July 4th, Epsilon
“Good morning, Mrs. Callisto! How are you? How was your night?”
I groan and sit up slowly, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and covering a yawn with the back of my hand. “Good morning, Aynne.”
“Ooh, and me!”
Giggling, I sigh happily. They’re so adorable. “Good morning to you too, Sydnie.”
“Would you like oatmeal or waffles? Or have I gotten the schedule wrong?” Anne gasps, and the frantic shuffling and flipping of papers makes me stumble out of bed and stop her.
“You haven’t gotten anything wrong. Waffles, please. With extra syrup.”
“Of course, Miss Callisto.”
I walk to the body-length mirror tacked to the back of my closet door and take a look at myself. A slim, curvy body just barely hidden by the thin nightgown that I must have thrown on sometime in the middle of the night. I’ve just wanted to be something more beautiful than this. Something… more.
“Have you heard the news, Miss Callisto?” Sydnie says, pouring a glass of orange juice and setting it on a tray. “Three, um — what do you call them, now?”
“Assassins. Hitmen,” Aynne says.
“Yeah, hitmen. Well, they were found dead outside Dasha Halax’s house. Scary, right?”
My heart skips a beat. “H-hitmen?
“Yes,” Aynne places a tray with 3 waffles cut into triangles and slathered with maple syrup on the dining room table, “but you needn’t worry. You’re safe here. Detroit’s heard, and he didn’t seem concerned, so it must not be a problem.”
Nodding slowly, I clutch my stomach and walk to the table, sitting in the seat that Sydnie has pulled out for me. “Of course.” Will it be traced back to me? What if they find the money and look for prints and they find mine and— I take a deep breath to stop my manic line of thought and take a bite of a waffle triangle, sitting back in my chair and relishing the sweetness of the syrup on my tongue.
Aynne scurries to my closet, throwing the door wide open and looking inside. “Would you like to wear your golden dress, your jogging outfit, your—”
“The jogging outfit. I like that one.”
“Yes, Miss Callisto.”
Popping a few more triangles into my mouth, I take the silver leggings and the fitted t-shirt and hurry to the bathroom, throwing them on and running a brush quickly through my hair. I’ve got to deal with this mess myself.
“I’m heading out, girls,” I call out as I stroll out of the bathroom and towards the back door that leads to the deck.
Aynne and Sydnie rush to me, puppy dog eyes at the ready. “Already?”
“Yep. I’ll be back before you know it.”
“Can you stay? Please?” Sydnie whines, quivering her lip.
“No,” I chuckle, tapping her once on the nose. “Like I said, I’ll be back soon.”
“Hmph.” The two of them sulk away, fake pouting out of my bedroom.
Tossing a windbreaker over my shoulders, I pick my best bow and arrow off the wall and conceal it underneath my jacket. Pushing the door open, I walk out and take the stairs down from the deck, exiting my compound through the back gate. Today’s the day.
I turn back, just to make sure I closed the back door, but catch Detroit sticking his head out the window of his room. He squints to make out the faint outline of the weapon strapped to my back, then gives me a single nod before pulling his head back inside and shutting the window.
Here goes nothing.
I crouch on the rooftop of the abandoned building by the market entrance, bow drawn. Anytime now. Anytime. I’m about to look away for a moment before I catch a glimpse of a bright pink biker outfit. “Dasha Halax,” I whisper to myself, closing my left eye and peering through the scope on my bow with my right. The red X lines up perfectly with her neck, and I let the arrow fly, just as the wind picks up and nudges my arm slightly to the left. The arrow whizzes past her and lands just inches from her feet, and she ducks instinctively, pulling a gun out from her waistband.
“Oh goody,” I say, standing and running to the other end of the corrugated roof for another shot, “I’ve brought a bow and arrow to a gunfight.” I reach behind me and draw another arrow, but Dasha lays eyes on me, firing off a few bullets in my direction and I can’t shoot.
Damn you. I slam my body to the roof, shooting three arrows blindly. The bullets keep coming, so I’ve missed. Rummaging through the pockets of my windbreaker, I find a vacuum-sealed bag of sodium chips that I must have left in there from the last time I went camping with Xander and Indigo. “Perfect.” I pierce one of them through with the sharp end of my arrow, and set it on the string, twisting so that I’m laying sideways. I spit on the end of the arrow and release it immediately, watching as the sodium bursts into flames. Screaming comes from the ground and I stand quickly, almost toppling over.
I’m running across the roof, jumping over cracks in the metal when a bullet comes straight for my heart. Time seems to slow down, if only for a moment, and a switch flicks in my wiring. I pull a poison-tipped arrow from its separate case and line it up in less than a second, and in the moment that Dasha’s shoulder peeks out from behind her motorbike, I release, allowing my body to once again slam to the rooftop and miss the bullet by millimeters.
It takes a minute, but eventually, I snap back into full control of my body, panting and giving myself a once over, searching for a wound. Safe. A single scream rings in my ears, and I move back into my original crouching position, peering over the edge of the roof. The poison arrow is lodged in Dasha’s shoulder and she tries to pull it out, screaming as she stares in horror at the veins in her shoulder bulging and turning an off-white color.
If she’s not out of here in the next half-hour… this is victory.
Part 5 Available!