Prologue:

A.H sprinted along Lard St, the strong wind rushing through her long brown hair. 'We’re going to catch them this time! I know it!' She shouted to her comrades. Black Storm just ran ahead and Shark Tooth ignored her. 'Typical!' A.H thought. Ahead she could see something in the shadows. As they moved closer she could make out the outline of a small figure, cowering in the darkness. They came to a halt. There sat a little girl, long blond hair whipped up by the wind, only a thin hair tie holding it off her face.

'Come out,' whispered A.H 'We won't hurt you.' 

'Go away!' The girl shrieked. 'I won't come! I won't!' 

'We don't want to lock you away, I promise.' A.H sensed that the girl thought they were from an orphanage.

'Have you seen anyone suspicious or heard anything odd?' She asked.

'They told me not trust strange people.' The girl squealed. Fear imprinted on her face. 

'Who? Who told you that?'

'They're in my head, they're not real. People say I'm mad! You want to take me away.' 

'No we don't.' A.H replied calmly. 'But we might have to if what you're saying is true.' 

'I knew it! They told me! They were right!' 

'A.H! Come quick!' Someone shouted. A.H whipped around, coming face to face with Black Storm.

'We've got them!' She whispered. A.H nodded, then turned, and caught the girl by the arm. She had not forgotten about her. It was then that A.H noticed the girl’s eyes.

They were crimson, with tiny flames dancing inside them.

'You can come with us.''A.H said.

'I'm scared.' The girl muttered weakly.

'Then come with us.' 

Chapter 1:

Red Fox sprinted through the forest, black pines towering over her. She pressed her earpiece hoping beyond hope that someone would answer. 'Anyone?' She croaked, her harsh voice battered away by the violent wind. No one replied. She hissed in anger, an unusual reaction for a human being. But then again Red wasn't any old girl. She pressed a button concealed on her watch and released a trigger, that lifted the screen of the watch up to reveal a hidden compartment. There sat an insignificant piece of delicately folded paper. Red plucked it out and pressed the button again, the screen retracted and returned to normal. Red unfolded the paper and scanned the text. This wasn't going to be easy. Sneaking into the middle of LA and finding one girl, in a million. She continued anyway, staying true to the S.C.S. The information  played itself over in her head. Each time it made less and less sense. I mean what was the point. She was just a girl, almost identical to many others. She reached south L.A. Appearing out of the forest she took one look at the traffic and decided the better of it. Stealing a car could wait. She didn’t know if this problem girl could.

***

Marly sprinted down Hell Lane, giggling as a huge, coal black wildcat nipped her bare heels. She, halted, looking over her shoulder into the sparkling blue eyes of the animal that had once saved her life. Stormy had found Marly when she was only two. He had taken her in and protected her, a favour she might never be able to return. Marly smiled, leaping playfully at Stormy, her bare feet slapping onto the hard concrete. He sprinted away, growling. Marly laughed as she ran on ahead, Stormy bounding at her heels as they headed further down the dull lit street. She sighed, sadness creeping through her veins for just a second, as she thought of what her life could have been, if she were normal, but still had Stormy, along with a loving family. Marly shook the thought aside. All that mattered was that she was alive, and she had Stormy. Marly continued to run down the street. She stopped at a house. It was tall, maybe two or three stories high and a dull yellow colour. Rows of flowers ran through the lawn, surrounded by large, wild, trees. Marly heard a yap. Stormy whined at her shoulder. 'Hold on buddy.' Marly told him, her face pressed against the black metal gate topped with spikes that would slice any intruder to ribbons. Marly saw a sign. She didn’t really understand what it said. Stormy whined once more. Around twenty dogs came rushing out of the house all at once.

All the same. Little and fluffy.

Then the bigger dogs came out. Marly looked at the sign. It had a picture of a dog. Must be a dog breeder Marly thought and Stormy took off down the street. Marly close behind him.

***

Red Fox turned the corner of Hell Lane. The black panther had told her enough to know where the girl was.

She could see her.

Red looked down at her the paper in her hand. It told Red enough to know that this was the girl she was looking for. She blended in with the shadows just like in her photo, she was the exact replica from her short hazel hair tied up in a high ponytail down to her pale legs and piercing blue eyes. Crap! Her name was missing! Oh well. Red whispered to the shadows in another, eligible, language. She slipped up behind the girl and grabbed her hands, clipping them together with iron handcuffs. 'Don't even think about calling the cat.' She muttered. The girl froze, a reaction Red had never seen before. Most of them used the instinct fight or flight. The girl was addressing the situation and clearly new what was good for her.

Nope.

Red took back everything she had just thought. The girl started to kick her. She was already freeing herself from the handcuffs, well she might have been, but Red was stronger than her.

That cat, the girl had with her. It was a black panther. Red could see that already. It was huge, way bigger than a tom cat. Standing next to it made Red feel small. At least it was on her side Red thought, imagining her mangled body if it decided to fight her.

***

Marly was panicking now. The girl was strong. That was for sure.

'STORMY!'  Marly yelled 'ATTACK!'  

Stormy just stood there, his head low.

Guilty.

Marly shook her head in disbelief, did he want her to die? 

'I told you so.' the girl said, with a smug tone.

Marly turned her head and looked at the strange girl, while struggling to get out of her grip. It wasn’t until now that Marly realized the girl was about her age, only maybe half a year older. She had remarkable fiery red eyes, like blood, that seemed to look straight into Marlys soul. Marly felt slightly intimidated. Some kind of feather was tied into hair, standing out in her long blond hair that was tied back in a long, smooth ponytail.

'You did not tell me so!' Marly snapped back at her, snarling. The girl replied fast.

'I did. ‘Don’t even think about calling the cat.’ remember? Storm..' She was cut off. 'It’s Stormy, Man, get it right...'

She looked the girl up and down. Gadgets glistened in the sun. A leather jacket was pulled tight around her neck, hiding something. 'What’s with the badass jacket? I suppose you have a badass name too?'

The strange girl whipped around.

***

'It’s Red Fox. Not that it’s any of your buisness.' Red snapped. This little know-it-all was beginning to get on her nerves. 'You're coming with me.' She hissed

'Not if I can help it.' replied the girl.

'Well you can't help it, so you’re going to have to tag along aren't you?' Red hissed.

The girl just growled and pawed the earth.

They walked in silence, except for the occasional growl from the girl. Suddenly Red noticed something from the corner of her eye. 'Stop.' She snapped at the girl. 'WHY?' The girl replied. Red held up a hand. A figure emerged from the shadows. A knife glinting in it’s hand. 'You two are coming with me.' The figure whispered.

'No way.' Red replied. 

She turned and unclipped the girls handcuffs before running at the figure, the girl close behind her.

***

Marly ran at the figure, Red Fox sprinting beside her. She didn’t know what was happening, but she didn’t care, a fight was coming and she could tell. Red Fox punched the figure hard in the stomach, as Marly put all her effort into delivering a kick to the person’s head. The figure tried to make a break for it, but Red Fox swiped at their legs. Marly smashed her fist into the person's jaw before pulling back her hand and wincing in pain. Bad move.

The figure stood, and slipped into the shadows. Red Fox muttered something under her breath. 'Let’s get going.' She said.

'No.' Marly snarled back.

'Yes.' Red Fox replied as she pushed the girl forward.

Marly wanted to know where they were going. They headed out along the gloomy street.

Her bare feet stung in pain, she wanted to see Stormy, but he had left them not long before that person had attacked them.

They turned off onto another side street before reaching a main road.

'Down here' Red pointed to a small pathway off the street that led to nothingness.

Marly followed, curious. What was beyond the forest; she didn’t know, but it looked like an adventure. While Red walked in a boring straight line, sticking to the path. Marly decided to test her limits a bit. She would run in between the trees, go left after a few meters and then go right. Red would call her back, each time threatening to harm her. Marly didn’t mind though. Red was wearing boots. It would be hard for her to catch Marly if she took off.

***

Red was annoyed. That girl’s stubbornness rivaled her own. Also what about that figure… She would talk to A.H about it later. A.H would know what to do. Red made her way through the forest. Marly was really tugging the leash. Every time Red decided to threaten Marly for being too far away; she would run even further away. They were almost there. Red followed her footsteps from her way there. Red continued along the path, using the time to clear her thoughts.

'Damn it!' She heard Marly screech. Red turned. She was brushing dirt of her knees. They weren't bleeding so Red addressed the situation as unimportant.

'We aren’t far now.' She replied, continuing to walk along the path. Red could feel Marlys angry eyes burning into her back, but she decided to ignore it.

They hadn’t been walking long before they reached small dip in the ground, that would take them to HQ.

She shoved the girl down the dip and then jumped in carefully after her.

'Three… two...one.' Red said

'The soul of one in a better place,

Shall rise once more with two beats there wings.

Halo of fire erupts from within,

Those in power with the heart to kill.  ' 

Marly frowned. Then, all of a sudden, a small, jagged crack spread across the ground and opened up, like some kind of crooked mouth.

'Crap!' Marly swore as she fell. Red just smiled. She loved trying to find the meaning of that childhood book.

Red could hear the girls curses rickashay off the walls of the steep tunnel, but she was used to this entrance. A.H would be waiting for her. Red sighed. She didn't tend to enjoy these rescue missions but this one seemed especially tedious. Red guessed that it was because of who she was rescuing and this girl was an annoying little wart.

***

Marly cursed, curling herself up into a ball as she plummeted down, wind whipping through her hair. Unheard curses surrounding her. Trapped. Not like she cared.

THUMP. 'Damn it' She yelped as the ground shock ran up her legs. She immediately wished Stormy was there.

The girl, Red Fox, or whatever her name was, landed gracefully on both legs, with perfect balance, alongside her.  

'What are you trying to do to me, kill me, use me or what? Because whatever you are doing it damn hurts!' Marly yelled.

'Unfortunately your name was not included in your file.' Red Fox replied.

'What are you saying? Is it some type of trick question or something because if it is; I am not in the mood for it.' Marly growled.

'In other terms it means what is your name.' Red Fox spoke with such preciseness it made Marly feel like an idiot.

'Marly' She whispered.

'Marmite' Red fox repeated loudly with a screwed up face 'Strange name'

'ITS MARLY, NOT MARMITE, NEVER EVER CALL ME THAT AGAIN!!' Marly screamed, her eyes narrowing 'If you do I’ll call you Foxy Woxy,

Oh come on little Foxie, go sulk in the corner.' She mocked.

'You’ll be sorry.' Red Fox smiled. And for some strange reason, Marly’s spine prickled.

***

Red continued down the hall.  Marly was annoying, but then, what was new? She had known that from the start.

Chapter 2:

Red was tired. She was tired of being endlessly put on these rescue missions, she was tired of the same smiling faces and the endless white and black corridors of the S.C.S's HQ, but most of all she was tired of the little brat. No one looked up from their computers as they entered HQ's terminal agent workroom. 'Who are these weird people sitting at the big computers?' asked Marly.

'These are the terminal agents, or the T.A.' Red replied.

'What's a terminal agent?’'

 'Someone who works at computers and makes files on people like us.' snapped Red. She was annoyed with Marly's attitude. She never knew she would live to get so tired of the word 'damn', but now she was. 'We're almost there.' She muttered to Marly. 'You might want to...you know... tidy yourself up a bit.' Red eyed Marly's hair, which was sticking up in odd angles, and her damp, faded and torn top along with filthy shorts.

Red pressed a button on the black and white wall and a honey like voice boomed through the speaker, 'Who is it?'

'Red, I've got her.' 

'Well done, come in.' A concealed door slid open, revealing a tidy office. They entered the room.

***

Marly slid into a seat.

'Before we get too engaged, a honey smoke?' A.H asked, she looked about sixteen, with honey gold hair and deep glassy blue eyes 'Yeah' Red Fox said, scrambling up to the polished desk and collecting her a long, thin looking flower. 'And you Marly, they don't have any drugs in them, perfectly environmentally friendly and quite good for you.' Marly hesitated before eyeing the treat. 'You people make everything seem suspicious. It could be poisoned.'

'What makes you think that, I’m having one.' Red Fox raised her eyebrows.

'Why shouldn’t I? First you take me away from Stormy, then you force me down that damn hole, then you offer me a smoky thing that might as well be poisonous, and without Stormy I have absolutely no chance of escape.' Marly said before dropping her head between her knees.

'And it’s not my fault Stormy sent me here.' Red Fox hissed.

'Shut up you damned freak' Marly yelled, before punching Red Fox right in the face. Well, she would have, if Red Fox hadn’t been prepared but, she was, as usual, and they had a surprisingly even match considering that Marly had never had proper training.

'Hey, calm down. Please girls, the S.C.S needs you to work together.' A.H had been so quiet before, the girls had almost forgotten she was there.

***

Red was not surprised when Marly tried to punch her. Most people who were new tended to take out their emotions on her for taking them away from whatever cosy cardboard box or comfortable trash can she had found them in.  Though there was something different about her. While Red had been thinking she had not been listening to Marly and A.H's conversation because, of course, she did not want to listen to this little girl whinging about how she wanted to know everything. But all of a sudden red lights flashed and the same words were repeated, booming all over the agency, 'ALERT, ALERT, ALERT!' 'There is a new mission available. You will need to go now. Both of you will have to work together!' A.H hurriedly told the two girls. 'What?!' Yelled Marly, Red didn't catch the rest, she turned in shock. 'You need to call your horse, NOW!' Red shouted.

'What horse?' Marly asked suddenly panicking.

'Just call it.' Red glared at Marly, wishing she was somewhere else.

Marly whistled and there was the sound of hoofbeats. An elegant horse landed next to Red, two white socks and a white line down its forehead told Red that it was the right horse. She marveled at it's black coat and huge glossy wings.

'Now show me yours.' Marly huffed.

 'Later.' Replied Red.

***

Marly's face was frozen in shock, after hearing A.H tell her that she was going to work with Red Fox. 'But I’m nowhere near ready! Damn it.' She cursed

'Oh would you shut up already Marmite, I am sick and tired of hearing you yell damn it at the top of your lungs every second.' Red Fox sighed.

'One, my name is Marly NOT Marmite. Two, you just said damn it when you were explaining. Three, I do not yell damn it every second, and four, you smell really bad!' Marly exclaimed.

'I do not, and what did I say about cleaning up? YOU are the one that looks a mess.' Red Fox hissed.

'Not my fault' Marly cried 'I have no other clothes.'

Red Fox thrust some clothes at her

'You do now' She snapped. 'Get changed and I’ll meet you at the cabin in ten. The cabin is round the back, here’s a map, ‘cause I just know you’ll manage to get lost.' She turned her back on Marly and strutted off.

***

Red looked around. It was dark inside the old cabin. A horrible smell reaked from the dank, rotting, floorboards and spiders inhabited every corner. A huge section of the rotten roo had fallen out, leaving huge gap. Red looked at Marly’s pale scared face and felt a rush of sympathy towards the girl. She quickly pushed it back down. She didn't want anything to do with this sniveling brat. 'So are you going to show me?' Asked Marly. 'What?' Red replied, she had not been paying any attention. 'You know, you're animals. You did say you would show me.' Marly seemed quieter and more subdued after the shock of the alert. 'Okay. But it’ll have to be quick, the roof is unstable. It could fall at any moment.' Red sighed. Then slowly she hissed to the shadows, Hasana goreta honsea. 'What are you doing?' Marly looked at Red. 'Shhh.' Red raised her finger to her lips. 'Bu…' Marly was cut short. A slithering sound came from the shadows. Marly took a step back, and Red hid a grin. From the shadows of the rickety hut emerged a giant, coal black snake, with piercing, glowing red eyes, one of Red's two animals. She bowed down on one knee, knowing that the snake would appreciate it. Red whistled, and even she could hear the eeriness of the high pitched sound. A rushing sound came from above and a humongous eagle landed on the ground. 'This, is Ripper.' Said Red, indicating the giant bird 'And this is Fang.' Then the what was left of the roof caved in.

***

Marly ran down the steps out of the damp cabin, the sunlight almost blinding. She stepped out onto the grass trying to run from the giant snake, huge eagle, oh yeah and the and collapsing ceiling. Red ran out just as the last of the roof crumpled to millions of pieces. It looked like the remains of Marlys home baked apple pie.

'I blame it on the damn cabin...' Marly was cut off.

'Shut up please Marmite, you are getting on my nerves' 

'Ugh, whatever Foxie' Marly replied. She opened the map and pointed to their destination. 'It’s a long way' Marly said 'We should cut through that cliff.' 

'What! No you’ll kill yourself! It’s almost impossible.' Red Fox spluttered.

'Impossible? Nothing is impossible on my watch.' 

'One, you don't have a watch and two, the only reason I don't want you to cut through that way is because if you fall and die there will be a lot of paperwork for me, and, frankly, I hate paperwork.' Red snapped back.

'Stay here I’ll climb up and when I get to the top you can have a go.' Marly spoke so confidently Red Fox was almost flummoxed, maybe she forgot the ‘impossible’ part, but Marly couldn't care less.

***

Red was exasperated by Marlys idiocy. All Red could think about was the freedom of walking through the forest again. But Marly had ruined that by trying to kill herself. All Marly had had to do was follow her orders like a good girl. But no. She just had to prove Red wrong. Red sighed and then wandered off in the direction of the old forest, preparing herself for a long wait.

***

Marly started to clamber up the steep cliff, her bare hands grasping onto anything that looked stable enough to hold her weight. 'You’re crazy. I don’t care how long it takes other way it’s safer and that's that.' Red Fox yelled

'You’re just scared.' Marly called from about four feet of the ground 'Besides I only have about two more meters to go' Marly had barely finished her sentence before her foot slipped on a hunk of rock and she slid a meter down the cliff. 'Well maybe three meters to go.' She said, oblivious to the danger she was in.

 

Chapter 3:

Red entered the forest, and immediately she felt calmer and more focused. The trees swayed to the song of the wind and birds as the flowers waltzed below. Animals traipsed through the undergrowth, leaving tiny prints in the damp ground. Red thought over everything A.H had told her before she left HQ to collect Marly. 'This girl is extremely important to our survival. Together you will save the S.C.S.' But from what? And why that girl? How could she of all people help HQ?

 

***

Marly clambered up the steep cliff,  hauling her body to the top. Immediately dropping her head between her knees so she could breathe easier. Slowly she managed to stagger to her feet jogging off to the bottom of the slope. Blades of grass sticking to her feet as she padded off down the spring ground.

***

Red pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. On it were the last words that A.H had said to her. The society needs you and the girl. You are the last hope for the Secret...

The rest had been had been rubbed out. Marly couldn't find out about it, or her head wouldn't fit through the door. Red sat down under a tree and started to relax. She had the feeling that Marly was going to take a long time. She hummed a tune as she thought over the day's events.

***

Marly glanced at her watch.

'About time!' Red exclaimed when she turned up.

'What?' Marly shrugged off Red’s glare  'It’s only been two hours.

'We don't have time for this, we’re running late.' Red huffed, muttering something about how it wasn’t fair to be left with the unorganised idiots instead of the professionals. Marly looked up at the huge forest entranceway. It was huge blocking the small space between the first two tall sturdy trees was an old rusted metal gate. It looked a bit like one you would find on a farm Marly thought she ran her hand down it, it felt bumpy and rusted. She glanced back at Red who was pacing back and forth in the clear flat manicured ground. She was muttering something about an S.C.S. Marly had heard the abreathation before. AH had mentioned it at HQ she shuffled closer trying to catch the end of Reds conversation with A.H but she snapped the metal cover down glaring at her. 'We sleep here then we leave at the crack of dawn.' She spoke with pride and sternness leaving Marly completely stunned. They settled down for the night on a soft bed of compressed leaves and damp grass. It was the middle of July, rather chilly, but they both were grim with determination and slept through the coldness with ease.

***

Red woke just before dawn. The sky was still dark, but a pink tinge tainted the sky. She snatched up her pack and pulled out a packet of bacon and some eggs. While Red started a fire she planned the day ahead. They were to venture further into the woods where they would find a cabin. There they would find more food and drink. Soon the sky erupted in a fountain of fluorescent pinks and reds. Marly stirred, grunting and muttering. 'Rise and Shine sleepy head' Red laughed kicking Marly in the shin.

***

Marly woke. It was well into sunlight hours and she could hear the subtle chirping of baby birds waiting for their morning feast. Red kicked Marly once more. 'Get Up!' 'Ow!' Marly replied muttering something rude that I can’t put in writing. 'Alright Foxy. Shut your mouth I’m coming.' Marly spoke mockingly. Poking her tongue out behind Red’s back. 'Chop chop' Red said snapping the metal lid of her watch open and punching numerous buttons on the screen.

***

Red swatted flies and branches away as she tramped through the bush. She was quite content and at peace with the world. This was mostly because after what seemed like hours of whinging she had found a set of earplugs in her pack and did not have to listen to Marly's complaints of 'Are we there yet.' And 'My feet hurt.' Plus none of the joyful swearing coming from the new recruits unholy mouth. A battered wooden hut came into view, swamped with ivy and weeds. 'We're here.'

Marly cracked open the rusty front gate revealing a thorny rose bush empty of flowers. The bushes were brown and dieing of thirst but Marly could see that what was now a forest of weeds and overgrown plants had once been pampered and treated with respect. Red staggered over to the old gate pushing it open. Marly whirled around, suddenly alert 'Oh it’s just you.' Marly said, a hint of disappointment in her voice. So far nothing was new apart from having Red there all the time babysitting her. 'The entrance through the thorns is that way.' Red spoke with a concealed tone, pointing along the fence line between the hedge and battered gate.

Marly groaned as the thorns cut into her feet and scratched her arms.  'Here' Red said, pushing what looked to Marly more of the same bush. 'Hurry up' Red snarled impatiently. Marly made her way through the bush and into the backyard of the grand cottage.

***

Red pushed open the old door, it groaned as it opened, revealing a small room covered in cupboards and antique paintings. There was a smashing sound behind Red and she turned around, just in time to see Marly shove the remains of a priceless statue behind a bookcase. Red sighed, annoyed. She turned back around. 'Hey Red.' A voice whispered from the doorway. Red whipped around, expecting to see Marly. But it wasn’t Marly. A small tanned figure stood in the doorway. Smiling silkily through a curtain of long, hazel hair. 'Black Cat.' Red smiled.

Chapter four:

Marly really did try try to listen as Red unpacked who Black cat was but she got so bored the last thing she caught was 'So there. That is who Black cat is' Red finished. An awkward silence broke between them. 'Do you have friends?' Marly said curiously to Black Cat. 'Yes I am a Field Agent from the S.C.S' Black cat replied 'I have been in the agency for five years. Just a bit of a rebel I tell you!' Black cat said tucking a strand of her silky long hair behind her battered face. Red nodded 'Yeah. so anyway I will call A.H tonight before we all read the mission.' 

'Sure' Black cat said 'Red you're in the Top Agent room and Marly the other room at the end of the hall.' Black Cat stood up and left the room heading up the stairs that creaked as she went. 'G’night' Red said before leaving the small lounge area. 'Hey' Red said turning around 'Get to bed early. We have a long day ahead.'

***

Red was roused by the sound of a roar down below. She leapt out of the rickety bed and raced down the creaky stairs, hissing into the shadows and whistling for Ripper. A huge chunk of the wall smashed into the stairs in front of her. 'Uh, Oh.' She muttered.' Marly! Black!' She shouted. 'Over here!' Came the reply. 'Do you know what it is?' Red asked as she sprinted over to Black’s room. 'By the sound of things, it’s a Sibarian Mountain Troll. There is a high chance that we will all die.' 

'Damn.' Marly cursed.

'I heard that.' 

'Sorry.' Marly sighed.

'Well. If we’re going to live, better start killing things.' Red said.

And off they raced. 'Well, this should go well, Red thought as  she plunged into battle. Fang had arrived, along with Ripper. 'Black get round the back, Marly distract it.' Red yelled. Marly cursed once more under her breath.

'I heard that too. Now call your animals.' Red leapt at the troll.

***

Marly growled, calling her beloved Black Panther. The ground shook creating a huge earthquake as Stormy obliged happily returning to Marly as he was called.

'Good' Black Cat said keeping her distance from the huge Black Panther. 'Now call the other one' Marly was flustered she hadn’t really met her other animal. 'Oh no' Black said Marly stared over at Red who was fighting the Troll off with her bare hands, trying to help Ripper and Fang. 'I bet you will never be able to call your other animal within the next two minutes!' Red replied with a glint in her eye.

'I could too.' Marly replied eagerly and she proved Red wrong blowing a shrill whistle. Moments later a huge Black horse hovered above her. 'Good, now get them to hold up the Troll while we get weapons.' Red spoke calmly.

'Ok' Marly answered 'Stormy hold up the front. Juniour circle from above then strike.' She commanded and the two fierce animals lept into action. 'C’mon.' Black Cat said 'Let's Go.'

***

Red knew that if she told Marly she couldn’t do something, Marly would try her hardest to prove her wrong. So Red told her she wouldn’t be able to call her animal. That was that. But now she was concentrating on destroying the troll. 'Taunt it Fang! Taunt it.' She shouted. (In snake of course, but this is a translation.) Fang obeyed, swaying his head back and forth and slithering toward the troll but leaping back every time it swiped. Red knew this would aggravate it, eventually making it so angry that it would lose control and make dumb moves. Ripper soared above it, clawing at it’s eyes, while she clung onto it’s back, smashing it with her fists. 'Red, c’mon. Leave the animals to fight it back. We can’t do this without weapons can we?!' 'No, I suppose you're right.' Red muttered. She nimbly jumped from the ugly beast's back, and followed Black towards the staircase.

***

Marly followed Black Cat and Red Fox down the hall.

'This way' Black said leading them up the creaky stairs  'Damn it' Marly cursed as she stubbed her bare toe on the edge of the creaky old stairs. 'Marly! Gosh child keep your dumb curse to yourself' Red spat, her red eyes gleaming in the dull light.

'Woah feisty. you were the one that pushed me!' Marly answered back.

Black gave Red a quizzical look and Red nodded. 'Yeah' Red sighed.

Marly skipped up the stairs completely oblivious to the silent conversation going around her.

***

Red was nervous. Last time she used her weapon terrible things happened. Innocent people were killed. She wasn’t going to let that happen again. Marly, in her inexperience, was oblivious to the danger ahead and what sacrifices she was going to make. Black could tell she was unsure, but she knew what would happen if they didn’t do this. Red didn’t want to feel the hilt of her dagger again, ever. But, Black was right, the sooner she got this over with, the sooner things would be back to normal. Well, if you call living in a secret society, rescuing children and saving the world every other day normal. Red could remember everything so vividly. The first time she had held her weapon, the first heart it had pierced, the first soul it had destroyed. She closed her eyes and tried to forget about it. She could not show them she was terrified. Red opened her fiery eyes and entered the room.

***

Marly wasn’t patient with the stairs. They were a disaster waiting to happen.

'Here' Black said as they reached an old attic.  She moved swiftly towards an old steel box that was covered in a mound of dust. 'Come' Black said, gesturing them over. Marly jogged across but Red hesitated. Black cat looked deep into her eyes. ‘What the hell is wrong with Red?’ Marly thought, but Red soon walked over. Slowly they all helped to lift the ancient steel lid of the box. And to Marlys surprise nothing but three weapons lay beneath the dust and grime. Black and Red both reached for their weapons Black a sword, Red a shiny dagger made out of what looked like a snake tooth. 'Well hurry up Marly grab it.' One item was left sitting in the steel box. It was a shiny black spear that seemed to retract into a case.  Marly grasped the black metal .'Right, let's go' Red said, as they followed their footsteps back down the stairs.

 

Chapter 5:

Marly raced outside only to see a massive troll being taken on by four large animals. The Troll screamed in pain as Fang sank his teeth into it’s leg. It was knocked to the ground and Red ran in swiping her dagger across it’s face. Marly watched, her face covered in grime. 'Come on Marly.' Black screamed as she ran in to help. The Troll stood up before swiping Stormy aside. 'No one EVER wounds Stormy.' Marly yelled and charged into the battlefield.

***

Red fought like she never had before. She knew she couldn’t last for much longer. 'Mar, hold a distraction while I attack from behind.' Red called, giving Marly a short hesitant glance.

'Ok.'  Marly replied, thrusting her spear deep in the Trolls stomach. Red creeped around while Junior and Ripper attacked from above, Stormy, Fang, Marly and Black Cat keeping up a distraction at the front. Red drew her dagger and lept onto the back of the Troll. She stabbed it right in the heart. It collapsed to the ground with Red on top, eyes rolling to the back of it’s head. Ripper swept past collecting Red before the Troll thudded to the ground.

***

Marly collapsed on the grass, watching Red closely as she video called A.H. Black Cat was in her room, packing her stuff, she was about to leave.  Hi…... Yes this is Red Fox…….. A Siberian Mountain Troll... Yes we know who sent it…… The S.B.S….. Yep don’t worry she……

Then Marly lost the conversation. What did Red mean by S.B.S? Like people that were 1,0000 years old or something. Ha, like they would be hard to fight. Marly felt in her pocket, where a small knife lay. Red had given it to her. 'All agents have one.' She had said, 'It’s for helping you escape tight spots.', 'I won’t need it.' Marly had retorted. But she had taken the knife anyhow. It felt cold and smooth. Who knew, she might need it.

***

Red was tired. Tired, she was exhausted! But she knew she had to keep going. Sighing, she flipped the case on her battered watch shut and wiped the blood of her face. 'It’s not safe here, let’s get going. They are coming.' 

Black Cat flinched and Red nodded. 'It’s them. We need to get a move on. If we’re here when they are, things will go very wrong for us.' 'What!' Marly complained. Red sighed again. 'It’s either more walking or dieing. Your choice.' 'Fine.' Red turned towards the dark, foreboding woods. 'Come on.' She said, as she gritted her teeth.

***

Marly sighed, hanging her head as they passed another kilometer. 'How much longer?' she asked.

'No longer, here will do.' Red commented, collapsing to the ground.

'You need to tell me.' Marly said.

'What?'

'Who is coming and what the S.C.S is.' Marly stated confidently.

Red flinched and thought the question over while Marly stared directly into her eyes. 'I can not tell the answer, the best I can give you is Time.' Red Fox said precisely. Leaving Marly feeling puzzled trying to get her head around her answer.  

'But…' 

'No buts. We need to leave here ASAP or we are dead. Clear?' 

'Fine.' Marly grumbled under her breath.

***

Red was sick of Marly and her stubbornness. She was being so difficult and this really wasn’t the time for it. All Red wanted to do was run off into the trees, leaving her worries and this stupid quest behind. But, A.H was counting on her and she knew what she had to do. She glanced down at her snakeskin boots, in which she concealed her bloody dagger. She hated that weapon so much, she had just used it to take another life and she was not happy with herself. Red was so lost in thought she did not notice the sky darken suddenly ahead as they reached a cliff, not until she heard Marly shout.

***

 

Chapter 6:

Marly blue eyes spring wide open.

'They’re bats! REEDDDDD, HELP ME THEY’RE BATS!' Marly screeched, stunned by the sight in front of her. Much to her surprise Red’s face was just as shocked.

'This... is... bad.' Red stuttered. Her face was even more pale now.

'What, are you scared?' Marly teased. But Red clearly wasn’t in the mood. Marly straightened out her face and thought for a second.

'Red?'

'Not the time Marly.'

'No, I was going to ask what they are.' Marly questioned.

'You mean who they are.' Red answered, still not meeting Marly’s eye.

Marly frowned.

'You see they are a sort of clan. We are only one agency. There are tens and thousands of others. Ours is the strongest in terms of field agents. But some of the other agencies are… evil.' Red spat. 'This agency all have the same protector. The bats you see up there. It would be like you having a snake as well, instead of Stormy or Junior. Having more than one will make the boys stronger but we can be more clever, got it?' 

Red wasn’t even convinced by her own lie and Marly knew it.

'Bad?'

Red sighed and nodded, her face seeming to ease just a little.

'Sooo.' Marly started 'It would be a bad time to point out that ‘they’ are getting closer?'

The small glance of kindness and sympathy that had once been on Red’s face vanished, as it was replaced with her battle mask.

'We need to use all the time we have. Get ready. Call Stormy and Junior NOW!' Red ordered, rushing off into the small hut that had surprisingly managed the night.

***

Red was worried. Marly was not used to the battle ground as much as their enemies were. But maybe...Lucius, their leader, was negotiable. He could be persuaded to let them pass. If only Marly could keep her mouth shut for five seconds. She picked up her pack, thinking. She typed a message to Black Cat, 'Be at Rivers Cliff, ASAP, S.B.S here.'. Sighing, Red left the hut, turning to see Marly, flanked by Junior and Stormy. 'Keep an eye on them.' She commented, indicating to Marly’s animals. 'Why?' Marly retorted. 'You’ll see.',

 'Hmph.' came the reply. The bats were closer to cliff’s edge now, close enough to see the silhouette of the figures riding them.

The giant bats landed. Their riders dismounted and the bats shrunk down to normal size. 'Hunter.' Red said, acknowledging the leader. 'Red Fox.' He spat back.

' Where’s Lucius?' Red snapped. 'Oh, that was such a terrible tragedy.' Hunter said, an expression of malice on his face. 'It was the successor ceremony, as you know, because we have one every four years, to confirm who will be our new leader when our old one dies. I, of course, was announced successor. After the ceremony, Lucius decided to take a walk down by the cliffs edge. I ran after him, just in time to see him fall, and shatter on the rocks below. Such a terrible affair.'

 'I’m sure it was, especially for you.' Red replied, fake sympathy ringing through her voice. ' After all, an old black market trader like yourself would know the sorrows of death all too well.' 

'What do you mean?' Marly asked.

'I mean, is that Hunter here illegally sold other people's animals and killed the ones that no one would buy.' Red said.

'What!' Marly spluttered.

'There is no evidence to that.' Hunter smoothly replied.

' That’s because you killed all the witnesses.'  Red challenged

'Jett, take their weapons, and their animals.' Hunter snapped at the boy beside him. 'But..but..sir.' The boy, who must have been Jett, stuttered. 'What!?',

'I’m scared of them.' He whispered loudly.

Hunter shouted with fury, 'I DON’T CARE! THEY’RE JUST GIRLS!'

 'Okay sir.'. The boy, Jett, stumbled towards them.

 'Give me your weapons.' He said unconvincingly.

 Red took a step towards him, glaring as she did so. Marly followed suit.

Jett stumbled back, nervously. Red and Marly took two more steps forward, and Jett dropped his spear. He ran backwards, never looking back, never losing sight of Red and Marly, never noticing the cliff edge jutting out behind him. He fell, screaming pitifully as he plummeted towards the sea. Marly and Red peered over the edge.

'I heard that hitting water from a height like this is like hitting concrete.' Red said, conversationally.

'That’s quite interesting.', Marly replied.

'Pathetic.' Red muttered after a while.

 'Well, one down to two go.' Marly said.

 'Yes, I wonder if Black Cat has arrived yet.' Red commented, as she turned around.

***

Marly was interested in the brown haired boy called Hunter, who was standing before them. Black Cat, unbeknown to Marly and Red, had arrived as the boy called Jett had fallen off the cliff. 'What have I missed?' She asked. 'Not much, just a boy fallen off a cliff.' Marly replied. Hunter was addressing Marly now, and she turned to listen to him. ' Has Red shown you her tattoo yet?' He asked, an evil grin slipping over his face. 'No.' She said curiously.

 ' I would have, in my own time, Hunter.' Red spat.

' What is it for again, covering a scar?' 

'No, that’s the other one.' Red muttered.

'YOU HAVE TWO TATTOOS, RED!' Marly shouted, surprised,

'You’re more damn badass than I thought!' She exclaimed.

 This was interesting. Maybe Red would reveal more of her past.

'One is to call my animals.' Red muttered towards her.

That was cool, maybe Marly should get one?

 Red slipped down the sleeve on her right hand, revealing the tattoo of a small, black dragon. She pressed her fingers against it, and winced, then immediately Ripper and Fang appeared.

 'You never showed me those.' Hunter indicated to Ripper and Fang.

'Well, last time we worked together you killed the prisoner we were meant to rescue. I don’t exactly trust you.' Red retorted.

This was getting even more interesting, Marly thought.

'Now, enough of the talk, let’s kill these three girls.' Hunter spat his orders. Marly and Red exchanged a glance, and seemed to know what to do. Marly signalled for Black Cat to fall behind them. They advanced. Red kicked up the heel of her boots, and her dagger flicked into her hand. Marly pulled her spear case from her pocket, and flipped it open, letting a snarl rip out from between her teeth. Hunter snorted.

'Hey Red, it looks like your little ‘sidekick’ has a bit of a fiery temper!' 

That was the final straw for Marly. She was on her feet shouting orders at Stomy.

'Lachie!' Hunter yelled, adjusting his backwards cap. 'Get our troops ready.' 

'But.. but.. Hunter…' 

'Just do it'

Red hissed at Hunter. Black cat charged.

They moved together, like a well oiled machine. Smashing down everyone in their way. 

Marly moved into a battle she stabbed boy with black hair in his leg but he still kept firing his gun. Black cat threw an off target knife at Lachie but it hit Marlys ‘evil companion’, sending him to hell.

***

Red yelled at Marly and Black that she wanted the brown shaggy one. She still kept one eye on Hunter, who was firing traps at Ripper and Junior, and Lachie, who was standing behind Hunter screaming when anyone did so much as walk. Red knew that their chances were almost nil. They were outnumbered by around 20 or so and Marly had never really been in a real battle field. If this failed she wasn’t going to be surprised.

Red looked up just as a blond girl walked onto the battleground. Hunter stopped and looked at her. 'Please.' His fake voice said 'Take the ‘Red’ one.' His voice was sweet and charming. Red had never seen him speak that way before. She was shocked, but the fakeness that shone through his voice wasn’t very well hid, though the girl seemed to buy it. The blond moved closer a smirk on her face. 'What did you let him do to you?' Red asked the blond in a desperate attempt.  'He’s my brother.' She replied.

'No he isn’t, his family died years ago, he never even had a sister.' Red replied 'It’s fake, he’s using you.'

'You don’t know YOU WEREN’T THERE' she yelled.

'Even I can hear and see the fakeness in his voice and in his eyes. He’ll kill you once you are no use to him.' Red said.

The blond shook her head and stormed over to Hunter. She told him something and he looked angry, he glared at me then she started to yell at him. This. Did. Not. Go. Well. Hunter shook his head once and then drew his sword, slashing her to the ground before pushing the sharp metal through her chest. All Red could see was Hunters almost guilty face as he looked over at Marly. Why would he look at Marly?

Oh right, Red made the connection, he wanted to kill her just like Jett, just like Blondy.

Right on que Hunter adjusted his cap before ordering one of his troops towards Marly.  

***

Marly kicked the black haired boy in front of her and he stumbled back. Marly whirled around and noticed the tall boy sprinting towards her. Armed. Marly spear was muddled up and she had it facing the wrong way. Damn. Once again this did not look good. Adrenaline rushing, Marly tried to stay calm, strategic plans bubbling in her head. The boy was closer now.  He skidded to a halt right in front of her, a cruel smile playing over

his worn and scarred lips. He drew his sword and slashed. Marly dodged, still scrambling with her spear. He lunged at her again and she acted completely on adrenaline, smashing the butt of her spear onto his head and knocking him out cold. Her heart pounded. Had she just taken an innocent life? Black cat rushed to her shoulder and as if she was reading her mind said 'Don’t worry about it. It’s kill or be killed around here.'

Marly nodded and moved over to where Red was tackling the last two survivors.

Red slashed the tip of her sword down the shorter ones neck and Marly impaled her spear into the other ones leg before ripping it out. Marly began toward Hunter. She was a girl on a mission. Marly lept at Hunter, throwing her spear. He dodged and she grabbed his hands.

'My army and I will pulverize you.' He spat.

'You and what army?' She asked.

Hunter looked angry.

'Yeah, the Hunters clan is more like; Hunter, and his measly little friend.' 

Hunter turned. All of his men had either fled, were wounded, unconscious, or dead.

All except Lachie, who was huddled on the ground, sobbing, 'We’re all gonna die! I want my mummy!!!!'.

Hunter sighed. He had chosen the wrong troops.

***

Red decided it was time to finish this. Hunter and his clan were a nuisance, and, surprisingly, dangerous at timed. She advanced, Black Cat at her side, Marly behind her. 'Come on Black.' She said, turning to her old comrade, 'Let’s finish this, just like old times.'

Black cat sprinted at Hunter and drew her sword, but he just swiped her aside. Red and Marly stood in shock as Black Cat fell to the ground, scrambling for her weapon. Hunter advanced, throwing his cap to the ground, his eye filled with hatred. Red hissed and Ripper attacked from above. 'Marly.' Reds voice was calm but still had an edge to it. She was glad Marly couldn’t see the fear in her eyes. 'Do something, NOW!' 

But it was too late. Hunter loomed over Black Cat, a dagger in his hand. 'Bye bye Black Cat.' He snarled, a manic grin on his face and a look of madness in his eyes. He threw the dagger. Red watched as the weapon spun through the air.

She was paralysed.

The dagger struck.

Silence.

Blood spilled across the ground, seeping from Black Cat like water from a hose. Red screamed in anguish and raced at Hunter, Marly following behind, still bewildered. Red wanted to kill. She wanted to push her dagger through Hunters stone heart and watch his wretched soul leave his body, the light seeping from his cruel eyes.

Still running, Red lept at Hunter. He was fast though, quick to slice his blood covered dagger across her face. Red managed to still stand but she was still in shock. Hunter had the advantage.

***

Marly knew that it wasn’t much longer until Red, her brave friend, ended up like Black Cat. She ordered Stormy away, He would only pose as a threat. Not that Hunter would care anyway.

'Lachie!' Hunter screeched. 'Dispose of the ‘Black Cats’ animals while I finish off these two.' He motioned to Marly and Red. Lachie scrambled towards Black Cat, slipping in her blood as he did so. 'Hunter! How do I get her to reveal her animals to me?' He said. 'Look since you are so dumb just forget about her, I’ll deal with it later.' Hunter spat. 'This is over.' He said as Red dropped her dagger.

***

Red watched, still paralysed, as Marly ran at Hunter, spear in hand, anger flaring in her eyes. Hunter, turned startled. He had been about to stab Red. Marly was more angry than ever now, Red could tell. She slashed her spear down, catching Hunters mouth. He turned, furious, a scar running vividly across his mouth. Marly smiled, but she didn’t see the small glint in Hunters sleeve. Red tried to scream warning, but her mouth seemed to be frozen. Hunter stabbed the knife down. Marly fell to the floor, unconscious. 'Tie her up too.' Hunter snarled at Lachie. Red sprinted towards Hunter, but she was still in shock, and he simply tossed her aside.

Hunter turned and mounted his giant bat. Red could only watch, screaming in anguish, as her companion was carried off. 'I’ll find you Hunter, and I will kill you.' She swore as she spat dirt and blood from her mouth.

Chapter 7:

Marly woke. Thick chains of metal tied her to an even thicker wooden post. She blinked twice, trying to figure out where she was.

Marly cursed. Maybe this was hell? The door creaked open and a dim, worn out light flicked on.

It was Lachie, the scared little boy from Hunters troop. Marly was surprised to see that Hunter hadn’t disposed of him yet. But then this could be hell for all she knows.

'Here' Lachie said chucking an apple at her from the door, before switching the light off and slamming the door. Marly waited silently. Weird. Hunter hadn’t reacted.

'GET BACK IN THERE OR I’LL KILL YOU!' 

That was more like it.

Hunter walked in the door pulling Lachie by his ear. Marly wondered if his scar was still bloody?

 The light flicked on again and, sure enough, the scar across his mouth was still smeared in blood. Marly felt a hint of satisfaction.

'Still grieving over you loss?' Hunter said with a mock concern.

Marly snorted 'You’re not a very good actor.' She pointed out, not wanting to look weak.

Hunter glared at Marly and she shrugged her shoulders. It was interesting how much their personalities rivaled each other, with Red she considered herself ‘in charge of her actions’ but with him she almost felt like they were a copy of each other. Aside from is stone heart. Come to think of it, there were some similarities between Hunter and Red too.

Lachie twitched as Hunters grip tightened on his ear. 'Have you got anything to say for yourself?' Hunter snarled at him.

'Yeah, let me go.' 

Marly was surprised at the sudden courage she had just seen in Lachie, but Hunter was not impressed. He snarled again and dragged Lachie over to the corner of the torture chamber. Marly stared in shock, surely he wouldn’t kill him would he?

Hunter continued to drag Lachie along. His hand grasped a cricket bat and he smashed Lachie over the head with it, sending Lachie crashing onto the cracked concrete. He was still alive, Marly could see him sucking in deep breaths. 'Your lucky your not dead.' Hunter said before walking out of the room, leaving Lachie to find his own way to the door.

 ***

Red stared at Black Cat, lying dead on the ground, her blood wetting the earth around her mangled body. Red let out sob. Black Cat. Her friend, her companion, her fellow agent, dead. She had been like a sister to Red. Red’s watch crackled.

Hello, hello? Red, do you copy? Red?  

'I copy.' Red said, her voice drained of emotion.

We need you here now. Where’s Black Cat? She was meant to be here an hour ago. 'Black Cat…' Red’s voice cracked. 'Black Cat is dead.' She said, the words tumbling out of her mouth. 'They have Marly.' 

Oh... I’m sorry. Red, we need you here now. Marly can wait.

'No.'

 What?

'I got Marly into this, and I’m going to get her out of it.' 

Red, don’t do this. We need you.

Red fumbled with the strap of her watch.

Red, don’t take the watch off.

Red pulled the watch off her wrist and tossed it into the bushes. She turned and looked into her dead friends eyes. 'I will avenge you Black cat.' She whispered.  'A life for a life.' She pressed the tattoo on her wrist and Fang and Ripper appeared. Fang looked deep into Red’s fiery eyes, and an understanding passed between them. Fang carefully picked up Black’s body. She looked at her friend. She stared at the halo of brown hair that surrounded Blacks head, and at her wide glassy eyes. Red gently closed them. 'Goodbye.' She said. 'Old friend.' Fang slithered into the shadows.

 Red turned to Ripper. 'Let’s go.' She said, as she climbed onto his back. And together they flew into the horizon.

***

Marly waited. Once Lachie had evacuated the chamber Marly allowed herself to breath a bit. Red would look for her… or not. Marly decided to just go with the idea that Red would come rescue her. She didn’t want to be wrong, but still, Marly decided that it was better to be wrong, than dead, just this once.

Lachie came back in after about an hour to give Marly a small bottle of water.

'LACHIE, GO FEED THE BATS.' Hunter ordered.

'Do you ever get sick of him?' Marly taunted Lachie.

'Yeah. One day I want to be the one torturing him, and you.’ He added, making Marly doubt her question.

'LACHIE I WANT THEM FED NOW!' Hunter screeched.

'COMING!' Lachie replied.

'DON’T SHOUT LACHIE!' Hunter shouted. Lachie sighed, then left. Marly cocked her head, thinking.

What if…She could hear Hunter, coming towards the door. He was just within ear shot. 'Stormy?' She said, her voice dry. She hadn’t touched the water, she didn’t trust Lachie. 'Junior?' No reply. Hunter entered the room, Lachie trailing behind him. 'Trying call your little friends?' He spat. 'Now why would you want to that?'.

'Maybe because you tied me to a pole with thick chains in a torture chamber and you have threatened to kill me and my animals. Also, you killed one of my companions and left the other one stranded in the bush in the middle of nowhere. Just a possibility, not saying that’s why I want to be rescued, but it could be a factor.' Marly sarcastically retorted.

'I don’t like that attitude.' Hunter snarled, leaning forward. He spat in her face.

Wait for it...wait for it. NOW! Marly whipped her foot up, smashing it into Hunter’s stomach. She pulled her ‘chained’ hands from behind her back, revealing the small knife Red had given her before they left the hut. Now for her escape.

***

Red had reached the ‘secret’ location of the S.B.S. She was trying to find a convenient spot to park her giant carnivorous eagle while she saved her fellow agent from possible torture and/or murder, and kicked some serious ass.

There.

Ripper landed on a spot covered in soft snow. 'Stay here will you.' Red told him. She crept up the mountain silently and stealthily. There were three boys guarding the entrance.

Easy.

Red crept up behind them her dagger in her hand. Smack. The handle proved to be good at knocking people out. Red continued on her way, entering the building. 'Sweet.' She said as she spotted a conveniently placed machine gun.

But not her style.

She crept round a corner and found herself facing the back of that boy...what was his name?

Lineal? Louie? Lachie? Yes, that was it, Lachie. He appeared to be emptying a bottle down a tube that read: Bats. The bottle was labeled: Arsenic. Wait, wasn’t that a poison? Oh well. There was shouting from further on in the corridor.

***

Marly raced towards the door, it had a code lock. She punched in the numbers she had seen Hunter type in just the other day, 772590. He wasn’t far from reaching her when she slammed the door, jamming his fingers right in the gap. Marly could see the pained expression on his face through the small glazed window and waved goodbye to him. Then she saw Lachie creeping up behind him, a knife in his hand.

No!

Marly wanted to be the one to kill Hunter. She smashed the door open not minding the fact that she smashed Hunters head while doing so. (She did free his fingers though)

'I thought you wanted him dead, if you worked with me we could create a new clan. Rule the world even' Lachie said, smiling cruley.

'Thanks, but I’d rather pass.' Marly snorted a look of disgust crossing her face. 'I already rule the world!' 

Lachie snarled throwing a knife at Marly and Hunter. It missed. Just.

'Lachie…' Hunter croaked quietly his eyes pleading.

This just seemed to make Lachie more and more happy. The smile on his face grew wider and wider as he closed on on Hunter and Marly.

'Ok.' Marly thought. He might look vicious but he is still a wimp.

'Hold on.' she said, shoving Lachie backwards. He snarled and ran at her with sudden energy. He had grown at least a foot since she had last seen him yesterday, before he fed the bats. Lachie smashed a fist towards Marly’s face but she ducked, still deep in thought. The bats. YES! That was the answer.

'Hunter.' Marly said, her voice cracking, 'What do you feed those bats?' 

'Why do you need to know?' Hunter said, attempting to stand up, his fingers black as ink.

'Just tell me.' Marly snapped never taking her eyes off Lachie.

'Steroids.' He replied casually. Marly nodded. 'Are their any other poisons in the building?'

'Yeah there is some Arsenic.' He said finally catching on. 'You don’t think that..'

'Yeah.' Marly cut him off dodging another punch. 'Lachies on steroids.'

***

Red slipped down corridors, looking for some kind of door that would lead her to Marly. She had waited for Lachie to leave and then had continued her way. Suddenly more shouting came from a corridor to her right. Red swung down it, and found Marly, Hunter, and the boy Lachie locked in combat behind a large metal door. Blood splattered Marly’s shirt, but it wasn’t hers. She delivered a well placed punch to Lachie’s jaw. Hunter feebly hit Lachie in the stomach. Huh, that was funny, Hunter and Marly seemed to be working together.

'Marly!' Red shouted. Marly whipped round, and a look of relief crossed her face. 'Red.' She said. 'Give us a hand will you. Lachie here has gone a little psycho.' 

'Okay.' 

Red ran at Lachie, glaring at Hunter as she passed him. 'This isn’t over.' She hissed. She collided with Lachie, punching and kicking with all her might. He fell to the ground. 'Come on Marly.' Red snapped.

'Help.' Hunter croaked.

'Why?' 

'He wants to kill me.'

'And?' 

'They found Ripper and Stormy. They have them caged.'

 'WHAT?' 

'We have to leave. If you don’t go now, they’ll capture you and drain your blood.'

'Why?'

'Because we want to know how you were chosen by your animals.'

'But you have bats.' Marly put in.

'We forced them to join us with a serum.' 

Red was shocked.

'But Lachie must have killed them all.' Hunter continued. 'You need my help to leave. You don’t know the codes.' 

'Guys, we need to leave, Lachie won’t be out to much longer he’s already stirring. Red just let him come, we can discuss this later.' Marly said, dragging Hunter out of the doorway.

'Fine.' Red said. 'But after, you die…'

***

Marly sighed, she really didn’t want Hunter tagging along, she couldn’t fully trust him. But when Lachie tried to kill him he was on her side so why not now? Marly didn’t fully understand it but it would have to do because he knew more than she did.

Hunter directed them through a corridor that looked much liked the S.C.S’s HQ. He pointed to a green sign above a door that said EXIT. 'Red. Grab those keys, Hunter here clearly can’t run so we’re going to have to learn how to drive instead.' Marly said, punching in the same numbers she had used in the torture chamber. Yep, it opened. 'Gee you don’t make it hard for people to escape with an EXIT sign and the same code everywhere!' Marly snorted.

'Well are you thankful for that now?' Hunter said, raising a grimy eyebrow. Red returned with the keys.

'You shouldn’t drive. You’ve never driven before.' She said responsibly.

Marly just shrugged and tossed the keys to Hunter. 'You should know how to drive that’s why you have a car.' She offered. Hunter nodded and Red rolled her eyes. 'I’m not going in that car if he’s driving.'

 'Fine, die then.' Marly said, jumping in the passenger's seat of the slick Black Audi. Red sighed but hopped in anyway. Hunter started the engine and drove off way too fast. Marly hardly cared, it would only get them further away faster. She looked back at Red, who clearly thought that it was a mistake to have let a 11 year old psychopath drive.

***

Red hated Hunter so much. He had killed Black Cat, attempted to torture Marly and then forced them to save him. He was a coward. But a smart one at that. Now here she was, sitting in the back seat of a car, driven by the boy who had killed her best friend. Red shook the thought aside and instead thought of Ripper, stranded in that huge empty building. 'I’ll come back for you buddy.' She murmured. Hunter pulled up in a clearing. 'Let’s stop here for the night.' He said. Red got out of the car, silently. She pulled her pack off her shoulder and began to build a fire. 'Marly, get some wood would you.' She snapped. As much as she would hate being alone with Hunter, she didn’t trust him at all. Marly left the clearing. Red ignored Hunter and began to build a small hut out of leaves and canvas from her bag.

***

Marly looked at the scene in front of her. It had three months since they had arrived in the forest. They had spent day after day training, preparing to take their animals back. Red was clearly still angry. Hunter looked more worried everyday. He actually cared. Maybe not a lot, but she knew that they could trust him for now.

'Guys, let’s get some sleep, it’s a big day tomorrow.' Red had been looking over the rescue plans, and they had decided to spend tomorrow preparing. With that Marly stormed off to the unforgiving forest to gather firewood. She thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye as she left. Nah, it was probably nothing. But maybe… The moment Marly was out of eyesight she dropped back. It might be nothing, but Marly couldn’t be sure, and ever since she and Red started their mission she had began to suspect more things. Slowly she crept through the trees like a cat.

***

Red was tired. But now was not the time. She had seen something in the trees, and she was suspicious. She returned to the plans. 'I am really sorry.' Hunter said, snapping her from her thoughts. 'Shut it.' Red replied bluntly. She wasn’t ready to forgive him. Not yet. After three months she was still angry. She refused to talk to him unless it was necessary. They had just started an argument yet again.

'Oh come on! She ran at me, I had to do something! If I hadn’t my men would see me as a coward and kill me.' Hunter said.

'Tough. We would have captured you, interrogated you, then probably released you. You could have joined our side, got a real animal.'

'It was a spur of the moment thing.'

'Huh.' Red turned and walked to the the shelter.

'Red…' Hunter stuttered. 'What?!' Red whipped around. There was a knife at Hunters throat. 'Don’t move.' said the cloaked figure behind him, 'Or he dies.'.  

Hunter looked at Red, a question in his eyes. 'Don’t move.' Red mouthed.

Chapter 8:

Marly clambered up a tree, heart pounding in accelerated thumps. The figure had already seen her and clearly wanted nothing to do with Marly, and although Hunter was the one who had knives at his throat something gave Marly the feeling whoever it was, wanted Red. She watched, creeping slowly down the tree, as the cloaked figure wrapped a thick rope around Hunters neck and then pulled the loop so that it was hard for him to breath. Marly watched in horror as the cloaked figure removed its hood, revealing long honey blond hair and deep glassy blue eyes.

A.H.

Marly was confused. Wasn’t that the nice girl from when Red had first taken her? She climbed down the tree, cautious of A.H, and carefully made her way down to Red.

***

Red was shocked. It was A.H. 'What…' She stuttered, lost for words.

'You didn’t return when we told you too Red.' A.H said.

'No.' Red said, firmly.

'Why?'

'Because Marly was in danger.'

'We would have saved her.'

'It would have been too late.'

'Why are you traveling with this?' She motioned to Hunter.

'He was helping us.'

'Remember your place Red.'

'Remember yours.'

'What?' Marly said from behind Red. Red turned. 'Because agents can only be from five to sixteen, and it’s A.H’s birthday soon. I will be the next leader.' 

'Really?'

'Really. In fact.' Red said, turning back to A.H. 'It’s your birthday in three weeks, isn’t it?' 

'Yes. The 17 of April' A.H said begrudgingly.

'So I will be leader soon.' 

'Yes.'

'So remove your knives from Hunters neck.'

'Making acquaintances with the enemy are we?' A.H’s voice was stern and disappointed.

'The S.B.S are not our enemies.'

'Hunter killed Black cat. The daughter of my Best Friends, Red. The daughter of Black Storm and Shark Tooth. They rescued you too, you know.'

'Yes, and I forgive him.' Red said glancing over at Hunter. Hunter looked up in surprise. 'You do?' Marly frowned

'Yes.' Red’s look told her to shut it.

A.H glared at Red. 'You’re a traitor.' 

'Well sometimes you have to be a little badass to do well as an agent.' Red replied smugly.

'What do you mean?'

'You kill Hunter, then Marly will kill you. Trust me, she won’t hesitate.' Red smirked as Marly’s spear pressed into A.H’s back.

***

Marly watched as A.H held her hands up in surrender. 'Ok, ok, you win Red Fox.' She backed away.  Hunter clambered to his feet. Marly shot him a look and he backed up. 'So, A.H, tell us why you’re here.' Red said, her voice calm and collected. As Marly watched her, she remembered what she had wanted to know from the beginning.

'I came looking for you after you chucked away your watch.' Red had chucked away her watch? That was the only way she had to communicate with the S.C.S. Marly continued to listen.

'You gave me no choice. It was either throw away the bloody watch or return to HQ, while Marly, who would have probably escaped, would have no idea where to go.' Red replied.

'What does the S.C.S and S.B.S stand for?' Marly asked hurriedly. Surprisingly, it was Hunter who replied. 'The S.C.S stands for The Secret Children Society. The S.B.S stands for The Secret Boys Society.' 

'Oh.' Marly was slightly disappointed. She had thought it might be something more interesting.

'So the S.C.S is who I work for.' Marly sounded puzzled.

'Well not yet.' Red explained 'You’re not fully qualified.' 

'You have to be accepted by the leader' 

'And your thirteen so that must mean you’ve been an agent for more than a year.' Marly replied.

'Who told you I was thirteen?'

'No one, I just assumed…'

'I’m twelve.' Red snapped.

'Mmhh.' A.H cleared her throat. 'We were saying…' 

'Oh.' Red turned to face A.H.

What was she doing here? Marly wondered.

'I told you, I came looking for you.' A.H said.

'You’re lying.' Marly and Red snapped at the same time.

'You know what I think.' Red said to A.H. 'I think you’re a traitor. You will have to retire soon, and you want to get back at me. I think you’re working for the I.S.A.' 'What!?' Marly exclaimed. All these different groups names were confusing her. 'The Institute for Skilled Assassins.' 

'You can’t prove anything!' A.H snapped.

 'Oh can’t I? Marly, pick up those knifes and read what is written on them aloud.' Marly crouched down, one eye on A.H and the other on the ground. She plucked the small weapons from the ground. 'They say: Keep silent and stealthy, or time will come and take you.' Marly said, reading out the inscription. 'That is the I.S.A’s motto.' Red said.

'You have some explaining to do.'

Hunter grinned, but it wasn’t the same maniac grin he used to wear, it was toned down a bit, more human. Red saw it too and Marly saw relief cross her face, though Red would never admit it.

***

Red was slightly taken aback. A.H, a traitor? But she had known, the moment A.H had opened her mouth, that she was lying. But the I.S.A! Even Hunter wouldn’t stoop that low. 'It was you, wasn’t it.' Red said.

'What?'

'When I had just rescued Marly. The figure. It was you'

'So what?'

Why?' Red asked.

'Because I don’t want to leave.' A.H said.  'I rescued you. I deserve some respect. I was going to kill Hunter, and then maybe, just maybe, you’d see the light. I might have killed Marly next…' 

'Good luck with that.' Red smirked.

'Just to make you see the light.' A.H continued.

'You’re a monster.' Red whispered. 'You know that, don’t you.'

'Yes.' A.H said. Red could see Marly out the corner of her eye. She looked absolutely shocked. Hunter, on the other hand, was unperturbed. A.H turned. 'I think my time is up.' she said. 'What…' A.H shoved past Marly. No one could do anything. She ran towards the forest. 'STOP!' Red screams. But she was already gone.

***

Marly was just within earshot to hear Hunter mutter under his breath several rude words. 'Really?' She raised her eyebrows. 'What? At least I didn’t say *****' Hunter swore. Marly looked at him, trying to copy Red’s withering glare. What a dick.

A.H was long gone. Marly grinned at Red, and she sighed 'Marly can you go and start the fire, we need a plan, I don’t know how much longer I can live without Ripper.' 

Marly nodded and raced up the wooden ladder that led to the tree house they had built.

By the time she had the fire going Red and Hunter had made themselves comfortable on the wooden floor beside her. 'We need a plan. Without A.H in charge we have only Lachie to focus on.' Red announced and Marly nodded. It was Hunter who spoke next. 'He has a fear of dogs. I don’t know that will help if he’s on steroids. But…' 

'It could trigger him out of it.' Red finished his sentence catching onto the idea. Marly looked at Red and then Hunter before finally speaking. 'Wait… we get a dog!' 

***

Red nodded 'It will have a purpose though and we need to start soon. Hunter can you drive down and get one from town tomorrow it will take you a while the nearest town, LA…' 

'Hell Lane.' Marly said. 'The tall house on the end with the flower beds. There's a breeder that lives there she has all sorts of dogs.' 

Red agreed with the idea and Hunter grinned.

'You leave tomorrow.' Red said to Hunter before standing and walking over towards the makeshift hallway. Red was happy. At least they had a plan. She wasn’t sure she could trust Hunter enough to send him out alone but their was no way Marly was going and she had things to do around here. Masses of possibilities popped into her head. What if he got sick of the dog and killed it? What if he turned back to the S.B.S? What if.. What if.

Red tried to erase the cruel thoughts out of her head and thought of Ripper instead. Caged in a tiny crate, cuts streaking down his light brown wings. Red shook her head and walked into her room. She checked under the mattress for her dagger and left the handle sticking out a bit in case anyone decided to attack during the night. Sighing she clambered into the double bed. It had white sheets and a blanket made out of Rippers baby feathers. She blew out the candle, not afraid of the dark, tossed over, letting her thick blond ponytail and fiery eyes rest, just for the night.

***

Marly awoke and rushed up to the window pulling back the curtains. Hunter was pulling out of the clearing in his black Audi and Red was watching from the tree trunk. Once he was out of the clearing and in the forest, Red made her way up the ladder. Marly closed the curtains and pulled a fresh t-shirt and shorts on before rushing down the small tree house, past Red and Hunters rooms. She made her way to the small enclosed space they used to cook and relax (not that they relaxed much.).

Red was just placing her left foot on the wooden floor when Marly skidded into the room. 'How long will it take to get from LA from here?' Marly asked.

'Around four hours.' Red replied. Marly nodded.

'Going down to see Black cat.' Red said, as she packed her bag. She was wearing jeans and a white top, covered by her usual black leather jacket. Marly started to pack as well, only slightly confused. Wasn’t Black cat dead? They headed out the door and Marly opened her mouth to say something but then closed it. Black cat, was a touchy subject.

***

Red wanted to see her. Bury her. Treat her with respect. Once they reached the clearing she tried to avoid the dry blood the soaked the grass as she walked. After two months it didn’t feel like much had changed. The cliff edge jutted out to the left and the forest line resembled a horseshoe. 'Fang, bring her.' Red hissed in Snake. A few minutes later the large black snake emerged from the shadows a skinny dead figure curled on his body. Red and Marly spent the next few minutes digging a grave for Black. 'I never got to see her animals.' Marly said. Red looked up.

'Ha. For some weird reason she had a giraffe and a black and dark grey tiger with purple eyes. I wonder where they are now.' They continued on in silence, Red reminiscing the good times they had had together. When they were done Fang carefully lowered Black’s body into the hole. Red smiled down at her, her hazel hair spread in a sort of halo around her head, her green eyes closed, as though she were only sleeping. 'Goodbye.' Red murmured. They slowly piled the cold dirt over the body. Red snatched an unusual black stone from her pocket, that she had found in the woods. She placed it on the ground above the grave. Taking her knife from her pocket, she engraved this message into the cool surface of the stone: Here lies Black Cat. A good and kind person, and a loyal friend. Then she turned, and walked back towards the trees. 'Hunter must be back by now.' She said.

***

Marly dragged her feet. Surely they were nearly there? It had been around 5 hours since they had left home and Marly couldn’t wait to see the dog Hunter got. 'Nearly there.' Red spoke suddenly, making Marly leap out of her skin. Red laughed and Marly glared at her. She noticed that Red’s usual leather jacket was unzipped, revealing a dark black mark on her collarbone. 'What’s that?' Marly asked. 'This?' Red indicated to the mark.

'Yeah.'

'You know how Hunter said I had two tattoos when we first met?'

'Yeah.'

'Well, one is on my arm, which I showed to you, and this is the other one.' Red pulled down the collar of her white top, revealing the rest of the mark, which took the shape of a feather, black as night.

'It’s a crow’s feather. To remind me that we all die in the end.'

'Wosh, that’s deep.'

'I understand if that’s too much for your tiny brain to grasp.'

'HEY! If I have a small brain, yours must be smaller, seeing as you’re hanging out with me.' Marly teased as she picked up a jog. Red joined her and they raced through the trees, Reds boots retracting into sneakers as they ran. She was surprisingly fast for a person wearing jeans. ‘Why do you have tatoos anyway? Aren’t you a little young?’ Marly glanced over at Red.

‘I didn’t chose to have them. They came with Ripper and Fang. The one on my wrist is to call Fang, and the feather is for Ripper. No matter how old I get, they stay the same.’

Marly shrugged and put on a sudden burst of speed. Red laughed and sprinted ahead.

They reached the tree hut and Marly clambered up the ladder to her room to change. S Enough a slim black car pulled up in the clearing, splattered with murky brown mud. As soon as he pulled up Marly raced out and lifted up the boot of the car.

'Oh. My. God.' She said.

***

Red spoke suddenly, 'What is it?' Suddenly there were thoughts of giant, crazed dogs were spinning through her head. 'What’s wrong?'.

'Awwwwwwww. It’s a puppy.' Marly simpered.

'What!' Red snarled, turning to Hunter.

'What?' He dug his hands further into his pockets. 'I kinda like it.'

'You have to take it back.' Red snapped.

 'What!' Marly complained.

'We need a proper dog.' Red replied. 'Something that will scare Lachie. A puppy has more chance of curing his fear!' 

'We’ll train him. You’ll see.' Marly protested.

'Fine.' Red gave in. They didn’t have time to get another dog. 'But it’s your responsibility.'.

'Thanks Red!' Marly exclaimed as she pulled a tiny chocolate brown dog from the boot. 'It’s a Labradoodle.' Hunter helpfully put in.

'Great.' Red muttered sarcastically. 'A fearsome name for a fearsome dog.'.

'I’m gonna call it Marcus' Marly exclaimed from behind Red.

'No!' Hunter argued. 'Let’s call it Killer.' 

Red left them to bicker.

***

Marly loved the puppy. It reminded her of when she first got Stormy.  It had jet black little eyes and the cutest dark brown fur. She gave the puppy back to Hunter, turning on her heels and racing inside. Red wasn’t going to be happy when she heard Marlys plan but she had already said that the puppy could stay.

Once Marly was up the stairs she rans straight to her bedroom scrambling through her chest in hope for an old blanket. 'Found it!' She yelled down at Hunter as she pulled out the knitted blue blanket. She ran back through the house, stopping when she reached the ladder. 'Here give me Killer while you climb up' She suggested to Hunter. Marly reached for the puppy letting it curl up in her arms. It had sharp teeth, Marly found that out when she reached to pat it’s head.

Hunter walked through the doorway made of ragged wood that they had thrown together only two months ago. Marly, still holding the puppy, walked towards Hunters room she dumped the puppy on the bed and it growled. 'What? You stay here until Hunter takes you out to train.' Marly told the puppy shutting the door on him.

***

Red wanted the dog to leave her alone. The stupid thing had been following her around ever since it had arrived. Her foot was itching to kick it. Mind you, it wouldn’t leave Hunter alone either. It was like they were kind of connected. Red stared out the window at Hunter and Marly, who were attempting to train it. 'It’s not gonna work!' Red shouted out the window, knowing this would only make Marly work harder. The sun was going down. 'Marly!' Red screamed. 'Can you start the fire while I get some food?' 

'Sure.' Came the reply. Hunter picked up the dog and passed it up to Marly, who was halfway up the ladder already. They were meant to have rescued Ripper and Stormy days ago, but the arrival of the dog had slowed things down. Tomorrow they would make the preparations. They didn’t have any more time.

'We need to confirm our plans.' Hunter said as he entered the kitchen, almost reading Red’s mind. 'I know.'

'I don’t know if the dog will make a difference. It’s still not trained well enough.'

'I can see.'

'Maybe we can borrow some of the steroids?'

'We shouldn’t risk it. When the puppy gets bigger who knows what it would do to us.'

'Yeah…'

Marly arrived. 'The fire’s ready.'. Red strolled down the corridor, thinking.

Chapter 9: Lachie and Hunter’s Point of View

Lachie walked into a room labeled: Keep Out. His men, well, they used to Hunters men, but they only obeyed him now after Hunter ‘peacefully surrendered’.

Lachie was happy, soon, Hunter would be peacefully dead.

That girl… Marly, she could be chucked of the cliff as a thanks for helping him get this far.

Lachie smiled wickedly as he started to talk to his men. 'Next month we should attack!' 

The groans and swears that came from his man's mouth weren't encouraging and so Lachie did what he did best and blabbed on and on about the stupidest stuff like when Hunter dared him to jump over a bush and bla bla bla. Halfway through his blabbered speech his men started to file back out to the cabins. Some of them already looked dead.

Lachie sighed, when would his life get any better. He walked through the empty hall of the S.B.S and found his way to Hunters trashed headquarters. 'Hunter that backstabbing son of a B*****.' Lachie thought out loud, kicking the end of the bench and screeching cowardly in pain as he nearly snapped his foot in two.

Wait. He was on steroids. That couldn’t be right. He walked down the hall to the secret door. Lachie entered the code. 772590. Hmmm, maybe he should change the code so if Hunter attacked he wouldn’t find the drugs. Lachie clicked the reset button and thought for a second before punching in the new code. 123. There, Hunter wouldn’t think of that.

***

Hunter pounded a couple of thoughts. The puppy might have been cute. But Hunter was slightly disappointed with himself. I mean a puppy! Marly seemed happy enough but Red just gave him the cold shoulder and glared at Hunter every time he did so much as walk past. Red might not admit it, but she needed Hunter to help. I mean, who else was going to know that Lachie was probably going to change all the codes to 123?

Hunter continued down the hall and opened the door to his room. Red’s survival training had been really useful. Sure, they didn’t have electricity, but the place was pretty awesome. But what about Lachie? Hunter wanted to kill him. Sure, Hunter had been pretty nasty towards him, but it didn’t mean Lachie had to take over the whole society and attempt to kill Hunter. Hunter sighed and called the dog. Lachie could wait.

Lachie was happy, With the codes secure, he walked into his biscuit and tea room. It was the only relaxing place because it was the only room Hunter would never enter. Lachie looked down at his blood spattered watch, wiping the screen.

12:00.

Killing time.

He put his phsyco murder mask on and walked out of the room, digestive in hand.

He reached the ‘Keep out' room, glancing quickly around at the terrified faces, all hoping that it wasn’t their death sentence.

Once he reached the stage. He tapped the microphone twice and glared at those who sniggered.

'Welcome…..friends?' Lachie blabbered. 'We’ll be cutting down our tribe today, so that means a sacrifice….' 

All of the men’s faces were frozen in shock.

'Could I have the guards please.' Lachie clicked his fingers and two beefy looking men stood at his side.

One of the younger boys who looked only around eleven wailed in fear, then fainted, everyone made way around him as he crashed to the ground. Lachies eyes narrowed as he recognized the boy. 'Max? Could you please stand?' 

Max shook his head, suddenly alive.

'You dare to disobey me?' Lachie questioned, inching closer. Max nodded and then shook his head, confused. Lachie glared at him with disgust and then clicked his fingers and tapped his foot on the cold wooden floor boards. 'Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice.' He chanted. Slowly the men began to join in, clapping and screaming while creating a ring around Max and Lachie.

An evil glare erupted on his face as Lachie pushed the sword down, down, down, through Max’s bloody chest. So far that the sword left a dent in the floorboards. Max’s eyes slowly emptied of light, and he fell to the floor. Lachie laughed, a cruel smile playing over his lips..

***

Killer came racing back to Hunter the moment Marly set him on the ground. In the light he looked like a furry brown ball of fluff rolling along the ground.

He came skidding to a stop right by Hunters feet, a look of admiration on the little puppies face. Training the mutt had proved harder than Hunter had thought and he still wasn’t sure how well Red would take it if Lachie thought it was some sort of joke and then just killed them all. Hunter didn’t want to die, but at the moment living was tough. They couldn’t stay here forever. At some point they would have to leave, and Red and Marly wouldn’t go on without out Ripper and Stormy, and Hunter was the only one that knew the way through the S.B.S. So, they were stuck together for the moment. But… It was weird, the longer he spent in the treehouse stuck with Marly and Red, the more the S.C.S appealed to him as an agency. They didn’t worry about what anyone else thought of them, and they didn’t have to kill to lead. Maybe he should… But… Hunter shook the thought aside. He needed to focus on Killer, and only Killer. A connection seemed to have formed between them, unlike anything Hunter had ever felt. It was… well… weird. Almost like the connections Hunter had seen between Marly and Junior and Red and Fang, when the animals came on their frequent visits. Strange. Hunter sighed and turned his attention back Killer, who was waiting patiently for the next command.

 


Chapter 10:

Red and Marly.

Marly loved training Killer. The tiny dog was almost as cute as Stormy had been when he was a cub. But, time was running out, and they needed to get a move on. Who knew what was happening to Ripper and Stormy… She needed to spend all the time she could riding Junior.

Once Marly had put the fire on and left a note she she raced out of the tree hut, whistling shrilly to Junior.

The black horse was there and soon enough Marly was on the black stallion's back. He stomped his foot and shook his mane.

That's when Marly saw Hunter resting against the trunk of the tree, Killer lying at his feet. Marly didn’t acknowledge Hunter, just turned Junior on his hocks and galloped off. She disappeared further and further into the woods, her golden brown ponytail streaming out behind her in the wind.

Marly didn’t know what place she was looking for but she knew it was going to be somewhere she could forget everything and live just like she used to. Just this time with Junior, not Stormy.

Junior turned a bend and slowed. Marly could see it now, a small creak surrounded in untamed willow trees. She leapt of Junior, letting him splash around in shallows.

The long lush grass was a nice change from the dry summer ground, and the cool water felt nice on Marly’s scorching feet. Junior galloped out of the water playfully, covering Marly in the lukewarm water. 'Junior!' Marly laughed, jumping into the stream herself, with a massive splash. Junior ran backwards and snorted. She laughed at his antics and cupped some of the water in her hands splashing him with what she managed to keep from dripping out.

It had been only thirty minutes since they had arrived at the creek, but already Junior was anxious to leave. Marly sighed and floated around in the deeper part of the stream. That’s when she heard voices. Leaping up out of the water, Marly crawled over to the edge of a thick willow tree.

'Hurry up and go get that water before you end up like Max!'

It was Lachie.

***

Red climbed down the ladder of the tree hut, letter in hand. She frowned. Since when did Marly just leave? The pressure must be getting to her.

The ground was parched as the start of summer had kicked in. The puppy had grown miraculously in the last few days. Too big for a Labradoodle. Hunter must have been wrong about the breed. Oh well. The problem was Marly. She shouldn’t be going out alone, who knew what could happen to her. She called for Fang, and he transformed into a tiny black mamba at her command. 'Come on.' Red said, her forehead crinkled with worry. 'Hunter!' She shouted, hoping he could hear her. Sure enough, he came racing towards her, Killer at his heels. 'Marly’s gone.'.

'I know.' Came the reply.

'What!?'

'She seemed to need a little time on her own.'

'What direction did she go in?'

Hunter pointed west. 'Oh no.' Red exclaimed.

'What?'

'Have you seen how fast she goes on that horse?'

'Yeah. So what?'

'So she’s racing towards the headquarters of the S.B.S.'

'Oh.'

'Let’s go, before it’s too late.' Red said. 'Get the car.' Hunter raced over to the slim black Audi, moving to get into the driver’s seat. 'No.' Red said. 'What?'

 'I’m driving.' 

Hunter shrugged and tossed her the keys. Red jumped into the front seat and turned the key in the ignition. 'Let’s get Marly.' She muttered, pressing down on the accelerator.

***

Marly froze, fear pulsing through her veins. What was Lachie doing here? Who was Max? What had happened to him?

Surely she wasn’t that close to the S.B.S? But Junior was quite fast. What was she going to do? Lachie obviously didn’t realize she was there, otherwise he would have spoken to her or captured her by now. Marly turned to Junior, indicating that he should go and get help. He disappeared into the woods. Marly carefully scuttled behind a large, sunbaked rock just as Lachie emerged from the trees, accompanied by a short, brown haired boy with a terrified look on his pale face. 'I told you, get the water! We need to keep those animals alive if we want those meddling girls and that idiot Hunter to come to rescue them.' Lachie exclaimed, 'Then we can extract their blood and examine their DNA strands.' He said, a look of malice on his crazed face. Marly was shocked. They wanted to take their blood! And by the look on Lachie’s face, it wasn’t just going to be a small sample. They would take all of it. Junior cantered off and Marly crouched down lower, praying that for some strange reason Red would swoop in and save the day. But for now, Marly would have to wait, and hope that Lachie didn’t see her.

***

Red stopped the car. 'Why are you stopping?' Hunter asked from the back seat.

'Because if there is someone here they won’t hear us coming.' Red replied.

Killer whimpered.

'Why did you take him?' 

'Well I couldn’t just leave him, could I?' Hunter pointed out. Red rolled her eyes, slamming the car door with a bang that nearly shattered the windows.

'Well, now they will have noticed.' Hunter said leaping out of the Audi.

Red just glared at him.

'If I were Marly where would I be?' She muttered to herself.

'Someplace dumb?' Hunter suggested appearing at her shoulder.

Red just shook her head in pity, before picking up a jog and running across the field, Hunter at her side. 'Wait.' Hunter stopped and looked up. Sure enough the black horse was galloping towards them. It stopped just in front of Red who looked the huge animal right in the eye.

***

Marly heard the footsteps getting closer. She still had hope. Afterall Lachie was such a dickhead he might not see her.

She tried to slow her breathing like a ninja.

But after around 20 seconds she decided it wasn’t worth it. Marly heard rustling on the other side of the creek.

Damn.

She hadn’t thought of that.

Of course, they could walk around, cross the creek and attack from the other side. Marly froze. They still didn’t know that she was here.

A tall blond figure emerge from the trees. A scar ripped diagonally across her face. A boy followed. Marly looked at the scar he had across his lip and his bruised finger.

Marlys face lit up in a grin. She had been so sure that it would have been Lachie, that Marly forgot the possibility that Red and Hunter would save her.

Killer yapped from Hunters feet.

Marly splashed back through the water, rushing to the grassy bank.

Red sighed and shook her head disapprovingly.

 Hunter grinned before speaking, 'Hey Red, since it’s my car. I drive.'  He headed back through the trees, Killer nipping at his ankles. Marly ran after him and Red followed silently, still looking back at the bushes.

'We should attack now.' Red said, her fiery eyes suddenly thirsty. Marly walked back towards her. 'No. Not now. We have time Red.' Marly tugged on Red's shoulder but Red just shrugged her off. Hunter was at Reds side now, too and when she still failed to move he ran up behind her, lifting her legs off the ground and sending her crashing down, before draping Red over his shoulder. Hunter picked up a run, still quite fast considering he was carrying Red as well.

What Hunter didn’t get was although he may have just saved her life. She was not happy.

***

Red was flummoxed. First Hunter had to tag along. Second she wasn’t even allowed to walk, let alone fight. She was angry.

Hunter was a brat and it was time to put him in his place. Red shrugged down her sleeve, revealing her glistening dagger. Hunter hadn’t noticed and Marly was too busy trying to figure out why it hadn’t been Lachie in the bushes.

The time was just right.  

She ripped the dagger down Hunter’s back.

Hunter came to a sudden halt. Blood pumped down his ripped hoodie. Killer snarled, leaping up before sinking his sharp teeth into Red’s leg.

'That wasn’t very nice.' Hunter mused chucking her on the ground. Red landed on her feet and hissed. That’s when she saw Marly. Her back was turned.

A voice.

It was Lachie.

Red took one look at herself. Ashamed. What had she done! They needed Hunter, no matter how much of a pain he was. Oh well, it was only a scratch.

Marly took one look at Lachie and charged. Just not the direction your thinking. She wheeled around on her heels and ran west, stopping briefly to collect Hunter and Red. Marly was smart enough not to lead Lachie their base but Lachie was dumb enough to follow them.

They had the upperhand. Marly flew. She had shoes but prefered not to wear them, unlike Red and Hunter who wore sneakers, so only she could feel the ground softening beneath their feet, as they reached a more boggy area.

Marly knew where she was going, but after Reds outburst Marly wondered if her new leader was really on their side.

Hunter stopped and turned, blood dripping off his back. 'I think we lost them.' 

Sure enough there was no one behind them. Hunter pulled up the hood of his jumper never letting his eyes leave Red. That same evil glance pasted on his face. That very same look Marly had seen before he killed Black cat.

That frightened Marly. She was rather fond of life.

Still checking the surroundings for Lachie or any of his men, Marly allowed herself to be lost in thought. Maybe Red was right to attack?

But still Red was the only one who had a weapon, Marly was useless without Stormy or her spear. Once Marly had checked all areas they were set to go. Red had calmed down. Hunter was still bleeding, but Marly felt that although his face was grim the thoughts inside were calmer than what showed.

***

Red had known that Marly would have run. Why wouldn’t she? She had no weapons and without Stormy she was useless.

Marly started heading towards the tree hut.

'Hey Mar, we should go the long way just in case.' Red spoke softly. She was still upset with Hunter, but Red needed Ripper now more than ever. For all she knew he could be drained of blood already.

They had been walking for around an hour before they found Hunters Audi. It wasn't so black anymore though, brown mud covered most of the car, and a bit of blood. 'Who’s blood is that?' Marly asked.

'I ran over some bunnies on the way here.' Red casually replied.

'She certainly did.' Hunter added, miming throwing up.

'Can I drive?' Marly begged.

Hunter snorted, 'Only if you want to die.' 

Red watched Marly roll her eyes, leaping into the back with Killer.

Hunter started the engine and Red turned the radio on to the heavy metal station.

It wasn’t far, maybe a couple of kilometers? But for Red it felt like eternity.

***

Marly opened the door of the car and let Killer out before herself. She then grabbed the little puppy and carried him up the ladder to Hunter’s room. It was the only place Red would let him stay.

She was worried that Lachie might have followed them. 'It’s not just a silly thought. It could happen.' Marly told herself. She passed Hunter, who gave her a strange look, like she was more of a dweb than a kickass warrier.  

Once Marly reached the safety of her small wooden room she ran straight to the makeshift bed of flax, pushed it aside and looked at the worn floorboard. She pulled it up, while it cracked unhappily.

There.

Her notebook.

Still empty, unused.

Marly wondered what it would be like to live like most kids. Go to school. Even things like shopping.

Nah, her life was way better. Killing people, maiming people, saving the day, generally kicking some serious ass. Marly shoved the thought aside with a grin. She was lucky.

'MARLY PUT THE FIRE ON!' Red yelled, slamming a door. Marly stood there in shock for a few seconds, before moving. Red was clearly still in a mood.

***

Red felt angry and sorry at the same time. She didn’t even know that was possible. I mean of course she didn’t mean any harm. But that backfired. She tried to push the sympathy away but it was more stubborn that she thought, and eventually it took over.

She walked across the tiny hall to Hunters room and tapped twice.

'GO AWAY!' Was the response.

It looked like Marly was the only sane one.

Red just walked away. She never wanted anything to do with Hunter and his mutt and this just gave her all the more reason to hate him.

Red watched from the top of the ladder as Marly lit the fire. It started with a roar. Red couldn’t help but think of Marly when she was first sent out to rescue the little prick. No. Rescue was the wrong word. Help maybe, but not rescue.

Hunter walked out of his room, gun in hand. Reds fiery eyes widened, her heart racing. He grinned wildly walking towards her. She crawled back and he walked around to her ear. Gun loaded. 'I’m going hunting.' He grinned and laughed. Red really had thought that she was a goner. 'Oh you dick!' Red swore, still trying to control her heart beat. Why did she allow Hunter to scare her like that? Well, he did kill… Black cat.

Chapter 11:

Marly had seen Reds reaction to Hunter’s trick. It was mean. But still Reds reaction was priceless! The fire was roaring and Marly prayed that Hunter could catch a deer or a least a few rabbits. Marly sat on a log that she had pulled up on their first day and thought about the stream she had found. Junior had been a great help but she hadn't seen the horse since. Really, they were meant to attack about three weeks ago. The dog had held all the plans back by quite a bit. Wait a second. Three weeks? That rang a bell. It was probably nothing.

Marly just sat there.

Red had left. Probably still rather shaken. Pretending to kill someone was rather frightening.

Marly was scared just watching.

It wasn’t long, maybe an hour or so before Hunter returned. Just as Marly hoped he was holding a deer that would feed them for weeks. She leaped up, ruffling the fur of the constantly growing dog.

Marly still wasn’t sure of the name ‘Killer’ though. It was hard to call the pup.

‘Killer, come here boy!’ never sounded quite right.

***

Red watched from the window of her room as Marly just sat there. She must have been in deep thought, Red had never Marly never sit so still before. Then Hunter came back. The nerve. No. This wasn’t good. Part of Red had wanted Hunter, that stinking pervert, to get himself lost or killed. At least then she couldn’t harm him. He wouldn’t annoy her either. But hey, at least they had food. Red sighed. Nothing seemed to work out. If Black Cat had been here she would have made everything right.

She watched as Hunter started to skin the deer. Marly was still playing with Killer. Red felt helpless sitting here, so she walked out of the room, closing the door tight. The stream Marly found was to far away and not worth it. Red climbed down the ladder. She would just have to collect the water from the dirty pond and filter it.

***

Marly grabbed the spare knife Hunter had given her. A spear was useless for skinning, she would only cut herself. 'Have you seen Red?' Marly asked, 'I haven’t seen her since she told me to light the fire.' 

'Told you are soft words.' Hunter replied as another layer of guts and blood splattered to the ground.

'Have you?' Marly pressed.

'Have I what?' Hunter replied. He was being smart now.

'Seen Red.'

'Yeah she went to get water… I think?' Hunter replied frowning. 'You know how we were meant to attack a while ago.'  He continued.

'Meant to are soft words.' Marly teased and Hunter shoved her, before wincing in pain. Marly laughed, 'Red did a good job.'

'Hey…'

Marly stood up, sprinting towards the tree hut. Once she got up the makeshift ladder she stuck her tongue out at Hunter before running off, never letting him finish his sentence.

***

Red’s arms felt like they had been stretched and pulled for days. Those buckets were heavy.

Still, it was rather easy to believe most of it was useless murky pulp. Once she reached the tree hut she frowned. Hunter was still there skinning the deer. Marly was gone, probably inside. Red hauled one of the buckets up the ladder with her and left the other one by Hunters car. It needed a clean. Not that she cared, it just gave her something to do. Once she was up, Red found Marly’s door shut. 'One down one to go' Red muttered. She needed to busy herself so she headed out to Hunters car. Besides the car did need a wash. She pulled a rag from her pocket and dipped it into the water. Huh, that was funny, the water was actually blood. Red shook her head. It was just water again. She fell to the ground, shivering, knocking the bucket over. No, no, no. She could hear Marly racing towards her, screaming her name. 'Red! Red! Red!' More footsteps. Red raised her hands to her face. They were covered in crimson blood. No. Everything went black.

***

Marly had seen Red collapse from her window. Hunter hadn’t noticed yet. Marly had raced out the house, screaming at Red, who was shaking, her hands in front of her face, looking at something that Marly couldn’t see. 'Hunter!' Marly screamed, 'Help!' Hunter looked up, saw Red, and was on his feet in no time. They raced towards Red, who seemed to be unconscious now. Hunter lifted her up, racing towards the spot where he had been skinning the deer.

'Come on!' He shouted at Marly, who was peering at the water on the ground, looking for some kind of clue that might relate to Red’s attack. Red was on the ground now, and Hunter was saying something to her. 'What?' Marly asked. 'Get some water!' He yelled. Marly ran towards the treehouse, snatching up a bucket of water off the table. 'HURRY!' Hunter yelled. Marly raced down the ladder, water spilling from the bucket. Red was shaking. Mouthing one word over and over again. No, no, no. What did that mean? 'Come on!' Hunter was screaming now. Marly passed him the water, pulling the rag she had found by Red from her back pocket. Red stirred. Marly prayed.

***

Red faded in again. Just blood and inky blackness. No. No. No. She shook again. She knew what was happening. Each new leader would have this. A vision. It shows you the future based on the people you know, and your own past. This was going to get real ugly real soon.

She was right. Ten minutes and the flashes begun.

The first was of them was some sort of party? Red thought she saw balloons.

Blackness.

It had only lasted three of four seconds. She had no idea what it meant.

Another vision.

It was third person view. She could see Hunter, Marly, and someone she didn’t know. A huge animal appears by the cliff edge. It didn’t look like it was in L.A though. Red squints trying to see more but it fades out.

This time was longer, lasting three minutes. She didn’t know why she could judge the time. That's just how long it felt.

Instead of an image this was more of a video. Red was by the cliff, A.H at her side. Hunter was walking up to Killer, sword in hand. Marly moved she launched at something by the treeline. Was it Lachie? Red couldn’t tell. The ‘thing’ ran at Hunter. Red whipped around, blood streaked through her blond hair. It went black. There had to be more. She tried to focus again.

There was a huge wolf. It attacked the thing, blood around its mouth. Then it turned, a mangled limb dangling from its mouth. It turned and snarled, running at Hunter. Silence. She was shaking, gasping for breath. She opened her eyes. Straight into Marly and Hunters.

Chapter 12:

Marly let out a sigh of relief. Red was gasping for breath at Marly’s feet, her fiery eyes wide and full of wonder. Marly knew that Red had seen something. She just wasn’t sure what.

Red sat up, gasping.

'What happened?' Marly asked. Red glared at her. Her eyes seemed to say; Later. She didn’t want Hunter to know. Red obviously still didn’t quite trust him.

'Are you okay?' Marly asked.

'I’m fine.' Red snapped. She got up and turned to leave. 'Thanks.' She said, then she walked away.

'What’s up with her?' Hunter asked, a quizzical expression on his grimy face. Then Marly released. When A.H had confronted them Red had said it was her birthday in three weeks time. It was three weeks exactly today. Red was the new leader of the S.C.S. Marly was about to open her mouth and tell Hunter when something stopped her. Red would tell him when the time was right. Who knew, maybe she would allow him to join? If they survived. Marly shuddered, wondering if she would ever see Stormy again. She shouldn’t think things like that. She turned and climbed up the ladder to the tree house, before strolling into her room and shutting the door. She just needed some time to herself, time to be human again, and to stop pretending to be bulletproof. Marly pulled up the floorboard, and pulled out the notebook. She searched through her pack until she found a short, stubby pencil. She sat down on her bed and chewed the end of the pencil. After a short while Marly tossed it down. 'DAMN IT!' She screamed. 'DAMN IT ALL!' She was so, so, so angry, at Red for being so damn calm and mysterious, at Hunter for being so suspicious, at Stormy for leaving her, for everyone for everything they had everything they had ever done to her. She screamed and threw everything she could lay her hands on, furious at everything, and everyone. The door creaked open. Marly ignored it. Red entered and sat quietly on the edge of the bed. Marly just screamed louder. For ten minutes Red watched. Then, slowly, she reached out a hand and stopped Marly. Marly sobbed. 'I know, I know, I’m being baby.' She cried.

 'No.' Red replied.

'What?'

'Trust me, I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve done that.'

'You have?'

'Yep.'

'Oh.'

‘We all have demons.'

'Mine seem to follow me around.'

'So do mine.'

'Oh.'

'And yes, sometimes you need to let go like you just did.'

'I know.'

'But one thing I’ve learnt from life is that there’s a point you need to stop.'

'Oh.'

'Everyone needs to delve in self pity at some time, but too much will, well…'

'I get the idea.'

'Anyway, I wanted to talk to you.'

'About what?'
'About the visions I just had.'

***

Red understood. Marly was angry. So was she. They all had demons. But the time for self pity was over. Red had finished explaining the visions to Marly, who now looked stricken.

'What’s happening?' Hunter had entered the room.

'I think we all need something to drink. I’ll make some hot chocolate.' Marly said, and left, looking pointedly at Red. Red nearly laughed. Out of all the vital items Red could have had in her survival pack, she had hot chocolate instead. The rest of their food had to be hunted or harvested. Red was jolted out of her daydream by a thought.'Tell him.' Marly’s words swirled around in Red’s head. But she couldn’t. One day she would, but not now.

'I had visions. About what will happen.' She said hesitantly. 'I can’t remember clearly.' That was a lie.

'I need some time to think them over.' She stood and left Hunter sitting on the bed, mouth open. She walked to her room and shut the door, pressing her back against it. Sighing, she slowly closed the window (a hole in the wall) with the ‘curtin’ (a metal plate attached with a latch to the wall.) Red dropped onto the floor, staring up at the canvas roof. After a while, she stood, lifting her mattress. She pulled out a photo. Black cat’s smiling face stared out at her, brown hair tumbling over her shoulders, her eyes gleaming out at Red. 'I need you.' Red muttered. Cold, salty tears slid down her face as she slumped to the ground. She was tired. So tired. She wanted to turn around and leave all of this. ‘I need you.’ She closed her eyes and let out a shuddering breath. Memories swirled around in her head. Black Cat was in every single one. Red felt something bite gently into her wrist. She looked down and saw a small Black Mamba curled around her arm, staring up at her. 'I know, I know.' She said. 'I just miss her so much.' Fang slithered onto her shoulder, pressing his warm face against hers. Red sat there. Torn. Black’s death had opened all those old wounds. Red was tired of running away from her problems and fears. Marly had made her see. She needed to tell someone. She looked down at the worn photo in her shaking hand. 'Goodbye.' She said, and placed under the mattress. Red stood, trembling, and opened the door. She walked into the kitchen, were Marly was making hot chocolate, over the fire. At the sight of Red’s face she gasped, the spoon in her hand clattering to the ground. She rushed over to her friend.

***

Marly was in shock. Red had just entered the kitchen, a small black snake curled around her neck, her eyes, more red than usual, tear tracks on her face.

 'What’s wrong?' Marly asked. 'You know how before, I told you we all have demons?' 'Yeah',

'Well it’s time I let mine go.'. Red walked over to the door, and climbed out side, gesturing for Marly to follow.  Marly glanced back. Hunter had slid in behind Red and was beginning to follow them. Marly shook her head. There were somethings that he just wouldn’t understand. She meet Red at the edge of the clearing. Silently, Marly sat down on the cool grass beside Red. 'Are you ready?' She gently placed a hand on Red’s shoulder. 'Yeah.' Red shuddered. They sat in silence. And then Red began.

'I know you saw it when I picked it up.'

'What?'

'When I picked up the dagger with you and… her.'

'Yeah.'

'The uncertainty.'

'Oh.'

'It’s because of something that happened before. When I was six. I had friend. Hawk.  A human of course. This was before I meet Black Cat. She and I had just begun our training. We were leaving after a hard day’s work when we were approached. It was someone from a rival agency, I don’t know which. There were four of them, and two of us. They ran at us and...and...I killed one...before...before. I was fighting with another one, and I turned around and Hawk, she was on the ground, bruised and tired from fighting one off, the leader leering over her. I stabbed the one I was fighting. But it was too late. He was over her bringing his dagger down. I could have done something! I should have! But...but...I just watched. I watched as a dagger pierced my best and closest friends heart. She died. I did nothing. Then…' Red took a shuddering breath. 'I howled. I killed so many people, some from the S.C.S. It’s haunted me ever since.' Red was sobbing. 'It’s not your fault.' Marly touched Red’s hand. 'What do you mean?'

'I mean you did more than I could have done. You couldn’t have stopped it from happening.'

'How do you know?'

'I just do.'

'Huh.' Red stood. 'We have to start planning. We attack on Sunday.' And with that she left. Marly sighed. She would never understand the way Red worked. She stood and strolled towards the treehouse.

***

Red stared down at the paper spread out on the table before her. After telling Marly about Hawk she had talked to Hunter about the S.B.S headquarters, trying to figure out where the animals would be, and how to prevent Lachie from his plans. Marly had come in later, and sat beside Hunter and Red, observing as they went over plans.

'He’ll probably keep the animals in the testing room, here.' Hunter indicated to a large room in the center of the headquarters.

'Great.' Red muttered. 'It’s surrounded.'.

'But,' Hunter added, seeing Red’s disappointment. 'He also could have placed them here.' A smaller, less noticeable room on the outskirts of the building.

'Marly, you can check that room, while Hunter and I look around the other.' Red said. 'Are you sure all the passwords are 123?'

Hunter nodded 'Absolutely.'

'Great, that gives us the upper hand.'

***

Marly was confident, they were in for something alright but after they had planned it somehow made it all ok. She was ready to punch Lachies pea sized brain out of his ears. The more she thought about it the more appetising it became. She understood Red now.

Marly walked to her room, allowing her thoughts to wander. She new a lot.

Red, was brave.

Hunter, still a worry.

Lachie, a dick.

Black cat, dead.

And one day she (Marly) would die too.

Marly tried to erase the last one from her head. Worrying about the truth wasn’t going to help her, not now, not ever. It was harder for Marly; never have being in an agency before. Technically she wasn’t an agent but Red had trusted her enough to come this far so why not further.

Marly might have once been fond of the cold little street she once lived on. But no longer. She had found where she belonged and that's where she would stay.

***

Red awoke early that morning. If all went to plan they wouldn’t be needing their weapons. Once Lachie was weak and he would be an easy target.

Only one more week. Then their mission would be over. She would be leader. Marly and Hunter would be agents. All would be good.

Red looked at the watch strapped around her arm. Midnight. Time for some fun!

She run down the hall to Marlys room, only to hear the horrible screeching of her singing. Red snorted and tapped twice on the door. It creaked open and Marlys scruffy hair was revealed, She was holding a hairbrush that Red suspected was a microphone.

'What!?' Marly demanded. 'I’m doing my musical!'

Red cracked up before dragging Marly out of her room and down out of the tree hut. She grabbed two buckets and filled them with water from the murky pond before handing one to Marly.

***

Marly had caught on now. She was slightly disappointed that she didn't get to her guitar solo in the musical but this was going to be way more fun! They climbed the ladder, careful not to spill too much of the water.

Once they reached Hunters room, Red opened the door. It creaked and Marly looked at her with a warning look. If Hunter saw then now they were dead. Marly stumbled over to where Hunter slept and smiled before tipping the murky water on his face. He woke up stunned. Then it turned to anger, he screeched leaping out of bed chasing Marly with his pillow. He didn’t know that Red was just round the corner. Not until he turned.

Red sprinted to her room, Marly right behind her. They stood, backs pressed against the locked door, giggling as they heard Hunter curse.

'YOU DAMNED B***!'

A door slammed, Marly looked at Reds slightly guilty face and laughed.

'Wake up call.'

They both grinned.

***

Red listened while Hunter whined and complained. 'That wasn’t very nice you know. You could have just let Killer in to wake me. I mean, come on!'

Red had been planning on doing some training while it was still dark. But she figured that it was safer not to. Hunter seemed like someone who would seek revenge. The time for fun and games was over. Now they needed to practise. If not, defeat was a major prospect.

'You know if Killer weren't here to protect you...You would be dead.' Red changed the subject to something more realistic.

'I have a gun you know.' Hunter said, back to his old self. Red just rolled her eyes. 'Yeah, but can you use it?'

'Yes.' Hunter replied, unconvincingly. Did they really need Hunter? Sure his car was nice. Still they could do better without him. But… He knew his way around the S.B.S more than anyone, even Lachie. And Killer was loyal to him.

***

Marly climbed the ladder, only the moonlight guiding her in the inky blackness. Nothing really made sense anymore. She knew Reds past, what the S.C.S was, and who they were fighting against. She wasn’t sure it was that exciting, I mean yeah she was allowed to be a kickass warrior that fought dickheads. But all the time in between was just like being an orphan. The tree hut might have fancy, but it wasn’t anything like HQ.

Marly felt more a part of the agency now though. It had been a long mission and even Red seemed to find that ten months out on a mission was too long. And the fact that three of those had been without Stormy, made Marly weak in the knees.

It wasn’t long now. Today was Tuesday. Marly stood for a moment. Was it Tuesday? It was kinda hard to tell without a calendar. Red might know, her watch might have the date.

Marly continued through the door she opened the curtain to find two figures. She stared at them for awhile before the moonlight made it easier to see. Sure enough Red was yelling and Hunter… Marly squinted in the dark. Oh, he was yelling something too. No yelling was a weak word. Marly grabbed the candle and bring it to the window, pulling back the flax curtains. 'What do you want you idiots.' She yelled.

Red shook her head and Hunter glared at her before motioning at Marly to come down.

'Fine! Hold your horses.'

'I don’t have a horse I have a snake!' Red yelled back.

Marly left it at that. What did she do wrong? Climbing back down the ladder Marly kept a careful eye on Hunter. His scar matched Reds except it was smaller and more crooked. Marly didn't have the same aim as he had had when he ran the blade down Reds face. The same perfectness he had displayed when his dagger pushed through Black cats heart.

***

Red smiled as Marly slipped on the ladder. That girl was a mission on her own.  

'Red what's the day?' Marly asked. Red flipped over her wrist and shrugged down the sleeve of her jumper. 'Thursday. Tomorrow we ‘attack’. ' Red used quotation marks. She knew that without their animals and with Hunter, they stood no chance against Lachie while he was on drugs.

'Really! I thought it was Tuesday.' Marly exclaimed. She wasn’t joking, Red could see it on her face. Red was a little nervous too. If one thing went wrong it would all flop.

Once the sun rose Red thought it would be good for them all to walk down to the clearing visit Black cat and see if they could find the remains of that boy, Jett, who fell off the cliff.

Hunter screw his nose up at the idea when Red suggested it. 'That means running, I hate running.'

Hunter clearly was still in a strop.

'At least you can run.' Marly pointed out.

'True.' Hunter agreed.

'Right that's settled then. We leave in ten.' Red announced before walking off leaving Marly and Hunter standing there hopeless.

***

Mary watched a bird flew above the jutted cliff's edge where they sat.

'I still don’t think that this is safe.' Marly pondered.

'Oh get over yourself. IT’S FINE!' Hunter shook his head.

'You say now, ‘oh it’s fine you’ll be okay, but then imagine how happy Lachie will be when we end up slipping off the cliff and killing ourselves.' Marly argued.

'Nice speech, are you done yet?' Hunter asked. Marly knew that he had very selective hearing and that her ‘speech’ meant nothing to him. She rolled her eyes and Red just glared at them.

'It was meant to be a happy time for us to gather our thoughts before we...'

'Die?' Hunter cut Red off.

'I was GOING to say attack, actually.' Red let the flames roar in her eyes as she glared at him.

'Can we go now.' Marly pleaded.

'Fine.' Red got up.

Marly could see that Red wasn’t happy. She didn’t do anything wrong. Hunter was still getting to her though.

Chapter 13:

Red was daydreaming when she heard Marly outside.

'Shhhh. Oh crap, look what you’ve done.'

Red shook her head and continued to pack her tattered bag.

'Red said that we have to clean the car, and after last time I don’t want her anywhere near it again.'

'Well we are a team and it is my car.' Hunter pointed out.

'Argg, look.. Just shut it. OK?' Marly was frustrated, it was easy enough for Red to pick that up in her voice.

She walked out to the gap in the tree where the ladder lay. Marly was using an old rag to clean the car and Hunter splashing water on it with the bucket. Some of the water seemed have been poured on Hunter. It must have been an accident of course, Marly would never do anything like that! Hunter seemed to be getting a lot of water on Marly though. Red would have been just as annoyed if it was her.

'Guys, are you nearly done? I want to leave before midnight.' Red spoke while reluctantly picking up Killer and chucking him in the boot. Hunter glared at her but she pretended not to notice. Marly leapt into the back seat and Hunter scrambled into the driver's seat, leaving Red the passenger's seat.

 'You all good Marly?' Red asked.

'She's fine.' Hunter replied.

Marly nodded and Red rolled her eyes. The engine started and they drove off.

***

Marly clung to her seat. 'Are you crazy?' She asked Hunter.

'Hey, it’s perfectly legal. Where's the speed sign?' he pointed out, stepping even harder on the accelerator. 'It only gets you there faster.'

In the end Marly just decided to look out the window. She could only see trees and the burnt grass from the rough summer. They reached a small clearing. Marly recognized it, she went here with Junior not to long ago.  

'Slow down.' Red ordered. 'We’re close enough to walk now.'

Hunter, surprisingly, listened and slammed on the brakes.

'I suppose you do everything fast.' Red muttered before jumping out of the car, Marly followed, leaving Hunter sitting in the driver's seat.

Marly turned her attention to the huge gray building, the S.B.S. All happiness drained from her.

A car door slammed and Hunter took one look at both Marly and Red before frowning.

'Can we go now?' He pushed.

***

Red sighed. Hunter could be super annoying at times. On second thought, he was annoying all the time. 'Come on.' She sighed, crouching down, her camo jacket blending in with the trees around them. Marly followed suite. 'Are you sure this is the right entrance?' Red turned to Hunter. 'YES! Geez!' He snapped, exasperated. 'Fine, you go first.' Red glared at him. 'My pleasure.' Hunter pushed open the large metal door, grinding his teeth as he did so, and nearly walking into the backs of two, large, beefy, boys. He quickly pulled the door back. 'I may be wrong.' He whispered, and they turned back towards the forest.

'Oh good one!' Marly said sarcastically.

'Hey! It’s been three months okay.' Hunter snapped.

'Quit it!' Red replied. She was sick of the bickering. Hunter would never be a

‘Best Friend’ of hers. Not after that battle. The more Red thought about it the less it made sense. They were a team. Hunter had killed Black cat and hurt her. Marly had hurt Hunter. And no one hurt Marly. Yet Red was the leader? No. That can’t be right. But they had bigger problems and, after all, life never made sense. Why did everything have to be so complicated? Red sighed. She had better things to worry about.

'Well you should have remembered!' Marly and Hunter were fighting again.

'WOULD YOU SHUT IT!' Red yelled. Marly and Hunter fell silent, shocked. They had seen and heard many things, but they had never, ever, seen Red raise her voice like that.

***

Marly understood why Red was so fed up. Hunter could be so annoying, and Red was really stressed. But, Stormy and Rippr were first priority.

'Here we are.' Hunter brought Marly back to reality.

 'Are you sure?' Red said.

'Yeah.' Hunter replied. Marly raised her eyebrows and opened her mouth, but Red silenced her with a glare. They pushed the door open. As Hunter had said, it was completely empty, except for a body, lying motionless in the middle of the room, on a raised platform. 'What’s that?' Marly asked. 'Lachie will have sacrificed someone. Probably a prisoner. This is the only place he won’t find the body. The others boys would have put him here.' Hunter spat. Marly acknowledged the fact that Hunter knew what his men were like. They approached the platform, preparing themselves for the worst. But instead of the horrible, mangled, sight they had expected, the boy seemed to be at peace. His eyes were closed, creating the illusion that he was sleeping. His dark brown hair was tousled, and all blood had been cleared away. The skin was pale and lifeless, a look of fear permanently plastered on his face, caught in his final moment. A plain black shirt covered the gaping hole in his chest.

'Oh god.' Hunter gasped. 'Max.'.

'What?' Marly turned to him.

'Max. He is...was, only eleven. I thought Lachie was cruel, but not this cruel.'.

'What! You killed...you know.'

'Yeah but I never killed my own men. Lachie…He’s playing the part of a god. Making sacrifices.'

Red interrupted their pleasant conversation by coughing loudly. 'Hunter, the only words I want out of your mouth are directions to the best entrance. Clear?'

Hunter nodded and Marly pursed her lips together. This was going to be tough.

***

Red followed Hunter, weaving through the elbow length grass. Lucky it was a good place to hide or she wouldn’t have much patience for it. 'There.' Hunter said pointing to a slightly cracked window only two or three meters off the ground. Red nodded and Marly followed behind. Hunter leapt up first, offering his hand to Marly who refused and tried to clamber up on her own. 'Marly, we don’t have all day. Just let Hunter help you.' Red was tired. And they hadn’t done anything yet. Marly reluctantly took Hunter's hand. Red followed behind. She sighed, and easily pulled herself over the window sill. 'Where to next?' She turned to Hunter. He nodded towards a cold corridor and Red saw Marly shudder.

The started down the empty corridor, weapons ready.

Red stopped.

A voice.

It was male.

Hunter heard it too, but Marly just looked at them. 'Umm, guys. Hello?' She asked.

'Shut up.' Hunter said.

Marly zipped it, just as footsteps approached. Hunter muttered a word that Red didn’t even want to repeat, and Marly gave her a look of terror. It was an empty corridor. Nowhere to hide. They were going to have to fight and kick some serious ass.

***

Marly watched frozen, her feet rooted to the ground. The boy turned the corner of the long corridor. He was tall and skinny, not beefy and strong like the others. He looked slightly older than the boy Max. Maybe around their age? It was hard to tell for certain from this far away. Hunter walked past the guy with his head down, his cap on properly, not his usual style. Marly followed, head down, steps fast, and Red behind her. Hunter had made it past. He didn’t look back. The boy carried on. He glanced at Marly, but didn’t suspect anything. Marly looked back. Red didn’t see her. The boy didn’t either. He had continued down the hall to the door they arrived in and disappeared outside. Marly let out a sigh of relief and ran to catch up with Hunter.

'Who was that?' She asked.

'Dunno. Must be new. We got lucky.'

Marly nodded. Red ran up behind her.

'Who was that?' She repeated.      

'God, just shut it, I don’t I know ok!' Hunter answered as the turned the corner.

***

Red had spent years perfecting the art of keeping to the shadows. She pulled the hood of her jacket over her head, and almost immediately became part of the darkness.

'Here.' She snapped, pulling a cap from her bag and handing it to Marly. 'Cover up your hair.'

‘Why?' Marly asked.

'Because this is the S.B.S! Secret BOYS Society. Geez.'

'Okay, okay.' Marly turned to Hunter. He shrugged

'Better do as you’re told.' He mocked. Marly glared at him.

'Come on!' Red pulled Marly along. They walked down the corridor, Red flitting in and out of the shadows. 'Where to next?'.

'Down the next corridor and to the left.' Hunter said.

She sighed. 'Left here?'

'Yep.'

Red pushed the door open, praying that Hunter was right.

He was. Once the door was open Red could see all the tubes filled with drugs.

Marly let out a sigh.

'OK.' Red started, 'We need to move these three tanks first, then the tubes.' She pointed to the three big pots labeled ‘Steroids’.

'Why these?'

'Because I have a plan.' Red pulled a large tub out of her pack. 'That’s huge!' Marly exclaimed. 'What’s in it?'

'Just a few things I put together. Mostly Cyanide, but a bit of Arsenic and snake poison.'

'What?!'
'I was thinking, maybe we could swap the steroids with poison? Just as a precaution.'

Marly grinned, catching on. 'Lachie won’t know what hit him!'

Hunter turned around, the last tube in his hand. 'Now what?'

'I have a tub for each of us. Start replacing.'

They began, pouring the steroids into empty tubs and replacing them with the poisonous mixture. Suddenly, they could hear voices in the corridor. 'WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T MAKE THEM PERMANENT! I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO KEEP TAKING THEM!'

 'I kn..kn..know sir, I’ll make sure th..that the scientist gets ri..right onto it.' A boy who looked eleven scurried by. He looked petrified. He didn’t even notice that the door was open into the room they were in. Red felt sorry for the boy. She wondered if he knew that other boy, Max.

Lachie had sounded close.

Whispering came from the room next door. 'He wants it to be permanent.'

'What are we going to do?'

'We’ll have to tell him.'

'I su.. suppose… b.. by we, y..y.. you mean you.'

'Yes.'

'Right, here goes nothing.' A boy about sixteen in a lab coat strolled by. Red stayed as still as possible.

'WHAT!!!' the roar filled the corridors, ringing in Red’s ears. 'You mean to tell me, you can’t make it permanent, even though you told me you could at the start.' Lachies voice was dangerously quiet. All of a sudden, the voices were just outside the door. Red moved back into the shadows. Marly had scrambled behind a set of shelves, and Hunter was…were was he? Lachie stormed into the room, eyes wild, hair stained with blood. Oh God! Hunter hanging from the light frame. Red stared up at him, eyes wide. 'Try it.' Lachie had one of the jars in his hand, and was forcing into the hand of the scientist boy. 'N..no thanks.' The boy stuttered, backing away.

'I SAID TRY IT!' Lachie screamed. The boy grudgingly took the jar and put it to his lips. Red had poisoned that one. Before she could move, the boy had swallowed it. 'Th...there you go sir, I tried…' He was cut of by a choke, as the poison took hold. He turned blue, and fell to the ground, sputtering.

'WHAT IS THIS!?' Lachie shouted. 'Someone has tampered with my steroids.'. Red glanced up at Hunter, who seemed to be slipping.

'WHAT IS THIS!?' Lachie repeated.

 Red stifled a gasp as one of Hunter’s sweaty hands fell.  

From behind the shelf Marly turned towards Red, a questioning look on her face.

‘Stay there.’ Red mouthed

Hunter was now hanging by a finger. Red held back another gasp. Hunter was right above a table. If he fell, he would alert Lachie to their presence. Time slowed. Hunters finger slowly began to slide. The light swung back and forth, catching him on the side of the head. He fell. Red watched as he went tumbling through the air, an expression of surprise on his face, and landed on the table below him, on his feet.

'WHAT!?' Lachie screamed, taken by surprise.

'GO, GO, GO!' Red pulled Marly from behind the shelf.

'RAISE THE ALARM!' Lachie screamed. Hunter jumped to the floor and they raced back the way they had come, never looking back.

 

***

Marly glared at Hunter. 'What did you do that for?!'

'It’s not my fault!' Hunter spluttered. They had arrived at the clearing, where it had all began.

'Why did you bring us here?' Hunter turned to Red.

'Because. We have the cliff to push people off. I want you to know that if you really want to be forgiven for Black Cat, you’ll kill Lachie.'

'Okay.' Hunter sighed. There was a rustling in the treeline. Marly whipped around. 'Red.' She said. But Red had heard it too. They backed up, making a circle in the center of the clearing. The sound of wingbeats filled the air, accompanied by a growl. From the trees two animals appeared. The one on the left caught Marly’s eye. Muscles rippled under a sleek black coat of fur. The two piercing blue eyes stared at Marly, never wavering. Marly raced towards the creature, not even thinking. 'Stormy.' She gasped, happiness flowing through her. Red hadn’t moved, but there was a huge smile on her face as Ripper changed into an unusually small falcon and landed on her shoulder. 'Marly!' Red shouted, the smile melting from her face. Marly looked up as figures emerged from the trees.

'That was a great idea of mine, if I don’t say so myself.' Came a voice from the center of the group. 'Allowing the animals to track them.' Lachie emerged, a sharp, black, sword in hand.

 'Hunter, call Killer. Marly, call Junior and then distract Lachie.' Red muttered, her eyes never leaving Lachies insane face. Marly pursed her lips and whistled as loud as she could, praying Junior would hear.

'Great job.' Marly said, sarcastically. 'You managed to find us. Now what? You gonna kill us yourself? Or are you not manly enough for that? I suppose you’ll get a couple of your friends to sort us out. Don’t wanna get your hands dirty.' She taunted.

'You will die last.' Lachie spat. Marly yawned. 'Well get on with it then.'

'Get her! She’ll die painfully for that!'

'Not on my watch.' Marly ran at him, but Hunter grabbed her shoulders, pulling her back.  'Don’t give him a fight, it’s what he wants.' Hunter told her, slowly releasing her shoulders. Marly shook herself. She needed to time this perfectly. Something pushed into her back. She whipped around. Junior. Marly sighed with relief. Next to her Killer was licking Hunter’s hand.

'WHAT IT THAT?!' Lachie was gesturing to Killer.

'This is Killer.' Hunter smiled.

'GET IT AWAY FROM ME!'

'Why?'

'It’s hideous.'

'That’s a bit harsh.'

All of a sudden Hunter whistled, and Killer raced at Lachie. 'NOOOOOOOOO!!!!' Lachie screamed. Hunter whistled again and Killer raced back. Marly stifled a laugh. She could see Red was trying hard not to crack up as well. 'THAT WAS NOT FUNNY!' Lachie screamed. 'GET THAT VICIOUS BEAST AWAY FROM ME!' Killer whimpered and hid behind Hunter. 'Oh sorry buddy. I know his face is ugly. Terrifying, isn’t it?' Hunter stifled a snigger.

'I DON’T CARE!' Lachie replied, sylvia flying from his mouth. Marly couldn’t hold it in. She let out a loud snort, and was soon bent over, laughing. There was silence all around. Then, suddenly, Red sniggered. Hunter laughed. Then, like a tidal wave, everyone in the clearing was doubled over, laughing. Apart from Lachie, of course. 'SHUT IT!' Lachie screamed. Everyone feel silent. 'Time to meet your end.' Lachie snarled. They charged.

***

Red stabbed a boy in the thigh, dodging a desperate swipe from another boy. Out of the corner of her eyes she could see Marly, in combat with three fifteen year olds. Hunter was locked in combat with Lachie, Killer at his heels. Red stabbed a tall blonde who was swiping at her with his spear. Soon, only six figures stood in the clearing. Red swiped at one of the boys, Fang darting from her wrist and biting the boy. The boy fell to the ground, his sword falling from his hand, as he gasped. Red placed the sword in his hand, a sign of respect, and turned to face Lachie. Hunter was on the ground, hands in front of his face, his cap on the ground a few feet away. Killer was nowhere to be seen. Lachie raised his dagger, and Red was suddenly reminded of when Black Cat had died. Hunter had had the same, crazed look in his eyes, the same smile, as though he had waited so long for this moment. Though, Red supposed, he probably had been. All of a sudden, Red realized that Hunter was lying in the exact spot as Black Cat had been. Red suddenly wanted Hunter to die. She shook herself. She couldn’t move. Her legs felt like concrete. Marly seemed to feel the same. Lachie’s dagger came down...and so did his hand. Jaws clamped around his wrist, razor sharp fangs digging deep into his flesh, tearing tendons and crushing bones like eggshells. Lachie screamed as his entire hand was torn from his arm. A massive, white, wolf stood before them, Lachie’s mangled hand in it’s powerful jaws scarlet blood staining it’s fur. Hunter gasped. 'Killer?'

The wolf stared at Hunter, his eyes a sparkling green. It dropped Lachies hand, and raced towards Hunter, who had managed to stand up. He scrambled backwards. The wolf snarled and ran to Hunter’s feet. Turning on his hanches protectively.

Red took one glance at the look on Hunter's face. Priceless. He wore that same unbelievable smile, that had developed over the time he had helped them.

***

Marly had seen Killer transform. Why hadn’t she seen that coming? It all seemed so obvious now.

Killer was Hunters animal guardian. That’s why he would always protect Hunter. Just like Stormy protected her.

She turned her attention to Lachie, remembering that they were still in battle. The army had been narrowed down from around twenty, to four.

Marly swiped away one of the men with her spear. Sending him spiraling to the ground. She headed towards Lachie. Two of his men stood by him as he screeched in agony.

'Do you like that?' Marly challenged, firing up.

'WHAT DO YOU THINK?!' Lachie replied.

'That you’re a dick.' Marly stabbed one of Lachies men in the chest.

'AGHHH.' Lachie cried out in pain once more, crumpling to the ground.

Mary advanced, hoisting her spear up like a golf club and bringing it down on the other guards butt. He hopped around, leaving Marly a pathway, so she could kill Lachie. He was back on his feet. Weapon in hand. Marly thanked Killer in her head. Lefties couldn’t aim well with their right hand.

She ran towards him thrusting her spare under his neck. Hunter was behind her.

'Let go of him Marly, I want to hang him.'

Marly refused to let go, she pushed the blade further. Suddenly, Red was beside her, pulling her back. 'It’s Hunter’s right.' She muttered. Marly snarled. 'I don’t care, I want him dead.'

'Well you’re going to have to cope, aren’t you?'

'Humph.' Marly turned to Lachie and Hunter, who were deep in combat again. One of Lachie’s men swiped at Hunter, who narrowly avoided being decapitated. Hunter turned, and began to fight. Lachie saw his chance and swung. Only to find Red’s dagger in the way.

Chapter 14:

Red stood before Lachie, dagger in hand. She knew that one scratch could potentially kill Lachie. Hunter had finished with the boy behind her, and was screaming at Red.

'NO! HE’S MINE TO KILL!'

'Just wait.' Red muttered from the side of her mouth. Lachie snarled at her, and, using his good hand, he swiped.

'I’M GONNA GET HIM!' Hunter screeched.

'Just wait!' Red repeated. She swung at Lachie, he dodged. Hunter charged. He raced past Red, who watched, speechless, and tackled Lachie to the ground, causing his sword to land a few feet away.

'This is how it started.' He growled. 'Just you and me. And this is how it’s gonna end.' Lachie glared at Hunter, blood still flowing from the stump where his hand used to be. 'NO!' He screeched.

'Here.' Red picked up a heavy, sharp, rock, and tossed it to Hunter.

'YOU’LL NEVER WIN!' Lachie screamed, 'MY ARMY WILL DESTROY YOU ALL!' Hunter silenced him with a good blow to the head. Red smiled as Lachie’s eyes rolled back.

'There.' Hunter seemed satisfied now. He ran his grimy fingers through his hair, and looked over at Red.

She glared at him. 'Patience much.'

He just shrugged and threw the stone over the cliff.

***

Marly stood next to Killer, watching as Lachie was knocked out. He chucked a rock over the cliff, but that didn’t catch Marly’s attention. Red and Hunter were acting although he was dead. But Lachie was only knocked out. It was only going to be a couple of minutes before he woke.

Hunter ran over to her. 'Did you see that? He was just like.' Hunter made some weird noises while pretending to chop his head off.

'No.' Marly replied.

'What? You didn’t see that!? It was epic!!!'

'I was so bored I feel asleep.' Marly yawned.

'Humph. I pulverized him'

'He isn’t dead yet.' Marly pointed out.

'That’s right.' Red cut in. 'Now we take him to HQ.' Everyone fell silent. They all knew what was coming next. Red spoke 'The question is, what happens next?' She turned to Hunter. 'Will you go back to the S.B.S, or join us?' Hunter walked away, to the cliff edge. Marly moved to follow.

'No.' Red held her back. 'He needs time to himself.'

After what felt like forever, Hunter strolled back towards them. 'The S.B.S has crashed and burned. There’s nothing and no one left. I can either turn rogue, and live on my own, with Killer, or join.'

'Now you have an animal, you have your whole future ahead of you. You could find your second animal. But it’s your choice.' Red said, and Marly nodded. 'I..I think I’ll...join.' Hunter stuttered.

***

Red was unsure. Hunter was joining the S.C.S. It seemed unreal. After all he’d done, after all the pain he had inflicted, and tears he had created. Red felt empty of anger. All her hate, all her pain, all her anguish, all her tears, had run out. She felt better than she had for days. She realized why she had been so tired and bored at the S.C.S. She had an unquenchable thirst for adventure, and Marly had brought an adventure with her. Red turned away from the cliff edge. 'Tie…' She stopped herself. They would do it together. 'Let’s tie him up.' She pulled a bunch of rope from her pack, which had been lying by the treeline, forgotten, during the battle. She chucked the rope to Hunter. 'You can do the honours.' Hunter crouched down, looping the rope around Lachie’s wrists, and pulling the knot just a bit too tight. Red tossed some rope to Marly, and together they strolled over to Hunter. Together they tied Lachie up. Red whistled, and Ripper and Fang slipped into the shadows. Marly did the same. Red walked to the edge of the cliff and sat, her legs dangling over the edge. Marly opened her mouth, but closed it again, keeping her smart comments to herself for once. Part of Red wished she wouldn’t. Marly sat down next to her, legs crossed, a small smile on her face. They exchanged a glance. No words were needed. They both knew that this moment was the beginning. The beginning of a friendship that would last for an eternity. Hunter came and sat on the other side of Red, Killer back to puppy form, and resting his head on Hunter’s lap. They sat in silence, watching as the sun sent its last orange rays over the gleaming surface of the sea. And, just for a moment, they were no longer individuals. They were more than that. They were friends.

Epilogue:

'I’M HUNGRY!!!' Lachie whined, rattling the bars of his cell. Red looked up from her book. 'Shut up! I’m trying to read!'

'I DON’T CARE! IT’S BEEN OVER SEVEN MINUTES SINCE I LAST ATE!'

'Fine!' Red put her book down. Lachie stopped, startled.

'You want a sandwich?' Red said.

'Yes!' Lachie smiled hungrily. Red strolled up to him. Marly watched from her chair. This would be entertaining.

'Are you sure?' Red smiled.

'Yes! Just hurry up and give me the damn sandwich!'

'Ask nicely.'

'Fine! Can I please have a sandwich Red?' Lachie asked, mockingly.

'Certainly Lachie.' Red replied, pulling back her fist and swinging. Lachie fell to the ground, unconscious. 'He did ask for it.' Red turned to Marly. Marly smiled, remembering a couple of weeks ago, when she, Red and Hunter had arrived at HQ. Marly had casually strolled in, smiling merrily as Hunter and Red dragged Lachie’s limp body in behind her. 'How’s it going?' She had asked, happily. Everyone had stopped in their tracks, terrified. They had all known about Hunter. He was a vile, traitorous murder, and should be avoided at all costs. Hunter had looked angrily around at them all. 'What are you looking at?' He had accused. 'Hunter…' Red had glared at him. 'Oh, right, I need to introduce myself. HELLO! I’M HUNTER! HOW ARE YOU ALL?!' Red buried her head her hands. 'Hunter is our newest member!' Marly exclaimed. Someone screamed. All in all they had managed to get through it with only three people having fainted, and only five knives thrown at them. A new highscore.

***

Red snapped her fingers in front of Marly’s face, which was plastered with an expression of thought fulness of which Red had never seen before. 'Come on!' Red said. Marly looked up. 'Wh..what?' She asked.

'Hunter asked us if we wanted to train with him, remember?'

'Ohhhhhh.' Marly was brought back to reality. She stood up, and walked away.

'The door’s that way.' Red pointed in the opposite direction. Marly hurriedly turned around. Red hid a small smile. No matter how many missions they went on, Marly would still be the same, unthoughtful, funny, person she always had been. Red strolled across the grounds of the S.C.S. Hunter and Marly were bickering with each other, as always. Life was almost perfect. Almost. All they needed was another mission. Red stopped, and reminisced the times they had spent together, in the woods. Pouring water on Hunter’s face, Marly’s expression when she found out that food didn’t always come from supermarkets, Hunter, falling from the light, Killer biting Marly’s hand. A small smile flashed across Red’s face. Then she turned, and sauntered over to Hunter and Marly, who were waiting for her. Together they walked into the training center, laughing and joking, as always. What a weird team they must have seemed. Marly, a girl who had spent most of her life on the streets had no manners at all, Red, a badass agent, who was kinda anti social, and Hunter, a psychopathic ex murderer. All foes, who had, in time, become friends.

BUT...

A few months later, far away, in a small country, unknown by most, something stirred. Something far more ancient, far more dangerous, than anything any human could imagine. And slowly, a large, deadly yellow eye opened, and glared around at its surroundings.