Marksman: standard (rank 1)
I know Sam chose me to kill the target for one reason, our previous friendship utterly notwithstanding, one reason only—she has a small army of robotic bodyguards. Who else could do it but I?
I could see that the sentries outside her forest villa were robots even as I hid and watched, not fooled by their human guises, saw the idiosyncrasies of movement and action that told me without a doubt that these were not creatures of flesh and blood, but machines, synthetics, artificial beings only meant for their one duty.
I took my first shot and a sentry's head burst into an explosion of flames, sparks, and silver metal skull. The villa immediately came to life as the sentry's wireless death rattle met some central control unit, sirens screaming and storm lights blazing over the grounds. I took out three more with quick headshots before their emergency program overrode the default.
Mechs streamed off of the grounds, but obviously have no kind of triangulation software, as they simply fired wildly into the woods with their wrist-mounted miniguns and laser apparati, never approaching my hiding spot. I aimed and fired, not with the millisecond reaction time the old stories would have me possess, but quickly and flawlessly, scored prompt, lethal hits, over a decade of experience and practice coming to mind, only pausing to reload after my eighth shot.
The wave of sentries halted. I could almost hear the villa's CPU recalculate its tactics, develop a new plan, and transmit it to the remote platforms. I emerged from the forest and raced toward the chateau.
Piercing Weapon: standard (rank 1)
There were a half dozen robotic guards left, lined up in front of the doors of the villa.
My pistol was not, of course, the same RKX-12 Heavy Pistol I received all those years ago. I would have been using it for over eleven years—absurdity. Rather, I have remoded and built new pistols, always identical on the cosmetic outside, but improving, perfecting the mechanics, redesigning the barrel, the balance, everything, until it has reached a ideal equilibrium. The gun was, thus, an RKX-12 Mk. VI. (RKX-18, perhaps?)
As I destroyed the robots, I wished I could tell them that they were part of a legacy years and years in the making, of the true meaning behind the bullets that was currently ripping out their wires and smashing their servos against the wall.
When the last machine had been destroyed, I reloaded and smashed open the doors.
Reaction Speed: standard (rank 1)
The expansive foyer of the house was infested with robot bodyguards and maids, all heavily armed and placed around the lobby in tactical spots. They opened fire the second I step inside.
Immediately, I felt the cybernetic implants take hold, boosting my reflexes to unbelievable speeds. The implants, eleven years old but still lubricating my movements excellently, allowed me to dodge out of the way even while firing the RKX, going for the kill shot, always the kill shot. If I still had human eardrums, the gunshots would have deafened me. As it was, it was simply another factor in the chaos of the scene, a factor to be ignored.
Seven robots were down before I find scant cover behind a statuary, one that I could feel get riddled with bullets. Eject clip, reload, take out the robot coming around the side after me and I was ready to enter the melee again, cartwheeling to avoid a barrage of shells.
By the time I reached the room Sam has informed me my target is in, her bedroom, I had killed 57 robots and destroyed two massive combat mechs, dodging their oversized, flailing fists while unloading full clips into what passed for their heads. It felt almost familiar, like nostalgia.
Armor: standard (rank 1)
I opened the chamber's door and immediately was confronted by Annie McDevit, nee Justice, fear and anger in her eyes, wearing just a slim nightie and holding a magnum handgun. She fired three times before I could move.
Even had the bullets pierced the dermal plating I've had on my body to protect me from robotic and other attacks since I first got my cybernetic implants, there would have been very little to harm. The first implants I got made me 19% robotic. I was getting small synthetic patches soon after that, repairing skin and muscle that was damaged by my foes. In 2006, I was diagnosed with several cancers, and so replaced many of my organs with...more efficient devices. After that, it was a steep slope. In 2007, it was one of my arms removed and given a mechanical surrogate. 2008, the same happened to my legs below the knees. In 2009, I replaced all of my skin with a much stronger material. At that point there was...very little to replace. I calculated it once, and I'm now 79% synthetic. 79% machine.
A philosophical man I was acquainted with back in a previous lifetime would probably say I've become exactly what I was made to destroy.
Disintegration: superior (rank 2)
As the bullets flew off of me, I raised my pistol and fired. The magnum flew out of Annie's hand, accompanied by her right hand. She shouted in pain and shock, putting the mangled wrist to her breast. She backed away slowly, watching me with fear.
I dropped to my knees and put my hand on my chest, needing the true touch of my hits. With a hiss of pneumatics, my chest opened, and a cascade of tiny robots, nanites, the ones truly keeping me alive, spilled onto the carpet. My consciousness ebbed slightly, but I still saw as the wave of tiny machines advanced towards Annie. When they reached her, she began to scream. I tried to will myself not to hear her screams, but thousands of miniscule sensory detectors hear it as well, magnifying her shout.
The nanites overcame her in thirty seconds, finally ending her screams. They covered her like a writhing blanket, quickly devoured all biological matter, getting down to her bone in less than two minutes. A small subset of the robots even scuttled over to take her disembodied hand.
Soon, nothing was left of Annie. The nanites, as nearly one form, crawled back inside my chest, and I rose, feeling strangely satiated.
My acquaintance would probably be right.
Ally: standard (rank 1)
Sam met up with me at the junkyard again. He already knew his ex-wife was dead, and I already knew he had transferred my payment to my account, but he wanted a last meeting, perhaps a farewell of sorts. I had no reason to refuse.
We exchanged pleasantries, he thanked me for taking his job, he tried to talk about the old days. I refused. Those times, just like the days in Delta, were long, long past. Eventually, he extended a hand to shake, and said, “See ya round.”
I took it, and said “Goodbye.”
Quicker than my optics could register, he whipped something out of his pocket and jammed it into my stomach. Electricity flooded my wires and overwhelmed my nerves with pain, freezing me to the spot. I tried to scream, but found my jaw locked. How many times had I seen this same trick used on random punks on the street?
“I'm sorry about this, I really am,” Sam said, stowing the cattle prod back into his coat, “but you could tell anyone about this, cops, old friends, anyone.” Good old paranoid Sam. It was sort of sad I didn't see this coming. Old lives were never good news. Sam took the pistol from my holster. “Really, I didn't want this...I just didn't have a choice.” He put the gun to my forehead. “Goodbye, Ari.”
There was a wet crunching noise. Sam's hat drifted to the ground. Sam's fingers clenched and trembled on the handle of the gun, and a shudder went through his body. He looked in my eyes with his—baby blues, to my immense surprise—and fell down, the back of his skull caved in and bleeding over his thinning hair and worn clothes.
The spindly girl in overalls held on to the spare piece of pipe, now bloodstained, with white knuckles for a moment, then dropped it to the ground. “You okay?” she asked, wiping her sweaty forehead with a kerchief, looking in any direction but down in the ground.
I attempted to flex my jaw, found some of the paralysis leaving it. “I'rr be fine in a bobent,” I managed to spit out. “Tank you, Wired.”
Wired's relationship to me should be obvious; I could not work on myself, not operate on my own still slightly human body by myself. Half of what needs to be done I must be unconscious for. It would be a moderately simple task to program a series of robotic arms to perform the needed movements...but no. Just...no. I use my trusted assistant, mechanic, sidekick, to use the superhero terminology.
Sam should have seen her coming, probably could have heard her with that telepathy he used to have. But he still saw me as the lone wolf he knew, the standoffish woman I still appeared to be.
But, as usual, it was what was below the surface that mattered.