The First Shot
rating: +7+x

This was a good spot. The target's motel room was clearly visible from the window of her own. Once she showed her face, it'd be gone before she could even blink. Kiran sighed and curled herself up by the window. It'd likely be a while before the target came out into the open, leaving the gorgon with plenty of time to kill before the time to kill arrived.

As it always did during these downtimes and stakeouts, her mind turned back to the past.

Ten. Kiran was only ten years old, and she was already sick of her life. Having barely any money would probably have been bearable if her parents had actually cared about her, but they were always too caught up in their own problems to spare a thought for their own daughter.

'I'm hungry too, stop whining.' her father would say, even as he drained can after can of beer.

'You know we can't afford a thermoregulator pack for you.' her mom would say, despite not having any trouble getting her own pack.

Resentment at their hypocrisy built up from the moment she was able to understand the concept, as did jealousy of her fellow students who had both money and parental love. Students who, mercifully, left her alone despite being prime bullying fodder. Maybe they were afraid she'd turn them to stone, or maybe she just got lucky. Whatever.

At ten years old, Kiran had finally accepted that any nice things she got wouldn't be through her parents, lazy and wasteful as they were. So she'd have to take matters into her own hands.

It was a week into summer vacation when Kiran finally got her lucky break. As she had done before, she left at evening, when it was cooler and she was thus less likely to get heatstroke, knowing her parents likely wouldn't even notice she was gone. She'd already tried to get a proper job, but nobody would hire a child, forcing her to turn to more illicit sources of money.

Such as a local gang, the Hephaestus Cabal. If anyone had a job for a young gorgon, it was them. And she knew exactly where to find them: A scrapyard where the majority of their goblin members lived and produced the gear that made them such a feared name around lower east Chiana.

Kiran remembered the ones she first approached - two small, ratlike goblins and a bulky, rocky geode - didn't take her seriously at first. "Get scramlost," one of the goblins said. "this isn't a place for youngkids." But she persisted, explained her situation, even started crying. It was the tears, she thought, that convinced them. Even vicious gangbangers can't just brush off a kid in tears. So the geode took her to see the boss.

The biggest goblin that she had ever seen.

Most goblins didn't even reach seventy centimeters in height, but this guy must have been almost a whole meter, making him the goblin equivalent of Andre the Giant. As the geode - who had told her their name was Chnoot in exchange for her own name - explained why she was here, Kiran just silently stared at the boss goblin through her sunglasses. His suit and hat were very much at odds with the casual, street gang clothes his subordinates were wearing. In fact, she wasn't even aware goblins ever wore anything but scraps.

Apparently moved by her plight, boss Sink offered her a job - her first assassination contract. She was wary, naturally - taking someone's life for money? - but she was desperate to get out of poverty. The ten thousand euros he offered in exchange would definitely help with that. So she accepted the job after just a few seconds of hesitation.

It wasn't that hard, looking back. The target was the leader of a rival gang based a few kilometers away, one trying to muscle in on Cabal territory. Kiran didn't remember the name of the gang or their leader, only that, the following night, she managed to get an audience with him the same way she had with Sink. All she had to do then was pull up her sunglasses, and a statue stood where a human had only a second before.

Of course, getting away after that blatant act of murder was much harder. It was only by some miracle she was able to avoid the gunfire and blasts of magic long enough to get back to Cabal territory and the safety of their protection. Even so, she was burned and overheated, and one bullet had lodged itself in her tail.

She remembered well boss Sink's words to her after her return, as she was being treated by the gang's life magi. "Goodnice job, kid. Those bastards won't be causing me any troubleproblems now. Welcome to the Hephaestus Cabal."

She also well remembered presenting the money she'd gotten from the job to her parents, only to have it snatched from her hands, be called a murderer and a blight on the family name, and kicked out. She wasn't even able to grab any of her meager belongings before she was locked out of her home, forever.

The Cabal became her family after that, especially the geode Chnoot. They taught her to survive, to do magic of her own, to shoot. A gorgon's gaze is a potent weapon, Chnoot told her, but one whose use made her much easier to track. Better to learn how to use a gun over her stare.

Kiran's trip down memory lane was interrupted by motion in the motel room she'd been watching. Shadows played against the curtains, marking the movement of its occupants. In her own dark room, Kiran raised and flexed her gloved hand, the runestones dotting the back glowing in sequence as they shaped magicka into the form of a sniper rifle. Once it was finished manifesting, she peered down the scope at the target's door, holding her breath in anticipation.

Slowly, it opened, and a man stepped out. Not the target. The woman, the client's cheating whore of a wife, was behind him. She looked disheveled, but happy, just as anyone who'd just had sex does. But not for long.

Wordlessly, Kiran triggered her focus, the watch on her off hand. The face glowed bright blue, the hands spun wildly, and chronos flowed out and coalesced around her. The world slowed down, until the two people in her sights were almost as still as statues. Time to take the shot.

The first bullet roared out of the muzzle, shattering the window as it careened straight for the cheater's skull. Even with her increased temporal speed, the bullet was too fast for Kiran to follow.

A second shot rang out, this one finishing the destruction of the window and aimed at the woman's lover. Two for the price of one.

Before the bodies had hit the floor, before the glass was finished exploding outwards, Kiran was gone, only an open motel door, the echoing boom of near-simultaneous gunshots, and a quickly fading trail of floating, light blue runes indicating her presence.

She wasn't a part of the Cabal anymore, having shed the association in favor of an independent lifestyle. But she still owed them everything. Whoever or whatever she'd be without their help, she knew she'd rather be this.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License