"I never let the actions of another make me or break me and I never let a single person shake me. Honestly, I don't give a shit who hates me." - Unknown
I lift my head slightly and tilt it to the side, as if listening for something. Darren glances at me and, apparently sees something out of the corner of his eye, because he's shoving me hard and I hit the ground. I roll to my knees in time to feel a sharp blow to the face. I cry out and throw a blind punch, black spots dancing before my eyes.
I hear Darren grunt and look up only to receive a sharp kick to the chest. I flop backwards on the ground and then there's a pissed off woman straddling me, digging her fingernails into my wrists. "This ends," she says darkly.
I don't even think, I just react. I slam my head into hers, probably giving the both of us a nice headache and a lump, but it has the desired effect and she yelps, jerking away from me. I slam my foot into her side and she growls, cursing me up and down.
I catch sight of Darren and whip my head around as he goes down, blood dripping from his head. The male assassin has his back to me, but his hood has fallen back and I catch a flash of brown hair before the man is jerking the hood back up. The woman snarls savagely and slams her booted foot into the side of my head and I blink back tears.
"He saw me," the man spits.
"Then he comes with us," the woman mutters. "Grab him before someone sees us," she adds, grabbing my by the arm and hefting me up. I can't stand on my own very well since I'm barely conscience and so she has to support me. I hope she struggles, but I can't be certain because I black out before we've even taken a step.
When I come to again, my whole body hurts. I'm dirty and bloody and my head is screaming at me. I force my eyes open, squinting against the brightness. I try to lift my hand to block some of the offensive light, but I find that I can't lift my arms.
I slowly become aware of what's going on and realize that my arms are chained behind me and there's someone slumped in a chair by my side. I turn my head, despite the creaking protest of my neck and gasp, instantly coughing. "Darren?" I croak.
He doesn't stir and I look around wildly. We're alone in the room – if you really want to call it that. It's more like a big hole. The floors are dirt and the walls are moldy wood. I wrinkle my nose in disgust, but then I think that I don't have the luxury of being grossed out at the moment. I force myself to focus and take in the rest of the room.
There's not much to see.
There are no windows and only one door which is, undoubtedly, locked. I stare at it a moment before turning my attention elsewhere. There's a table to my right, but it's out of reach, not that I can use my arms anyway. I can tell that there's something on the table, but I'm not sure what. There's a sheet draped over it, obscuring whatever the hell it is.
"Darren?" I ask again, not looking at him. My eyes sweep the rest of the room, but there is nothing left to see.
Then the single door opens and two hooded figures step into the room and my mouth goes dry, my heart racing. "I doubt he'll wake up anytime soon," the man says, a smile in his voice. "I hit him rather hard."
"Stop gloating," the woman mutters. "So, Cindi," she says casually. "How are you feeling?"
It takes me way too many seconds to realize that the cold, chilling feeling running down my spine is horror. I recognize her voice. I knew she had sounded familiar before when she had attacked me in the woods, but it hadn't clicked then.
I swallow hard. "Beth?" I ask.
She chuckles and pushes her hood back. "Bingo," she grins. She looks different than I have ever seen her. Her hair is pulled back into a severe ponytail and her eyes are hard and without makeup. I turn my eyes to the man by her side.
"Which means," I say, piecing it together. "Anthony." My voice has gone flat and expressionless.
"Naturally," Anthony says, pushing his own hood back.
"Why?" I demand.
"Why not?" Beth quips.
"I thought we were friends!" I try to shout, but my throat is raw and scratchy and I don't get all that much volume.
"Fake," Anthony shrugs. "We needed to maintain appearances, of course."
I grit my teeth together and yank on my chains, but they only bite into my skin, drawing blood. "We were raised to be killers, Cindi," Beth tells me. "Emotionless killers."
I glare at her. "But you're not emotionless," I say. "You've gotten angry."
"Technicality," Anthony shrugs. "Anyway," he says lightly. "We were raised to be assassins. We were raised with the express purpose of killing the Judges. And then you screwed everything up."
"I didn't mean to," I say, not really listening to my words. I'm slowly trying to work my hands out of the chains, now that they're getting slick with blood.
"Doesn't change the fact that you did," Beth snaps, striding toward me. She grabs a fistful of my hair and yanks on it, but I stubbornly hold in my cry of pain. "So you have to die. We weren't going to kill Darren because he didn't know anything, but then he saw Anthony and…well," she says with a little laugh.
"Don't touch him!" I snarl.
She jerks harder on my hair. "Oh, my, my," she says. "Did someone go and fall in love? How stupid," she sneers.
Tears sting my eyes and I blink rapidly to keep them from falling. I will not cry in front of these…monsters. There really is nothing else I can call them. I can't believe that I never noticed before, but hindsight is 20/20 and I remember seeing some subtle signs before.
"The question is," Anthony muses. "Do we kill Darren and make you watch, or wait for Darren to come around and kill you while making him watch?" he asks with a laugh.
Beth lets go of my hair and strides over to the table draped with a sheet. "I don't care," she says. "You pick, Anthony."
Anthony makes a show of thinking, tapping his chin, eyeing me. "I think Cindi should watch Darren die."
"Nice choice," Beth nods.
I look at her and stifle a scream upon seeing the many different daggers of all shapes and sizes laid out on the table. Her fingers dance over each one. "I don't understand," I say, trying to stall for time. I'm still trying to twist at least one arm free, but I don't want to rattle the chains or move my arms too much lest they notice and I'm trying to keep the winces of pain off my face. "Why come after me? I mean, why not get rid of the Judges as fast as possible?"
"Because you knew our voices," Anthony says. "We figured it was only a matter of time before you figured it out."
I almost laugh. I never would have guessed that my friends were psychopathic killers.
"I have to say," Beth smiles. "Anthony did rather well with Legon."
I stiffen and glare at him. "How could you do that?" I demand.
"Assassin," he shrugs, as if that's all the answer I need.
"You know someone is going to notice when none of us show up for training," I tell them.
Beth lifts a dagger off the table and twirls it around in her hand. "That's alright," she says. "By the time they figure anything out, you'll already be dead."
I don't feel like typing out responses to all of your reviews at the moment, so I'll do it in the next chapter along with your new reviews, m'kay? :)