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The first thing she noticed when she woke up was the cold feel of metal against her back. The second thing she noticed was the sound of voices echoing through the room, bouncing off hard walls and surfaces. The third thing she noticed was the sharp pain in her arm, as if someone had dug into it with a needle or dagger. Most likely they did, considering where I am. Hopefully I haven’t been out for too long.
Kari did, after all, have to keep to a schedule. She remained still for the moment, listening to Julius talk about his plans for the end of the world while Richard tried to coax him out of it. Slim chance of that happening. There was a squeaking noise as Julius raised his voice, then the thump of a body as Richard hit the floor. Kari tried her best not to smile. Serves him right.
She opened her eyes. Everyone would still be looking at Richard—or Julius. It didn’t matter who as long as she had her window of opportunity. This was as much as she was going to get. She maneuvered her hand into her sleeve and ripped open a small pocket that had been sewn inside. She felt the smooth metal of the device—the one that would send out the small light which would tell Danielle to light the fuse. She pressed the button. Now it was time to move.
Kari rolled off of the table, moving faster than thought. She caught Richard’s gaze for the briefest of moments. His blue eyes bored into hers before she jerked her attention to Robin. He was already unsheathing his blade, turning toward the two guards that had just noticed what was happening. This isn’t good. Kari darted toward one of the metal tables, grabbing a scalpel before turning toward Julius. Messier than I’d like.
Julius’s face had contorted. The thin flesh stretched over bone and teeth as he snarled. His pale, cracked lips were pulled back, his red-rimmed, pale eyes rolled wildly. His hoarse voice rasped out, “Do you really think you can stop this?”
Kari shrugged and smiled at him as she adjusted the scalpel in her hand, “Not really. But I don’t really care. I’m only supposed to kill you.”
Julius made a hissing noise as Kari darted forward. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the guards rushing forward. Richard was yelling something that she couldn’t hear. Julius swung at her when she came in range. She ducked beneath his arm, pressing herself against his chest as she stabbed the blade into the side of his throat.
Julius’s fingers closed around her throat as he gurgled. Black, congealed blood began to slowly seep from the wound on his neck. Kari could feel the brutal strength in his hand, closing in on her wind pipe, making it impossible to breathe. She withdrew the scalpel and stabbed him again…and again…and again. His hand closed more tightly and she was unable to breathe. Kari brought back her arm and then stabbed the blade into Julius’s forehead.
For a moment, she thought it hadn’t worked. His hand continued to squeeze with that furious strength. Then just as suddenly, it began to loosen. Kari stumbled back, coughing as Julius swayed in place, the scalpel still stick in the middle of his head. Then he toppled to the ground, his body crumpling.
No time. Kari spun, glancing toward Robin who was now fighting with one of the bodyguards. The other lay groaning on the ground, a bloody stump where his hand had once been. “Robin! We need to get out of here!”
Robin grunted, parrying a blow from the bodyguard’s knife. The man kept trying to sneak closer, but Robin was doing a good job at keeping him at bay with his longer reach. The problem was that the guard was fast. I don’t have time for this shit. Kari glanced toward the other tables, grabbing a nearby knife. She judged the distance, her aim, and then let it fly. It imbedded itself in the guard’s shoulder and he stumbled back with a scream. A dark stain began to spread across his uniform. Robin didn’t wait for any further reaction as he stabbed the man with his sword. The man cried out and then slumped forward.
Kari nodded to Robin and then ran toward the stairs, her heart pounding. How long had that taken? She didn’t want to think about it. Kari had leapt up a few of the stairs when someone grabbed her arm. She glanced over her shoulder, expecting it to be Robin.
It was Richard. His eyes were wide, pleading with her, “Take me with you.” Purple bruises had started to form around his throat, shaped like grasping fingers.
Kari snorted, jerking her arm away, “Is that a command, your highness?”
He shook his head briefly as Robin moved to stand behind him, “No, but please take me out of here. I’ll pay you.”
Kari stared down at him. I don’t have time for this. Yet she felt a twinge of something. Guilt, perhaps? Damn my conscience. “Remove your part in my bounty and we have a deal.”
Richard nodded. That’s all she needed. She grabbed his wrist and pulled him up the stairs, taking them two at a time as Robin kept pace behind them. Eight minutes. That’s all I have. Eight. She burst out onto the first floor, racing toward the door. This is going to be closer than I’d like.
That’s when the bomb went off. It shook the entire house as Kari grabbed the door handle and rushed outside with Richard. The sound was immense, blocking her hearing completely as she continued to run. She could hear the roar of it, the immense power of its destructive force as pieces of the house whistled past her. Heat scorched her back as the force finally hit her, pushing her forward and to the ground. Sticks and leaves and dirt and snow met her face as wood and metal rained down around her. She curled up, holding her hands over her head as fire roared behind her. Her ears rang, killing any other sound. She was dimly aware that there was a sharp pain coming from her forehead; something had probably cut it during their escape.
Even so, she found her mouth stretching into a smile, not caring that mud threatened to choke her, not caring that the restless would be attracted for miles by the blast. I did it. She smiled wider. I killed him.