Ara looked down the scope of her rifle, sweat now dripping from her headband. Her jaw was clenched, and her teeth ground against one another so hard her mouth was filled with a dull pain.
“Remember child, the man has filled everyone’s heads with lies. He is a deceiver, of a terrible kind,” Geraldi said, wiping his brow.
The two of them were sitting in a derelict building on the seventh floor. Walls were coming apart around them; floorboards had given way in spots. There had been many times where, if she had gone alone, Ara would have surely fallen to her death, or been stuck for too long to pull off the assassination.
Her brown hair was matted down on top. Unplanned dreadlocks fell around the collar on her scavenged jacket. Dirt covered her face.
Geraldi was not much different except for his age. He had been living twice as long as her. Bald head, grime-covered face, and eyes that looked like they had not seen sleep in days.
Both of them were in rough shape. Ara was kept up by caffeine tablets, and Geraldi was too old to have climbed well.
“The deceiver will be coming out in moments. Remember, wait until the crowd begins to cheer, then strike. We must show them how futile their belief is. How weak their system is! How they rely on one man’s voice far too much,” Geraldi said in a fiery whisper.
Ara nodded, blinking wildly. Her brain was scattered.
She had been taught to never hurt another. But here she was, about to take a life and hurt thousands. The leaders of hers had been peaceful up to this moment.
But Ara wondered if there had been others. Other assassins, other killings. And if the lie could grow this big, what other lies were ignored.
She did not know anything about this leader. She had never heard anything he said. She only had Geraldi’s word that he was a bad man, taking people away from the one true faith, his.
The caffeine in her veins was propelling her thoughts to a confusing mess.
Was this right? What was right?
The leader appeared and raised his hands as he approached the podium. Hats were thrown, and cheers were evident.
“Now, child! Kill the deceiver in front of his own! Show them the power of the true way!”
Ara froze. Her lungs and heart seemed to be in her ears, the sounds were overwhelming.
Glory and immortality awaited with a trigger pull. But how disposable was she to this man?
She pulled her head away from the scope, and turned towards her body and rifle at Geraldi.
“What are you doing!? You fool! You idiot! He has begun his sacrilege! With each flick of his tongue he dooms more souls to eternal damnation!”
She stared at the man as he yelled. It was like being in a dream, or a nightmare. Nothing seemed real.
Ara was only fourteen. She could not know what was right, and she knew this.
“No,” she croaked.
“Then you are no better than one of them,” Geraldi scowled, his hand going for his pistol.
Without moving any other muscle in her body, Ara pulled the trigger on her rifle, sending Geraldi into a fetal position.
He fell to the floor, clutching his belly. His pistol fell onto the floor, slipping into an open space, down into the building below.
“I will not be a disposable tool,” she growled.
Ara stood, spit on the dying man and began the slow descent to safety.
Their people would find her in minutes. And she would be labelled as an assassin. As she carefully climbed, she prepared things to say that could spare her. The truth would have to be told, and she hoped that her truth would be accepted as theirs.