|1129 Hours, February 11th, 2556
New Legaspi, Mars, Sol System
It wasn't the knife in the back that surprised Alec. Well, it was surprising. One moment he was checking his datapad, the next his back had sprouted a rather large knife as a gloved hand was clamped over his mouth. As a so-called 'Insurrectionist', Alec knew that the UNSC had agents everywhere, so being paranoid generally got you through to the next day. No, it was something else entirely that had sent a wave of fear coursing through him. The datapad fell from his outstretched fingers and clattered to the ground as his body convulsed. Waves of pain coursed through him as the knife twisted. Slowly. He had glanced into the floor-length mirror seconds before, and what he had seen had chilled him to the bone.
"Quiet now, Mister Jarvis. It'll all be over soon."
The voice was soft. Comforting. It belonged to Doctor Alexander Redford, who had joined his group almost three months ago. His file had checked out: A hundred thousand creds on his head for blowing up a UNSC armoury. He had been accepted into the unit, becoming well-liked and respected. Hell, he had patched up Alec himself after a lucky guardsman had shot him in the leg.
"Why?" he hissed, words barely audible through the vice-like grip over his mouth. In the mirror in front of him, Redford's face came into view. He was an average-sized man, mid-fifties, with thinning hair and quite a well-spoken accent. A malicious grin split across his face as he removed the knife, spinning Alec around to face him. Their eyes met, Alec's light blue to Redford's maroon ones. It was like staring into an abyss.
"I'm sorry about this, truly. It's just business, you see."
Redford pushed Alec back against the mirror, cracking the glass. He slid down it slowly, trailing blood, and slumped to the ground. His vision blurred and dimmed as his killer wiped the knife off with a cloth, before concealing it once more in his belt. Sweeping around the room, Redford hurriedly checked for information on the desks, plugging a tiny device into Alec's terminal before turning back to the dying man.
"Still alive I see? Good. You won't want to miss this part."
There were voices not far off, faint but audible. Redford scooped up his datapad, that same grin on his face. Alec couldn't feel much anymore. All he could remember was the face. Redford stepped into the darkness. Alec tried to move, but couldn't. The door to the apartment slid open, and three figures stepped in. There was a scream, and one of them ran to him.
"Alec! Alec, can you hear me!"
"Shit, where's the doc? Red!"
Their voices were muffled. Alec raised his head slightly to see a worried young woman crouched before him. It was Gemma, one of his comrades. She was checking his pulse with one hand. The other held a loaded pistol. The two others, Lokir and Otis, had also drawn their weapons, their eyes darting around for an attacker.
"Who did this Alec? Was it the Doc?"
He couldn't speak. His tongue felt heavy in his mouth. Shouldn't I have died yet?
Looking down, there was a lot of blood from his wound. Gemma lifted his head up, and turned towards the others. They were wary, alert. It didn't help them one bit.
As Otis turned back to reply to Gemma, the shadows parted. There was a flash of silver. followed by a spray of blood from his throat. Before his knees had hit the floor, Redford had leapt towards Lokir. The knife flashed once, twice, thrice, a blur as more of the blood spurted from Lokir's face. The big man staggered back, screaming. He tried to raise his weapon, only to have it fall from his grip as his wrist was slashed. Redford caught it before it hit the floor.
Moving quickly, almost gracefully, the ONI agent grabbed Lokir and pulled him around as Gemma opened fire. Unscathed thanks to his impromptu shield, he dived away as the second and third shots impacted on Lokir, silencing his screams. Redford quickly jumped to his feet once more and raised his handgun, still smiling.
Alec flinched as the back of Gemma's head exploded over him. The woman slid silently to the floor, her expanding pool of blood mixing with his. Redford looked down at the pistol in disgust, holding it at arms length. He let it drop to the floor. The look faded from his face. It was the same look that Alec had seen in the mirror.
It was as if Alexander Redford's face, that almost constant smile, the reassuring voice and caring personality, had been replaced with that of another being entirely. It was a bestial snarl, teeth bared, hands more like talons as he extinguished the lives of others. Though he did not know this, Alec was one of the few to have seen the look twice. Redford approached.
"Well, that was rather exhilarating. I'm sure you're wondering why you are still alive, Alec. Am I right?"
Alec tried to nod, but couldn't. He felt tired, barely able to lift his head. Redford crouched before him, lifting his chin up. Once again, he faced those deep, abyssal eyes, gates into hell itself.
"That's quite all right, Alec. The poison I administered on the blade would slow your death for a while. How about this: One blink for yes, two for no?"
Alec blinked once.
"Very well then. I suppose that you of all people deserve some deal of closure before your death. It is these poor fools, rude people-" he said the word with a great deal of disgust in the same manner that one might say 'murderer' "-lying here that suffered truly, dying in seconds. You get to experience all of it, Alec. Isn't that exciting?"
"No? So much for the art of civilised conversation, even with a dying man. I had better be off then. My work is never done, after all. Other places to clean up, and so on, though I have enjoyed the last few months. Close your eyes."
Alec complied. Why not? he couldn't concentrate anyway. The blurry figure faded from view as he closed his eyes. There was a brief rustle of movement, then nothing. His head slumped down once more.
Redford sighed. Having brought his knee up below Alec's chin to kill him was so simple, annoyingly uncomplicated for his liking. This assignment had not been terrible by his standards, but rather slow. He would have probably eliminated this lot out of boredom eventually had his contacts at the Office of Naval Intelligence not contacted him. The war had been over for six years now, but his work had not slowed at all. Oh well, he thought, shrugging to the bloodied corpses around him.
Time to clean.
There was no need to move the bodies. No one had heard the gunshots, and the fight had been over too quickly to cause any damage. He removed his device from the terminal. A green light indicated that it had been filled, no doubt with all kinds of crucial information pertaining to local Insurrectionist cells.
Stowing the device away, Redford stepped calmly over Lokir's mutilated corpse, and headed for his room, where he retrieved the C12 explosives he had stashed away. It was quite funny, looking at it from his perspective. He would wipe out a rebel cell, blow up their safehouse, and have the attack blamed on more rebels. For someone bothered with the moral implications of such a deed it may have been a problem, but not for Redford. He had been in this profession long enough to know that it was better just not to care. It was, after all, for the good of mankind.
Setting the explosives carefully, his practised hands ensuring that each was remotely linked to the detonator, Redford checked over the corpses once more. The three of them had stepped out to get some supplies, leaving Alec alone with him. Had they been gone longer, then he may have been able to set up something more elaborate.
The grocery bag yielded better treasures than the various material goods and chemicals that would probably go into mediocre bomb-making: A bottle of wine. Smiling at his luck, Redford uncorked it and placed it on the table, drawing himself a chair. He was careful not to get any blood on his immaculate shoes. He glanced around the room. No glasses. How they intended to drink this was a mystery.
This piqued his curiosity. Taking out a small device, he ran it over the bottle, it's green light scanning the contents. Redford could recall, almost two decades ago, watching his partner flailing around, clutching her throat as poison took her. He couldn't quite remember her name-was it Shelley?- not that it really mattered. She had been a terrible agent, anyway.
Content that the wine was unpoisoned, he took a small swig from the bottle, and nearly spat out the contents. It may well have been poison. Vintage 2350? Pish! He stood up, leaving the bottle on the table. Grabbing his charcoal grey coat from the rack, he exited the apartment, barely casting a glance at the slaughter behind him.
Minutes later, Redford was several streets away, having embraced the cold night of the city. He toyed with the detonator for several moments, took a deep breath, and pressed the button. The explosion rocked through the streets, followed closely by screams and panic. He made a fist with his left hand. To the untrained eye it looked like any other, but beneath it was an entirely mechanical prosthetic, an old injury that blemished his perfect record. No matter. Satisfied, Redford strode off towards the Spaceport, activating his communicator as he did. After a few moments, his ONI handler answered.
"This is Eagle Eye. Red, is your mission complete?"
"All targets have been eliminated."
"Good work. We'll have a transport waiting, along with your pay. We've got another assignment waiting when you get back to Earth."
"I'm looking forward to it. May I ask what this assignment entails?"
"You'll be fully briefed when you get home. Something to do with a Spartan, Red. We'll see you there, over and out."
Redford smiled. He had never had the opportunity to work with the fabled warriors before, and was genuinely interested in his new assignment; something rare for the veteran agent. His mind briefly flicked back to the apartment where he had lived for the past few months, and the people he had collaborated with for that time. In the end, their deaths had meant as little as the hundreds of others he had used his considerable skills on over the years.
This may be enjoyable.