A Change at Midnight
Mirra knew that the world ran on decisions, she'd been forced to make many. A girl who grew up in a place where love was lacking, a place with danger, in a place where things weren't so pretty. Life was harsh, and with it came harsh choices. Most would assume a girl like her had grown up in a shack out in the bush somewhere, with her parents shooting heroine into their veins as so many did. Most would assume she'd been raped, or drugged, or starved half to death before someone finally showed up to save her. The truth, however, was much simpler than that. Her father had been wealthy, her mother had been dead. Her Nanny did occasionally forget to feed her, but she spent most of her time at a fancy private school so it really wasn't an issue. When her father was angry he beat her, once so viciously that he ruptured her spleen and there was an emergency surgery to have it removed. If the teachers noticed the bruises, they didn't say a word. Money could buy ignorance, and as long as she had money, how much trouble could she really be in?
Someone paid to have her father killed. Later on she would learn who and why, but it would never really matter because she had never really loved him. After she'd watched a man put a bullet through his skull, she had been given a choice to make. If she wanted, she could leave it all behind. There was money in killing, as well as a killer healthcare package, a great retirement plan...and power. The newspapers said that she was murdered, and in a way, she was. Claire Marie Wright was murdered that day, an eleven year old girl with golden ringlets, pink lips, and wide blue eyes. The child had accepted the offer without a moment of hesitation, because she had known what declining would mean. The man never said it, but she knew enough about murder to know that you didn't leave a witness.
Her name had been a number for a few years after that, while she endured training that was completely illegal and probably considered abuse. Of course, the law didn't matter in her line of work. The training changed a person, and some would argue that it was for the worse. Emotions were suppressed, morals were bent, the basic laws of humanity were washed away and replaced with a code that killers lived by. They had taken a child who wanted nothing more than the power to control her own fate, and they had turned her into a predator. A grown woman, a weapon in a pretty shell, the perfect disguise. It was after her first assignment that they'd given her a name, Mirra, because Mirror didn't sound quite right. It had been a mission without weapons, an undercover operation in high society with a thorough search that didn't allow for a gun strapped to her thigh. Instead of breaking a neck, like most would, Mirra took a more creative approach. She'd pierced every artery in the man's body, using nothing but shards from a hand mirror in her purse.
It wasn't a surprise that she was good at her job. She kept her mouth shut, lived alone, and never asked too many questions. Before she knew it, Mirra was killing some of the most important people in the world. Rubbing shoulders with the rich, the famous, the royal...and killing their loved ones, all int he same night. Of course, it was still a shock when she was told to kill the prince. Why? They didn't tell her, and she didn't dare to ask. An assignment wasn't an offer, it was a demand. Curiosity could make people do stupid things, but Mirra was determined not to let it get the best of her. Instead she took a shower, she brushed out her hair, she slid into a pair of jeans, and she took herself down to the office. Hours of hair, hours of make up, and a dress that could hide the gun that was strapped to her thigh. Ten years of training, all leading up to this...her most important murder. She knew full well what would happen if she failed. After all, they were dealing in death.
Did she fear the end?
It was a question she contemplated as she arrived at the palace, her name on the guest list by some well planned trick that had taken place over a week ago. Every one was smiling, laughing, dancing underneath the ceiling of white flowers. Some poor florist had probably spent what seemed like a lifetime creating it, and the royal family had no doubt forked out tens of thousands of tax dollars. All so that they could have a new ceiling for the night, one that glowed purple, blue, and orange with the help of a few well placed lights. It was beautiful, there was no denying it, but the flowers were already dead. They had been killed, cut open, and in a few hours they would rot as dead things do. Some people were so beautiful, even when they died...especially when they died. What would she look like? She would never know, would she? That was the beauty. A thousand people could see you when you were alive, but death was much more private. Mirra was there when it happened, the first to see it. There was an intimacy in killing, whether people liked to admit it or not. She'd once held an old man's hand, one who had known she was coming.
"You don't have a choice, I understand." He'd told her. But he had trembled when her gun met his temple, and she'd trembled on the ride home. If they knew, she would lose her job. If they knew that she'd let something so unprofessional happen, so weak, that she'd let herself be a fellow human being to one of her targets...."We aren't humans," one of her instructors had told her. "Humans die. When we become human, we die." The message was loud and clear.
She moved through the crowd towards the bar, picking up one of the signature cocktails, it's rim shimmering with gold leaf. Pushing the old man out of her mind, Mirra scanned the crowd for her target. Prince charming was always at the ball, and when the clock struck twelve she wouldn't be a girl in a borrowed dress. No, she'd be something else entirely.
Prince. From birth to now. "Good morning your Majesty. Good night your highness. Would you like anything your majesty?" The repetitive pace of life was such a drag. The pampered life. A poor man's dream, yet his worst nightmare. Unlike this Prince, his parents were the definition of rich snobs. Entire definition. From the expectation of a servant by their side, to the fancy crowns they loved to wear. On the upside, they did know how to run a kingdom. It was hard to believe he was related to him. And these parents, the king and queen, were hosting a party in one of the largest mansions in Australia. Why? Because they could afford it. Because they hadn't had a good party in a month or so.
"Come one Prince-"
"I'm coming, I'm coming. I just had to fix my tie."
"Oh sir I could-"
"No thank you. I can do it myself, I'm not a little kid anymore. No need to treat me like one Sarah."
The female servant bowed her apologies and scurried off.
The prince sighed and looked at a box entitled. Prince Tyler .
In it, sat a cliche shiny silver crown, decorated with green jewels to march his eye color. His father told him something about, not getting the gold crown until he was king. It was something he didn't want to wear, along with the million dollar tuxedo he wore. (A but of an exaggeration, but I'm sure you'd get the point.)
Time passed and Tyler was now weaving through the crowds of party goers with the only person he enjoyed having around. His personal guard. For some reason, the guard never had a name- at least not in Tyler's mind. From the time he the guard was entrusted to Tyler, which was around his tenth birthday, all the way to now, the guard was only Sir. It was a bit formal for a guard, and his parents didn't like the title, but Tyler did, and his guard didn't disagree. "You do realize you're not going to get far right. It's not hard to spot you in the crowd of rich people. 'Out of place' is written all over you."
The prince rolled his eyes and began to protest to his guard.
Tyler cringed and turned to his mother. Dang it, his mother found him. Maybe he was a bit obvious. "Yes mother." Around her, flocked four guards dressed in black.
"Dear, you're not wearing your crown. Did you not get in the box?"
"I know, I know. I'm going to get it now." Before she could speak again, Tyler disappeared. And his burly guard was right behind him. He was trained for these types of things. And he was accustomed to Tyler's disappearing acts.
"Anything you'd like your majesty?" The bartender said as he mixed drinks. Tyler plopped onto a stool and looked over at his guard approaching. He was never too far away. "I'd hate to play hide and seek with you." Tyler laughed as the guard leaned against bar.
"Just a water for both of us." Tyler nodded his agreement.
His attention then turned to a woman at the bar next to him. Everyone else was out mingling, yet she was by herself. "What's a lady like you doing here by yourself?" Tyler didn't mean to come off flirting right off the back. He had a bit more class than that. Though, when the opportunity came, he wouldn't be afraid to jump. Two glasses of water were placed in front of them. "Thanks."
The drink was excessively fruity, and not anywhere near as strong as she had hoped it to be. Placing the empty glass aside, she turned and scanned the room again, eyes flickering from face to face. He would be here. He had to. "Looking for someone?" Mistake number one. She couldn't make mistake number two, so she turned slowly back to the bartender and forced a pleasant smile. "Thought I saw some friends. Everyone looks...similar." It was true. All dressed to the nines, most of them elderly. The younger ones were in little cliques, or over on the dance floor whispering into each other's ears. No doubt she stood out, pale and blonde in a stark black dress, lips painted red, eyes smudged with black. Most of all, she was alone. Completely, utterly alone. Mirra could have mingled, she had been trained to know how, but she also had instinct. Instinct said that she was staying right where she was.
"Could I have a vodka tonic?" She asked the bartender, red mouth quirked into a smirk. "With not so much tonic?"
He laughed and nodded, and Mirra forced herself to relax. Oh...and there he was now. The queen wasn't hard to spot, with her mass of body guards and her matronly gown. Not to mention the billion dollar crown atop her gray curls. Mirra had little concept of money, because there was always plenty in her world. If she wanted a house, she got it. If she wanted her vacation in Europe, she got it. If she wanted to wear designer clothes, she got them. Of course she had money, it was stashed away everywhere...but she didn't really shop, seeing as she rarely left her home altogether. Except, well, except for this. This was how she earned it. Their lips were plenty easy to read, as was the fact that he was lying. Some people would have felt joy, or at least exhilaration when he headed straight for the bar.
Mirra? She'd been too dead inside for far too long.
There was the tiniest bit of relief, but not much more as she sipped her vodka and hoped it give her some sort of satisfaction. There were a thousand different ways to play him, a million different conversations they could have. His body guard was obviously beside him, but he looked like any other member of the party. If she didn't know that he was the prince, then she wouldn't know. Maybe she could talk to them both? Openly, as though they were friends that had come together. Before she could finish plotting her first move, Tyler was talking to her. Mirra turned, eye brows raised as though he had interrupted a deep thought. No recognition, no excitement, not even a smile. "Well I came for the free drinks, so I'm making use of my time." was her cool reply, with just the slightest hint of sarcasm. "I think the real question is why two gentlemen like yourselves are drinking....water."
Tyler wondered how long the party would go on. It had started around eight and was still strong at eleven. Even if it lasted till two, Tyler knew his parents wouldn't stay that long. They were getting old. He slightly chuckled at the thought and practically downed the water. The woman next to him had already interested him. She was one of the first people that didn't swoon over him or scream in delight. She hadn't creeped him out instantaneously. A small smirk crept along his face as she spoke. "I do suppose getting free drinks is worth the party. Because some of the best drinks are served." Saying this, he held up the fancy glass holding his water.
His guard, more relaxed than the others, stood there, and examined the crowd with arms crossed. He was no where interested in having a conversation with strangers. And he wasn't about to intrude on Tyler's flirtatious acts.
"Ah, why not? This bar holds the finest drinks. Why not hold the freshest water?" Tyler placed the cup down and raised an eyebrow. "Besides, I'm not into the fancy wines and liquors." He chuckled and listened as the song changed. It was more upbeat and lighthearted. The younger guests took this opportunity to dance and party away most in drunken stupors. "And I'd rather not be like them." Tyler gestured and then turned to the bar.
Being the social butterfly he was, he glanced back at the lady. "Care to tell me your name mystery lady?" He gave another smile. There was something about her that seemed different. Maybe it was the "I don't care" sort of attitude, or how she was wearing dark colors while everyone else wasn't. Then again, she could just be another boring rich girl...just like the rest.
"Prince Tyler. Your parents are on the move." Sir said with tapping his shoulder lightly. "I assume they are moving to the food table." He nodded and resumed his post of watching the crowd, occasionally glancing at the girl Tyler was talking to. She looked harmless enough, but it was never safe to assume such things.
Friendly, social, lightly flirty. Well mannered, but not in an obnoxious stiff way. And of course he wasn't drinking, because he wouldn't dare make a fool of himself. Mirra kept her posture somewhat casual, not slouched, but relaxed in a way that said she was comfortable with him. Her eyes flickered back to the guard as he turned, and then back to her drink as she took another sip. The Prince seemed content to talk and watch her listen, though she hadn't yet allowed him so much as a smile. Her expression was one of interest though, as though they were old friends. For a moment they weren't strangers, but old friends, watching a room full of the rich and famous party the night away.
Her eyes followed his to the group of drunken younglings, dancing shamelessly in their designer gown and tuxedos. Some might expect the Prince to be among them, but Mirra knew better. She'd read his file, and she knew the reality of men like him. He didn't have the luxery of getting hammered. Sure, he could take any girl in the room up to his, but he couldn't embarrass himself. Was that what she had to do? Get invited up to his room? The guard had to go. Well, that wasn't entirely true. She could take care of them both easily, but body guards were known for giving a good fight. And she didn't want to ruin her dress, not if she was walking out of here with a royal body upstairs. He asked her what her name was, and her blue eyes flickered to his.
She finally allowed her lips to curve up into a small smile, reaching for her drink, lifting it just a little ways off the counter. "It's-," The body guard interrupted, mentioning that the Prince was the Prince. Playing her part well, Mirra allowed the glass to slip through her fingers, thudding loudly against the bar. It didn't spill, but she jumped a little and raised both hands to steady it nervously. Her expression was one of self loathing, as she turned back to the Prince with a flush of embarrassment in her cheeks. "It's, uhm, Mirra...your highness." This time she took a drink without dropping it, a little deeper than the rest had been. After a moment her gaze fixed on him again, narrowing in something akin to anger.
"Is that what you do? Sneak up on unsuspecting strangers? Anyone watching probably thinks I'm just...completely rude. I didn't even curtsy, or stand or..." she shook her head, glancing around the room as if to see if anyone was staring.
Everything seemed to be all fine and dandy. The music, the decorum, the people- besides the ones who were stumbling due to intoxication. Tyler sat calmly, wondering what he should do when everyone left. He wasn't much of a "high classed ball goer". Yes, he knew it wasn't a word. No, he didn't care. Tyler fiddled with his sleeve for a brief moment, reminding himself of how he wanted to take it off. His thoughts were stopped at the sudden thud against the bar. He looked up and raised an eyebrow.
"Um are you-" Her entire demeanor changed from the calm and collective to what could be deemed as anger. His bodyguard only cocked his head toward them in a nonchalant fashion. Tyler sighed as he caught on to her- Mirra's rambles. He rested his head in one hand and then smirked. "Yes. Because you're now titled as 'The one who didn't realize I was the prince.' Oh, the horror." The sarcasm was eminent in his voice. Tyler then put his hand up, pausing his guard from turning completely to pay attention to the conversation. A faint grunt was heard from the guard and he turned to watch the guests.
"Hm, and you seemed so calm and collective. I guess you're just like the rest- not to be rude of course." Tyler straightened up staring into his cup. "Mind getting me another water?" He slid his cup to the bartender and turned his attention to Mirra. "Mirra. That is a nice name. It's different. Unlike the common names of normal people around here. I like it." Another grunt was heard from his guard, indicating his 'disapproval' of the stranger. Tyler ignored him and looked toward the guests that seemed to get a bit louder.