692 words (2 minute read)

Avenger of Azariah

The hot sun permeated Anna’s light brown armor in the dry, oven like heat. Her dirty-blonde hair was pulled into a short pony tail. Sweat trickled into her emerald green eyes as she tried to look down the scope of her rifle. A bland set of buildings, surrounded by high walls with a single entrance loomed beneath her. High on her perch 3000 meters away, she overlooked the small compound from the side of the eastern mountain range. Officially, she had been banned from pursuing this lead. Even if it was on the edge of Kulrathi space, The Council still feared it could set off another war with the hostile alien race. Yet with all that considered, she couldn’t let him get away, not after what he did.

“He will not be happy you left him behind,” her Artifical Companion, Lance, commented.

“Yeah, well, it’s for the best.”

“I doubt Operative Revin will agree with that assertion.”

She chuckled in response. Her partner, Tal Revin, would take a bullet for her. No doubt he was already trying to barter with a smuggler to find her. He wouldn’t, at least not before she did what needed to be done.

“Anna, Orothros operatives are not assassins. Your mission is to rescue people from those that wish them harm. Assassination is against Council regulations, and various peace treaties.”

She didn’t respond. A door slid open down below. Out stepped a heavily armored guard, his bald head glistened in the hot sun.

“He’s on the move,” she noted. “Get ready.”

She took a deep breath, and wiped the sweat from her brow.

“Alright Lance, let’s get a good look at him,” she ordered her Artificial Companion. Lance automatically focused her rifle on the exiting terrorists, facial recognition scanned each of them until finally it landed on her target. Linden Swann, a militaristic cult leader that, that had made his life’s work attempting to convince people that humanity needed to remain pure of alien influence and technological enhancements. He’d been an annoyance to the members of The Council, the news feeds had made that clear enough, but neither they nor their agents ever suspected the sociopathic cruelty that lurked beneath.

He’d finally revealed himself one day on Azariah, a thriving city where humans and aliens coexisted peacefully. There were even a few cases of intra-terrestrial marriages between species. One of the few places where that was officially recognized.

Anna had lived there for a time in her youth, while her father was contracted to work on one of his experiments. She’d made friends, developed a crush on a cute Souri boy with his long hair and iridescent eyes, she’d even played the lead role in the school play. Despite not having lived there in years, she had a strong connection to it. That connection quickly turned to a desire for vengeance upon hearing the news of its destruction. Four years ago, Swann detonated a cinder bomb that turned everything organic into dust. Only the buildings remained, painted with the shadows of those that lived there.

Over time her grief had turned into a carefully brewing anger that had driven her to this moment. As she lay on the dry brown cliff overlooking the facility she let go of the walls she’d placed around those particular emotions. She let her rage, grief, and guilt flow through her as she gazed upon Swann’s smug face approaching the gated checkpoint. Her finger tensed in preparation. She took a deep breath, Lance commanded the nanites in her blood to calm her heart rate. Her breathing stopped. She lined up the shot, her finger compressed the trigger, and everything seemed to stop. The rifle rang out across the plateau. She didn’t miss.

Next Chapter: Chapter 1