The night stretched on like any other as a blue-eyed angel strolled across a lively, starlit sidewalk. On a night like this, any normal girl would be seen hanging out with her friends or wandering about with a love cradling in her arms. But this girl was different.

"Another night," sighed Sapphire.

She could not comprehend why the late shift was always forced upon her. Overturned always was the fact that she had a life of her own to maintain. Nobody seemed to even care about what Sapphire wanted.

Responsibility. What does this have to do with me?

All she wanted was to be out there with the rest of the crowd. For once, she just wanted to experience life the way everyone else was.

I suppose it is kind of significant.

Sapphire changed her glance only to gaze down at a couple sitting snugly together by the placid lake shore.

But all I ever see are couples and friends. Even the old people are out having more fun than me! This sucks.

Sapphire quickly turned back to her "duties." She was to "keep an eye on the happenings in the city." In other words, keep walking the streets until it was time to switch shifts with another member of the Angel group. Sapphire hated her job. She would much rather be in one of the group of friends that would pass her by every now and then. She wouldn't even mind being one of the couple sitting down by the lake. Anything would be better than aimlessly wandering the streets in search of anything that would seem amiss.

Humph, the only thing I see that's wrong is my being here./p/i

Occasionally, she would get a few stares at her mysterious stature. She did look a little frightening with her long, black cloak covering her slender form and half covering her long, intricate scythe. The people whose glares wandered a bit too long were forewarned by the people who knew Sapphire and understood her job. Thus the stares were quickly dissipated and the strangers continued on their way. A dark cloud began to form over Sapphire's clenched countenance.

Idiots. Yeah, just stare. Stare at the lone girl walking down a dark alley with the long dangerous scythe. I swear, if I hadn't taken the goody two-shoes oath....

Sapphire kept walking. As she brewed over the night, her walk led her to a small coffee shop that had a little sign in the corner of the window indicating that the cafe was open all night.

This ought to pass some time.

She started towards the entrance and grasped the door handle, but a sudden noise caught her attention. The sound was metal on metal. Sapphire quickly turned about with enough grace to put any model to shame. With her hand gripping tightly the long slim handle of the scythe, her deep blue eyes traveled to a corner where the noise was thought to have come from. A stray cat idly jumped between trash cans, making a loudly audible crash as it swept through the air.

Just a stupid cat.

Sapphire went into the coffee shop, bought a drink and sat down by a window in a booth that looked like it was about to heave it's last breath. Her scythe sat directly across from her, almost mocking her. If the weapon could speak, it would say, "Look what you're stuck hanging out with."

Sapphire twisted her head disgustedly back to the outside world. Her stare turned seconds into minutes, minutes to hours. Sapphire finally stirred from her motionless gaze. She looked at what passed for a watch.

About time.

Sapphire picked up her belongings and strode out the door.

A mansion appeared at the end of town as Sapphire hastily made her way back to the overly large home. Thoughts of a hot shower and resting in a soft, cozy bed penetrated Sapphire's mind as her hand went to take hold of the austere door and push her way through. Before she reached the door, however, someone burst out from inside, gasping heavily as his distraught face leveled on Sapphire.

"Sapphire! At last! Hurry inside!"

As if I'm supposed to just drop everything in haste to help you pop a zit.

Sapphire's younger, adopted brother practically dragged her into the lounge area where a meeting was apparently taking place.

Sapphire entered the room and stared into the dim expressions of the last six members of the Angel group.

"Okay, does anyone wanna tell me what's going on?"

After a moments hesitation, Sean, the "second in command" of the group, stood up. His blank face looked deep into Sapphire's eyes as he reported devastating news. Sapphire's parents, Tear and Constance, had not yet returned from a midnight reconnaissance mission. That was hours ago.

At this point, Sapphire was not too concerned. Her parents were always pulling these sort of tricks. Sapphire just figured that they would return in a day or two, all over each other.

"These vacations of theirs are getting more frequent."

Sean's face turned a shade of red before he responded.

"Sapphire, they would have told us, actually me, if they were going anywhere. Before they went out the door, they said to expect them back in two hours. That was about three and a half hours ago when they said that. We believe they may be in real danger."

Sapphire still seemed unconcerned as she waved her hand in dismissal and continued up the stairs in the direction of her room. Before she could reach the sanctity of her room, the hallway was suddenly blocked by a small form with a wistful look of determination on his face. Will appeared to be in some shock.

"Sapphire, I really don't care if you don't want to take this seriously! But know this, if our parents are out there dead in the streets, then you will only have yourself to blame!"

The little form scrambled out of the hallway, ducking his head but leaving a noticeable trail of tears behind him. Sapphire hesitated before deciding to go after her little brother.

When Sapphire reached the bottom level of the mansion, the team was already packed up and vacating the large mansion. She ran over to her brother.

"Alright, you win. I'll join the search."

Will started to respond with the usual, "You shouldn't do things because others want you to. You should do them because..."

Before the words were out of his mouth, Sapphire gave him a sharp grin and told him to relax.

"Don't worry, we'll find them. I'm sure they're safe."

The team continued down the streets, not sure which way to start searching. They finally decided to break into separate groups to cover more ground. Sapphire reluctantly agreed to take Kadence, another member of the Angel group, with her. Since Sapphire knew the back streets best from her rounds, the duo were to start at the beginning of Sapphire's daily strut.

Nothing out of the usual could be seen. The two continued to walk until Sapphire recognized the coffee shop which she had spent much of her time just staring out the old, cloudy window. Kadence was young and inexperienced, but Sapphire had to admit his eyes were sharper than a hawk's. Kadence's eyes traversed the long dark alley from which the straggly cat had come. His keen eyes noticed immediately what Sapphire's could not a mere three hours earlier. His small form yelped and his slow walk turned into a quick run. Sapphire wasted no time in following the excited, terror stricken boy.

Across town, the sudden scream jolted through everyone's veins. Every available ear in town could hear the blood curdling screech, including the other members of the Angel group. Their strides were halted and, on confirmation of where the scream had come from, their direction hastily changed as they darted through streets to reach the source of the voice.

Sapphire finally caught up with Kadence, but her eyes missed him as they were engulfed in the scene before her. The alley was dark, but the light from the cafe was more than enough to illuminate the apparent battle scars the walls had received. The slimy brick walls were covered with a deep shade of red liquid. Sapphire took command and leisurely strode to the walls. Her fingers swiftly swept down the wall and brought the red substance up to her nose. Sapphire's tongue slightly touched the goo.

"Ketchup."

Shards of a broken glass could be seen lying nearby.

"It's just ketchup!"

But before she could dismiss the whole subject, her eyes traveled further down the long alley. In the dim light, Sapphire's eyes could barely make out two slumped forms. Sapphire's heart stopped for a second. Barely seeing the path ahead, Sapphire started walking slowly towards the objects. She quickly registered the small shape of Kadence following close behind. The tentative steps turned into a slow jog as the figures appeared to be human. Sapphire's foot stumbled on a piece of trash and she silently cursed the person who unwittingly threw their junk right in her way. Every piece of garbage seemed to have something against Sapphire as different objects blew in her face. The whole alley seemed to be a trash heap. Old shoes, broken bottles, ripped clothes, moldy food. Everything that a mind could possibly conceive was down that alley. And it was all covered in the same greenish slime that made even walking a difficult task. But the nagging itch in the back of Sapphire's mind would not permit her to stop or slow down. Something told her to hurry, to reach the figures as fast as humanly possible. Her vision started to give way as her breathing struggled to keep up with her quick pace.

Before she knew it, Sapphire was within just a few feet of the two bodies. But there wasn't just two bodies, there were three. Sapphire slowed to a quick jog in order to allow the lagging Kadence to catch up. Then everything stopped. The sun had yet to show it's face, and the darkness appeared to be stronger in this place. The pitch black shadows were penetrated as Kadence brought out a little hand held flashlight and turned it on. Sapphire silently beheld the scene for a moment before her brain caught up with what her eyes were seeing. Sapphire felt a sharp jab of pain course through her chest. Her breathing became irregular as the sight before her unfolded full terror upon the shuddering girl. Sapphire couldn't even move as Kadence put his hand on Sapphire's shoulder and quickly moved to the aid of the nearest body on the ground; Constance.

Sapphire's duty bound part of her quickly took action and she found herself moving to her father's side. Sapphire slowly turned her father over so that she could see his face. As she did, she felt a slight pulse moving in his neck.

He's alive!

Sapphire's attempt to revive her father was rewarded as Tear's eyes fluttered open. His breathing was heavy and his attempt to speak was halted by a cough that ended with blood streaming down his battered neck. Sapphire barely noticed the deep gash in her father's left side and the deep bloody puddle they were both drowning in as her father attempted to speak again. The words came out slow.

"Sapphire...I...can't...hold on...much longer."

Unwanted tears streamed down Sapphire's face as her father's words seemed to sting more than any battle wound.

"Sapphire...I need you...to...take care...of Will. Most... of all... remember... your....duties. The people...need your.. protection. You...are the last....remaining....Angel. Wear... that name... proudly... as I have."

Sapphire quickly agreed to everything her father had said, trying to console him in the uncomfortable place. But the few moments shared with her father were gone. Tear's eyes silently closed as his breathing slowed to nothing. Sapphire wanted nothing more than to be back at her house. She just wanted to be back at the familiar place of warmth and friendliness. Already the hot tears overwhelmed her stinging eyes and Sapphire swept her hand absently across her face. Her thoughts brought her back to the living room of her home. Everyone was gathered by the fire, sharing cups of hot chocolate and joking over the days occurrences. But that would never happen again. The realization penetrated Sapphire as her look again brought her down to her beloved father's still face, already growing pale. Sapphire brought her father up close to her and held him there.

"I promise, father. I won't ever let you or any of the others down again."

The promises were repeated over and over again. Kadence was checking the third body on the ground when the remaining members of the Angel group reached the alley. By this time, the sun was slowly coming into view, marking another day