“Go on, Ms. Curry. Please load and fire the weapon at the target downrange.” Mr. Klint held out a pair of shooter’s earplugs, which the “applicant” took with a trembling hand.

Curry desperately hoped that her hosts couldn’t see the sweat beginning to bead along her upper lip, the hairs on her forearms prickling alarmedly. She was in over her head, and those kindly and dapper assassins had told her not minutes ago that failing the test would lead to her immediate death.

“Why, whatever is the matter, Ms. Curry?” said Mr. Wyd with exceptional politeness. “Would you prefer a different weapon, or a different load? The Imanishi 9 is our standard pistol…”

“…but you could use a Moses Model 19…” added Mr. Klint.

“…or a Grünwald KPK if that is your preference,” finished Mr. Wyd.

“I…would prefer the Grünwald,” said Curry. She hoped that the Germans’ reputation for engineering would mean that such a gun would be easier to use for someone who’d never fired one in her life, but any hope of successfully bluffing her way into the organization and getting an idea of where they’d taken Chris seemed to be swiftly fading.

“Very well!” Mr. Wyd swapped out the gun with blistering speed; Curry tried to see how he unloaded the Imanishi and popped a bullet from the top part of the gun by pulling it back, but the master assassin’s hands were a blur.”

“Would you prefer a full metal jacket load, or hollow-point?” asked Mr. Klint, holding up two magazines.

“We’ve depleted uranium, sabot, and ratshot as well,” chimed Mr. Wyd, “but I’m sure you’ll agree that they are nor suitable for such a demonstration.”

“Of…of course…” stammered Curry. “I’ll take the hollow-point.”

The assassin chose one of the magazines–not the one Curry thought she’d chosen, but he didn’t seem to notice–and, to her great relief, loaded it for her and made it ready to fire. With trembling hands, she took aim.

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