“If I know his name, I can kill him.”
“But my dear girl, if you know his name, will you still want to?”
Janessa (Codenamed: Athena) sits on the chesterfield in her dirty and run-down apartment. She’d been living in there nearly three months and it looks as if she’s already going to be moving. She looks over the side of the couch to the kitchen. A man in black stands at the sink washing and then drying a plastic drinking cup. “Tell me, Weiss,” She slumps back onto the couch’s cushions. “The cash on this one is just too much to pass up.”
“Janessa, this contract should be given over to the Brotherhood. You girls don’t deserve to feel the pain you will if you complete this contract. Especially you, Janessa.” The man in black tells his teammate, with his low and scratchy voice, accented with a dash of English.
Weiss (Codenamed: Zeus) is the Sisterhood’s organizational officer, leader, and father figure. He formed the group of six members, all female other than January, nearly eighteen years now, partnered with a woman named Hera who now leads the Brotherhood. Both teams are a division of The Family, a further division of a company called Betterment. The Family was charged with protecting the workings and research of their senior organization, even if the world wouldn’t think too kindly of it.
“Weiss, you know the Sisterhood needs that million!” She listens as Weiss’ snake skin dress shoes click against the tile floor. Janessa hears a cupboard door open up, and a bottle come down against her marble wooden countertop. He’d found her Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. He poured the stuff into the plastic cup, and took a sip. It was her drink of choice, unfortunately it was Weiss’ as well. She enjoyed the mixed tastes of leather, turpentine, pineapple, coconut, tea, and chocolate. Though if you were to actually mix those substances, you’d never get the taste of Whiskey. “Well, Zeus?”
“You know I don’t like when you call me that.” He retorts, taking another sip of the alcohol. “That’s for missions only, and public jobs.”
“I will not allow that contract to be passed along to the Decima and her lot of trained douchebags. Tell me who the job is.”
Weiss takes a moment to think, and sighs. “The contract isn’t a he, Janessa. It’s a woman. You know her quite well…” He leans up against the countertop, and gives it a moment. She’s looking over the couch at the man in the pale suit, his face barely visible in the little light shining through small windows in the living room.
“Who the hell is it, Weiss?” It takes him a moment, but he finally spits out the name.
“Artemis… It’s Artemis.” Weiss refers to the second recruited member of Sisterhood. A girl of about twenty-three years. She was inducted into the project when she was five years old, and has been raised and trained as a perfect assassin. As have the rest of the girls. Athena is a very nice woman, never thinks about herself, always asks if anybody needs anything around the compound, and more. She’s so nice, but when it comes to the job, Artemis is one of the more intense members of the group. Always the bloodiest. It was something wrong in her mind, she loves the visual of blood, it makes her happy.
“No way….” Janessa takes a moment to think. “What happened? And why us? Of all people to call when you want someone dead.” She begins to get frustrated, and emotional. She can feel her throat closing up, and her guts wrench.
“Another contract. 11th of December; she killed a man’s wife in front of him but left him alive because it wasn’t in the contract to do otherwise.” He sighs. “Japanese man named Oda Nobunaga. Took the job of justice into his own hands and hired us.”
“Does he know she’s one of ours?” As Weiss walks to the couch she lies upon, Janessa lets out a seemingly hesitant sigh. He can see the pain in her eyes, and the toll it takes on her.
“He may, he may not. But what he does know is that he recognizes her as being Betterment’s Public Representative.” He takes one step to the side, and a few more, around the couch. He sets himself down beside Janessa’s feet, and corrects his crooked pale suit. “He saw her on the Television the other day, talking about the waste disposal plan.” Weiss looks down at Janessa, tears forming in her eyes.
She breaks her silence. “But she was only doing her job…” She squeaks, and one single tear falls from its resting place in her eye, and streams down her cheek. She wipes it away with her wrist, which he knows bears its own scars that just won’t take their leave. They never will. The killing’s done a number on Janessa, but she does it anyway, because she has no choice. Betterment has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into training The Family, and they’re not going to just let one of their “babies” leave their grasp. The most freedom they’ve given Janessa is her apartment, which is only a few blocks away from the Ottawa-based headquarters of the company. A depression and nightmare that not many feel has been bestowed upon such an innocent girl.
“I know, but they will terminate the programs if we don’t. Betterment doesn’t like when we don’t take jobs of this caliber, though we’ve never had to kill one of our own before. Titan was the one that approved the assassination anyway…” Weiss sets a hand down on her calf, and stands from the chesterfield. “You’re such a good girl, Athena… I wish I wouldn’t have dragged you into such a terrible place.”
“Thank you, Weiss.” Janessa says as she begins to stand. Weiss sets a hand on her shoulder, and pushes her back to her former spot, lying on the couch.
“Relax. I’ll let myself out.” She nods uneasily, and lays her head back onto the couch’s cushioned armrest. Her long locks of auburn red hair hangs over the side, and her freckled cheeks become wet with tears. She decides a few glasses of Jack Daniels would be good for her too.
Serana, Leeloo, and Uma (Codenamed: Demeter, Aphrodite, and Dionysus respectively) all attended the contract debriefing, along with the Brotherhood’s Joji, Getter, Nick, Brendan, and Ray (Codenamed: Apollo, Poseidon, Ares, Hephaestus, and Hermes respectively). The big Kahuna Decima couldn’t make it because of “a business trip” which took her to a resort in Dominican Republic. The family sits around a large table of oak, chattering amongst themselves about their predicament. Joji and Getter don’t believe that the group should off one of their own, even if the order does come from their superiors. Leeloo and Uma feel the same. The other seven are either undecided or have a loyalty to Betterment strong enough to kill one of their own.
Janessa is torn between her loyalty, and her love for her “big sister,” Artemis, who wasn’t fortunate enough to be born with a name other than her code. Weiss had never told The Family why. All of the group were stolen from their birth parents a month after their first birthday. Quite a controversial topic, though not many, other than the company, know about it.
“Why are we here? We can’t just knock off Artemis like she’s just another contract. She’s been on this team the longest, and she’s always been there for us when Weiss or Decima couldn’t be. Why would you guys even consider offing her as an option?” Janessa nearly yells above the general chatter, and the panicked thoughts. The room goes silent, and Brendon speaks up.
“Because Betterment will do away with the group if we don’t do this.” He says, standing from his chair. His long brown hair partially blocking his sight of the girl before him, questioning their superiors methods.
“That’s the problem, Hephaestus. You five that want to please our ‘Masters’ only see us as a group. A subsection of a big company devoted to contract killing and protecting the big bosses.” Janessa says. “But we’re not. We’re family. We’ve all known each other for 17 or more years and you just want to break off that relationship in such a terrible way? With a bullet between her eyes? Or a blade through her neck?”
Weiss cuts in. “Janessa… if we do anything other than what has been illustrated in this contracts’ guidelines, they will deploy Hades… or maybe even Kronos.”
“I know.” Janessa pushes out with a quiet tone, then she sighs, deciding that she will have to kill her friend, whether she wants to, or not. She knows that even if the others talk big and act the same, they would never do it themselves, but they wouldn’t changed their mindsets either. She stays seated, her headache from the night before still present, and her heavy thinking only makes it worse. “I’ll do it myself.” She says.
“No, Janessa.” Weiss stands behind her, his rough hands sit lightly on her shoulders. “Let one of the others do it.”
“I said that I would, Zeus. Let me do it.” He sighs and hangs his head.
“Fine…” He takes a moment to think. “Ares, Hephaestus, and Serana, you’ll accompany Athena on whatever kind of mission she’d like to run to complete this contract.”
“Now how do we do it?” Janessa asks the team.
Ray speaks up. “Betterment’s scheduled a public conference about the upcoming campaign to help the Nigerian Refugee camp bombings’ survivors on the 18th of January.”
“And Artemis will be the speaker there?” Weiss asks.
“Yes, the gathering begins at seven in the evening and ends at midnight.”
“I don’t understand why we don’t just do it in her sleep, it’d be easier for everybody.” Ares climbs into the conversation, obviously frustrated by the situation, and why it has to be this huge public spectacle.
“Oba, our employer, wants to see her die with his own eyes. He’ll be there when we tell him about the conference. Either that or he’ll save his money and stay in Japan, watching the whole ordeal on CNN or something like that.” Weiss explains. He tosses a file across the table, traditional yellow-beige folder with the case number at the top, ‘# 1646.’ Nearly seven years of killing and the numbers are staggeringly high. That’s lot of people to kill, especially for a family of kids who’ll never know their real family no matter how much they may want to one day.
“Artemis is in her room practising her speech for the campaign’s launch, has been for three hours. Quite the speech.” Hermes was the messenger of the gods in old Greek mythology, and to be so would take a lot of knowledge, and a mindset to keep up on current news. That’s why Ray bears the title. Always interested in the changes in the world, interested in how it works and the like. He takes in all kinds of information, like how much Leeloo’s pupils dilate when she accidentally walks in on Ares working out in the facility’s gym, or how a shrimp’s heart is in its head. He’s a very smart guy, and is behind most of the plans for the assassinations pulled by The Family.
“Ladies and Gentleman, consider this meeting adjourned. We’re done for tonight. Hermes will draw up a plan for us, we’ll go over it throughout the day, and carry it out while the target’s speaking to the press.” Weiss pats Janessa on the shoulder, and she stands and makes her leave. He watches with concern on his face as she almost aggresively walks out of the room.
Janessa walks through the brightly lit halls of the Betterment headquarters underground sobbing. Tears rush down her cheeks like two little waterfalls, and walks to Artemis’s quarters, the place she’s been living for the past 18 years of her life. She knocks on the door, and soon after a muffled voice calls. “I’ll be just a second!” She waits just outside the door, and wipes away another tear. The door opens. “Hey, Jan. How’s everythi- What’s going on?” Artemis notices the tears. She pulls Janessa into her home and sits hr down on the couch. “Tell me what’s wrong, sweetie. Come on.”
Janessa can’t stand looking at the woman she’s going to kill the following day, she falls deeper into tears, wiping her nose on her wrist. She stands up, with Artemis’s hands tugging at the burgundy-red long sleeved knit sweater she’d bought from Valu-Town a few months before. She’d already begun wearing it out, though it was probably just because of the previous owners. A piece of string unravels from the knit, and Janessa turns to face what she’s trying to see as only ‘a contract’. She bends down, just enough to put the two eye-to-eye. Janessa reaches up, and kisses Artemis on the head, and smiles, even going as far as to laugh some. “I’m fine…” She takes a moment to think. “Thank you…” She stands up straight, and begins to leave, stopping in the doorway. “…I love you, Artemis…”
The contract, still sitting, replies. “I love you too, Athena.”
Janessa leaves the presence of her beloved sister, and Artemis sits in silence for the rest of the night.
“Alright, Athena. At exactly 7:30 pm Artemis steps onto the stage, from which she will walk to the center of the stage, and stand at the podium. Then she’ll make her speech about the terrible disaster in Nigeria, you shoot her dead, and we all go back to the sad lives we lead.” Zeus’s rough English voice comes in over the earpiece. Janessa lies on a building about 300 metres away from the conference, which takes place on the front ‘doorstep’ to Betterment’s headquarters in downtown Ottawa, with a sniper rifle by her side.
A L115A3 AWM Sniper Rifle, a weapon of British make. Weiss had bought it for her when he first discovered her knack for long-distance killing.
Janessa nods, checks the scope, seeing people beginning to gather in the courtyard for the big event. News crews, musicians signing autographs, civilians, and even the CEO of the company himself, Salem Rossie. His hair slicked back with lots of oils and product, smelling of John Varvatos Artisan, a cologne he only wears because Men’s Fitness magazine placed it at number one for their ‘10 Scents That Will Drive A Woman Wild’ article, and a black suit. He wore it the same way Sean Connery wore his when it came time to play James Bond. Very clean, no wrinkles, bowtie, golden cufflinks, and a white pocket square at his breast.
Janessa’s dominant eye comes off of the objective lense, and she checks the the time.
The tears had subsided the night before, as she fell asleep, but her mind wandered, and she found herself thinking about Artemis again. Though she was not going to cry over a target on the day of the job. It’d be improper and unprofessional.
Janessa’s begun to feel uneasy once more, wanting her Jack Daniels from the apartment only a few blocks away. She’s trying not to make stupid decisions at the expense of The Family, her family. She knows that Salem is knowledgeable of the plan, and it’s a wonder that Artemis doesn’t. Oda Nobunaga is in the crowds, sitting in one of the black foldable chairs organizations like this buy for all sorts of gatherings. Janessa would assume that he’s praying to whoever he does, wishing his wife well up in Heaven, or Nirvana, or Gan Eden or Vaikuntha. He stares up at the podium, awaiting justice.
With perfect punctuality, Artemis steps out onto the stage, followed by two bodyguards, who never fall farther than 4 feet behind her. Janessa watches as she walks around the stage in her beautiful dress, black as night, and with all the sparkles and glitter a three year old girl would ever want. Leaning against the podium, Artemis adjusts the mic. “Can you all hear me?” The audience can in fact hear her, and makes sure she knows so. “How’s the event feeling? Only half an hour in and everybody looks like they’re really having fun!” She smiles at the crowd as they all give an assorted mix of whistles and cheers. The News teams and cameras are rolling, reporters doing stories already. A man in a pale suit sits next to the mourning Japanese man, and whispers something into his ear, then comes over the com.
“We’re a go, Athena. I’m getting word from Hermes that funds are being transferred, and Mr. Nobunaga here is having no second thoughts.
“Copy, Zeus.” Athena looks through the scope one last time, and watches her Sister giving the speech she’d practised so much for. She was so proud to call Artemis part of her family.
“This event here today is a fundraiser in hopes to help our brand new campaign to help those in Nigeria, who have been affected by the Refugee Camp Bombings, which have killed over one hund-”
A loud crack echoes through the brisk Canadian wind, and the event is filled with screaming in the seconds to come, blood is splattered amongst the audience members. Athena’s made her decision.
Mr. Nobunaga’s headless corpse slumps forward. With the 338. Lapua Magnum round deep in the courtyard’s soil, bursting a path, not seconds before, through the brains of the man who wanted a member of Janessa’s family dead.
“Hades is coming.” She says to herself, realizing what a grave mistake she’s made.