The Driver

4/5 (3)

I’m a driver. I take people where they need to go.

Who I am is unimportant. My face is forgettable, my name doesn’t matter. I’m just another citizen in the vastness that is the Imperium. I am, however, a professional.

Tonight is no different. My charge tonight is a Highborn, one of the Terran elite. I drive through the dark streets of the city until I reach a massive building. It was like many of the structures in the city, old and impossibly tall. I pull in front of the entrance and wait patiently. Minutes later, an armed retinue exits the building, flanking a large red-faced man wearing clothes that appear both incredibly expensive and far too small for his frame. The guards motion for me to step out of the limousine, and train their lasguns on me as they ask me a series of questions and demand credentials.

I navigate their questions, and present my identification. This is standard procedure when transporting important people in this world. When they are satisfied, I move slowly towards the rear passenger door and open it for the Noble, moving fluidly into a practised bow as it slides open. The large man grunts and motions for a guard to inspect the vehicle. I wait several moments until she gives the all clear, and the red-faced man enters the vehicle. The female bodyguard enters after him, followed by another guard, a much larger and imposing man. I slide the door shut and enter the driver seat.

The route is a standard one. I am to transport the man from the building to his quarters, an upscale apartment a few miles away. It isn’t a particularly dangerous neighbourhood, and an armed guard and armoured limo would be more than enough to secure his safe passage. I pull out into the street and drive down the main road.

Minutes pass before I notice a crowd blocking the road ahead. The throng mostly consists of dishevelled unwashed dregs. Life here is better for most in the Imperium, but judging from the pale, starved people walking its streets, that would be a hard sell. Imperium forces are present, attempting to quell the crowd. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the commotion to have been caused by some kind of quarrel over meagre food or resources, and that was likely the case here.

I stop the car and ask the noble and his guards what they would have me do. The red-faced pig rolls his eyes and sighs, and the guards seem tense and ready for a conflict. He directs me to take a side road, to which I dutifully comply. We turn down a nearby dark alley, and continue on our way.

A flash of light obscures my vision moments later, caused by a small explosion just ahead. I slam the brakes, and the car screeches to a halt. Through the flames, I can see a group of dregs armed with improvised melee weapons approaching the car. They seem to come from every shadow in the alley, boxing us in on all sides. The cowardly self-serving noble shrieks and orders his guards to clear the way, and the female guard exits the limo and opens fire into the crowd ahead. For every one she kills, more seem to seep out of the shadows to take its place. Moments later, another small explosion rocks the limousine, and I’m thrown into the driver’s side door. It slides open, and a couple of dregs grab me and pull me out onto the ground. They began punching and kicking me mercilessly.

The passenger door slides open again, and the larger guard joins the fray. His gun flashes as he fires at the attackers. As the dregs panic, I manage to slide out from underneath the mass of bodies, and leap into the passenger door, slamming it shut behind me. The noble doesn’t seem scared, merely annoyed. He complains about the delay as his guards are overwhelmed and die screaming outside the vehicle, beaten to a pulp by dozens of pipes and sticks.  The man orders me to return to my seat and attempt to drive through the crowd.

He certainly isn’t expecting the knife I pull from my coat, judging by the look of shock on his face as I swiftly plunge the weapon into his neck. Warm blood flows down my blade as his red face turns pale. I take the opportunity to stab him a few more times in his chest for good measure. I need it to look like a random attack after all. If I weren’t a professional, I’d find a bit of catharsis in the act.

Satisfied, I wipe my blade clean and return it to my coat. I slide the door open a crack and slip out of the car, pushing past the dregs as they loot the guard’s bodies and others enter the vehicle behind me. I make my way out of the alley and join the larger crowd on the street. I take to limping as I slip into the crowd, my bloodied and bruised frame helping me to blend in. It really wouldn’t have mattered what I looked like, since the common folk in the Imperium are just faceless cogs in the machine.

An important man died tonight. The Inquisition will come. They may suspect a political rival assassinated the man. They may find the body of the actual limousine driver I murdered. They may even find that the riot was caused by a honeyed word and the promise that there are true gods out there that care about the downtrodden. It won’t matter. Confusion is the point, and my bloody act will certainly please my patrons, both mortal and other.

Who I am is unimportant. My face is forgettable, my name doesn’t matter. I’m just another citizen in the vastness that is the Imperium. I am, however, a professional.

I’m a driver. I take people where they need to go.

About the Author

Vera is a a miniature painter, parent, writer and transgender woman of color. Her goal is to bring a little bit of positivity and imagination into the world through her work.