She hauled herself up onto the roof, booted feet planted firmly inches from the edge as she stretched to her full height. Calmly she looked down the dizzying height to the streets, watching the blundering movements of the tiny people far below.

'How easy it would be,' she thought, 'to kill any of them.' All she needed was a rifle with a scope and another life would be snuffed, a light put out forever. She tried to block it but the idea pounded into her head of its own volition. 'Easier still to step off this ledge and fall.'

Motionless she waited, wondering if her body would accept the offer to plummet to oblivion, but not a muscle stirred save for her steady heart. On reflex she adjusted her kit bag which had shifted on her shoulders during the climb and checked that her weapons were still strapped tight. She had to tear her eyes from the streets below and with the snap movement of sinew she was sprinting across the roof, vaulting over the gap between buildings. She was a blur in the dark night, her body a machine, ready and able to obey her every command. But she was herself simply an instrument, every action compelled by the bidding of her father. She had only the illusion of freewill.

As suddenly as she had started she came to a halt at the edge of another rooftop. Dropping smoothly into a crouch she perched behind the ledge, focussed like a hawk on her prey. She exhaled slowly as she watched him, marvelling that her heart fluttered only slightly faster, despite her exertions. The cold night air whistled around her but she was too intent to feel it. Her target was at his computer, in perfect position to be sniped, but she suspected the windows were bullet proof. Dowd stood up and moved into the next room, her vision switching seamlessly into sonar as she continued her surveillance of him. He appeared to be retiring to bed.


She backed up a few feet, pulling an EMP grenade from her bag. She lobbed it over onto the roof of Dowd's apartment and was already making the jump as the grenade flashed, disabling the laser tripwires. Landing on the roof with a solid thump she slinked silently to the roof hatch. The rusted metal held fast as she tugged on it. Heaving with all her might she winced as the metal shrieked, the hatch jerking open.

She eased herself through the opening, scanning the tight, dark crawlspace as she dropped inside. Years of dust stirred beneath her feet and she screwed up her nose as she crawled along the ceiling support beams. She came to rest near the air conditioning ducts, which she judged to be directly above Dowd's bedroom. Slowly she cut away at the flimsy duct and pushed it to the side, the vent to Dowd's room now in front of her and she peered through it to the room below. She listened to the steady rhythm of his breathing as she patiently unscrewed the vent and lifted it out of the ceiling, placing it carefully to the side. Peeking cautiously into the room she could detect no security measures and Dowd appeared to be deep asleep. She secured a grappling hook to the ceiling beam and lowered a rope. In a single fluid motion she tumbled from the crawlspace, sliding down the rope to stand before the sleeping Dowd. She didn't even bat and eyelid as she unholstered her stealth pistol and shot him twice, once in the head and once in the heart.

Serenely she watched the blood seep through the sheets, disappointed at how easy it had been. Perhaps it could have been more challenging if she had attacked Dowd when he was awake. But she doubted her father would have approved of that. Not a second after she had thought of Morgan the info-link buzzed.

"Good work. Check his terminal and get back as fast as you can."

She wondered sometimes if he could read her thoughts through that link as well. Sauntering to his terminal she hacked into it, quickly scanning his communications before she was detected. Tracer Tong had been his last contact. She knew and accepted without question that she'd be heading to Hong Kong before long. Returning to the bedroom she looked again at Dowd and pondered that she was always so detached from her actions. She had not known this man, apart from what Morgan had told her, but shouldn't she still feel something. Even if she believed he was evil, as Morgan claimed. Could an evil man have slept so peacefully with his guilty conscience? Her father had trouble sleeping, but he claimed it was because he had the weight of the world's fate upon his shoulders.

'Who am I to judge?' She sighed in resignation, grasping the rope firmly as she swept back into the crawlspace. The darkness closed around her like a blanket and she felt more secure in her convictions. She took the time to screw the air vent back into place before she returned to the roof hatch, slamming it closed with a great screech of metal. Once again she stood on the roof ledge and unconsciously her eyes dropped down.

'Just fall.' She thought as she watched the lights moving below. The stars leered at her and the world suddenly seemed too heavy, too vast. For a second she even thought she felt it moving, spinning through space. And then she leapt.