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My Perfect Warrior

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Niko could pass away in his sleep. There wont be a sound nor a peep. She could take his pillow and smother him with it. Everyone will think he succumbed to his injuries.

Or she could poison him. Pass it off as a sudden freak fever from a hidden infection.

No guns or knifes or bows. It had to look like it was natural.

It would be easy too. When the privateers come to attack, all the warriors will be too busy fighting to notice or defend their injured. She could sneak into the main hall without being seen and do the deed. 

That is... if she can do the deed. Thinking of killing someone, imagining it in your head was completely different than actually doing it

She knows she's done it before. Sort of. She wasn't technically the one to physically kill him but same thing, right? 

She is fine. She can do this.

But it felt wrong. So, so wrong. She was murdering someone to cover up her mistake. Her stupid, stupid mistake.

Every time she looks back at what she's done, she wonders why? Why did she do that? It made so much sense at the moment, but now, looking back with a clear head, it was utterly stupid and crazy. What had come over her to think killing Niko was the right thing to do? What was she thinking?

He was turning Vaas against her.

No. No. Wrong. That is not correct.

Or is it?

Thinking about it now, it did sound reasonable. Niko is the cause of all this pain and suffering. He needs to disappear. Never exist. Get rid of him completely. It'll make everything better.

Citra closed her eyes, gritting her teeth. She breathed in and out, forcing herself to calm down but it felt like something in her chest wanted to explode. She started pacing back and forth to release that built up energy.

No, no, no. Stop thinking like that! If she starts thinking like that then it'll be hard for her to stop thinking like that because her reality will start to shift and everyone won't be who they are and what she does won't be what she wants to do and what she says won't be what she wants to say and- and... She just needs... to calm down. Think rationally.

She is OK. This is real. She is real. She is the one in control. She has control. 

KILL HIM!

Breathe. Breathe. 

Now, once again. What does she need to do?

Kill Niko.

Why?

To stop him from revealing who really tried to kill him.

She let out a sigh. That wasn't so hard.

"Citra, what are you doing?"

She jumped and faced the door. She didn't even hear Tane enter. Her uncle looked concerned, his eyes flickering to the blade in her hand.

Odd. She forgot she was holding that.

"Nothing," She tossed the knife on the table. "I was going to cut apples." 

He opened his mouth to say something but closed it and shook his head. "Where is Vaas?"

"I don't know. I thought he was with you."

"He's not." Tane rubbed his chin displeased. "You have your knife?" Citra nodded and unsheathed the medium-sized blade strapped to her hip. "Good. Listen, the council has decided that every women, elderly and child must go to Amanaki Town. It is safer there in case we do not win this battle."

"We will win." She said confidently.

Despite the seriousness in his face, he managed to crack a tired smile. "Yes, we will. But in case, I want you to go with them."

"What?" Citra felt her mouth go dry. "No. No I have to stay here. I have to-"

"Citra, Citra!" He took a hold of her shoulders, "Please, do not fight me on this. I'm only doing what's best for you."

"But I can help! I can fight!" Say whatever, she just needed to stay.

Tane shook his head, "You know I can't allow you to do that. I won't be able to forgive myself if anything were to happen to you. Your Father won't forgive me either." 

Her mind raced with a billion of thoughts on how to stay, what to do, what to say. "What about Niko? Will he come with us to Amanaki?"

"No. He and the rest of the injured must stay here. If we take them then the diplomat and the other foreigners will know something is wrong. They know nothing about the privateers. If we do.. lose we will use them as a bargaining chip to save our people." Tane didn't look pleased when he said that.

Citra frowned, "But you said we gave them our word we will keep them safe."

"If we can keep them safe. I don't like it either, but I won't let our people be slaughtered like animals when there is no chance. Rakyat must do what we must to survive."

She bit her lip, "I understand... and I will go to Amanaki Town." 

His body deflated in relief and he hugged her. "Thank you. Now, are you ready? Come, everyone is leaving now."

 

 

Citra made sure to linger at the back-end of the crowd. Tane hugged her again and left. In uncertain times, he was named Chief, if only temporarily and he was needed elsewhere. 

She gazed at the crowd, seeing all their scared confused faces. Funny, the only thing Citra felt was anxiety. Not fear, but anxious to get it over with. End Niko and be free.

Someone calling her name brought her out of her thoughts. Citra turned and saw it was Kalai. The older girl approached with her little sister and grandma in tow.

"I'm glad I found you. I don't mean to put this burden on you, but can you look after my sis and my gramma. Please?" 

Well that put a damper on her mood. This was ruining her plan. "Aren't you coming with us?"

Kalai grabbed her bow, "I'm staying."

"Does my Uncle know of this?"

"He does. He needs every available warrior to fight. Guess that includes me, too." Kalai's little sister whined and latched onto her older sister's legs. Citra could relate. Difference is there was no Vaas to hold on to. Was he not worried about her? Where is he?

"I'm not scared though." Kalai grinned, "I'm gonna get revenge for me and Niko. And every privateer I shoot down will be in honor of your Father." 

"Thank you," Citra muttered distractedly, looking around for even the slightest hint of her brother.

Kalai noticed her behavior. "Has Vaas already said goodbye?"

"No, I haven't seen him since the last meeting." She felt her eyes burn threatening to spill tears. "I don't know where he could be."

"He's probably holed up somewhere. He'll come around." Kalai said and hugged her reassuringly. The older girl then hugged her sister and grandma before jogging off. Citra was still hoping to see Vaas when Kalai's little sister held her hand.

"We're going." The little girl said quietly.

Citra squashed down her disappointment, covering it with anger. Guess she didn't matter to him. If he didn't care where she was then she didn't care where he was or if he's ok. He can go ahead and get shot for all she cares because she doesn't care. Why should she care for someone who doesn't care for her. 

While they followed the herd out of the village, Citra fantasized Vaas being shot in the chest. It would be pouring rain and he would be laying down on the muddy ground, his blood streaming like a river, mixing into the small rainwater puddles in the earth. Smaller rivers of blood, like spiderwebs, would pool into the dips of his collarbone. His adam's apple would bob up and down as he tries to breath or cough the blood in his throat out. His lips would be parted and his eyes, his beautiful cosmic eyes would be wide open in the realization he is dying.

She found the imagery her mind produced to be... erotic.

Or. Or.

She could be on top of him, straddling his chest, shoving the barrel of the gun inside his mouth.

Make him cry. Make him bleed.

Make him regret not caring about Citra. That will teach him a lesson.

Citra dwelled on the idea a bit more, savoring how good it made her feel, before shoving it to the back of her mind. No time for fantasies. They were amusing but she had work to do. 

Inserting a finger in between her wrist and a bracelet she wore, she snapped the string holding the trinkets together. Tiny skull beads fell and scattered on the ground. Citra cursed quietly and bent down to pick up the pieces. The little girl and her grandma stopped to wait for Citra but she waved them to go on without her.

She pretended to search, and kept up the act until the last person behind the line passed her. As soon as she was sure no one was looking, she dashed into the jungle and proceeded to make her way back.

 

The sun was beginning to sink by the time she reached the village. The battle will begin any moment now. She was hidden in some shrubbery, just beyond the line of sight.

Strangely enough, the village was dead quiet and appeared deserted. She knew a lot of people left to Amanaki Town, but she expected to at least see a warrior or someone patrolling the area. Where could they have all gone? 

There was no time to figure out the answer to her question. The privateers were here. 

They arrived in a squadron of cars; five normal cars and one large cargo truck. Her heart sunk when she saw more privateers emerge from back of the cargo truck. There were a lot more privateers than she expected. One car was parked a little ways ahead of the rest. A man, no doubt Jack, brought a megaphone this time. When he talked, she could hear him loud and clear. 

"We're back and we've come to collect. Now, are we going to be civil about this or do we have to be the bad guys? Believe me, I don't like being the bad guy. I don't like feeling like a dick. So please, show yourselves and hand over the diplomats." He paused, waiting for a reply but he was met with silence. Citra watched him shake his head and say something to the rest of his squad. In must have been some confirmation to proceed since the group from the cargo truck moved forward in a tight circle. From where she was, they looked like a bunch of ants clustered together. She lost sight of them when they entered the village.

Nothing happened for a long while. She was nervous at first, straining her ears to hear something, anything: Sound of gunfire, painful screams, battle cries of the Rakyat. But the silence remained.

What was going on?

An explosion to her left caught her off guard, making her jump. One of the cars had caught on fire. The men inside scrambled out, shouting obscenities and aiming their guns at the jungle.

Citra didn't know what happened until she spotted an arrow zooming through the air. It hit the flaming car, and she gasped as the vehicle exploded! It shot straight up into the air and over, landing upside down with a loud crash. 

A cacophony of war cries rose in all directions, like a monstrous beast awakening from its slumber. All at once they came from the jungle, Rakyat warriors charging to meet their enemies. Arrows upon arrows were released, striking privateers down and sticking to the sides of the cars.

Now was a good time as any to make a break for the village. 

She dashed from her hiding spot and ran as fast as she could while trying to remain invisible. She could hear the loud battle being taken place to her left but she didn't chance a glance to see how they were fairing. Getting to the main hall must be her number one focus. Each time a warrior happened to run past her she would crouch, hoping they hadn't seen her. Thankfully, they were more focused on destroying their enemies than to notice her. 

Unbeknownst to Citra, a privateer operating the mounted machine gun had his throat slit. As he died gurgling his own blood, he still had a firm grip of the handles so when he began to slump down the machine gun swerved erratically, its line of fire passing over the area she happened to be.

Thunderous tiny earthquakes shook the very ground under her feet. Citra glanced behind her to see chunks of earth being thrown into the sky from an impact so strong it blew smoke everywhere. A frightened cry tore from her lips as she was knocked off her feet by an impossible force of power. She landed on her shoulder and rolled a few times to a stop. 

It took her a moment to regain herself. She blinked rapidly, trying to clear the dizziness in her head and to stop the sky from moving. There was a loud ringing in her ears that didn't fade. She panicked, horror filling her at the thought that she was deaf. With a grunt, Citra tried to get up. She screamed in terror when a large object fell on her, pining her down.

Immediately she tried pushing it off. She managed to lift it a little but gasped when blood poured like a waterfall onto her. It was then she realized she was holding up a torso. And connected to said torso was arms and a head and- Oh god! Get off her, get off her!   

With all her strength, she kept the body lifted long enough for her to wiggle her lower waist out. She flipped over and dug her nails into the ground, dragging the rest of herself free. She scrapped both her knees standing up. For a horrifying moment, she looked back at the body thinking it would be Tane or Vaas that fell on her. It wasn't, and the relief she felt was indescribable. 

The sound of continuing gunshots snapped her out of her little reprieve, reminding her she was still out in the open. Citra took a moment to look at the battle, watching in slow motion Rakyat warriors gunned down like wild animals.

So many people dying. So much ruthless violence. Was Tane among them? Was Vaas still fighting? She wished she can go search for them but she had to trust that they were ok. They were fine warriors, both of them. They can handle themselves. 

Focus, Citra. Focus on the mission.

Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to continue forward.

They are fine. They are fine. Vaas is fine. He's OK. He is o-k. 

An image of Vaas being the body that fell on her freaked her out. Her legs wobbled and she almost fell. She managed to catch herself and ran even faster.

He's not dead. He's not dead. He's fine. They're fine. They're all going to be fine. No one is going to die. Not Vaas. Not him. Focus. Focus!

She collided into the side of a house, gripping onto it as a sob wracked her body. She didn't know how she did it, but she let go and ran down the pathway, ducking every time she heard gunfire. Once or twice she felt and heard a stray bullet zooming past her.

Citra went around a bend and spotted the main hall. It used to be the regular old main hall, but now it was like a heavenly sanctuary among all this chaos.

She sprint to it and she was sure with how fast she was going she could outrun a tiger. She skidded to a halt and leaped for cover behind the side of the main hall when two Rakyat warriors appeared at the entrance.

That was too close. She was almost seen.

Cautiously, she peeked around the corner and cursed under her breath when they were still there.

Ok. Ok. Think Citra. Where's another way to get in. 

She stomped her feet. Of course! There was a window in the room last time she remembered. Keeping her footsteps light, she went to the other side of the building and found the window. It was closed shut, but with a few good pushes, the flimsy wooden latch broke. She held it open and struggled to slip through the tiny space. She yelped when she fell onto the hard floor.

Citra held her breath, eyes wide in fear that she had woken someone up. Luckily, her patients remained sleeping. Thank her ancestors the battle hasn't reached the main hall yet. It was still relatively quiet in this area. With no time to waste, Citra approached Niko's unconscious form. 

Time seemed to have gone by so fast that it perturbed her that everything was slowing down. 

Sweat accumulated on her forehead, and for the first time she felt a throbbing ache in her shoulder, no doubt a large bruise was in the process of forming.

She was numb again by the time she stood staring down at Niko.

She can do this. She is Rakyat. She is not afraid.

Her brothers are out there fighting a real fight. Killing and dying. This should be easy.

Just do it. Grab the pillow and place it over his face! Come on. Do it!

This is easy. She can do this. She can do this.

Don't look at his face.

Don't look at him.

Just do it. 

Just do it.

Just do it!

Her hand trembled as she reached for his pillow.

Her brain was starting to go funny. She couldn't think straight. Her vision blurred. It felt like she was leaving her body and someone else was controlling it.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she registered hearing loud, heavy footsteps close by.

Someone stopped at the doorway. "Well, well. You're not supposed to be here." 

Citra froze and turned around slowly, dreading to see one of the guards. But it wasn't. It was someone much, much worse. 

The privateer cocked his helmeted head and laughed. "Don't be scared. I'm not gonna hurt ya." He stepped towards her and she backed away only to be met with Niko's bed preventing her from going further backwards. The privateer advanced on her, outstretching his hand. A zip of adrenaline shot through her and in a flash she unsheathed the blade on her hip and took a swipe at him. "Whoa!" He jumped back laughing, doing a quick examination of his cut hand. Citra made another swipe at him but he dodged it easily. They circled one another, Citra keeping the blade pointed directly at him, ignoring the way her hand shook.

The privateer held up the hand she cut. "Okay for that, I might hurt you a little bit." He charged, taking her by surprise. Citra didn't know what to do, her mind blanked. She closed her eyes and felt the air being knocked out off her. If she had to describe what if felt like, it would probably feel like being hit by a car head on. Her back hit the ground and stars burst in font of her eyes when her head followed.

He didn't allow her enough time to regain her senses. Strong thick fingers wrapped around her throat and tightened in a vice-like grip. He used his free hand and stroked her cheek. "Sorry love, nothing personal." He said through the blood rushing in her ears. "Wrong place. Wrong time."

The edges of her vision was starting to darken. Her lungs screamed for air. She slapped lazily at his face, his hands, his chest, desperately hoping to find a way to get him off her.

Her mind was slipping...

Suddenly, the pressure around her neck was gone. Her body instinctively sucked in air before her brain could catch up and realize she was no longer being chocked. It hurt to breath, every inhale and exhale causing pain in her throat. Citra forced away the dizziness and trained her eyes on the privateer. She didn't understand what she was seeing at first. Someone's hands were attacking the privateer's face. Citra didn't have time to question who though. 

She groped for the knife that fell from her hand when she was knocked down and with a ferocious scream she drove it through the privateer's neck. He froze and she took the opportunity to pull him down next to her. She rolled off the floor and dug her knee into his abdomen, yanking out the knife. Blood sprayed everywhere, wetting her face, chest arms, hands-

Citra grit her teeth and stabbed his throat. Then again and again.

A disturbing whistling sounded with each ragged breath she took. Adrenaline still coursed through her veins, and it took her awhile to realize her hand was still clamped around the knife embedded into the man's neck. Her knuckles were white from how hard she was holding it. With quivering fingers, she pried off her stiff ones one at a time.

She sat back and stared at her bloody hands. Slowly, she looked up and saw Vaas standing at the doorway. 

"Vaas?..." She whispered hoarsely.

Her voice seemed to snap him out of whatever trance he was in. Vaas stormed over to her and hefted her up like she weighed nothing. 

"Citra, are you OK? Are you hurt? Did he hurt you?" Her brother checked her body, smearing blood over his fingers.

"That's not mine." She said and winced at how much it hurt to talk. His head snapped up at how terrible her voice sounded. His face screwed up in as much pain as she physically felt. He touched her neck softly and drew his hand away when she winced again. 

Vaas looked utterly destroyed. His eyes welled with tears as he placed his forehead against hers, holding her close afraid to let go. "What are you doing here?" His voice cracked, "You were supposed to be in Amanaki Town. You were supposed to be somewhere safe."

Citra answered by looking at Niko.

She wasn't surprised to see the boy awake, staring back at the siblings. Someone distracted the privateer before he could kill her. It just so happened to be him. 

Vaas' demeanor changed from distraught to dangerously calm. Niko froze like a deer in headlights. He looked between the two and shuffled back in his bed. "Wait... Wait..." He stumbled over his words, panic settling into his eyes. "I won't tell. I promise, I promise I won't say anything! Vaas, Vaas brother, please don't do this. Don't do this!"

Vaas didn't seem to hear him. Her brother stood stock still, staring at the dead Privateer. He moved and Niko flinched, expecting Vaas to do something to him but instead Vaas bent down and unholstered the dead man's gun. He examined the gun and then pointed it straight at Niko.

"No, no, no! Wait! Wait! I saved her! I saved your sister! I saved her!" Niko yelled, pointing a shaky finger at Citra. 

Vaas kept the gun aimed at him and looked at Citra. "Is that true?"

Those three, little words. Is. That. True.

She could lie. She could lie and say Niko was lying. There would be nothing stopping Vaas from killing him then. He won't be bound by honor or debt. Niko dies and everything will be alright. 

The power of fate was in the palm of her hand. All she needed to do was lie. 

Citra nodded her head. 

It was true. She told the truth because everything will be alright. Niko said he won't tell anybody and she believes him. He did, after all, save her life. He could have let her be chocked to death. If he wanted misfortune upon her he wouldn't have helped her. 

And how could she lie to Vaas. How could she let him live his life knowing she's made him commit murder to an innocent man. It was wrong. She didn't want to hurt him anymore. Sacrificing herself was worth it, if it meant sacrificing herself for him. 

Citra relaxed, knowing everything was all over now.

Niko relaxed too when he heard her tell the truth. 

Vaas bowed his head, lowering the gun. He looked at Citra, their eyes locking onto each others and-

She knew something was wrong.

Vaas raised the gun, pointed it at Niko and pulled the trigger.

Niko's head snapped back and he slumped onto the bed, smoke twirling upwards from a bullet-sized hole in the middle of his forehead. 

A panicky cry came from their left. One patient had awoken, the rest waking up too.

Citra tried to come up with something to say to them. An excuse or- or-

Vaas put two bullets into the man.

Citra gasped. She stood frozen, watching Vaas shoot dead one by one the rest of the patients. One man managed to scramble out of his bed and limp towards the door unnoticed. Vaas scowled and unlocked the chamber, letting the empty clip clatter on the ground. He swooped down and picked up a loaded clip and slammed it in. Citra stumbled after Vaas as he followed the injured warrior to the meeting room. 

The man struggled to go faster, his painful whimpers striking a cord in Citra. She had taken care of that same warrior a few days ago. He fought side by side with their father.

Vaas strolled after him and stopped when he was right behind the warrior.

"Don't-" She said, her voice barely above a whisper. She doubted Vaas heard her. 

The warrior cried out and collapsed. She thought he would die instantly but he kept going. He crawled to the exit leaving a bloody trail. He was crying, calling out for someone she did not know. He stretched out his arm and died with someones name on his lips.

Silence.

Dead, heavy silence.

She couldn't tear her eyes away from the dead man. The dead man Vaas killed. Outright murdered. A Rakyat warrior. Their tribe brother. He killed him.

Vaas... He opened the chamber to see how many bullets he had left and closed it with a snap, jolting Citra from her frozen state. Her brother scratched his head with the barrel of the gun and turned towards Citra. She didn't dare look away as he approached her.

Her brother... his eyes were blank. Cold. Empty. He rested his forehead against hers, cupping her cheek and used his thumb to wipe away the blood on her face. He breathed her in, his eyes fluttering shut. He held it and exhaled deeply, re-opening them.

He didn't say anything when he led her back to the separate room. Citra paused, taking in the chaos Vaas created. Blood everywhere, bodies strewn about. It was horrifying but because Vaas was the one who caused this... it wasn't so bad to her.

"You came back to check on Niko. You liked him and you couldn't leave him alone." Vaas crouched and placed the gun in the privateer's hand. "When you arrived, it was too late." He pointed to the dead privateer. "He killed everyone. You killed him in revenge." Vaas stood up and wiped his hands on his shorts. He approached Citra again, cupping her face with both hands. "Do you understand, Citra? That's how it went. That's what you will tell people when they ask what happened here. Do you understand?"

Citra gently removed his hands from her face and traced a finger along his cheekbone. "Say you want me."

Vaas connected their foreheads. She could see the storm in his eyes. The promise of a dangerous desire.

"I love you." He kissed her softly, making sure not to hurt her. Citra tasted the rage on his lips and it drove her to oblivion. 

The feel of his lips molding against hers set every inch of her body on fire. Funny enough, it felt like being strangled again but without the pain and with all the pleasure. Her hands sought out to touch him, feel him. She ran them over the muscles in his shoulders, snaking them down his torso and under and up his shirt. Her nails lightly scratched the dips and curves carved into the expanse of his skin and touching him like this, feeling his muscles contract under her touch and the texture of his skin, it started a fire in the pit of her stomach.

Vaas groaned into her mouth, deepening the kiss. She felt his fingers grazing her neck, then brushing her arms and waist but they never stayed for long. It was as if he was scared of touching her but he could't resist at the same time. He finally settled on cupping the back of her head, massaging it while his other hand pressed against her lower back.

She knows he wants more. He wants to press harder, kiss deeper but he was so, so careful, treating her like she was a fragile artifact. What was he so afraid of? Did he really think he can break her?

She wants to break him. Tear him open and expose him. She wants to hide herself underneath his skin where he can keep her warm. Where his blood can flow through hers and vice versa. Where their hearts can beat as one and someday stop as one.

She wants to become the love that drives him mad.

Oh it was so painful now! Not having him closer to her! Closer! Closer, she needs him closer!

She needs to feel him. She needs him to fill up the emptiness inside of her; take away the sadness.

Citra breathed him in, trying to suck away his soul. She ignored the burning in her throat. She can endure any and all pain if it meant she gets to have him. It was worth it, ten times over and over and over... Her tongue flickered out, brushing against his. The feeling was instantaneous. Hot, fiery desire exploded like a fire cracker in the night. A thrilling hunger for more shot down her body straight to her lower region making it tingle with excitement.

Her mind was reduced to thinking more, more, more! 

Nothing else mattered. Her world shrunk to Vaas: the feel of his lips, the hot wetness in his mouth and the feeling it gave her each time he moaned. Citra stuck her tongue in his mouth again and she was pleasantly surprised when his met hers.

Oh it might be the lack of oxygen in her brain but how wonderful a feeling it is!

But it was still not enough.

She wanted more and she was going to have more.

Citra slipped her hands out from under his shirt and latched onto the buttons of his shorts. Vaas made a sound and did something horrible: he stopped kissing her.

"No. No." He breathed, catching his breath and rubbing his lips on her cheek.

Citra caught her breath too, or tried to. Her throat burned something fierce and she would stop breathing if only to alleviate the pain. It didn't help that every time she inhaled and exhaled it was accompanied by a disturbing whistling noise. Vaas noticed it, too. She knew the moment was over when the fire in his eyes died, replaced with concern.

Vaas took her chin and tilted her head gently, examining the angry red hand print marked across her neck. His face darkened and she was sure if the privateer was still alive he would be wishing he wasn't. Vaas released her chin and ran his thumb under her left eye. She didn't know it then, but her eye was bloodshot red.

Her brother inhaled deeply through his nose, his face twisted in fury. He looked away and exhaled, releasing the tension in his body.

"I'm sorry Citra." He said. "I won't let anyone ever hurt you again. I promise. I'll kill them. I'll fucking kill them all."

Citra wished to say something back. Express her appreciation at hearing those words. Instead, she cupped his cheek and made him look at her. Their eyes locked and she smiled. His eyes flickered to her lips before he leaned in and gave short chaste pecks.

"Let's go." He said, licking his lips. Citra nodded distractedly, her attention drawn to the flash of his pink tongue. She followed Vaas to the doorway and paused for a fraction of a second, gazing at the dead men. A hollow feeling clenched inside her chest. 

Goodbye, she thought and hurried after her brother.

 

  

 

Vaas picked her up by her waist and hoisted her over the dead body blocking the exit. Right outside, Citra discovered the two warriors guarding the main hall laying motionless on the ground. One had his neck snapped and the other his throat slit. She wanted to ask if he did it but she remembered the privateer must have gone in somehow and aside for the window, the only way in was through the front door.

The night sky was lit up by flaming houses. The second they stepped out of the main hall they were immersed in hot smoke and were drenched in sweat equally fast. Citra coughed violently as she breathed in a mouth full of smoke. She winced in pain, tears welling in her eyes. She panicked when it became a struggle to breath. 

Calm. Calm. Stay focused. Have to find a way out. Breath slowly. Hold your breath if she has to just don't panic.

Vaas unholstered his gun. "Stay close to me." He said, holding her hand in a firm grip and pulling her closer to him. They didn't make it three steps before three privateers popped out of nowhere. Vaas instinctively raised his gun, putting himself in front of her. 

"Put your weapons down! Put it down!" One of them shouted. Citra peeked around Vaas and was blinded by a bright light coming from one of their attached flashlights. It was gone a moment later, allowing her vision back just in time to catch sight of a dark figure on top of one of the burning houses adjacent to them. The person leapt from the edge of the house, landing and rolling to a stop right behind the privateer in the middle.

Kalai drew her blade and slid it upward into the privateer's back. The soldier let out a small gasp, alerting his comrades of her presence. Kalai moved quicker than they could react. She pulled the blade out with relative ease, flipped it with a flick of her wrist and in one fluid motion twirled around and sliced the soldier's neck to her left. She would have dug the blade into the other's neck but the privateer raised his arm and blocked her strike. He stepped around and banged his helmeted head against hers making her stumble back. The man aimed his gun at her but before he could shoot he cried out as Vaas shot him down.

"Thanks," Kalai said gratefully, rubbing her head.

Vaas approached her pulling Citra along. "What's going on? They shouldn't be so close to the main hall. Where's Tane?"

"He's with the others. They're driving back the privateers." The older girl glanced at the men she just killed. "They must have hidden somewhere. There could be more of them..." Kalai squinted at Citra. "Citra? Is that you? What are you doing here? You're supposed to be with my sister in Amanaki Town!" Citra opened her mouth to say something, running through the script again in her mind. It turns out she didn't have to explain herself. Kalai was more interested in the fact she was covered in blood. "Oh my god, you're bleeding."

"It's not hers." Vaas cut in, blocking Kalai when she tried to reach for his little sister. "I'll explain later but right now we have to get out of here!" Vaas said when Kalai gave him a confused look. 

"Wait, wait!" Kalai pointed to the main hall. "We have to get the diplomat and the other foreigners. Tane sent me to get them." 

"They're not there." Citra rasped. She was surprised as the rest of them. It dawned on her that she did not see the outsiders. They were supposed to be inside that room. They would've been dead if they were. 

"They probably ran when they heard fighting outside." Vaas speculated. 

Kalai cursed and looked around as if she could find the outsiders hiding in the shadows. Instead she was greeted by an entire squad of privateers too many for them to fight and just their luck, Jack was the one leading them. The man was bloodied and bruised but he smiled when he saw them. 

"You came too late. They're long gone!" Kalai shouted, settling into a fighting stance.

"Oh I know." Jack grinned, far too happy for someone who just failed their mission. "I just received word that the diplomat and his buddies are safely en route to our camp." His grin widened at the shocked looks on their faces. "Isn't it funny? They're the ones who came to us!"

The man laughed and Vaas growled in response. "Then why are you here?" 

Jack's laughter died down into a chuckle. "To tie up loose ends." He said menacingly with a sneer. "Kill the boy and take the girls. They'll be worth a few dollars, I think." The privateers collectively pointed their guns at Vaas but all except one. 

"Jack, they're just kids." An unnamed soldier spoke out.

"Tough shit, man." Jack snapped. "Look jungle bunny, you knew what you were getting into when you signed up for this job. Volker doesn't pay you to grow a goddamn conscience so why don't you be a good little monkey and do as you are told. Got that, nigger? Now can we please get this over with? I'd like to eat dinner on time for once-" He stopped talking suddenly. 

"What did I tell you would happen if you called me that again." The unnamed privateer snarled, digging the barrel of his gun into Jack's head.

Jack raised his hands and laughed but this time it was without his usual bravado. "What the fuck do you think you are doing?"

"I am tired of taking your shit. I took it back in America but I refuse to take it here!" The unnamed privateer said. He clocked his gun when his comrades turned on him. Jack shouted for them to stand down.

"You're fucking done." Jack chuckled. "You're done, you hear me! You can kiss your ass and your paycheck goodbye because when I'm through with you you'll be shark chowder!"

"That may be true but at least I won't be taking orders from you anymore." The unnamed privateer cocked his head at them. "Go on! Get out of here!"

Citra didn't know what would have happened after that. Maybe they would have escaped unharmed thanks to the kindness of one random privateer. Maybe they would have been shot anyways. Who knows because neither two options happened. 

They moved silently like ghosts. The group of soldiers were dispatched quicker than humanely possible. Some were killed while others were incapacitated. 

Citra, Vaas and Kalai stood back to back as tribal warriors circled them, hooting and hollering, jabbing spears at them when one of them would try to step forward.

"Hey, hey! We're on the same side, right brothers?" Vaas said flippantly with a charming grin. Citra rolled her eyes. How does her brother always find a way to be facetious in a humorless situation. He's going to get them more in trouble than they already are.

"Put down your weapons!" Someone barked. Vaas and Kalai did as told, albeit with much reluctance. As soon as they were weaponless, two tribal men tied Vaas and Kalai's wrists behind their backs while another two shoved potato bags over their heads.

Citra grew alarmed. She stepped towards Vaas, his name on her lips when a sudden heat wave hit her with full force. She sucked in smoke and began coughing violently so much so it wracked her lungs. Her vision blurred and the world spun around her. She faintly registered falling, then something catching her.

The last thing she saw before darkness took her was the face of Zuraidah peering down at her. 

"Citra..." His voice sounded so far, far away.

Citra...