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Artemis awoke in a cold sweat with a ragged breath and a pounding heart. She could recall every image from her dream in crisp detail. The chill of the fall air, the swirls of red and gold as the breeze stole the dying leaves from the trees lining the street, the smells of cinnamon wafting from the open door of the bakery the woman exited from. The woman wearing a long black peacoat, her brown hair flowing freely around her round face, cheeks flushed from the heat of the bakery, green eyes alive, as she held a box of baked goods to her chest. A smile upon her lips as she spoke into the ear piece lodged into her right ear, and said "I'll be home soon darling." Then the way the smile left her face, the sound her lips made as the bullet passed through the box and struck the woman in the chest. The way time slowed as the woman crumpled to the ground in both a blink of an eye and an eternity. Even in a world full of the infected, Artemis was still mostly plagued by the living.
Artemis talked her heart into calming. Her breathing back into normal submission. She pushed away any traces of feeling and emotions back into the box and buried it deep inside her mind. Where it belonged. For the most part, that is where it stayed. But at night she did not have the same control she had while her eyes were open. At night she did not have the luxury of burying her sins, because they always came into the light. But sleep was an unavoidable life process, but she found no rest or comfort in it.
She checked her watch, the dim glow casting eerie shadows around the dark room. She could feel the hard outline of her gun just beneath her pillow. And the knife she slept with sheathed to her thigh. Because though the infected troubled her little, the living were the ones she had to watch out for. The most savage of them all. And this seedy, pay by the hour motel she'd checked into to catch a few hours of sleep and wash off the dirt and grime from the wastes, was known for its violence and ill tidings. No one with wholesome intentions stayed here. But it was a cash only, no questions asked operation, just the kind Artemis liked.
It was six a.m. An hour and a half until she was supposed to meet her contact in the park on the other side of Omega City. So she made good use of her time to prepare. She went through her morning workout routine, showered, braided her long black hair and coiled it tightly around the crown of her head, cleaned her guns and made sure they were in working order, cleaned and sharpened her knives. And ate a breakfast consisting of protein bars and mineral and vitamin enriched bottled water.
At seven a.m., she brought down a man in the hotel hallway with a blow that broke his nose and incapacitated him, after he pulled a knife and tried to force her into one of the rooms. She walked over his unconscious form in the hallway, and removed the knife from his possession. It wasn't worth much, but she added it to her collection anyway. He was lucky. She could have driven his nasal bone clear up into his brain and ended the piece of scum, the world would have been better off without him, but she had made a promise to herself that she would not kill the living unless her life depended on it.
She checked out of the "no-tell motel", pulled her black hood up, and headed towards the park. It was a chilly morning, though not too cold. The streets were just starting to come to life again, but she was just another blurry face lost in the sea of grey and black. Between themselves, and their electronic devices, they seemed to not see anyone else. That was the way she preferred it. Indistinct. While her own eyes and ears took in everything around her.