Even without opening his eyes, Zense knew what time it was. Four twenty-nine, just thirty-eight more seconds before his alarm went off.
Throwing the blanket off, the soldier finger-combed through his shoulder-length hair. He should have washed it last night but after reading through the target's file, he'd gotten lazy and decided to skip a shower.
Flipping on the toilet light switch, Zense looked at his reflection staring back at him. The white scar from a knife slash two years back still showed clearly on the left lower rib cage. The soldier grimaced. He'd been careless back then and nearly lost his life.
Splashing cold water onto his face, Zense studied the dark circles underneath his violet eyes. They weren't very visible but he should probably conceal it with some light makeup before meeting with the higher-ups at nine. Any sign of weakness from a soldier was a reason for them to dispose of him. He wasn't young anymore, at the age of twenty-four, he was the oldest bio-weapon that the world government had still in service. Many bio-weapon soldiers were sent on their last missions when they hit the age of nineteen and if not for his useful abilities, Zense would have been sent on his final mission already.
The assassin brushed his teeth and studied the tangles in his messy cobalt blue hair. He would need to get that cut if he wanted to look presentable in front of the world leaders.
After a quick shower, Zense got dressed in a simple white button-up shirt and navy-blue slacks. He looked at his accessory rack and decided to go for a more rebellious look today. With a world as chaotic as this, a little mockery for the religious fools would brighten things up. Zense grinned and hooked an earring with the upside-down cross design on his right ear. Being the number one bio-weapon, he deserved a little more infamy along with recognition of his deadliness. How else would people recognise him if he didn't give them obvious hints?
Satisfied with his appearance, Zense checked the mirror one last time and snapped his fingers. The bed made itself, the light switch flipped off and the alarm clock reset itself back to eleven at night. Without looking back, the assassin walked straight towards his front door that opened automatically before shutting and locking itself.
Zense didn't need to bring his keys or check the lock ever. With an ability like his, there really wasn't a need.
Despite the convenience it brought to his daily life, Zense often wondered what it would be like if the world government hadn't found him dying on the streets.
Memories of that fateful day came back to Zense as he walked along the deserted streets. Ever since the collapse of the Universal Peace Treaty, bigger countries have taken up arms to take over weaker countries and steal their resources to expand their territory. As a child of war, Zense did what he could to survive on the streets. He didn't know what happened to his parents but he knew that they just never came back one day. As a starving four-year-old, he had to do what he had to do to survive.
As the assassin turned to a dark alley, he held his breath. The stench of rotting bodies filled the air, bringing back horrible unwanted memories.
Zense was six when he became a cripple. Living on the streets meant that he didn't have money for food or shelter, much less a doctor. A bad fall and infested wound nearly cost him his life but fortunately or unfortunately for him, heaven had eyes. It wasn't his time to die.
The assassin knocked on a door with a white cross mark on it and waited. Even though he was early, he knew that his contact was already waiting inside. He knew her habits like he knew his body. They'd been working together ever since they were taken in by the world government. If Zense was being more honest, he would have considered her his sister.
"You're early," a lady's voice commented and Zense dodged a bullet aiming for his head.
"You're slow," he commented and sat down.
His contact's name was Gretel. Like him, she was also an unwanted child who was picked up by the world government and trained under their watchful eyes. However, Zense envied her. Gretel was assigned to working in the HQ because she wasn't able to manifest supernatural abilities like his. She was a failed experiment that they didn't require. However, Gretel was smarter than the other children and didn't get disposed of when she demonstrated to the higher-ups that she had something better to offer them than supernatural abilities. Zense sometimes wished that he didn't work so hard to get his latent abilities to awaken. If only he was half as bright as Gretel, he would have lived an easier life.
"Congratulations on turning twenty-four, Zense."
The assassin looked at his childhood friend and scowled. "Is this another way of telling me that my time is almost over?"
Gretel smiled serenely. Unlike Zense who had the ability called "Macro" to reverse things he touched to a time period within the last twenty-four hours, Gretel had a gift for talking. It was her confidence and charisma that saved her back then and right now, it was her weapon against assassins with supernatural abilities like Zense. Gretel was one of the six agents the world government had to give assassins their jobs. Today, she had a special task and an offer of a lifetime to make to Zense.
"Rejoice, sourpuss. This could very well be your ticket to freedom or hell. The higher-ups have decided, you're going to retire. Agent Z, code name Zense. Receive your last mission."
The assassin stiffened when he heard the news. Last mission? It was hard to believe. According to the researchers and doctors who'd been in charge of his mutation experiment, Zense didn't have more than two years left to live. What's the use of sending him to another mission? His previous missions took him four years to complete and he'd been back for three months with not a single word from the higher-ups. Was this a suicide mission or a high-risk mission only suitable for him?
Gretel steeled her expression. She had given him a file on his target the night before. Zense must have studied it already if he was wearing makeup to conceal those dark circles underneath his eyes. Ever since she got promoted, Zense started to hide signs of fatigue, illnesses or injury from her as if he was afraid of becoming imperfect. Then again, she didn't blame him. He was the only exception in the bio-weapon division who was way past the normal expiry date.
"There is no time limit for this mission. If you succeed you can retire and spend your remaining days in peace. If you fail, they will send in the new blood to finish what you started. Ouroboros must die."
Ouroboros. Zense knew it from a myth. It was a snake that represented infinity. In their rotting society where sane people were killing insane people, Ouroboros was the only person who stood up against the madness that threatened to consume humanity and won against it. He was hailed as the hope of humanity but nobody really knows his true identity.
As a thorn in the world government's quest to achieving a unified rule of Earth in this chaos, Zense knew why Ouroboros had to die. As a bio-weapon, it was his duty to see that it was carried out. Hope was a fickle thing that was often used to disguise an uglier intention.
Zense didn't believe in hope. He sure as hell didn't believe in Ouroboros and his campaign for freedom either.
"Consider it done," he told Gretel and stood up after he checked that his fake identity cards were prepared as requested.
The agent made no indication of seeing him out but when Zense was about to leave, she called out to him.
"Happy birthday, don't be too hasty to die."
Zense didn't reply or appear to have heard her as he slammed the door behind him. Back in the stinking alley, the assassin snorted. happy? He didn't know what that meant.
"Unhappy Birthday sounds more like it," he mused and headed back to start packing.
He had a snake to hunt and freedom to earn.
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