He looked over at his captors. Corporal Zentraden had left him alone with Joey and two guards. The first one searched for the target through his binoculars, as the other ran the muzzle of his pistol along Joey's jaw line and up his cheek. He stopped resting it gently against the young man's temple.
Joey tried hard not to respond. It didn't matter-- Rabbit could see the fear in his eyes. So could his tormentors.
Rabbit forced himself to concentrate on the job, on the target.
'The target,' he'd learned a long time ago that it helped to think of his target as just that-- a target. This was just a job-- and the mark was just a target. No slogans, no convictions-- just a target...
But this wasn't just another assignment. He wasn't working for his government. He wasn't protecting his country-- he was going to take a life in order to save his brothers. If he didn't, he knew the others were dead– just as he knew they would kill Joey in front of him if they felt he needed reminding.
The man with the binoculars turned and smiled at them. "She's here."
Rabbit drew and unsteady breath as he glared at the man. The man smiled in return savoring what he was making the sniper endure.
"You'll kill her on my signal," he added, reminding Rabbit again that it was a human life he was taking-- not a target-- not a job... but a person.
Rabbit swallowed, the disgust and anger showing in his eyes.
"Just remember... the boy and then your 'brothers,'" the man with the gun reminded him.
"I know," Rabbit snarled, a slight hint of the Bayou Country sneaking into his voice as it did when he got emotional. "I know."
He could hear Joey's breathing now-- trembling, unsure. Rabbit looked into the young man's eyes, trying to be encouraging. Joey moved his head a fraction to the left and then back to center.
Rabbit closed his eyes. He knew what Joey was trying to say-- but he couldn't. He couldn't sit there and watch them kill Geoff's little brother. They'd already killed Geoff-- he couldn't stand the thought of losing another brother.
The first man nodded towards the window. "Don't miss," he ordered.
"Never do," Rabbit answered. He forced himself to calm down-- to slip into his role of trained sniper. There would be no second chances. He would have to keep his aim true. The observer would know if he threw his shot on purpose.
Rabbit began scanning the area through the sniper scope.
"The woman on the left-- traditional Souix outfit."
"Lakota," Rabbit corrected as he lined her up in his sites. He felt a hint of hope as he focused in on the man next to her-- it was Geoff. He should have known-- should have known that Geoff wouldn't die so easily. If anybody could turn this mess around, it was his brother.
"Whatever," the man answered in an exasperated tone. "On my signal."
Rabbit tensed, praying that Geoff would figure it out-- that he'd find a way to ruin these psycho's plans... time was running out.
'Come on Geoff... come on... not the president... no... the girl... the girl...'
'No, Geoff, not him... her... its the girl....'
"Take the shot."
Rabbit swallowed, held his breath and fired. His eyes narrowed as Geoff moved. He'd figured it out, but...
Rabbit screamed in rage and horror as the bullet found its mark.
"GEOFF!!!!" Rabbit's wail took both men by surprise.
The spotter turned, angry that Rabbit had missed, but Rabbit was beyond caring. His eyes were wide with horror as he ran his hands through his hair. "no...no..."
He seemed completely lost.
"You've just cost your brother his life," the man next to Joey threatened.
Rabbit's head turned around as the man started to pull the trigger. He watched in horror as the hammer moved back and Joey closed his eyes, saw the hammer falling.
Nothing registered, not the ‘click', or Joey's terrified groan as the man started laughing. The gun hadn't been loaded.
Davy moved into position and began scanning the area immediately. Geoff had to be right– he just had to be.
He felt an odd relief when Geoff's voice came across the Comm-unit.
"Spiral is in the area and active."
He moved further in, as the adrenalin started kicking in. This is what he was trained for. He began scanning the area– drawing mental lines between buildings. He was sure Geoff was doing the same, but he had to split his attention between possible snipers and Geoff.
He tensed slightly as he looked over at Geoff.
"Moving in... keep alert..." He heard Geoff say.
Spiral was getting closer. At least they hadn't been wrong on that part. He'd almost given up when he heard Geoff scream.
He turned in time to see Geoff pull Witashnah behind him.
He froze for a moment as he saw his brother go down, pulling Witashnah with him. Davy's pulse rate doubled as he scanned the area and calculated the direction the shot had come from.
"Boom... Kenny... 4 story building– left side of town... Move! Move! Move!"
He didn't wait to see if they responded– he had to protect Witashnah.
As he moved closer, he noticed one of the press corps detach themselves from the group and move in. At first he thought the man was trying for a picture, but then he realized– it was Spiral.
"Spiral!" Davy warned as he drew his weapon and moved into position in front of Witashnah. "Get her out of here!"
Spiral gave Davy a triumphant snarl. He'd won, and all that remained was claiming his prize.
Davy tensed– knowing there was little he could do other than buy Witashnah's people a few moments to get her off the stage and away from Spiral. He prayed it would be enough.
As Spiral closed the distance between them, he heard a woman scream. The sound was unlike anything he'd ever heard. Anger, sorrow... pain... grief... they all possessed the sound turning it into something both beautiful and terrifying.
Spiral's eyes widened, his snarl being turned into a look of horror as the sound wrapped itself around him. Davy staggered back as the sound became a visible force.
He looked from Spiral to Witashnah as she gave voice to the pain and anguish she had witnessed throughout the her life. He could feel her sorrow in the sound– the sound of loss and waste. Then his gaze lowered to the still form laying crumped half on top of her. Witashnah was oblivious to Spiral– to anything that was happening around her. Her entire being seemed focused on Geoff.
He gasped as she slipped out from under Geoff, until his head rested in her lap. Her hands gently tracing what remained of his face, her tears mingling with his blood...
Davy turned back towards Spiral, ready to shoot, but Tasunke was there, guiding his arm down to his side. This was Witashnah's fight now. Davy tensed and then forced himself to comply. This was not a standard protection job– Witashnah had to face Spiral alone.
Witashnah screamed, tears blinding her as she held Geoff's still form in her arms. Everything she had ever wanted– everything that she had ever felt now cried out from the depths of her soul. Her voice had been taken from her– her heart– her love...
The anguish that had remained buried since the day Spiral had attacked her now flowed from her, and the earth seemed to answer her cry. Suddenly she could feel the power flowing from her as she released everything that she had held inside. Geoff's death only multiplying the sorrow.
She could feel it all drain from her. The sorrow... the joys... the hopes and fears.... everything flowed from her... her tears washing the blood from Geoff's face. It was not supposed to be like this.
She had lost everything, and the only thing left was... sorrow.
She looked up and saw Spiral, his eyes wide with fear. Suddenly she understood. Understood the sacrifice– and what she now must do...
The maiden shall go to the mountain...
Where she shall meet a man...
He shall show great courage
and prove himself worthy of her love...
but he will ultimately break her heart
Geoff. She could remember the touch of his hand... the way he held her– comforted her. Now there was an emptiness. She wept for what could have been.
Heartbroken, she shall pour her heart out to the mountain...
and the land will be made whole."
She understood now. She was one with the earth, one with the spirit. There could be no barriers between them. As she had opened herself up to Geoff in order to heal him– she now opened herself to the spirit-- to the land. She let go of everything that was inside her. She watched as her tears flowed down Geoff's face, through the cracks of the wooden stage to the parched earth beneath.
It fed on her tears, on his blood, on the loss and sorrow. And then she felt its power well up within her. It was like priming the pump. Spiral had blocked the flow of energy... and now it burned within her.
His time was ended.
Spiral circled Witashnah feeling her power grow. His only chance now was to drive her from the source of her power-- or to corrupt it. Looking at the elf's body he smiled. It would be the perfect host for his power.
He smiled, contemplating her defeat– betrayed by the one she loved.
As he tried to awaken the creature inside the elf's body– he screamed. Instead of finding the corruption he'd created, he found only her power and the purity that flowed through her.
Witashnah felt some satisfaction as she heard Spiral's scream. For all the suffering he'd caused– for the loss... it was only fair that he would suffer as well.
She felt a cold shiver run through her as a familiar voice spoke to her. Its tone was soft-- patient... loving.
"This is wrong... do not let his madness continue. You are a healer."
The words were almost desperate-- the power was not for suffering, but for healing. For purifying.
She reached out, and for the first time in her adult life– she sang the song of healing. It coursed through her veins– through everything around her until nothing else existed.
When she finished– she could feel the change in Spiral. The healing power filled him– and began unraveling the twisted world he'd created. When she finished– there was nothing left but the shell.
The corruption had gone so deep that there was nothing left to save. She raised her hands to the skies and cried out. "Forgive me...."
The winds rose at her call, and blew away the last trace of the nightmare that had been Spiral. As the winds died down, she heard Geoff's voice again.
"I must leave you now... I'm sorry..."
"Geoff..." she sobbed.
"Be at peace..."
His voice merged with the wind, and she was once again alone.
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