She could hear voices. Her head pounded with the sound of her own ragged heartbeat. Her body ached. Her limbs felt heavy with exhaustion, her body bruised from the repeated beatings.
Jessica gathered the courage to open her eyes. Light stung them forcing a quick retreat back to the darkness. She felt a cold draft over her skin. That’s when she felt her nakedness. Without clothes, she felt vulnerable and humiliated. She was still confused about the details of her predicament, but the memory of it bit at the back of her mind. A sharp, tiny pain tingled up her arm. She panicked. The tingling brought death, or so she thought. She fought hard.
“Sleep, Jessica. You’re safe now.”
* * *
“I don’t suppose you could wear something…well…more…to our meetings?”
“No.” Marina dismissed the comment.
“I only come here because you pay me enough to make it worth my while. I’m sure, however, that your enemies overseas would be more than happy, and would pay just as well, to have someone like me around. However, to ensure that you remain in one piece, if you ever call me a whore again.” Marina smiled. “I’ll bring this whole building down around your ears.”
It wasn’t confidence, just fact. Her body was one of the most powerful weapons in the world. She had been built for war and terror. She also had been built for passion. She wore both purposes with pride. A tattoo adorned each breast, both in Arabic. The left breast stated“passion,” the other “warfare.” The tattoo artist had mentioned that working her skin was like working metal.
She was short, even by female standards. That was prearranged. She was of Middle-Eastern flavor and they wanted to keep her unimposing. Though, with the way she moved and stood, one would never notice. She had been attractive to begin with. Biotechnology made her nearly perfect. Her eyes were creamy, caramel. Her hair long and dark like her laugh could be if caught in the right moment. The look of her skin told nothing of its incredible durability. So soft to the touch, yet stronger than most any armor man had to offer. Her muscles were sleek and flowed like the lines of an Italian super car. She was the most dangerous female on the planet. Unfortunately for the Iranian government, she knew it.
Due to her enhanced ability to learn, she had mastered several deadly arts within weeks. Military skills came to her easily. Her physical training had become boring and pointless as she proved repeatedly how overly well she had been built. Her superiors began to worry that they had finally created their own demise. She knew they couldn’t keep her. She stayed out of curiosity about herself and her abilities. When the thrill had gone cold, she left them. Years passed before she resurfaced as a mercenary for hire. She was “the best bang for the buck.” She was more expensive than many mercenary armies were. However, her execution was as flawless as her Arabic features.
“No need for any dramatics, my dear. I merely thought that I’d hired a professional mercenary, not a professional hooker.”
“In either case, you’ve got the best money can buy, yes?” Marina winked and gave him the middle finger. She palmed a heavy golden apple from his desk. Her teeth sheared into the metal as if it were any other apple. She chewed for a moment and gulped the piece down. What was left of the apple was dropped into his lap. He examined her finger impressions along the apple’s surface.
“Sorry, I was hungry.” She rolled her eyes.
“Yes, I see.” He eyed her. She was arrogant. He loved that about her. Though, her arrogance wasn’t unwarranted. His introduction to her was by live video feed from a Mexican base housing a group of militants. There was nothing particularly special about the target. The idea was to provide a sort of portfolio of her ability.
He was given an overhead layout of the base to orient himself. He hadn’t much time to do so before he saw a shadow streak across the long field between the wood line and the high security fence. She stopped short and placed her hands on her hips. They swayed to one side as her weight shifted. He didn’t have to wonder for too long why she paused there for. Her talents were on show in more ways than one. She was naked from head to toe except for a shiny application of camo paint covering every inch of her perfect skin. The perfection of her skin wasn’t merely aesthetic, however. A strange sound, much like leather being slapped, surprised him. Marina was an easy, willing, and unmoving target for the guards. She seemed perfectly comfortable under the rain of bullets not bothering at all to protect her body or face in any manner.
Astonished, he found himself moving closer to the screen. He had a strange smile that only widened when rocket grenades seemed not to have any more effect than small arms. She appeared to be enjoying herself as well while her weight would shift bringing her hips swaying to the other side. He had been sold by then, but by no means wanted the feed to stop. He said nothing as a very one-sided battle was fought on his flat screen.
Her arms crossed over her chest. She looked over the group of armed men smugly. They had since called in one of the many APCs kept on tap. Its spinning barrel spitting larger caliber rounds at her at an incredible rate that only she could see. Her soft lips curled in a smirk. The pile of brass at her feet was becoming a mound as she allowed their attack to continue. Shrapnel tickled her legs. She seemed just as comfortable receiving a volley of grenades as she did the trickle of machine gun fire.
She finally dropped her hands to her side and calmly strode to the fence. Her stride remained even and graceful. Her smile remained arrogant. He hadn’t actually seen her do it, but she opened her fist to show a small handful of deformed rounds. As she walked, she flicked them. The militants around her began to take cover. Several of their comrades seemed to flop over like popped balloons.
She reached out to grasp the fence and looked genuinely surprised as energy danced over her body. Her breath was ragged as she swooned. He stirred. The entire grid discharged through her uselessly, emergency lights all over the small compound opened. She seemed to take a moment to catch her breath before ripping open the frail links of the fence.
A brave soldier charged her with his bayonet to her stomach. She raised her arms slightly providing him the open attempt and watched the blade snap against her. His clumsy hands released his rifle. Marina snatched it from him in a blur. With a bit of artistic flair, and faster than his human eye could follow, she twisted the weapon into the shape of a poodle. She passed it back into his arms. Her hand shoved him out of the picture. Eric assumed he landed many miles away somewhere in the jungle. Many others were tossed about in every direction. She looked like a girl picking petals from a flower.
The APC joined them somewhere in the skies over Mexico. The entire compound was leveled in five minutes and 37 seconds. He watched her walk from the wreckage while she dusted her hands off. She was careful to step over the bodies that littered the battlefield. She scanned the area for a moment. Satisfied, she winked in the direction of the camera and leapt away over the treetops.
“Are you still with me?” She snapped at him.
“Uh? Oh, yes. So you’ll do it then?”
“The price is right. Sounds like fun. I am at your service.”
“Excellent. Your flight leaves in the morning. You’ll meet with your contact where we discussed.”
“Don’t bother with the flight.” She winked. “I’ve been needing a good swim.”
They were meeting in Tokyo, but her clients weren’t Japanese. Not that it mattered, any more than it mattered where the mission was taking her.
“I’m shocked you’d even ask me that question. There is a beach near the airstrip. Tell him to meet me there. I’ll be early.”
* * *
“Like I’ve been tortured and beaten to death,” Jessica dead panned.
“They worked you over pretty good. It took us awhile to find you. I only wish we could have gotten to you sooner.”
“Honestly? I’m surprised I’m still alive.”
Peter and the General looked at each other. Reserved, the general replied, “We did lose you there for a moment, Jessica.”
She attempted to raise her head. Pain shot down her right side so she thought better of it. She looked at Peter for answers.
“Take it easy.” Peter placed his hand on her shoulder. “You’ve been in intensive care for awhile.”
“Days.” The General turned to the open window. “We had to use that time to remake you. Very little of you was left, Jessie.”
“Wait. What do you mean remake? What’s going on?” Her head spun as she tried rising again. A nurse pushed her to the bed gently.
“I’ll let Sergeant Crowson explain. You two catch up.” The General looked at his watch. “We’ll get you back on your feet in no time, Jessica. Better than ever.”
The general left the room quickly before Jessica built the strength to protest. She turned to her friend.
“Like the man said. You died on us. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch. I couldn’t let you go out like that, so I, we, pulled some strings.” He gestured toward the door. “Your arms, your legs, were crushed. You’d been stabbed numerous times throughout your torso. Your spine was snapped in two places. The list goes on. You passed just as we’d gotten to you. Geez, Jessie. You were a mess.”
She could see Peter’s face tighten. She saw the toll it had taken on him. Peter felt her hand on his.
“You been given a second chance, girl. Only this time, it’s a better one.”
“Do you remember the experiments being held in Nevada? We had the twelve test subjects.”
“Yeah, the whole super soldier nut-roll. They all died during testing, didn’t they?”
“Unfortunately, yes. Their bodies were unable to cope with the rapid change and we lost them one by one.”
“What, exactly does that have to do—wait, no. What have you done?”
Jessica raised her eyebrows.
“Jump to conclusions? Did it work?” She became visibly excited, even through the gauze and bandaging.
“Huh? Okay, that’s not quite the reaction I was expecting.”
“Talk.” She looked anxiously at Peter.
“It worked.” Peter paused for her. “The process worked, Jess. Your body took to the enhancement. Of course, we don’t know to what degree, it’s all still experimental, but it seemed to work.”
Jessica closed her eyes. When she’d heard of the program, she had been one of the first to volunteer. Peter never knew that. After the disaster it had been, it was probably best they refused her. It was amazing to watch those women work. They were so fast and powerful. They seemed unstoppable.
“You just rest up. We’ll put you through your paces when you recover. I promise you won’t be disappointed.”
“I hope not.” She smiled.
* * *
Marina rose high over the ocean water like a dolphin. Her feet touched the sandy beach thirty meters from the shore. Her wet hair matted against her naked skin. She bent her head over, squeezing the water from her long mane.
Roland spotted her rooster tail out in the water long before she arrived. He watched as she dived under and then leapt from the foam onto the beach. She acted as though it was the most natural thing. “…Swam the whole Pacific? God, she’s incredible.”
She waved at him. He replied the same.
Marina hopped into the air and crossed the distance landing behind him. He never heard it.
Surprised, he reacted by pulling his pistol on her. She quickly pinched the barrel off, dropping the end of it to the sand.
“You’re too on edge, Roland.” Marina smirked. “You need to get laid.”
“And you fucked my gun up!” He looked down at the lost inch of his barrel. Marina slipped the gun from his hand and turned it over in her hand in examination. She rolled her eyes. He watched defeated as his gun tore into the sky like a comet.
“You know how I feel about guns.”
“How convenient it is, then, that you don’t need one. Of course, the rest of us who aren’t bulletproof…”
“You actually going to wear any? I’m shocked.” He presented a small outfit and shoulder bag to her. The outfit was little more than a string.
“Not…at…all.” He watched as she slipped the final three inches over her right nipple.
She liked Roland. He was one of the few who still believed in honor among thieves. He was the tough guy all girls dreamed about. She was never shy about her body, but she enjoyed teasing Roland. Tough as he was, he was always a gentleman.
He was a laid back guy, but when he was on, he was on. He’d proven himself during their short partnership. Of course, she’d made it clear daily how little help she’d needed from him. He’d kept up well, however.
“How do I look?” She twirled about on her toes.
“Amazing, as usual.” She kissed his cheek.
“Thanks. We’ll be seeing you, stud.” Marina blasted down the beach on foot. Roland dusted the sand from her rooster tail off of his leather jacket. It had been a cold morning even by Californian standards. He watched as she took to the freeway, darting between the cars well over the posted speed limit.
“How does she keep such a low profile?” He shook his head.
* * *
Jessie pressed up on the Olympic barbell counting off her thirteenth repetition. With perfect control and form she lowered it to her chest. Peter stood over her to help if the need arose.
“You know, you’re not going to be much help if I can’t get this up.” She pressed the bar up once more. Peter looked at each end doing some mental math.
“Moral support.” He smiled.
“I knew I kept you around for something!” She pressed the bar up once more then set it in the cradles.
“You know, I was hoping things would be moving along faster than this. I’ve been working at this for two weeks now. I was hoping to be taking on small armies by now.” Jessica pouted.
“Shut up,” she snapped half jokingly.
Peter couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s not that simple, Jess. Your brain is still wired for the old Jess’s body. It’s going to take it some time to get super Jess out of you. Once we break that plateau, then we’ll really see what you can do.”
“I know, I know. I’m just restless, I guess. Hey, doc!” Peter started looking around not ever hearing anyone come in.
“Very good, Jessica.” He emerged from the doorway. “I see you’re becoming more aware. That’s good.”
“Thanks. I just wish I could do more.”
“Needs to ‘re-wire’ itself. So I keep hearing.” She slumped. “I need a shower. See you at chow, Pete?”
“Cute.” She glared. “Doc? You need anything from me?”
“Just wanted to get some vitals, but it can wait.”
“Okay, boys. I’m off.” Both men watched as Jessica walked off to the locker rooms.
“Hot just doesn’t say it.” Peter spoke.
“The results are spectacular, to say the least.” The doctor replied.
In the locker room, Jessica was looking at herself in the mirror again. So much had changed over two weeks. She was 36, but she was looking at a 19-year-old. The years of athletics that had affected her body were gone, and the injuries from torture had disappeared. Long sensuous lines of muscle raced over her frame. She had always been solid, but never like this. Yet despite the hard muscle, she had all the feminine curves a perfect woman would have. She allowed her body to air-dry, as she looked herself over once more. Even her teeth had evened out. Her emerald green eyes seemed brighter. Her skin was healthy and smooth. Her breasts sat high on her chest and her stomach was defined with soft ridges of muscle. She turned looking at her apple-shaped rear while admiring the dimples above her thigh.
“Well, you look the part.” She told herself. “So what’s keeping you?”
Jessica turned to look busy dressing when another woman entered the locker room. It was bad enough that jealousy was running rampant, she didn’t need one of the other female operatives catching her checking herself out in the mirror.
Jessica slipped on her jeans. She crossed her arm over her chest and waved. “Hey.”
“You’re looking great. Been hitting the gym hard, huh?” She chided.
“Gotta keep up with the rest of you girls!” Jessica buttoned her jeans, slipped on her spaghetti tank, and tied her Nikes. She smiled half-heartedly at her female counterpart before gathering her things and leaving. Jessica heard her snide comment at the door, ignored it, and went to her dinner date with Peter.
* * *
Marina approached the high wall of a large estate. She allowed herself a smile while she looked up to the top of the twenty-meter high obstacle. Her slight bikini dropped to the ground. Being invulnerable had its uses. One of those was that she needed no protection from the world around her. Sometime during a stint in Asia she had picked up the nickname “Naked Assassin.” She had a habit wearing nothing more than body paint, only if stealth was called for, however. She’d made good time getting there, despite being on foot, so there was no hurry. Applying the body paint would take time, so she took it.
Her earpiece buzzed to life. “Are you on site, yet.”
“About twenty minutes ago.”
“You made good time then.”
“I stuck to the roads for the most part.” Marina smiled to herself and continued smearing black paint over her hip.
“This is an in and out, Marina. No show boating. If they connect you to me, then our dealings are over.”
“Yes, of course.”
“I need those files. I want the XX program.”
“Anything for you, love. Well, for a load of cash, at least.”
“When have I ever needed your help?” She finished by covering her face. “What is this XX program anyway?”
“I don’t pay you to ask questions, Marina. Just get the files.”
* * *
Jessica poked at her food. Peter could see she was frustrated.
“You’ve got to be patient, Jessie.” Peter set is fork down. “It’s just like any other kind of training.”
“I know, I know. It’s not really that. I mean, I’m anxious, but that’s not what is really bugging me.” She paused, waiting for the question.
“Talk to me.” Peter continued eating.
“Have you noticed the looks I’ve been getting from the other girls?
I feel like I should be ashamed or something.”
“Oh, they talk.” Peter laughed. Jessica’s frown deepened. “I’m sorry. Listen, they’ll get over it. They’re a bit jealous, that’s all. You think you’re the only one who’d love the kind of strength and speed you’ll have?”
“There’s no guess about it. Some of these operatives have been doing this for years. You are still a bit green, even at your age. Sure, we almost lost you, but they gotta be wondering if the same would have been done for them. To them, it’s a bit unfair.”
“It’s not like I asked for it.”
“That’s not the point. Those doctors are saying that when you reach your full potential, you’re gonna be a worldwide bully! Can’t say that I’m not a bit jealous myself!” He winked at her. “You just need to gain their respect. Show them that you’re in there with them. They’ll come around.”
Jessica smiled. “Thanks, Petey. And I promise I won’t pick on you too much.”
TO BE CONTINUED