Swan Song

Therese stared through the sight of her sniper rifle. He had his back to her, watching the less-obvious entrance, the last line of defense, counting on his buddies to watch his back. Another reason why Therese worked alone – that many fewer people to fail her at the last moment. She lined up the crosshairs with a spot at his feet and fired. The sleeper bullet whizzed and hit, immediately coating his location with a pale fog. He had just enough time to get a mayday out before the fog forced him under. Perfect.

Therese stowed the rifle and leapt down from the balcony she had been inhabiting. Now for the difficult part. She knew how to get to the dignitary and maintain her wraith status, even with the mayday. She knew how to conduct this with surgical precision. Instead she forced her training and instincts down and got sloppy, running the shortest distance toward the dignitary’s office, aiming to take him between there and the safe room like an ameture. The Florist would kill her for this, but then again, Therese knew she was already dead.

She raced around a corner and slid under the barrel of the gun that was pointed at her face, taking out the assailant’s legs, tumbling back to her feet, and racing on. Normally she’d finish the job, normally she wouldn’t get this close in full tactical, but everything had to go wrong. At least a bullet in the back would be kinder than what the Florist would do to her if this didn’t work.

Shouts ahead, a grumpy politician’s voice, a voice speaking with sharp precision. Therese slowed, checking her corners, a knife now clutched in one hand. One chance if she didn’t want to get shot outright. Her every instinct was screaming at her, shouting that she could still save this, still finish the mission, go back and beg forgiveness. The voices were closer, and a shout behind her – the man she’d left alive. No more time to repeat the arguments she’d had with herself constantly for the past six weeks. Time only to act.

Therese darted around the corner and rolled right into the middle of the group, knife aimed at the man in the middle – the dignitary. She missed – on purpose – landing only a glancing blow across his side. She probably ruined a ten-thousand dollar suit, and the Florist would disown her every action for this, but thought escaped as the Knights attacked – faster, stronger, more lethal than even she had been led to believe.

Therese fought, but fought to lose. Fought to strangle the flashbacks. Within minutes she was on her knees, a Knight holding each arm, blood flooding into her eyes from a long cut. Another Knight slashed through her body armor, revealing her shoulder blade and the rose tattoo held there.

“Well, we got one,” he said.

“Sorry excuse for a Rose though,” another said. Therese felt a sharp pain between her shoulderblades, the world went soft, then dark. Nothing.

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