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Will I get a pension? a cobra story

March 18, 2018 02:19PM
In which the Cobra has a government contract covering them in plausible deniability and he has aesthetic reservations

7 Will I get a pension?

The girl was undoubtedly sexy. She had taken a number of cybermods, of course, from the cybertail, an awkward appendage, I would have thought, to the slit cyber eyes in startling green. Her nose was crafted to be cat-like as well as disturbingly human, and her ears were pointed. She was wearing Follicolour™ in her hair, and had programmed the colour changes the pressure-injections permitted in the follicles to be a black on purple cheetah spot pattern. Her purple bodysuit was patterned the same way. She had not, I noted, gone for a limb modification to make her feet and legs digitigrade, but she might almost as well be walking on her toes like a cat with the height of her spiked heels.
Women have always been compared to felines in grace, and the popularity of Catrobats™ made women who were not trans-human, and who could afford to do so, seek some of the assets which made Catrobats so attractive.
My expensive nose told me that part of the attraction of Catrobats was in the pheromones which were tailored to send male humans wild, aping the effect queen cats in season have on toms. Once my nose had reported this, the first time I saw a Catrobat perform, I firmly turned my nose off before I started lolling out my tongue and surging to get close to the cage in which the female in question was performing.
The girl with the mods did not have enhanced pheromones; but every heterosexual male in the room was aware of her anyway.
Her name was Cat Carter, presumably once Catherine, and she was my target.
On the surface she was a high class courtesan and exotic dancer, and I had heard that you did not know what exotic was until you had seen the way she used her tail.
I felt a lot of regret that anyone so skilled and such a piece of sculpted perfection had to die in an untimely fashion. But I planned to see her dance once before I did the deed.
I don’t often get government contracts, but she was one of them. She was a spy and they needed to be covered in plausible deniability with a contractor who could be relied on to carry out a sanction without collateral. Unlike the Russians, who threw around nerve toxins like perfume, and did not care who got in the way.
The government agent who recruited me for this was not what I’d call a people person. He threatened me, which was a bluff, and then growled a lot.
“Will I get a pension?” I asked, wide eyed and ingenuous.
The answer was in the negative. I almost declined, but it does no harm to be able to claim to have worked for the government.
I don’t like killing women. I know that’s sexist, but it’s the way I am. There are still more men by a long way who go in for military endeavour than there are women, and I’m inclined to think that speaks for itself. Having said that, if a woman enters combat, then she has the right to expect to be treated the same as a male combatant. And Cat Carter had entered combat. Her spying had led to sabotage of the Mars reprovisioning vehicle, meaning that it exploded on the pad. The half dozen astronauts were not the only toll from that; it was the two hundred souls on Mars who could not survive until another provisioning ship could be set up. They drew lots to see who was going to die. It was horrible to see how dignified they were about it. Or rather, it was uplifting and inspiring; it was the situation which was so horrible, and I would have no qualms about killing the engineers of that mass murder.
So why was I watching her dance? One reason was that I wanted to see the artistry.
Another, and perhaps my main reason, was that I wanted to see her controller.
I wasn’t contracted to kill him. I suppose the government wanted a scapegoat as a lesson, but also wanted to have a known spymaster left in place rather than have to learn all there was about a new one. I’m not the government, however, and I considered him to be as culpable as her. That was why I’d spent the last two weeks building dossiers on all her contacts and lovers, with the help of Willow Finnegan.
I’d been saying no every time she asked if she could help me. This time I said yes, but only as a peripheral player, and only under heavy disguise. Besides, Willow was far too pretty for Carter to want anywhere near her, as a potential rival, or even as a means to get closer to her the way that French musketeer fellow with an over-enthusiastic sword used a maid to get at the mistress. Can’t pronounce him, but I saw the trid in the tridema when I was a kid. Anyway, I’d got Willow up as a bit of a crone, and used the best cybermasktechnlology there was. It’s what they used before they developed the whole nano-tractor technology for programmable face changes. Just as illegal outside of DocuDrama™ of course, but naturally I stole a few when I left their employ. Nowadays they use them for secondary characters, as installing nanotractors in an actor’s face is very costly. The same sort of tractors move the upper layer of false skin, not as good, and they’d hurt a lot more if it was your own face, being cruder, and there’s an uncomfortable period of fitting them to mould the lower layer to your own face, but they have their uses. I’ve dialled myself one face on my own nanotractors and another on an overlay, to have the ability to make an instant face change by ripping off the upper face. And if by some mischance I could not destroy it, then at least the underlayer was not my own appearance if they scanned it. Willow was wearing contacts to hide her beautiful midnight blue eyes, now looking rheumy, pale and possibly with the start of cataracts not far enough along for laser surgery. Her secondskin™ face had a wrinkling agent on it and an ugly mole with hairs growing out of it, because most people look at blemishes and fail to notice anything else. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who do not have mole and blemish removal. And yes, of course I had a neck piece and gloves to give her an old looking neck and hands. It’s the details. And the hands had Cat Carter’s fingerprints on them for complete anonymity. I didn’t worry about her perfect teeth; tooth reimplanting is so good and so cheap these days, even the down-and-outs can afford it.
And yes, it is possible to see where the edges of a secondskin face go, if you are looking; but they are useful for short roles or for people who nobody notices, like maids. And bless her, Willow put up with the discomfort of fitting the damn thing nightly when she came home from school and at the weekends. And she should have cleared out and gone home by now, because she promised me to do so, and I had actually trusted her to do as she promised. She knew enough to realise that if she was around, I’d hesitate in case I risked her. Cat would be angry that her deft maid was gone, but tough.
The show was everything that was promised. I could kind of get that musketeer fellow who shagged like a rabbit with the evil Milady, Cat Carter was the same sort of female. However, I am not a man to be led around by my libido and I firmly ignored the part of me which wanted to wolf-whistle and offer her protection from any fool assassin. I am not called the Cobra for nothing; I have taught myself to stand aside from emotion and be as cold blooded as any snake. However, the part of me I was controlling admired her as a dancer and as a woman. Though there was something missing.
I realised what it was when I caught her eyes as she strutted at the end of her act.
All the emotion in the dance was quite false, and her blue eyes were like chips of ice, scorning the fools who watched her and projected their own arousal onto her performance. And as beautifully made up as they were, those eyes did not compare to certain midnight blue ones....
Wait one, that was an inappropriate wayward thought about the kid.
I firmly considered the charms of Dr. Elizabeth Barnard who was excellent companion over dinner, and rather good in bed as well.
Well you didn’t think I hadn’t followed up my initial attempts to chat her up, did you? But she was in a separate part of my life and she had no idea who I was other than the chap who had rescued her research. Well, she knew I was part of the shadow-world, but so far as she was concerned, I went by the name Geoff South, and if she called me not-Geoff, that was fine by me. She wasn’t someone I was about to take home to introduce to my landlady who knows me as Lindric Natter.

Cat Carter’s controller was her agent, and he was as camp as they came. I thought it was an act because I’d watched him eyeing up the other eye candy in the exclusive club where Carter danced, and their arrival in town happened to coincide with a series of unsolved rapes by a masked rapist who wore gloves, and kept all his little soldiers in a condom so there was no DNA evidence. That level of care did rather suggest a professional. It was another reason to hit him as well. Alexander Theodore Ironside translated to Alexei Fedorovitch Stalin in my book. However, I was not going to hit them both together; my government employers might frown on that. I would not wish anyone to think I had killed him as a mere matter of collateral, because that was unprofessional, and if I admitted to it, I would lose governmental good will.
It may not be worth much but it might be a get-out-of-jail free card.
It was an easy enough hit to kill Carter. I withdrew from the club while she was dancing horizontally with the CEO of a company with more secrets than any man had a right to have. You know the drill, overlooking building, gillie suit, disposed off down a garbage chute, cheap hotel room for the night. The government had even provided the throwaway rifle and they wanted it found. It was a message. My prints were not on the bullet. I used armour piercing, not hollow point, in case she wore Kevlar. The night was fine, and I saw no reason to spoil her face with a bullet hole. That would have been vandalism.
And once I left my hotel room and changed face with a secondskin face, the reason for which I will duly explain. I picked up the hire car I had waiting for me. The account which paid for it had been set up with cash, and would not be used again. They keep talking about a cashless society, and have done since the late 20th century but it won’t happen. Having some kind of scrip means that shady deals can be pulled, and it isn’t in anyone’s interests to remove the shadows.
And then it was a matter of waiting for Alexander to emerge from the back entrance, once the police who responded to the murder of his dancer let him go.
You think it insane to use death by automobile right in front of the cops? Well, I left out a few details. Like how the face and fat suit I was wearing corresponded to a known rich lush, who was also the owner of the club, who used casting couch techniques on most of his dancers. It was something Willow had uncovered, comforting a couple of young girls who had not realised what interview techniques they would have to put up with. And he was as drunk as a lord and in the car with me. The drug I had shot him full of earlier was out of his bloodstream, or possibly, alcohol stream, by now. All I had to do was to crash the car a little bit into bins, pull him over into the drivers’ seat, and vamoose. His face I ripped off, it went in a dumpster from which I emerged, with a forgettable face dialled on, well splashed with the booze I had stashed there earlier, complaining drunkenly about being disturbed in my sleep.
Sure, I spent a night in the slammer to ‘dry out’. I thought it a most suitable alibi.
I suppose now I can claim to be an old lag. And it’s an incentive not to do time for real; the room service really isn’t up to the standard I’m used to.

Will I get a pension? a cobra story

Sarah WaldockMarch 18, 2018 02:19PM

Re: Will I get a pension? a cobra story

maryMarch 19, 2018 01:46AM

Re: Now I'm blushing ... reaches for fan! (nfm)

Sarah WaldockMarch 19, 2018 09:54AM


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