Marissa shoved the bare essentials into her backpack and thrust her arms through the straps. Henry would waste no time hunting her down. This she was sure of.
She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and opened the window. It was a fifteen foot drop but(more) she had prepared herself for this moment, her last kill giving her the advantage and strength she needed to run.
Lies. Deception. Thievery. These were the big hitters in her specialized repertoire--the things her family depended upon for its livelihood, or so they wanted her to believe, but intelligence was in her repertoire as well. No one left Henry's coven. No one. Not even her, and if things didn't go perfectly to plan she couldn't count on the years spent in his bed to soften him to such a thing as forgiveness. He may love her, but he would kill her just the same.
Her leg muscles tensed and stretched the moment her feet touched the ground, running at speeds she rarely had need for. Time stood still as she rounded the corner of Lamar Street, the few pedestrians shrugging off the rush of her passing body as an errant breeze only after she was a half-a-mile away. She couldn't keep up this pace, but the car wasn't far away now.
Marissa knew she was only trading one life of deception for another, but this one would be on her own terms. She could feign many things, but her need for freedom was no longer one of them. As thankful as she was for Henry's "gift" she would no longer be beholden to him. She had pulled her weight and her debt was paid. Fuck him if he thought otherwise.
Her only hope was that it would all be worth it.
The din and press of the battle had long abated. It could have been hours. It could have been minutes. If not for the doleful marching of day into dusk, it would have been impossible to tell.
To keep my peace, I meditated on the weeks of trainin(more)g that led me to this moment. Pictured the fierce faces of my comrades, eyes afire. Fear, anger, and bitter resolve jockeying for place in their expressions as they grappled with infinity, mortality, glory, and a hordeful of other intangibles their young minds were too innocent to bear.
While the harangue of war rung in my ears, the last song of the clan-mother echoed in my head. "Most of you will die," she said. "But all of you are vital. If we all play our part, some few will indeed survive. And on the shoulders of those few rest the hopes of the rest of us, and the fate of everything our people have ever been."
Most of those who heard her speak that day didn't realize that the few she spoke of had been pre-ordained, their roles chosen for them far in advance. The rest, for all intents and purposes, were fodder. I'll never forgive myself for keeping that truth from my fellow soldiers. My neighbors. My friends. My family.
The armor we wore was important. Tattered, stiff, ill-fitting. Something not even the lowest ranking foot-soldiers would bother to pillage after the day was won. But enough to disguise the slow and steady breathing underneath-- for hours, if need be.
Darkness blanketed the battlefield. I began, very slowly, to rise. As ordered, I followed the lowborn star for hours, over field, wood, and rolling hill. Until I saw a single lantern by a glittering stream. Our rendezvous. Our last chance at redemption.(less)