Charles Winters. A career politician, he worked his way up from mayor all the way to congressman. He was a democrat, forty-eight years old, with a wife and three children. He had also accepted over a million dollars in bribes over the course of his career, and showed no signs of stopping it there. With the money earned in bribes, he invested in several highly questionable companies, several who'd already gone to court for poor working conditions and discrimination in the first place. And all of this was just the icing on the cake. Mr. Winters was, in short, a very corrupt man. And thus, he was the logical next target for the vigilante known to the public as 'The Shadow'.
Okay, so the nickname was sort of cliche. But it wasn't Miranda who'd chosen it. Some news channel had given her the name, after her third assassination. It was only then that they noticed the pattern. Every murder was the same. A quick gash to the throat, from a bladed weapon unidentifiable by investigators. There was always little to no evidence that someone had even there. Almost as if the killer had been a shadow. Oh, so creative. But the name was easy to remember, and that was what mattered. She wanted people to know of her. She wanted them to know what happened to the corrupt. She wanted them to be afraid.
But her interest in the politician was not purely related to his misdeeds. The more she investigated him, the more she noticed something odd. Signs of a connection to, well... She wasn't sure, exactly. He exchanged cryptic emails with an anonymous sender, withdrawal thousands of dollars and deposited them into an account whose owner she couldn't trace. Considering who she was dealing with, she normally wouldn't blink an eye at it. But it was all the same as the last politician she'd killed, one Geoffrey Johnson. Granted, his deeds were already enough to put him on her list even without his ties to some mysterious entity, so it didn't really matter. But, though she normally wasn't the conspiracy theorist type, she couldn't shake the feeling that it was all related to something... bigger.
But those thoughts could wait. Tonight was the night that two months of effort would come to fruition, after all. The good congressman's entire family was on vacation, visiting his wife's mother. Furthermore, he'd told all but his two most trusted, and most well paid, bodyguards to take the night off, so that he may entertain his mistress in his home without it reaching the ears of his wife, or worse, the press. It was a unique opportunity for Miranda, one that she intended to take advantage of.
At approximately nine-thirty that night, she stationed herself in the light wooded area near the Winters' family estate. The bodyguards were taken care of in less than ten minutes; each were incapacitated and tied up, for good measure. Neither were hurt bad enough for it to be life threatening. On all of her missions, she made sure that the target was the only casualty. Then, she found her way in. A window, left just slightly open, on the second floor. His teenaged daughter's room. The young girl snuck out often, as Miranda had noticed in her nights scouting out the place, and always left it slightly ajar.
Getting to the window was easy enough. Demonstrating an unnatural strength and agility, she scaled the wall in seconds. Quietly sliding the window open took longer than the climb itself. Crawling through, she found herself in a dark room. The moonlight filtering in made it just bright enough to see. On the walls there hung posters of idols and boy bands. A large stereo, surrounded by stacks of CDs, sat on her dresser in the far corner. On her night stand, a family photo. This drew her attention for a moment. With one gloved hand, she picked up the picture and saw a happy family of five. Looking into their smiling faces, particularly that of the eldest girl, she felt a pang of remorse, of pity. Not for the man. He had shown himself to be a vile person, deserving of his fate. But of the daughter, who reminded her for a moment of herself. Shaking her head, she put the photo down. No room for pity, She told herself. Her deed would be for the greater good.
A feminine laughter from downstairs. The mistress. Miranda crept closer to the door, but did not open it yet. Instead, she simply listened.
"-me in the bedroom. I'll grab some drinks from the kitchen, and be right up." A male voice. Mr. Winters. Next she heard light footsteps, someone climbing the stairs. The sound grew closer, until the other woman passed right in front of the room. Only after she heard the sound of a nearby door opening and closing did she slowly walk into the hallway, and towards the master bedroom. The older woman was already lounging on the bed, waiting. Her eyes widened at the figure, clad head to toe in black, who stood in the doorway. But before she could scream or utter a single noise, Miranda had crossed the distance between them and pinned her down, holding a rag to her mouth. She fought only a moment or two before everything went black.
Charles hummed softly as he poured a bottle of red wine into two glasses; One for him, one for the lovely young blonde waiting in his bedroom. He'd been looking forward to this night for nearly a month. No whining kids, no nagging wife, just him and a beautiful woman and expensive alcohol. His anticipation built as he went up the stairs and to his bedroom. "Roxanna, dear- Roxanna?" There she was, spread out across his satin bedsheets. Limp, almost as if asleep. He took a few steps into the room before realizing that something was very, very wrong. He reached quickly for his cellphone. But not quickly enough. Before his hand even made it to his pocket, he felt the cold metal of a knife being pressed against his throat. "Wait! Don't do this! I'll give you anything!"
His pleas went largely unnoticed by Miranda, who would have followed through had she not heard the noise from behind, one that would have been undetectable to the normal human ear. No. No one else was supposed to be there. She'd accounted for everything. "Whose there?" She asked quietly, doing her best not to let her voice reveal her unease.
There was a story Charles Winters once overheard...Well not so much of a story as a gruesome legend that his "owners" once spoke of and one that he soon wished he'd never heard. The legend spoke of a monsterous individual. A soldier who had lived long beyond his time, wandering from war to war, from battlefield to battlefield in search of a glorious death. But the glorious death that he sought never came to this monster among men, and month after month, year after year, battle after battle, the damned soldier could never find his sweet release, not from bullets, nor from bombs or knives. They even said that he was present at normandy, that he'd taken out ten machine gun nests full of nazi troops, and that he'd come back with dire wounds which healed in mere moments.
At the time Charles couldn't really believe that such an invidivual would actually exist. Hell, there were probably some freaks out there sure, but no way were there such things as nearly immortal soldiers who had lived for so long...At least that's what he told himself. But deep down inside himself Charles knew, he just knew that the men that he had overheard talking had the power to actually find, or even make such people. And shiver went down his spine each and every time that he remembered that story. Because if he should ever fuck up, and I mean really fuck up he knew that he was going to find out just how true that story was.
Now as the mystery woman pressed her cold and very sharp blade against charles throat he recalled the story once again and tears began to flow down his cheeks like the rain that softly started to pour outside the large, clear, windows in his bedroom. "They sent you didn't they?" asked Charles as he tried to stop his blubbering. " They think I fucked up somehow right?" asked Charles again. "But I didn't tell anyone anything. I swear. They can check it out for themselves. I'm as secure as fort nox. I can pay you, make you fucking rich. Hell I can even get you a nice little spot in Bermuda!" Charles was losing it and it was starting to show.
Outside a clap of thunder lit up the room for a split second. But that split second was all that Charles needed to see that the young woman holding the knife up to his now very vulnerable throat was the least of his problems. A second clap of thunder and Charles knew that whatever fucked up nightmare his dream evening of sexual debauchery had turned into was indeed very, very real. As out in the hall, lit up momentarilyby the thunder was a man. A tall, muscular man, with a biker jacket and torn jeans. The mans unfeeling green eyes looked straight into Charles's own deep blue hues and paralyzed him. For a moment Charles didn't think that the man was looking at him really, but into his mind, his soul, his very being. And then came the chilling voice. Calm, collected, soothing even, like some devil who'd kindly ask you for your soul before ripping out your heart. "Hey there Charlie boy." The mans voice gave Charles winters goosebumbs in places he'd never known he could have them. Charles wanted to scream. He wanted to run. Hell, he'd even take wetting his pants at this point. But he knew that it was over. "I fucked up didn't I?" Asked Charles just before the throwing knife entered his forehead and killed him instantly.
After killing Charles Winters, a loose end and all around scumbag, James Zodd turned his attention to the would be assasin now before him. Again his voice was calm, cool, and collected as his spoke in a velvet soft pitch. "So you're the big bad shadow?" Asked Zodd as he reached behind him and pulled out a large combat knife. "Gotta say. I like your work sweetheart" said Zodd as he moved ever closer. "But let's see how well you do without fighting old men." With that Zodd closed the distance between both him and the shadow in a few strides and arched his blade towards the young womans body. It's aim and speed were that of a professionals. Yet he didn't intend to do real harm. At least not yet. No, this a simple greeting to most assasins, like a hand shake really, except if you weren't quick enough you lost a lot more than your grip and pride.
"They sent you, didn't they?"
A frown, almost imperceptible under the black mask that covered most of her lower face, crossed Miranda's lips. Who were 'they'? This all just got curiouser and curiouser. She considered keeping him alive just a little longer, to try and figure out just who it was he was speaking about. It only took a moment to realize that she couldn't. If she spoke to him, he would become too human to her. She knew that. Even listening to him blubber and beg as he was made it a little more difficult, and he was her eleventh victim. No, better to do it quickly and have it over with. He was likely only talking of some shady business partner, anyways.
She gripped her knife -an odd, semi-translucent thing; it was bright blue in color and looked like something out of a scifi movie- and mentally prepared herself to make the killing blow, ignoring his pleas for his life. However, seconds before she was able to end his life, she heard, again, a noise. She looked towards the hallway just as lightning flashed outside, casting a bright light that shadowed an imposing figure in the hallway. Who was he? Another bodyguard? No, she would have bet her life on there only being two. Hell, considering the situation, she more or less had. A family member?
"Hey there, Charlie boy." Or, perhaps, another assassin. His voice, eerily calm considering the situation, struck her to her very core. She strained her eyes against the darkness, trying to get a better look at him. His face she still had trouble making out, even as he moved ever closer. But the glint of his knife, that she could most definitely see. He threw it, but she did not so much as flinch as it came flying towards her and the politician, with such force that it pierced his very skull. She took a step back, allowing his corpse to fall to the ground.
"So you're the big bad shadow?" Her bright, defiant blue eyes met his, and she did not move from her spot as he advanced. Instead, she released her tight grip on her knife. As she did so, it dissolved into the air. "Gotta say. I like your work, sweetheart."
One blonde eyebrow cocked at the word 'sweetheart'. Her earlier shock at his appearance and unease at his voice became tinged with annoyance. Suddenly, it didn't matter who he was. What mattered was that she would beat him. He flashed forward, his knife in hand. And then, he seemed to slow almost to a stop. To Miranda, at least. For her, the pace of the world slowed to a crawl. She quickly processed the situation, analyzing everything from his height to the angle of his blade. Another blue knife began to form in her hand, this one clearly made for combat. With movements that felt like she was swimming through molasses, she put one foot behind her to brace for the impact that someone of his size would likely have, then brought up her knife to parry his, pushing back with a strength surprising for her size. To her mind, all of this took place over the period of two minutes or so. In reality, it was only a few seconds.
The world flashed back into real time for a moment, and she felt the force in real time. Then, it slowed again, as she calculated what to do next. She'd blocked his blade with enough force to leave his torso open, though not for long. Another knife materialized in her other hand, and that one she thrust forwards, aiming for a specific tendon in his shoulder. She did not mess around, and did not aim to simply test the waters. She put her full force behind it, hoping to make a single, debilitatingly painful strike. It would be obvious to anyone with combat experience that she was not hoping to kill him, despite the fact that he was much more of a threat than the man whose throat she was prepared to slit mere moments before. Part of her wished that she could make some comment, preferably on his referring to her as 'sweetheart', but she'd along ago decided that staying silent during all missions was necessary to help protect her identity. Even during missions with odd twists like these.
The girl was a decent enough fighter. Fact that she could make hand to hand combat weapons appear out of thin air was also a pretty decent advantage on it own. But the girl was still new, a fresh faced youngster pitted against a grizzled veteran of decades past. That in itself still gave James Zodd the better odds. Of course it also didn't hurt that he was a slightly crazy son of a bitch. So just when one would expect a fighter to back away, give themselves some breathing room and a millisecond or two to regain themselves, or even come up with some sort of exit plan in case things went down the shitter James did something one wouldn't expect.
The blade hurt like hell as they tore through James's skin and into a tendon in his shoulder. But that was all that he needed to close the distance between him and the shadow. Outside another clap of thunder roared to life and lit up James's face again, where a sick and twisted smile was beginning to form. It'd been a while since James had last felt pain of this kind. Now as it wrapped him in its familiar embrace he couldn't help but remember all the pain he'd endured through his long life, pain he would make sure his enemy now felt tenfold. James's skull made contact with the shadows face. The sound was like a dull, yet hard thud which resounded throughout the quite room. The move also hurt like a motherfucker. But that didn't matter, all that mattered now was that James had the advantage, and he would be damned if he wasn't going to press the everloving shit out of it.
The blowback allowed for James to ditch his blade and get his hands around the back of the shadows neck. James wasted no time as his fingers interwove themselves almost instantly and began to knee the shadows stomach for all he was worth. The move only lasted what could have been a couple of seconds but it was enough to satisfy James for the time being. After all, if the girl could make blades appear, god knows what other things she could produce, so with that James let go and pushed himself away from the shadow. Rolling back and popping up in a practiced battle stance. Blood spilled from open wounds as James backed himself a bit farther. "Nice party trick" said James as he tossed his black leather jacket aside, the white T-shirt underneath blossoming with blood until he removed that as well. Revealed was a body with dense, corded muscle and open wounds. "But you're not the only one with a few tricks up your sleeve" said James with a chuckle. Another flash of thunder and the wounds were gone, healed in mere moments, with only traces of blood where the knife had once pierced.
Now James Zodd began to circle his opponent, the twisted grin upon his face in full view in the light of the thunder and moon. "Not bad" said James as he inched closer to his opponent, preparing for the next exchange of blows, "but you're still a bit wet behind the ears." With that James shot forward again. This time his movements were more controlled and precise, first came a strike towards the head which would follow into a kick to the knee and if anything should fail, another headbutt to the nose followed by a snap of the neck that would end it all.
David Frost hated thunder. Always had, ever since he was a kid. Didn't know why, didn't really care. Hell there were scarier things out there worry about anyway. Take for example the fucking monster he was put in charge of, a guy named James Zodd. Now Zodd seemed like your average merc, maybe special forces, or even central intelligence kind of guy. He pissed, he shit, he bled, just like everyone else. But that still didn't explain why his name was carved in stone on more than a few monuments in Washington D.C. Monuments that were made for soldiers who had passed away during world war fucking two. It didn't explain why his file had registration numbers of soldiers who had supposedly died in past wars and photos of a man who dressed differently, but never appeared any different with each passing decade.
He was supposed to forget the guy ever even breathed the same air as him after tonight. Least that's what the orders from the higher ups stated. As far as David Frost was supposedly concerned the man who had single handedly walked into the darked mansion of some shit congressman to take on the orginazations problem known as the "shadow" never even appeared before his eyes. But David still couldn't get that dull pain behind his eyes to go away as he read the mans haunting nickname. He closed the file tightly and sat back inside the van, listening to his men and the rain outside, whispering the codename one last time to himself before he would destroy the file and wipe his mind of all of this.
The moment Miranda felt that all-too-familiar feeling of blade sliding through skin and muscle, Miranda jumped back, pulling her now bloodied blade with her. She fully expected for him to fall over, clutching his shoulder and howling in pain, or to lose consciousness altogether. That was what any normal person would have done. However, as he'd made very clear, her opponent was no ordinary human. That did beg the question of just what the fuck he was, but this was neither the time nor place to ask it. Especially not when he seemed to preparing for another strike. She expected another punch or stab, and waited just a fraction of a second too long to slow things down. By the time she did, his head was already inches from hers.
The force of the blow was enough to knock her right back into real time. Bright lights danced across her vision, and for a few moments, she worried that she would pass out. Adrenaline surged through her veins as she realized that she may very well die before the night was up. The thought scared her, as did the absolute lack of anything resembling human in his eyes. Was that what her eyes looked like, the moment before she took a life? Just as the thought occurred, she felt strong fingers on her neck, pulling her forwards even as his knee struck her stomach with a breathtaking force. There was not even enough air left in her lungs to scream, as he attacked again and again. Despite the mind-numbing pain, she was almost grateful. She did not want to die screaming like a little girl.
As his knee made contact for the last time, she heard a sickening crack from one of her ribs, further emphasized by the near deafening sound of a clap of thunder outside. The storm was getting worse, the rain falling in torrents, as if the sky itself was trying to tell Miranda just how hopeless her situation was. Finally, her attacker retreated, and Miranda tried to do the same. However, with only step, she found herself backed against the cool glass of a bedroom window. Her eyes widened, hope filling her and then leaving as quickly as it had came. They were on the second story, and her rib was cracked. A fall from this height could mean a punctured lung which, admittedly, would be the least of her problems as her seemingly immortal enemy followed her.
Seemingly? Try definitely. The stranger stripped off first his jacket then his shirt, revealing a body that, were the situation very different, she would be thoroughly impressed with. However, considering that he was currently covered in blood, and trying his very best to kill her, her admiration for his physique was notably lacking. What she could admire was the speed at which his wounds healed. It had been less than a few minutes sine she'd inflicted them, and already they were done. That, and the bloodthirsty smile on his face, made her wonder once more; just what the fuck was he? He advanced again, leaving her no time to ponder on the question. Panting for breath, nearly every part of her body screaming in pain, she realized that this was it. She would not survive this attack. She would-
A siren split through the air. A noise that Miranda had wrote off as thunder grew louder and louder until she finally realized that it was, in fact a helicopter's rotating blades. "This is the police! Come out immediately!"
Well, that was convenient. Was the woman on the bed not quite as unconscious as she'd assumed? Had one of the guards she'd incapacitated woken up sooner than she'd anticipated? Or was she just extremely lucky? Either way, she wouldn't waste the chance. While her opponent was momentarily distract, time slowed almost to a stop. With as much force as she could summon, she drew both of her elbows back. The glass shattered, a few shards catching themselves in the black fabric of her suit and slicing her skin. Shit. After she went to such troubles not to leave any biological evidence behind. She would just have to hope that the rain would wash her blood away.
Not willing to risk giving the man a chance to grab her and pull her back, she did not even bother turning around. Rather, she tapped into her fast-depleting well of energy and jumped up onto the thankfully low window seal, then threw herself back. As she did so, she locked eyes with her attacker. Her own expressed pain, anger, touched with fear. His, well, they were still a mystery to her, one that she simply couldn't solve in the time it took for her to fall out of his line of vision. For a few seconds, she fell. She tried to land elegantly on her feet, as she normally would have. But her injuries and the soggy ground conspired against her, forcing her to fall back and hit the ground with a thud. With the last of her strength, she tried to ignore the pain attacking her mind and blurring the edges of her vision and sprint to the forest surrounding the home. Rain soaked through her body suit, chilling her to the bone, but she ignored it. The sound of policemen walking around to the back of the house grew louder by the second, but she ignored that, too. She focused on doing just one thing: disappearing. Luckily for her, that was what she did best.