Excerpt- Shriigaal by S. George Lee
For the third time Reckess checked its reflection in the shop window. The hologram was in perfect order. To anyone nearby the assassin would appear to be a harmless grandmother clucking over the outrageous fashions of the day.
Reckess hissed the equivalent of a snort of derision through its nasal tube which, in reality, extended six inches below the granny disguise’s chin. The ngaduk found Terran culture rather frivolous. The art and aesthetics were haphazard. Undisciplined.
It flexed its four arms, one at a time, glorying in the omnipotent feeling the Earth’s meager gravity instilled in the heavy-worlder. Still, it was time to set aside indulgent thoughts. Reckess’ mark approached from the far side of the market square.
A very proper-looking human male- attired in one of those three-pieced garments which signified wealth and importance here- was pushing an equally proper-looking perambulator. The man wore a derby that perfectly matched his dark blue suit. Round, tinted spectacles shaded his eyes from the noonday sun.
Reckess hissed again. Had they thought to hide themselves in the barefaced mundane of a backwater world like Earth? On a prior sanction here it had made much study of humans and their homeworld- a sort of hobby for the assassin, collecting the cultures it melted in and out of. A small pleasure but also a practical aspect of the work. It had not taken long to pick up the trail.
The target was almost directly across the square now. Beneath its holographic exterior Reckess started forward in the Dance of Knives. Its timing was perfect. The ngaduk’s strength in Earth’s gravity had accelerated the Dance to blurred, whirlwind speed as it reached the pram and its guardian.
Too late, the assassin noticed something odd about the man in the derby. He was aware. His face was hard- not the soft, round face of an upper-class businessman or manservant. The once-benign spectacles- now pulsing an ominous red- and gloved hands fairly screamed that this was a fellow professional.
One of those hands, faster than should have been possible, interrupted the Dance of Knives, jarring the rhythm as it seized a rough, leathery ngaduk wrist. Shocked, Reckess dropped the six-tined gulat blade from that hand. The spectacles waxed silver in cold fury.
A hum, a vibration, pulsed from the adversary’s hand into Reckess’ body. It bleated in brutal agony as, all at once, every bone of its skeleton splintered into dust. Its death trumpet warbled then faded as it collapsed into a gelid heap.
The pram’s fastidious guardian took a moment to brush off sleeves and gloves before bending down to examine his charge.
“Are we alright?” he asked gently, his glasses shading into a milder hue as he pulled back a blanket. A warm glow suffused him and, very briefly, a soft smile flickered across his hard features.
He tucked his tiny passenger back in and continued on his way.
Behind him, an old woman doddered in front of a fashion boutique’s window, disapproving of what she saw there.