——‹›——

A Drop of Blood

By Andrew Perron and Yuki Rosemoon

——‹›——

It was a bright, sunny day at LNHQ, and Kid Enthusiastic was on his way to lunch. He whistled cheerfully as he walked along. Ah, what a nice, peaceful day, without any possibility for angst!

The doors to the building swung open. KE was taken by surprise as a girl with dark red hair and red-purple eyes, somewhere in the middle of puberty, came through the door. A man followed her and closed the door behind.

Wait...

That was...

But it couldn't possibly...

What was Emme doing here!?

They hadn't seen each other in years. she looked different; a little bit taller, and a little bit scarier. well, she had always been like that to some degree, but...

Was that man her boyfriend? As soon as she saw Kid Enthusiastic, she turned the other way, but he could see sadness in her eyes.

So... maybe a little bit of angst today.

——‹›——

Emme tried not to look back. She knew he'd be here, but she didn't know it would be this hard. Step by step, she continued on. Her first day of work, alongside him... She shook, but Tyler gently pushed her forward.

She opened the door to Fearless Leader's office. "Hello?"

"Ah, good, you're right on time." Tyler followed her in, and they sat in the chairs across from his desk. "Emily Aria Kyjoi, is that right?"

"Uh, that's right, but I usually go by Emme. Nice to meet you." Tyler squeezed her hand.

Fearless Leader nodded. "Felix Landers. Nice to meet you. I've been reading about your work. You're very well-respected in the community."

She bowed. "Thank you, though I'm not sure that every vampire would agree."

FL chuckled. "Criminals never like getting caught."

Emme nodded, encouraged. "So... should I get to training?"

"Well, we like to give our new members a test. A way to see how they react in a live situation."

"Okay," Tyler and Emme said together.

"Ah, I'm sorry, but we prefer to test one person at a time."

Emme was about to protest, but Tyler nodded. "Of course. I'll fill out the paperwork, and you can take your test."

"...yeah."

"Excellent! Follow me to the Peril Room, please..."

——‹›——

Emme leapt into the air. The combat robot followed, but she dodged all the moves thrown at her. This was actually kind of AWESOME!

A whistle blew, and two more robots stepped out of the holographic jungle. They were faster, too, and it was harder to keep out of range. The metal kicks and punches were coming closer, and if she didn't do something, sooner or later they'd connect.

Well, the LNH already had people who could dodge a punch. They deserved to know what she could really do!

In a blink, she disappeared. Suddenly, she was there, behind the one on the left. Her leg snapped out and its head flew off. She could feel the blood pulsing inside her. Couldn't keep this up for long, but she didn't have to. She disappeared again as the other robot charged at her. Reappearing on the ground, she delivered a punch that shattered its knee, and it fell.

She stood up and dusted herself off. That was too easy.

...wait. Hadn't there been three robots?

A disc shot out of the underbush and wrapped around her ankle. She screamed in an unladylike manner and fell down. The robot reeled her in and held her upside-down.

January Frost clicked a stopwatch. "Six minutes. Not bad." As soon as she spoke, the robot dropped Emme, leaving her on the floor.

"Ow! That was rude! ....stupid robot," She mumbled under her breath, pushing up on her feet.

The older woman chuckled. "Rudeness is the least you'll have to deal with from your foes, dear."

Emme rolled her eyes. "You don't have to tell me that. I've been in fights before." A bit of attitude crept into her voice.

January smiled, looking completely unbothered and, perhaps, just a bit smug. "You should take a break. Go visit the cafeteria and talk to Su. He'll fix you up."

——‹›——

"...I should have asked where the cafeteria was," Emme mumbled to herself. "Not that they'll probably be serving blood..."

"Hm? What's that about blood?" Doc Nostalgia, one of the oldest and, she'd heard, least friendly members of the Legion peered at her.

"Ah... ahaha, nothing!" She grinned and ran off down the nearest corridor. As she turned the corner, her stomach grumbled, and she sighed. "I'm going to get lost... but I'll look stupid if I just ask someone."

She walked like she knew where she was going, but it soon became very obvious that she didn't. Where was Tyler? Ugh, she had even less idea how to get back to that office...

Suddenly, she was aware that something was nearby. When another vampire was around, she could feel her blood quicken. This wasn't like that. It was like her blood was... slowing down...

Footsteps, behind her! Emme started to panic. She turned and saw someone in dark clothing, their face hidden in the shadows.

Emme fell to the ground. Just before she passed out, she could feel arms lifting her up and taking her away...

——‹›——

"Emme?" Tyler called. "Hello?!" It seemed Emme was nowhere to be found. Once he'd finished the paperwork, he'd gone to check on her, and Ms. Frost had pointed him to the cafeteria. But he had searched through the crowds of people shuffling in and out, to no avail.

"Hey!" A woman wearing a long white robe grabbed his arm. "Careful!"

Tyler turned, intending to apologize, when someone running by at super-speed knocked him over. "Ow!" he murmured. The woman sighed and helped him up.

"Thanks. Hey..." He asked cautiously. "can you help me find a red-haired girl, about ten years old, named Emme?"

"Ah, lost little lady, eh? shouldn't be too hard to find." She took him down a side corridor into a big room with monitors all over the walls. There was a chair there, and for a moment, Tyler thought he'd found Emme. But he realized after a moment that it wasn't the same girl – she was a bit older, say twelve, with east Asian features, and her hair was a brighter, almost unreal red. Her eyes were flickering from the monitors to a piece of paper in front of her, on which she was sketching.

"Manga Girl!" said the woman.

The girl looked up. "Oh, Kindle!"

Kindle smiled. "This is..." She looked up at Tyler, questioningly.

"Ah. My name is Tyler. I am trying to find Emme Kyjoi," He explained. "She..." He pulled a pendant out of his pocket, opening it to show them a picture of her.

"Hmmmm, haven't seen anyone like that..." Manga Girl opened up the monitoring system's commands and rapidly fast-forwarded through the video logs.

Images flashed across the screens, and stopped at a still frame of Emme, standing in the hallway. Tyler sucked in a breath. Manga Girl advanced the video, frame by frame. Some sort of shape showed up, just out of clear vision, at the bottom of the frame. Emme turned... and the video fuzzed out.

"Dagnabbit!" Kindle shouted angrily, smacking the monitor.

"That was Emme!!!" Tyler shouted. "Where – what happened to her!?"

"Looks like someone snuck in!" said Manga Girl. "But that shouldn't be possible!"

"In this weird old place?" Kindle shook her head. "Pretty much anything's possible."

"That was the southwest corridor, between the Peril Room and the cafeteria – just a few minutes ago!" Manga Girl rose from her chair. "If we hurry, maybe we can catch 'em!"

——‹›——

Emme woke up in a chair, her arms tied behind her back, rope binding her legs and waist to the chair. "Where am I?!"

"Don't worry, my dear," said a deep voice. "You're not hurt, and you won't be... as long, that is, as you hand over the Sword of Deletion!" An old man stepped out. Despite his age, he was healthy and muscular, with dark blue hair.

"W— who are you?"

"Hah. My name doesn't matter. Only what I can do. And what I can do to you, my dear, is anything I like."

"I will never give you the Sword of Deletion!!!" she said, adding to herself, "I can't give it to you anyway."

The man smirked. "Your mouth can lie... but your heart betrays you. Minion!"

"But I—" Someone interrupted her.

"Master..." A figure shuffled out of the darkness. A brown-haired man, pale, with a scar along his jawline. One of his eyes was brown, but the other was crimson.

"Ah, Yes, Curtis." The man grinned. It wasn't a nice grin.

"Master, the sword, I can feel it... it is bonded to her and her alone."

"Don't say such perverted things!!!" Emme shouted. "Tell me where I am!" She was doing her best to sound pissed off instead of terrified.

"Shut up!" yelled Curtis. the man leaned in and whispered something in his ear. Curtis smirked at Emme. "Heh heh heh... if we can't take the sword..."

"...we shall just have to take you." The man grinned. "My, my... taking control of a vampire. Haven't done that in a few decades. I'm afraid they don't last long... but then, I think you'll last long enough."

Okay, that was enough! "I will never agree to you!!" Emme slipped a tiny dagger from her sleeve. In a flash, the ropes fell away, cut into pieces.

The man sighed. "Really, must you make it difficult?" He stretched out a hand, and she began to feel faint, just like in the hallway – only this time, she could recognize it and resist it. Leaping away, she saw a door and bolted through.

Who are these people? Emme thought. Why did I have to be in this mess? Wish I could get out of here...

...where am I, anyway?

She stopped running. Emme was lost again.

——‹›——

Kid Enthusiastic leaned against the cafeteria wall and sighed. Okay, so, Emme. She was awesome, he was awesome... they had not been so awesome together. She was still... well, he sure hoped he could still call her a friend. But showing up to join the LNH out of the blue... dang it, he wasn't supposed to be one of the gloomy characters!

Suddenly, that man he'd seen Emme with ran by, followed by Kindle and Manga Girl. He pushed himself off the wall and ran after them. "Hey, guys, what's up?"

"Have to find Emme!" they all yelled at once.

"Emme!?" Kid E ran even faster, only to plow right into Kindle as they all stopped.

"She was here..." Tyler took a deep breath, eyes flickering back and forth. "They went..."

"They went that way!" Kid Enthusiastic pointed down a disused corridor, holding a complicated device with lots of spinning satellite dishes on it. He activated his rocket skates and zoomed away.

"Emme... I'm coming!"

——‹›——

Emme turned back and forth, searching. She'd been taken to some sort of huge old house, with doors and hallways like a maze. Despite the danger all around, she just couldn't stop thinking about her past – about their past...

~ flashback ~

I was with Alice, my best friend, on what seemed like the worst night of her life. Her grandparents had died two days before. We went to the funeral together. Alice was... well, 'devastated' doesn't seem like a strong enough word. I hugged her, said "It's going to be alright." She sobbed into my nice dress. I didn't mind.

The next day, James and I got into a fight. It started when he reminded me about the date we were supposed to have gone on yesterday. I snapped at him. We started yelling, saying things we didn't mean...

Looking back, it was obvious that he hadn't gotten over the death of his dad – just like I hadn't ever really dealt with the past I couldn't remember. We had gotten together because we wanted to try and help each other, but in the end, neither of us were ready. In the end, we walked away from each other...

I was crying by the time i got home, half from the funeral, half from...

~ end of flashback ~

Emme started to cry. She blinked the tears away, running off to get even more lost.

——‹›——

Kid Enthusiastic zipped out of the back entrance to the LNHQ. Today they were in one of the older parts of town, with ancient, decrepit mansions that had once housed millionaires but had been allowed to fall into ruin.

Tyler narrowed his eyes. Of course! Hidden in an old—

Kid E zipped right by them.

Or maybe not.

He headed into Net.ropolis West-Central Park, a dense, overgrown forest of deep shadows. The rocket skates cut out, and he had to pick his way through the underbrush. Soon, Tyler, Kindle and Manga Girl caught up with him.

"What is this?" Manga Girl asked.

"I can sense the flux in the morphogenic field caused by the presence of the Sword of Deletion this way!"

"...the what?" said Kindle, raising her eyebrow.

"The Sword of Deletion! A magic blade linked to the power of death that can kill even immortals!"

"...and we're running towards this."

"Emme is magically bonded to it. Where it is, she is."

——‹›——

"I'm thirsty." Emme said to herself, thinking about warm, sweet, fresh blood. Mmmm.

BANG!!! A loud crash came from behind Emme. she stopped thinking about herself and started running. She opened a door and slammed it behind her – only to realize she was trapped.

What am I going to do? she thought to herself. Ah— a pile of clothes!! She jumped into it, covering herself easily in the old raggedy garments. She left the tiniest crack to see through, and watched...

The door creaked open. A twisted creature with impossibly thin arms and legs and ash-gray skin stepped inside. Though it was much larger than Emme, it looked shy and startled...

Emme kept quiet. Who— and what— was that? It turned around, closed the door, and sat down, leaning back against a wall.

Emme stood up, old gray dresses falling away. The creature jumped back. Something strange happened – its limbs shrank, the coldness of its skin turning warm. Slowly, it became a tall, skinny boy, somewhat older than her about fifteen, with blond hair and warm brown eyes.

He brushed his hair back and said, "Uh, hi. I'm... well, I'm trying to get out of this place. My name's Daniel. Who are you?"

"My name's Emme, Emme Kyjoi. trying to get out as well." Emme looked at Daniel cautiously. "How did you get here, Daniel?" she asked.

"I..." He looked away. "I've been trapped here for a long time... that... thing that calls himself a man..." He swallowed nervously and said nothing more.

"Well, I got here by that man kidnapping me." Emme said, trying not to swallow.

"Oh, god." Daniel glanced, panicked, at the walls. "You... you're a vampire, aren't you? You have to get out of here! He'll—"

"He'll what, Daniel?" The man stood in the doorway.

——‹›——

The device in Kid Enthusiastic's hand beeped loudly. "There!" he shouted, and pointed to a place where three tree trunks had grown up, twisted around each other.

Tyler stepped forward. With a single blow, the trunks exploded outward, revealing a shaded clearing with an old dark house within. They ran towards it...

——‹›——

"Oh god!" said Emme. She bolted for the door, But the man caught her by the sleeve.

"You are not going anywhere."

She froze.

"What are you going to do to her?!" yelled Daniel.

"Shut up!" Curtis appeared.

"Not very much, Daniel," said the man. "Not very much more than I did to you..."

Daniel screamed in rage and fear and leapt at the man, limbs growing, skin turning ashen. The man laughed, catching him in one hand and tossing him against the wall.

"You can't do that—!!!"

The man covered her mouth. "You can't stop me."

Emme closed her eyes. Yes, she could stop him.

She had never wanted to be a onlooker, just sitting back and doing nothing. But wasn't it better to do nothing than to do something horrible? something monstrous?

Not if it would prevent something even worse.

The man laughed, harsh, nasty. She could feel his clammy skin against hers.

She thought of the people she'd just met, the trust in their eyes. Why? she thought. Why did my life turn out this way? Why couldn't I just have one month, one week, one day as a normal girl? It felt like her head was boiling with rage and worry and fear.

Her eyes snapped open. With all her strength, she struggled, trying to throw the evil man off. She screamed while bearing her fangs. "Get off of me! YOU are not going to ruin my life any more, you bastard!!!"

"Any more?" He laughed, chest shaking against her. "I've hardly begun!"

She bit into his hand, hard. It was completely dry, and she gagged. "Who the hell are you?!"

"Hmmm. Would it be too obvious to say 'your worst nightmare'?" The man didn't even notice as Daniel struggled, pinned to the wall.

She had only one acceptable option... and one... She shook her head. Putting on her most nonchalant attitude, she smirked and said "You can't kill me."

"Oh? And why not?"

In a blink, She disappeared. The words "I'll show you!" echoed around the room.

——‹›——

"FIDDLESTICKS!!" shouted Kindle, running from one identical corridor to another.

"This place is like a maze, only without the metaphors for puberty at every corner!" said Manga Girl.

Kid Enthusiastic was ripping apart one of the devices he carried around and rewiring it. He shook the screen, and it lit up with a map of the house. "This way!"

Tyler kept his own council, but to the few people who knew him, it was obvious: fear – fear for Emme... and possibly, fear of her...

——‹›——

Curtis snarled. "She can't have gone—"

Emme appeared out of nowhere and kicked him in the face. Lifting him in both arms, she threw him out the window.

"He's done with!" Emme turned to the evil man and said, "Now for YOU!"

Emme swung her fist at the man's face... but he wrapped his hand casually around hers.

"Impressive! Must be very taxing for you, though. I bet you're... hungry..."

"SHUT UP!!!" she kicked him in the groin.

"..." The man took a breath. "That... is... enough!"

Emme could feel it. The dreadful draining darkness was spreading through her, sucking out all her energy. She was ravenously hungry, but it didn't matter. Soon, she'd pass out, and then...

With her last breath, she said, "I HATE YOU... but I'm sorry."

She drew the Sword of Deletion. Through his heart.

She looked into his eyes. She could see a single brief moment of fear... and then he dissolved, ashes and dust collapsing around the blade.

And behind him was the door, and looking through it was Kid Enthusiastic...

Emme blacked out. Before she completely blacked she saw him reach out. "...It's okay..."

——‹›——

When she woke up, she could hear voices.

"...obviously in self-defense," said an older woman; January Frost.

"She was on the verge of being captured, and..." A young boy; Kid Enthusiastic. "You saw what happened to the other guy we rescued!"

"But the Code of the Legion clearly states that we do not take life unless it is absolutely necessary." A teenager that sounded older; Doc Nostalgia. "You were right there, and—"

"She didn't know that!" Kid E interrupted.

"No? She didn't think someone would be coming to help her, even knowing that this 'Tyler' couldn't have missed her absence?"

"..."

"Well." An older man, calm and collected. Fearless Leader. "I think that—"

"I'm leaving." Emme stood up, leaning on the doorway. Tyler, standing there silently, immediately leaned in to support her other side. An IV drip had been set up next to her, steadily flowing blood.

The four who had been discussing her fate turned. Kid E leapt out of his chair. "Emme—"

"I'm sorry." She pulled the needle out of her arm. "Thank you for your hospitality, but... I am going."

She walked towards Kid Enthusiastic. He started to protest, but she leaned in and kissed him on the lips. He blinked, stunned. She whispered, "...Goodbye."

She turned to Fearless Leader and gave him a card. "Call me if you're ever in need of a... consultant." He nodded, understanding.

She looked up at Tyler. "Let's go."

They walked through the doorway and disappeared, leaving behind an echo: "Be seeing you."

——‹›——

Authors' Notes:

Andrew: Please welcome a new writer! In my personal experience, I'll have you know: She's awesome.

Yuki: I hope you like the story! (smiles) Andrew is awesome, I hope you like the story we both came up with! Thank you for reading!

Emme is created by Yuki Rosemoon and Andrew Perron, and is Ask Before Using. All other characters are General Use.

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