Chapter 1

She felt the bullets coming before the sound registered in her audio sensors. With a graceful roll, A617.D dodged the projectiles. Not bothering to look in the direction of the shooter, she raised the slug-thrower and let loose with a burst of armour-piercing bullets of her own. None of them struck her pursuers, but then again, she wasn't really trying to hit them. She just wanted them to put their heads down, and there's nothing like a hail of 10mm explosive-tipped caseless that makes someone—even a full conversion cyborg—take cover.

Without hesitation, A617.D leaped over the railing and fell twenty stories. No one jumped after her.

Her titanium-reinforced endoskeleton absorbed the impact when she struck the pavement, leaving a three foot deep hole where she landed. Terrified onlookers scuttled out of her way. With a quick glance around, A617.D decided none of the humans around her posed a threat, then ran towards her getaway craft.

Knowing there would be ground units in pursuit, A617.D could outrun any human that wasn't wearing a jetpack, but unless she could break through the inevitable security ring, she would be trapped.

That's why there were contingency plans.

The glare of police sirens filled the air. She could hear them coming, her enhanced auditory suite picking up sounds too high and too low for human ears. Her internal antennas monitored police and military frequencies. A very sophisticated—and very expensive—sensor package tracked everything that moved within a quarter mile. She knew where her adversaries were and what they were up to. That was of little comfort to the assassin, though. They were well trained and had combat robots of their own to hunt her down.

What they lacked, though, was the sheer ingenuity that went in to her construction. No expense had been spared in A617.D or her "sisters". Their primary function was killing, and they were very good at it. So good, in fact, that her inventor and manufacturer had to go into hiding, lest they be done in by any number of people who had a score to settle with a presidential assassin or the people responsible for knocking off a crime lord or drug kingpin.

Along with the other robots on this mission, A617.D had access to no less than four escape vehicles along carefully planned egress routes, and she was making her way to the nearest ones. The other assassin robots would find their own flitters and escape.

The collision sensor alerted her to the incoming missile that missed by less than a foot. It streaked by and hit a nearby groundcar. She vaulted over the explosion and landed amidst broken bodies, human and robot alike. Bullets peppered the street, raining down from an aerial gunship.

Everyone scrambled for cover, including A617.D.

Escape. Evade. This unit is in danger. The short tachyon communication burst from I825.M barely registered in her consciousness, but the orders did not pass her notice.

This unit is surrounded. Another set of instructions passed through her positronic mind in a nanosecond, this time from C224.J. Complete the mission.

Within her biomechanical brain, A617.D analysed the shared telemetry data from her two companions. Both were being pursued heavily. The odds of survival for each was less than 3 percent. Calculating her own chances, she came up with something on the order of 26 percent. She was the logical choice to make another run at the objective while the other two created a distraction.

The pieces of the exploding groundcar were still falling from the sky in the time it took for A617.D to assess the situation. She raised her pistol and emptied the magazine in the direction of the nearest police car.

Around her, humans screamed in terror. True to their base programming, robots jumped between the muzzle of A617.D's weapon and the organic lifeforms that had created them. Assassin robots were not encumbered with a conscience or the need to protect human life. They did not need sleep, food or a reason to kill. There was only the mission. And failure was not an option. She was preparing to return to the objective when one of the others stopped her.

This unit has the targets in sight. One of her sisters flashed her another communication packet. A617.D did not have emotions, although she was programmed to simulate them, if only to pass as human and infiltrate a target. She knew I825.M was about to self-destruct, but she didn't care. Escape. Evade.

She turned away from the carnage and resumed her run towards the aircar. The humans around her cowered and scrambled out of her way.

An instant before I825.M blew herself up, A617.D received another fast tachyon burst, uploading the other robot's last memories and useful sensor data. It proved the mission was a success and would secure payment for their master.

The humans's shrieks of terror became louder when the 56th floor of the Comp-Tinier building exploded, raining glass, metal and bodies down on the streets below.

In the confusion, A617.D threw her gun into a nearby trash bin and shed her coat. In the blink of an eye, her hair extended by four centimeters then darkened from platinum blonde to a deep auburn. Her eyes changed colour and she altered the retinal pattern so the nearby scanners would register a different "person". A moment later, she received another data burst from C224.J and a second explosion rocked downtown.

Escape. Evade. The final orders were all A617.D knew.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Science Fiction / Robot /