star in left palm. Burn accident. After checking her palm, he returned her pass and let her go through. In a move that was uncharacteristically nervous, a bronzed hand rested along the handle of a razor sharp raider. The knife was known for its deadly blade that curved, as did the rich grip, and was so named for the havoc it could cause in the right hands. Marisa rode transparent stairs up to level four where work orders were being given out to all new arrivals. A spacious lobby greeted her, its milky white quartz and crystal decor too stark for her tastes. A female just as stark smiled broadly, yet impersonally. With a start Marisa realized it was simply an automated service unit. It greeted the 7


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various newcomers with jewel colored cards. She pressed a ruby card to one man, and topaz to another. Marisa hoped there were no ebony. On Vega, an ebony work card meant you were chosen for termination. A glistening amethyst was handed to her. "Matches your eyes, exterminator Del Barro..." The machine chimed. �A favorable omen, then?" "I make my own signs," Marisa blurted with a growl, but the automated officer continued her empty, irritating grin. "Level seven, room 452. Uniform and appropriate nourishment to sustain you until pick up at 1700 hours. Good day, enjoy your stay on Quintar." Already greeting a timid, orange haired child-woman, the thing was gone. "Damned automated junk," Marisa grumbled as she left for level seven. She hated the way the so-called progressive worlds set their damnable machines in positions where intelligent flesh and blood beings would be more effective. a

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During the long journey upward to her level, she sighed. She must watch her temper on Quintar. There was no place else to go, not for a Vegan. Any Vegan! But especially for her. She had a bounty on her head equal to two years pay in the services. Dead or alive. A tall, heavily muscled man with obsidian eyes made his way to her side, but one glance from violet pools drove any lust driven thoughts from his mind. Those eyes reminded him of death, a very unpleasant death, the kind his people once saw on Tolstarr. His home planet now lay dead, thanks to those invaders with the purple eyes. Marisa recognized him as Tolstarri and concealed her fear of being exposed on Quintar. The Tolstarri were as fearful of Vegans, and Vegan wrath, as she was of exposure. Forcing a warm smile to her face, yet not her eyes, she purred in her velvety voice, full of seduction, �First day on Quintar?" "Y-Yeah... only place for work," he confessed, relaxing at her apparent warmth. True Vegans were like ice, he knew. No true warmth in them. No soul! What he didn't know was that every Vegan had the latent talent for acting, their ability to deceive one of their greatest abilities. It was as easy as breathing to 9


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them, to feign warmth while wiping out an entire world. Like Tolstarr. Marisa sighed, stepping into the heavy traffic of level seven. Did she really long for the old days? She had lost all she had known ten cycles earlier, then her planet had become a dead husk only three cycles later. Perhaps a new life did truly await, as the video-brochures boasted, on this Quintar? Finding her temporary quarters, Marisa locked herself in, then tossed her single bag into a black leather chair. The sparsely furnished unit was decorated in simple black and white. She glanced over the plain bed, chair, and bedside table. A small bathroom was equipped with only the basics. Shrugging, she began stripping off for a much needed shower. The journey had been a long one, and despite modern technology, trips still left one's body feeling grimy. Taking the knife with her, she turned on the spray in the frosted shower cubicle, then stepped inside. A groan escaped her as heated water beat down on her flesh and she scrubbed away the weariness of travel. a

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When she was finished she turned off the water and stepped out on to a furry mat, pressing an oval button on the wall. An opaque drying tube slid down over her from the ceiling, to dry her in mere seconds. Leaving the small room, knife in hand, she went to find her bag. An aching loneliness swept through her, reminding her that something was missing. With a sigh Marisa removed a flat, small black case, the corners smoothed and sleek. Flicking open the lid, she gazed upon the contents with a kind of assurance. In her palm lay the battle colors of her people. What would appear to be a collection of cosmetics in tiny sunken tubs, was actually the paints Vegans used for their ceremonies: battles; uniting; festivities; births and funerals. Of course, different colors were used for various occasions, and Marisa felt saddened to realize she must paint her face as the other women did here, to give the appearance of fitting in. No more scarlet, ebony or ecru for glorious wars; no somber blues for deaths, nor soft violets or sunset pinks for the union of two. How was she to bear such a placid existence here? On Quintar life held no ups or downs--no true life as she knew it! Only an empty existence. 11


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Marisa thought, with a flicker of unease, of Semerius Lanvris, the man she had been united to. He had never returned from the war ten cycles before. It was as well, she thought of him as more of a comrade than a mate, a very dear partner with whom she shared so much. Shaking her head to try to clear away her thoughts, she fought against the loneliness and tears. She had cared about him, deeply, as her dearest friend. Despite what she told herself, she missed him, for there had been true affection between them. Putting away the color case she went to the bed to lie down, weariness claiming her psyche as much as her body. Sleep took her almost at once, wiping the doubts from her mind for a short time. a The decision had not been easy. To come to Quintar, or hire herself out as an exterminator, or a bounty hunter, yet again. It was an occupation closer to her true heritage, and therefore more palatable than menial service. Where a common factory worker was beneath her social-life strata, it was an occupation that would keep her alive. But was it worth it? Mere existence? Instead of true life? 12


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Marisa was awake and dressed in the one-piece uniform left for her, well before the appointed time of pick up. The peacock blue material brought a grimace to her face. It reminded her of funeral gear. She found the nourishment available more to her liking, and quite tasty. Reminiscent of Vegan stew. Hearty, meaty. Suitable for a warrior, full of energy giving proteins and vitamins. Before it was time to be escorted to her work site, she painted her face in the alienbeautiful ways of Quintarians. It felt heavy on her skin, but she knew she must accept it as a dog did its master's collar. a A red shuttle-bus zipped along the corridors at dizzying speeds to pick up various workers, before zooming them to drop off points for their jobs. Marisa stepped out of her room just as the half full bus whooshed to a halt near her. She darted over to it, to climb in silently, choking down her unease. She was a warrior! No need to feel uneasy. If need be she would die, but she would die in true Vegan style. The driver, a shiny gold skinned 13


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Meltalanian, a race of humanoids who appeared to have metal skins, which were not truly metallic, but a genetic trait of their race, grinned at her. "You must be Del Barro," he purred in a sensual, deep voice. "They said you were the most strikingly beautiful woman on this planet. I see they were correct!" A lock of bronzed hair fell over his smooth, high forehead as laughing black eyes glittered into hers. A stab of unexpected attraction startled her into staring back at him. The pretty female next to Marisa, extended a hand of pale periwinkle in welcome. " I am Leoma," she greeted raspily, "Beware of that one, Del Barro. He is Theron, and he believes all women fall under his sexual spell." Marisa nodded slightly. "I can see why," she murmured. "He is rather-um-alluring." "If you merely want a plaything, he is excellent," said a rose-skinned, green eyed passenger. Marisa only now realized that the speaker was female. The rather androgynous appearance had caught her off guard. The softly melodic voice continued. "As a partner for life he is useless!" Then a nod as if agreeing with her assessments. "I am Luta, born 14


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here on Quintar." When her stop was made, Marisa slid from her seat to slither past the driver. An unexpected caress to her derriere as she went by, Theron sent her into action as quickly as the threat of war would. The flash of blue fire as the raider left its sheath was too swift for most to follow. Suddenly pressed to the driver's throat, the blade made its threat, as Marisa growled out harshly, "Keep your paws to yourself! Or you'll lose them." Backing out of the bus, she slowly sheathed the blade, if somewhat reluctantly. The blaze of purple ire from her hot stare warned him that this incident should not occur again. Ever. Murmurs went up among the passengers, some she caught, some she did not. Some she simply ignored. "..she pulled that knife-" "Bet she's a hired killer..." ". . . well, I heard she was- “ "No! They said she was an exterminator-" "I heard-" Regally striding to her work area, she presented her card and was told to follow the area supervisor. Awe struck, she stared at the countless 15


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workers from all over the known galaxies, and some from beyond, as she was led along a cat walk above the masses, toward the work areas that were suspended in the middle of the space. Far from the crowds below and above. With no fear of heights, she refrained from using the handrail on either side of the walk. Cold, unfeeling eyes of pale gray turned on her when the supervisor grated, "We shall put you on the form-press," then it pointed to the far right of them, toward an immense machine. "It is a far cry from exterminator, Del Barro, but you shall have ample opportunity to lift your position to any level desired." A slow, fish eyed blink. "Except mine." I wouldn't want it! Marisa's mind silently refused. "That is good," she was told, and upon her dismay, was informed, �I was created for this position, Del Barro. I scan your thoughts." An inky, slender brow shot up, cutting a startling contrast to bronze flesh and ecru hair, the only indication of query or curiosity. With a swift blink, long sooty lashes seemed to frame violet eyes at once alien, entrancing and entirely unreadable. Leading her down narrow, death defying stairs at the end of the cat walk, she was shown what to do, and how, by the supervisor. When 16


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the task was completed she was told to perform the cycle. After correcting any mistakes, she was told, ”Well done, Del Barro. A light will come on to summon you for breaks and meals-" Seeing her rising questions, it added, "The machine will tell you everything. It is now programmed specifically to your patterns." Then, with a curt bow, ”I am Bel Tran, if you have any problems come to me." An almost pleasant smile touched the face. "We hope your stay at Quintar will be profitable for you and us." Marisa decided the creature-being was a male, due to the name. "Depends," it/he/she told her. "In my case, that may change at the whims of those about us--we are unisex, or multi sex, which ever way you choose to see it." "I hadn't meant to pry," Marisa confessed. ”I am simply used to referring to others as he, she, or it." Another, warmer smile. "You amuse me, Del Barro. Your intelligence mingles with a unique innocence of others." "That sounds almost insult-" "Refreshing," he interrupted. "Do not let the blasé attitudes here influence you." "Wouldn't that be best, though? To fit in?" 17


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"I know your secret," he told her. �I see the truth in your eyes, so common to only," his voice dropped to a whisper and he leaned nearer to add, "Vegans." Sickening panic ran through out her as she stared in shock. "Oh, do not worry. It is of no interest to me, and fugitives do come here often." "I am no fugitive!" "No, of course not. You are only responsible for the annihilation of two hundred and fifty worlds on your own. "And that black star in your left palm isn't a burn accident, or a birth mark, is it? Your star blazer blew up when you over loaded it, determined to exterminate Androg and yourself, too, if necessary. The protective gloves you soldier-types wear is the only thing that saved your entire hand." Eyes narrowing, she admitted, "Those murderous bastards had attacked the helpless and defenseless! Vegans only attacked those of warrior intent, like ourselves." "You could still pursue your trade in the form of bounty hunter or exterminator. We may not have use here on Quintar, but we can locate a firm for you, to get the details and new assignments from..." It was a tempting offer, but one she 18


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sensed she should decline for now. "I believe it best to work here, on Quintar, for a time," she answered the offer warily. "Very well," he relented. "If you change your mind, come to my office." a Marisa fell into the work rhythm easily, feeling certain she had done the right thing. Bel Tran could mistake her immediate quest for a better job as an attempt to overtake him, and his authority. Or worse than that, he could see it as her intent to not even try and settle into life here on Quintar. a Two weeks passed pleasantly, except for the female, Joi, and her irritating advances. Marisa could not seem to make the silly creature understand that she preferred men. Every time Joi neared her, she wanted to blast her into nothingness. But this wasn't Vega. One did not assassinate a troublesome pest who wished to be your lover on Quintar. Much was to be said of Vegan ways, Marisa secretly bemoaned. As she stepped onto the bright work 19


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shuttle, she saw Joi rise to come toward her and groaned, reading the creature’s intentions clearly, she quickly dropped into the seat behind the driver, Theron. "Hello, beautiful," he greeted, voice silky seduction. "Theron," she returned pleasantly. She was finding him far less grating than the ever pursuing Joi was. At the next stop, another group of workers got on the shuttle. One of them was a tall, lean man with an arrestingly handsome face, she had not seen before. Marisa had trouble placing him. He was wickedly handsome when he smiled or laughed, his dark, dark eyes and jet hair common to Martians, yet his pale golden flesh was native to the beauty worshiping Venusians. She smiled wryly. If he were Venusian, he would be more in love with his own beauty than anything else. And if he were Martian, he would be quick witted, sly, highly intelligent and as sexually alluring as Theron was reputed to be. He still might be worth investing a little of her time in. "His name is Alerio," Theron whispered, amused by Marisa's open ogling. Putting her features into a composed mask, she let out airily, "Oh?" 20


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"Don't oh me, my beautiful lady.” He chuckled wickedly. "I know desire when I see it." "Good for you." "Joi’s for you," he whispered. ”Yours for Alerio." Reaching out to fondle a lock of bronzed hair at his nape, she chuckled. “Jealous, darling?" Standing as he pulled up to her stop, she leaned over to kiss his mouth boldly. “Enjoy your shift, pet," she told him quietly. Theron gazed after her fondly, grinning. "Forget her,” Joi hissed on her way out of the shuttle. “She is mine!" Alerio listened intently to their exchanges, heard them growing steadily bitter. Marisa. The name sang in his heart, its beauty unsurpassed. Such a woman was well worth the fight. He watched the Vegan dart across the gleaming white walkway, dark gaze following her little leap onto the narrow catwalk as she went to her station. A faint smile curved his lips. Now he knew where she worked, and which transit she used to get there. "What time does her shift end today?“ he asked Theron. "You expect me to know? I'm only a shuttle driver." His black eyes danced impishly. 21


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“Two forty-five," he supplied, at long last. “Two hours before my shift ends." "Where does she get off after work?" "Now, that I am not at liberty to tell you. Stay around and see for yourself." Alerio grinned. "I think I will."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Storm DeVille lives in the mid-west with her boyfriend, their menagerie of rescued animals, tons of books, movies and video games.

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An excerpt from my fantasy/sci-fi novel.