Jade



I plonked heavily into the train seat, I had no idea where I was going. According to the train ticket clenched in my fist, I was going to Sydney. Ok, so maybe I know I'm going to Sydney but where in Sydney, or why, I guess I don't know. I'll probably just turn right around and head back to Melbourne. As much as I tried, there was no escaping the inevitable fact that kept me there. I have little choice in what I am doing, little choice. Well I suppose that's what I need to tell myself.

I peeled off the drenched leather jacket, pulled up the sleeve of my t- shirt and tenderly unwrapped a bloodstained bandage. Good, it had stopped bleeding. I shot my compartment companion a look to match his gaping one and he turned his head away quickly. I pulled another bandage from my bag and wrapped the gash tightly. I tucked my long red hair back, I knew I was breaking every standard just by having it out. I slumped back into the chair and studied the other guy in the compartment. I felt guilty about glaring at him, I mean he has probably never seen a gash like this. I opened my mouth to speak but was interrupted by a man in blue uniform.

"Tickets please!" I flashed him mine then turned back to the window, so he couldn't examine my face. When I heard the sliding door slam shut I turned back, I was alone. I put both feet on the chair in front of me and pulled the documents out of my bag. Blah, blah, blah animal testing, merciless kidnapping. Now all I had to do was decide what to do with this information. Ah, I don't want to think about it now. I shoved them back into my bags and pulled out my Discman. I pushed the earphones into my ears and settled back, the soothing beat drummed out my problems.

About an hour later, I stood up, walked down the train, and bought some food. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. I asked the canteen girl where we were, she checked her little computer screen and told me we were five miles out of Sydney.

"So why have we stopped?"

"Some people up front are checking for someone."

"What are they wearing?"

"I'm sorry?"

"What are they wearing?" She checked her little computer screen again.

"Same kind of clothes as you ma'am."

"Oh my god!" Food in hand, I bolted down the train and grabbed my bag. I ran down the train again and locked myself in a toilet cubicle. I pulled the documents out of my bag and hurried through them. I picked the one with the most damaging information and ripped the others up. I folded the one page and shoved it in my jeans pocket. I took a bite out of the sandwich and threw it away. Suddenly there was a loud banging on the door.

"Open up!"

"One second!"

I waited until they shot the door lock then I gave the guy a strong kick to the jaw.

"Nice to see you again, Scott." I smiled then squeezed a pressure point in his neck and he passed out. I looked down the corridor. Clear. I began to move down the corridor when someone stuck their foot out. I stepped over it and kept walking.

"Stop," said a familiar voice. I kept walking.

"Elias," I confirmed quietly to myself. "Why should I?"

"Because you owe me and you know it."

I stopped, damn him, spun around and fixed my bright green eyes on his steady blue ones.

"What do you want?" I snapped.

"I want you back on the team."

"What team? Oh yes, the self-serving fatuous people you call the team." He sighed. "I'll take my freedom. Thanks."

"You aren't going anywhere."

"Watch me." I turned to leave but I was blocked by three foreboding figures in long black leather jackets, like mine, tees, like mine and jeans, like me. One of them being the guy whose jaw I had broken. Scott, Jeremy and Kirsten, Elias's favourites.

"The team," I muttered and nodded. One was missing. "What's the matter? Can't trust Yuki?"

"Will you reconsider?" I turned, pulled the paper out of my pocket and tossed it casually to him.

"No." I leapt up, grabbed the opening in the ceiling and flung myself onto the roof. I dived off the train, landed well in the brush and my skin and clothes camouflaged themselves against the grass.

"Search everywhere! I want her found!"

Yuki

My fingers crawled across the computer screen. Where was it? The whirring of the computer wore at the edges of my patience, I poker my head out and checked the corridors, then I turned back to the screen.

"C'mon, c'mon." Finally! I clicked print, shut down the computer and picked up my bag. I pulled on the standard leather jacket and walked out, picking the sheet up on the way out.

I walked quickly but silently down the deserted corporation style corridors.

"Hey!" Some security guy paused at the end of the corridor. I quickly folded the paper and shoved it in my jeans pocket.

"Omigod, I am so lost, I have to be at floor 9 in." I pretended to check my watch as I walked toward him, "ten minutes. I got on this elevator with some guy who went to this floor and I guess I just zoned out and I have been wandering around looking for someone but there was no one here and now you're here and can you help me please?" I shot him a grin and cocked my head at a strange angle causing long black hair to swish over my shoulder. He looked both confused and concerned.

"Where did the other guy go?"

"Oh that way." I waved a hand absently in no way in particular and he ran off. "Hey! What about me?"

"Down the hall to your right."

Relieved and happy I pressed the button to go onto the elevator. As the doors shut, I saw the security guy round the corner and race towards me. He was yelling into some speaker. The strong hearing the corps gave me allowed me to deduct, code red (alert), Yuki (that'd be me) and backup (pretty sure you don't need translation for that one). I pressed the button to shut the door and then the one to go down one floor, I heard the guard guy send his backup there. I thought fast. I knocked the lid out of the lift and lifter myself onto the roof. Using the power that the corps gave me, I crawled spider-like up the side of the shaft, all the way to the roof. I ran to the side of the roof, brilliant, the corps had to pick a fancy hotel that had fifty or so floors. I heard the guards hit the roof behind me and automatically camouflaged myself against the stone. They searched but did not find me.

You see, five years ago I had been living a normal life. I had been an elite gymnast with my friend Jade. Jade's father, a man called Elias, had approached us both. We had accepted his proposal and had been contracted into this company. We went in one week and came out the next. We have no memory of what happened in this time, all we know is that we came out with superior strength, hearing, eyesight and strategy thinking. We also have the ability to camouflage out skin and our clothes were rigged with the same power that responds to our instincts. All this had come at a price, in allowing this we had given up our freedom, although we didn't know that at the time. We were a team of five, the other three didn't mind the loss of freedom, but Jade and I fought it like poison.

Oh yes, what does the team do? We were sent on errands, recovering documents, tracking down escaped prisoners, anything the people who hired out the company wanted. And the company always kept us well prepared, we had all kinds of gadgets and useful stuff in the fifty or so pockets, hidden in the jacket.

I pulled out extra strength rope, plain rope with steel wound through it and threw it down, attaching it firmly to the roof. I abseiled down the building and ran into the cinema across the road. I ran into a cinema, camouflaged myself and read the papers.

Jade had been on a train to Sydney with some document to seriously damage a cosmetics company, Of course, she was supposed to be heading to Melbourne but she had made yet another holiday, another escape. The others had tracked her there but she escaped, now she was missing. Oh Jade, how stupid of you. You should know better that to try to outsmart them. I dug my mobile out of my pocket and dialled Jade's number.

Jade



As I headed toward the roadside café, I couldn't stop thinking how grateful I had been to hear Yuki's voice. We had arranged to meet at this little café. I arrived before her, ordered some very strong coffee, struck up a conversation with the couple in the next booth and listened to every CD I had with me before she showed. I gave her a hug.

"What's news?" I asked after we had settled down.

"Full scale search, special corps, they are starting with this area and circling out."

"What, all of Australia?" She nodded.

"Uh huh, and further. They are desperate."

"Why?" I paused, "Why me? Why one? I can be replaced."

"You know why."

I sighed.

"Damn it!" My mind raced. "I need to get rid of them, I want them off my case."

"Oh yeh, like that will be easy. Take down the super corps." She took a deep breath. "You should turn yourself in, face whatever punishment and gather information."

I nodded gravely, "then that's what I should do. Want the honours?"

She giggled, "But of course."

She stood with an elaborate bow.

Yuki

The sun sank deep behind a rising storm before we left. It caught up with us about half an hour after we left the café, drenching the surrounding landscape. Jade fidgeted next to me, I saw her fight with her decision by pulling her hair back in a tail then taking it out, she settled on keeping it out then switched to changing the radio station. She went from rock to classical to golden oldies to pop to sports commentary then back to rock again. A few minutes later, she took her CD and placed it in instead. As she settled down, I turned my mind to my own matters. Just bring her back, they had said when they pushed the money into my hand. I had thrown it back at them and they just picked it up. Then everything goes blank. Again, I tell myself, I must follow orders, I must follow orders. The words echoed like a drumbeat, in perfect time with my heart. I must follow orders.. take her back to them. follow orders. it will be ok. ok. It didn't sound like me, it sounded foreign, far away. I turned my mind away from these thoughts and averted my attention to the road.

Jade

My instincts were hyperactive, racing around me in a maelstrom of alertness. The room was bare, cold, dark stone. The walls reminded me of the army camp this place had once been. The yelling of a sergeant overrode the scrabbling apologies of a soldier, suddenly there was a gunshot and a loud shout of pain. I jumped but realised it was just the echo of the past.

"One such as you can feel the vibrations of the past incredibly you know?" My father stood in front of me. "What you see here," he gestured around him, "or hear, is a complete mystery to me."

I kept still, calm, and my face impassive.

"Trying to run away is a very foolish thing to do, the punishment is most severe. This room was an office, a boy was murdered when his commanding officer over-reacted, the murder was covered, the officer discharged. Thanks to your assassin work, he was killed."

I shuddered remembering that particular kill.

My father chuckled.

"I see you remember him as well. Well if you think this room was hard to deal with can you imagine a torture chamber?"

A foreboding fear raced through my head.

"Anything to say?" he sneered.

I stood and faced him. I looked straight into his eyes and held his gaze, and then I punched him. He recovered, his lip dribbled blood onto his designer suit. I fixed my eyes on his. He cradled his jaw in one hand and watched from behind it, like a protective shield. For another minute or so, we stood there, watching each other.

Finally, he turned his head away and gestured. Two of the team members appeared from the shadows. I held out my wrists all the while holding the gaze of my father. In one painful burst energy rope shot out my wrist and bound my hands together, there was a brief moment as it moulded together and it burnt, leaving a line of burn on my wrist. I was taken away, all the time keeping my eyes on my father. I can't believe I chose to come here, chose to face this. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath and a blindfold was wrapped tightly around them.

We walked the whole night, down corridors, up corridors, around halls and twice though a loud mess hall, long empty but still echoing. At first, I just thought they were stupid, but then I realised that they were preventing me from remembering my way back to my father. Occasionally voices bounced off the walls, causing the two beside me to jump, but I was tired, so very tired and I hoped I could sleep my way through the chamber, but I knew, inside me, that even that would be no comfort.

Yuki



After Jeremy and I had shoved Jade into the torture chamber, I had run. I ran to my room, got changed into running clothes and run. Two, three, four hours I did nothing but run. The ex-army base was a good place for it, lots of open spaces, corridors, obstacle courses and drinking places everywhere.

I stopped to have a drink and out of the corner of my eye, I saw some stone shift ever so slightly. I pretended I had not seen it and walked toward it, until I was level. I kept my pace even and when I reached it, I pretended to stumble and reached my hand out to support myself. When my hand grasped flesh, an involuntary hiss parted my lips.

"Is it not bad enough that I am betraying my best friends that I am now being hunted as well!" I grappled the person's neck and shoved him further up the wall. "Show yourself!"

My hand was well placed, not strangling or choking only holding so I was surprised when Jeremy appeared under it, face red and panting. I dropped him, stood back and paused defensively.

"I. have been. running, following. you."

"Why?"

"They are following you!"

He threw a hand out to point and a hand clamped onto my shoulder. I ducked out from underneath it and spun around to kick the person in the back.

"Kirsten!"

She gave me a manic grin. Then she punched me in the chest. After a few useless blows to each other, we got sick of the entire process and started to fight seriously. We moved like two machines, both well programmed but I had the strength of anger behind me. My anger drove me to be stronger, better, faster than Kirsten. Every time she gave an inch, I took advantage, driving her further toward the wall. A scream of pain echoed down the hall. Jeremy had punched Scott in his already very painful jaw, it was enough to make Kirsten let her guard down and I kicked her, one strong kick to the stomach. She went sailing backwards and hit the wall, she slid down to the ground, her leg jutting out at an awkward angle. I checked her pulse, alive but out cold. Jeremy and I ran to get the medics.

Jade

A hot iron poker. searing pain in my shoulder. screams. endless screams and shouts of pain. The image was pushed away as I awoke, gasping for air. A cold sweat trickled down my forehead. I took a deep breath and choked on the stale air. I had been shoved in here roughly and some water was placed next to the door. I took a gulp of this and put it back down, to prevent it from spilling with my shaking. The sound as it clunked to the stone echoed so loudly in my head it drowned out the screams and pain from people long dead. Why was it so loud? Why is it so painful? Why did my own father do this to me? My own father? My own flesh and blood? The rage at that tore at me so fiercely, I was powerfully resisting the urge to tear all the flesh from my bones.

I contained my rage and ordered my thoughts. I took a very deep breath and retreated into myself. I felt my body go limp as I left it and delved deeper inside me, burrowing easily. I set my walls around me and reached for all my thoughts. I began answering all my questions in a row. The torture chamber's echoing had hollowed my own head to a satellite dish, that's why the glass made so much noise. The pain was intense now, because it was intense then. As for my flesh and blood. an idea flashed through my head. It tested both my father and my friends, if I had any. I reached for a thought, anything sharp enough. I guided it, harnessed all the malice and guided it to my wrist.

I was brought back to my body with a sharp yell of pain. It took a few minutes to regain myself and realise the yell had come from me. My body ached from the sheer exhaustion of what I had accomplished. Warm blood trickled slowly down my hands from the tiny slit on my wrist. Not too bad for my first try. A blood drop splattered onto a puddle of long dried blood and a white flash blinded my eyes. Old Mind! Another had been in here. Elatra, or Old Mind, is a gift passed down generations, it gives one the ability to use ones mind to their advantage. It is old, powerful and supposedly dangerous. The woman who was in here died to protect her secret. Or something. Or someone.

I took some of the blood from my wrist and touched it to the blood on the ground. I shut my eyes and a scene played out in front of me.

"Tell me where she is!" The man yelled in a voice I did not recognise. He stood over a woman, her hands were bound and she was seated.

"No!"

The woman's body went limp, her eyes drooped shut and her hand let go of the necklace she was holding, I gasped as I saw it, it was mine.

"Stop that!" He hit her. "Come back here!" He hit her again. She returned to herself.

"You sad, pathetic fool. You are sick with jealousy. Sick enough to kill your own wife, me. No matter what you do or how hard you try, she will never love you. You may use her for your little experiments, but she will never be yours."

He began to laugh, a sick little laugh that tore at my mind. "But you were." She leaned back and spat at him. Then she started to laugh and showed him her bound hands. They were covered in blood, the ropes dyed red. She dropped to her knees in a puddle of blood. She continued to laugh as she fell.

"No!" The man yelled and I realised he was my father, Elias. I opened my eyes hearing the no coming from my own voice. I tore the necklace from my neck. There was a bang, the door flew open to reveal Yuki, sweating and red, and Jeremy lurked in the shadows behind her.

"He killed her." I gasped, and then burst into tears. The laughing echoed in my heart.

Yuki

"Noooo." The voice halted us in mid-run.

"Jade!" I screamed. We ran to the chamber, kicked the door open in time to see Jade collapse into a heap.

"He killed her." She was crying and nursing a pendant on a chain. I trembled as I reached for her, so glad to see her alive. I grabbed her in a rough hug, not paying attention to anything else. I took one of my hands off hers and reached out to Jeremy to get his help. His eyes widened in panic when he saw them, I looked down and near jumped out of my skin, they were covered with blood. I spun back to Jade. She was leaning wearily against the wall, she had stopped crying and her eyes were becoming increasingly lifeless. The pendant hung loosely from her fingers. I pulled a strip of cloth from my shirt and bandaged her wrist. Jeremy picked her up and we ran through the maze of the building and out the gates. The halls were empty. We climbed into my 4WD and drove to the hospital. She was rushed from my arms to a roller-bed and wheeled inside. I followed slowly, numb with shock. A nurse came out and started firing questions at me. I replied to each one absently.

"Attempted suicide. AB negative. No, there is no one else you can alert. I'm sure." She scribbled on her clipboard and instructed me to have a seat. I sat and stared at Jade's necklace, it was very pretty, a small silver dragon with both wings folded over a small, murky white stone. There was a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and Jeremy shoved a cup of coffee under my nose. I took it from him and smiled gratefully. I looked at him.

"Why?" I took a gulp of coffee, wrapped my fingers around the cup to keep them warm and fixed Jeremy with a cool, steady stare. He opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by my mobile ringing.

"Yes?" I answered the phone.

"Where is my daughter?"

"You mean you care?"

"Where is my daughter?" Elias repeated with irritation showing through.

"In hospital, she almost bled to death."

"I know."

"You know?" I asked with an edge of ridicule in my tone.

"Security cameras."

"What? You knew and you did nothing!"

"Yuki." he began, I hung up.

"Stupid moron." I muttered to the phone. "He knew."

I took another gulp of coffee and shook my head. Jeremy slumped next to me. I stared at my coffee.

About twenty minutes later, my coffee had disappeared into the void and I had begun pacing. Jeremy watched me and it slowly and carefully began to creep on my nerves. Suddenly a plump little nurse with rosy cheeks and a warm smile came up to us.

"Hi, my name is Kerry, yours?"

"Yuki and Jeremy." I smiled back at her.

"I need to gather some details about your friend."

"Is she ok?"

"She will be. She had some complications we had not counted on, she has had some blood given to her to make sure she sees the night through, but will be given more blood to bring it up to normal. She will be fine." I sat back down.

"Name?" She adopted a professional tone.

"Jade."

"Surname?"

"Tirith."

"Have there been any attempted suicides prior to this one?"

"No."

"Does she suffer from depression or any other chronic illnesses?"

"No."

"Can you explain this tattoo on her shoulder? Is it some kind of cult marking?" She showed me a Polaroid picture.

"It's a tag from a martial arts club we all belong to."

"Uh huh, ok. What about the nasty slash on her arm?"

"The training includes swords." I thought fast. "Uh huh. Can we see her now?"

"This way."

We followed her.

Jade was sitting up, but she was sleeping. Her hair was in dreadlocks from sweat, spread out over her pillow, and plastered across her face. Her skin was sickly white. I ran to her side and brushed the hair off her face. I touched her cheek and snapped my hand away in shock, her skin was burning up. She moaned in her sleep and opened her eyes. I looked into them and in a flash, I saw a woman, lying cheek down in blood.

"Oh, I'm so sorry." A tear rolled down my cheek and I sat in the chair next to her. A nurse handed me a needle, which was connected to a pipe that went through to her arm.

Jade

Yum. Pizza. Very delicious. Yuki is sitting opposite me enjoying her own pizza. I don't know how we got here, all I knew was peace, peace after pain and anguish. I shook my head free of these thoughts and went back to my pizza. But the thoughts would not be shaken away. Flashes started, a woman dropping to her knees, a mans face, full of pain. I felt the strong pain of recognition flash through my mind. I pushed myself and the chair away from the table, I stood up and started to walk shakily away.

"Where are you going?" Yuki stood up.

"Away."

"Where?"

"I don't care, just away!" I stumbled and fell, I waited for the ground to come but it never did.

I woke up to Yuki's face. I was sitting next to her, no, she was sitting next to me. I was in a hospital. There was something in my arm. There was that irritating beeping noise that I have always associated with hospitals but never known what was. I looked into Yuki's eyes and saw my mother lying, dead. She muttered something I could not make out. Then she sat next to me and I felt her blood course through my veins. I didn't struggle and felt the life pour back into me. I did not want it, I wanted it all to end. To be rid of this pain. But I was too weak. I could not. Suddenly a cold draught beat at me. A man walked in. I moaned and my father came into my line of vision.

"No." he moaned. Yuki took the needle from her arm. I felt all my strength return.

"Go away." I struggled back to keep my posture with some dignity. I could not stand the thought of him seeing me struggle.

"My little girl." He reached out to me.

"Stay away from me!" I pulled on a robe and got out of bed. A nurse rushed to me.

"I don't think you sh."

"I am fine, get him out of here, I want to get changed, then I am leaving,"

I interrupted her while keeping my eyes on my father. She ushered him out. Jeremy looked up at me with admiration in his eyes. I glanced at him then gathered my clothes and went behind a screen to change. I then left the room without a word. Yuki and Jeremy followed behind me. I walked straight past my father, a few metres past him I turned back.

"You let her die. Just as you were willing to see me die. You did this to us, snatched away our freedom. All for the sake of your little experiments." I laughed. "You were willing to let us both die, but you only succeeded with one. For that alone, you will die." I put an emphasis on will.

"Silly little girl, a little vendetta is yours, nothing you can do against me. And you will continue to keep our missions."

"You are indeed mistaken, old fool. You will find it very hard to tie me now to your will." I walked away.

"We shall see!" he yelled after me. Yuki and Jeremy were waiting for me at her car. We climbed in and drove to my flat in Melbourne.

I set up two beds in my living room. My flat was a modern, converted warehouse. It was very spacious. After the beds were ready, we all had our showers and changed into clothes that are more comfortable. Well Yuki and I did anyway. After this, we went and bought Jeremy some clothes. Then he had his shower and changed and I made us all coffee. When he got out, all of us started debating over what takeaway to get. The other two were adamant on pizza and couldn't understand why I was so set on not having pizza. Finally, I drew the line.

"Look, this is my house, we will get what I want."

I know this sounded terribly stuck up but I don't think I could face a pizza, ever again. Ever. In the end, I got Chinese they got pizza. After about fifteen minutes of fiddling with my fork, I got up and shoved the untouched Chinese into the fridge.

"Elmo!" I yelled for my Rottweiler puppy. After a lot of scrabbling on the stone on the other side of my door, I ran through to open it. I was attacked by my eight and a half month old puppy and my neighbours smiling face, for the mood I was in, it was all too much. I resisted the temptation to shut the door on them both. Instead, I plastered a sunshiny smile on my face and said for the fiftieth time.

"Thanks Laura."

"It's no problem, he is just the cutest little guy!" She bent down to scruff Elmo's ears.

"I know and I'm really sorry I had to leave him with you again."

"It's fine! I love him." I was getting very sick of this repeated conversation so I grabbed Elmo by the collar and smiled at her.

"Thanks again!"

"No problem," she said and disappeared with a flick of curly brown hair. I went back into the apartment talking excitedly to Elmo. I stopped short when I met Yuki and Jeremy's surprised faces.

"You have a dog?" Jeremy asked.

"No, it's a kitten."

"Big kitten."

Yuki

For the next couple of weeks we stayed at Jade's apartment. The days were relaxed. Jade showed us around Melbourne and slowly I began to see her laugh again. Jeremy's aunt fell ill, so he was constantly receiving calls on his mobile about her progress. On hot days, we would sit on Jade's balcony and melt. On cooler days we would snuggle down into sleeping bags, eat chocolate and watch TV.

One day Jeremy declared we were gong for a night on the town with him. If we thought this was strange, we were very surprised when we stopped outside a very heavily tinted limo. Every signal within me burned warnings and when Jade ask if she could just take her car, I jumped to ask if I could go with her. Jeremy looked hurt, very hurt and we relented reluctantly. We got in and settled opposite Jeremy. The door shut and I heard the miniscule sound of it deadlocking. Panic raced through my mind. Adopting a look of calm I SMSd Jade, asking her to check her windows. The tint was very, very dark, I could barely see where we were, probably the intention. I pressed the little button, wouldn't open. Then it dawned on me, Jeremy had a sick aunt, phone calls every day. Stupid Yuki! A message on my phone told me that Jade's window wasn't responding either. I looked over at Jeremy, complete calm controlled all of his features. As Jade and I pulled a gun from our pockets, I was very grateful we both decided to wear our leather jackets. Jeremy's eyes widened slightly with panic.

"Hang up the phone," I commanded, "and pass it here." He complied. I checked the last number dialled and nodded to Jade.

"You son of a bitch," she commented, then she lunged forward. I kept the gun pointed at him and used my other arm to hold Jade back.

"Where are we going?" I asked coolly. Jade struck the window with the butt of her gun, nothing happened.

"You shall see." We drove for another fifteen, uncomfortable minutes then we pulled up. After a quick consultation, we decided to go along with the plan. We put our guns away and allowed Jeremy to lead us. We were outside some kind of minor stadium. We were lead straight to the middle of the field. Jeremy left us and in the dead silence, we heard a car start up and Jeremy leaving completely. Five minutes later, a man walked onto the grass from where he had been sitting. Every floodlight was lit and it became clear that twenty or so men and women, dressed in black, were seated around us.

Another person came down and another and another, until all but one surrounded us. We stood at ready. One drew a sword and faced Jade.

"So we meet again." He bowed.

"You've met before?" I whispered out the side of my mouth. She indicated her arm. Then to my complete surprise, she pulled out her own sword and bowed. They walked outside the line of people and started fighting. The stadium went dark as someone turned off the lights.

One by one, they came at me, they were very well trained, but nothing near the way, we had been. They also followed battle etiquette, waiting until I had disposed of one before the next one targeted me. Is that why Elias wanted us here? To destroy his thugs? Something was very wrong.

Jade

There is an enormous clash as metal strikes metal. It strikes again and again. When this man and I had fought last, it had been strange, not something I had expected running down an empty hall towards the only entrance and exit of the stone, cold building. The security was very loose, I had managed to get the documents very, very easily but had counted on there being another exit, or a window at least, but there hadn't. As I ran toward the exit, this man had stepped into my path and drawn his sword. At first, I had been worried, and then I had brightened. I had surpassed my own master years ago, blindfolded. And since that day, I hadn't had a decent fight. I had run into the fight a little too eagerly, he had taken serious advantage and lodged his blade well into my shoulder. Compared to all the injuries of the recent past, the still open wound in my shoulder seemed like a paper cut.

We kept the fight going, matching each stroke blow for blow. Out of the corner of my eye, I kept an eye out for Yuki. Suddenly he started fighting with increased intensity, he kept this going in bursts, then he would pause and I would gain a little.

Suddenly it clicked, bounty hunters, bounty hunters with a deadline. That increased the intensity of my own anger. My own father had a bounty on me. A huge slash appeared on his cheek. Oh my god, that was me! I stepped back and dropped my blade. He looked back at me, and then covered his face with his hand.

"How did you do that?" He asked in a voice that was loaded with acid.

"Magic," I replied in a voice equally loaded.

"Elatra," he hissed, "the bane of my world." He still held one of his hands over his face, but with the other, he reached over and grabbed my face. Soulless black eyes stared into me and I once again felt the terrifying pain of recognition. My brother and rival since childhood. There was nothing even vaguely sibling-like in the childhood fights we used to have. Those were very serious fights. I shuddered to remember how many times we nearly killed each other. I gathered my strength and pulled from his grasp. I shoved him and put my elbow into the back of his head, to knock him out.

I turned to where Yuki was finishing off the second-last person she had. The last one looked as if he would rather burn his tongue than face Yuki.

"Go!" I said. "Unless you want to turn out like your mates here, go and get my father." He scuttled away gratefully.

"Do you think he will?" Yuki stepped over all the unconscious people, pausing only to kick a guy in the chest to prevent him from getting up.

"No," I turned. "That's my father there in the stands." I pointed. At my feet, my brother stirred. I quickly grabbed his sword and mine and tucked them both away. I offered my hand to help him up, he paused then accepted. We both stood and looked at each other. I offered a hug and he accepted that too. I screamed in pain as he sunk a dagger in line with my left shoulder blade. A gunshot rang out, echoing in the empty stands.

Yuki

They fell at the same time, Jade and the stranger. They fell at the sound of the gunshot. I had seen the man sink the dagger into my friends back, and ran forward but the gunshot had sounded first. The man threw himself in front of Jade in a rough hug. He had sacrificed himself, for her. I stood there for a few seconds in the total and absolute silence. It was broken by the click of a man arming his gun and discovering the barrel was empty. Jade pushed the dead man off her and stood. The man in the stadium seats watched on as she stopped her shoulder and the man's gunshot wound from bleeding. She did not use anything.

"Elatra," I whispered to myself. She met my eyes calmly. Then she turned to the stands. She picked up the man at her feet and walked desolately towards Elias. I followed slowly after, feeling this was no longer my time for action. She walked up the stairs and faced her father. She very carefully placed the body in front of him.

"My mother, your wife. My brother, your son. Who now will you take? Your daughter, me? Or my friend? Well you can take me, I don't have the energy to fight this life anymore, even if I lived on, how could I escape this past? My own father killed my mother and my brother, how could I possibly live on?"

He looked from her to me. My arms and legs were in serious pain from all this fighting, I sat down.

"My little girl."

"I am your little girl no longer, why can you not see that?"

"I do," he smiled, "I see it every time," he paused, his voice grew cold. "But you have to die, then it will be complete."

"Complete. What?"

"The prophecy. I remove the Elatra from the world and the ultimate power is mine! All mine. That is why you must die, so I can rule!" He pulled out a second gun and loaded it. A flash of panic raced through my mind and I pulled my own gun and walked toward them.

"This is madness!" Jade yelled. "You are insane." In a movement so fast only my trained eyes could pick it, she kicked the gun out of his hand, reached over and pulled the knife from her back with a yell of pain and sunk it into his heart. She burst into tears and grabbed him in a hug.

"I'm so sorry, you were insane, you would have killed us both, I'm so sorry." She said the words over and over again. I pocketed the gun and ran to her.

"Come on," I picked her away from Elias and we stumbled away, into the darkness.

Jade

My father had been a great person. Once he had been a smiling face who had played with me when I was a little girl. When I was ten my mother died, and something inside him broke. He told me it had been an accident. He hadn't told me anymore than that, he let me stand through her funeral thinking an accident had killed her. After she died, he grew bitter. He would disappear for days on end and when he returned we would fight. My brother became little more than a shadow, at some point, he moved out. We were quite rich when I was younger, owing something to my mums company and something to my dad being a well-known scientist. My mother had run her company well and it had grown well. When she had died, her best friend had taken over and she kept a steady percentage of money flowing through my account. She always took care of me when my father disappeared. All I had to do was call and she would come. I never would understand, but now I do. I studied well, buried myself in work to hide from my father when he was home. I practiced hard with my gymnastics and made it to the Olympic team with Yuki. I thought my father would be proud and I was right to an extent. He became less bitter but his retreats became far more frequent and longer. Then he came to Yuki and me with his proposal and I had accepted, thinking it would please him. I was right, but it was the worst mistake of my life.

He and my brother were buried together. At their funeral I spoke of the man my father once had been. I was grateful to my brother, he saved my life. Maybe it was in that one moment when he saw through all the lies my father had created. After the funeral, Yuki and I stood for ages, just staring at the graves. My family was gone, Yuki was all I had left. We talked well into the night and made plans. I was going to uni to study, and Yuki was going to start her own gym. We were both going to walk away from the past, to forget the pain and suffering. We would find the peace and happiness we had dreamed of as children. A wise person once said you can't change the past, but you can change the future. After all I had been through, how could I not?