Short Story – Puppet Master

Perched atop a battlement overlooking the primary target’s residence, the black-clad sniper brought the trinoculars up to his face and scanned the pitch-black courtyard far below.  There was nothing to see through the two regular lenses, and nothing to sense through the third psychic magnifier either, save for the fuzzy patch of friendly life coming from the bushes below.  Satisfied, the sniper went into overwatch and froze into position.

Guy shifted his presence from the sniper’s mind, pulled his bunched-up underwear from out of his sweaty ass, and took control of his soldier.  Guy was hungry.  Once the mission was over, he’d order pizza, then get himself a blowjob.

Laying in a bush directly below the watchful sniper, the assault soldier scuttled forward on his stomach and broke through the leafy cover.  He pulled his own set of binoculars out and scanned the entire front of the huge stately home.  Not a single light was on.  It looked completely unoccupied, but the soldier – or more precisely, Guy – knew this to be untrue.  The soldier checked that his rifle was set to full-auto, then slipped into overwatch too.

Guy shifted uncomfortably in his threadbare command couch.  It needed replacing, but Guy was too lazy – and fat – to get one.  He fumbled for a can of soda that was balanced atop a mess of disks and paperwork covering his computer table.  If he could pull this job off, then he would upgrade everything, he promised himself.  New furniture, new couch, new AR interface.  Hell, he might even upgrade his pups to the new semi-autonomous package.  It would allow Guy the precious ability of giving his crew a high-level set of instructions without having to be in their minds, which was useful when trying to multi-task a team of them.  Sure, there were well-documented (and fatal) issues with pups blindly following pre-set instructions – they were unable to change their behaviour based on new developments, so if a pup was instructed to take a child straight home without delay but the home was on fire, the pup would pull the resisting child into the burning building anyway.  Still, they were useful when they were controlled properly.

Guy threw the now-empty soda can over his shoulder and wrestled with his uncomfortable skeletal helmet.   He felt a vibration; one of the pups had sensed something.  He swept his mind over his pups, and sensed movement through his assassin.  He flooded the pup’s mind with his presence just as the heavily-armed guard walked underneath the tree that the assassin was hiding in.  Guy considered his move; he could take the guard out and hope that he wouldn’t be missed, or simply work around him.  He strained his head backwards and saw the guard pass underneath another tree.  He flipped his presence to the second assassin, and dropped onto the guard with a precision strike.  Guy switched back to the first assassin and surveyed the area to see if his attack had been spotted.  Nothing.  Guy dragged the guard into the tree and tied him securely to a higher bough.  It would take ages to find the body, he chuckled to himself.

The world juddered suddenly, almost making the pup fall out of the tree.  What the hell was that?  Earthquake?  There was another shudder and Guy felt a weird sense of detached pain from his face.  He fizzled out from the assassin’s mind to find himself looking into the barrel of a gun.  Behind the gun was a bloody and scarred face, the eyes wild and the mouth upturned into a manic smile.  Guy’s blood ran cold; it was a Shouter.

“Wake up game boy!”  cried the Shouter and hit Guy with the edge of his hand.  The helmet dug into his head painfully.

“Don’t!” said Guy, holding his hands up.  “Don’t.  I give in.  What do you want?”

The drug-crazed Shouter kicked his right foot out and snorted uncontrollably.  It was very common for Shouters to develop a whole range of ticks, jerks, and strange catchphrases as a result of their brain being slowly taken apart by the narcotic.  It was impossible to overdose on Shout, meaning that Shouters would inject as much as they had possession of in one go.  It also meant that they needed a lot of the drug, which fuelled their criminal activities to sometimes-astronomical levels.  This addict was going to take as much as possible, including Guy’s life if he could.  “What do I want he asks?  The dish ran away with the spoon!”  He snorted again and looked around Guy’s tiny filthy apartment.  “I want money.  Everything.  The dish ran away it did!”

Guy thought frantically.  “I don’t have much…” he began, but then realised that the addict really didn’t care.  “… so I’ll tell you what I’ll do.  I’m going to get one of my friends to come round and bring money for you.”

The Shouter cocked the hammer on the gun.  “You’re going to call the police!  Oh la la!”

“I won’t, I promise.  You can even make the phone call to my friend.  Yeah?”  Guy tried to remain calm, but he was nearing total panic.  He had to think straight.  He pretended to rub his head, adjusting his neurohelmet back into its place.

The Shouter kicked his legs out.  “It’s a deal.  A steal, sale of the fucking century!”

Guy gave the man his mobile phone.  “Just press the green button.”  As the addict pressed the handset, Guy arranged the neuro node into place and flitted into one of his pups.

It was dark, but Guy knew where he was.  Opening the cupboard door, Guy (or more precisely, his puppet) strolled out and grabbed the phone before it started to ring.

“Yes?” said the pup in a creaky voice.

“I got your friend here and I’m going to kill him unless I get lots of money!” said the Shouter.

“Oh no!  Please don’t!” cried Guy, startling himself; he never had any reason to make his pups talk before.  “I have ten thousand in cash, right here.  I will come to you in five minutes.  Just don’t hurt him, OK?”

“It’s a deal.  The dish ran away it did!” replied the Shouter, then hung up.  In the darkness, the pup opened up a drawer and took out a fully-loaded handgun.  Quietly, the puppet crept up to the room’s only door, then kicked it down.  Inside the bright room was the Shouter, pointing a gun at Guy’ flabby mass strapped into the couch.  The pup aimed its own gun at the Shouter and unloaded three rounds into its head.  The addict fell with a desperate screech, then was quiet.

Guy flipped back to reality and looked at the motionless pup, its gun still raised and smoking.  “Fucking hell,” he breathed in relief.  He peered up over the computer table; the Shouter was very dead, his head partially destroyed.  Guy looked at his pup again, but there was no damage to her beautiful naked body.  He entered her mind again, dragged the Shouter’s body out of the broken window where the addict had gained entry, sealed the window shut, then gathered the bigger pieces of skull and put them in the trash.  Guy flitted through the assault puppet’s minds and withdrew them to a safe distance; the mission was over, at least for now.  He’d try again tomorrow.  Fucking manic Shouters!  Those guys were sick in the head, he thought as he shut his puppets off, except one.  He took control of his sex pup and, with a contented sigh, unzipped his pants and started to suck his cock, staring into his own eyes as he did so.  He had promised himself pizza too, but it had been one of those days.

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