An original fiction by Ayame-chan

-Chapter One: Assignment-

She remembered running as fast as she could to hide. She didn't know where she was going, but it didn't matter. She needed a place to hide somewhere, anywhere to hide from the man hunting her down. She didn't know why he was going after her, but again it didn't matter. Her mother, in her last breath, told her to run and she did like the obedient daughter she always was.

So why did she do wrong for him to kill Mama?

As these thoughts ran through her head, she tripped over a root that was in her path and tumbled into the mass of leaves, dirt, and twigs in front of her hard. Her tiny body winced in pain at impact, but she refused to cry out. Because if she did, he would find her.

She quickly got up but stumbled forward and fell again because one of her legs would not cooperate what her mind willed it to do.

"You can't hide from me, you little bitch!"

Her sensitive ears, aching from hearing her own pounding feet, heard his footsteps come closer. She tried to get up, but all she could do was crawl. The wall blocked her way now, and it dawned on her that she didn't run really far. It really wasn't hours ago that Mama was killed before her eyes; it was only minutes ago.

When her small hands touched the cold stone wall of their home, all she could think of doing was to turn around and watch. She watched him approach her, his sword stained fresh with her mother's blood, and awaited to face the same fate as her mother.

She stared up into his cold coal eyes, eyes that used to welcome her in open arms and a cheerful smile. Now they only met hers with hatred -- cold, raw hatred. Only one question filled her mind as he raised the weapon over his head, ready to strike her body without hesitation: why?

Before she could close her eyes, she heard the swing of another sword hit flesh and saw the tip of a blade poke out of his chest. The man held a look of surprise on his face as he stared down at the blade that pierced his chest and turned his head to the assailant behind them, muttering words that were foreign to her. She watched as the blade turned and exited out his side, his body replaced by the shadow of another man with eyes sharing the color of her own.

[Thirteen years later...]

She sat in the office alone with only the sounds of the grandfather clock in the corner as her companion. She stared at the empty desk in front of her and then back down at her hands, worn from the years of practice and use of the sword. The young woman looked back up again and sighed, closing her eyes to meditate. She wondered why she was called here and what, if anything, did she do out of the ordinary to be called. It wasn't often that the head of the organization she worked for called her into his office.

The sounds of footsteps caught her attention, but she patiently waited since her boss was still far away. It was natural for her to hear things within a couple hundred meters from where she was. When she was younger, she couldn't distinguish the difference between those far away and those only about a block away and often confused other people around her because of her mistakes. Of course, years of training worked that out, and now she was beginning to decipher between the different footsteps of the people she associated herself with.

She turned when she heard the door open. A man who looked like he was in his mid-fifties entered. His white hair was tied back in a short ponytail, feline coal black eyes peered into the room and his bronze skin blended nicely with the dark suit he wore. His face was chiseled and battle-worn, but his face lightened at seeing the young woman sitting in the chair inside.

"Ah, Masao, you're here," he greeted her, his voice deep. "That's good."

Masao gave a slight nod, watching the old man stroll towards his desk.

"You called for me, si--" she stopped short, correcting herself. "Uncle Leo?"

Leo Zecht smiled as he took his seat, folding his catlike hands in front of him. He may have looked fifty-something, but in reality he was over six hundred years old.

"Yes, yes I did, Masao," he replied. "How have you been doing?"

Casual conversation was a typical Zecht trademark and though Masao had lived in their household for the past thirteen years, she was still not quite used to it.

"Um...fine, Uncle."

"Your last mission wasn't too difficult?"

"No, no it wasn't."

Leo gauged her reaction, his eyes showing concern of some sort. At least, Masao thought so.

"...Is that so?"

Before she could ask him what was wrong, a knock came at the door and opened without bothering to ask permission to enter.

"Hey, Father, it's Taille," said the new person entering, but he stopped short when he greeted Masao's eyes.

"Damn, what does the old man want with me now?" he muttered under his breath as he strolled through his spacious home.

Taille Zecht didn't pay mind to the servants who moved out of his way to greet him, too preoccupied in figuring out what in the world did his father want from him this time. He had just returned from a recon mission and although it wasn't too taxing, he was merely half-youma -- meaning that he didn't have the strength nor stamina that his elder siblings had, who were full-blood youma. He was twenty years old, but his lifetime was only a small fraction of how long they lived.

That was the curse of being part youma, part human, he supposed.

Taille reached the large, wooden oak doors of his father's office and paused for a second to brush back his unruly hair, a velvet brown in color -- one of the few physical traits he inherited from his mother. He didn't have time to change since coming back from the mission and just entered the mansion. If his father complained about his state of dress, a slightly ruffled beige shirt over black cargo pants and black steel-toed leather boots that he managed to find clean after one week in enemy territory, looking over his life and the lives of the men he was given charge of, he didn't care.

Regaining his composure, Taille Zecht knocked on the door.

"Hey, Father, it's Taille," he said and opened the door without waiting to hear a reply, an old habit that ran among him and his brothers.

As he entered the room and took a quick look around, his amber eyes locked on with a pair of soft violet ones and was left speechless. Sitting in the room with his father was what Taille thought to be one of the most beautiful yet dangerous women in the organization. Her jet black hair was tied back in its usual low ponytail at the nape of the neck, exposing what little smooth porcelain skin she allowed to show. She wore dark colors as usual -- a light black coat over a navy blue turtleneck and black pants and boots. A belt wrapped itself around her waist and a loop on the belt where her sword would be was on her hip.

She was only three years younger than him, but the woman before him gained the reputation in the organization and to their enemies as the most skilled the successful assassin of their time since entering at the tender age of four.

"Ah, Taille, welcome back," Leo Zecht greeted his younger son. "I apologize for calling you in after you had just returned." He held a hand out to Masao sitting across from him, his eyes telling his son that this order he was about to be given was not one to be disputed about.

"I would like to introduce to you your partner, Masao Kaene."