Continuing Education


Agent 47, tall, bald, blue-eyed, and barcode-tattooed, sat with a cup of coffee on the balcony of his posh hotel room, watching dawn rise over the sleepy streets of Paris. Contrary to what the movies would have people believe, he could not see the Eiffel tower from his room, nor any other landmark buildings. His view was of a handful of street-level shops with apartments above, another hotel, and a traffic circle.

It was still quiet in this part of the city. A street sweeper moved along the curb below, and a handful of cars drove past on their early morning commute. A dedicated jogger puffed along beneath branded awnings. Agent 47 sipped his coffee as the new day lightened further. It reminded him of waking early when he was a child at the institute, stealing a few moments of solitude before training in the art of death began again.

One clone of many, cultivated specifically to become the world’s best assassins, Agent 47 had been taught to kill remorselessly as early as he could recall. Toddler games involving knives. Hide and seek with a deadly twist. Subtlety came later, as he learned the rule of silence being golden. The weak were culled through lethal competition and treachery, leaving only the elite to graduate into a life of darkness.

Agent 47 knew he was one of the best of the best, but it did not make him cocky, as he understood even the most routine-driven human was still unpredictable. He also knew not to become complacent, not to let workouts and practice remain the same. What he was taught at the institute – weapons handling, languages, scaling walls and ledges, slipping past doors unseen, and similar things – comprised a fraction of his skills. Over the years he’d added to his repertoire of knowledge and abilities that have allowed him to infiltrate and eliminate targets in the most secured places in the world.

Taking another sip of coffee, Agent 47 tried to think of what his instructors from the institute would’ve said about his continuing education. Likely, they would’ve scoffed at what appeared to be needless activities. But through years of observation, of doing it the “right” way – a silent assassin, suit only – Agent 47 had learned there was a division of people who went unseen every day, who had full access to homes and businesses, who could move about freely without concern. These people were called Staff.

Agent 47 dove into the world of staffing with the same intensity as he’d trained as an assassin. He’d studied as a sommelier and had worked as a waiter. He’d become certified in culinary arts, yoga, massage, and as a bartender. He’d apprenticed as an electrician, plumber, carpenter, and a mechanic. He’d labored for gardeners, butchers, retailers, hotels, and stables. He’d learned how to work a TV camera and how to play the drums.

He was in Paris now to take summer school workshops at the ISIPCA to learn the art of French perfumery and cosmetics. He’d spent the past year increasing his knowledge of cosmetology beyond barber cuts. The last time he was in Paris, he’d been contracted to eliminate the leaders of the IAGO spy ring at the Sanguine fashion show held at the Palais de Walewska. The staff for the show had included hairdressers and makeup artists for the runway models, and Agent 47 had felt his skills in that area too lacking to take on that disguise.

And disguise was the key to blending in as a member of the staff. Having the knowledge and skill to back up the disguise granted him nearly unlimited access to a target. Anyone could grab a clipboard, walk around with authority, and likely not be stopped, but that only got an assassin so close. Supervisors and coworkers could see through a disguise, as well, if it appeared one didn’t know what one was doing. Coming in as a substitute drummer for the band – drummers had a reputation for being flakes, which was why Agent 47 picked that position – had required Agent 47 to play on numerous occasions. But when a skittish target locked in a veritable fortress throws a fete for his closest friends once a year, it was good to have more than one infiltration option, especially if security vetted the staff. Coming in with catering was a commonplace criminal activity, but how many would be on watch for an assassin who played the drums?

The sun crept over the buildings, highlighting them in cheerful yellow, as Agent 47 finished his coffee. His workshop wouldn’t begin until nine, which gave him time for a yoga class and a jog. But first, he’d scale the hotel wall beyond his balcony to the roof and back down the other side, unspotted. It never hurt to practice the classics.