I have always loved creating stories, yet I do not always get the change to get them down on paper. There are so many of them locked inside my head that I thought I would try and let a few of them ... [+]

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
I was dumbfounded. Sitting before me was a young boy who looked like he would not last a week, much less years, of specialized training.

Yet, the Don and Underboss of the Family presented him to me, asking me to take him and train him as my successor.

At 30 years old, I was not that old for an assassin, more in my prime then anything. But it was never to early to start training a replacement, especially if said replacement did not make the cut.

This boy before me, was not the sort of student I had expected to ever train as my successor. In fact, he seemed to be the exact opposite of someone I would have chosen to train.

He was young, looked barely 18, just short of six feet with a slender build and not much muscle. He had short slightly wavy blonde hair and the most intense ocean blue eyes I had ever seen. He reminded me of a scrawnier version of myself at his age. Probably the only thing he had going for him.

But I had my doubts he could be trained to be the next Shadow Assassin of the Tempest Family. In this crude world there was no place for being soft.

This, however, was a request from the head of the Family and his Underboss. I could not refuse.

I expected the kid to last less than a week, but this was not the case. No matter how hard I pushed him to his limits, whether it be martial arts training, speed, or agility, he persisted. No matter how sore he got day after day, he was resilient.

At the end of the first week, it looked as if he could barely keep on his feet. I remember telling him that if he could not keep up, he was useless to me. Yet, I still found him standing before me the following morning rearing and ready to go.

After that I slowly came to see what Lucifer and Hiro saw in him. Though he was a scrawny runt right now, he had determination and drive. Every time he faltered, I would ask him why he was doing this, and watch as the fire reignited in his eyes.

I was still doubtful that he would become a worthy successor. Could he hold the title of Shadow Assassin for the Tempest Family?

Yet he continued to prove me wrong as the days went by. I taught him everything I knew. I watched as that scrawny kid turned into a steeled assassin before my eyes.

What really amazed me about this boy, was that through it all he never lost his sense of self. No matter how many grueling simulations I put him through, how many messy assassinations I had him witness at my side, he still was able to laugh and smile. He maintained his humanity when many assassins lost theirs completely. Myself included. While I could act out emotion while on the job, outside of it the world was mute.

This boy always kept on smiling as genuinely as before. Then there was also the way he looked at Lucifer’s son. It was then that I realized why he was doing all of this. Why he had spent the last 5 years training under me. The one he was doing this for was the future boss, Lance.

Then the day finally came.

The day I had nothing left to teach him.

When he entered the abandoned warehouse, the usual site of our training, I threw him a gun and blade.

There was one final test. The test to surpass one’s teacher.

From the look in his eye I do not think he really understood what was happening, until I nearly had my blade in his gut.

Watching the transition in his eyes, I think that was one of the things I loved the most. It was like watching someone put their humanity on hold. As his eyes steeled, you can see that his mindset did as well. He dodged my first strike then lifted his gun to block my second blow before delivered a swift kick which I easily avoided.

From there it was a battle of life and death.

Neither side let up, and neither of us was willing to go down. We used all the skills at our disposal save for magic, which was forbidden, and left our guns as a last resort. Our blades did much of the talking, but we also made use of our surroundings. Abandoned tools and equipment became instruments of war upon our touch. Still, the fight dragged on with no victor in sight.

Finally, I managed to corner him. A few short moves later I had dispelled his knife and knocked away his gun, taking aim at his chest with my own.

Five years of training, and still he was a failure. Or so it seemed.

I watched his eyes soften and a pained look crossed his face for a moment as he mouthed the word, ‘Sorry’.

I was confused but for a moment, then a kick came at me. I easily dodged the blow, but it was not until I landed a few feet away that I realized my mistake. In seconds he was right in my face, his blade once more in hand and to my astonishment my own gun in his other.

I found myself pinned up against a concrete wall, with a gun to my chest and knife to my throat. Cold calculative deep blue eyes bore straight into my own.

Ah, there it was. He really did prove me wrong.

I closed my eyes and took a slow breath. I would not mind it being my last if it were at the hands of the man I helped create.

No final blow came. Instead I felt arms wrap around me and a head rest against my shoulder.

“Sorry, Sensei...” He whispered to me, and I understood.

He would make a fine assassin, yet also keep his strong sense of justice. He would be one that would not kill unless it was necessary. Only when there was a real threat.

I patted his back.

“If the young master asked it of you, would you?”

He pulled back, eyes fiercer and cold. “In an instant.” His voice was icy as he one more lifted the gun to my chest.

All I could do was smirk. He would be a vastly different type of Shadow Assassin then I, or any that came before me. However, I felt this would suit the future Don to a T.

“Good.” I responded. “But there can only be one Shadow Assassin.”

“Then, I’ll just have to make sure you can’t perform your duty any longer...”

The phrase took me off guard, but when I looked into his eyes, I realized his seriousness.

Again, all I could do was huff in amusement, even as I felt his knife slice clean across my face. My arms instantly rose in defend, but I received a blade embedded in each of them for my troubles.

I knew what he had done instantly, and even through the pain all I could do was laugh.

In a way he had killed me. Without killing me.

A Shadow Assassin cannot be a Shadow Assassin, without his eyes or full use of his arms. Blood ran down my cheeks like tears, as I felt my arms go numb.

“I’ve killed Ghost, former Shadow Assassin of the Family.” I heard him speak, not too far away. From his tone, I could tell he was probably using his com.

“Yes, Sir.” He continued, a new darkness rising in his tone. Something must be wrong. I could tell he was probably standing there watching me as I slid down the concrete wall. “I understand.” I lifted a shaky hand to dislodge the blade from my right. “I am on my way.”

There was silence once more, his call having ended. However, I could not tell where he was at. Even with my sight gone, my other senses could usually pick up the slightest of moment, but I could not detect him at all. I really had trained him well.

“I, Alexander Mikami, have taken your place as Shadow Assassin of the Tempest Family, Sensei. I thank you for everything you have taught me. All that I am is thanks to you. I thank you for giving me the skills I’ll need to support Lance. I will put them to great use, for our Family.” I started as I felt a thumb caress across my cheek, whipping away some of the blood there. "I hope I never get sent after you.”

And then like a gust of wind, he was gone.