Just by accident I stumbled on the No Fear blogfest, by Dominic at Writes of Passage.
The task is to post a passage in which your MC (or your favourite fictional character) shows their bravery. It might be in the face of physical danger, or peer pressure or personal sacrifice. It might be epic bravery or bravery that goes unnoticed by anyone but us, your devoted readers.
This sounded like fun, but as time is short, this is going to be a bit of a shot in the dark. The passage that came to mind is from my current WIP, where assassin Shayla Carver faces her nemesis, who also happens to be her mother. The bravery comes in with the act of mercy she must make when things go pear-shaped.
I haven't reviewed this passage for over a year and I suspect it needs tidying up, but here goes...
The beam lit the room, almost blinding Shayla. With a jolt she understood the sacrifice Finn had just made. She fired, aiming more from memory than anything else, but her aim was true.
Jasmina shrieked, a sound choked off as paralysis gripped her. Her eyes widened and her face contorted in agony.
"Nacrolin," Shayla snarled. "This dart I had reserved first for the Emperor, then for Ivan. It has now found a more fitting mark."
She glanced at Finn. Lifeless eyes stared back at her from where he lay.
She turned her attention back to her mother, sinking slowly to the floor, hands scrabbling feebly at her chest. "The dose was set to give at least a day of unbearable torment before the release of death."
Shayla stepped forwards, face close to her mother's. "You know well what this poison does. The pain will grow, hour by hour, as your nervous system disintegrates. There is no hope for you, save that someone might show mercy and finish it more quickly."
Jasmina's hand flashed in an arc past Shayla, inches from her face. The movement caught Shayla by surprise. So quick was it that she leapt back only just in time.
Crap! Where did she get the willpower to move like that?
But that effort spent Jasmina's last reserves of resistance. She fell backwards, writhing slightly and moaning under her breath. She was fully in the grip of the poison now. Almost completely paralysed, submerged in her own private hell.
Heart thudding, Shayla noticed that someone else was screaming her name.
"Brandt!" She turned.
He gazed at her, eyes clouded with tears, face a rigid mask of pain and terror. In mounting horror, Shayla's eyes followed his right arm down to where his hand clutched his leg. She knelt, and carefully drew out the dart. The dart her mother had plucked from her chest and tried to scratch her with.
"Oh Brandt, I'm so sorry." Tears ran freely down Shayla's face.
"Shayla," he whispered, "what's happening to me?" He grimaced at the effort of speaking.
"It's a poison. Part of my armoury. One of the rarest and most feared." Her voice seemed to belong to someone else. Someone speaking from another room. Another world.
"There could only have been a tiny amount left on the needle. It will take longer to work. Longer to paralyse. Longer to kill."
But kill it inevitably will!
She nearly broke down, consumed by grief as the implications came real to her.
I must stay focussed. I must detach myself from my actions.
"The most frightening thing about nacrolin is that the tiniest dose is fatal. The smaller the dose, the longer and more agonising the death. And there is no antidote."
Shayla spoke gently, trying not to look at the gathering pain clouding her brother's eyes. She directed her actions on autopilot, trying not to think about what she was doing. Trying to defer judgement.
"I love you Brandt. Please forgive me." She cradled his head in one arm. His face lit briefly as the beam drilled his heart. Jasmina's pistol dropped from Shayla's hand and clattered to the floor as she hugged Brandt.
Her head arched backwards, sightless eyes gazed at the ceiling, her mouth hung open. A long howl pierced the air.