A young girl darted through the street. She clung to the shadows like a life line, not daring to enter the light of the lampposts. A tall figure stepped in front of her, and she stopped abruptly, sliding a small knife into her hand.
The figure smirked down at the girl. “Well, well, so now little girls are used to carry out assassinations, huh, Ari?” The figure – an adolescent male, by his voice – reached down and flicked off Ari’s hood.
Light blond curls fell from the hood, perfectly framing her small face. Ari turned her eyes – a strange, amethyst-like purple – toward the man, but said nothing.
The man leaned toward her face. “Well?” he said. “I asked you a question.”
“I know, but I chose not to acknowledge it with an answer,” Ari said slowly. Then her face hardened. “And I’m not little, Tallow.”
Tallow looked her over and sneered. “You’re six and a half. Yeah, sis, you’re little.” He leaned closer, about to make another degrading comment, and Ari punched him in the face.
He staggered back, and Ari closed in, slashing his arm with her knife. Tallow howled in pain and swung a kick at her face. Ari caught his foot and twisted. He collapsed to the ground and Ari jumped on his stomach, knocking Tallow’s breath out of him. Satisfied that she had won, Ari turned on her heel and walked away. Suddenly there was the sound of a gun going off, and Ari crumpled to the ground, clutching her bleeding leg. Tallow staggered over to Ari. He glared down at her and started kicking her.
“You little brat,” Tallow hissed. “I’m going to kill you.”
Ari coughed, blood splattering the concrete by her head. Pushing down her fear, Ari raised her head and looked at Tallow defiantly.
He gazed at her face, registering the defiant look in her eyes, her will to live, and for a second something like pity flickered in Tallow’s eyes. Ari thought that, maybe, he was remembering their childhood, the four short, happy years they had spent with their parents. Then Tallow’s eyes hardened again, and he shook his head sadly.
“Even here, in the face of death, you still refuse to give up?” Tallow shook his head again. “It’s that attitude that killed our parents, you know.”
A cold, sudden silence filled the street. Tallow’s eyes widened, as if he had just realized that he had done something wrong. Taking his foot off her side, Tallow backed away from Ari, looking at her with a mixture of horror and surprise. Ari pushed herself into a sitting position, her purple eyes cold and calculating.
Ari glared at Tallow. At his accusing words, Fury had woken up. It uncoiled from around her spine and sunk its fangs to her heart. Its sweet, dangerous poison ran through her veins. Ari’s eyes began to glow softly. Tallow panicked.
“Ari, sweetheart, I was just kidding,” he tried. “No one blames you.”
Ari’s eyes glowed more intensely. “You blame me,” she told him, “and I’m not sweet.”
Tallow turned and ran, just as the ground where he had been standing exploded. He looked over his shoulder at her and his eyes showed his bloodlust.
“Next time,” he hissed, “I’ll kill you.” Then there was a small puff of smoke, and Tallow was gone.
Ari’s small shoulders slumped forward and her eyes stopped glowing. Fury, its work done, withdrew from her heart and settled back around her spine. Ari tenderly touched her leg, then withdrew her hand with a hiss of pain. She needed to get back to base and get it looked at before she lost too much blood. Pushing herself to her feet, Ari grimaced at the pain in her ribs. Two, maybe three were broken. It was hard to breath, but Ari couldn’t tell if that was from physical exertion or a punctured lung. Either way, it couldn’t be good. Sure, Ari was a trained assassin, but she was only six.
‘Six and a half,’ Voice One reminded her.
‘Only six and a half?’ Voice Two questioned. ‘I thought she was seven!’
‘No you idiot,’ Voice Three grumbled.
Ari sighed at the sudden return of the Voices. At least numbers Four and Five weren’t present.
‘Okay, all of you, shut up,’ she thought and, for once, they did as she asked. Sighing again, Ari turned and limped back into the shadows.