• All the years I've been alive, and not once had I ever had a hot dog. Raven always said I should always eat healthy and to exercise the calories off afterward, but with no definite place to live I'm left having to get whatever I can at a cheap price. So far no one wants to rent me an apartment, most likely because I have no credit. I had money. Just no bank account. I was left with having to carry around cash in my wallet. So far I had two thousand left, and these apartments were only a hundred a month. They were nasty places; last resorts when a person couldn't afford the casual apartment room. Some of them were even missing doors. I didn't mind at all really, but once the landlord found out I had no credit, it was right out the door with me. It's been this way since...but unless I have a house I can't eat the meals Raven taught me to make. No house, no kitchen, no stove; easy as that. It was pathetic. A nineteen year old who couldn't take care of himself...
    A kid's crying suddenly awoke me from my slump. He was sitting in the sandbox, his jeans covered with sand and tears as he bawled his little eyes out. The kid rubbed them viciously with his tiny hands, but the tears kept flowing. Poor guy. No one was around to help him. Shouldn't he have a parent though? It was their job to take care of them...like how Raven took care of me. Maybe she took care of me too long though. I mean, I didn't know what else to do besides eat hot dogs on a park bench next to a playground.
    All the while I was eating my food the kid was crying just as loud as he started. It annoyed the hell out of me. Where was his parents? A Killer must remain emotionless and only help themselves...but shutting this kid up was going to help me right now.
    "Hey," I called out, walking over to him. I hope no one is watching...
    He took his hands away from his eyes enough to look up at me. The kid was really young, around the same age Raven took me under her care. He sniffled with his runny nose, sucking mucus up his nostrils. Man that was nasty. "Where are your parents, kid?" I tried to sound as sincere and caring as I could, but it sounded more like I was making sure they weren't around so I could kidnap him. Even he noticed it. Instead of answering, he was crying even harder!
    "Whoa! Hey now kid! I'm trying to help you!" I wonder how this looks to people right now. A guy dressed black clad wearing a buttoned up long trench coat with boots and gloves kneeling down toward this crying little kid in obvious distress. After awhile I figured out the obvious problem was the scar on my face. At a young age all the villains kids see are as ugly as sin or have some kind of nasty scar.
    "Errrrr..." I tried to think of something. What do kids like? What did I like when I was little? Actually I didn't like anything when I was little. I didn't watch T.V. shows or got any toys. I did have some stuffed bears though...
    I went back to the bench I was sitting on, grabbed the bag I carried with me and brought it back to the kid. All my belongings where in here, except for the two long and thin bags strapped around my shoulders. I didn't have many belongings either, except for seven bears; each one I got on a birthday or Christmas. I named them after the seven dwarves from that Snow White story. Raven thought it was cute.
    As soon as the bag opened, the kid peeked in. Without even asking he picked out Sleepy and hugged it tightly. Tears were still streaming from his eyes, and his snot was getting smeared all over Sleepy's head, but at least he shut up...
    Until he saw the scar again.
    "Uhhhh..." I put a hand over the scar. "Argh. I'm a pirate."
    The kid crapped himself with that and bawled again. Now there was a man dressed suspiciously with a bag full of bears kneeling next to the kid who was in obvious distress. I wouldn't be surprised if I heard sirens soon.
    "Hey! Weirdo!" a stern famous voice called out. I turned immediately.
    Not too far was a woman around my height with bobbed black hair and deep purple eyes. Her stare was cold yet fiery; the eyes of a Killer. "What are you doing with that–" She cut off in mid-sentence when she made direct eye contact with me. She must have picked up that I was like her too, because the second after she stopped her left hand shot to the back of her jeans, beneath her leather jacket. She was black clad too, just like me. Another sign that we were similar in our abilities. Killer's just like black; nothing to it.
    "What's the big idea jerk?" she hissed lowly with poison in her words. "I've seen a lot of sicko Killers but one that gets at kids? You're a new low..."
    It seems there was a misunderstanding going on here, but a Kill in broad daylight? That wouldn't be good for either of us. "You got it wrong," I replied, slowly standing up. "I was trying to figure out why he's crying."
    "Yeah, right. And I suppose those teddy bears are yours and you just like to bring them to the park?" I knew she would bring those up.
    "So what if I do?" This didn't feel like it was going to end well. Her weapon wasn't drawn yet. I was expecting a gun, but I was betting on how I can draw the Lightning from the sheath on my back faster than she could pull the trigger. I was ambidextrous, but I had to admit that my right hand was a bit faster than my left. She was left handed if she was going to grab her weapon with that hand then. Naturally the left hand was closer to my right...so I could probably lop it off before she could aim the barrel at me. That could work, but she was a Killer. I have to assume she's as good as I am. Not better, not worse.
    Her stare hardened, but her hand fell back to her side calmly. She walked past me and to the kid, sitting on her legs and stroking his hair. "Hey there big guy! What's wrong?"
    The kid suddenly opened up and spilled everything. "I lost my momma!"
    "Heh...you too?" I scoffed, looking off to the side. The woman shot another glare back at me but ignored me otherwise.
    "Aw it's okay! How about I help you find her? Do you want help?"
    He nodded softly. When she wasn't trying to kill me with her eyes, she actually looked kind of pretty...
    Still made of b***h though.
    "Jason!" another female voice cried, infinitely kinder compared to the venomous, strange woman. This one sound a lot more relieved too. "Oh my baby! Jason!"
    "Momma!" the kid cried, dropping Sleepy in the sand and running to the woman with outstretched arms. Little jerk.
    I bent over and picked him up, dusting off his cotton fur and gently placing him back into the bag with the others. "Wow, for real?" the Killer woman said.
    "Shut up."
    "Momma I missed you!" the kid called Jason cried.
    "My baby! Did these two take care of you?"
    He nodded. The mother stood up, taking his hand in hers and smiling at both of us softly. "Thank you, both of you. I wouldn't know what I would do if something happened to him...thank you so much!"
    "No problem," both of us replied in unison. We shot each other quick awkward glances and turned away.
    "You two are such a nice couple...thank you so much. I'm sure your children will be very lucky to–"
    "It's not like that!" we both replied in unison again. This time the glances were more of a 'shut-the-hell-up' kind of thing. Despite that she didn't seem to believe us. She just nodded.
    "Alright, but thank you again! Thank you so much..." She was becoming teary eyed, and that was the signal to move.
    "Welcome," I said bluntly and nodded once. I took off quickly afterward, trying to get away from the atmosphere of mixed emotions. The last thing I needed was to become emotional...that's why Raven said I wasn't a Killer. I didn't deserve the name I gave myself. I didn't deserve to cast aside my real name and take on the title of Killer. That's why she didn't Kill me...because I wasn't worth it. That's why she called me Lobo as she died...
    The park had a small convenient forest of trees that I retreated to, disappearing from plain sight quicker than the average human. I was faster, stronger, more agile. I could slip through these trees and lose even the best Hunters. That's how confident I was in my skills. That's how confident I was in Raven's training.
    Hunters were similar to Killers, or at least that's what Raven told me. They could trace people from countries away just by picking up their wallet or feeling their 'essence'. I don't know what she meant by that, but I was sure I could dodge them. But I also believed I didn't have to. I could Kill them. She told me to stay away from them...but I could Kill them...or I use to think. Now I wasn't sure of anything; of my power.
    I was still this shaken up...
    Once I felt I was deep enough I swiftly climbed a tall tree and sat on a nice thick branch, skulking alone in my own thoughts. The last thing a Killer needed was emotions, and here I was a mess of them. Depression, sadness, confusion, not even sure if confusion counts as an emotion. But it was there, just like the rest of them.
    "You're not a Killer, you're a baby," similar and nostalgic words rang in my ears. I shot my attention to the tree next to me to see the woman from before standing on a higher branch, leaning against the tree with her hand wrapped around a handgun. "You have that look, but your aura is all messed up. Those bears you carry around, that mopey air around you; there's no way you can be a Killer."
    I ignored her and placed my head on my knees as I hugged them, curling up. "You're a weirdo, you know that?"
    There was a bit of silence. When she was sure I wasn't going to respond, she continued. "I'm just here to make sure you don't go crazy. You don't have the soul or control of a Killer, but you have the skills I bet. If you try anything funny to anyone here, I won't hesitate to put a bullet through your ******** brain, you hear me?"
    No reply from me again.
    "I said, 'you hear me'? I'm a real Killer, boy. I can beat you silly."
    This time I drew the Lightning and hopped over to the branch she was on faster than she could react. When I stuck the blade to her throat, however, the barrel of her gun was pressed against my lymph node. Our eyes locked in a deadly stare; not a glare or a dark look, just a stare with open eyes, not even blinking.
    "Go for it," she prodded. "All I get is a tiny cut and you get a bullet through your neck. Guess who survives?"
    "Are you sure?" I asked. "Think really carefully. I could lop your head off faster than your brain can send the signal to pull your finger back."
    "Care to cite that fiction?"
    "How about I just do it?"
    My emotions were suddenly gone. Now I was back in the groove. My mind was set on one thing, and one thing alone; this woman's death. I was so eager to put my skills to the test, to see if I really was as good as I believed to be. This was the perfect moment, the chance to prove I can decapitate someone faster than they can send the signal to move a body part. That had to be impossibly fast, but if I can do it, then I could bring honor back to Raven.
    But I hesitated.
    "You're not going to do it," she finally said, dropping her gun down to her side. "Like I said. You're not a Killer."
    "Shut up..."
    "Have you even Killed anyone? I bet you haven't."
    My arm jolted at the words, cutting her flesh just a bit. Her gun suddenly came back to visit, this time right to the forehead. But a sly smirk spread on her lips. "I see...you Killed someone close to you, right?"
    A Killer had to be smart; exploit any and all weaknesses. Study our target's emotions, look for keywords to distract them, that kind of thing.
    She was good. Very good.
    Right now I wasn't a Killer...so I let the blade fall from her neck and back to my side. "I thought so..." she said as she holstered her weapon in her pants. "Any man carrying around teddy bears has to be a baby."
    I didn't respond in anger this time. Instead, I agreed.
    "Yeah, I am."
    "Why don't you ditch them?" she asked, now her voice filled with sincerity. Maybe a front, but whatever. I didn't care anymore.
    "Because the person I Killed gave them to me for every birthday and Christmas up until I was eight.
    She stayed silent for a moment, probably calculating numbers. "So...this person was like your foster parent and picked you up at the age of four?"
    I wasn't impressed, but she got it right. "Yeah."
    Even though we were having a little heart-to-heart chat right now her eyes were colder than ice. That was another sign of a true Killer. I was becoming envious...maybe Raven would have liked her to be her student instead of me. At the very last moment I bet she wished she never picked me up from that damn orphanage. She risked her life for me...
    "Hey, hey!" she suddenly slapped me hard. There was a tremendous echo and a throbbing pain on the right side of my face. "What's with that look? I don't get you! You're suppose to be a Killer, right? And if I had to guess this foster parent of yours must have trained you. I'm guessing a woman since she bought you stuffed bears. So she trained you...and..."
    A Killer must have good memory to pick up clues from earlier. I knew where she was heading. It was as obvious as I was at the playground with the kid. It stuck out badly.
    "Oh...you lost your mom..." she said softly, but not sadly. "I see. You Killed your mom."
    The Lighting found it's way to her neck again, but this time she didn't budge. She didn't even draw her weapon again. "I didn't Kill her..." I said, my voice filled with sorrowing anger.
    "It might not be by your standards, but a Kill is a Kill. Even if it's in cold blood. You Killed her, didn't you?"
    I didn't want to hear anymore. To escape I began to jump from branch to branch, a technique Raven taught me as a means to move quickly and undetected. Even that I couldn't do right anymore! After the fourth one, I slipped and fell off. On my way down I jammed my blade into the tree and halted myself halfway down, hanging by a hand.
    "Pathetic," the woman crooned. "You're a real mess right now. By far the weakest 'Killer' I've ever seen." She put great emphasis on the word...
    "Why don't you leave me alone?" I spat back harshly. "Who are you anyway?"
    She smiled, but with her eye shape it was more of a mischievous grin. "Amelia Anastasia Vanderveldt, kid to the famous Ophelia Winters Vanderveldt. And you are?"
    "Who said I was going to tell you my name?" I drew the Rook with my left hand and dug it deep into the bark. Using both blades I started to scale down to the ground, filling the tree with deep holes along the way. I hate hurting nature...but unless I wanted a sprained ankle or worse this was the best I could do. I actually like plant life. It was pretty and soothing to meditate in...
    Maybe I should try that. Raven use to make me meditate whenever I was having trouble with my emotions before. Why didn't I think of this earlier?
    When I stepped down, however, she was there to meet me. "It's common sense to introduce yourself after someone introduces themselves! In fact you should have done it first since you asked."
    "Yeah, well I didn't really care if you answered or not. Go away."
    "No way. Remember what I said earlier? I'm keeping an eye on you. You don't have the soul or control, but you have the skill. I don't need a baby rampaging through this city Killing innocent people just because he's a little blue. I don't care what happened since it has nothing to do with me, but this does. This is my mother's city, and if you cause her grief, I'll Kill you. That's my Code."
    I haven't heard that in awhile.
    All Killers have a Code. It's a definition of who we are. The Code states what kind of prey we prefer, and for what reason. This is what separates us from the Hunters and murderers. No one can put us all in the same category. We were as different as ninjas and samurais, yet they came from the same country. My Code use to be to Kill anyone that would cause discomfort to Raven. I didn't have the balls to commit suicide though. So now what?
    These were the facts; I was not a Killer. I've been saying that word over and over, and the reason why is because I wasn't one, but I wanted to be one. But she had a Code very similar to mine. She had someone she would Kill for.
    I was becoming more envious as time passed.
    And with that I lost my will to argue with her, and I didn't have much will to start with. "Fine, I won't cause any trouble. I promise."
    "I'll be the judge of that," she said. "Anyways, what's your name?"
    "Killer 13," I answered. She didn't seem impressed by it though.
    All Killer's replace their given name with the name Killer and whatever they want afterward. In my case, 13. Sentimental reasons. Amelia didn't give her name though. I haven't thought about that...if anything that's just another sign I'm not use to the Killer's life!!
    "You realize you're not a–"
    "Alright! My name is Lobo Midnight! There, happy? I'm not a Killer, I'm just a regular civilian walking around with bags with swords and teddy bears!" I threw my hands into the air in defeat. "Go ahead! Rub it in! Add to my misery! It's not like I had enough!"
    She let out a sigh. "Shut up crybaby. I don't want you bitching the entire time I'm watching you."
    This time, both siblings were out. "You know, I was actually going to just do what you say, but now I think I'll Kill you. My new Code is to Kill everything that annoys me."
    Another smirk spread across her lips as she drew two guns now. "Dual wield, huh? Two swords against two guns. I know for a fact that those swords are too heavy to use in one hand each, and all I have to do is pull a trigger."
    "Everyone and their grandmother has guns. I know how to deal with them just fine."
    "Even against a Killer?"
    I nodded. She wasn't too far from me. This wasn't going to last very long at all. We weren't fighters, so it's just a squabble. It wasn't going to be like in the movies where people block bullets with swords and such. Oh no. It was going to be much different than that...
    I threw the Rook into a tree, piercing through the bark easily. For a split second her attention turned left, and I ducked right. She fired faster than I thought she would, but still missed. And like a good plan being carried out, everything went completely smooth. I was right up in her face, the Lightning now pressed against her neck and her arms locked against her body thanks to my own pushed up against her. She couldn't move, shoot, dodge; nothing. And she knew it. Her face looked like she ate a really hot pepper, her teeth clenching down hard and her face in a vicious scowl.
    "Check–" I was going to say 'mate' until her eyes flashed blood red. I was so shocked that I pulled back just a bit, and then I was sent flying through the air, slamming hard into a tree. My spine cricked badly with the impact, and when my body fell forward into the ground my chest was smashed against the floor. I coughed hazardly, the wind knocked out of me from both ends. When I looked up, she had both guns aimed right at my head.
    "Even against a half-vampire?" There was no humor in her voice anymore. Now she was mad. I couldn't win now...once again I hesitated and it cost me the game. This time, however, she wasn't going to pull back.
    "Fine...you win," I admitted. "I really can't move...so just...finish me..." It was an ordeal just to try to talk. Normally people would be all freaked out by learning that a monster of folklore existed, but since I was going to die anyway I guess I wasn't thinking on it too much. Just the things I wish I could have done. I was seeing the end in my mind. I didn't make it far without Raven at all...
    I stared up at her, holding eye contact with her. There was so much anger in her them, and such hate. That couldn't just be from me, could it? Just because I had her pinned for a few seconds...I imagined it was a blow to her ego, that she teased me all this time and expected me to be weak, but I felt like there was more to it than that.
    "Well, what are you waiting for? I can't move right now, but in about a minute I should be able to. I'll cut your head off if you're not careful." I really shouldn't be egging her on but with two guns aimed for my brain and not knowing when it was coming, I was very nervous.
    But she didn't move a muscle. She just stared, her rage still building. Was she harboring it until she peaked? I wonder how many times she would shoot me until she calmed down.
    Amelia suddenly holstered both guns, placing them behind her back. Confused, I continued to watch her eyes, but then suspected a beating first.
    "I'll beat you..." she began. "With my own power. I don't need any help from my lineage. I'll take you down with my own two hands, even if I have to rip you apart piece by piece with my mouth."
    She extended a hand toward me. "I'll admit this time, I lost. Don't expect it to happen again..."
    The whole Raven flashback came to me again. Now would be the time to stick the Lightning through her stomach. Why would I let her live when it was a death match? No true Killer would do that. They would finish the job. Play the game to the end!
    I could move again. Right now I had the chance to cut her head off. Nothing could survive without it's head, not even a vampire I bet. And if stakes could kill them, then a razor sharp steel blade could do better. Yeah, she did lose. She left me alive. She assumed that I was going to let her live just because she let me! That's not the sign of a true Killer!!
    My hand reached up and grabbed hers. With little effort she pulled me up to my feet. Strong vampire. "Alright," I said. "The score is one-zero. I lead."
    But whatever. I'm not a Killer...well, a normal Killer.
    Man that word is starting to get annoying.
    She glowered at me for a bit, dropping her chin to glare up at me. "Don't get use to it. I'll snatch two points away faster than you can react."
    "Care to cite that fiction?"
    She stared at me long and hard, but her lips betrayed her. One of the corners curved up in a smile as her eyes lightened a little. She shot around and hissed, "Shut up, Lobo."
    "Ladies first."
    "I swear to God Lobo, shut up."
    "Well if you shut up then I shut up!"
    "SHUT UP!"
    Bam! Fist right to the nuts. I fell to my knees, short of breath again and grabbing onto my junk. "...b-b***h!"
    "I told you to shut up!"
    "Ahh...ahh...I think one of em popped...ahh..."
    "Want me to get the other one? Shut up!"
    "The hell is wrong with you!?"
    "God damn it! Don't you know the meaning of shut up!?"
    I quieted down finally and rested my forehead on the ground, hanging onto them. There was yet another brief silence between us.
    She broke it again.
    "So, where do you live?" she asked, her back still turned to me.
    "Nowhere now...just wandering around..."
    Another awkward pause...
    "...hey...actually I have something to admit..."
    "You're not a Killer."
    "At least let me say it!" she whipped around and shouted, then averted making eye contact. "But yeah...I have the same problem as you I guess. Emotions. I can't Kill certain people...in my case innocent people. Anyways, yeah, so....I've been wanting to go to a place where I could get over it. The thing is I want to do it without my mother's help. She'd give me money for a mansion if I wanted, but I want to do things on my own. Well, things that I don't need her help for."
    "Oh? Where did you want to go?" I got up back to my feet slowly and stretched the groin region lightly.
    "Constantine," she said abruptly. "The super city-state. I hear there are some real bad people there, and some are borderline between good and evil. I figure I could get some practice there."
    "Okay, then why not go?"
    She looked at me sheepishly. "I have no money...and even if I get a job I can't afford to live there on my own..."
    "You...you want a roommate?" I was aware how expensive it was to live at Constantine. It was a 'white' city. There wasn't any trash, graffiti, the police force was pretty good, but this just meant there weren't any thugs. There were some hardcore villains floating around from the stories in the news. Super villains and stuff. But hey, I was here standing with a vampire chick. I've heard of worse. Still, it's a rough place to live. If someone wanted to live there they needed connections.
    "As you probably know there are a lot of strong people there. I can't just go alone. And I don't want to go with my mom's guards or anything, since they'll treat me like royalty so...I choose you. You're strong...so maybe we can make it there together. Just get a job, alright? Or better yet we can work as assassins or something. I know it's not what we're good at but how hard can it be? I bet we can figure it out, right?"
    "I guess...but why me? I mean vampires are stronger than humans right? You proved that, so why not just go with one of them? And from the sound of it your mom must be rich if she can give you money for a mansion and has guards."
    "Yeah she was the vampire queen."
    Something clicked. That sounded familiar. The name too. Vanderveldt...
    "So...you're a vampire princess then?
    "Well, not really, but it's a long story."
    "It has something with you being only half-vampire, meaning your dad was human? So the vampires don't like that, right?"
    She shook her head. "Sort of. Like I said, it's a long story. I'll tell you another time. Anyways, are you going to come with me or not? Like I said, I need someone strong. We can get into the assassination business and we can get stronger along the way. Growing up in a merciless place will help us. So are you in?"
    It's not like I had anywhere to go. At least she would be my companion. And maybe Constantine was the place to redeem myself. There were still a lot of things I was confused about, but at the moment I felt I could trust her. There was something about nearly Killing each other that tells me a lot about her. Not sure what exactly, but deep down I think she might have been...gentle. I almost laughed at the thought.
    But Constantine was a place outsiders went to die. They almost never make a life there. Some didn't even last a few days, yet it was the place where everything happened. The one place to make a rags-to-riches story come true. If I could make it as a Killer there, I had it made. Even I knew that. It would be the best way to honor Raven. For her student to become the best Killer in the world. Civilians could live there easily. But we were aiming for the Black Work, the very thing Constantine thrives on. No one wants to share it of course, and any new competition was dealt with swiftly. Amelia expected us to survive, so either she was nuts or very hopeful. But she didn't go by herself, even with her ego. That meant she knew the peril too and still thought we could make it.
    "I still don't understand," I said, dusting my knees off. "You want us to work as assassins to pay bills and rent, and along the way you hope to become stronger, right? But why do you want to be stronger?"
    Her face suddenly took a sullen turn. Looks like I found her sensitive spot.
    Her hands balled up into tight fists and shook a little. "It has to do with my dad...because of him my mother and I have been miserable...I don't feel like talking about it, but I want to become the strongest Killer in the world. And when I am, I will Hunt him down and find him."
    She nodded slowly. "I'll do whatever it takes, become whatever I need to become, just to find that man. If I have to become a Hunter, I'll do it. I'll use both skills to do whatever it takes to take him down."
    "You do know that there are hundreds and hundreds of Hunters in Constantine, right? They'll be looking for us. They're hired to take out any new comers."
    "Then I'll Kill them. Easy as that."
    "You're prepared for this?"
    She nodded again.
    "You're crazy. You've heard the horror stories about super powered creatures running amok, of huge mafia families, of corruption in major corporations, and you still want to go. You know all of them are somehow connected with one another, right? It's a web. In the end it goes back down to the Killing; one of the main parts of Black Work. To eliminate everyone else is their number one priority. Even Killers will be after us. You seriously think the two of us stand a chance?" I was all for the idea. It sounded like a good plan. But I had to face it; not everyone is destined for greatness. "We'll stick out like sore thumbs if we advertise. We might even get pulled into a trap."
    "I've already thought about all of it," she replied. "But you want to do it too, right? To become strong. This life isn't enough for me...and I have to live a really long time. Maybe you don't mind since you'll live one hundred years maximum, but I want to carve my name into the world as the one who defeated my father. So no one will mess with me or my mother ever again..."
    She was serious. The Killer essence came back. If she fought me now I wasn't sure I'd win.
    But it was kind of contagious...I felt a surge of energy and courage rushing through me. I wanted the same, but to bring honor to my mother.
    "Alright..." I said. "I'll do it."