Maria was sitting alone in the armory polishing her new blade. It had been two days since her grandfather left to investigate and still she heard nothing. The lair held over thirty rooms including the dirt prison cells, and close to ten test subjects that she saw. She knew it would take time to investigate the place, she just didn’t like that her grandfather was doing it without her.
The events of two nights ago still filled her dreams with nightmares. If she had only known how to help the poor women, then maybe she could sleep better. The blond woman with the fangs constantly crept into her subconscious. What Mr. Price and his employer did was a fate worse than death. All the humanity that once lived within their bodies was destroyed, or buried down so deep that the monster won’t let them grip it. Maria wondered if the gods were watching this. Most of all she wondered if her father knew, and how he felt about it.
She pondered what her father thought about her. The demigod side of her she was born with, but to become an assassin, that took a whole different kind of person. One who could stomach the guilt and emotions that came with wiping an existence off the planet. Killing had just become so easy over the years; she almost forgot a life before it. Maria’s job wasn’t a glamorous one. Nor was it one that she intended on having. She could still remember clearly…
When she was thirteen years old a Cyclopes tried abducting her at their old manor, in a small town in Indiana. She was playing outside in the wind when a foul smell overcame her. Turning she looked up to see a creature the size a giant boulder stomping towards her. Its eye set completely on her. Large teeth were barred from a terribly giant mouth. Licking his lips, he stepped towards her, swinging his firm club for a little bit of dramatics. Maria could remember running, running so far there was nowhere really left to go.
A small cave near a tiny river that flowed through their old property appeared before her. Inside were a sword, a chest plate, and a small dagger. Instinctively she picked up the items. Knowing it was only time before the Cyclopes caught up to her, she had to think of a plan. Spreading small patches of ice over the ground, and covering them up with leaves, proved to take some time. She could hear the creature calling to her.
“Here little girlie. It only hurts for a moment. Promise I’ll eat ya’ nice an’ quick.” He chuckled as if amused by his own words.
She’d managed to find a long log, which she placed over a large boulder turning it into a mini catapult. Footsteps were getting closer. With the little training she had, she tried to think of what Hobbs had told her. Distract and then hit, jab and then punch. Taking a deep breath she readied herself for the foul creature.
“Come on kid. Where is you hiding? Boss only wants ya’ out of his way.” A positively ecstatic tone came from his murderous mouth.
He stepped into the patch of land where she was hiding. Sniffing around the area, he caught hold of her scent. Maria swallowed the fear that was rising in her, and put her plan into action. Placing a large stone onto her make shift catapult, she fixed its position so it would aim directly at the oversized idiot. The Cyclopes turned around, when he saw her standing there a devilish smile spread across his face.
“There you is,” He exclaimed joyously.
With no time to spare Maria jumped on the end of the log sending a large boulder flying at the Cyclopes’ head. As the stone collided a dumbfounded look spread across his face. His eye had been impaled by the boulder. Blood dripped from his giant eye. A loud growl got Maria moving again.
The Cyclopes now swung his club at her rapidly. Maria was banking on the fact that he’d have limited vision. Hopping from one area to the next the young girl had the giant creature in a murderous rage. He followed her every step to the dot. When Maria hopped over an ice patch, the creature stepped through it. Being so large the Cyclopes lost his balance. In attempt to try to stay up, he flailed his arms around like a mad man. In what seemed to be slow motion the creature fell back words hitting his head on the ground. That wasn’t what made Maria giggle, when flailing his arms he’d knocked a tree over knocking himself unconscious.
Not wanting to risk the creature waking up, before she could return with Hobbs, or her grandfather, she took the sword from the cave and drove it through the Cyclopes’ chest. The creature convulsed, causing Maria to jump back. When red liquid started flowing from the gaping wound she relaxed a moment. She sat down on the boulder, and sighed with relief.
“Very impressive,” a voice complimented.
Maria turned to see Hobbs coming from the trees. He was wearing his training clothes, except for his chest plate. Which she realized, was sitting next to her. The athletic man came to sit near Maria. Placing one arm around her he scooped her up against him. She didn’t feel the wetness on her face until Hobbs was clearing it from her eyes.
“It does get easier. Each time you do it in fact.” His round eyes gave her a once over looking for anywhere the Cyclopes may have gotten her. “You don’t even have a scratch.” He looked at her curiously.
Maria shook her head. Picking the sword up from the ground, Hobbs watched as the blood dripped from the blade. He wiped it gently against his leg. Hobbs sat there staring at her for a while.
“Where did he come from?” Hobbs asked.
Maria told him everything that happened. The fact that she’d killed something sat like a heavy weight on her shoulders. Though Hobbs was questioning her, he seemed to know it had taken a great deal out of her. Maria’s shoulders fell forward, forcing her legs to walk; she followed closely behind Hobbs as they walked to the manor. From the moment he and her grandfather exchanged glances Maria’s whole life changed. She would soon become, from then on, their personal assassin.
The lake just outside their Greek revival home reflected the bright sun beaming down at it. The trees colors were changing from a ripe green, to auburns favorites of red, orange, and yellow. Swinging slowly from the tire she’d hung from an old apple tree, she enjoyed the moment of serenity. Often times she’d come out here when she needed to clear her head. The soft noises of birds and wildlife gave her a sense of relaxation. The wind was gentle today, making the fall day bearable with a light sweatshirt. Dark hair covered her face with every breeze. A calm feeling took over her.
Quite footsteps came from behind her. She should have known the calm feeling was not her own. Letting Ezra think she wasn’t on to him, she allowed him to inch forward more. Now each step amplified in her ear drums. Spinning around to face him, Maria looked at him amusedly.
“Sneaking up on people is a good way to get you killed,” She smiled jokingly.
Putting his hands up defensively, but still showing off his handsome grin he responded, “In all fairness I did give you warning.”
“Alright, I’ll accept that.” She stared at him. Ezra was now almost completely healed. Thin white scars lined his athletic arms, from places where Mr. Price tried to inject him. Ezra’s lean muscular body no longer looked frail and weak, but strong and healthy. Amazing what Sande could accomplish, she thought.
Ezra moved to lean against the tree she was swinging from. He now wore loose fitting grey sweatpants, and a cotton t-shirt. The blond hairs on his head were groomed nicely into a stylish hairdo. His green eyes with a pink ring were warm and soft.
“I never did get a chance to thank you,” he finally said.
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t in my original plan,” she said probably a bit harsher then she meant.
“Still, you could have left me to die and you chanced bringing me here.” His large eyes were looking straight at her.
She shrugged her shoulders a little bit. Small talk had never been her forte. Growing up mostly alone, and a trained assassin, didn’t really give her much expertise in the social department. In fact most of the time when she met new people it took everything in her not to drag out a weapon when they didn’t talk to her with the right respect. She had to remind herself constantly that these people had no idea who she was, or what she could do.
“I have a meeting with your mentor today. Hopefully, he isn’t as scary of a guy as he seems.” A smile spread across his lips.
“He’s not,” She smiled. Ezra breathed out a joking sigh of relief. “He’s worse.”
The large training room and gym took over the basement of the house. The walls and floors were covered in a thick blue padding. Weapons for training lined the far wall. Obstacles filled the areas outside of the arena.
A small platform spun slowly in the center of the room. Maria saw Ezra standing against the large wooden plank, not moving. The knife test, yes she remembered this one well. Hobbs hurled knives at her, and every time she flinched he kept her up there for an hour more. Most of her thirteenth year had been devoted to the spinning plank. She learned quickly, not to cry out, or flinch, Hobbs didn’t have time for that. Looking back, she appreciated the tough love. It saved her life numerous times on assignments. Now she watched as Ezra stood helplessly twitching the muscles in his face as a knife neared him. Hobbs took this time to ask Ezra questions.
“Who trained you?” Hobbs asked turning his head slightly.
“I’ve…told you…” Irritation was plastered throughout Ezra’s voice. “…I trained with… a man in the town I grew up in.”
The whole while knives flung into the wooded board inches away from him. She gave him credit for not squirming his body, as Hobbs tried to frighten him. Maria slipped in closer to watch how the test would pan out. Those pretty green eyes now had a look of anger.
“Yes, you’ve failed to mention his name though,” Hobbs smoothly replied to Ezra.
Three knives erupted at the same time. One hit just above his right shoulder, another hit two inches under his right armpit. The third was centimeters away from his neck. Maria could tell by his throw that Hobbs wanted answers. A single blade drove fast in the air towards his abdomen. It would be a spot on hit. Maria looked away briefly, not wanting to relive the wounds she’d managed to acquire from all her trainings with Hobbs. An annoyed grunt came from the corner of the training room. Slowly Maria turned her eyes to see Ezra holding the knife just thrown at him. He caught the blade intended to gash his stomach. Blood trickled from his hands, an enraged look stuck to his face.
“Dallin. His name was Dallin.” He blurted out.
Hobbs face hardened, as he threw the rest of the knives down. Stalking out of the training area, Hobbs slammed the door. Ezra jumped down off the platform, and went to the gauze that sat near the weapons wall. Before she could be seen, Maria snuck out a door on the other side of the room.