The Chosen One
by Tony Noland
From a distant planet, they came to Earth, scanning every one of humanity's three billion minds. Men and women, from the cradle to the deathbed, every member of every race in every city, hamlet and forsaken wilderness was logged and evaluated. In their silent, invisible isolation, they tested us for intelligence, cleverness, empathy, creativity, aggression, self-awareness, passion and a hundred other traits.
They needed a person with exactly the right balance of qualities; they didn't find one. Their need was great, however, so they waited. Under their gaze, for three centuries we lived and died, fighting our wars and making our pacts, increasing our numbers from three billion to seven, eleven, fifteen. They waited and scanned, waited and scanned.
They chose me.
When I was born, I was put on the list of "possibles", with all the others who had scan results like mine. We were less than nine million individuals among all of Earth's billions, and from that moment, they watched my mind develop. Thirteen years later, I killed a man to protect my sister; they moved me up to the list of "probables", one of forty thousand. When my wife of eleven months died in a fire our absentee landlord set to get insurance money, my tiny son lived for only seven hours after I cut him from her still-smoking belly. They moved me up to the final list of "confirmed", the list with only two other names.
I found all this out later.
For what they wanted done, they needed a perfect match, the very best. They captured all three of us for the final testing: the Brazilian, the American and me. The Brazilian looked like a tough bastard, scarred and tattooed, missing the ring finger of his left hand. The American was a hard kind of pretty, medium height, blond hair, small breasts and wide hips. I don't know what either of them thought of me. I didn't ask.
The silver-blue walls disappeared and the voices told us they’d been searching for the right person for a long time, that we were all going to be sent on a job. The Brazilian and the American eyed each other, and me, suspiciously.
I didn't waste time with looks or questions. I leapt at the Brazilian and jabbed a hand into his neck, crushing his windpipe. His reaction time was good, although not good enough. His uppercut caught me in the jaw, but he was already as good as dead. I rode out the force of his punch to flip backwards towards the American.
She was in a fighting stance and I landed with arms deliberately flailing. She fell for it; her right hand felt like a piece of rebar as it came in hard to break my collarbone, as I expected. She'd looked like someone who fought to disable, not kill. I shifted my stance to let my shoulder take the hit and I elbowed her in the right breast. She hunched up and I killed her with the palm of my hand, brought down hard on the back of her neck.
A short fight with me still standing - my favorite kind. My jaw and shoulder hurt, but everything still worked. I turned to face my ... host. The human-shaped mask it was wearing looked puzzled.
It waved a hand at the pretty corpse and the choking, clutching man on the floor. “Why did you do this?” it asked.
“They weren’t paying attention, were they? You said you’d been searching for the right person. Person, singular. That meant that two of us were the wrong person.”
“And if that had been simply an error in translation?”
I shrugged. “It doesn't seem likely that you’d make a mistake like that.”
The being looked through the wall to where four more of them stood. A discussion took place, just like so many of the job interviews I’d been through with people who had a tricky job that they needed done thoroughly.
The last list now had only one name on it.
They chose me.
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