The Assassin and the Shadow Part II
The streets to the docks are slightly lit by the coming of dawn, with still enough shadow for Katherine and Kat to travel in comfort. The Eastside; Hyena territory. Not much to worry about, Hyenas are nothing but a bunch of loud drunken idiots, posing almost no threat. The only weapons they wield are their finished wine bottles. Katherine and Kat tread lightly in the dark surrounded by drunken laughs and fist fights. Katherine whispers, “Don't worry, Kat, they can't hear anything over their own rambunctiousness. Sorry excuses for human beings, how they continue to survive is beyond me. The city Jesters; perhaps they're just too entertaining for the wolves to kill off.” Kat appears unamused but stares at her new friend with glowing eyes, as if being spoken to by an angel. Katherine's endearing smile beams through her face mask. They begin to walk closer to the fighting tournament being held in the middle of the street. Bottles shattered, cheers, and the sound of bone and sinew clashing. “At this point they will kill off themselves”, Katherine says with a chuckle. Kat, being amused, releases a playful meow. All goes silent for a moment.
“Who was that?”, a bloodied Hyena says. “I knew you were all a bunch of pussies.” The Hyenas are now in an uproar of laughter. They return to their fist frenzy. Kat goes from unamused to offended. What do they mean by pussies? Katherine notices and says, “They're idiots Kat, they're not even...” suddenly she is interrupted by a loud growl. She is overtaken by surprise at the volume of her tiny furry friend. The Hyenas stop and turn, a little more serious now. “Ok”, the bloodied Hyena says, “I'm not fucking around anymore. Who the fuck is doing that?” Katherine says, “Come on Kat, let's just get out of here.” Kat then jumps out of the shadows towards the dimly lit bunch of drunkards. “No Kat”, she says with no success. Suddenly, a familiar voice enters her mind. No Kat. Where have I heard that before? Kat is now face to face with the hoard. “Holy shit”, the Hyena says, now making it apparent that he is the leader. “Look at what we have here. One of you guys is such a bitch you actually turned into a pussy!” His Hyena friends are now on the floor laughing. Kat is livid. She hisses. “Well boys, looks like our fight day is about to turn into a barbecue.” He wipes the blood from his lips and puts his dukes up. The others grab their broken bottles from the floor, and a few of them pick up some broken two-by-fours. “Dammit, Kat”, Katherine says, “Now I have to….”
Before she can finish her sentence, The Shadow whips through the crowd in a dark flash. As the Hyenas look around in confusion, one of them begins to scream. They look back at their friend who is now on the floor bleeding from the claw marks across his eyes. “Get that piece of shit animal!” They all begin to stumble over each other throwing bottles, swinging fists and wood planks. As The Shadow flies through the crowd, one guy drops to the floor with a slit throat, another collapses with a split rib cage, two more Hyenas drop to the floor blinded by claw slashes. Soon only a few remain, and the seemingly fearless Hyena leader runs away to safety. One Hyena throws a lucky swing and knocks Kat onto the ground.
Kat quickly comes to and is now surrounded by a few angry Hyenas. She fearlessly growls again, and detracts her claws. As they lunge their broken bottles down at The Shadow, a flash of light thunders past them. They look in awe as their torsos slide slowly off of their lower bodies. Blackness. Katherine sheaths her blades, and looks down at her friend, who is now licking her and hypnotizing her again with her eyes. Katherine is shocked, how can something so cute and little be so deadly? Something comes over her and she kneels down and puts her arms around Kat. What did I just do? This is a… hug. She is overcome with emotion. Where has this come from? This has happened before. What am I feeling? “Come on, Kat, let's be on our way”, she says with tears in her eyes still. Kat prances behind her.
They do not notice the Hyena leader in the distance watching them. He waves down the approaching Wolves.
They reach the docks as the sun begins to peak over the horizon. For a brief moment, Katherine and Kat take in the scenic beauty, the solitude of the still water, and the joy of each other's company. The shared silence as they both stare out to sea, the relieving wind blowing away their care; For the first time for both of them, they feel whole.
Katherine begins to fill her flask with water, and pours some into her hand for Kat to drink. They take a rest near the water. Kat begins to doze off. “Kat, I don't know what these feelings are, or why it all feels so familiar… but I'm glad you're with me now.” Kat is fast asleep. Kat, I'm glad you're with me … the voice in her head again. Who's voice is that? Why am I only now hearing these lost memories? Kat is exhausted, mentally and physically. Her eyes begin to close. She opens them again, looking over the demolished carnival rides surrounding them. Her eyes close again. She cracks them open. There are figures approaching. “Kat”, she whispers loudly, “get up!” Kat cracks her eyes open and jolts up as she realizes what's happening. They are being surrounded.
“This is the end, Phantom”, Manson proclaims proudly but with a hint of regret. “It's you or us, there's no where else to hide anymore.” Katherine begs to differ, having escaped worse situations. There are still shadows, the sun has not made a full appearance just yet. Katherine and Kat sit in ambush, ready. The Wolves quickly spread out across the docks, covering the premises. There must be fifty of them. “Ok Kat”, Katherine says, “listen to me very carefully. You have to stay very still”. The voice in her head repeats those same words to her. She has been told the same in the past. Kat presses her body close to Katherine. All is silent for a moment. Just then, gunfire begins to spread. They get on their bellies and begin to crawl through the fading shadows. The gun fire stops to the sound of bullet casings hitting the ground and magazines ejecting. The gun fire begins again as they continue to crawl through an alleyway. The gunfire gets closer and closer. Suddenly footsteps are heard in front of them.
As a Wolf is walking in reverse firing his final rounds, he turns and notices them in the alley. “In the alley, brothers!” Katherine and Kat jump to their feet and begin running in the opposite direction. As the Wolf quickly reloads he begins to fire at them. They shift from side to side dodging the bullets and notice more wolves approaching them face first on the opposite end of the alley. Just as they begin to aim, Katherine and Kat jump in the air and slice their oncoming foes. They exit one alley, being fired at from the sides, and into the next. More gunfire is felt behind them as they continue to dodge. “Run, Kat. Run!” Run, Kat. Run. The voice again. They turn the corner at the end of the alley. Five Wolves approach them. Katherine stabs two in the throat, Kat slices two Wolves' ankles, and Katherine finishes the fifth off with a slice across the chest. They take cover behind a line of crates. The Wolves hold their fire, and begin to scan the perimeter. They are running low on ammo. “Ok Kat, we just have to hold out a little longer. The shadows are still on our side, and the Wolves are running on fumes.” The Wolves begin to walk away from them. Manson stands in the distance waiting. “Ok, Kat… here's the plan.” Ok Kat, here's the plan repeats in her head. The voice again. She shakes it off. “Kat?”, she says after noticing a lack of response. Something is wrong.
She looks down at her jet black friend, who is now emitting another color… red. A bullet wound is quickly noticed on her stomach. “Kat!” she screams, as Manson hears from the distance. “Kat, don't worry, I can stop the blood. You're gonna be ok.” Kat meows strenuously. Her eyes are fixed on Katherine but are begin to gloss and lose light. “You're ok Kat, I got this”, as she frantically tends to the wound.” Kat begins to squint. “Stay with me Kat. Don't lose me, I'm here.” The blood continues to flow, and Katherine does not manage to stop the bleeding. “Come on Kat.” She says unaware of her volume. The Wolves move in towards the sound. Manson orders his men to stand down with a wave of his hand.
“Kat. KAT! No. Please. I … I ….” she begins to sob. Suddenly, something hits her. A word she hasn't heard in a long time. A word forgotten by the cruel world that has become everyone's reality. “I… love you, Kat.” Love. The feeling, the attachment, the distraction… was love. She had loved before; It had been so long. Kat puts her paw on Katherine's forearm and licks her hand. Then, she was gone. The coat of red washes away with a flow of pouring tears.
I love you, Kat.
And suddenly, it all hit her. She remembered everything. Her past. Her parents. Her brother.
It was after the collapse, Katherine was three. She was hiding behind the Kitchen counter, stunned. Her parents were laying dead while her killers began going through their Kitchen for food. They might have been Wolves, but that part was hazy. Her brother was with her behind the counter.
“Kat, I'm glad you're with me”, her older brother, Brian says. Katherine was too young to really comprehend what was happening. “Kat, listen very closely. I need you to stay perfectly still.” Brian quickly realized there was no way out for him, but there was one way to save his sister. “Ok Kat, here's the plan. We're gonna play a game. When I tell you to, you're gonna run as fast as you can outside and find a dark place. You're gonna play hide and seek. You have to hide and run because other people are gonna look for you. You can't let them win. Ok, Kat?” Kat looked at her brother's smile, but it wasn't his regular smile. “I'm gonna go out from this counter and count, and you have to run? Ok?” “Ok”, little Katherine says. “Good … good girl. Kat … Katherine, you know I love you very much right?” Brian's voice cracks. “I la' yu B'yan”, Katherine says smiling. Brian holds his tears. He hugs Katherine tightly. “Ok, Kat …” there's a moment of silence as he stares at his sister … “RUN!”
Brian jumps out from the counter and charges his parents' killers. He fights them as Katherine runs outside as fast as she can. “Run, Kat. RUN!” he screams. She runs faster and doesn't look back. “Run, Kat! I love you Kat! I Love you!” Brian's voice disappears as Kat runs into the shadows, never to leave the darkness again.
“I love you, Kat”, Katherine says as she lays The Shadow down to rest. Never has she seen anything more at peace. She smiles, and is overcome with love and reassurance. And then … something else takes over her. A different shade of red. Fury. Katherine furrows her eyebrows and rises. For the first time in her adult life, she removes her mask and steps out of the shadows.
The Wolves are in shock when they see The Assassin. She is not what they had imagined. She is beautiful. She appears to be glowing. Her long red hair blows in the wind. She has fair, red freckled skin with beautiful bright green eyes. It is as if an Angel had come down to hell to redeem all the sickness and evil. Manson smiles, and lights up a cigarette. The Wolves shake off their trance and begin their assault. Katherine grips her katanas.
Katherine faces a long row of Wolves leading to their Grey leader behind them. The two in the front begin to point their rifles. Katherine quickly dashes past them slicing off their heads. The next two aim low and tap the trigger as she front flips and stabs each one in the eye socket. The next two begin sweeping bullets around as she ducks and slices their feet off. The next four frantically try to aim as she slices the two on the left across their chests, spins, and slices the two on the right across their faces. She begins to run faster towards Manson. He locks eyes with her, ashes his cigarette, and takes another drag. By now the remaining wolves drop their rifles in panic and pull out their combat knives. Three lunge at her from the right, only to be swept to their feet and sliced across their necks. Five more on her left, as she tornado spins her katanas at them. Limbs and heads begin to fly everywhere. More adrenaline pumps trough her veins as Wolves begin to surround her in a circle. She drops her Katanas. Blades swing at her as she dodges them one by one, with heart stopping kicks to their chests and neck breaking palms to their faces. She continues to run, getting close to Manson. She begins to lose her breath but carries on.
A handful of remaining Wolves stop her several yards in front of their leader. She wall-runs across a fence then knocks them all out in a single roundhouse kick. She begins to scream, tears running, saliva dripping, and lands 20 feet away from Manson. His men are in pieces. No one left. She begins to walk towards him and feels almost completely breathless. Something is wrong. Her leg is soaked. She looks down. Blood. Not just Wolves' blood, but her own. She notices a knife handle sticking out of her left lung. Everything begins to go dark.
“Come on”, Manson says, “almost there.” He smiles menacingly at her. Katherine walks towards him with all her remaining strength. “Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty”, he says knowing that it will infuriate her. She takes a few more steps, then drops to her knees. “Aw, you were so close”, he says. Katherine takes a labored breath, then falls onto the pavement in front of him, face first. Manson kicks her on to her back and begins circling her. He waves the barrel of his sawn-off shotgun across her face. Katherine realizes she won't make it.
“You see, my Assassin friend, Nature decides who wins. There is no honor, no morality, no higher purpose. You simply have reached your limit, and I have only begun. You allowed yourself to be distracted by a filthy beast, a worthless animal. Had it not been for your weakness, it would be me on the ground and not you.” Katherine heard his words but knew that he was wrong. He had not won, the victory was hers. He may take her life, but he will be left with nothing, and no one. He was wrong, she did achieve a higher purpose. As brief as it was, she had experienced something greater than anything obtainable in this God-forsaken world. She had loved, and had been loved. Even death could not deprive her of that. She sees a flash of light above her killer. She knows she will soon be with her family, and with Kat again.
Manson pumps one last 12 gauge shell in the chamber of his shotgun and points it at her. “I will display your head up on a high stake. Everyone will bow down to me as a God.” He says with desperation in his voice. “Everyone will know that I have captured the feared Assassin.” The Assassin, entirely at peace, stares The Grey Wolf directly in his eyes, and with her final breath says, “My name is Katherine, bitch.”