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Gunpoint

My name is Richard Conway, and I’m a freelance spy. It had been raining since I could remember, and I couldn’t even recall when I’d last seen the sun. Even though my coat was drenched, I kept it on. I looked classier in it. What if a client walked in and saw me in my shirt? They’d never trust me. You gotta seem authoritative, like you have everything under control. Even when you don’t. Especially when you don’t. The cardboard package sitting on the floor looked like it was disintegrating. I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut it open. I smirked as I pulled the “Bullfrog” hypertrousers out. I’d bought them from a shady foreign company, which promised me that I’d be able to jump dozens of yards into the air with them on, with the added bonus that my legs wouldn’t pulverize on landing. It sounded too good to be true. Time for a test.

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“If you’re prepared to make the world worse than it already is by making more weapons for paranoid generals, you certainly have no qualms with killing off innocent civilians”Moments later, I found myself face down in a pile of broken glass. A bad day just got worse, but at least I was still alive. My phone rang and I picked up, moaning “Hello” at the caller. A dame answered, telling me to get to the top of the office building I found myself in. She told me her name was Selena Delgado. Minutes later, I looked out a new broken window, staring at Selena’s broken corpse at the base of the building. She could have used a pair of hypertrousers. But at least I had a new case now.

The case went deeper and deeper. It started out with a simple murder. I should have known nothing is ever that straight-forward. It turned out she worked for a weapons manufacturer. Nasty people, those guys. If you’re prepared to make the world worse than it already is by making more weapons for paranoid generals, you certainly have no qualms with killing off innocent civilians. The murder was framed on a hapless analyst working for the company, but this went all the way to the top. Police corruption, and a rival company – all doing it for reasons I don’t understand. I should have known.

For whatever reason, I can see through walls. In fact, just by walking into a building, I can see where every guard and every object is. Odd, but very useful when I’m planning how to get the information I need. Plus, with my hypertrousers I can just jump onto the ceiling if a guard startles me. Just when he thinks that noise he heard was just a fabrication of his mind, I pounce, taking him down. I like the sound it makes when I punch him in the face, so sometimes I just keep punching. My therapist said I have anger-management issues. Goddamn know-it-all shrinks.

“Using my Crosslink, I hack into the buildings electrical system. I control the place now.”I try to do things quietly, though. My clients usually like it better that way. Hell, they even give me a little bonus if I’m untraceable. I take my time and plan every move meticulously. I prefer to go quietly, moving in the shadows, unlocking doors rather than just kicking them in. I leave no witnesses, though I try to keep the amount of smashed-in skulls to a minimum. It’s such a mess, and creates way too much attention anyway.

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Although most of them seem pretty thick-headed, I try not to mess around with guards. They’ve got an itchy trigger finger. Considering all the bullets that have been fired in my general direction, I’m surprised I’m not dead yet. I’ve certainly taken a few shots in my time, but they’ve only caused superficial injuries, mere flesh wounds. And you know what; I kind of enjoy that feeling of being shot at. Knowing that you’re only inches away from death creates a certain tension that can’t be found anywhere else. I like that adrenaline-filled frantic chase.

When I’m on the job, though, my clients give me free hands. With the money they pay me, I can buy every gadget I could ever need. Using my Crosslink, I hack into the buildings electrical system. I control the place now. I can make the power in every room go out, open locked doors, fry an unwitting guard as he passes by an open socket. Only my twisted imagination sets the limits. At the same time, I like a bit of a challenge. It’s why I became a freelance spy, after all. My clients have realized my superior talent and shower me in cold cash, so I don’t have to worry about not being able to afford new gadgets. It’s a great feeling at first, being rich, but after a while it gets dull. I have no hard choices to make, no sacrifices.

When I’m contemplating the next move in a case, I like to put on a record with mellow blues tunes. It gets me in the right mood. To me, it fits with this dark world I inhabit. I just sit by my desk, feet perched on top of it, putting together all the clues. I think my best thoughts that way.

“One weapons manufacturer is as untrustworthy as the other, so why not work for both of them?”Maybe I had some naïve beliefs about the world once. A belief that there was good and evil in the world. I can’t quite remember. Time and experience erases all such notions. Now, all I see are shades of the same grey. One weapons manufacturer is as untrustworthy as the other, so why not work for both of them? Most of the police are so corrupt that they wouldn’t mind selling their buddies out if it benefited them, so I can’t trust them either. Mostly, I just keep to myself and do whatever cases show up. It’s safer than getting involved in politics.

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At the end of this journey I felt a sense of relief, as I do with all my cases, that I could close this file and move onto something else. It had been a good ride, but I’m ready to leave now. This time it was different. I had never been this involved in the power struggles of the rich and mighty before. I hadn’t felt this excited about a case in years. I went from solving a simple murder case, to dealing with some of the most powerful men and women in the city. What felt even better was that they gave me so much freedom. They had faith in me, and my abilities. They knew I could solve this case.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2013.

Gentle persuasion

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