It was there when she got home, the blood red envelope, with its wax seal. She’d always thought it was dramatic. Why not just send a fax. Rubbing her bald head she cracked the envelope and read through her latest assignment. Another operative had been uncovered working to help the cartels accumulate, acquire, grow stronger, so that one day they could take power once more.

***

Anderson was running late. There had been an outbreak of a new strain of Cucumber Mosaic Virus at his hydroponic farm, and if it spread it could turn his entire crop stumpy, misshapen and grey. A 12 story office building worth of cucumbers. A serious problem. Cucumbers were a pain in the ass. This infection was just the next of a seemingly never ending list of problems. It was affecting Anderson so much that he’d tripled his medical marijuana dose, he couldn’t enjoy his mistresses, well except for Shana but that girl had serious powers, and now he was late for his meeting with Tengo-san.

But then if Anderson knew he was going to die in three hours he probably wouldn’t have been so worried.

***

Back before the war she had lived on a commune. Then the banks kicked her and her friends out of their home. Filled her fields with machines to increase profits while she and thousands of others starved. Working the fields, that was real work. True honest work. She misses that, the feel of the dirt flowing through her hands.

After that she tried. Joined a monastery. Lived a pure life. Pretty soon after that things changed. People finally had enough. They fought back. The people against the government, which by then was nothing more than a department within the banks. HR, accounting, sales, government. That was when she left the monastery, when she learnt to fight, learnt that she could kill, learnt that the path to freedom was paved in blood. Or she’d thought it was. Things were supposed to be different after the war. But when you fight a war against greed, even when you win the war doesn’t really end. So she kept fighting. The enemy had changed from well known corporations to shadowy cartels. The banks, they went underground; the rich, the former masters of the universe, fled to the countries that would hide them.

There were many of them. Killers fighting against the cartel. She had tried to return to the monastery after the war but was restless. It no longer felt right. Her practice had been warped by war. Meditation didn’t give her the same peace it one had.

“Being a monk is only one way to help the world,” the head monk told her when she went to talk to him about her problems. “The Budda teaches us that we are all connected. All people, animals, nature, the entire planet, the universe. Your karma might be to stop those who put their own material gains and power over the healing the planet and sharing love. There is a group who hunt down these criminals, cartel members who have snuck back into the country. Killers killing for good. This could be your practice, your path to nirvana. Kill but kill with compassion and an open heart. Follow the principles of the Budda.”

And that’s when she became The Monk.

***

Anderson had two bodyguards with him when he went to meet the Jap. He didn’t even know their names. Men who had spent their lives in the military and couldn’t give it up after the war. Dangerous killers. He still couldn’t get the farm out of his mind. It shouldn’t even matter, the whole thing was just a cover anyway. A cover for his real work, like this meeting with Tengo-san. He hoped this meeting would turn out better than the last few, men with big talk but nothing real to offer.

***

She had tracked Anderson to the farm and had spent the last week watching him, learning his habits, making sure there were no surprises. Patience is the way of the monk.

“Hate, greed, selfishness, these are the ego. The world has come a long way since the war, and slowly the ego is breaking away and love is taking its place,” said the head monk.

She was ready, it was time. She checked her gear and waited. Time passed and then it happened, Anderson left the farm with two heavies, got into his car and drove off. She jumped on her bike and followed them.

“In the past we believed that if we practiced acceptance we could create enough positive change in the world. But in the modern world the agents of the ego had too much influence and drowned out our voice. They controlled too many people. Now that things are finally changing we have to make sure the world continues down this path.”

Anderson’s car stopped at the lights, this was her moment. She checked her weapon.

“Warrior monks have existed throughout history. It is your responsibility to kill painlessly. Inflict the minimum of suffering to your targets. To do the least evil to create the most good.”

She aimed her grenade launcher at the rear window, and shot. The smoke grenade smashed through the window and bounced off the passenger seat onto the floor. In a second all three in the car were dead, so quick they barely realised what had happened. She checked her watch and waited five minutes to make sure the poison had oxidised and denatured. She walked up to the car, sprayed a red “M” on the hood and then the Monk was gone.