Prologue

Name: Kieran Sims Reward: £ 2000 Class: C

Age: 34 Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde Sex: F

Assigned to: Anna J. Smith Location: London Status: Deceased

"Anna! What are you doing here?" Sue asked a twelve year old girl, who strode confidently into the high tech office. The girl, Anna, was wearing black cargo trousers and a tank top, her auburn curls framing her young face beautifully.

She looks too much like her mother. Sue caught herself thinking sadly, watching the girl closely, her disapproving gaze not wavering from her. I wonder what she could want?

"I am here to see Mother!" the girl announced, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, which, in normal circumstances, it would be. But Anna's mother was anything but normal, and so was Anna herself.

"You know she hates it when you come into the office! Especially when she's working!" Sue said, astounded that the girl had forgotten; Anna usually followed her mother's unconventional rules unquestionably.

"This is work. My work. You see Sue, I work here now." The girl answered triumphantly, emphasising the 'my' with a sweet smile.

"Work?" Sue gasped, glaring at Anna. Anna's mother had always lacked maternal instinct every woman possessed, but she couldn't expect twelve-year-old Anna to kill someone!

"Yes" the girl said smugly, "and now, let me in. Mother doesn't like it when people are late." And with another triumphant smile which showed off her white teeth, Anna slipped past Sue's rather bulky figure into the maze of corridors which lead to her mother's office.

And so Sue let her pass, staring after her. She looked around to find the other twelve or so women in the office watching her, just as horror struck as she was. She gave them a pointed glare and they quickly ducked their heads and carried on with their work, filling the spacious room with the sound of typing. Sue also tried to get back to work, but she found herself too distracted to write more than one coherent sentence. She resigned herself to the knowledge she wouldn't be able to work and started playing Minesweeper, waiting for Anna's return.

Anna strode into the corridors between her mother's office and common office. No doors lined the tube shaped walls of the corridor, only a strange blue light and intersections in the corridors stopped even Anna from feeling claustrophobic. Her footsteps rang loudly between the walls and it took all her willpower to stop her from putting her hands over her ears and running. But Anna knew the corridors were watched by her mother, so she acted calm. The corridors were like a maze, meaning to deter any unwanted visitors who had gotten past Sue and the other women working in the office. But Anna knew these passages, though her mother had never taught her the code. She remembered, as a toddler she had wandered for hours among these walls, without aid of either her mother or Sue.

Anna's mother was in her office, feet up on her desk and chatting on the phone, acknowledging her daughter simply with a quick nod. Anna was used to it, finding her mother no different than on other days and slid into one of the leather couches at the edge of the room trying to work out her mother's phone conversation.

Whereas it seemed to any unbiased observer that this couple of mother and daughter were distant, they were actually close – in their own way. Mother and daughter had their own code and their own mutual understanding; their relationship was just different.

But in other ways mother and daughter were as distant as our observer initially believed, for even though they both had spent their whole lives preparing for murder and killing, Anna had a queasy feeling in her stomach whenever she thought of the dead body in the third flat on Baker Street. Her mother was still leisurely chatting to someone about the 'Mark' who she had drowned in the lake two years back. Perhaps it was practice that perfected the art of heartless murder? Or perhaps people were just born cold hearted and Anna would never get the skill? Who knows?

Anna watched her mother in silence, staying so still that one could have thought she was asleep. But she wasn't. All her sense were on hyper-alert and the adrenaline was still pumping through her veins, even though all the danger had passed over an hour ago and she was now safe. She was used to acting calm and had spent years perfecting the art which she now mastered as well as her mother.

And all of a sudden Anna felt drained of energy, a void of thought, and her throat was dry, though she didn't dare stir or sleep. It was midday and it would display weakness. Anyway, her mother would probably knife her just to teach her a lesson.

Jane was barley in her thirties, still a very young and attractive woman, even though her daughter was approaching her teenage years. Few people knew of Anna, and those who did know didn't frown on Jane for raising her daughter on her own; the people who knew also knew that there wasn't much choice involved for Jane.

All her young life Anna had been following the strict rules imposed on her. She was raised trilingual, with the full ability to flawlessly speak German, English and French at the age of five. Her mother then sent her to Chinese school where she learnt both Mandarin and Cantonese before she was ten and at the moment she was grappling with Russian, which was by far her favourite language, next to French.

Her mother expected all A's on her report cards in primary school, and while giving her daughter the best education, her mother cunningly taught her child the art of manipulation, showing her how to make people follow her leadership, how to be popular with everyone, both teacher and students, and how to make people feel ready to confess all their secrets.

Anna had received Judo, self-defence and professional fighting classes since the age of two, and her mother had personally taught her fencing, shooting and archery. Her mother had also spent most weekends teaching Anna endurance while hiking, teaching her about every poison and antidote there was. Anna had just started knife fighting lessons, which she enjoyed the most.

Anna had spent all her life working towards the perfection of an ideal assassin, but somehow, nothing she ever did was good enough. There was always another hurdle to over come. And where other people would find that Anna's life so far was unbelievable and unrealistic, they had never had a mother who only loved them if they were perfect.

Anna had slowly gotten used to her mother's permanent mask, which she always wore, and which always showed fake emotions that Jane didn't actually feel. The only time Anna had ever seen the true Jane was after Jane had found the corpse of a four year old child, brutally stabbed. She had gathered Anna, who had been just six then, in her arms and held her close. For the last six years Anna cherished that moment, remembering whenever she felt like she was looking at the shell of a woman as she looked at Jane.

- - -

Jane slowly and silently put down the receiver of the phone, watching her daughter closely. Jane had always known that she had never been the best mother for this girl, but in some ways she had done her best and taught her daughter all she could. Now she wanted to hear how her daughter's first test had gone.

"How was it?" she asked her daughter with out a formal greeting. The girl didn't start or react. If she had been surprised she hid it well, which pleased Jane.

Anna looked at her mother, unsure whether to answer with the truth or to tell her mother what she wanted to hear.

"The truth." Her mother supplied to Anna's unasked question.

"Terrifying." Anna answered, getting up and pacing the room, aware that her mother's gaze never left her face, which Anna left impassive.

"Tell me." Her mother demanded. Anna shot a look at the door and with a quick click on the keyboard of the computer, Jane locked the door, a silent promise that no one would hear.

Anna slowed her pacing and turned to face her mother, dropping the mask and letting all the fear and vulnerability show in her face and her mother noticed how young she was, something that had never previously occurred to her.

Anna looked away and smiled wryly at the panelled wall. "I met her where you told me to, and she took me to her apartment. She was surprised to find me so young, but I gave her the 'message' and so she told me she wasn't questioning anyone. I slipped some cyanide into her glass and she died soon after. I wore gloves the whole time and I have everything. It looks like suicide. Just like you wanted it to." Anna threw a pair of skin coloured gloves at her mother and put a heavy bag on the table, making a heavy knocking sound as the contents of the bag knocked against each other.

Jane smiled. She was so proud of her daughter, who she knew would one day feel as loyal to her job as she did. The bag was full of guns, without Ammo, for Jane had gotten the Ammo from a different contractor just the other week, which was to be delivered to someone named Lord Ford, an international black market weapons salesman who was untraceable.

"The Boss will be pleased!" Jane sang and started typing up an email, turning away from her daughter. Anna was about to slip out of the office when her mother said something out of character. With out looking up, she murmured;

"I'm proud of you, Anna."

- - -

Anna slowly walked through the corridors, her breath becoming short as she realised for the first time what she had done. Her lips were starting to crack, something that had never happened to Anna before, and she was developing a headache. All she wanted to do was curl up in the foetal position and cry. Now, after all these years, she had at last made her mother proud, though now she would rather turn back time than have this pride weighing down her shoulders.

She had killed. She remembered the look on the woman's face after the cyanide started taking affect, a look of betrayal, a look of hurt, and a look of fear.

She was just as afraid of death as I am. Anna realised, leaning her head against the cold metal of the corridor. The blue light was casting an eerie glow and onto the hallway and she could swear that she could hear her mark's voice, dooming her. But of course, it was only the echo of her shallow breaths as Anna found it increasingly hard to breathe.

She hadn't realised she was crying until she heard footsteps. Sue came around the corner and Anna tried to hide the fact she was crying by turning away and wiping her face on her sleeve. Sue sighed internally as she saw her.

This girl was just in her mother's office, and still she cries out here, afraid to show weakness. She thought to herself, angry at her best friend again. How could she? Here was her daughter, a brave young woman, who had killed someone for the first time, and still her mother couldn't be a mother, she was always a distant tutor.

Sue gathered Anna into her arms, shushing her. There was nothing else she could do, though she wished she could save the girl from the profession and give her a normal life. She wasn't built for this life, but she sure as hell she was being bred for it. She had as little choice as Jane had had.

Even though now Anna was crying, Sue knew that the girl she was holding would, one day, see her victims just as victims- not as humans. So Sue savoured the moment that Anna still had emotions and wasn't afraid to express them in humane ways.

- - -

And Sue was correct. When wasn't she? Anna would one day become the heartless, world conquering assassin her mother was. But now, as she sat in her dark room, throwing darts at the dart board, she was still the twelve-year-old Anna.

Another tear trickled down her face, and she fiercely wiped it away, angry that she still wasn't detached. Somewhere, someone was mourning her mark. She didn't even know her name; Jane had simply referred to her as The Mark, probably to help Anna see the young woman simply as a victim. She hadn't succeeded.

Jane herself sent flowers to each of her victim's funerals as a sign of respect, though Sue always believed it was Jane's way of making it good again with her victim, to stop Jane having a guilty conscience.

Anna lent her head against her bed and considered Sue. Sue was always kind and she seemed the wrong woman to work in the murder industry, and yet somehow, she managed to follow her own ahimsa, her personal emotional guidelines, while helping Jane kill. She tracked Anna's mother's victims and made the deals with the men who wanted assassins. She had as much power as Jane, but in a different way.

When Jane walked into a room full of people who knew her for who she was, everyone became silent and greeted her respectfully, bowing their heads and muttering a respectful greeting. When Sue walked into a room no one acknowledged her the way they acknowledged Jane, but everyone greeted her and asked her friendly questions.

As Anna sat there, on her bedroom floor, leaning against her bed and throwing darts at the dart board she realised something. She realised she wanted to be like her Mother in her Career but like Sue in her manipulation of people. It was almost so subtle you barley noticed it.

Little did Anna know, but that was the most important decision of her life, for it shaped exactly who she would become.


Ok, this is my most serious project and I am warning any potential readers I won't update regularly because one of my BetaReaders is unreliable because she has one hour free internet a week. Poor her. Anyway, I hope you liked it. More will come soon because it was written out in advance.

So, don't be shy, tell me it's rubbish!

Lillie