Authors: Christopher Villanueva
Archives of the Frontier Universe
An Assassin’s Assignment
By Christopher Villanueva
Copyright © 2015 Christopher Villanueva
All rights reserved
Special thanks to Tracy Haywood for her continuing love and support
Special thanks to Matthew Haney for his invaluable guidance
Special thanks to Joanna Penn of Thecreativepenn.com for her amazing efforts in helping independent authors
Special thanks to Tamara Kokić for preparing the cover art
A word from the author
Reader, my sincerest thanks for your investment of time in this work! I know you are going to love the mission as you follow this brilliant assassin on her assignment.
When you are finished, do me a favor and leave a review about the book on
Furthermore, you may tweet to me on
(Utain14), and please be sure to visit my website (www.thefrontieruniverse.com) to join my email list, get the latest on my series, and receive
Lastly, if you enjoy this book, be sure to pick up the first in the main series:
The Gates of the Frontier Universe: A Society Called to Arms
. And be on the lookout for the second:
The Gates of the Frontier Universe: A Throne Besieged
Table of Contents
With another sweep of her powdery brush, the assassin’s makeup was complete.
“There we go,” she expressed aloud. The bright bathroom mirror of her hotel confirmed her perfect disguise. “Just like a true representative.”
Together with her dark ruby hair put up like a Court official’s, her face exhibited neat patterns of black cosmetics reminiscent to that of all Loenese people. The woman had dressed just moments before in a matching shirt and stylish skirt combo. The shirt was moderately revealing (a perennial preference of hers) and was stretched tightly over her ample chest. Over this thinner shirt, she wore another, more expensive, thicker, and long-sleeved, under which she concealed a pair of harpoon blades. Her dual swords (arkanverres, as posteritors called them) would have to stay, however, as her current attire could not hide them.
Closing the makeup kit finally, the assassin hit the bathroom light, walked out, and slipped into a pair of black heels. She fastened the heels and grabbed a set of professional-style glasses from a nearby dresser. As she fit them, a sudden bright flash of light emitted from her nearby closet, startling her. The woman turned towards the light, stepping into a defensible stance . . . but then she recognized it.
In the closet floated a flat circle of swirly energy. Its power remained stable for about a second before intensifying slightly. Out of the center, the head of a majestic bird poked out and looked to the woman with faint curiosity.
“Oh, it’s only you,” the assassin breathed. She straightened back up, reached inside her skirt, and withdrew a glass slate. “I would have thought he’d simply call me,” she mused, tossing her head a little.
As she powered on the slate, the bird of red energy jumped all the way out of the shinning circle. The portal collapsed immediately behind it, and the creature began walking around the room. Similar in appearance to a peacock, the bird was actually a fair bit smaller. However, its normally marvelous tail feathers were folded at the moment.
“Hmm, no matter,” she continued. “Though I wish you’d give me some sort of warning before just ‘appearing.’” The woman examined the information on her device before powering it off. “Aright, I’m already prepared to leave,” she said, devoting her attention to the transparent bird. It cocked its head. “Go ahead and establish communications.”
The creature took a few steps towards the woman’s large bed and then hopped onto it. After apparently finding a suitable place to stand, it lifted its glorious wings and began flapping them. A mist of red energy blew into the air and began taking shape. When the mist was properly calibrated, a hooded figure of a man stood in the center.
“I see you’ve already arrived,” opened the man, a little indistinct.
“Yes, Master. As you can see, I was actually able to rent a luxury room . . . full service and all. Normally, these places require reservations.”
“Lucky you,” her master replied, clearly uninterested. She sort of nodded off his mild rudeness. “You should have had time to prepare by now. Will you be ready to begin your mission soon?”
The woman nodded again, this time affirmatively. “Yes. In fact, I was about to leave. I assume you need someone dead by the end of the night, so I’ll be taking my harpoon blades.” She adjusted her weight onto her left leg and put her hands on her hips. “Actually, I thought you would’ve just called, rather than send the bird.”
“Transmissions can be intercepted, Rose,” explained the man. “And I had no way of telling where you were. A familiar—”
“Yes, wouldn’t be seen,” Rose completed. “I understand that now. So, I take it the meeting place hasn’t changed since the last we talked?”
“No,” confirmed the man. “You’re to meet a detachment of my men as planned. But you need to be cautious. As we discussed before, they are not aware of your actual purpose there. They only believe you to be securing the intel. Captain Meyer will be your contact, however. He understands our true mission and will handle communications once you rendezvous with him.”
“Oh, good, so he
able to make it? I was afraid his work at the other installation would’ve prevented him from running this op.”
“Yes. I spoke to him a little while ago. From what he can tell, the others there are completely convinced this will be a simple pickup.” Her master seemed to lean towards her for emphasis. “We need to be sure they stay in the dark! More than a few reputations are at risk here . . . not to mention years of planning.”
Rose glanced at the bird, which, now with the conference commenced, had taken to stepping around the thick comforter. She then returned her eyes to the image. “You’re not here . . . are you? On Forcurrier?”
“No. I’m running reconnaissance in one of Morgan’s new settlements.”
“Oh, really?” Rose tilted her head in interest. “How is the Pirate, anyhow? Enjoying his new venue?” She let out a quiet laugh. “I would doubt it,” she answered herself. “With the Norvanulls running operations until Fontaine arrives, he’s sure to be hating his new position.”
“I believe he is,” agreed the man. “Simply occupying the same territory as them has been a chore for me. Morgan gets that
regular reports to their officers. In fact, he’s due for a conference with Furnocter soon—Warlord of the force here.”
Rose opened her mouth but could not decide what to say. She then closed it and paced to the side. “Hmm,” she managed. “Better him than us, I suppose.”
“Indeed,” said the man. “Anyways, we need to focus on the mission. When you meet with our forces, they will give you further instructions. Unless things have changed since I spoke with them, you are going to be sent to another of our installations to transport the intel back to Captain Meyer. He will then hand it off to his superiors.”
“That makes sense, I suppose,” mused Rose. “I’m going to assume that it needs a physical custodian because of the threat of transmission interception?” She looked at her master, passively requesting an answer.
“That’s the story I provided, yes. And the one you need to stick to.”
Rose laughed. “Well, at least it’s plausible. Now, are you going to give me my real orders? Or is Captain Meyer?”
“Captain Meyer will review the orders with you, but I’ll summarize them anyways.” The man paused for a split second and looked behind himself.
“Everything okay?” asked Rose. Even more than her own, her master’s activities could be considered treasonous. An entire battery of court marshals awaited him, if he were discovered—and that represented a lenient punishment.
The man looked back. “Yes. Just one of the patrols outside. Your mission is to acquire this intel, as you know, by any means necessary. You will be authorized to take possession of the intel, but the detachment may need to be eliminated once you have it.”
Rose winced and pointed her eyebrows. This detail had certainly not been covered before, and she had thought only Court forces would be needing assassinating. “You want me to kill our own forces?”
“For the good of our operation . . . yes . . . in a way. In truth, ‘getting’ them eliminated is all that I require. It does not matter how this is done, just that it is. I was thinking more along the lines of having the Court do it instead.”
The woman paused and thought for a moment. “You mean sell them out, in other words? Like compromise their operations . . . such as by leaking their position to the Court?”
“I couldn’t have plotted it better myself,” the man assured.
She thought again. The mission had just grown more complicated, not because of the lack of options, however. On the contrary, she faced a paralyzing abundance of options (so many, in fact, that they almost eliminated the need for creativity). “I think I can make that happen,” she concluded. “I have only
“A good problem to have, Rose. But make sure you discuss it with Captain Meyer. He’ll need this intel to formulate his own plans. Remember, you’ll have to have them eliminated without being compromised yourself.”
Rose let out a fresh laugh. “Obviously. Am I not to fall on my own sword as well?”
“Roszephnye!” the man pressed, calling her by her full name. “Don’t underestimate the Court’s operatives. It’s likely that even a small operation of our men would be met with a full scale military assault. You need to minimize casualties. Gathering what information you can is your top priority . . . after having our forces dealt with.”
“Yes, very well. Do you recommend that I go armed? By that I mean with my swords.”
“You may as well.
be armed. And it’s not unusual for Court officials here to carry weapons. It’s ceremonial. By now, I’m sure you realize this, so I’m assuming you’re referring to the fact you’re carrying arkanverres.” He paused with a muddled nod. “The only issue would be if you drew them publicly.”
“Hmm,” she hummed happily. “Good. I’d prefer it that way. Anything else?”
The man took another quick look around himself. “No. Captain Meyer should be awaiting you already. Have him contact me when you arrive. I should be free for the next couple of hours.”
“Certainly. I’ll leave immediately.”
Rose bowed, and the misty image of her master faded away. His red bird of energy stopped walking around the bed and approached the edge. After calculating the jump (an action the woman found highly unnecessary), it leapt off and landed on the floor. Suddenly, its eyes began to glow and another bright circle in air appeared.
“Well, looks like this shall prove to be a simple assignment.” She then intensified her gaze upon the creature. “And don’t scare me next time you find me. I’m going to be a little on edge for the next several hours.”
Completely ignoring her, the bird took flight and flew into the swirling circle. It collapsed with a small clap, and the room was still.
That thing better have listened
Rose withdrew her glass device again and placed a call to Captain Meyer. While waiting, she went to the right side of her bed and pulled a long case from under it. Three latches later, she removed her dual swords, still in their special sheaths. She closed the case briskly and fastened the weapons to her belt.
“This is Meyer,” answered the man finally.
“Captain Meyer, it’s Posteritor Byruhme.” Rose moved the slate in front of her face, looking the man in the eyes. “I’ve just spoken with my master and am ready to begin. Send me your coordinates.”
The man gave a conflicted look and shook his head. “Negative, Posteritor Byruhme. The Court has stepped up its radio security. Compromising transmissions are out of the question until further notice. We’ll have to pick you up.”
The woman hung her head, slightly peeved. “Are you serious? What changed in the past hour?”
“We believe they’re tightening watch on communications because of the Court session they’re planning on holding soon. It’s clear that even our most sophisticated encryptions would be intercepted. Perhaps not cracked, but we can’t take the chance of them learning our location.” Rose tossed her head. “I apologize, ma’am. Are you at the same location as before?”
“Yes I am. And please don’t sent one of those grossly uncomfortable horse carriages. Some moderately-priced transport will do. And if not too flashy, it won’t draw any attention.”
The man sort of smiled. “I thought that, being Loenese, you’d be used to carriages. Venvialoen uses them even more often in their smaller settlements . . . don’t they?”
“Yes, but ours are classier and their seats don’t feel like wood.”
The man chuckled. “Very well. It’s a moot point anyhow. I’ve already dispatched a transport, Loenese designed, for believable compatibility. It should actually be there momentarily.”
“Cute,” put Rose. Then she hesitated and spoke carefully. “And the chauffeur . . . is he . . . ?”
“He’s our man, yes,” revealed the captain. “But it’s not necessary to discuss your assignment with him . . .” He trailed off slightly and beamed almost critically.
“Very well,” Rose accepted. “I’m not in the mood for chit-chat in the first place. I’m leaving right now, in fact. If there’s nothing else, I’ll see you in a little while.”
“Copy that,” returned the captain. He gave a little bow of his head and then disappeared.
Rose powered off her device and stowed it in her skirt. She took one last look at her equipment, and once verifying that she had everything, looked out the window. Just now touching down on a landing pad, her transport positioned itself several stories down. The assassin drew the drapes closed and finally stepped cautiously into the hall. Though carrying swords was not illegal on Forcurrier, she wanted to avoid standing out as much as possible. After finding the hall clear, she hung a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, locked up, and left.
The Loenese transport lifted off immediately after Rose took her seat. Except for a dispensable greeting, the pilot had not even spoken to her. Now, she sat alone in the cabin, a privilege she preferred, and took to examining her right harpoon blade on the way.
The radiant ruby-red shard extended out of a majestic bracelet, which covered nearly her entire forearm. Made of a similar material as her dual swords, the blade resembled a fine piece of stained glass. Posteritors, like herself, crafted their swords (and to a far lesser extent, harpoon blades) out of an exotic material called vitriphene. When forged correctly, the blades shone brilliantly like jewels but with a rigidity even more potent than diamond. The material was much lighter as well, even more so than a steel weapon of similar size.