The Night Haunters

In The Dead Of Night

Danny walked silently next to Nick under the deathly black night sky. She pulled her hood down so it covered her eyes, since it wasn't her Gear's hood it wasn't so effortless to cover her face like it did. Nick was wearing his Gear though, since it was his after all. Danny didn't have her own since she was just borrowing the Gear from the East Branch's basic set for initiates. Danny would get to select her Gear when she completely finished initiation and took the blood oath to the Night Haunters. She overheard Michael telling Nick that she was going to complete her training with the West Branch. Danny didn't mind that, since she would most likely train with the ever so mysterious Ezekiel "Savage" Matthews.

"We're getting close, Danny," Nick whispered making it appear that he was making a move on her so no one would think to listen in, "They only know you by reputation. And these guys are notorious for their skills. This is where all the Prodigies usually end up, and that's what you are."

"I have a reputation?" Danny smiled, both to complete the facade they were putting on and because she was proud of that fact.

"Yup," He smirked, "You're Shadow, the first female Prodigy of the Night Haunters. And not to mention you survived the interrogation of the Original Hybrid Vampire. Just one of those get you serious credit."

"I see," Danny blushed, pleased with herself, "Well, I can't wait."

"Neither can I," Nick smiled, moving his arm from her shoulder, "Remember, don't show any weakness to these guys, especially their leader and Savage."

"Savage isn't the leader?" Danny looked confused.

"No, the leader of the West branch's South District is the First Prodigy, Nathaniel Steele," Nick said, "And he is the strongest and toughest one of them all."

"Aren't all vampires strong?" Danny cocked an eyebrow.

"Not as much as him," Nick shrugged, "I heard that he'll lift 500 pounds on one arm just for kicks."

Danny's eyes widened, "That's crazy."

"Couldn't agree more." Nick nodded, then he stopped.

Danny took another step past him before she realized that he'd stopped and turned to look at Nick with a puzzled face. Nick glanced at Danny, then back to where he had been looking. Then he pointed mutely at the a wall plagued with graffiti. Danny looked and looked and finally saw it. It was the crest of the Night Haunters spray painted in black in the only clear spot in the wall. A blood red arrow pointed straight down below it to a boarded up window. Danny looked at Nick and both nodded silently as they headed for the window. Danny saw that it was boarded up strong enough for a vampire to easily lift it, but anyone else would have to make a lot of noise to brake it down.

"Alright," Nick said as he placed his hands on the boards, "From this point on you are Shadow. And you have no weaknesses."

"Got it," Danny nodded.

Nick smirked and his demeanor instantly shifted. He seemed to become harder and colder then she was used to, but she could still see the easy going light in his eyes. Danny called upon her alter ego and made herself dead serious with a deadly aurora around her. Nick broke quietly into the window and motioned for Danny to enter first, which she did. Nick slipped into the window behind her and re-boarded the window just as silently. Danny's eyes adjusted to the dark instantly and she saw a dimly lit corridor that had piles of trash littering the sides of it with rats scurrying in between them. There was a certain stench of death to it that made Danny's inner vampire smile. Nick silently walked toward the end of the walkway, where Danny saw a steel door with a small peephole.

Nick pounded four times hard, then slightly tapped it twice with his knuckle. Danny soon heard two separate sets of foot steps approach behind the door and stop before it. The peephole slid open with a rustic grind that made Danny shiver instinctively. A set of black eyes stared menacingly at Danny, flicking to Nick with a slight flash of recognition that soon died. Nick simply stared back as if waiting for them to say something.

"State your business," A deep voice sounded through the steel.

"In nomine noctis quaeritur vestibulum," Nick said the Latin phase with perfect articulation.

"You may enter," The voice said after a few seconds of silence.

The heavy rusted steel door groaned open to reveal two Haunters in full Gear with their hoods up and folds of cloth covering their faces from the nose down. Nick nodded solemnly to them and walked past them through the door. Danny followed him as he walked through the corridors, taking turns purposefully as if he'd been there before. The walls were dank and wet, old wooden pallets and overflowing metal garbage cans were pushed to the sides of the pathways but still seemed to get in the way. Danny thought the pathways looked like some sort of network of secret tunnels, since every few turns or straight paths lead to another heavy door. Nick had a look in his eyes, Danny noticed, like bittersweet memories were assaulting him in a relentless torrent. Every now and then he would smile halfheartedly or look saddened by something. Danny wondered what happened the last time Nick was here, since he obviously had a history here.

Nick finally stopped at another steel door after a few turns. It had a steel plate bolted above the door frame with a phrase crudely etched into it: "Silentium omnium inimicorum suorum, et non sit qui supersunt". Danny looked over the phase over and over again. It sounded to her like a motto, like this was something that summed up a part of the Night Haunters.

"'Silence all enemies, and let none survive'." Nick translated glancing up at the words, "That's the way of the West Branch, it's their creed."

"So these guys are the real deal, huh?" Danny said.

"They have to be, since the worst rogues are here." Nick shrugged.

"Really?" Danny asked as Nick shoved open the door.

"It's L.A.," Nick said over his shoulder as he entered the door, Danny closing the door behind them. They went down two flights of stairs and took another set of seemingly random turns until they reached a ladder. The manhole cover at the very top of the ladder was slightly ajar and letting in what seemed like candlelight. The bars of the ladder were rusty and dirty, leaving orange dust where Danny grasped the rungs. She was surprised that these old bars could hold her weight, let alone Nick's heavy frame and muscle. They reached the top in next to no time, only halting when one of the rungs halfway up the ladder actually did give.

Nick shoved the cover off the exit and pulled himself up and out, holding a hand for Danny to take. With a smirk, Danny used his hand and let him lift her light body up and out of the tunnel. Nick quickly replaced the cover exactly as he'd found it as they headed down to another steel door. Danny looked around and saw at least fifteen Haunters in dark clothing hanging around. Some were sparring, others were sleeping, and the rest seemed to be staring at Danny with fascination. Rumors of her presence flooded the giant room and soon everyone knew that the newest Prodigy was here.

Danny was thankful for when they slipped through that steel door and into a dark stairwell. There was candlelight at the bottom landing of the stairs. And whispered conversations could be heard from there. One of the two voices was rough and deep, and it had a menacing tone to it. The other one had the same menace, but it was cancelled off by the easy going nature of the man who owned it. Danny heard the ever so familiar scraping of a blade sliding on a sharpening stone. Danny heard a loud thud as something metallic hit the floor just as Nick and her reached the bottom of the stairs and into the light. The conversation stopped, as did the scraping sound of the knife as soon as they stepped foot in the room.

Danny didn't get a chance to get a good look at the two intimidating figures before her. Nick and her stood stock still, and practically slammed their right fists over their hearts in salute and hung their heads in submission to the two undoubtedly higher ranking Haunters. Danny heard a chuckle from one of the Haunters as he walked to stand before them. Danny could tell when he turned to the other one to tell him something, but he didn't say a word. Then the sound of the other sharpening his blade continued. Instantly Danny realized that the sound came from above the ground, and it had become more deliberate and menacing this time.

"Nicholas?" The one who stood in front of them said in a strong voice, the voice that had sounded easy-going to Danny, "After all this time, you finally come back with a girl?"

The Haunter in front of them and another behind him burst out laughing. Danny glanced at Nick, both blushing slightly. Nick shot an apologetic glance at her then cleared his throat, "Yes, sir."

"Oh c'mon, Nick!" The Haunter sounded hurt, "We've known each other all this time, so cut the 'sirs', alright? I have a name, you know."

"Sorry," Nick became his normal, non-formal self instantly, and he went back to a normal posture, "Better safe then sorry, since getting yelled at by you usually ends up with me getting stitches."

The Haunter chuckled, "Oh good, you haven't forgotten how things work around here."

"How could I forget?" Nick smiled.

"So is this the Prodigy that has graced us with her lovely presence?" The Haunter said with a sarcastic tone that somehow wasn't condescending.

"I am, sir," Danny spoke clearly, having to use part of her alter ego, which she decided on the trip to just call it her "Dark Side", to keep her voice from breaking from nervous fear. She was still bowing her head with her fist over her heart.

"So strong willed, eh?" The Haunter said, "Well, do me a favor will you?"

"What do you wish me to do?" Danny said flatly.

"Let me see your face," The Haunter said, "And after you stop saluting me when you do look at me, never do it again. The salute around here is just the fist, since bowing the head is way too formal for me. Got all that?"

"Yes, sir," Danny said, looking up to the Haunter's face and removing her fist from her heart. He had hollow black eyes, and the darkest black shock of hair. His muscles bulged under the plain black t-shirt he wore. He wore the black padded Gear pants and tucked them into his black combat boots like the military did. He had a large jet black Bowie knife on his right thigh that was an inch short of being a machete. There was an easy going aurora that oozed from him, making Danny feel like she could trust him. But there was a flicker of predatory fire behind his eyes that Danny saw that have her a slight chill. He smiled genuinely at her but it turned to a smirk-smile hybrid about two seconds after Danny looked up. He was tall, probably six feet high, and he stood on edge, like he was begging for an enemy to burst through the door and attack just so he could fight.

"My name is Nathaniel," He said, "And I've heard a lot about you, Shadow."

"Like what?" Danny cocked an eyebrow.

"Oh, you don't know your own reputation?" Nathaniel cocked his head, "Huh. Well, I'll sum it up for you. When an Initiate Haunter who does just as good as her mentors on every one of her missions, and kills her own family without hesitation, is pretty impressive. Now, this other you that shows up just when you need it? That really peaks the interest of my brother and I, since he's got the same deal going on with him."

"So I'm impressive to you guys?" Danny asked.

"I haven't seen you in action, but from what I've heard I would love to." He smiled.

"When's that?"

"So impulsive," Nathaniel chuckled, "That's good. C'mon, let me show you."

Nick and Danny followed Nathaniel to a table with a three dimensional map of L.A.

"When did this get here?" Nick asked.

"The year you left, we tortured a human to make it for us, then we compelled him to forget about us all." Nathaniel shrugged, grabbing a stack of papers that looked like schedules.

"Why not just compel him to make it in the first place?" Danny asked.

Nathaniel shrugged, "Just felt like it, I guess. It wasn't a big deal, anyway, we mentally tortured him. Trust me, Shadow, if it had been even close to physical, the guy wouldn't have an arm."

"You are..." Danny trailed off, "Interesting."

Nathaniel laughed, "That's one word for it."

"So what are you going to have her do?" Nick asked.

"Shadow?" Nathaniel turned to Nick, "She'll be going with Savage and I to mess with some of the gangs to get in the spirit of things."

"Okay," Nick was chuckling now, but it sounded nervous, "When 'Savage and I' and 'get into the spirit of things' are in the same sentence from you, that usually ends up with a knife in someone's back and heads rolling."

"So you really haven't forgotten!" Nathaniel smirked, "But I promise I won't kill a single soul tonight. Good enough?"

"No, actually," Nick said, "Make your silent brother back there promise not to either."

"I'm sorry, brother," Nathaniel looked behind Danny, "I guess we'll just have to settle for the bare minimum tonight."

Danny heard a feral sounding low growl that morphed into a groan of reluctant agreement. She turned around to try and find the source of the sound. On top of one of the armories, twice the size of the ones Danny was used to, was a Haunter sharpening a jet black machete. He had his hood up and a black cloth tied over his face, and he seemed to be staring directly at Danny. He ran the blade across his stone expertly, hitting just the right angle to get the best sharpening possible. The rasping of sharpening metal covered up his almost silent breathing so much that Danny wondered if he even drew breath. In fact, Danny noticed Nathaniel had been the same way. The Haunter jumped down from the armory and landed with a small thud. He slowly made his way over to Nathaniel's side. He crossed his arms over his chest and stood silently still. Nick tensed once he came into his view, his breathing becoming a tad slower.

"Who are you?" Danny asked.

After a long, dead silence, Nathaniel spoke. "My brother, Savage."

As soon as the name was uttered from Nathaniel's lips, Danny's eyes shot up and she stepped back in shock. Savage chuckled as soon as that happened, spreading his feet to shoulder width apart. Danny stepped back up, looking Savage square where his eyes were under his hood. Savage unraveled his hands from his chest and brought them to the edges of his hood.

"Showing your face within the first few minutes of meeting someone?" Nathaniel sounded amused and shocked. "Unheard of."

"Oh, shut up," A deep voice sounded from Savage, holding menacing amusement, "This girl is just like me, and you know it."

With that, Savage flicked his hood back to reveal dark cobalt blue eyes. He slipped down the cloth from his face to his neck, where it acted like a turtle neck. He had a strong jaw and slightly pronounced cheekbones. He had blond swept spiky hair and a razor-stubble beard. He had the smallest smirk that curled one side of his mouth, but the rest was relaxed and straight. Overall, Savage looked like he was plotting murder with a piercing, meticulous gaze. He was two inches shorter then Nathaniel, but wide and built.

"Shadow, huh?" Savage said, his gaze calculating and intense, "We'll see if you've earned your reputation soon enough. Nathaniel, I know just the place to take this Initiate."

"Oh, good!" Nathaniel seemed elated, "Then I can go killing like I planned! Good luck, brother."

And with that, Nathaniel briskly walked over to his armory, grabbed his jacket and another, smaller knife. After that, he used his vampire speed and went up the stairs instantly.

Savage went to the 3-D map of LA and motioned for Danny to follow. As Danny and Nick stood on either side of Savage, he drew a small knife from some hidden pocket in his jacket. He used it as a pointer as he indicated a warehouse a mile or two south west of where they were. Savage gave them both a basic run down of the assignment and let them have ten minutes while he finished honing the rest of his blades back on top of his armory. Danny walked up to him cautiously.

"Um," Danny began, "What did you mean by 'she's like me'?"

He stopped mid-stroke and looked at her, "Do you have this Dark Side of you that showed up when you were around 15 and only got worse when you Turned?"

Danny looked at him blankly, "Yeah, I do."

"And how long has it been since you Turned?"

"A month," Danny shrugged, "Why?"

"Let me guess," Savage looked at her in the eye, "You think you'll be able to control your alter ego with just a tad more practice, huh?"

Danny blinked, "How'd you know that?"

"'Cause I went through the same thing, and had the same idea."

"You're talking as if I won't be able to control it," Danny said it as a statement and not a question.

"Oh, you can," Savage grinned, "But it's not that easy. In fact, it will almost kill you."

"What?" Danny blinked, confused.

"You heard me," Savage went back to honing his blade.

"How is it goi-" Danny started but was cut off by Savage.

"The guest armory is the one next to mine, it's got female gear it and about a quarter or an eighth of the weapons I have in my armory. Gear up, Initiate. Sit factum fortuna faciei tuae."

They arrived at the assignment location as silently as they could. Savage was in his trademark Gear, a jacket that had a oblique zipper with numerous blades within it. There were blades strapped to his legs and tucked into his boots. Savage, Nick, and Danny all had their hoods up, Savage taking the cloth from his neck and putting it back up on his face. His gear was a leather jacket that had a standing collar that rose up to his ears, and his hood had to be wider to compensate for it. He wore a black shirt under his jacket. There was a wide leather strap that came over his left shoulder and went down to his right torso. Attached to that was a jet black sword with an angled blade. Danny was in the standard initiate Gear with her boot and thigh knife, and now she had a hidden blade in a wrist sheath under her sleeve. Nick was in his Gear with his one thigh knife.

"Alright," Nick said, "There it is."

They stopped in front of a warehouse that had a ring of people around a oil drum fire and wearing rags in front of it's entrance. Savage gave a blur of hand signals to Nick, who nodded. The only signal Danny saw that she remembered was: kill. Danny blinked and Savage was gone, and no trace of him was left. That speed told Danny that he must be at least two hundred years old, since any vampire younger Danny would be able to see leave. Savage reappeared in front of the front door and began to knock casually, then he looked at Danny and motioned for her to join him. Danny used her speed and stopped at Savage's right side. The door creaked open.

"Who the hell are you creeps?" A guy with a tattooed face and a cigar jammed between his teeth. He looked up and down Danny with a strange lustful look then tried to peer past the shadows of her hood. But the shadows were designed to cloak the identity of the wearer from vampires, so a mere human could never hope to see through it.

"The muscle." Danny's evil grin was the only thing the man could see, and Danny could tell that he was creeped out by that sight.

"Muscle? You ain't got beef with us, so I would leave now before your heads leave without the rest of you."

"Are you threatening a lady?" Danny smirked so wide that teeth showed, and she was tempted to flash her fangs to scare him out of his wits.

"We are here for a man named Jose Gutierrez. He crossed our order, and it's time for him to pay his debts." Savage's voice was hoarse and sounded like death.

"Jose? Do you kids have a death wish?" The man looked amused, "What? You think that you finally grew in that chin hair you can impress this chick?"

"I may look young, but I've seen more horrors then this entire city," Savage's voice had a warning tone to it, and a menacing edge.

"Fine," The man said, "You want to see Jose, you gotta go through me, tough guy."

"Which bone do you want me to break first?" Savage smirked just like Danny was, and his razor sharp canines lengthened into fangs.

"Why you little-" Was all the man could get out before he dropped to the ground holding his arm in agony. Savage had appeared behind him and flicked his forearm, snapping one of the two bones. The man rolled over onto his back and looked crazily at Savage, with a mixture of anger and shock.

"What the hell did you just do?" He said through gritted teeth.

"He put you in your place," Danny stated simply, "On the ground before us with your throat exposed."

"Who are you freaks?" The man asked.

"He is Savage," Danny said, "And I am Shadow."

"Seriously? What kind if names are those?"

"The kind if names that you get for killing hundreds in cold blood." Danny smirked and extended her fangs so they gleamed in the moonlight.

"I don know where you freaks came from, but your both dead, you hear me? Dead!" The man screamed.

"You want to know the bit of irony there, mortal?" Danny cackled evilly.

"Huh?" The man looked confused.

"We are already dead," Danny pulled back her hood to reveal the veins under her blackening eyes thicken and darken. Her ice blue irises remain, as she opened her mouth to show her needle fangs. She added a feral hiss for good measure. The man turned pale and stumbled to his feet, clutching his broken arm. Danny and Savage chuckled evilly as he tripped over the curb and face planted onto the sidewalk before the ware house. He pulled a phone to his ear, called for help quickly and then tucked it away again as he crossed the street. But then he stopped in his tracks and stared blankly at the other side of the street.

There, emerging in full Gear, was Nathaniel. He wore plain leather jacket and had his Bowie knife on his thigh in full view. He grinned like a mad man as he slowly and purposefully stepped into the light and to the man. His hood was up and shrouding his face as well.

"Another one?" The man seemed frustrated and fearful now.

"Oh, don't worry," Nathaniel said in a taunting and dreadfully intimating voice that made the man visibly shudder, "We aren't allowed to kill you. Yet, anyway."

"Chickens," The man muttered.

"Do you like those annoying vocal cords where they are?" Nathaniel cocked an eyebrow, "Because I can just rip them from your throat and throw them away for you."

"Wha?" The man sounded terrified but confused at the threat.

"What part of that didn't you get?" Nathaniel sounded truly annoyed, "I swear, every year you people get dumber. Let me spell it out for you: I. Will. Kill. You. If. You. Don't. Shut. Up. And. Take. Us. In. Side. Got it?"

The man nodded lamely and opened the door to the warehouse promptly, letting in the three hooded figures clad in black leather. Nick, Danny realized, was still nowhere to be seen. Danny knew Savage had a plan, and Nick's absence was a part of it, but she still wish she knew where he was.

Nathaniel, Savage, and Danny walked through the warehouse to where a group of gang members sat on a ring of expensive leather furniture with alcohol in their hands. They were speaking and laughing about their latest heists and schemes, piles of one hundred dollar bills lay on the coffee table before who seemed to be the leader. He had two drunk women on either arm, both didn't really have anything covering their bodies except their under wear and bras.

About five feet before they walked from the shadows into the light, the three Haunters stopped and Nathaniel began to slow clamp, "Impressive display, Jose. Getting laid only a year after getting out of the jail is quite the accomplishment for you!"

"Who the hell are you!" Jose rose and bellowed, looking in the general direction of the three vampires.

"You know exactly who we are, Jose," Nathaniel used the same sickly scary voice, "Think hard."

Jose only growled, starting to zero in on where Nathaniel's voice was coming from.

Nathaniel turned to Savage and gave a slight nod, then turned back the Jose, "Maybe this will help you remember."

Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, Danny saw Savage pull a silver blade from the folds of his jacket and toss it up once before he hurled it end-over-end towards Jose. Since they were still in the shadows when Savage threw the knife, Jose must have only seen the blade appear from no where as it sunk perfectly vertical through a stack of hundreds and into the table with a deep thud. Jose look at the blade only once and then his face went blank with fear. A fear so pure and unadulterated that he paled like a new blood vampire. His gaze swiveled all around the ware house, trying to find Nathaniel. But he didn't have to look far, since Nathaniel, Savage and Danny appeared from the shadows. All three of them had a blank look on their face. The only thing the humans saw was their set jaws and slightly frowning mouths. Except Nathaniel, whom was still grinning like a mad man on drugs, as he cackled evilly.

"Good," Nathaniel said, "You remember now. So, you gonna pay up?"

Jose turned and ran as fast as he could for the nearby exit, his friends not far behind. But as soon as he got close enough, the door blew off its hinges to reveal Nick grinning under his hood. Danny chuckled as the gang members stumbled over each other to try and stop and ended up in a dog pile on top of Jose, who groaned.

"How about this?" Nathaniel grinned, "I let you live, but all this dough goes away and you turn yourself in the the Five-O? Or you can pay your real debt and let me Turn you."

"Why do you want to Turn me? You hunt me down for a year because I spied on your weird cult and you want me to join you?"

"I have my reasons," Nathaniel said, "So what'll it be, Jose?"

"I don't want to go back to the pen again..." Jose trailed off after a few seconds of pregnant silence.

"Good!" Nathaniel exclaimed, "Come along then. Nick, you know what to do."

"Yes, sir," Nick said, and began compelling the gang members to forget everything that happened that night.

They arrived back the the West Branch Headquarters within two hours, slipping through the first steel door as dawn appeared on the horizon. Through the tunnels and alleyways the Haunters tugged along the poor and pitiful Jose, who looked as scared as a child in the middle of a horror film. He'd had no shortage of questions through the entire trip, getting on Danny's nerves by the minute. Danny soon wasted up with it a growled Gerald to shut him up.

When that didn't work, she bared her fangs and hissed menacingly. Jose didn't utter another word since, much to Danny's relief. She was taking up the rear, clutching her thigh knife in a reverse grip in her right hand.

As they came to the final ladder that lead to the base, Nathaniel and Savage stepped as side and motioned for Jose to climb. He, though nervously glancing back to Danny to make sure she wouldn't try to stab him, started to climb. Danny was right behind him, climbing with just her left as she kept her knife in her grasp. She heard Savage and Nathaniel start to climb as well, their heavy combat boots resounding through the rungs of the ladder. Nick rose a second after the two vampires before him started to climb.

As soon as they were all out of the man hole and into the warehouse of the Haunter base, every eye turned to the man trembling in the midst of the four Haunters around him. Some laughed and whispered of how weak he looked, or how dead he was going to be. There were a select few that tried to suppress their moans of hunger at the sight of fresh kill.

"What are they whispering about?" Jose hissed through clenched teeth.

"You," Nathaniel shrugged, "They're not impressed. I mean, your acting like a child who's seen a freaky clown. Then there's the few here that know what you've done and already know what's gonna happen to you."

"What's that?" Jose looked curious suddenly.

"All in due time," Nathaniel grinned evilly.

They continued to a side office apart from the main room of the warehouse and Nick stood guard at the door as they closed the door behind them. Their were two chairs, and a desk in between them. Nathaniel sat behind the desk and Jose sat in the other one. Savage jumped up in a blur into the rafters and sat in them like they were tree limbs. Danny jumped up and joined him on the other half of the beam, taking out her portable sharpening stone and began to quietly hone her boot knife. Savage, grinning at how well she was adjusting to West Branch, did the same. They both looked down as the conversation between Nathaniel and Jose ensued.

"So, now that there aren't any others around," Nathaniel said, flipping back his hood to reveal the same crazed mad-man-like look in his eyes, "I can take this off and you can see the face you trued to see a year ago."

"I-uh," Jose began nervously, "Sorry about that."

"Oh, don't worry about that," Nathaniel grinned mischievously, "All will be righted soon enough."

"Oh," He breathed, "Good."

"Shall we begin?" Nathaniel grinned.

"Yeah," Jose nodded.

Nathaniel, with a flourish, grabbed a shot glass from a drawer under the desk and placed it on the desktop. He closed the drawer then grabbed the glass and tapped it twice on the desk. Danny, out of the corner of her eye, saw Savage slit his wrist and hold it out. The fountain of blood fell perfectly into the glass. It filled the glass up halfway as the wound on Savage's wrist healed. Jose, looking at the glass the whole time, shivered.

"Bottoms up," Nathaniel said, placing the glass firmly in front of Jose.

"Yeah," Jose said, trembling as he grabbed the shot glass.

He stared down at the blood in the glass, sloshing it around just like Danny remembered doing before she drank her's. He brought the glass to his lips quickly, so that he couldn't change his mind, and drank it all at once as if it really were a shot. Danny, with her ultra hearing, listened as the fluid slid down his throat. She grinned, knowing what was going to happen next.

"Well," Nathaniel sighed, rising from his chair. "Now for the fun part."

He blurred around the table and in front of Jose and gripped his neck. He lifted him by his neck a few inches off the ground, Jose grasping at his arm with both of his in protest. Nathaniel, his grin never wavering, simply by flexing only his thumb, snapped Jose's neck with ease. Nathaniel dropped him back in the chair and pick up the shot glass Jose had dropped and placed it back on the desk.

"What'd you think, brother?" Nathaniel looked up into the rafters. "Was that impressive in anyway at all?"

"I'll say," Danny muttered, wondering how strong you'd have to be to only flex your thumb and snap a neck with as much ease as he had.

"To Shadow?" Savage asked. "Yes, I think you made your point."

"Good," Nathaniel said turning to Danny, "Shadow, I have a question."

"Yes?" Danny replied.

"Has there been any point in your new life where you honestly felt scared or weak in any way?"

"No, I haven't." Danny said firmly after a moment's pause, realizing where he was going with the conversation.

"And is it true you are a Prodigy like my brother?" Nathaniel pressed.

Danny turned to Savage, who nodded his approval, then back to Nathaniel, "Yes."

"Then I accept your transfer into the West Branch, but on one condition," Nathaniel said.

"What is it?"

"That you show Savage how much you've progressed so I know what division to put you in," He said.

"Deal," Danny smiled.

"Do you know what that means, Shadow?" Savage said, putting away his sharpening stone and sheathing his blade.


"That you'll be taking the blood oath after I'm through evaluating you. You'll be a full member."

Danny was silent as she and Savage dropped to the concrete floor simultaneously and walked through out of the office where Jose's dead body lay in the chair before the desk. The skin already starting to cool as they left.

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