All About Assassins
The Origin of the Assassins
In lesson 2 we learned that Fate is the leader of the Entities that rule the earth and control every aspect of creation both supernatural and natural. Alongside her are the entities of Karma, Mercy, Power, Fear, Chance, Luck, Hope, Faith, Wish, Information, Memory and Love. After the upbringing of Karma, Fate gave her a race of supernatural humans with special abilities. Karma loved these humans, as they would be her agents of revenge. They would be the ones to kill those that needed to be horribly punished. She called them her Assassins.
Fate gifted these humans with special abilities. Heightened senses would allow them to detect enemies, targets, and possible obstacles. Inhuman speed and agility would give them quick movement, graceful exits, and strength to leap great distances or lift immense weight. Cat-like stealth gave them the ability to remain absolutely silent regardless of their terrain. The last gift was the willpower that would allow them to continue on even if the odds were against them and they had no hope. These traits enabled the Assassins to be virtually indestructible, and as they grew in numbers, Karma divided her Assassins into countries, giving each group an Association to run them.
Fate, seeing that they were growing in numbers, realized something that Karma did not: the Assassins were becoming reckless with their killing. No longer were they only claiming their victim, but also taking lives before and after the actual assassination. She decided that they needed a small punishment for their crimes.
A scar, one that would appear on their backs after their first not designated or innocent kill. These markings begin to take shape the moment this kind of victim stops breathing. It begins with a burning sensation that slowly decreases in intensity until the Assassin can no longer feel it. Because of the burning, the skin will scar in the shape of a simple circle, as though a cigarette was put out on the skin. The more lives the Assassin takes without necessity, the more painful the burning sensation becomes. Should the Assassin continue through the pain, they will become burned on the inside, becoming evil and finding themselves on their own Association's target list.
My eyes roam over the small picture on the page, an image depicting a naked man with circular scars all over his backside, cowering before a second, shirtless and scar-less Assassin with a long, curved sword. The picture brings the pain of the scars back and I feel each of the four I have on my back as though they are new. Those are nearly ten years old now, and I have no intention of gaining more. Though I have a feeling that, should my sabotaging missions continue, I will begin gaining scars once more.
I hear my father crashing around in the kitchen downstairs and feel a surge of hatred inside my chest. This feeling is followed by a loud growl from my stomach, reminding me that I need to finish the notes and reading before dinner or I will go to bed hungry. I return to the book.
The Russian Assassination Association is among the most powerful. The United States, Mandarin, Canadian, and British have become almost as powerful. Competition arose between the BAA and the CAA in the early 1800’s, though the associations were not named such until much later. The current leaders of these, respectively, are Shane DeVall and Brian McKain.
I frown and re-read the sentence, remembering my father once telling me that the book is enchanted to alter itself to keep the information inside current. My father’s name is Marcos Knox. He is the leader of the BAA. He told me that Shane DeVall was Genevieve's uncle, Luca DeVall’s, brother, but he was never the leader. It was always my father and our bloodline.
I push away from the desk and bang my fist on the door. “Father!”
I hear grudging footsteps approach the door. “What?”
“Why does the book say that Shane DeVall is the leader of the BAA?”
The door unlocks with a click and my father pushes through almost too fast for the unconcerned comment that follows. He leans over the book and shrugs. “Typo.”
“But,” I catch his shoulder as he turns away. “You said the book was magically monitored so that there were no mistakes and the information remained current.”
My father’s eyes stray to the book and for a moment, something dark passes over his face. Then he looks at me suddenly. “Why did the mission fail?”
Taken aback by the sudden change in subject, I jump and my defense mechanisms kick in. Sarcasm is my strongest mechanism. "I must be incompetent, father. The agent is a super agent and has the ability to move faster than supernaturally possible."
My father glares at me.
I shrug. “He must have expected me? I guess after the last few times that I have beaten the CAA agents, they have sent out a memo so that all of them just expect me.”
My father's glare hardens. “What mission was it you went on?”
“Jesse Carson,” I answer, confused.
“And you assume it was a boy on the mission?” Suddenly my father seems angrier than should be necessary.
“Yes, I assumed so,” I mumble. “Father, what’s wrong?”
“It was a girl, Reid,” He snaps. “You were beaten by a female. How dare you lose your mission to a little girl!” He then turns and slams the door behind him.
“Sexist prick,” I mutter, making Esmera smile through her tears. We sit in the back row of Coleman’s funeral, listening to an old man talk endlessly. He has already been on this monologue for over an hour and a half.
“I don’t think he’s a sexist prick just because he said Cole was on an all boy’s football team.” Esmera whispers.
I shrug and check my watch. “He has said nothing about any females so far in this damn speech and it’s been almost two hours.”
This time my friend giggles a little. She seems to be in better spirits today for some reason, though her cheeks are still stained with salty water. School was cancelled for today for the funeral and it ended up being mandatory for every student to attend, as well as the rest of the town because a horrible and unexpected death of a youth is such a terrible and heart wrenching incident in a small town like this. Suddenly every resident knew the victim, and every citizen is deeply affected by the loss.
Esmera leans her head on my shoulder and directs her words toward my ear. “Mrs. Evans sure wanted to get the funeral and the police investigation over quickly.”
I nod and glance around, spotting the back of the woman’s head in the front row, bent as she wipes her tears from her cheeks. “Her attitude and her behavior over the past week has been extremely suspicious,” I agree.
“I heard,” Esmera pauses to blow her nose. “I heard that the department has a detective watching her. They think she might have had something to do with his death.”
“How did he die, anyway?” I ask, struggling to remember what the newspaper had said.
Esmera shrugs sadly. “All I heard was that he was killed by something penetrating his heart. I don’t think they know what actually happened, and I don’t think they even have a murder weapon or a suspect besides his mom.”
My mind strays to the poisonous darts the BAA use that leave the same amount of evidence. It sure sounds as though an assassin - a skilled assassin - was behind the act. Reid’s face drifts across my mind and I have trouble pushing it away. “Kind of makes you feel less safe here, doesn’t it?” I ask, unable to suppress a shudder.
Esmera nods and sits up. “It really makes you wonder who you can trust.”
I shift uncomfortably, thinking about the contract I signed just the other night to become an active agent of the BAA. No one in this town could truly trust me, for I could be assigned to kill anyone - even Esmera. “Whoever killed him had to have been really skilled,” I murmur.
My friend visibly swallows. “Leaving no evidence behind whatsoever… That’s what the paper said.”
“No DNA,” I add, thinking about the article. “No indication of what might have been the weapon…”
“No visible escape route, tire tracks, or footprints.”
“No fingerprints either,” a male voice whispers behind us.
I recognize the voice immediately, the owner being too close for comfort at this moment. I twist around in my chair and glare at Reid. “You were eavesdropping.”
The boy simply shrugs and shuffles closer, offering Esmera a smile. “I heard you two say ‘skilled’ and thought you called me.”
I roll my eyes and turn back to face front.
“Creepy, isn’t it?” Esmera bites her lip.
Reid puts a hand on the back of her chair to whisper to her. “Just don’t do what he did. Don’t walk alone, and don’t walk at night. Remember the warning at the bottom of the article.”
Esmera’s blonde braid swishes as she nods. “No way am I going to be caught on the edge of town.”
“Good,” I hear the smile in Reid’s voice and for a moment he sounds like the boy I remember from my childhood. “I don’t want anything like that to happen to anyone else.” His voice trails off as though he left the end of his sentence unsaid: especially you.
I grit my teeth as I recognize his signature flirting tone, and turn back to face him. My eyes dart between the two of them. “Since when did you two know each other?”
Esmera shrugs but has the decency to look guilty. “We bumped into each other on my way to debate night,” she says. “I was just being polite.”
Reid frowns at me. “What’s wrong with us talking?”
“Nothing,” I snap and spin back around. I grab my friend’s arm and pull hard enough that she gets the hint and turns with me.
“Sorry,” she murmurs. “I know how it must look to you.”
I set my jaw and keep my eyes straight ahead.
“I was just being nice,” she continues. “I respect your opinion, Gen.”
I allow myself to cast a sidelong glance at the girl beside me. She looks genuinely apologetic and my heart softens slightly for her. “Okay,” I answer.
“You know I like giving people a chance before I shun them,” she adds with a slight smile. “Plus,” she leans really close to my ear so the boy behind us doesn’t hear. “He’s hot.”
I snort, causing a few ladies ahead of me to turn and glare. I loop an arm through my friend’s and we sit in silence for the remainder of the funeral.
We get to leave soon after three hours have passed. Mrs. Evans is apparently holding a wake, basically an after party, at her house with small sandwiches and cookies. Esmera and I politely decline, and escape the crowd. The parking lot outside the church is filled to bursting with cars and we have to weave between seemingly endless lines of them before we find mine.
Reid is leaning against the hood. I stop dead in my tracks.
“Please, Genevieve,” Reid’s forehead wrinkles and his eyes grow sad.
“I, uh,” Esmera glances from me to the boy. “I have to get going. I’ll see you later, Gen.”
I watch her go helplessly. When I turn back to Reid, I find him directly beside me and I jump. I level a glare at him. “What do you want? You got me to see your dad. I’m an agent now. What more do you want?”
“I don’t care about any of that,” he says, waving his hand as though swatting flies. “I want to know what happened to us. We used to be friends.”
“Yeah,” I spit back. “We used to be. I can’t believe you are pretending like nothing happened.”
“What do you mean? What happened?”
Anger flares inside me and my hand instinctively flies to the knife hidden against my thigh. “You called me a short, ugly ginger.”
“What?” Reid looks genuinely surprised. “When?”
“The last time I saw you, you yelled at me and called me that. Then you left.”
“No, the last time I saw you, we were at the swimming pool at the Association talking about Katherine.”
I glare. “You’re lying.”
“Genevieve,” he sighs, exasperated. “I would never call you that. You were my best friend in the world. I want that again. I loved you like a sister. You helped me… I can’t imagine a world where you hate me.”
For a moment my anger flares again. Then I see the tears glistening in his pale green eyes. “I couldn’t have just imagined it,” I groan weakly.
“I don’t know what happened,” Reid shakes his head. “But you have to know that I didn’t say that.”
I feel like a deer in the headlights suddenly. Something that I had believed for years is being questioned and I feel as though I have been cheated. Someone lied to me, whether it was Reid or my own mind.
Suddenly I desperately want to change the subject. My mind jumps to our current location. “You killed Coleman, didn’t you?”
Reid looks surprised. “What? No. I don’t think that was the work of a BAA agent. I think that was the CAA.”
“Okay,” I grit my teeth. “Now I know you’re lying.”
Reid’s eyebrows draw together as he becomes angry. “How does that make you think I’m lying?”
“The CAA wouldn’t target small town people - especially kids. Besides,” I unlock my vehicle and open the door, preparing to slam the door and cut Reid off. “I’m pretty sure the CAA works out of Ontario. No way would they target someone in a remote town over here.”
“Newsflash,” Reid snaps, catching the door before I can slam it. “CAA works here. In Alberta. Besides, you know the assocation covers the entirety of Canada; not just the single place headquarters is in. Why do you think I came here? It certainly was not just to chase you.”
If looks could kill, he’d be dead. “Well then why are you chasing me now, Reid? I was fine before you came back.”
“Fine,” he barks. “Then you can forget about any apology I would have given you for any real reason we aren’t friends anymore. You and I are better off hating each other.” He then releases the door, allowing it to slam shut, closing me in and drowning me in such sudden silence that it seems deafening.
I turn the key in the ignition, watching the boy walk away. Just as he rounds the side of the church, he winds up and punches the wall as hard as he can, denting the metal siding. I wince as though I can feel it in my own hand.
It takes a while to exit the parking lot. When I get to the road my friend would be taking home, I feel tears trickling down my cheeks and suddenly wonder how long I have been crying. Why did that fight hurt more than a breakup? I ask myself. Why couldn’t he have just left it alone?
I spot Esmera walking slowly along the sidewalk ahead of me. I signal to pull over but suddenly realize someone is walking beside her. Reid’s face sends a pang of something through my chest and I turn back onto the road, speeding past as though I hadn’t seen them. Looking in the rearview mirror, I notice Esmera’s smile, brighter than any I have seen in months.
“Listen,” Reid says, kicking a stone and watching it skip across the sidewalk. Seeing Gen’s car drive past seems to have sobered him a lot from when he was joking and laughing a moment ago. “I don’t know what Genevieve has told you about me-”
“Everything,” I interject, turning away so he cannot see my face.
“I didn’t call her a short, ugly ginger,” he says quickly. “I don’t know what happened that day, but I never saw her the entire week before she left. She’s mad at me for a reason that I don’t even know.”
I look up at him. “I don’t know what really happened, and I don’t know enough about you to judge who might be in the wrong.”
Something passes over Reid’s face, something shy but playful at the same time. “Why don’t you get to know me then?”
Despite myself, I find my cheeks heating, the knowledge that they must be bright red causing me to look away. “What are you implying?”
Reid runs a hand through his dark brown hair. The short locks stand up and I have to avert my eyes again before he sees my blush deepen. “Well,” he says slowly, “I was thinking about something along the lines of a date…?” He lets his voice trail off as though unsure of his words.
I turn back to look at him and bite my lip. He has stopped on the sidewalk a little behind me, his eyes dipping to my lips. I grin as I step back to him. “I think that would be a good idea.”
His face lights up and a smile spreads across his lips. “I was hoping.” Nervously, he slides his hand from my elbow down to my hand and laces our fingers. I then turn and we continue walking toward my house.
My mom is outside when we arrive and she turns away from shoveling the driveway to smile at me. Her smile vanishes when she spots Reid. “Hello,” she says coldly.
Reid’s eyes widen a fraction and he looks uncomfortable. “Hi.”
I look between the two of them and frown. “Uh, Reid, do you want to come in for a bit?”
“Now isn’t a good time, honey,” Mom interjects a little too quickly. “Perhaps another time.”
“I, uh,” Reid shifts uncomfortably. “I should get home. My father said I had to be home by two and it’s almost half past.”
“Well then you’d better get going,” my mother then turns stiffly and stalks into the house.
My eyes follow her until the door shuts, then I look questioningly to Reid. “You act like you know my mom.”
Reid shakes his head, though his expression indicates that he is trying to figure something out. “I’ve never seen her before in my life. She just seems not to like me.” He says distractedly. “How about I meet you after school tomorrow. I’ll take you for coffee.”
I smile and nod. “Coffee sounds great. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Reid’s eyes flutter toward the house for a moment before he quickly lets go of my hand and turns away. Then he is gone before I can say another word.
When I enter the house, I find my mother leaning against the kitchen counter, her arms crossed. “When did you get so close to the new boy?”
I match her position against the table. “Today. Why did you act so weird.”
“I don’t trust the new family. What took you so long to get home?”
“Gen had a fight with an old friend. What’s wrong with the new family?”
“A boy just died. Seems peculiar that it is around the same time a new family moves in. Why didn’t you come home with Gen?”
“Mom!” I cry, unable to contain myself. “You know I’m the one that killed the boy. You know it wasn’t the new family.”
The woman ignores my outburst. “Why didn’t you come home with Gen?”
I glare at her. “If you have something against Reid, you need to forget it. He’s a good guy and he’s really sweet.”
“I don’t trust him,” she snaps, her eyes flashing dangerously the way I have only ever seen them when she is in Protective Mother Mode.
“Well I do,” I spit. “I’m almost eighteen anyway. You know you don’t have control over my life for long.”
“As long as you still aren’t a senior agent, I still have control.”
“I don’t care,” I retort. “Reid and I have a date tomorrow and there’s nothing you can do or say to change that.”
“Esmera Elizabeth McKain, I forbid you to see the boy again.”
“Forbid me? You forbid me? He’s going to be attending my school next semester. He lives a five minute walk away, just like basically anything else in this damned town. I am going to see him on a regular basis and there is nothing stopping me from seeing him voluntarily whenever I want.” I ignore my mother’s yells of disapproval and stomp up to my bedroom where I drop into my bay window and watch the glittering snow below.
“Why are you acting so weird,” I mumble out loud after a long moment. “They did nothing to you.”
“I have my reasons,” she says behind me. I do not turn around but I hear her enter my room. “You have to trust me.”
“Why don’t you just tell me?” I ask angrily. “If you have a legitimate reason for not trusting him, you should tell me.”
She remains silent for a long time. “I can’t.”
“The secrecy in my life is suffocating,” I mutter.
“Well as long as you’re going to be an assassin, there’s always going to be secrets. You’re always going to be suffocated.”
I roll my eyes. “You can’t protect me forever.”
“I know,” she answers and sits down beside me, her anger gone and replaced with affectionate concern. Sometimes I swear she has a switch that she just changes emotions with. She strokes my hair and I try to remain angry. “But I will always worry about you.”
“What do you have against Reid?” I ask.
Mom sighs and looks me in the eyes. “It’s more a problem with his father. He is a spitting image of the man. I just hope Reid isn’t like his father.”
“He really is a good guy.”
My mother says nothing; just kisses the top of my head and leaves my room.
Her mom is the head of the CAA. Esmera’s mother is the head of the rival assassination association. The girl I like is the daughter of the association that I am sabotaging.
And I just asked her out.
I slowly unclench my fists, letting the roots of my hair relax again as I let go. My hair stands on end, damp from the sweat of my palms. I look around my bedroom frantically, looking for a way to release my frustration. The porcelain plate I had pizza on at supper sits on my bedside table. I pick it up and throw it at the wall as hard as I can. The plate does not break; because of my strength, it flies across the room like a frisbee and lodges itself in the drywall and stops before it goes all the way through.
“Of all people I had to take an interest in,” I mutter, trying to catch my breath. “Of all people, why her? Why does she have to be the enemy’s daughter?”
Esmera McKain, I think, connecting the dots in my head finally. I knew the CAA was run by the McKain family, but I had never realized that Emsera M was McKain. I never connected the dots until now.
How could I have not realized? She looks exactly like her mother and she has the height and build of her father. How could I have been so blind? It's so obvious. She even looks like that older brother that died ten years ago.
I cross the room in two strides and wrench the plate out of the wall. I fling it again, this time breaking through my window and casting the plate out into the yard below. It takes forty eight seconds for my father to appear in my doorway, the plate, now broken, clutched in his hand. “Something wrong?” He asks dully.
“I cannot keep doing these missions,” I say through clenched teeth.
“You’re the only one that can,” he says monotonously. He looks tired; more tired than I have ever seen him. I wonder for a brief moment whether he had a mission today - whether the pain I see in his eyes has to do with the numerous scars on his back or not. “You’re the only one that knows about the sabotage. I trust no one else to do these properly.”
I angrily let my breath out in a rush. “I can’t do it anymore. I know too much now.” I realize belatedly that I should not have said the last part aloud.
“Know too much?” My father shakes his head. “You have known the same amount of information since you started. I gave you all the information you needed. There is nothing more to tell.”
I do not respond. Any response I give would get me in more trouble and jeopardize my possible relationship with Esmera, which I am not sure anymore that I want.
My father winces as he turns toward the door, his hand patting at a spot on his side that has been stiff with scar tissue ever since a particularly gruesome mission when I was eleven. Then he rolls his shoulders, indicating back pain as well.
“Ried, I know you had a fight with Genevieve. I know you’re wired up because of her and I don’t think that’s healthy. She isn’t worth it; no woman is. Just forget her. Just let her go. Move on.” He closes my door behind him.
My knees buckle and I end up sitting on the floor in front of my bed. I wait for my father’s footsteps to recede and it takes me a moment before I realize I am voicing my thoughts under my breath. “Maybe she doesn’t have the abilities,” I reason with myself. “Maybe she doesn’t know about any association because she was not born an assassin. Maybe she’s just a normal human girl that just happens to be the child of the leaders of the CAA.” I smile at the floor as I realize how right I must be. No way could she be an assassin. She would have known about me.
You didn't know her.
The leader's children are not privy to information about other Associations besides who the leaders are. Information such as other leaders' children are classified, and information about other agents are even more so. My father does not know who the CAA leaders' children are so there was no way I would have known either. Just as the CAA leaders do not know who I am. Names on paper are much different than knowing the faces to the names. Although some information gets out, the knowledge inside an Association very much remains inside that association.
Esmera's mother only recognized me because of my resemblance to my father. Because of her piebaldism, I did not recognize Esmera as who she is. But if Esmera is the heir to the Association, she would know what the BAA leader looks like and she would have connected the dots between my resemblance to him and our sudden appearance in town. No way she has any knowledge of us.
Yet the nagging feeling in the back of my mind does not fade.