The gun rattled in John’s hands as he let loose another volley into the gang members that were cowering behind boxes. The spikes blasted through the flimsy wooden boxes and pinned the gang members to the wall. Their blood spattered on the wall and their guns fell silent. John’s room fell silent when the last one finished dying and he could clearly hear the sound of gunfire coming from the next room over.

John went to go help Lester and found him sitting behind a door holding a gunshot wound and occasionally firing into the room. John tossed a grenade into the room and bent down to take care of Lester. “I feel like this has happened before. Didn’t I get shot last time you dragged me to a firefight?” Lester joked as John applied the first aid magnet to the wound.

“The time before that. Last time you got stabbed by a passerby.” John laughed as he pulled out a syringe bio-gel and filled the wound, it would heal within a day or two and Lester would be fine.

Lester laughed a little but then got suddenly serious “You know I can’t keep doing this. Even the hacking thing is such a huge risk with my current gig. I’m done after this, we can get drinks sometimes if you want but I’m not helping anymore.”

“Okay” John knew that some other people would have tried to talk him out of it but John didn’t see the point of it. Talking him out of it could just end up making him an enemy down the line. “Their leader has to be in the room over there. I’ll go kill him and we can part ways. It’s been a pleasure Lester, I will still be running that project through you though.”

Lester smiled “It was my idea in the first place. I’m not letting you walk away with that.”

John smiled and patted Lester on the shoulder. Without another word, John went to the room the leader was probably in. He stepped to the side as he pulled the door open and a hail of gunfire came out. John responded by tossing a grenade inside and using the time the gangsters inside spent scrambling for cover to confirm his target. A pull of the trigger confirmed the kill and the grenade covered his exit.

Lester was already on the street hailing a cab when John came out. They waved to each other and parted ways. John didn’t see Lester again for several months.

John sat down in front of Mr. Takeshi’s desk and took the glass Mr. Takeshi offered him. “You did a good job with the assassins, the brownnosers that surround me every day have taken to calling you The Angel of Death after that stunt you pulled on the Red Death. Officially though you are John Doe now, your standard files are set to be wiped every five years and your black file will be reset every ten.” The black file was the term used for the record the companies kept on everything he had done. Mr. Takeshi offering to wipe it at all was surprising.

“I like the sound of that Mr. Takeshi. If you have any other jobs for me, you know how to contact me.” John got up to leave but stopped when Mr. Takeshi handed him a plain file. John paled as he opened the file and saw Lester’s face on a mission briefing. “Why did you give this to me?” John whispered as he leafed through the notes.

“Because a friend will make it painless and quick, because if he did it for another company I want the best on the case, and because it needs to be done and you would beat yourself up if someone else did it.” Mr. Takeshi’s voice was calm and didn’t betray whatever emotions he was feeling, if any.

John didn’t need to be told anything else. He knew he didn’t have a choice anymore, his friend’s death was an inevitability. “I’ll do it.”

The drive to the safe house Lester was staying at seemed to take hours and yet was over too quickly. The safe house was a concrete bunker underneath a warehouse that was owned by the names they had used as call signs on their first bank job. John, Lester, and Ramirez had pooled their money from a couple of jobs and bought the place as a place to lay low while they awaited payment and a place to fall back to. It was equipped with only a simple password lock and John remembered the password all to well. The door to the bunker unlocked with a click and revealed Lester sitting on the couch they brought in to watch things on the TV in the living room. A young woman was curled up on the couch with her head in his lap.

Lester turned to say something to John but John just shook his head and closed the door. “Why Lester? You said you were done with the game and you do this.”

“She was scared I had to help her. She didn’t want to be sold off.” Lester argued.

“She’s a sex bot Lester! She doesn’t have wants she has programming.” John argued back. Lester started to say something about love but John couldn’t listen to anymore without rethinking what he was doing. His gun came up and he pulled the trigger. Lester slumped over and the robot girl began to scream. “Prototype 1A deactivate damsel in distress routine and go into standby mode.” The robot girl stiffened and silenced. “Purge your memory of this location and return to the lab.”

When the robot was gone, John looked over the blood-stained walls of the place he had once considered like a second home. The cleanup crew took care of Lester’s body as John cracked open a second bottle of some kind of liquor. It didn’t matter what it was all he knew was that it burned. As he lay there wallowing in his inebriation his email pinged him and showed him another assassination target.

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