Part One: Hunting

by: Shiryu

            Maniacal laughter echoed in the alleyways, and a darkened figure burst out of the shadows before vanishing yet again. Garbage cans, bright with fire, were extinguished as the shadow passed by, their flickering light shining only long enough to reveal the bloody corpses on the ground. Smoke wafted into the air, obscuring vision, scent, and breath.


            Another slightly demented chuckle bounced off the walls of brick, and only the thudding of running feet could be heard aside. Another figure produced a fan, hidden under a sleeve, and with a careless snap of the wrist, dissipated the smoke.


            With only a glance at the bodies painted in crimson on the ground, the person hissed in frustration, and rushed off again in pursuit of the shadow in the labyrinth of walls, footsteps pounding against the pavement, droplets of water mingling with blood as the movement stirred up the puddles of water on the ground.


            The one who had given chase suddenly skidded to a stop, panting, head turned first one way, and then another, watching, waiting. Glasses glinted in the sliver of moonlight that perforated the storm clouds above.


            And in that instant, a black claw-like shape rose out of the shadows.


            Then, like heavy curtains falling across a window, the light was gone.


            The sudden darkness was punctuated by a shower of blood across the ground, and shortly after, short, pained gasps of agony.


            The sudden intakes of breath shattered the otherwise silent surroundings, magnified tenfold by the quiet and the walls. Staggering, the injured human clutched at their left arm, blood dripping steadily onto the ground.


            Lightning flashed overhead, creating an eerie strobe-light effect on the scene. A flash, and the figure darted one way, the image burned into the air long after the radiance had faded. Thunder crackled overhead, and soon the soft pitter-patter of rain filled the air, obscuring all other sounds.


            Another burst of light, and a great wave of darkness seemed to rise out of the ground; but already, the opponent was waiting, and the slightest fluttering of fingers disturbed the air and rain, refracting the light back upon the shaded apparition.


            A feral cry of pain rang out into the deep, cloudy skies, and the next explosion of light froze the picture of the silhouetted attacker recoiling from the onslaught. The semi-triumphant grin was obvious on the face that appeared to be that of a teenager.


            In the next blaze of lightning, however, a look of disbelief and shock was affixed upon her personage, and the darkness seemed to writhe in slow motion, everlasting, patiently coiling about their target – their prey – like a great, ebony snake.


            “Who’s there?”


            Both shadow and human seemed to stiffen, before the next, final spark of light showed nothing but the stark contrast created with lightning. The rain lightened considerably, and a strange hissing sound seemed to come closer and closer.


            The engulfing black was gone. Only the teen remained.


            The lonely soul seemed to stop, like a deer in the headlights, as a fireball came into distant view, coming towards the figure steadily, seemingly of its own volition. But the person knew better.


            Raising one bloody hand, the being clenched it into a fist.


            A fireball poised above her fingers, Tina slowly approached the frozen soul, ignoring the rain that threatened to dim the warm light above her hand. The tiny flame flickered dangerously, casting only the slightest brightness upon her target. Her glasses, though wet, were not entirely fogged by the rain.


            Someone had been killing the last few months. Somebody she prayed she did not know.


            As far as she knew, she was the only one with these strange powers, these strange abilities. That is, aside from the murderer.


            This was no everyday serial killer. This person committed massacres. Violent, dirty killings, that made whole wars pale in comparison. There was not this much vengeance, not this much indiscrimination in deaths in wars. She had to stop it. She couldn’t just stand by and watch like a spectator at the circus.


            The killer had to be this person in front of her.


            Her heart pounded – her voice was all but gone, having mustered the most of it to call out, “Who’s there?”


            Suddenly, her fears were realized when she saw that the person before her was her age. But who, who?


            Tina had no time to speculate, as suddenly the teen raised a hand to the air – a hand, painted with crimson – and clenched it.


            She choked – the air was heavy, dense – she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think – she fell to her knees, grabbing at her throat, barely realizing that the little flame had been snuffed out –


            And it stopped.


            Tina sat there, shaking from more than just the ice-cold rain soaking her clothes through, drawing in joyous, deep breaths of wondrous air. She could breathe, she could think, and she was alive.


            Shakily getting to her feet, almost falling on her face in the process, she stood on quivering legs, and snapped her fingers. The ball of flame flared up almost instantly, and she swept the hand from left to right.


            Nothing. No evidence that anyone had been there, at all.


            Could she have been hallucinating? All these desperate nights, all the close calls.


            Even so, she couldn’t stop the question.