Sunday, May 21, 2017
1st 5 Mages May Workshop - Stryker Rev 2
Name: Elisa Stryker
Genre: Young Adult Dark Fantasy
Title: IMMUNITY HUNTER
Seventeen-year-old Sasame’s city is at war. The enemy is horrific; tentacle-tongue, zombie-like mutants with leathery skin and violent impulses threaten everyone’s safety. But unlike “everyone,” Sasame can actually make a difference. As an Immunity Hunter, she does the dirty work for her agency, kidnapping those immune to the mutation virus so they can create a stronger vaccine.
Though she doesn’t love the work, Sasame trusts her boss, Omi, and his vision for the future of their city. But that's before she meets Konan, a persistent teen desperately trying to figure out why people are vanishing. Sasame shouldn’t be attracted to him—her boss forbids romance and caring leads to heartache—yet his dedication to the city reel her in. As the missions leave her with horrible nightmares, she uses Konan as a distraction from the madness. That distraction turns into wanting more than a quick fix.
Omi isn’t pleased with this turn of events. His Immunity Hunters are well-oiled machines, and petty romance is just gunk in the gears. After forcing Sasame to watch the murder of another hunter's secret girlfriend, Omi presents her with a choice: kill Konan to prove her loyalty to the cause, or face the same fate.
As soon as this guy looks up from his phone, I’ll knock him unconscious. I’ve followed him through these deserted streets for what feels like a mile. His face has been glued to that small, bright screen this entire time. This’ll be an easy hunt. Forget sneaking. Short of yelling his name, he won’t notice me.
Downtown turns into a ghost town this late at night. Few people live close to the oversized buildings towering just high enough to see the top of the wall surrounding our city. Most people are locked away in their cozy beds.
Luckily for me, my target is an idiot. I follow him past decorated storefronts with painted windows and dull office buildings. The faint scent of pastries and coffee still lingers in theair from another busy day. As far as prey goes, he's terrible. Usually, they notice, or at the very least care. He hasn’t turned around or taken his eyes off the screen. I could’ve taken him down at any point during this seemingly endless trek through the empty downtown streets, but his attentiveness to the phone has me intrigued. Does he know I’m here and is he leading me into a trap? No, there’s no way this fool could tell I’m following him. I made sure not to wear any perfume or use the fancy soap that makes me smell like roses. A good hunter doesn’t leave an identifying scent.
His file states he has no special abilities. Perfect for me, the last thing I need to deal with is someone that can easily fight back, like a Lightning Rod. They already have electricity running through their veins. My stun gun won’t faze them.
A chilly wind blows between the empty skyscrapers, picking up the day's litter and swirling my hair. Everything is silent and dark, with the fresh scent of death on the breeze.
I take a slow breath; hold it and then release. A hint of regret crosses my heart as I visualize this poor soul's fate, but I erase it. Regret will make me lose focus, and I can't afford that.
I jog up behind him before he passes a set of knickknack shops and jab the spikes of my brass-knuckle-shaped stun gun into his ribs, the power up as high as it'll go. His phone drops to the ground as his body stiffens.
After a swift kick into the jagged brick wall, he's knocked out cold. The kick was harder than I expected. Hopefully, the impact of his head slamming into the concrete doesn't kill him. The Organization needs him alive, and I refuse to let someone die by my hands. I kneel beside him to make sure I didn’t end his life. He's still breathing—for now.
“Idiot. Pay attention to where you're going,” I mutter, standing over his limp body.
The distant rumble of a truck engine gets closer. That’s when I realize we’re on the route of the after-hours produce delivery. I could slap myself for not following my own advice and watching where my target was leading me. With both hands and every ounce of my strength, I grab my prey by the foot and drag his limp body into the alley next to us before headlights appear on the street. This mission would go a lot smoother if my bra strap weren't cutting into my skin. Almost exhausted, I sit on a flat, dirt-covered piece of cardboard beside him, stun gun at the ready in case he wakes up.
I take my phone from my backpack and lean against a stack of water-stained crates. A rat crawls out covered in grime and scurries away. Gross. I dial the three-digit code for The Organization's extraction team. As I wait, I stare up at a metal fire escape doodled with graffiti, trying to convince myself that of all this is for the better. All these hunts are wearing me down, but I can't stop now. The antidote is more important than my mental state of mind.
The pungent smell of rotting garbage and old motor oil drags me back to reality. At least it covers the constant stench of rotting flesh from the Konadai outside the wall.
Right on schedule, the extraction team shows up in an ambulance to collect the target. Two men, dressed as paramedics, climb out of the front seat and rush over to the unconscious guy and me. They lift him onto a gurney and wheel him into the back of the ambulance. Neither of them pays me any attention, they hardly ever do. Within seconds, they're gone.
Another name crossed out of my notebook and The Organization is one step closer to finding a stronger antidote to the Konadai virus. They better be happy. I've worked for them for two years, yet they always seem to need more donors.
“Good job, Sasame.”
I spin around to see an Insider—one of The Organization’s spies—standing behind me.
“Is there a reason you’re following me? I did my job,” I respond.
She grins with her long, tight curled lizard green hair covering one eye. “That mouth will be the end of you one day. What would your parents think?”
I ball my fist as fire burns in my eyes, but I control it. Fighting an Insider is stupid, there’s a reason they’re The Organization’s snitches and not out here doing the dirty work. As quick as they are, she’ll dodge any attack I throw at her.
“Leave my parents out of this, snitch.” How dare she bring them up? They sacrificed themselves for the city just as I’m doing now. I swear if she wasn’t a direct line to my superiors—
She shakes her head and chuckles. “Oh little girl, The Organization never could fully break you.”
“Whatever,” I mumble. I remove my backpack, unzipping it to put my stun gun inside. She vanishes before I look up. They’re supposed to watch all Hunters, but I’m their favorite. I get it; The Organization wants devoted Hunters. I’ve proven my loyalty before and will continue until I finish my assignment. My parents are off limits.
I sling the backpack over my shoulder and walk out of the alley erasing any thought of that Insider—and my parents. As I walk home, my mind wanders to the dreadful summer festival I’m forced to attendafternoon. Lynn—my foster mother—thinks it’s a good way to help me blend in more with ordinary people. Just because she raised me these last few years doesn’t give her the right to change who I’ve become.
It takes a while to get back to my townhouse, but the quiet walk makes up for it. Being alone with my thoughts can be scary;it’s sort of peaceful in a way. As I enter the front door, I’m greeted by cheerful Lynn.
“Welcome back. So how did your mission go? Well, I assume.”
Without speaking, I jog up the wooden staircase to my bedroom. Why is she so happy? My missions aren’t jolly walks by the ocean. If it weren’t for my training, I would’ve broken down months ago.
My wooden bedroom door creaks as I push it open. I throw down my backpack and kick off my sneakers. Within seconds I’m out of my street clothes and into a soft, long shirt. My tired body slumps onto my plush bed. I lay there, still and quiet, lost in my thoughts.