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Revenant in Death

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Revenant in Death

An In Death fanfiction

by Technomad

New York, July 2090


It was strange, being back on the streets after so very long.

New York had changed; there were new buildings here and there, many bearing the logo of Roarke Industries. The sight of that logo made her want to snarl, but she kept her reaction to herself. That was one valuable lesson that she had learned, in the decades that she had been away.

Thinking about that time, she suppressed a smile. By all rights, she shouldn’t have been back, but she had always been far cleverer, far more intelligent, than anybody else she knew. She had always…well, almost always…been able to play other people like musical instruments, to get what she wanted.

What she needed. What she deserved.

At first, when she had just been exposed, they had watched her like so many hawks. Getting away with anything was all but impossible, and the people set over her were on to a lot of her tricks. However, they had taught her a valuable lesson, all unknowing. The lesson she had learned was that of patience. She had put on her persona of “sweet little girl” and bided her time, knowing that eventually, their vigilance would slip. And even they felt that she needed to continue her education, which she had. Both in ways and subjects of which they approved, and in other things.

Even with the charges they’d convicted her on, she was still a minor, and adults tended to disregard or underestimate minors. She knew that very well, and had played it both before and after her incarceration. She was always polite, and cooperative, at least on the surface. And she had learned from her mistakes. No more diaries!

After several years, her vigilance and patience had been largely rewarded. She was seen as a model inmate, and given privileges that had previously been out of reach. One of those privileges had been greater computer access. Of course, the people who had done this had thought that there were safeguards, but she had always been a gifted student, far more talented than the blockheads who watched over her. Of course, that made sense. Would someone who truly had talent be reduced to working in corrections?

Getting access to the clandestine parts of the net had been fairly easy. She had learned a great deal down there, and had spent many happy hours chatting with others in the same plight she was in. There had been a forum she had been invited to, the “IH8LTDallas” forum, where she had found out a lot about the person she was in town to see.

Over the years, she had waited, as those who had been there when she had arrived had drifted out, due to death, retirement or promotion, to be replaced by people to whom she was nothing but another inmate. And more and more of them had been replaced with droids, a development that had delighted her.

Droids were machines. They were controlled by computers. And she knew a lot even when she went into that place about how to make computers do what she wanted. Her studies had shown her other ways, ways that the designers of the places she was in hadn’t known about or hadn’t anticipated. Time marched on, and so did the state of the art. And many of the people she’d been forced to associate with were computer experts in their own right. Under their gleeful guidance, she had become a hacker of supreme skill.

Of course, her studies had been devoted to two things. First, and most important, was regaining her freedom. That had not been easy, and at first, she had judged it to not be possible at that time. With the memories of her crimes fresh in people’s minds, what she had always had in mind was not possible. As time went on, people’s memories faded, and when she judged that most of the people who had known what and who she was were gone, she had begun making her moves.

It was like chess, or go, both games she had learned in her years away. Victory was not to be had in one swift, sudden move. Victory was obtained slowly, through patience, preparation and skillful moves that often seemed to mean nothing. Since she had been away, she had become a mistress of both games. They were very useful mental exercise, as well as a way to while away the time, and allowed her to get to know her fellow-unfortunates.

Many of them had had skills that they were willing to pass on to her, or knowledge that they would share. Even when they hadn’t realized they were teaching her things, they often were. And she had always been a very apt pupil.

The first thing on her “get-it-done” list had been to arrange for her transfer to less confining quarters. That had taken some fairly tricky fiddling with the computers’ records, to erase the recommendations that she be kept strictly confined for the rest of her life, or to get those recommendations moved to others’ records. Whenever possible, she had done this to fellow-inmates who would never notice, either because they were already sentenced to far more years than they would live, or because they were out of it due to brain damage from illegals or injuries or age.

Step by step, she had done it. First, a transfer for herself (as a “model prisoner” and potential rehabilitatee) off an orbital penal colony, back on to Earth itself. Then, slowly, transfers to lower-security units in the penal system. Each transfer had apparently been approved by all who had the authority to do so; computers trustingly accepted whatever data was fed into them.

She had also blossomed into a real beauty, and had learned to use that as a weapon as well. Men were fairly easy to deal with, but many women also took her good looks and her apparent remorse and rehabilitation at face value. She had been quite willing to trade on her allure, particularly after discovering through the ministrations of some of her roommates just how pleasurable sex could be. However, she had never, not once, lost sight of her ultimate goals: Freedom, and vengeance. Even in the throes of passion, real or feigned, she always had those goals in the back of her mind. And her lovers had been selected with a careful eye to what they could give her for the pleasure of her company and her caresses.

By the time she was in a minimum-security facility, she could have walked out the door with no particular trouble, but she didn’t want to do it that way. If she was listed as an escapee, there’d be an uproar, and she wasn’t sure that she could get far enough away before recapture. No, the best way to leave that place behind, she had long since concluded, was with the authorities believing that she was due for release. That would also prove her superiority to them, something she was convinced of down to her bones.

It had taken her some time to find a suitable candidate. She had considered, and rejected, many, spending long hours poring over the computer, a “boss” program always waiting on another screen in case someone else came in and wanted to see what she was doing. The “boss” program was a potpourri of innocuous study programs, suitable for a young woman, that nobody would possibly object to.

The ideal candidate had to be someone who was due for release soon, but would not be in a position to complain if her release never came. She had to be white, preferably blonde, and in for some crime that was not considered one that required much, if any, post-correctional counseling or oversight. And it had to be someone who had no close relatives or friends on the outside, who would notice a substitution. That would be one thing that even her glib tongue and her ready supply of excuses could not easily explain away.

At last, the perfect candidate had appeared. She was blonde, in her mid-thirties, and nearing the end of a short sentence. She had also been severely injured in an accident, and was lying in the intensive-care ward of the hospital, her brain so damaged that she would almost certainly stay in a coma for the rest of her life, which, considering that she was very healthy otherwise, could well be a long, long time. She had no close relatives on the outside, and no friends, from what the records said. In all her time inside, she had not had one visitor, and had received no mail nor sent any. She was perfect.

Once the records had been swapped, the rest had been almost childishly simple. She had made sure to swap things like fingerprint records, blood type, and other such things, so that no anomalies would be noticed, in the unlikely event that anybody would particularly check the records of someone who was apparently both comatose and serving several consecutive life sentences for murder. And if her doppelgänger died later of a bad transfusion…so what? Her own family had disowned her, so they wouldn’t inquire too closely into “her” death.

Her release had gone like clockwork. Her exit interviews had been a snap; the people interviewing her had dozens to deal with, and she knew just the answers to give them to sail under their radar. As it had happened, her doppelgänger had had some savings in the prison bank, and she had transferred her own monies…earned by doing “favors” for guards and other prisoners…into that account via a devious route that would not send up red flags if someone happened to take a look. That had given her some working capital, which she fully intended to increase. Once she had taken care of some outstanding business.

She had been released a few days earlier. The terms of her release forbade her to enter the city of Chicago, which was where her doppelgänger had committed her crimes, but said nothing at all about New York. And so, she was back in her old home town.

She strolled along, nobody paying any mind to her other than to give her the occasional admiring glance. It was a cloudy day, but the forecasts said there would be no rain, so she just enjoyed the day and the feeling of freedom.

She had walked past her old home, giving it only one swift glance, but taking in the fact that her former family had long since moved out. She planned to track them down…she knew that they were still alive…and deal out some payback for their abandonment and betrayal. But she had other fish to fry, first.

Turning a corner, she saw Central Park spreading out in front of her, green and lush just as she remembered it from before. She crossed the street, and soon she was walking down the length of the great park. There were quite a few other people about, and nobody had any reason to notice her, but she was still careful. Lack of care, after all, was what had derailed her in the first place. Lack of care had led her into decades of what had seemed like endless confinement, of being ordered around by people she normally would have considered utterly beneath her notice.

She had learned her lesson. Planning and patience prevent piss-poor performance, as one of her mentors in the places she had been had been fond of saying. She had been planning for this time ever since she had figured out the route to freedom, and did not want to screw it up.

She passed one particular mansion that faced the park, studying it carefully without seeming to. She had spent a lot of time in the places she had been, reading up on that mansion and its occupants. The people on the IH8LTDallas board in the clandestine depths of the computer network she had accessed had been very informative. Many of them had had knowledge about that building that would prove to be very useful to her.

The man who owned that building was of no great interest, save only to make sure that he was not around. Since he traveled regularly, and was quite prominent, keeping track of his comings and goings was no more difficult than studying the business sections of the news feeds. He had no reason to conceal his location. His wife, on the other hand, was a different proposition.

Since she had had to retire from the police department, Eve Dallas seldom, if ever, left her husband’s mansion. Her life had been police work, and since she could do that no more, she devoted herself to her husband. She had retired with a huge number of citations and awards, and the mayor himself had ceremoniously pinned a medal on her for her services to the city of New York.

These days, she devoted herself to charities, focussing on the victims of crime. With her husband’s influence and her own reputation, she had raised a great deal of money, and many victims of crime had good reason to bless the name of Eve Dallas.

However, there were also those who had good reason to curse it. In her long career, Eve Dallas had put many, many people into prison, usually for life sentences. She almost certainly never gave them more than a passing thought. After all, how could someone escape an off-planet prison colony, come back to Earth, and then penetrate the security of one of the best-guarded houses in the world?

She could. She had already done the hardest part of the project, after all. The people who had set up the security systems on the penal colony, and on the prisons she had been in, had been good…but she was just that much better.

She knew that the defenses on Roarke’s pretentious mansion had been pierced before. And by a teenager, at that! While she was sure they had been upgraded since then, she hadn't spent hours studying electronic theory, poring over every periodical in the field, and questioning everybody on the IH8LTDallas forums for nothing! She also had the huge advantage of surprise.

Since her retirement, nobody had tried for Eve Dallas. She had kept up on the news, following up on every mention of her nemesis, and at no time had there been reports of a break-in at Roarke’s mansion, or a murder attempt on his wife. So she knew that, while security measures would be in place, her target was not on alert. She had read The Day of the Jackal a few years after her incarceration, and the Jackal’s remarks about how the OAS’ failed attempts at assassinating Charles de Gaulle had done nothing but make his, the Jackal’s, job harder had never been forgotten. Especially after she had read up on the history behind the novel and found out that Forsyth had made none of it up. The attempt at Petit-Clamart had really happened, and had failed for the exact reasons that Forsyth had given.

She sat down on a bench, apparently just a young blonde woman with nothing in particular to do and a yen to enjoy the park. From where she sat, she could see Roarke’s big house, and behind her impassive mask, she felt a nasty smirk cross her face.

“Oh, yes, Eve Dallas,” she said, too low for anybody to hear, “you forgot all about me, didn’t you? Forgot the ten-year-old girl you condemned to what you thought would be an endless living death, didn’t you? Well, I never forgot you…and soon, you’ll pay! You’ll pay far worse than anybody else ever has, for crossing me!”

With that malediction, the woman who had been Rayleen Straffo before meeting Lieutenant Eve Dallas, and was now Jane Mollenbeek, got up and walked along, her mind spinning with wonderful plans and ideas about how best to get back at the woman who had robbed her of the glorious future that should have been hers.

END Chapter 1