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A Means to an End

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He had received the contract only a few days prior, some big wig at Sankaku wanted the redhead dead. Under normal circumstances, Shalem wouldn’t even consider turning on a colleague; it just wasn’t professional. He even liked her, for the most part. She had an indomitable spirit and was easy on the eyes. Too bad such things were rendered useless on a woman like her. Internationale was becoming more of an Achilles heel to the agency than even Central cared to admit, and Shalem simply couldn’t allow her to continue in this manner any further.

He still required the resources that Invisible could provide and wasn’t about to let some idealist compromise his goals. This was the way the world was going to stay, regardless of whether he even liked it or not. She couldn’t stop it no more than she could stop a tidal wave. As unfortunate as it was, Internationale had to go.

He accepted the contract; might as well get something for his trouble while he was at it. Still, they had worked together. He respected her too much to simply shoot her in the back without so much as an apology. Shalem was a gentleman, after all. He would look her in the eye and she would die just as she probably wanted: a martyr. The world was too cruel for someone like Internationale; it would never be what she wanted. He was doing her a favor, really. Better him than some sadistic bounty hunter or corporate thug who would do far worse before they killed her.

 

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He followed her home one night, making sure to keep to the shadows and to not get too close. Her apartment, if one could call it that, was a... modest setting. She owned very little, just the necessities and some furniture, along with the various gadgets and gizmos she acquired while working for Invisible. Just what did this woman do with her hard earned credits? Surely she had enough to live a bit better than this, even with the bounty?

Shalem followed her into…what he assumed was supposed to be the kitchen, a flat expression on his face as his eyes swept the room. There was a small round table in the corner, a few appliances that looked to be ten or more years old, and a dull looking knife resting on a duller looking cutting board. Was she about to prepare dinner? Something about that struck him as amusing.

“AH–!” Internationale startled when she turned to find Shalem standing there, all prim and proper with his hands in his pockets, as if he were supposed to be exactly where he was. “What the hell are you doing here? Did you…follow me?” She demanded.

Curious, she seemed to be more annoyed and angry than frightened. She suspected nothing, it seemed. Good. “I wanted to see where you lived.” He half-lied. No sense tipping his hand right off the bat. “I have to say, Internationale, it’s not very becoming of a woman like yourself. Though I’m not surprised, really.”

She narrowed her eyes at him, lips pursing slightly. “First you follow me home, and then you insult it. What is it you want, Shalem? Make it fast, and then get the hell out.”

“I assure you, I’ll make my visit as quick and painless as possible.” He took the opportunity to move in closer, standing beside her at the counter, hand resting on it rather nonchalantly.

Internationale seemed to tense for a moment. What did he want from her? Did something happen she wasn’t aware of?

“I came to apologize to you,” he offered politely, and with a smile.

“For what?” Her eyebrow rose, confused.

“This.”

Internationale suddenly felt a sharp, stinging sensation somewhere in her side. Her eyes went wide. At first they stared at his in disbelief, unable to come to terms for a brief moment at what exactly was transpiring. Then panic began to settle in. She started to move, but Shalem hooked his left around her, pulling her close into what could only be described as a tight hug. Meanwhile his right hand was administering to her a heavy dose of paralyzer. She would just fall asleep, peacefully he planned.

“Shh…” He whispered softly when she continued to struggle, albeit weakly. “It’s alright, sweetheart. Just relax…”

“Sha…lem…Why…?” She breathed, feeling ever like the fool for once trusting him. Now it seemed as though it would cost her dearly.

There was no time to act, already she could feel her limbs growing heavy and her chest tight. She needed to do something while she had just enough strength to do it. She couldn’t pull away from him; he was too strong. She then reached out with her left hand to grab the first thing it caught purchase on: the kitchen knife. Reacting on adrenaline and instinct, she plunged the blade as deep as she could into the side of Shalem’s neck. There was a distinct gurgling sound after that, and she could feel his warm, wet blood splashing onto her face.

He fell to the ground with a dull sounding thud, as did she. She lay there calmly breathing ( not that she had much of a choice with paralyzer in her system ), the world continuing around her in slow, hazy motion. Internationale watched Shalem, eyes wide, vision swimming, and sounds muffled as he bled out on the linoleum floor. She fumbled haphhazzardly with the headset she was still wearing.

“Cen…tral…De…cker…” Her voice was faint, no more than a whisper. “He…lp…me.”

Then all went black.