A stealthy figure approached the quiet mansion, his black fatigues and dark, close-cropped hair allowing him to blend with the shadows effortlessly. He had no memory of how he had arrived there and no knowledge of where he would go after his work was done. This emptiness did not bother him. It was unimportant. He knew why he was here and what he had to do. That was enough.
The security around the perimeter was minimal for someone with his skills and information. He could not remember studying any schematics of the security system or plans of the house, but somehow he still had the knowledge.
Picking the lock on the main door, he entered the large home and easily disabled the interior alarm as he had the exterior. Sniffing the air, he determined that there were no pets in the home that would give away his presence. Also, the target, as well as the other residents, were upstairs and had been for several hours. He could move freely while he completed the mission.
Moonlight shone through the few uncurtained windows on the first floor, but the killer did not need the illumination. His eyes were as keen as a cat's, allowing him to see everything in the dim entryway. He walked easily through foyer and down the hallway to his first objective.
Entering the brightly decorated kitchen, he walked straight to the knife rack and pulled out a six-inch butcher knife. Holding it in his gloved hand, he tested the balance of the weapon. Satisfied with its heft, he left the kitchen and proceeded to the stairs. It would have been easier to kill with his claws or bare hands, but the mission called for a weapon on the scene.
Ascending the stairs, quiet as a whisper, the dark figure sampled the air again. The target was through third door on the left at the top of the stairs, and he was not alone. After pushing open the door, the killer could see the man in bed, sleeping on his back with his wife curled at his side.
Perfect. The man would be easy to kill. The only difficulty of the mission was that the death had to be silent. The wife must not be aware of the killer's presence. She must be framed for the murder: a domestic dispute gone horribly wrong.
As the killer slinked forward, he remained hyper aware of the heartbeats and breathing of the people in the bed before him, ready to act if either of them started to wake up. He was so aware of the bodies, that he noticed a discrepancy. One so glaring that, once discovered, the killer could not take his mind off it.
The target was an older man, his hair a mix of blond and grey. The smell of aftershave, cologne, soap, and deodorant couldn't cover the natural musk of the man himself. The musk was feminine. Not only that, but the smell was familiar.
Kelly had to die, but was this really Kelly? His scent and face matched those in the killer's head, but one or the other had to be wrong. If he killed this man now, would he be killing the target and fulfilling the mission or killing a decoy and leaving his work undone?
Independent thought had been discouraged in the killer by every means available to his owners. He was ill-prepared for any deviation from the expected mission. He had no memories to draw on, no prior experiences from which to extrapolate a new plan. Therefore, he followed the mission despite his conflicting senses.
Lining the butcher knife up, he plunged it deep into Kelly's chest between the third and fourth ribs. The man died almost instantly, never waking from his sleep. As the killer watched, Kelly's skin flickered, blue scales moving across his exposed face and neck, revealing the beautiful, blue mutant that had been masquerading as Kelly.
The dead mutant's face mixed with her smell was even more familiar. He *knew* her. This was not knowledge that had appeared from nowhere like his other memories. This was a nebulous, gut feeling. Sometime, before the mission, he had known this woman.
'There is no past, no future, everything is the mission,' automatically ran through his thoughts. Yes, that's right. He couldn't know the woman. There is no past.
Carefully and gently moving the wife's arm to the dead mutant's chest, he wrapped the woman's fingers around the handle of the knife, and she gripped the wood in her sleep, snuggling closer to the dead body.
His work done, he left the mansion, stepping to the curb and into the van waiting for him.
"The mission failed!" the young colonel yelled at the older scientist standing before him as he paced the small lab.
The man known only as the Weapon lay quietly in the sealed room before them, oblivious to their words. He had been returned to the base early that morning, and now, after debriefing, he was being wiped and reprogrammed for his next mission as the two men talked.
"The mission was a phenomenal success!" the professor responded, thrilled at the results of his latest endeavor.
"How can you say that? Your magnificent weapon didn't kill Kelly. He killed a shape-shifting mutant, probably planted there to hide the senator."
"No." the professor answered, quickly losing his patience with the younger man. "Think about it! Senator Kelly was anti-mutant for most of his political career..."
"He changed sides. That's why we had to eliminate him. He knew too much and wouldn't listen to reason."
"No. Don't you remember the panic right before that mutant terrorist attack? Kelly disappeared for a week and then changed sides in a press conference. Don't you see? He was replaced then! This blue shape-shifter probably killed him and took his place, switching his affiliation and working for mutant causes ever since."
The professor watched as the stunned colonel processed his theory. "Two years? There's no way that facade could've been maintained for two years. His wife would figure it out... wouldn't she? My heavens, the man was running for president!"
"Which is why this mission was such a success. Darlene Kelly is already being praised in the media for her act of self-defense against a mutant who was pretending to be her husband. A mutant who could easily have become president. This will increase the cry for mutant registration. Soon, we will be able to take our project out into the open."
"Kelly's been dead all this time?"
"Yes, and our weapon has eliminated a very dangerous mutant. Can't you see how successful this project is?
"I must admit, Professor. When you put it that way, it is quite impressive." Turning his attention to the man lying in the room beyond, the colonel asked, "What is he being programmed for now? Another political assassination or some mutant eliminations?"
"Another assassination. The only man that can stop us now is already petitioning Congress and pandering to the press, trying to calm the outcry over the shape-shifting fraud. With him and his assistant out of the way, there will be no one to stop us."
"So you're sending the Weapon against two targets? I didn't know he could be programmed with that much information at a time."
"Both targets live in the same building. He can kill them and be back out with minimum residual presence. It shouldn't be too difficult. It's not like these are mutants he's going against, just some rich people in a private school."
"Who are they?"
"Professor Charles Xavier and Dr. Jean Summers."