First Night Out

Finally, after weeks spent becoming an armchair MMA expert, the time had come for Anya to officially place herself in the hero game. Most of the notable bad guys had gone silent, either in jail or, for unknown reasons, simply vanished. Although she had her eyes set on the riddlemaster, Puzzler, he, too, had gone silent, and Bethany convinced her that it was just as well to get full practice in the field with some random mook. Her outfit was made by hand, something Bethany crafted with skills paid for since childhood, rather bright, for her own tastes, but not like she planned only on operating at night. The key is to stay unpredictable, they had agreed.

“Anya? Hey, Anya, you read me?” Bethany chimed, testing the Bluetooth connection between the phones she’d personally bought for them just for this purpose.

Anya stood over a rooftop, peering over the edge, having yet to fully accustom herself to heights, and dealing with a bit of a sensory overload. “I hear ya. I hear a lotta things. Hard to tell the difference.”

“It’s cool. You’ve got super senses. You can run, jump, look, smell ,whatever you want. Just concentrate. Listen for a scream, or a…crying, somebody getting beat up, something.”

“Alright, I’m trying.” Shrugging, Anya jumped across the rooftop to the next, trying to direct her senses. A preternatural sense of grace and balance guided her movements through the concrete jungle, despite lacking any formal training in gymnastics or true athletic skill prior to the manifestation of her mutation. Absent of the physical focus, she primed her mind to sounds of trouble, whatever they could be, trying to sift through the various sounds of the city.

“Ugh! Wait…Jus-just hold o-agh-n!”

And there it was. Just the sound she was looking for. With haste, Anya adjusted the blue domino mask over her face and leapt down to street level, landing with abnormal grace, crouching on all fours. Tracing the sound in a sort of game of hot-and-cold, she merely followed where the sounds grew louder until she’d caught them in her sights. Two men in an alley on a lone street, one pressed against the wall and getting a pretty serious beating, although in his fetal position, she couldn’t get a direct read on him.

“Hey!” Anya shouted as she ran up to the duo, grabbing the assailant by the shoulder and tossing him into an adjacent pile of garbage – accidentally adding a bit too much umph behind it, forgetting her strength. Turning to the injured man, she looked down and offered a hand. “Hey, you alr–!” What she saw upon closer inspection made her instinctively jerk her hand back, staggering back against the wall. Fearfully staring back into her eyes was the face of her father, Julien, likewise stunned; whether for the fact that he’d just been saved or because he recognised her in that brief moment, she couldn’t tell, but remained unsure of what she should do in that moment. The wounds accumulated over a short lifetime had yet to heal.

“Hey,” Bethany called in. “What’s going on? Are you alright?”

“Huh?” At virtually the same time, she detected emergence from the garbage pile, but unfocused and untrained, hadn’t discerned enough in time to dodge the shot.

A gunshot rang out from where he stood, and a sharp surge of pain shot through the girl’s back. She shrieked as she fell and he rushed over, grounding her with a knee to the head, issuing a few follow-up kicks and stomps to disallow any recovery. Julien started to slink away but was quickly halted when the pistol was turned on him. “Ah-tat! Back where you were, ‘less you want one too.” Kneeling over the wannabe heroine, he pulled the Bluetooth device in which Bethany was screaming from her ear and tossed it aside, grabbing a fistful of her hair and jerking her head back, bringing him eye to eye with the now wide-eyed and fearful teen. He revelled in it.

“Yeah! Shoulda thought o’ that before you decided you wanted to play dress-up an’ be a hero. Nobody cares about scum like this. City’s full of it. Damn shame, too. Pretty young thing.” With no further words, he put two more slugs in her abdomen and dropped her, turning his malevolent attention back on her father. “Now, then, Jule, where were we?”

Where she lay, Anya struggled to breathe, and to get over the continual ringing the gunshots left in her ears. Vision hazy, the smell of her blood pouring out of the open wounds overpowered all other scents. But she could feel. Aside from the pain, still strong as ever, she could feel, with a heightened kinaesthetic sense, air currents shifting with every movement. She was healing, gradually, and growing faster as the adrenal response activated, pumping stimulating hormones throughout her body.

Slowly, but surely, she began to move, reaching out and swiping the man’s legs from underneath him. He scrambled quickly back to his feet, as did she, bounding after him as he moved deeper into the alley, narrowly ducking her attempt at a pounce. Two more shots embedded themselves in her chest, but at that point, the constant flow of endorphins stifled the pain and allowed her to push through. He was just about out of bullets. Anya pounced again, landing atop him, but was quickly tossed aside herself, shaking the wall as she collided with the bricks. “You some kinda freak, ain’tchoo?” he shouted, emptying the last of his ammo into the vigilante. Pushing just once more, Anya pumped her arms forward, shoving him back into the wall. His head rebounded off the bricks and his body was left embedded within.

Anya fell back with a sigh. Adrenaline rush calmed and the pain came creeping back. She was healing; mostly complete, in fact. But it still hurt. With a body that even her enhanced strength could barely hold, she picked herself up and staggered over to retrieve her Bluetooth, then to her injured father, caught between an altruistic deed and a desire to forgive, as well as an unwillingness to forget the various pains she’d suffered because of his abuse and neglect over the years.

But I’m a hero, she told herself, looking down with a smile, something akin to pride, even. She extended her arm and helped him up, laying him over her shoulders in a fireman carry. To the hospital, she decided. Lay him out front and they’ll get ‘im.

“Yeah, B? I’m good. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. Got sumthin’ else to take care of first.” Disconnecting the phone call, she started in a slow walk, sprinting as she began to feel better, not stopping until she’d made it to her destination. Calmly, she laid Julien down and knocked on the glass door to gain staff attention. And as they took notice, she turned and ran off.

The last thing Julien saw before he lost consciousness was her blood-stained backside. That hair…That voice…That girl…There was no mistaking it in his mind. But he, too, was afraid of her just as much as she him. “Th-thank…y-...uunghh.” The words came out in a slow whisper and he passed out just as hospital staff and crew came to admit him.

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Let's Be Heroes

Somehow, of late, a resurgence of the type of activity deemed “heroics” experienced a recent miniature boom in the City of Sin, causes not quite clear to the masses. Unmistakably, though, it happened, and to not notice, you’d have to be completely blind.

As a typical night in her home away from house, Anya and Bethany lay on the bed discussing that particular subject, a certain infamous white rapper’s leaked album work filling background noise in the room from a laptop. Of course, Bethany’s excitable nature had her on edge with more far-out ideas flowing from her cranium and channelled through her mouth.

“So, remember what they said on the news? This rich guy at the news station got held hostage by some Dalmatian guy, and he got saved by these two normal girls. And crime here’s been out of control lately. So I was thinking. You’ve got powers, and I’ve got a few ideas. We could be super heroes, like the ones on the news!”

“’We?’” Anya raised a brow. “’We’ couldn’t be anything. You don’t have…abilities, and I don’t have…anything else! We’d get killed! Besides, what real successful ‘super heroes’ do you ever hear about in this world? Remember that one girl at the bank, tried to be a hero in this city, she got beat to Hell and some guy on a motorcycle kidnapped her.”

“Aww, don’t be like that,” Bethany came back plaintively. “I’ll buy you stuff, get a bunch of gear, we’ll be perfect! My cousin Abby doesn’t even have powers, and she’s probably somewhere doing her thing right now.”

“No way. Really? How much does it pay?” In the moment, it seemed as if Anya was finally about to give in, but her hesitance returned when she learned the truth.

“Well…Most people do it out of the goodness of their hearts. But don’t worry!” Quick to correct or watch her idea go out the window, Bethany considered what possible compensation there could be. “…Uh….I got it! I could be your boss, and I’ll pay you wages. And we’ll have a phone line and people call us with problems! We’ll be like heroes….but for hire!”

“Hmm….Wait wait wait wait! We...I still can’t fight for shit. How do you expect to go hero without that?”

Bethany thought a while, then flashed a coy, unnerving smirk. “Well, for starters…Film study! I’ll be right back!” She hopped up and headed down the stairs…To the kitchen…From where she sat, Anya heard a rustling like plastic. Back up the stairs, and Bethany returned with a large bag of potato chips and various other snacks, and two bottles of soda tucked beneath her arms. Setting it all down on the bed, she shut off the music.

“Lots of people learn by observation!” she optimistically (and naively) stated. Laying the laptop on the bed between them, she started the task of searching up martial arts films and videos of fights, boxing, various martial arts, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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Coming Out

Not long after moving out of her parents’ house on Runyon Ave, it became painstakingly obvious that, in the crazed wasteland that was Gothic City, even more so since she’d gotten back than usual, Anya would have an extremely hard time trying to make it on the streets. Not that she didn’t have any street smarts. Things were crazy! No one could survive out there! Confused, unsure of where exactly to go, she made her way across the city by foot, until she found herself all the way on the other side of town at her best friend Bethany’s house.

After a brief explanation of recent events, her friend was caught up to speed, curious as ever, and determined to get answers. Only problem was Anya was just as clueless. The two girls sat on a bed upstairs, Anya’s face unamused as Bethany jovially played with her ears.

"So…They're real?"

"Yes."

"And…Like, you can actually hear with them and junk?"

"Mhm."

“So that means…You’re a…”

“Shhh! Don’t say it. And what’s with all the staring?”

“Sorry! I’m sorry!” Bethany giggled an apology. “It’s just…You have cat ears coming from your head! And a tail!”

“Shhhh!” Anya hissed back. “Someone might hear you!”

Bethany simply shrugged. “My parents aren’t home anyway. Both gone. Dad’s away on business, and mom had to go into work. Crime’s outta control in this city. Oh! My cousin Abby’s in town. I bet she could help you. Her dad used to be some crazy controversial politician overseas. They loved mutants.” Hushing her volume, she continued in her best spooky voice. “Some people say it’s because they were mutants. Wanna give her a call?”

“No, please. Until I get myself all sorted out, I don’t want anyone else finding out about this. I want to fix this problem, not turn it into a public scandal.”

Bethany seemed confused, and quite a bit disappointed. “What? Like, get rid of it? But it’s so crazy cool! I’d give anything to have a mutant power. You could rule your school!” Inspired by her fantasy, her eyes lit up.

“Bethany, if I came out, I’d be a social pariah.” She ignored the suggestive glance which was no doubt a response to her particular phrasing. “‘Cat powers.’ It’s not even that cool mutation unless you’re looking to attract the creepy fetishists.”

Warmly, Bethany reached out and graced her with a gentle hug. “It’s alright. You’ll always be special in my eyes, no matter what. You wanna stay the night so you don’t get shotgunned again?”

“Yes, please.”

"Alright. And don't worry. We'll get Caitlin's family back sometime in the week."

And for once in quite a long while, Anya slept soundly in a comfortable bed; the most comfortable she'd ever had, in a home with someone who truly cared.

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A Cat Burglar in the Moonlight

It turns out, contrary to formerly held belief, twenty bucks doesn’t go as far as it used to, and for a particular felinish young girl, she couldn’t make it through the week. After spending the last of what she had at a convenience store, Anya hadn’t eaten in days. Perhaps she hadn’t thought the whole “moving out” thing through. But after the way things turned out, no way in Hell could she go back to Runyon and apologize to her parents.

What’s there to do when you’re a disgruntled girl with powers and no money, home, or…Well, anything?

All the way on the other side of town, Anya found herself casing homes of the wealthy, looking for potential B&E prospects. One, in particular, she knew as the home of Caitlin Morningstar, a girl in school she didn’t particularly care for (major understatement). After watching for a few hours to be sure everyone was sound asleep, empty garbage bag in hand, she moved in, making her way through a window easily pried open with her surprising strength; although, honestly, she hadn’t thought to come up with a plan for what to take before entering.

Upon stepping into the living room, she immediately felt it. Air currents moving about, circling around furniture and other objects, giving precise position of every single one. Despite the blackness of the room, she could see everything as clear as day. Her steps were silent as she moved about, sneaking first into the kitchen. If nothing else, she’d get a taste of their spoiled rich kitchen. Bread, fancy cheeses, snack foods…milk. Some things she’d never even heard of, but she took anyway.

Not looking to linger in there, and wishing for something a bit more…flexible, Anya tip-toed upstairs, into a bedroom that had nobody in it, not sure where she should find any valuables or money. To be sure, she started taking anything. After all, they’re rich people, right? Everything they buy is worth something.

Snatching up object after object, she began to get happy; things were finally going her way. That is, until she made a mistake. For all her natural stealth capabilities, she had nothing to, say, refine her skills. Overzealousness led to a mistake, and her hand bumped a lamp, knocking it off of a desk. Watching it fall in what appeared to be slow motion, she panicked, fumbling the object whilst unsuccessfully trying to catch it, but only managed to smack the lamp into a wall, shattering it.

“Ooh! Shit!” she whispered, deciding at that moment she’d better make an escape before people got up.

She hadn’t taken two steps before some scruffy mutt, some kind of terrier, bounded to the room, yipping his little mouth off and biting at her ankles. Under normal circumstances, Anya loved dogs. But this one belonged to an enemy from school, and was about to get her caught. After initial attempts at hissing him away failed, she flung her foot out, attached dog flying into the closet, whereupon she slammed the door. The dog let out a yelp, then started alternating between yipping and whining. A pang of sympathy momentarily delaying her, Anya shook off the feeling and collected her bag, slinging it over her shoulder.

Too late. She smelled him before he arrived, heard the footsteps coming down the hall, accompanied by the sound of an audibly dangerous gun being prepped, her danger sense sent flaring. As soon as she turned, the silhouette of what had to be the man of the house was in the doorway. Still half-asleep, but alarmed by the crashing of lamp and dog, yipping and whimpering, he wasted no time in giving the intruder a taste of buckshot. A deafening boom rang out, as several shotgun shells embedded themselves into Anya’s chest and midsection, stunning her. Another slightly closer ranged shot sent her falling out the third story window.

Her body slammed into the ground and bag exploded, spilling the now busted contents and foods all over her body. Wounded, unable to properly breathe, and dazed by her head’s impact with the ground, failed burglar Anya Jaegerjaquez staggered hurriedly out of the yard and through the neighborhood, passing out just a few blocks away.

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Exodus....

“Smart-ass little bitch! How dare you talk to me that way!?” Spewing pure venom from his mouth at his own daughter, Julien Jaegerjaquez raised his fist once more and bashed Anya forcefully across the face, sent as a reminder to the disrespectful spawn just who was boss in the household. She’d almost forgotten, there was a time not extremely long ago, in actual Hell, when she wanted nothing more than to get back to that place. Or so she thought. But if she really had experienced all that, she should’ve had a mansion and millions of dollars, instead of being stuck in this Hellhole on Runyon Avenue.

And yet, there she was, in the midst of another confrontation with her parents that made her want to be anywhere else. Every time he struck her, she felt the need to retaliate, wanted nothing more than to do so, to hit him with everything she had. But even if she’d never really gone to Hell, one thing remained clearly true. The abilities that manifested shortly before that time frame which she lost track of. She clearly still had those, meaning a reckless attack on him would be more than she bargained for, and most likely trouble with the law, a big scandal, and the complete ruining of her life. She bristled at his strikes, but ultimately decided against the action, not that he didn’t notice.

“Excuse me? You got somethin’ you wanna say to me? Look like you ready to hit me! Gone! Do it! I wantcha to!” Fury in his eyes, veins bursting through his neck, he took a breath and calmed himself, to a degree, though continuing to berate her. “Shit. Bitch. After all I done for you.”

And that’s when she’d had it. Thrusting her arms up exasperatedly, Anya raised her voice indignantly, matching his volume, with an even higher pitch. “All you’ve done for me!? All you’ve done!? FOR me!? How about all you’ve done TO me!? Trying to pimp me out for your habits? Or how about you’re the reason we can’t always eat, or don’t have lights, or heating or air conditioning? Or how ab—”

“Anya, please,” her mother interjected. “Your father tries very hard to do for this family. You should appreciate him. It’s just sometimes—”

Anya turned, just as venomously as her father, cutting off the apologetic maternal figure without an ounce of sympathy or care for burnt bridges “Oh, that’s real rich coming from you, ‘Miss Accidental-Wife’. Says the one who’s always kickin’ with her friends about ‘he don’t care about me.’ ‘He the reason I’m so miserable now.’ ‘I only married him because of that girl.’ We’re in the same boat, just you’re still too scared to say anything about it. Sorry I’m nothing but a ball and chain to you, but you guys are the ‘geniuses’ who decided to have the kid you weren’t ready for.”

“The fck?” Julien murmured. “Janice, you said all that shit?” But she didn’t respond, sheepishly averting her gaze to avoid meeting his eyes. As If unsure just who he should be angry with, he glanced back and forth between the two females, apparently settling on Anya. Moving on her as if to strike her again, his hands grasped tight to her shoulders and he started shaking her madly. “You makin’ that shit up? I swear to God, you little bit—”

“Shut up!” Anya snapped back. Pushing him forcefully into the wall, her unnatural strength causing it to crack with the impact of his body. Janice’s face expressed surprise; Julien’s was a mix of shock, pain, and fear. Anya’s shock registered for only a moment before she let anger carry her back into confrontation mode. She got right up in his face, thrusting her finger at his nose, and continued her verbal assault. “You treated us like shit, and we never said a word of discontentment. And I’m tired of taking it! You’re an asshole! Piece o’ shit! I think…”For a moment, her tone softened, face thoughtful, considering. After a few short seconds, she nodded to herself and picked back up. “I’m done with you. I’m leaving. And you’d better pray that mom stays stupid and afraid, because if she leaves after I do, you’re all alone. And you’re gonna die, broke, homeless and jobless, with no friends except the needle in your arm. I’m packing my things.”

As she turned, her timid mother, now more scared of her daughter than even her husband, spoke up softly. “W-where are you going to go?”

“Don’t know where to go. But I sure as Hell ain’t stayin’ here. I’ll need some cash too. Twenty bucks should get me through the week.” After the blatant statement of her intent to rob them, she proceeded out the door. “Thanks for giving me life,” she remarked sarcastically before slamming it shut.

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Homecoming

It had been quite some time since Anya had been home, and her departure hadn’t turned out on good circumstance - marked by her father’s attempt to pimp her out for his drug habit, and her being forced to fight a man trying to force himself on her off of herself, discovering she had some kind of powers in the process. Now, gratefully, somehow the catlike ears which spontaneously sprouted at Bethany’s house had disappeared, but she was still stuck with the ridiculous “underwear costume.”

Her absence, apparently, had been noticed by at least a few people. Coming off of Big Dog Avenue and turning onto Runyon Ave, almost as soon as she stepped onto her street, some guy noticed and started screaming.

“Hey! It’s that girl! That one from the news! Jag….Jag….The missing girl!”

Others began to notice as well, whispering, shouting, calling on phones about the missing child everyone assumed had been kidnapped and murdered. Anya let out a sigh and just continued tramping sulkily on the way to her apartment building, wondering how she was to explain her absence to her parents. And what could she say? That she’d run away and somehow got accidentally sucked into some tournament in Hell? She’d started to convince herself that it was all just a dream. After all, how else could she have taken out a world-class terrorist, and with one shot, let alone won the whole thing? And, as expected, there was no prize money, or the house she’d wished for. Same old same old.

Up the stairs and through the holed, infested, and stained hallways to her number, there was a part of her that was glad to no longer feel like her life was in danger, but what she had come back to was largely depressing. She knocked, waited a few seconds, then knocked again.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming. Hold your damn hor–Anya!?”

Appearing almost as dumbfounded as he, Anya smiled timidly in the face of her father.

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Emergence - Intro Pt. 2

Of course the first place she thought to go, after the ordeal with the drug dealer left her too upset to return home, was the home of Bethany Stevenson, her best friend since sixth grade. Bethany's family actually did pretty well for themselves. They lived on the other side of town, outside the area Anya's family would travel even if she went missing for a whole month. There, she knew she'd find a place for the night, and she knew Bethany's parents weren't home that weekend, though she couldn't remember why. But that wasn't the really important forgotten detail.

"C'mon, Anya. You gotta do it. It's a costume party."

"Since when did underwear become a costume!? Come on, Bethany. Do you at least have anything else for me? This? I look like I belong on the street corner!"

"No can do, lady." The blonde she-devil standing across the bedroom chided, shrugging her shoulders. "The only way you can stay is if you're in costume. You know my parties. No exceptions for any reason. Once the loopholing starts, it never stops. And try to go easy on the outfit. That was what I was gonna wear, if not this. Nice touch, by the way, with the ears and tail."

"Eh? You didn't give me ears and a tai—!" Almost dismissing the comment, the double take she did just then looked enough to cause whiplash. Ears and tail like an animal!? No way! This sorry excuse for a costume is bad enough without 'em! And it doesn't even match. Again, Bethany only smirked and shrugged, then headed for the door. "I'm gonna be downstairs. Need anything, gimme a yell. And I mean a loud one. I'm kickin' this party into high gear!" And without further protests, she ran out the door and down the steps, shutting the door behind her.

"People don't even say that still. You come straight out of a bad teen movie." Anya grumbled, her eyes still focused on the ears. Without a second thought she pinched and gave a jerk, intending to toss the ears to the bedside. What she got instead was a massive ache, in both the ear and her neck, and she actually managed to pull herself to the floor, hitting with a loud thud. At first she sat there, completely befuddled. She yanked the tail twice. Nothing. Then, glancing around to make sure she was still completely alone, she reached her hand down and felt back there. Her cheeks went from rose-red to Michael Jackson white, and her entire body ran cold just then. There was no wrap-around, nothing hooking to the back of the costume, no point from which to detach.

"There's a tail coming out of my ass!!!" Really, it was the small of her back, but...well, Gothic City public education. No one heard her because of all the noise downstairs, which came in perfectly clear even through the floors. What do I do!? Do I tell someone? Not with all those people out there! I gotta run!

From there, she ran over and jerked on the door, accidentally pulling it right off the hinges. They must have heard that one, because Bethany yelled something from down below, unintelligible through all the other noise simultaneously clouding her ears; and all that became suddenly unbearable without the door serving to stifle at least a little noise. "I can't go out there like that." Facing no other alternative, Anya ran back into the bedroom, placed the door somewhat in its place, and ran to the window. It was a long shot, but she might just make it with only a bruised bottom if she played it right. But as soon as she stepped over the ledge she tripped and fell. The night was full of surprises. Her foot actually managed to catch hold of the window sill, just barely catching her. Even then, she was hanging upside down, four stories up over a concrete driveway.

"Oh, shit! Dammit! I'm sorry, God. Sorry! So sorry! Please, sorry. Don't let me die." Anyone who knew her would have laughed, knowing she was never particularly religious besides the moments she thought she might die. On top of everything, the same pain in her spine and cranium returned from earlier that night. "Oh shit!" She cried out again after her toes began to slip. "Sorry! Sorry! Please please pleeeaaase don't let me die!."

It was inevitable. She knew it was coming. But knowing something is coming doesn't always mean there's anything you can do about it. She took short, quick breaths and waited for it to happen. Little by little it inched closer.

Then she fell.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh—huh?" The next thing she knew, Anya had landed on her feet and hands, completely unharmed by the fall. Bewildered, she remained on all fours, haunches high in the air. That was until a breeze reminded her what she was wearing. The chill sent her scrambling back to the inside, back to the noise. Covering the ears atop her head, she ran around to the front and up the steps and rang the doorbell.Gradually, everything became silent. Moments later Bethany came to the door."Anya? How'd you get outside? It's just Anya, you guys!" she shouted to the others, who quickly started things up again. "How'd you get out there?" she repeated.

"Nothing! I fell. I'm going to bed now, thank you!" Without waiting for a response, she pushed her way through numerous party-goers and up the many flights of stairs to the guest bedroom on the top floor, making sure to shut the door gently this time. Inside, however, she didn't go to sleep. Not right away, at least. She sat on the bed in her confusion, thinking back on the events of the night, trying to piece something sensible together.

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Transformation - Intro Pt. 1

Gothic City

Clinging to the edges of her coat to shield herself from the frigid wind, Anya marched briskly down the sidewalk. As per her father's orders, she was to make it to a "meeting" he couldn't attend because he was "busy." Although far from the brightest child, even by Gothic City slums standards, she knew it meant a number of things. First, it involved one or more of his drug habits. Second, he was watching the t.v. And third, he was probably in some sort of debt, since that was always the case when he didn't go himself. Usually he sent her mother, but she was sick, so Anya had to go herself.

"Where does he get the money for this stuff anyway? Maybe if he spent more time feeding us or doing...somethingproductive, we could have lights, and heating, and..." The rumbling of her stomach cut her own words short and she paused, letting out a sigh. "...And food. God, I'm starving."

The entire walk she spent grumbling to herself about the cold and her parents, clenching the tattered coat ever closer. Still, she never could shake the shivery cold feeling running up and down her spine, culminating in a severe ache in her brain. She tried her best to ignore it, but it only got worse as she went on.

She stopped at an intersection squinting her nearsighted eyes at the street sign. But her eyes saw only a plain white sign. "There's nothing on it!" she moaned. "Someone needs to fix this goddamned city. Our half too."

"Hey. You Julien's kid?" a voice whispered out from the alley behind her. He remained in the dark, but she could see his pale face and grisly features as clear as day. Though nervous, she presented herself in as poised a manner as she could, fighting through fear and the persisting pains. If you don't want to be a target, don't make yourself look like a target. "Yeah, that's me." She moved toward him, but tried to remain out of the alley and in the light. As if that would make any difference if he tried something. No one else around anyway.

"C'mon, girl! Not in the light," he hissed, and, nervous as she was, she had not the courage to disobey.

"Y'know, yer dad din't have the money to pay me, an' we have this little arrangement where, when he ain't got the cash, y'all pay me in other ways. But see, yer mom's sick, an' I ain't tryin' to catch nothin'. So uhh..." All the while he was inching closer, and when he lashed out the feeling that had been bothering her all night kicked into overdrive. The man himself seemed to be moving at a snail's pace, and Anya, surprised herself at what she was seeing and unsure of what exactly was going on, just barely bounded forward, propelling herself off of his back, performing a perfect somersault and landed gracefully on her feet.

"Woah! d'jou see that!?" Torn between her fear and excitement, like she just had to tell someone, she nearly forgot he just tried to make a move on her. "Yeah, that's real impressive," he sneered, reaching into his coat pocket. "I can't wait to getchu HOME with me!" And when he removed it, he was holding a shining...some type of gun. A pistol. Shiny. Really really...shiny. For a moment Anya lost her focus, but the clicking of the moving parts snapped her back to reality. He squeezed, she moved, fast. Still acting purely on instinct, she slashed his wrist, knocking the weapon from his hand, a deafening shot ringing out as it fell. For her it was much worse and she nearly keeled over from the shock to her senses. He took that moment and pounced, pinning her arms. She struggled only briefly before forcing her foot up between them and shoving. Hard. But even as hard as she could, she never expected to send him all the way across the street and crashing against a truck like he did.

She didn't even check to see if he still lived or not. The alarm was already too much for her ears, and he just tried to...get her. "Oh no. Daddy won't be happy." Shaking her head in disbelief, she ran off as fast as she could, but not headed for home. Upon learning what she did, he'd be angry. And she was angry at him as it was, sending her out there like that. She would go...somewhere...she wasn't quite sure yet. Just...Not there.

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