Chapter 1: Saviour's Blood
It was said that when the woman dressed in black came to a fight, she always returned victorious. Her will was stronger than fire and her courage burned brighter than the sun itself. She was a warrior which had the power to turn the tables of any fight that she joined. All of that was purely her raw strength, because she was the only one that had the courage to fight against injustice. However, this woman was her own leader and her own law. No one told her what to do… No one ever dared.
Rumours and whispers in the dark described this woman to have hair as dark as night, that was cut short to her rigid jaw. Her eyes were a mesmerizing blue, which reflected the clarity of her soul and her lips were scarlet, like she drank the blood of her enemies to quench her thirst. Her lithe body moved like the shadows of the night; completely hidden without any mistakes. No one saw her unless she wanted it to be that way. Except once her target saw her coming, it was just before he was cut down by the end of her silver blade.
She was a weapon. A mystery. A storm. But most of all… she was hope. She was the hope inside people, which reassured them that they could sleep safely at night because she watched over them.
This ethereal woman walked amongst society and enjoyed a cup of coffee with them too, but the command she had and her authority was tremendous. No words could come close to understanding the influence that she had over the people. Wherever she went, the people watched and without asking, they knew who she was and gave their respect. Strong, prominent alphas stood no chance against her word either. They stepped back when she arrived anywhere, and as much as anyone thought that New York was their city, they were definitely wrong, because the entire city and its people knew that this was that woman’s domain and hers alone. She owned this city and was the one that faced the threats first before the other alphas. Nothing happened without her knowledge of it, and like that she watched the gates of her city and annihilated any threat to the people.
This woman had become a myth in tales. Many that she saved in her missions now talked about her; sang about her; even prayed to her, in hopes that maybe she was their goddess reincarnated.
But she was no myth… the legend amongst wolves was real and unequivocally dangerous. That was why even the gangsters of the city held their tongues in front of her, because they didn’t want to get their lives cut short. Even though, they had legions of goons under them and could easily get an army or two more… but no one stood a chance against her. An army was too small once she chose her target.
Many called her insane or arrogant for taking on such risky missions. However, she never knew weakness. She was taught to fight, to protect, to save those who needed help. Her entire purpose was to be a force that no one could withstand. Words like fear, guilt, cowardliness weren’t in her blood. Although, this woman didn’t have any ties to her blood. She may have been born alone, but from the night of terrible storms when she arrived, destiny had chosen her blood to be the leader for all the wolves and the destruction of all evil.
This woman had no ties, except to her goddess. The one that sang in this woman’s heart was the goddess Maya who was the creator of all wolf shifters. Everyone knew about this woman’s devotion and many wondered if it was the devotion that made her extraordinarily powerful. No one dared to ask though, they feared the answer. However, many wicked people questioned who will step up to stop this rogue alpha? Who will bring the army to fight her? And who had the courage to face her when even the goddess didn’t interfere with her plans? They all wondered, but no one knew the answer.
People who stayed on the right path didn’t fear this woman, they instead worshipped her undyingly. However, the people with wicked intentions stayed at a safe distance from her because she wasn’t one to show mercy. Even as the gates to her house remained open for anyone to come to her door and ask for help, this woman’s enemies never infiltrated her territory. They feared that the consequences would be severe and they weren’t wrong to think like that at all.
What did one call this type of person? Many wondered.
No one knew this woman’s true name or her real identity. There was no trace of her family or her past. It was only until one unfortunate night, that she had killed the biggest mafia leader in Manhattan in front of his own men. No one knew how she had entered the highly secure mansion and slaughtered their boss in seconds. And then, the only thing she had done after killing that gangster was that she said her name for everyone to hear. And to this day, her resilient voice echoed in those walls.
“My name is Zero-” she had announced as she held the bloody blade- “Don’t forget it.” And no one did, it was impossible to even try because she never let them.
The sickening stench of blood, sweat, liquor and tobacco filled his nose, which was most likely broken after he was kicked in the face multiple times. His ears bled and a ringing began when he was ruthlessly slammed into the metal cage. Slave fighter 134, was numb to the pain of his broken bones and torn ligaments. Pain wasn’t unusual here though, it was in fact used to entertain the thousands of people that cheered the slaves from outside the cage.
Slave fighter 134’s opponent looked just as bad as him, and he wasn’t happy that he was winning the competition because victory didn’t mean anything in this terrible place. After any fight, the slaves weren’t treated like victors, they were only scum in the eyes of cage dealers here. The slaves were merely thrown back in their cages and drugged to heal again to fight again… and then one day their limp bodies were carried to the furnaces in the basement if they were unable to fight. Slave fighter 134 had lost many friends that he made here to those furnaces. He would sit awake at night when the roaring furnace switched on and his friend’s dead body was dragged away. There were even times, when they had to bury the bodies themselves because no one cared of the spoils.
Ten years had gone by since Slave fighter 134 was trapped here in this purgatory. The last thing he remembered was the bright blue sky that cascaded over his small house’s veranda. There was nothing else in his faded memories that recalled or missed terribly. He had no family, no one to call his own. Maybe, that was the reason he was so easily taken from his bed at night and brought to be a slave in these cage fights.
Other men had been here much longer than Slave fighter 134. He was still considered a newbie even after ten years of service. Unlike the one he fought right now, Slave fighter 67 had been trapped here since he was a pup and they made him fight since that age too.
Slave fighter 134 looked back at his opponent who was shirtless and hunched over in a pair of dark pants. His muscular body covered in scars from fights and brutal torture too, just like Slave fighter 134’s body was now. Both of them bore the scars of their miserable time in this place and both of them had the same slave tattoos on their neck, wrists and ankles.
Slave fighter 134 had gotten his markings after he had won his first fight against another who was kidnapped, just like he was. Otherwise, when a slave lost a fight, they were killed off without bearing any marks, like the slave was unworthy and he was deprived of such a ridiculous honour to have the slave tattoos. Slave fighter 134’s gut twisted and not because he was kicked countless times, but because he remembered the many faces he had to kill just to be safe from that fate.
The sudden screams of the wild audience cheered to urge Slave fighter 134’s opponent to go for the kill once and for all.
Slave fighter 67’s bruised eyes looked at him pitifully, like he could see what Slave fighter 134 was thinking of as he held the cage to keep himself steady. They shared the same prison cell together and now the same cage to fight. Both of them saw many killed and tortured into submission. Both these fighters were in the cage with nothing but sadness in their hearts, because they never wished to hurt anyone. They were never evil people who inflicted pain for pleasure, unlike the people who ran this organization.
Slave fighter 134 let Slave fighter 67 plummet his hardened fists into his face and chest. He didn’t want to fight back anymore.
Limp and cold to his stark bones, he dropped flat on the floor ready to die. Slave fighter 134 wasn’t afraid of death, in fact, he welcomed it right now and his opponent sensed that too.
The people around the cage cheered to see more brutality… but it was the men on the second floor that were the most amused. They were the ringleaders of this organization who ran these fights to earn millions of dollars from wagers and dealings. They were the strongest businessmen, politicians, mafia bosses of the shifter world. No one knew how to defeat them, especially when they were protected by legions of wolves and strong bodyguards. They were invincible and many who tried all failed. There was no hope against this… no one could end this Hell, except maybe death. Which now was the only option to be free of these chains. It was time to die for Slave fighter 134 and end this horrible nightmare once and for all…
When suddenly, through the corner of his bloody and bruised eye, he saw something rather bizarre. He wondered if it was a grim reaper here to take him away? Or maybe a figment of his imagination, because no ordinary person had access to the VIP section. But Slave fighter 134 was curious and he watched…
A woman in black crept out from behind the shadows. No one saw her, no one sensed her.
Quick and clean, she sliced the head of the most ferocious cage dealer. The gruesome head limped onto the floor and she disappeared behind a door. Slave fighter 134 couldn’t believe his own eyes because that woman just killed his worst enemy. The dead body on the floor belonged to the savage man who tortured and raped many pups that were brought to be under his care. He was ruthless and evil beyond recovery, no one could kill him. But now in front of his own eyes, the man had been killed as if he was a grade schooler and not an evil monster.
Who was that woman just now? Slave fighter 134 wondered.
The woman emerged again and she climbed the remaining stairs. She made her way towards the VIP area where all the prominent figures sat drinking champagne and eating caviar. He watched her move through the crowd, no one noticed her because she didn’t want them too. Her cobalt blue eyes were controlled as she picked her next target. A long silver dagger moved under the glint of the low light in the concrete pit.
Slave fighter 134’s bruised eyes wouldn’t let him see more, but he forced his bloody eyes to stay open. He turned slightly and observed her. She sliced through frail necks and splatters of blood painted the concrete black… of course those men were filled with blood as black as sin. There was no humanity in them, that’s why they didn’t bleed red. They bled black, the coldest colour pumped through their heartless bodies and it was proved that they were monsters.
As more bodies dropped, the more Slave fighter 134 smiled in pleasure.
“Kill them,” that whispered off his bloody lips like a chant. The woman without hearing him had happily obliged.
But Slave fighter 134 jolted with fear when someone snuck up behind her. Except, it was like she already knew that. Swift as lightning, her blade flipped around and she stabbed the beefy man right in the jugular of his neck.
The cheers, howls and grunts muted in his ears and all he could see was the woman killing every nasty person. She wiped the blade using the cage master’s tie who was the manager of this popular slavery division. She came up in front of the balcony and stared down at the pit where thousands of people had gathered to watch the fights every night.
“Maya…” he spoke the goddess’s name after such a long time. He thought that maybe she had finally answered everyone’s prayers.
But then something surreal occurred, the woman’s cobalt blue eyes looked directly at him. “No,” she mouthed but he heard her, he felt her. “My name is Zero.” She smiled down at him, her eyes had the strength of an entire army. It had been so long since he saw that type of strength.
The woman named Zero climbed down the stairs, she made her way through the crowd over to the cage right towards him.
“Hey! You! Stop right there!” A guard that held the keys to the cage exclaimed and went to attack her.
Zero collared his meaty neck within her iron grip, her nails digging into his grimy skin pooling blood at her sharpened fingertips. She pulled out her pistol and shot him three times in the face that it was unrecognizable. Before when she attacked the rich people on the second level, she did it quietly like she didn’t want to be found out. But now, it was like she sent a message to everyone that she had arrived. The blaring gunshots echoed and the last guard remaining had died.
The crowd gasped and moved back as the guard’s dead body flopped to the ground. Hushed whispers and silence filled the entire pit. The woman ignored them and she proceeded forward. She faced the cage and shot the bolt on the chain that kept the cage locked. The door swung open… and then this woman stepped inside.
Slave fighter 134’s whole body shook to his very core when he felt her dominant pheromones, that surrounded her like hurricane. She carried herself inside that storm, like it was nothing.
Where did she get this power? he wondered and probably everyone else wondered the same exact thing.
As this woman neared, Slave fighter 134 abruptly moved away from her but not out of fear, it was because he didn’t want to get his filth on her. He didn’t want to taint this woman with his impurities, that marred his skin and soul.
However, she had done what people never did around this slave.
She simply bent to the floor on his level and broke the lock that chained his ankle to the cage. Unconsciously, hot tears filled his eyes. The tears burned greatly since his eyes were badly bruised. She saw that and she wiped his tear. He looked down at the salty liquid on her finger, which wasn’t clear as water but his tears were bloody.
“Come on, get on your feet,” her voice so strong and resilient.
He looked at her and he opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. She saw him freeze up on her.
This mysterious woman who was sent to answer his pleads had steadily anchored his body to hers. She pulled him up onto his feet and helped him out of the cage, taking him to the nearest seat. She positioned him on a chair and gave him the bottle of water from the stand.
“Drink it, you’ll feel better,” she said. He accepted it but didn’t drink it because thirst wasn’t on his mind right now.
The woman got back in the tall cage and freed the Slave fighter 67 from the chain too before she stepped out.
The crowd silently watched, no one had made the attempt to stop her or run for it, because no one knew what would happen if they moved.
The woman got up on the high ledge of the cage with one leap. Silence drowned them and the woman started to pace in front of everyone. Her heeled boots echoed as she leisurely treaded back and forth for a good minute. They all watched as the weapons strapped to her clothes peeked out. As she walked, blood trickled down her leather jacket onto the floor, which soon became footprints of her boots.
“I’m only going to say this once!” her voice echoed in the concrete pit. The kindness in her eyes that helped the two slave fighters had seeped away. A dangerous fury filled those raging eyes. “If I find any of you in another one of these cage fights, I will hunt you down-” her threat resonated and sent a terrible chill down everyone’s body. “I only killed four-hundred and seventeen people tonight,” she said as she paced in front of them. “I don’t want to make it two-hundred thousand.” They all gaped at her. “Count your blessings and get the fuck out of my face… Now!”
They didn’t need a second warning from her before they all scurried out emptying the place.
Slave fighter 134’s voice rasped as he gathered himself to speak to her. “Er- you killed the people who ran this cage fighting pit?” he asked from his seat.
The woman, Zero jumped off the ledge and her expression remained furious. “Every single one of those sick bastards are tainting the floor with their blood,” she told him. “You don’t need to worry anymore.”
His eyes filled again with the threat of tears and he choked on the heavy air around him. “No one has told me that in a while,” he croaked.
Zero grabbed the bottle in his hands and opened the lid for him. “Well, you’re free to do whatever you like now,” she said, “and so are your buddies downstairs.”
“You freed them all?” he asked, gaping at her.
She grabbed another bottle and gave it to Slave fighter 67. But like Slave fighter 134, he couldn’t drink the water either as he stood in awe of Zero.
“That was the first thing I did,” she then answered him.
He smiled but the cut on his lip hurt like a bitch. She motioned for both of them to drink, they did. She stood as they held the bottle in their battered hands to relieve their trembling bodies.
“What’s your name?” she asked him.
“One hundred and thirty-” he froze when he realized that he told her his cage number, which had become his identity for years. “It’s Elijah… Pierce… that’s my name.”
“Elijah,” she nodded with an acceptance. “And you?” she looked at Slave fighter 67.
“I don’t have a name,” he said. “I’m just a number.”
Zero didn’t falter, she still faced the man with vitality in her eyes. “Then, I guess the first thing you do is find yourself a name,” she declared. Slave fighter 67 nodded once and continued to drink the water to hide his tears.
Zero turned to Elijah holding her hand out. “Come on, let’s get you both out of here,” she smiled and Elijah didn’t even think before he slipped his hand in hers.
Zero anchored him once again and helped him out of the pit. The opponent Elijah fought followed too, without any words being said. Elijah could see that in his opponent’s eyes that he was enthralled by Zero, just like Elijah was.
The walk was long, but nothing longer than a decade of being stuck underground. They emerged out of the massive metal doors, that were broken and barely hanging off the hinges. There was a truck inside that looked broken from the front, which looked to be the reason the doors were broken. Elijah stared at Zero, her face imprinting into his head so he’d never forget what she looked like.
Suddenly, coolness hit Elijah. His broken body shuddered and he felt his lungs fill up with clean air.
Elijah smelt the fresh night air. The light of the moon was right on top of him and everything else. Thus, he felt his bones straighten and clicking back into place. Their goddess’s power healed him under the full moon and his body reenergized. Strength filled his body again and he could stand on his feet without the stabbing pain hindering him.
As the three of them arrived outside onto the open street, Elijah saw everyone that was trapped inside waiting on the path. All the wolves who he shared fights and cages with were outside nervously anticipating. They hadn’t left or run away, but they stayed. Slave fighter 67 joined the wolves and so did Elijah as he stood to his feet again.
“None of you left yet,” Zero said as she faced them. “You guys are free to go now. There’s no need to wait.”
They looked at each other blankly, because they were unsure what freedom felt like after so long.
Suddenly, Elijah saw a small kid pushing through the legs of the bulky men and approached Zero with tears in his round eyes. His small stature was skin and bones, but he had the last ounce of strength to approach Zero.
Zero looked down into the boy’s eyes. The boy reached out to her, and without hesitation, she grabbed his trembling hand which dwarfed inside her palm.
“Thank you,” his small voice shattered and he broke into heavy sobbing.
Zero smiled at the boy, she put her hands around his small rib-cage and hoisted him up in her arms. She hugged him close to her body. “You’re safe now… You all are,” she said supportively, but soon enough, everyone burst into tears and they crowded her in the middle.
Elijah stood watching this, awed that all of the fighters here were nothing compared to this woman who had freed them from purgatory. She had set them free, gave them a new life.
She put the boy down and wiped his tears with her hand. “You all will be okay from here,” She announced and they nodded in response. “I never want to see any of you in any trouble. But even if you are, I am always here to help. Don’t hesitate to come to me,” she promised them. “You all can live the lives you dreamed of now.”
Elijah knew that they would all get to do that because of her. All of them would spend their lives in warm beds and joyful days. But what about her? he wondered. What hellhole was she going to go into next?
“Wait,” he ran up to her and she turned slightly. “Where are you going from here?” he asked.
“More places like this one,” she said.
“Don’t go,” he pleaded. “What if you get hurt?”
Zero grinned and he saw a glimpse of her light. “It’s my duty to go,” she said.
She shook her head stopping his words midway. “I don’t have time to worry about things like that when I still have much left to do,” she said. “Goodbye, Elijah.”
“Goodbye… Zero,” he whispered into the night.
Suddenly, ambulances arrived to aid them. A woman with a black braid and intelligent blue eyes told them that Zero had arranged for their injuries to be treated. They were taken to a camp to be helped and recuperated back to their feet. The pups that were too young to be alone were given a home in an orphanage that Zero owned. A safe haven for wolves who didn’t live in packs and didn’t have homes.
However, as Elijah saw the kindness of the doctors and social workers. He kept wondering about Zero. There were about three hundred workers at the camp that all followed Zero’s orders even though she wasn’t here. Now, that was power.
For the past year, Zero had been going around the world eliminating all cage fighting locations. This was the last one in New York and there were still a fuck ton to go. But for tonight, she needed to clean her bloodstained clothes that reeked of death and the goddamn purgatory.
Zipping through the dark streets on her bike, she arrived at her house. The gates that were open already allowed her to enter without stopping. But the massive black gates hadn’t closed behind her. They stayed open- wide open and all the time. She didn’t care if it was day or night, her gates were left open for a very important reason. The reason being that if anyone needed her help, they could come to her. She didn’t care for status or pedigree, when someone walked to her doorstep asking for her help, she made sure that the person received it.
However, that didn’t mean her security wasn’t top-notch. The entire property was surrounded by security fences and cameras. There was no way someone could enter with ill intentions, although, if there was someone stupid enough to take the dare, then there was no way to leave and Zero made sure of that. Since Zero’s manor was purposely positioned on the midpoint of the large territory, the routes to escape or fight were easier for her. Everything was planned precisely, which was just the way she liked it to be.
Pressing the brake of her bike, she parked her ARCH KRGT-1 motorcycle in the garage and marched towards the front door with a duffle bag in her hand.
All the lights were off and she knew from the scent alone that the premises were vacant. She took out the key from her coat and unlocked the door, she strode inside and locked the front door behind her. The locks clicked into place and the lights in the house turned on upon her arrival. The security systems were intact, she knew that by the muffled buzz near the door, which informed her that everything in her house was secured tightly.
Zero walked into the foyer, past the living-room area, the large kitchen and went straight up the stairs towards her bedroom. She grabbed the cool knob and turned it, pushing the door open. Entering her room, her shoulders eased and the ache throbbing down her nape seized. Zero didn’t bother with the lights, she didn’t need it because her bedroom was simple and memorized in her mind.
She dropped the bag near the door and she stripped out of her dirty clothes and tossed it on the side before she left to take shower. Like always after a mission, she didn’t waste any time cleaning herself off from the putrid stench and the thick residue. After a strong scrub, she tipped her head under the hot water. The rain cascaded down her hair and body, taking the filth and soap off her and down the drain. She stood for another moment even after all the soap was taken off and she smelt of fresh pine, not blood.
The tension in her muscles eased and she raked her wet hair back from her face. Seeing her own reflection in metal knob beside her, memories flashed in front of her. Horrid memories of all the dark places she visited and the people she rescued drowned her mind.
Zero drew in a deep breath. “Maya…” she prayed calmly. “Help those I saved and show them the right way. Do not let them be lost in the darkness any longer. Guide them like the moon does at night for me.” With that, Zero shut the running water and stepped out onto the rug, which soaked up the water from her feet.
She returned to her bedroom, which was a black enclave made from concrete and metal. She shut the florescent light behind her, enclosing herself into pure darkness, her only guide was the thick beams of silver light cutting through the barred window. She looked outside the clear glass, that presented her the moon at its full glory. She looked past the metal bars and breathed in the power of her goddess.
The simple bed that had a metal frame tucked in the corner of the room called out for Zero. She tried her hardest to at least eat dinner before going to bed, but sleep drowned her eyes. Giving in, she tossed the towel on the bathroom sink. Opening the cupboard on the side of the bathroom door, she slipped on a cotton t-shirt and pants before she laid down on the bed. The aches in her body relaxed against the soft mattress, the smell of fabric softener made her forget that she smelled like blood a second ago. But because of the fresh citrus and pine scents around her, she was able to shut her eyes and get the sleep that called for her so desperately.
In the silence of the night, she slept for a few hours until dawn had arrived… which was when Zero awakened once again.
She pushed her back off the bed and realized that she was so tired that she forgot to put the blanket over herself. Zero planted her bare feet on the hard floor, that was cool against her warm skin. Her eyes alert and her body was ready for the day, it didn’t take her time to shrug off the drowsy laziness.
Before she got up, her eyes looked back at the window, seeing the deep blue sky, she knew she was still on time. Zero quickly freshened up with a cold shower, then after she made her way downstairs to the laundry room, with her dirty clothes in her grasp.
Standing over the machine, she washed her clothes. The machine gurgled with water, she dropped in the detergent and fabric softener too. She threw in her clothes and set the timer for a half-an-hour. Zero grabbed the duffle bag and went to the second room beside it. She opened the locked door after punching in the code on the key-pad. The lock shifted and the door opened for her, behind it was her weaponry room. The square glass room had all her weapons organized by size, design and type. The center had a massive island where she arranged her gear and cleaned her weapons.
Zero put the duffle bag down and took out all her gear to get cleaned up. But before she got busy with that, she needed food like ages ago. Her stomach growled painfully, so she ditched the chores and went straight to the kitchen first.
Zero wasn’t one to eat a plain meal. She took her food very seriously because it was the one task that required her to enjoy it to the fullest. In her modern, state of the art kitchen that had stainless steel appliances and top-notch equipment. At its heart, was a stylish interior that combined restaurant-quality technology with handsome painted cabinetry, and a large marble island. She opened the doors to the massive fridge and pulled out the ingredients to a hearty meal. Three sweet potatoes and an egg skillet alongside sautéed Brussels sprouts had made her a good meal to enjoy. Leaving the dish to simmer on the stove, she quickly left to put her clothes in the dryer before she plated her food. Also, she made sure to pour herself a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. She gathered everything and went to the backyard.
Zero sat on her porch outside alone and watched the sun slowly rising from below the horizon, which she liked to do before a workout session. Zero used the spoon and scooped up a large bite straight into her mouth, that was salivating from the fragrance alone. She ate and closed off her mind to anything else around her, letting herself enjoy the silence of the morning. The golden sun emerged from beyond the trees surrounding her house. The blue from dawn vanished and the entire forest was dancing in golden light and so was she.
However, that peace didn’t last long. Through the chambers of her house, a sharp ringing alerted her and called for her attention. It was the landline phone that rang with such urgency. The halls of the house echoed the noise, she closed her eyes at the sound and let it ring because she didn’t disturb her breakfast time for anyone. She decided that she’d just call them back later and continued to eat.
After a few bites of her food and a sip of her juice, the phone rang again… and again… and again, and then, once more. Zero loved her mornings quiet and this was definitely not quiet.
“Fucking shit,” she growled. Her first words in the morning were not her goddess’s name but a curse. She hated that even more.
With the plate in her hand, she shoved off the stool and went to answer the phone, which she really started to contemplate its existence in the house. She grabbed the damn thing that didn’t quit its intolerable ringing until she pressed the stupid green button.
Finally, she put it against her ear. “What?” she barked out, her irritated voice definitely scared the person on the phone.
“Is that any way to greet a friend?” A familiar voice spilled through the speaker; it was her friend, Wayne Salvatore.
Realization hit her. “Wayne,” she said, sounding surprised because she hadn’t heard from him in ages. “Is there a reason for you to be calling me six o’clock in the morning?”
“I knew I had to be extra early with you, otherwise I can never get you on the phone,” said Wayne.
Wayne’s charming voice hadn’t changed a bit these past years she’d known him. Although, after losing his mate Wayne had retired from his realtor business and handed it down to his eldest son. She knew that losing his mate was a hard transition, but unlike others, Wayne was a kind soul and had made sure to take care of his two kids. He loved them with everything he had out of the memory of their mother.
Zero sat on the couch with her food beside her. “What’s this about?” she asked sternly. “Is something wrong?” She really wished nothing was wrong because Wayne didn’t need more trouble after what he’d been through.
“Does something always have to be wrong for when I want to call you?” he retorted and she sighed in relief. “Well, forget about that because I have some exciting news to share with you.”
Zero propped the phone on the couch’s arm, pressing the speaker button. “I’m listening,” she said as she continued to eat.
“My boys are hosting a party to celebrate my fifty-seventh birthday,” he announced chirpily.
Zero couldn’t help but smile. Only Wayne Salvatore could call her in the morning for a party invite. “A birthday bash,” she mumbled.
“For yours truly,” he jested. “And I want you to come. The party is tonight and will continue through Sunday morning.”
“You want me to come all the way to Windsor for a two-day party,” she couldn’t believe her friend as she said that.
“Yes,” he replied.
“I’m sorry to disappoint, Wayne,” she said. “But I have a few missions planned this week-”
“I don’t want to hear it, Zero-” interrupted Wayne. “You’re my best friend and I want you here.”
“I doubt you’ll even notice my presence once the party begins,” admitted Zero.
“Oh, I’ll notice,” he told her firmly. “You have to come, Zero. For me, please.”
Zero’s spoon froze near her open mouth at the sound of her friend’s melancholy tone. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it on time,” she said. “I need to book a flight and make some calls-” she started listing other tasks mentally in her own head.
“You leave that to me,” Wayne declared happily. “Just bring yourself and that’s all I need.”
Zero looked at the phone like she saw her friend through it. “You are such a pain in my ass, you know that?” she said.
Wayne laughed wholeheartedly which always made everyone around him smile, he had that type of vibrant energy. “I’m looking forward to seeing you, my friend,” he said joyfully, like he had won a battle or something.
Zero took a deep breath when her mood darkened over the twisted feeling she got. “Are you sure everything’s okay?” she asked and Wayne fell quiet. “You seem adamant to having me there.”
Wayne’s voice silenced for a brief moment. “Is it so wrong to want to see an old friend?” he asked. “I miss you and I want to celebrate this special day with the woman who saved my life, otherwise I would’ve died long time ago.”
Zero’s heart warmed to the genuine tone of his voice. “I’ll see tonight,” she said. “Goodbye, Wayne.”
“See you soon. Goodbye,” he replied.
They closed the phone line. The silence in her house returned and she grabbed her empty dishes taking them to the sink.
Zero wasn’t really looking forward to the party, especially at a time like this when her own time was jam-packed. She had a hunt to get ready for again and she needed to visit her shops to restock some of her weapons. A birthday party was not worth all the fuss. If it was anyone else she would have said ‘no’ and called it a day, but this invite was from Wayne. That was the only reason she was even convinced at all.
Zero still had to make a few stops around town before she’d head to the airport. She didn’t waste any time packing a lot for the trip, since it was only for two nights. In the large walk-in closet, she grabbed a luggage carrier and opened it on the large white island table. She grabbed spare clothes, underwear and her toiletries too, oh and a dress for the occasion. Lastly, she opened the drawer under her jewelry collection, the long cupboard revealed a selection of guns and blades. She grabbed her favourites and put them in the suitcase- just in case. Not that she had any intention of using them, but trouble followed her everywhere; whether it was in the heart of Brooklyn streets or in the country side of Windsor in England. She could never be too careful.
After setting that up, she went to the basement gym and trained for about an hour. She then pulled on a hoodie and left the house through the back door for a run through the forest terrain.
She returned just before the clock hit ten o’clock. Zero went to the weaponry room and cleaned up her dirty gear next. She never liked to have others to do it for her by sending it to the shop where she bought them. She cleaned her weapons because she knew that she’d do the best job possible, otherwise weapons in her collection would get rusty and ruined.
Zero knew the clock hit twelve thirty in the afternoon after she was done everything around the house. Standing in the kitchen, as she ate an apple, she noticed that Wayne hadn’t called or arranged for the flight for her yet. She shrugged it off and waited for Wayne to call before she took action herself.
Zero returned to her dressing room where her entire wardrobe surrounded a massive creamy-gold room. However, she didn’t grab any casual clothes or anything extravagant. She went straight to the left side of the room and pulled out the leather suit she wore. Zero pulled on that latex suit made to fit her like a glove, so she could move and fight better. She zipped the front and put on a new trench coat too. She sat on the chair, to put on her boots and tie the laces. Zero got up and closed the light before she left.
Zero went through the side door to her garage towards her bike. She knew if she didn’t want to fall behind then she needed a head-start on those missions scheduled for later this week.
Zero sat on her bike, putting the helmet over her head. She put the key in the ignition, letting the sport bike roar alive, which was as exhilarating as the first day she bought this bike.
Zero raced out of the garage and onto the streets. Her black bike raced through city traffic as she made her way to the first mission of the day. Without hesitation, she drove with great speed taking her where she needed to be.
Upon her arrival, the usual drill happened. She scoped the area of the place she needed to infiltrate. She counted the targets and then made sure her weapons matched the number. And like they always would, she then parked her bike and made her way to begin the mission.
One mission after the other, Zero was done by two o’clock. She came back to her bike, checking her phone and there were a few missed calls but none from Wayne.
Zero drove back to the house.
No one was here yet, so she decided she should head to the airport herself if she wanted to make it to the party on time. Zero quickly freshened up and changed her clothes again replacing them with clean linen trousers and a matching cream turtle-neck sweater.
Zero grabbed her luggage with one hand and turned on all the security protocols before she locked the front door again. She went out around the front towards her garage when she noticed a black Lincoln vehicle pass through the metal gates. Right away, in her gut, it told her that Wayne had sent that car for her because he drove a Lincoln himself.
The expensive car drove up the paved-way right around the steps of her house. The car halted and a man dressed in a black suit, with black sunglasses stepped out, his lips held in a stern line.
“Good evening, ma’am,” he said firmly, his English accent was clean and strong. “I’m Drew Watson and I will be escorting you to Mr. Salvatore’s party tonight.”
“Are you driving me to the airport?” she asked him, as he grabbed her luggage and loaded it in the trunk.
“No,” he answered politely after he closed the trunk and faced her. “Mr. Wayne wants me to take you to the private jet that he has sent for you.”
Zero raised a brow. “Private jet, huh,” she breathed out. She shook her head at herself because she had forgotten that her friend was also the richest man in England.
Zero took a seat in the back of the car. Drew was careful as he drove patiently through New York’s traffic. He took her to where they needed to go just in time for her to board the private jet, that waited for them in the private section of the airport.
The engine of the plane roared alive as she settled into the plush, expensive chair that could fit at least three people beside her. The chaperon that Wayne sent settled on the seat in front of hers after he spoke with the pilot.
The flight attendant came by and told them to fasten their seatbelts because the plane was about to take flight. Zero fastened her seat-belt like she was told and felt the hum of the engine, the pressure dropped making her ears ache at the strange sensation.
Once the plane had safely entered airborne, Drew spoke softly; “We’ll be arriving at the party around eight-thirty, ma’am.”
The flight attendant offered warm towels, champagne, but Zero didn’t need any of that. She instead ordered a coffee, which promptly came in a white mug made to suit her taste.
“Here you are,” the flight attendant smiled with all her teeth and held the cup in front of Zero.
“Thank you,” she grabbed the mug and settled in the seat again.
She sipped the hot beverage and instantly her body eased. Then, she paid attention to Drew who sat with his hands laced on his lap and his eyes staring at them.
“How long have you been in the military?” she asked breaking the silence in the compacted space.
His glasses had been taken off, so his green gaze had widened and she saw that. “How did you know that I served?” he astounded.
Zero blew the steam from her coffee. “The way you carry yourself is very dignified,” she commended. “I could tell from a mile away.”
His lips lifted into a smile. “It’s been twelve years of service,” he said. “I joined Mr. Salvatore’s team two years back.”
“Which do you prefer?” she asked.
“Honestly, anything is better than sleeping on cold floors and eating canned beans,” he laughed briefly before his gaze hardened. She knew that he was remembering his past, she always had the same look when she remembered her own past.
“I understand,” she said.
His gaze locked with hers. She gave him a firm look that told him that she knew what he felt more than anyone.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said with a shy approach. “You’re Zero… the executioner, right?”
She chuckled at that nickname. “Zero alone is fine,” she said.
Drew seemed relaxed a little now. “It’s nice to meet you,” he smiled warmly. “I understand now why Mr. Salvatore wanted me to personally escort you to the party.”
She raised a brow. “You think so?” she said.
He nodded. “If someone like you was coming to my party, I would do the same,” he chuckled.
Zero smiled at him and grew quiet.
Her name, the name that everyone knew even her enemies was something that she never tarnished. Her name… her identity was all she knew about herself and that was all that mattered. She taught herself and she was the one that gave herself hope. She was the one that held her head high even when she owned nothing but the clothes on her back.
The world that knew her now wouldn’t even imagine that just a decade ago, she had nothing. She lived in the slums that people who rode private jets in never even heard of. And now, she was sitting in that very same jet watching the cities pass by below her feet. She understood how many felt powerful being in the clouds, but to her power never came from the money… it came from within.
Zero had seen hundreds of powerful people become meek when a more prestigious man walked inside the room. Many that tried to threaten her hadn’t realized what they showed her when they became weak little kittens in front of their bosses. Power with money was overthrown when anyone with more riches faced you. But strength from inside the heart and mind could never be frightened into obedience.
Fear inside Zero only came when her own strength wasn’t enough to face her enemies. However, that wasn’t possible anymore because Zero never faltered in front of her enemy. She never gave them that influence over her. No one had the authority to change her decision or word. What she declared, she fulfilled and that was her code.
For the remaining few hours, Zero’s eyes were closed trying to rest as much as she could before she had to leave for the party. It was only until something approached her shoulder, that her wolf alerted her to awaken right away.
“Ma’am,” Drew called out softly.
“I’m awake,” she announced before his hand had touched her.
“There’s a spare bedroom in the back, so you can get dressed in there,” Drew told her.
“Okay,” she said.
Grabbing her luggage, she went into the spare bedroom, that had its own washroom too. Wayne definitely travelled in style. Just from looking at the clean, artistic room she felt rude to even put her luggage on the table and blemishing the waxed furniture.
Zero put the luggage on the chair instead. She opened the top and saw her two outfits folded neatly. She laid out a dark burgundy suit, that easily concealed any weapon and it was much more efficient- definitely a lot more comfortable. But then, this was a party where many prominent figures would gather and it wasn’t often that she got invited to a party. Once in a while, it was necessary for her to make an impression. Besides it was one of her best friend’s party, that alone called for an extravagant gown worthy of this night.
Putting the suit away, she proceeded to take off her clothes and slip into the dress.
Zero zipped up the gown and put on a pair of stilettos too. She used gold pins and clipped her short hair away from her face. She grabbed black shadow and lined near her dark lashes, she didn’t bother a lot with makeup. But she did put on lipstick as dark as blood, it was kind of like her signature mark now. Assessing one last time in the mirror, she approved and then closed her luggage up.
Zero stepped out of the room and Drew was waiting for her.
Drew’s eyes caught and they widened. “You look beautiful, ma’am,” he said.
She smiled. “Thank you, Drew,” she said. “How much longer is the flight?”
“We should be arriving in thirty minutes,” he answered as he looked at his watch first. “A car is waiting for you once we land and it will take you to the Salvatore estate.”
Zero nodded and sat down for the remainder of the flight. “How many guests are at the party?” she asked.
“Over six hundred,” he informed her. “They will be staying at a hotel near the manor.”
“The hotel is booked entirely for the guests?” she asked.
“Yes, Mr. Salvatore’s sons wanted the guests to be as comfortable as possible,” he said. “However, we will be taking your luggage to the main house. Mr. Salvatore wanted you to reside with him in his home.”
“Okay, thank you, Drew,” she said.
“No problem,” he said as he took a seat with her.
Actually, Zero had been to the Salvatore estate in the past before. She made quite a lot of visits since Wayne’s home was truly a beautiful place. His home was located on the countryside, which had acres of rolling hills and vast forestry. A perfect place for wolves and definitely for a retired businessman.
In exactly thirty minutes, the plane landed and the door opened for Zero. She descended down the stairs towards the Lincoln car parked right outside, like Drew told her it would be.
Drew put her luggage in the trunk and opened the door to the car for her. She slipped inside the heated car, that covered her from the cool draught of the night. The leather of the car reminded her that she wasn’t home anymore. She missed her home but seeing Wayne after such a long time made up for that.
Drew drove the car down Windsor streets for a long while, making their way into the countryside of Windsor. When finally, after an extensive drive, a massive mansion revealed behind lavish black gates. Drew pulled up and he exchanged a few words with the security at the entrance. When the gates opened for them, they drove up the large circular driveway and Drew parked in front of the white marble steps, that lead into the enormous double doors and extravagant house.
“I will take your luggage to the room you’ll be staying in,” said Drew as he joined her side. He looked at his watch and then his green eyes met hers. “If you enter through these doors, the party is in the great hall just on left side, past another set of bronze doors-”
“I know where the great hall is,” she assured him. “I’ve been here before.”
“Oh, okay then,” Drew stood with her for a moment longer, like he searched for the right words. Zero gave him a minute to situate himself. “Er- I usually don’t do this, but it was an honour to escort you.”
Zero chuckled when Drew extended his hand out to her. “It was nice meeting you too, Drew Watson,” she said accepting his hand. “Have a great night and… don’t lose my luggage.”
Drew smiled. “You too and I won’t,” he promised before he took off towards the back entrance, that was used by the workers of the estate only.
The double doors had opened for her already. Drew must have told them of her arrival beforehand. Zero climbed the series of stairs and made her way into the manor for the special birthday bash.
From the distance, she heard the graceful orchestra playing a sweet melody, that was merged with muffled voices of the guests.
Zero arrived late, but she always made it just on time for the real fun.