Surgical Excision

Characters: Mira Trassano

Mira checked her appearance in a tiny scrap of mirror. The physical training on the Phoenix had turned a lot of her original plumpness into muscle. The short rations in recent months had whittled away the remaining cushion. She was now too thin. She was dressed as a lower level servant and her hunger showed in the loose fit of the uniform. She would blend right in with the other servants. As far as disguises went, this one made her practically invisible. To complete the picture, she had shaved off that little lock of hair that she had cultivated for so long. Most Centauri women no longer had time for such frivolities. Mira’s vanity still missed it, though.

As she prepared for the night’s activities, her mind wondered. Today I saved the life of a patient, as well as that of a friend, took one in self-defense and tonight I commit murder. Interesting balance there. I wonder what S’ran-to, the patron god of doctors, thinks about me right now? Who is the patron god of assassins? I am glad I was able to send that message to Peter. I hope he is well. I wonder if he has it already. That Ranger only knew that the Phoenix had been seeing quite a lot of action. With luck, my message has reached Peter and my Isil’zha is back on Tuzanor. I really should have left it on the Phoenix with the rest of my things when I left. I wonder who had gotten stuck with packing up my room? I wonder what happened to it all. The Anla’shok should never have accepted me as one of them. What were they thinking? Mira did another double-check in the mirror and with her hands. Then pulled on her usual overcoat and grabbed her bag.

Seems like I have everything. I must be the most trusted assassin in the history of assassins. No one ever questions my intentions. Mira shook her head to clear away her extraneous thoughts and turned away from the mirror. It was time to focus on her task. Assassinations, like surgery, were not forgiving of less than perfect focus.

This week’s rented room was a particularly dismal affair. Only a cot and stool took up space on the floor. The wall only held a narrow strip of mirror and no window. Her knitting lay on the cot and she had made a small hiding place inside the floor for her extra bag. Her regular clothes, knitting and personal items stayed in the room as evidence of her activities. The evidence of her ulterior activities always remained out of sight.

After hiding her bags of supplies again, she carefully locked her room behind her. She didn’t really expect the flimsy lock to do much good, it just gave her an excuse to linger by the door setting the tell-tales. Everything was for appearances. A rented room should have personal things in it and the door should be locked. She should always appear to be going out to tend to a patient. Mira was very careful about appearances.

When she had been new to this line of work, she had been ignorant…of everything. That time she had been caught and interrogated and eventually rescued. But after she returned to Centauri Prime, things changed. Now, she knew perhaps too much. Mira unconsciously tongued her poison-capsule tooth.

The target’s house was on the other side of the city. She had made contact with a slave there that got her in as a cleaning maid in exchange for freedom. Once inside the correct bedroom, she would simply wait. Servants on Centauri Prime were as invisible as servants everywhere. Once the target was alone, he would be dead. She checked the position of the syringe again. I really have to stop touching that thing. Someone will notice. I hope this one does not take a very long time.

This man would be Mira’s third assassination in the last twelve days. Sometimes, that seemed like a lot to her. Most of the time, it didn’t even make her pause. It took her a while after receiving the task to finish background checks and gather enough proof to satisfy herself that each one was necessary. But it never seemed to take long enough and lately it didn’t take as long as before.

Mira was waved through the gates of the target’s mansion. There was a jam of guests clamoring to get inside before any of the less important others got inside and that made the guards not want to waste time on servants. Idiots. Getting into the house was even easier. No one questioned her or even tried to commandeer her for some other more important duty. She looked like she had a purpose. When she reached the Master’s bedroom suite, Mira admitted to herself that she did have a purpose. She was going to kill the master of the house.

Mira had been waiting for quite a while. Surely, the party must be winding down by now. It is nearly dawn. She heard a sound outside and began preparing the bath. Most Centauri nobility enjoyed a good bath before going to sleep after a long party. It was perfectly normal for a servant to wait in anticipation of her master’s comfort. Lord Charo thumped wearily into the bedroom. He heard water in the bathing chamber, “Is that you, Hevara?”

“No, Master. Hevara is ill. The Chamberlain sent me in her place.”

Lord Charo came into the bathing chamber and studied Mira. Mira bent over the bath and stirred in the scented oils. She looked up at the ill-starred lord and smiled softly. He was a very powerful old man. He was still very handsome. His political clout was fully the doing of the Shadows and the Drakh. They had led him by the nose for a long time now. Mira had only needed to investigate for a few days before she grew completely disgusted by the things he had done and even bragged about in some cases. She wasn’t certain if his recent patrons had made him more corrupt, since she really wasn’t sure if it was possible for him to become more corrupt than he was in his early years. If anyone needed killing, he did.

Softly, Mira asked him, “Shall I assist you in undressing, Master?” He got a particular look on his face and said, “Yes. Assist me.” He licked his lips as she approached.

He never had a chance.

While she helped him out of his clothes, Mira took out her syringe and carefully stuck him in the back of the neck. She placed the injection site firmly inside the hairline and angled the needle downwards. No one would find the pinprick and the overdose of natural chemicals into his spinal cord would mimic cardiac arrest. Lord Charo was old enough for such an event and he only managed a strangled groan as he hit his knees. One hand clutched his chest while the other reached behind him for her.

His grip was painful on her wrist, but Mira simply allowed him to pull her around and to the floor with him as she watched him slowly die. With a final gurgle, his grip loosened and she let the body fall forward uninhibited. The marks that would appear from this collapse would be consistent with cardiac failure. I must be careful to clean under his fingernails to make certain I leave no trace behind.

Mira began to murmur, “Gentle Goddess Leedl, take this man unto your sweetly perfumed breast and shelter him from the cares of this world. Bathe his forehead with the waters of forgetfulness so that he can return to us renewed. May he return to us as a holy man, a good man. Do not allow him to fall to darkness again. Sweet Goddess, Lady of the Starlit Sky, She who died and was reborn, do not forget us, do not cover your eyes, or turn away from us. We are all striving toward the light. Help us to reach it. Help us escape the darkness.”

It took a while to clean up after herself. When she was done, Mira slipped out of the house posing as a very tired servant on her way home. No one ever noted her presence. The only one who knew she had been there was Hevara, who had left for good earlier in the evening. If anyone wondered where Hevara went, they would assume that she had witnessed her master’s death and fearing some sort of repercussion had fled. The escaped slave would be hunted, but no one would ever imagine that she had gotten off the planet. Not with the way things were now after the upheaval and the bombings. Space travel was sharply limited for Centauri lately.

She returned to this week’s rented room. After carefully checking the tell-tales at the door for signs of recent entry, she unlocked it and went inside.

“You’ve been out late.”

Mira had her PPG up, humming, and pointed in the direction of the voice before her mind really registered that someone was there.

The Ranger sat quietly on the stool in the corner. “Your reflexes are much improved.”


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