By Sharee Garcia
Copyright 2010; author retains all rights to the story. Please do not use the story without author's permission.
If it had hit her anywhere else, Zara would have been fine. Instead, the thin shaft of metal protruded from her left arm, pinning her to a tree. She hadn’t seen who shot it, but she had a good idea.
The crunch of leaves announced her assailant. She wasn’t surprised to see Katara’s sneering face round the trees that had blocked her view.
“Well, well, well. What have we here?” Katara cocked her head to one side, stopping just out of reach. “A little mouse? No. A roach is more fitting for a skimpering, whimpering betrayer like you!”
Zara held her gaze steady.
“Ah.” Katara’s eyes took in the metal glinting under the torn fabric around the shaft. “Did I short out all your little toys?” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “How sad.”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“That’s a matter of opinion.” Katara slowly circled the tree. “The final decision rests on you, if you’re willing to cooperate.”
“Cooperate? What are you talking about?”
“I want information that only you can give. After all, you were the one that took him.”
Zara averted her eyes. “I don’t know anything about that.”
“Oh?” Katara raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Then how do you know what I’m talking about when I didn’t even give the name or circumstance?”
Zara silently cursed herself. Interrogation was never her strong suit.
“I suppose someone as weak minded as you will need me to get straight to the point. Where is he?”
“I can’t say.”
“Hm. Not exactly the positive answer I was looking for. Let’s try this again. With a little persuasion,
perhaps?” Katara took out a thin rod and pointed it at its companion lodged in Zara’s arm. It started to hum faintly. “Where is he?”
“I . . . I can’t say.”
“You can’t say or you don’t know.”
“I . . . “ Zara’s eyes darted toward her arm. “I was under command of the Order. I had no choice.”
“Zara, Zara, Zara. That’s not what I asked, now is it?” The humming sound went up a notch.
“But you, you know I can’t control what orders I get. I was bound by more than law to obey, whether I wanted to or not.”
“I suppose that begs the question as to how you were able to obey only half of what the Order commanded you to do.” She flipped her long hair over her shoulder, talking to herself. “And why you’d go rogue to do it.”
“It . . . it was for you. I knew what he was to you, and I couldn’t go through with it. I already spared you the fate of those who serve the Order. This time I spared you the fate of losing him completely.”
“So he is safe?”
“Where is he?”
“That is unfortunate.”
“What?” Zara looked up in confusion.
“You think you’re some kind of martyr; Brave young Zara sacrificing herself to save her poor little sister. You know as well as I do that no one in our family has ever remained friends. The Order has seen to that.” She twisted a stray lock, a smirk on her face. “Now that I know he’s hidden nearby, it won’t be hard to find him and finish what you wouldn’t. Besides,” she pulled out a pendant from her shirt. “I may not have been as spared as you think.” The symbol of the Order danced in the sun. “You know I can’t control what orders I get.” Zara’s eyes widened. “I have no choice.”