When Chief Executives of the top secret agency "Ultra" get ordered to "prejudicially retire" the classified program for training child assassins to do the government's dirty work worldwide, they naturally comply by destroying the secluded Ultra Training Facility and terminating every last student, instructor, and staff member -- right down to cooks and janitors. But what will "Ultra" do about the five young assassins already sent out on assignment to five different spots around the world?

HUNGER GAMES-esque. Dark and violent.


3. The Pit


It's dawn. Vivid and cold. Sabine crouches at the base of a Douglas Fir. She looks straight up. At the dark, branching crown. She's spent part of the night making a rope out of twisted weed fibers. She's shivering from the cold. Stark thirst. She drank water about nine hours ago, from a little spring she found between rocks. She makes a loop out of the rope and passes it around the big tree trunk. And she begins to climb, panting. The rough bark scrapes at her flesh through her thin black clothing. She climbs. Higher, higher into the naked, cold and blazing sky.


She climbs about thirty five feet, the forest dwindling beneath her, then rests on a branch, dripping sweat. Gasping. It's now that she sees two dark, hooded figures cross a small grassy clearing below. They are both carrying light automatic weapons. From their movements, Sabine is quite sure that they are Special Ops. These are not mere bodyguards. They are Government trained. They might even be Ultra.




It began to rain. The drops stung her neck.

Sabine, motionless, thirty feet above the forest floor.

In bursts of wind, the branches sway and creak.

She's smeared mud on her face and hands. She's all but invisible from below, in the dark shroud of fir needles.

The black hooded men crouch and one consults some sort of device -- a compass?

Then they change direction. They move diagonally across the clearing, holding their weapons ready.

Directly for Sabine's hiding place.

They aren't looking up too far. They're studying the terrain to all sides, mostly looking down.

Expecting her, perhaps, to hide in the earth itself.

She squints down through the bright flashing lines of the raindrops. Breathing through her mouth, shallowly, with long shivering exhales. Sweat is cold on her spine.


Sabine had spared no effort to conceal the pit.

It had taken her at least an hour to arrange clumps of moss and fallen pine needles and twigs "naturally."

All this in the darkness, solely by feel. And smell.

This. This. This.


It's senseless.

But it must be.

The black hooded men are Ultra.

They have a homing device -- for Sabine's microchip.

It tells them in what direction to seek her.

But only in a lateral sense -- it doesn't tell them how far down or up.


They approach the Douglas fir walking softly. In silence.

A bird teewhit whits suddenly, causing one to startle. He "covers" the bird with his weapon. The bird darts off, wings whirring.

The rain is getting faster, denser, and colder.

Sweat drips from Sabine's nose.

The lead man steps forward, cautiously.

Sabine biting her bottom lip so hard she tastes blood.

The "lid" of the pit is made of woven fir branches covered by clumps of moss and, to finish it off, a half inch or so of yellowed fir needles.

It's about three feet deep. Sabine had to dig it with her knife and her hands. In the moonless night.

At the bottom of the pit there are ten sharpened stakes.

The stakes are smeared with the juice of poisonous berries.


The lead man's right foot snaps the lid. CRACK!

He tumbles forward. Into the pit.

He crashes into the bottom. Gurgles out a muted scream. Impaled.

The black hooded man gliding along six feet or so behind the lead man drops into a low crouch, raising his light automatic rifle.

Ready for an ambush.


The two logs that swing down at him from opposite directions, triggered by the first man crashing into the pit, twist on their improvised ropes, making it difficult for this second man to gauge distance and how far he must jump to get clear.

He evades the first log by the breadth of his rifle barrel. The second thuds into his ribcage and sends him flying. He drops the rifle.

Sabine has tied her rope to the tree branch with a firm knot.

As soon as the first man drops into the tiger trap, she swings free of her cover and rapels down the fir trunk in long, arcing jumps.

She lets go of the rope about eight feet above the ground and falls, landing bent kneed and rolling in the fir needles and wet moss.

As she regains her feet, she whips the knife out of its ankle sheath.

Dashes to the second man, who is crawling for his rifle, she ducks low to evade the backswing of one of her logs. It swishes over her head.


Before the second man can pick up his weapon, Sabine has thrust the knife through the back of his neck.

She turns the blade, cutting his spine. He sighs and relaxes.

Sabine picks up the rifle. She walks over to the pit. Face down on the stakes, the first man is twitching. Gurgling blood. She slips her forefinger into the trigger guard, raises and sights the weapon, and shoots him in the back of the head.

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