Chapter 1

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Charlotte ran through the alley, occasionally looking behind her. Her breathing was ragged, and she had that awful cramp on her side. Her legs felt like jelly, and her throat and lungs burned from the cold air. Her feet stamped the ground, the sound echoing off of the stone walls of the deserted part of the town.

As she was checking behind her to see if he was still there, she slammed into someone, sending them both flying and landing a couple of metres away from each other. She groaned before she scrambled to her feet and jogged over to who she knocked down, frantically looking behind her. She counted the useful seconds she was wasting trying to help the person up.

Grabbing their arm, she hoisted them to their feet a bit forcefully and made to take off running again, but an arm wrapped around her waist and she was pulled back. With a squeak of surprise and frustration leaving her mouth, she stumbled and glared at the person, but it immediately fell when she noticed who it was. Her eyes widened, and she looked behind her before looking back at him.

"Zero!" She launched herself at the boy, wrapping her arms around his neck in a tight hug. "Oh, my god! I can't believe I'm actually seeing you here! ... But I can't stay, gotta jet!" She let him go, kissed his cheek, and took off running again as she heard someone shout her name behind her.

"Charlotte!" Zero called after her and ran towards her just as another man ran passed him. "Give it back!"

He watched Charlotte turn around when she reached the end of the road, being met with a wall of an old building. Zero hadn't the slightest clue as to what was going on, but he ran towards her and the man, anyway. 

He saw the gleam of the sun reflect off his gun she had taken from him in those briefest of moments she'd hugged him. Or perhaps it was when she was helping him up. But, either way, she had gotten her hands on it and somehow disconnected it from its chain.

"In a second!" She yelled back, raising the gun and aiming it at the man.

She didn't hesitate or flinch at pulling the trigger. The gunshot echoed through the abandoned city. In a flash of blue, purple, and red, the bullet hit the man in the centre of his chest, and he exploded into shimmering vibrant green ash that floated up into the air until nothing left could be seen. Once everything settled again, Charlotte keeled over slightly and placed her hand on her knee and breathed heavily, desperately trying to catch her breath.

Zero jogged over and snatched the gun from her grasp. She looked up at his angry expression. She didn't flinch or look surprised when he pointed the gun at her. "You're one of them. You didn't even try to stop it." He used the barrel of the gun to move her hair out of the way of her neck, seeing pale, unmarked skin on both sides. A look of disgust settled on his face.

She rolled her eyes, straightening her posture and running her hand through her hair. She coughed a couple of times before clearing her throat, "I've got a lot of explaining to do, haven't I? Only if you want to hear it, though." She coughed a couple of more times, a different kind of burn in her throat now and her mouth went dry.

She felt a tingling on her skin and the hairs on her arms, as well as the back of her neck, stand up. "There's another..." She could sense it, not too far from where they were. "You coming or not? Shoot if you're going to shoot. You're going to miss, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead and try to kill me." Zero pointed the gun at her for a couple of more seconds before he lowered it, attached it to the chain, then concealed it in his uniform coat.

Charlotte grinned, grabbing his hand and leading him where she felt compelled to go. She noticed it on top of the building before Zero or the other girl had. She ran forward as it jumped towards the girl. Despite her hands burning horribly, she grabbed the rod strapped to the other girl's thigh and flicked it out, extending the rod into a staff and using it to block the vampire from attacking them both. She threw the vampire off as she felt a hand strike at her side, but she continued to hold onto the staff and stood between the girl and the Level E vampire in front of them.

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