The bullet had clipped her upper left arm, torn straight through the metal, leaving the entirety of that arm useless for the rest of the fight. Not that that had mattered in the slightest, since she had enough weapons on her right arm and body to render a small army dead. First she’d fired the bullets circled around her bracelet-cuff, taking out five men within a couple of seconds. But those men had just been guards, not the man she had been after, and since everything had happened on a rooftop she’d simply stood on the ledge and dropped, landing on the ground fifty feet down on her feet following a graceful front-flip or two.
Then she’d run, soundless and camouflaged into the night due to her jumpsuit and hooded cloak, vanishing into the cluster of the city. She’d run through the night crowds, drunkards and free people enjoying themselves and not noticing her at all. Branna Dummond wasn’t known as the Silent Assassin for nothing.
She flicked the switch to the upwards position, the lights of her two room apartment illuminated the area around her. She walked through her living room and kitchen combo to her bedroom, all while cursing under her breath.
Tonight had been a mistake. She should have known that the secretary of the King’s council wouldn’t be in that hotel. She should have known that it had all a ploy—a ploy to attempt to capture her.
But they should have known that there was no capturing her. She was Britannia’s most notorious assassin, trained by the Sept of Assassins and Modified to her eternal peak when she was sixteen following her accident. She was what no other human or android alike was, because she was both—and due to it, she had the key elements of androids, superhuman strength and speed, but also the natural skills of a human.
That’s when she remembered her ‘wound’. Raising her left arm, she stared at the hole in the both her suit and her metal fabrication, big enough that she could see right through it. It was the second time in three weeks that that arm had been injured, the first time being a dagger that had been lodged straight into it—a dagger she now owned and wound onto a recoil.
With a sigh she unzipped her suit down enough so that she could shrug off the left sleeve and sat on the edge of her bed. “System repair,” she murmured and held the arm away from her as the self repair kicked in.
At some point, she thought, the damn army will realise that shooting or aiming at a metal arm will not hinder me greatly.
The smell of metal welding back together filled the air, the sound of wires electromagnetically attaching themselves back together filling the room.
After a couple of minutes her arm was as good as new, the metal back to being joined and no longer paralysed. She stretched it out, curling and uncurling her fingers into a fist, and, even though it was metal, it ached for a few seconds like it did whenever it had just been repaired.
She stood to kneel on the floor and reached behind her neck to unclasp her necklace. The key attached dangled on the chain, which she placed into the lock in the floor and turned after pulling back the rug.
The wood groaned as it moved and slid to reveal a great wood and gilded gold chest. Branna reached down and pulled the hefty chest out, dropping it carefully on the floor. Even though it was wood, if anyone was to ever find it they would never be able to unlock it, not even with dynamite. Only she would ever be able to open it, because it was programmed to respond to her touch in a series of patterns.
First she skimmed her right index finger over the top left corner of the chest, then twisted the star on the front, followed by a press in the centre of the fleur-de-lis (the sigil of the Sept) at the centre of the lid, before drumming the two width sides with her knuckles in sync.
The lid popped open and she pushed it back. Knives and blades lined the inner lid in strung sheaths, shock gloves were piled neatly in a tray and numerous hand guns hung around the inside walls. This was the smallest of her arsenals, but it was where she kept her most beloved weapons.
She unfastened the shock gloves she was wearing, unfastened the wrist sheath that held her recoiling dagger from her left wrist, unclipped the bullet-loaded bracelet-cuff from her right wrist, unclasped her weapons belt from around her waist, withdrew the two hunting daggers from the built-in sheaths on the lower legs of her suit, and then took the handgun from her thigh holder. Her katana she’d left in the other room.
And all that was just a light arsenal to wear.
After putting everything away and concealing the chest once more, Branna stood up and stretched on the balls of her feet, human muscle aching slightly. She needed a hot bath filled with muscle soaking bubble bath.
Her bathroom, if one could call a toilet and small tub behind a rococo divider a bathroom, was in the corner of the room in front of a window that gave her the view of the castle. She was high enough in the apartment building that no one could peer in. And she was close enough to the capital’s centre that no would suspect she was actually there, because they’d all be searching the borders and outskirts.
She walked behind the divider and started running a bath, dropping a quarter of her newly bought bubble bath into the tub and sat on the edge, staring out of the window to the castle beyond that glowed a gold colour with the illumination of the night lamps.
When the bath was hot enough, bubbly enough and full enough, Branna turned off the tap, unzipped her suit and shrugged out of it, and then climbed into the tub. She slid down far enough that her chin was just above the water and her black hair spilled around her, black ink against creamy water.
She stared at the ceiling, at the cracks running along the length. The cracks had been there when she’d started renting out the apartment, and two days in she’d realised why. The man who owned the apartment above had been a burly, bull of a man whose footfalls had been that heavy he’d literally made the pewter chandelier in her apartment sway when he’d walked. It didn’t help at all that he’d been the sort of man who’d brought back whores from one of the city brothels, numerous ones at a time, and was that rough in his actions he’d made the ceiling above her shake. Hence the cracks.
Which was why she’d done a kindness to those poor prostitutes, as well as others in the apartment building nearby, and climbed out of her window almost a week ago, scaled the four foot distance to the man’s small balcony and swung into his home. There she’d waited until he’d come back, whores in tow, and slit his throat. The prostitutes screamed, but had been somewhat thankful when she’d explained what he’d do and had promised to not say a word.
She’d left that man’s body in a dumpster for the vermin to devour.
Branna dropped her gaze from the ceiling and, after staying in for a good thirty minutes more, yawned and pushed herself up onto her feet and out of the bath.
She didn’t grab her towel from the windowsill straight away, but instead moved to stand in front of the full-length leaning against the wall and stared at her reflection. Water rolled over her skin and metal, dropping from the thick strands of her hair.
She ran a hand over the metal side of her body, which covered most of her left side. Half-android humans were common now, but she had been one of the first successful ones. Following an accident where she’d been mauled by wolves whilst on a mission, the only way to save her had been to make her half-android, to rebuild her torso and give her a prosthetic arm and leg.
The two prosthetics weren’t like the ones found years ago in the 21st century, the ones where the metal joints and wiring was shown with a plastic casing. Instead the wiring and joints were covered by metal that had been curved and welded into a slim and perfectly constructed replica of a human left arm and hand, though it wasn’t covered in a synthetic skin but instead kept with its silver tone on show. It was the same with her left leg, except for the fact that where her hand was fully formed her foot was like that of the foot of a mannequin and without separate toes.
She carried on staring, at the perfectly shaped metal and the contrast it had with her right side, with the flesh side. The metal warped in an arch just underneath her left collar bone and down in a line before curving again to a point at the groove-line between her hip and the top of her leg. Her left breast was two panels of curved silver metal, and though she knew that it would look strange when she was older and had one pert breast and one sagging one, for the moment she didn’t care.
Neither did she care how her metal was deemed by others, when she went to pay for something with the money in her left hand, or when she’d worn a dress to a party (she had been assigned to kill one of the guests, but that was beside the point) which had had a slit down the left side to reveal her leg. Half-androids were common, but revealing metal unless fully-android was frowned upon and so many had opted for synthetic skin being allowed on top of the metal. But Branna, being an assassin, was not a prude when it came to bearing metal, or skin for that matter, and she didn’t follow social rules.
The prosthetics were, to her, neither ugly nor beautiful. They were just practical. They’d given her strength, which had taken her a while to get used to and many things had been smashed, and speed and agility.
She closed her eyes and tried to remember the accident, but could remember nothing more than the searing pain that had lanced through her body and pairs of golden eyes.
In fact, it wasn’t just the accident she could not remember much of. She couldn’t remember anything before she’d been taken in by the Sept at the age of seven and trained to be the assassin of many names. The assassin everyone both feared and admired. She couldn’t remember her parents, or even if she’d ever had any or been an orphan. That said, however, sometimes—very rarely—something around her, a smell or a feel or just a random moment of quietness, would itch at something in the back of her mind and trigger something—like the feel of small hands on rocks, the sound of childish laughter, the spin of dresses, tears falling, music playing, a pair of sparkling green eyes the colour of emeralds.
Her eyes snapped open and the feelings and the sounds and those eyes disappeared. She grabbed her towel and wrapped it around herself before sitting on the edge of her bed, her face buried in her metal hand.
Now was not the time for her to daydream about fragmented memories that occasionally seeped through her mind. Now was not the time to dwell on the things she’d forgotten. It certainly was not the time to attempt to find who she had been before she’d been taken in by the Sept, because the past was the past and if she couldn’t remember then she was better off not knowing.
No, she had a mission she needed to complete and she was so close. She was finally in the city; she was so close to the castle. She could grab her shotgun and fire a bullet from the roof terrace if she wanted to, if that wasn’t too obvious.
So she didn’t have time to dally about in self-pity over herself, because her job came first and would always come first. She was an assassin, and she had a mission to accomplish.
She was to kill the King.