Author's Note: Greetings. I have returned for a new one shot, unrelated to any of my other stories. A strange story, for sure, but sometimes, I just get crazy ideas. I'm not even sure what inspired this. If you are looking forward to one of my other stories... I'm sorry to disappoint, but I've hit a bit of a creative block (Not so much Writer's Block, as trying to figure out good wording and such. It's harder than it looks). The ideas are there, the wording isn't. Unfortunately, I can't give you an ETA on any of them, so consider this an apology for the wait. And now on with the story.
I've been given a second chance at life. Why someone like myself would be given that opportunity, I'm not sure, but I'm not one to question Fate. Perhaps this is my chance to repent for the sins of my past life, or maybe this is my Hell, I'm not sure. I've long since stopped caring.
The ones who saved me go by the name Social Welfare Agency. I'm not the first one they've saved, and I won't be the last, not if I have any say. If it weren't for them, I would be nothing more than a ghost of the past without anything to show for my existence. At least now I can make a mark on the world and take Italy by storm.
I took a deep, soothing breath as I waited. The mark was currently talking to a man, some mafia grunt, in a restaurant conducting business. The two laughed as they exchanged words, making small talk for the moment. I pulled up my sleeve and glanced at my watch while keeping an ear on their conversation. "And then I slapped that bitch right on the ass."
"What are they saying Luca?" my handler, Basilio Costa, asked me.
I sighed. "Just disgusting banter on sex," I replied hotly. "You'd think they'd learn to treat women with respect. Then again, they are filthy criminals." I hated tailing marks with a passion. It was probably because I had to wade through all of this useless bull before I had a chance to put a round in their skull and end their pathetic existence once and for all.
"Sorry to make you listen to that, but on the off chance that they say something useful, I want to know." I nodded absently and continued to listen in.
It took all of 10 minutes of vile filth before they started to talk about anything useful. When I returned to the dorm, I would have to drown it all out with something. But for now, I paid great attention to the topic at hand.
"The shipment comes in tomorrow," the mark stated slyly. "10 AM, you know where to be. Remember, if this doesn't go swimmingly, Don Arbarelli will have my ass."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Don't worry; security at the club is always top notch. You can count on me Ernesto."
Ernesto nodded. "Good to hear. I'll see you tomorrow."
I cracked a smile. "Tomorrow morning at 10, a mafia owned club."
Basilio ruffled my already messy brown hair. "Good work kiddo. We can narrow that down pretty easily. Let's get you out of here to prepare."
Finally, a chance to kill something. I could feel a grin spread across my face already. Tomorrow was going to be fun.
To say my life at the Agency was easy would be false. In fact, my life was pretty damn hard. If I'm not killing, I'm learning how to solve for X, or learn French.
The other cyborgs are always talking about the things they do, like tea parties and playing their instruments. I just want to play soccer. Georgio once gave me a ball and told me to go at it, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It felt like a lifetime since I'd kicked a ball around. I suppose, in a way, it was. I wasn't the same me as I was before the incident. Or was I? I'm not quite sure. I've long since stopped caring.
I leaned against a wall in Section One's offices, waiting for Basilio to arrive and tell me what he had planned. It wasn't every day that I was called to Section One.
Off in the distance, I heard a couple of men snicker. "Hey, isn't that one of Section Two's dolls?"
"Yeah, but I get the feeling he'd perfer if you used the term 'action figure'. We wouldn't want to anger the lad now."
The first man slapped his leg and laughed. I narrowed my eyes but said nothing. I was used to the flak I received from others. "I thought the only used girls," he laughed. "I wasn't aware they were branching out."
"Keep talking assholes," I muttered under my breath. "We'll see how far you get."
"I thought you didn't let people like them get to you Luca," I heard from my left.
Startled, I spun to face Basilio, whom had just vacated a room. "Ah, Basilio, I'm sorry. I should have kept better composure." I bowed vigorously to him several times. "I should have known better."
He laughed lightly. "Don't worry about it. Those guys are jerks. Come on, we've been given a job."
The sounds of music filled my room as I lay in bed listening to an American instrumental band by the name of Russian Circles, staring at the ceiling. The others insisted I should listen to something more refined, like classical, but I was never a big fan.
I had been given a room to myself, so there was no one to bug me. It was something of a blessing, and a curse, but I've long since stopped caring. The truth is, it was nice to have a place to get away to, all on my own.
I had already cleaned my guns, and I was prepared for tomorrow. All that was left was to wait, and of course, pick up something to eat later on at the mess hall. It wouldn't be advantageos to skip a meal before a mission. That's what Basilio had told me.
I had started dosing, but a soft knock roused me from my daze. I turned the music down as I rolled out of bed and shuffled to the door, opening it slowly.
Triela stood on the other side of the door, a warm smile on her face. "Good evening Luca," she greeted. "I was wondering if you had some free time. Perhaps you could join the rest of us for cake and tea."
I nodded absently, pressing stop on the remote before tossing it onto my bed. "Sure, why not."
"I'm open," I called as I ran down the field. "Pass me the ball!" Seeing my wave, my teammate kicked the ball to me, allowing me to advance up the field. Time was running out, and the score was tied. All we needed was one more goal to win.
The opposing team's defense was good, but I spotted a forward in prime position to score. Faking a kick toward the goal, I, instead, kicked it sideways to Zeke, who swiftly knocked it into the goal as time ran out.
"Great job Zeke!" I called, embracing him in a congratulatory hug.
He laughed and hugged me back. "Well I can't take all the credit. You did good too El."
"Oh stop. It was nothing. Honest." I felt my cheeks grow a little hot. "I didn't even score a single goal today."
"Nonsense, just because you didn't score doesn't mean you didn't help. Soccer is a team sport. One man can't win a game."
I nodded, a bright smile on my face. "Thanks Zeke."
Life before the Agency was something else. I'd always assumed I was happy, but thinking back, maybe I wasn't. Maybe I was confusing it with another emotion. Longing? Desire? I don't know anymore. I guess it isn't exactly important. It's not like I can see any of my old friends, even if I wanted to.
It's strange, remembering my past. I feel like two separate people, the me now, and the me before, and those two don't get along.
No, I don't have multiple personalities or anything like that. I just don't like associating with who I used to be. Why dwell on the past? That's my feelings anyway.
Maybe I've just stopped caring.
"Why did Section One give us a job?" I asked skeptically. "This seems strange."
Basilio shrugged. "A buddy of mine over in Section One requested us for the job. We're just helping out." Upon seeing my skeptical look, he laughed. "Don't worry, we are to be handsomely rewarded. And maybe I'll take you shopping for clothes."
I held my head low. "Please don't take me clothes shopping. It's embarrassing..."
"Ha, we'll see." I frowned, feeling my face heat up. This wasn't going to end well.
"So what does this job entail?" I asked, trying to change the subject.
"Raiding a mafia safe house. We're to be capturing a high profile Mafioso who goes by the name Dario Gregori. He's proved to be problematic in apprehending, so that's why they asked for us."
I nodded, allowing a dark smile to cross my face. "I see. When are we conducting this operation?"
"Tomorrow night. I want you to be prepared for it, so I'm taking you to the range for some extra practice. It's better to be safe than sorry."
Ernesto strode into the club with a bright smile. A large truck had arrived soon after; the shipment that had been discussed the previous day. I checked my G36K, making sure it was ready for when we made our move.
The truck backed up to the club, and the hatch slid open, revealing several large boxes; weapons. I had no idea how long they'd been smuggling the guns through the club, but it would end today. I would make sure of that.
On cue, I leapt from my cover and rushed them, spraying them with round after round. Rico was providing cover fire from a building across the way, mopping up any I missed. At the same time, Henrietta was attacking from the other side of the building.
When the shooting commenced, the men who had been carrying the crates rushed inside. The guards, on the other hand, took cover behind whatever they could and returned fire. A shot clipped my left arm, but I shrugged it off and kept firing. I wouldn't let them escape.
Dario Gregori was a careful man. He rarely left the confines of his home, and when he did, it was only to conduct business. He had two well armed guards with him at all times, and he, himself, was probably armed to the teeth as well.
At the moment, he was staying in a mafia safe house. As much as I wanted him dead, Section One and my handler wanted him alive. The good news was that all of those other bastards were fair game.
"Are you ready Luca?"
Without a word, I nodded. I was getting giddy. Restraining myself was going to be tough, but the old me had proven to be a pretty talented actor. At least, as far as school performances were concerned. Hell, I'd even gotten away with being the new me. I was pretty damn good if I must say so myself.
Basilio and I had been tasked with entering the safe house from the front, while Section One operatives covered the rear. Entering had proven to be fairly simple. My smaller frame allowed me to easily hide amongst the bushes out front and sneak up on the guard. After that, snapping his neck had been a simple task, allowing me to dump his body in the bushes and slip into the safe house.
Drawing my Walther, a PPK, I slipped down the halls silently. By now, I couldn't keep my lips from contorting into a dark smile.
I've been having nightmares. They keep me up at night. Perhaps I haven't completely removed myself from my past life. Perhaps these memories, the ones I pray would leave me be, are the only ones that won't let me go.
That face, that slick black hair, those piercing brown eyes... that sneering smile. I will never forget it, no matter how hard I try. It will haunt my dreams until the day I die... or the day I kill him.
With Rico's help, we were easily able to take care of the guards. With a speed that would have amazed the old me, I dashed to the door, ready to take care of everyone inside. I was hungry... I wanted their blood. I wanted to watch as their life slipped away.
Opening the door a sliver, I pulled the pin on a flashbang and tossed it through the crack. Seconds later, a bright flash lit the room, and I burst through the doorway, taking out the disoriented mafia bastards. A few managed to slip away into another room. I gave a hasty chase.
The next room was heavily fortified, gunmen lining up behind cover. Taking cover behind the doorframe, I wondered where Henrietta was, and if she was having trouble as well.
As if on cue, the gunfire stopped. Slipping my G36K through the doorway, I popped off a few rounds. There were no sounds of anyone hitting the ground. And here I was hoping they'd be dumb.
It was then that I heard it. The voice that haunts me to this very day. "Well, well, well, what do we have here? Very resourceful sweetheart, but I never pegged you to be the type to kill. Still quite the tomboy though." His sinister laugh cut straight through to the core of my being. "Not exactly the reunion I was hoping for, but it's good to see you, my darling Lucia."
...Perhaps I hold a personal grudge against the mafia. That man, who tried to kill me, Julius Arbarelli, is not my father. I will never call that horrible man my father. He is as bad as Ernesto. No, he's worse.
If Ernesto is a womanizer, Julius is what he would wish to become. A playboy. A man with no strings. I've heard the story a million times. How my mother met him, was seduced by him, and how she ended up with me. Lucia Salvi. Oh, it wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. And as a result, I am now here.
I had met him exactly one time, when I was a little child, before he tried to whack me. My mother thought it would be a good idea to meet my "father", but I wanted no part of it. She had to drag me kicking and screaming.
The meeting was short-lived. I said exactly five words to him. "Hello, nice to meet you." Yeah, it was fun. Afterword, I remember hearing him tell my mother to never mention this to anyone ever gain. "Just drop it."
She didn't, and that's ehen the shit hit the fan.
I wish I could stop caring.
Dario, it turns out, was quite the coward. After I killed his guards, he couldn't even point his gun at me without his hands shaking wildly. Hell, the safety was still on. I let out a laugh as I advanced on him. "I'm serious. Back off dude! I'll fuck you up!" he warned.
I laughed even harder. "I'll let you in on a little secret," I told him. "You won't do anything to me." I paused, and in an afterthought, I added, "And I'm not a dude." I ripped the gun from his hands, tossing it to the floor. I held my Walther to his head. "Now give me one good reason not to paint the walls with your brains."
"Luca!" Basilio called. "Let him be. We aren't supposed to kill him." I couldn't retain my disappointment. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to kill every single memory of the Arbarelli family. Unfortunately, Section One had dibs on him first.
I lowered my Walther, and with the darkest glare I could muster, I spat, "You should feel lucky."
"You're dead!" he shot back. "Everyone you care about, dead! You've made enemies with the wrong family punk! The Don will freaking kill, you, dead!" Before I knew what was happening, my fist had already connected with his face, spinning him wildly to the ground.
I've always loved the crisp morning air. It's especially great after a nice workout, or a game of soccer with your friends. I think morning might be my favorite time of day.
"Great game El," Zeke congratulated me. "You were on fire."
"Thanks," I gasped, sucking down that beautiful substance my lungs so craved. "You were great too. You are always so amazing."
I thought I caught a twinge of pink on his cheeks, but I couldn't be sure. "You know El, I've been thinking... Would you like to... maybe go out sometime?" I was speechless. "Lucia?"
Caught off guard, I could only nod absently. It wasn't until later that night that the jubilation caught up with me.
I kicked open the door with such force that it was ripped off its hinges. There, in the middle of the room, surrounded by several Mafioso, was the man who had illegitimately helped in creating me. Julius Arbarelli, the man who was poised to become the next Don of the Arbarelli family.
I raised my G36K, putting him right in the center of the scope. His men all raised their guns at me, but Julius silenced them. "Lower your weapons. That's my daughter you're aiming at."
I narrowed my eyes, still keeping a lock on him. "You are not my father!" I growled. "You never were, and you never will be! And for everything you've done to me, to my mother, to Zeke, I WILL kill you!"
I pulled on the trigger, emptying the entire magazine, but he'd anticipated my move, having taken cover. "Lucia, I'm sorry about all of that, but look at the woman you've become. Well, you could do well to wear a dress, but you still make me proud. Just look at all you've accomplished."
"SHUT UP!" I spat. "Lucia is dead! And you killed her!" I changed out for a fresh magazine. "And I'm going to kill you!"
I rushed toward his hiding spot, which threw his goons into a panic. Several of them started opening fire, but their aim was atrocious. Fortunately for me, Henrietta made a timely appearance, and along with her handler Jose, started firing upon the goons.
Meanwhile, I pushed toward Julius, killing anyone who dared fire upon me. "Lucia, Lucia, calm down. Let's talk about this, father to daughter. I promise to make it worth your while. Daddy really does love you."
"You. Are. Not. My. Father." It came out in a low hiss. I was sure he heard it over the gunfire too. I fired on the last guard in my path. A string of rounds ripped from the barrel, killing him. A click resounded as the last round exited the barrel. Tossing the Heckler & Koch rifle aside, I pulled out my Walther and stalked doward Julius.
"Think about what you are doing Lucia."
"I've dreamed of this moment since I became a cyborg. I know exactly what I'm doing." As I reached his hiding spot, he popped out, a large pistol in his hands.
Time seemed to slow as we fired at the same time. I felt a sting in my chest, but I refused to accept it. Not until I saw him die. I kept firing, feeling short of breath.
Finally, Julius dropped to the ground. I stared at his body for a while, allowing my gun to slip from my hands. Soon after, all I saw was black.
We were currently standing in a clothing store, a high quality one by the looks of it, and what was worse; it was a dress store. Basilio nudged me. "Go on kiddo, pick one out. I know you got a little worked up with the whole Dario Situation, but you still did a great job."
"Do I have to?" I whined. "I hate dresses."
My handler laughed. "Yes, because it would be good for you to wear more girly clothes. I don't like it when people go mistaking you for a boy."
"But I have no problem with it. I really don't need any girly clothes." The old me found them to be terribly uncomfortable. The new me just flat out hated them.
"It's either this, or I have you go clothes shopping with Allesandro and Petrushka."
"This is great," I replied hastily, causing Basilio to laugh.
"Perfect. You go pick out a few dresses that you like and remember that they need to pass the cuteness test," he stated, motioning to a lady who was currently helping other customers out. "While you do that, I'll go find you a suitable bra."
"No!" I exclaimed. "I don't need a bra! Seriously, the wrapping works just fine!" He didn't even listen to my pleas as he pushed me over to a wrack and went off to look at the bras.
I thumbed through the dresses, none in particular really standing out. "This sucks," I muttered.
After a few minutes, I noticed one dress that looked quite pretty, though it did look a bit short. It was slender and blue, the straps nothing more than thin cords. I felt a blush creep up on my cheeks and set it aside to try on later. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
I awoke in a daze. My head was pounding, and I flet nauseous. "Ooh, what happened?" I asked, my words slurring a little.
"You blacked out," Basilio responded from his spot next to my hospital bed. "The doctors fixed you up while you were out, so just take it easy for now."
I nodded slowly. It wasn't the first time I'd been injured on a mission. It was slightly discomforting to be wearing nothing but a hospital gown, but I was growing more used to it. Maybe it was because I started wearing dresses and skirts more often. I'm not quite sure.
I felt a strange sense of peace within me. Julius Arbarelli, the man who haunted my dreams, was now dead. Perhaps now I could sleep without worrying about nightmares. Perhaps now I could let go of my past.