The Generic Villain Hires Assassins

In our job, we often find that there are single individuals that we want dead. Sure, we can raze an entire village looking for them, so on and so forth, but that creates protagonists, and do we really want to deal with that? And people who are inured to that kind of carnage still sometimes react strongly to a more subtle, precise, strike. Who are you going to call? An assassin. But you need to be careful. We Hands of Darkness are known for having somewhat less than optimal track record when it comes to choosing good ones. So here are some things to keep in mind.

The most important thing to remember is that you are looking for an assassin. You know, attack from stealth, knife in the back, leave without traces. A good assassin isn’t going to give the target a chance for a fair fight because of the honor of the thing; that’s getting way too close to Day-Glo ninja territory. Heck, I’d be leery even of hiring one of those ones who are in it to savor the target’s fear. For one thing, the target has to know they’re there in order to be afraid, which means they’re the type who either drop hints to their presence (thus putting the target on the alert) or play with the target after they’ve already won, giving the cavalry a chance to come in. How scared they were doesn’t matter if they’re dead, unless you know they’re coming back. The best assassin is the one that the friends of the deceased need to deduce existed because they’ve found logical reasons why any of the other probable causes of death aren’t what happened.

Make sure you pay them well and in advance; that may not keep all of them from turning on you, but it will provide a good reason not to for most of the good ones. If you’re in one of those universes where the assassins are unionized, it’s even better. The unions don’t like looking unreliable, so they tend to take care of problem cases in-house. (This does, however, mean, you should try to avoid taking care of the problem cases yourself, if you should be betrayed. Sure, they were going to draw and quarter him anyway, but they wanted to do it themselves and will object rather strenuously to you preempting them.)

Some people think the best thing to do is raise or train up your own assassins rather than hiring an outsider. It certainly ensures that you can pick the skillset (mostly) and that they’ll have reason to work with you and only you, but they have their own risks. If you’re going to mindwipe them, make sure you’ve got something they’ll accept as their memories in the place of what you’ve removed; people with holes in their minds tend to wonder what used to be there. If you’re bringing them up from childhood, you’ll need to consider the same factors you would if you were dealing with your own children—how are you going to raise them? What do you tell them? How dark are their pasts, and how much of that darkness is your fault?

It should go without saying that any assassin you pick should have the skill to get the job done. If you know who the target is, try to get skills that work well against what the target can do; if not, make sure they’re trained for most of the likeliest problems and able to improvise around whatever they didn’t go in expecting.

So remember, when you’re choosing an assassin, get someone subtle, reliable, without something to prove or a sadistic streak to satisfy; someone good at handling situations both inside and outside of her basic competencies. Then pay well, sit back, and let the rest take care of itself.

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