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By Ross Lombardi


Copyright 2011 Ross Lombardi



There was no denying it. Lady Silk was the second most deadly assassin in the known universe, after, that is, Lord Patch.

But even with a Longevity Vaccine, a human could not be the very best at all the skills required to do the job. You needed a team. You needed a specialist.

But you still needed to keep your identity and mission details on a need to know basis.

Usually, the Specialist in question didn’t let you know who they were, or what their methods were either.

Such contacts (given that trust was not a great survival trait in this shadow clandestine world) took years to make.

One such specialist was Angela Devlin. A woman with two distinct personalities living in the one mind. Devlin was otherwise known as “Devil”, an army survivalist sniper and Angela otherwise known as “Angel”, a computer hacker.

They used to be twin sisters but after a certain incident (a story for another time) Angel downloaded her sister's personality into her brain in order to save her life and escape Devils her dying crippled body.

Angela Devlin was sitting with her legs up on a computer table smoking a rather potent Mind Weed cigar while reading a Lazier and Power Pack magazine. The smile on her face spoke of complete contentment.

The computer buzzed a rock riff signalling an incoming message.

Angela Devlin Picked up the mouse and pressed an icon.

“Hello?” She said in a rough voice.

A scrambled voice came over the speakers. It was Lady Silk.

“This is customer “S” “ she said

The expression came over Angela Devlin’s face. She threw away the cigar and pulled a face as if it was the foulest thing she ever tasted.

“Are you wanting a hack or a hit?” Angel said.

“A hack!” Came Lady Silks reply.

“Then you’re talking to the right person.”

“Barron Dat has an emotional prosthetic in his brain to keep him thinking clear, logical and controlled. I need him to become less clear thinking, illogical and uncontrolled.”

“You want me to hack into his brain and pull at a few neurons?” Asked Angel.


“The Prosthetic is a computer chip and will be a link into his head but after that your talking about hacking wetware. Re-coding his actual brain! That’s more an art than a science.”

“Are you saying it can not be done?”

“No! I am not saying that. What I am in fact saying is that it will cost double!”

“That will not be a problem,”

“How emotional do we want to get? The odd tear or full-blown Manic Depression.”

“Make him more susceptible to falling in love” Despite the voice scrambler you could make out the smile on the other end.


The communication signal cut off.

In her head, Angel said “Good news Devil. I’m downloading myself into the net; you can have the body to yourself for a few hours. Try not to get me too stoned and wash the cigar taste out of my mouth before I get back.”

Angela Devlin Pulled open a flap of skin under her hairline and switched on the remote modem. First, she visited the insides of her own computer and opened a file with Barron Dat’s information on.

Computer environments had different levels of virtual reality to them. It was far easier to manipulate information if it had a metaphoric existence on the virtual plane.

Simply put, when she visited her computer she translated the input to entering an old simple office. Environments could be anything and were only limited to the imagination and hacking power of the user. The only thing you couldn’t create was a virtual computer. (Otherwise, where would it al1 end!)

Being a simple environment everything was in black and white.

Here you could water the virtual rubber plant (it needed virtual watering) and lock the virtual door that said “Angel P. I.” on it or shag the attractive male gangster bodyguard sitting on the other side of the door. Angel walked over to a filling cabernet and looked under “D” for Barron Dat. As she opened it the words faded from the paper and the information loaded into her mind. Then she walked over to the locker and pulled out a ladies fur coat and a repeating sawn off Shotgun in one of the specially adapted pockets. Then Angel went to the desk drawer and pulled out a one-shot “hold out” pistol raised the hem of her skirt and tucked it into a stocking holster on the inside of her leg. She thought of taking the gangster bodyguard with her but there was a lot of sensitive information in the filling cabernet and she wanted someone to stand guard over the office.

(The Gangster wasn’t a real person anyway just a big nasty protection/leisure program.)

Angel stepped out into the universal Internet. This meant unlocking her office, going into the hall, giving the Gangster program an affectionate kiss, and locking the door behind her. Barron Dat’s emotional inhibiting implant was monitored by his doctor’s surgery for minor alterations and to get general health check readings. She raised a cupped hand, whispered “Planet Dat, Imperial Hospital, Royal Doctors, Monitoring Station” and blew into it. An iridescent blue dust flew out and formed a long blue thread line of light that lead to the destination. She left the main building and went out to the street.

Angel waved her hand in a complicated way through the air and a Cherry red stylish motorbike appeared. She straddled the machine and gave out a couple of revs for a cheap thrill, before pulling out into traffic.

The machine flew up into the air that was buzzing from a thousand different modes of transport. From winged Pegasus to magic carpets. All the time following the blue line that only she and a few very powerful programs would be able to see.

She travelled faster than the speed of light across the universe through Internet space on the back of a motorbike.

Soon she arrived and landed at the hospital building. The shotgun she placed in a leather holster on the side of the bike, as it would be too big to smuggle into the hospital and cast another programming spell. Her clothes changed from an evening costume to a nurse’s uniform.

She walked to the roof entrance and followed the blue line to the Royal Doctors Monitoring Stations Reception.

The room was empty apart from a burly nurse sitting behind a desk. Angel did not know whether the nurse was a program of a real person. She couldn’t cast an identity program to check without giving herself away. She decided that in all probability that the nurse was a program because most women were vain enough to choose nicer features when logged on. Angel conjured a clipboard of paperwork and passed it over the desk to the nurse.

“The doctor wants a systems to check on Lord Dat’s brain implant.” She added.

The nurse looked through the forged paperwork, gave a grunt and nodded toward the door.

Angel nodded back and headed towards the door, “This is the easiest money I’ve made in a long time,” She thought.

Once through she saw in a large warehouse full of a huge engine working on a mixture of steam, animal treadmills and elastic. Gantries, cogs and pistons where everywhere, giving access to hundreds of tiny goblins that ran around with wrenches, oil cans and screwdrivers. A slightly larger goblin with a white coat and a clipboard with a pencil tucked behind one ear walked over.

“Systems check,” stated Angel.

The goblin nodded and produced a hard hat out of thin air.

“Thanks,” Angel said.

She walked up and through the gantries until she was deep in the heart of the machine.

She pulled out a small egg that grew in her hand from the size of a seed to having to be held in both hands. She placed it on the floor and watched it hatch. Out came a creature that was almost identical to a goblin accept that is, in its nature, it was, in fact, a gremlin program. Then from thin air Angel produced a large spanner and gave it to the excited gremlin. The Gremlin hopped for joy and ran deeper into the machine where Angel would never be able to reach and threw the big spanner into the complicated gearing.

Angel calmly followed the emergency exit signs until she could see a door with large back suits of living gothic armour standing guard outside.

Soon the entire machine ground to a halt, oil leaking, fires starting and metal snapping and twisting everywhere around her. Red lights flashed and sirens wailed.

The great machine stopped working. The Barron Dat’s Emotional Inhibitor Implant ceased to function.

One of the Guards ran away from the exit and towards the head engineer goblin to find out if it was a security breach or a system fault and to receive their orders. Angel approached the other, and seeing her nurse’s uniform and having been programmed to allow medical access in cases of emergencies, the guard let her through.

Angel slipped through the door and…..

…. She was now looking through Lord Dat's eyes. She could NOT control him like some sort of puppet. His mind was active, here and very much dominant. But she could carefully enter suggestions and increase the depth of emotional reactions if she took things slow and gently.

The nano bug was the size of a gnat. It had landed on its victim and taken a single surface skin cell. It was a top of the line model. Full of micro stealth suit technology. The palace had safeguards against such technology but the little robot had beaten them all with ease. It docked in a secret compartment in Lady Silks laptop computer.

The small chemistry set on the computer began to work. Within minutes Lady Silk had Lord Dat’s genetic code laid out and ready for analysis. She smiled and got the complementary software working on the information. Lady Silk had to spend a few hours dictating the highly specialized parameters of the chemical she wanted to synthesize. Normally her software was designed to create chemical or biotoxins specific to a victim’s DNA. But she did not want to kill Lord Dat. She wanted to create a set of pheromones that would trigger strong feelings of lust in her target. A scent that would drive Lord Dat mad with passionate desires. All she had to do now was get Lady Murr to wear the substance and then get Lord Dat and Murr close enough together for the pheromones to reach Lord Dat’s receptors.

Lady Karen Teste sat in the interrogation room. The things that DID NOT happen included being injected with drugs, sensory deprivation and physical beatings. But what DID NOT happen was quite important. Normally anyone caught offending against the law would have received all such measures in order to gain confessions and gain other information. But although Karen was poor to the point of almost destitution she had royal blood in her veins. This meant that for any offence short of actual treason against the Emperor himself, she could not have such uncivilized means of interrogation used against her. But she could be held indefinitely at the Baron's leisure, albeit in very comfortable quarters or expelled from the planet. Being held did not worry Karen. Eventually, she would be released and in the meantime, she would have a place to sleep and food and drink. But expulsion worried her, as she had nowhere to go and no money to get there and as she had been caught stealing (and the merger loot confiscated) nothing to sell to fund the un-extravagant habit of existing. There was also the question of her reputation, she might not get invited anywhere again ever. Normally she would have gotten away with a couple of ashtrays and some cutlery but security had been tightened since the arrival of Lord Patch in Starack’s bid to stop an assassination and keep himself alive.

The incidental result was Lady Karen Teste’s capture for petty theft.

Starack was not pleased. He did not want to deal with a petty thief when he had to come up with plans to stop the assassination but Lady Teste’s lineage demanded nothing less than the personal attention of the chief of security. Anything less would be seen as an insult to the purity of her royal blood and hence the Emperor.

The Barron of Bolox had more money than anyone could really need while Lady Teste had stolen jewelled ashtrays that no one would miss. Yet at the same time, he couldn’t just let her go because a crime had been committed. It was a nightmare situation for Starack that was eating away his precious time.

For starters, he was interrogating royalty and that meant having to go and change into a dress uniform.

Despite the situation, the first thing Lady Karen Teste thought when Chief of Royal Security Starack entered in full ceremonial dress was ‘Wow!’

It was not as if he was the most handsome man in the world although he was not bad looking and was as physically fit as a royal guard had to be (which is very). But his posture, face and mannerisms each had and contained anything and everything that Karen had ever uniquely and personally found cute in any man she ever has known. To her, he was a walking fascination. The end result, was as mentioned before, her thinking ‘Wow!’

When Starack saw her it popped into his head for an instant that she was merely ‘quite pretty’ before professionalism took over.

“Lady Karen Teste I formally suggest to your highness that you have taken too much advantage of Barron Bolox, In the name of the Barron I formally detain you for questioning. The results of this formally recorded interrogation may result in detention in the royal quarters or expulsion from the planet. Do you have representation?”

“What? I mean pardon?” stammered the prisoner after snapping out of some hidden world of her own.

Inwardly Starack sighed. Although outwardly he showed no sign of his exasperation. You could not be rude to royalty. He repeated himself.

“Lady Karen Teste I formally suggest to your highness that you have taken too much advantage of Barron Bolox, In the name of the Barron I formally detain you for questioning. The results of this formally recorded interrogation may result in detention in the royal quarters or expulsion from the planet. Do you have representation?”

“No! No representation,” she seemed to be annoyed at herself and she was. Here she was with her reputation at risk and she was babbling like some infatuated schoolgirl.

“You do realize the seriousness of this situation? Are you sure you don’t want to call representation?”

“No. No representation.” She felt the heat of embarrassment flow over the skin of her face.

Starack smiled gently and her skin flushed again with the cuteness of his smile.

‘Dam him’ she thought. Starack suspected she had no money from his investigations in preparation of this interrogation. There was no such thing as a free legal service in the Empire.

“May I speak frankly Lady Teste,” Starack requested.

Karen nodded.

“According to my sources, you have no money. You live by travelling from event to event across the universe. I humbly suggest that your diet consist mainly of party food and when you’re not at a party you go hungry. Unless that is, you can sell trinkets from the parties to afford the basics or life. I am further suggesting that if your reputation for petty theft gets out the invitations will dry up and you will become truly destitute.”

Karen glared at Starack. Shear pride defending her from crying.

“However you are fortunate,” Starack continued “Lord Patch is here and therefore I have not the time or inclination to spend on this problem. I know you are due at lord Far’s Daughters wedding in roughly three weeks time. I can arrange to smuggle you out of the palace and to that location tonight. I will give you some of the royal guard's survival iron rations and put you on a slow bulk transport that will get you there just in time. No one will ever know your secret,” Starack paused. “That’s my offer. The only alternative is for me to tell Barron Bolox and he is not a nice man.”

Karen nodded again. She knew she should be grateful really. He was bending to almost breaking point allot of rules.

Starack tilted his head as the radio in his head activated. A look of surprise crossed his face. And he murmured to the voice at the other end of the transmission to, “Send her in,”

“It looks like you have representation after all,” Starack said.

Lady Alaska entered the interrogation room all sweet smells and cleavage.

“I am here to represent Lady Teste,” she stated.

Panic crossed Karen’s face, if Lady Alaska knew of the situation then her precious reputation was at real risk.

“I think there has been a misunderstanding,” Lady Alaska continued.

“I hope I have not shown myself to be indiscreet in this matter,” Starack said as he bowed. What he was really saying was ‘how the hell did you find out about this!’

“It seems that you have mistaken a game, a scavenging hunt me and Lady Teste were playing, as theft,”

“Items were taken and concealed my lady,” Said Starack

“But there is no evidence that there was any intention for us to remove items from the palace grounds, once we had tallied up the scores the items were to be returned,” replied Lady Alaska.

“Ashtrays are a fairly common item for them to be of a challenge in any scavenger hunt,” Starack said with doubt.

“I never said it was a difficult scavenger hunt,” Lady Alaska purred with a smile.

Lord Patch’s arrival was very public and everyone knew Starack had better things to do.

“I apologize for my mistake Lady Alaska you and Lady Teste may go,”

Everyone bowed or curtsied and soon Starack was left alone. Now he could get on with the more immediate business of saving his own life,

Outside Lady Teste was quiet. She had nothing to offer in either money of political or social favour yet there must be a reason for Lady Alaska’s intervention.

Lady Alaska smiled as if reading Lady Testes mind. Gently she leaned over and lightly kissed her on the cheek.

“There will come a time when you may owe me a boon,” she whispered “One day you may achieve an elevated position, on that day I am sure I will not have to remind you of my rescue of your reputation,”

Lady Teste could only think of one way her position could be elevated and that was by marriage.

With a carefully flashed smile, Lady Alaska whisked herself off in a flurry of her very slinky expensive dress.

Lady Teste was left to wonder who it was that was considering marrying her and how lady Alaska knew of such intentions before she did. 


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