'Kurt' took a deep breath. Today was the day she took her first step away from the hell that was her life. Her aunt had signed the slip so fast it was a miracle she didn't get whiplash.
At least she had given her some cash so that Kurt could walk around in decent clothes. The jacket, combined with the oversized shirt covered her budding curves so well it wasn't any surprise people assumed she was a 'he' from the name she had chosen for herself.
Her aunt didn't want the girl to live. She knew that for a fact. The only reason she had agreed to let her go to the exam was because it had a high death rate and because in the highly unlikely chance she survived and passed, she had sworn never to darken their doorstep again.
People couldn't tell licensed Hunters where to live. If she didn't want to live with her relatives and lived on her own in the wilderness, then it would be her business and the authorities couldn't do a damn thing about it.
As it stood, if they pressed the issue, she had no problem torching Surrey to the ground. There were no innocents there. They were all accomplices in her personal hell. They became that way by ignoring the clear truth that something was very, very wrong with her.
She walked in with the guide, and waited for the rest of the people to show up. She the first person to make it to the exam, and had the dubious honor of having the number 1 on her button. In a way, it symbolized her future. She had only one path left open for her to take. She would either become a Hunter...or she would die.
As the exam hall filled with people, she mingled with the others. None of them even batted an eye aside from noting she had made it to the hall first. Odd, but not really noteworthy.
It wasn't until she found another rookie that things deviated.
Number 99 was similar to her...but different. He didn't have the same empty feeling she had when looking into a mirror.
"Huh...didn't expect a fellow assassin to be here. Especially one my age."
"Assassin?" she asked. One of the few things she had noted about herself was the fact that her voice could be either boy or girl. Combined with her clothes and name, she was often thought to be a boy unless proven otherwise.
"Name's Killua. Killua Zoldyck."
"Call me Kurt. And I'm not an assassin...though if I ever did take up that trade I would probably be very good at it..."
"I bet. I can barely tell that you're there at all. Even I have trouble pulling that off. So what are you here for?"
"This was the last path I could take. How about you?"
"I was bored and the exam seemed like it would be challenging enough to entertain me."
"So what's your family like?"
"Dysfunctional at its best, horrifying at it's worst. You?"
"If those...things qualified as human, then I might possibly consider calling them my family. As it stands, the only nice thing my aunt ever did for me was let me take this exam. It's literally make-it-or-break-it for me."
"Your family couldn't be that bad, could it?" asked Killua, whose eyes were wide. Sure, his family put him through hell, but they still showed that they cared in their own way.
"I did better living in the middle of the woods with animals trying to kill and eat me every minute of the day than I did in a house in suburbia. Trust me, you wouldn't believe how horrible they are."
"I'll take your word for it," said Killua, sweat-dropping. It almost sounded like he would prefer to deal with Mike every day instead of go back. Most people were terrified of the Zoldyck's massive guard dog who ate intruders who didn't pass the test.
Soon the two went onto a safer topic, which happened to be books. Killua was in disbelief how much Kurt read on average. When he learned why, he understood. The more he heard about these...Dursleys...the more he was seriously considering going to Surrey to pay them a little...visit. He was sure if his father knew about them, he would want to pay them a...visit...as well. Even assassins have some standards.
Kurt sat down and pulled out something he had stolen before she had gotten there. It was a music player, and after she had gotten it she had loaded it with so much music that there was barely any space left. Killua could hear her humming to a song he felt fit her perfectly for someone who felt so empty it took an assassin to detect their presence.
"In my mind worlds collide, something inside me is gone
Still I keep going on
In my mind oceans divide, I don't know where I belong
But still I keep holding on and on
I get by in a world with no conscience
By shutting it out and being anonymous
And the problem is you're just like me
We get by in a world with no conscience
By shutting it out and being anonymous
hello hello hello
Is there anybody out there
I get by in a world with conscience
I try and I try but I am anonymous
And the problem is you're just like me
I feel so anonymous
There's times it didn't matter at all
I'm not gonna to give it away, not going to let it go
Just to wake up someday gone
The worst part is looking back
and knowing that I was wrong."
(Three Days Grace: Anonymous)
When the alarm went off, Kurt got up.
She started to run with the rest, before putting on a pair of skates she had nabbed before anyone noticed. Soon she was zooming past the rest with ease.
Her pickpocketing skills were so good that it was surprising that her uncle never figured it out and used it. She had quite a few things she had nabbed because she wanted to be prepared. And since she had no intention of going back to England or the surrounding areas anytime soon she had taken quite a bit.
Somethings were necessary supplies, others were spur of the moment.
Even when the security cameras caught her, when the guards went to respond to the obvious theft, they still never found her. Which was odd because half the time she was standing right in front of the guards watching them search in vain. Even though there wasn't a soul near her.
And once she made it onto the street, they never saw her again. She had a particular strategy, which was to hit a store hard once, then never go there again for at least a year or two. With the odd bag she had taken from the equally odd Alley in London, it was unlikely she would ever have trouble carrying all the things she took.
Though she avoided the squat, cranky looking people guarding the bank after reading the poem.
A short spiky haired kid ran up beside her and Killua.
"So...who are you two?"
"I thought I was going to be the only kid under fifteen here."
"I'm eleven," said Killua.
"I'm ten...and I'll turn eleven in July."
Both boys turned to her in shock.
"But I thought the application said only kids eleven or older were allowed?" asked Gon.
"I fudged my birth date. As long as my aunt signed the form, they don't give a damn that I'm a year too young for this exam. And there is no way in hell I was going to wait another year just because of some age restriction," said Kurt annoyed.
"Yeah, but what if the proctor finds out..." said Gon.
"You don't know a damn thing about the exams do you? As long as I keep quiet about it and keep up, the proctor most likely won't care I'm a year too young to be here. The devil himself could pass these things so long as the proctors allow it," said Kurt.
"How do you know that?" asked Killua.
"You ever look up some of the Hunters who have passed this thing? Some of them are total psychopaths. Even so, they were given a license to kill...within reason. The Hunter's Association doesn't care so long as they don't go overboard, and then they have to send people in to stop them. So a little thing like an under-aged Hunter isn't going to bother them one bit. Why else would they allow kids who haven't even reached puberty yet to join?"
"You actually looked it up?"
"They have a small side section on the Hunter's website. I swiped this loser's license to get onto it and found the section with past tests on it. Most people can't get to it because you need the license just to log on, but apparently they never blocked it against people with stolen cards. There are four to five parts to each exam with volunteers acting as proctors. But there wasn't anything on what happens after you get a license. I gave the license back before the Hunter I swiped it from noticed."
"Are you sure you're not an assassin?" asked Killua seriously.
None of them noticed that they had the proctor's full attention the second Kurt mentioned her age. Hearing how she bypassed the first protection was a bit troubling.
As long as the kid could keep up without getting killed, he wasn't going to kick her out because of age. Not that he knew the kid was a girl. He wasn't about to make a bad assumption.
When they got to the stairs, she slid the skates off with ease, and put them back in her odd book bag. She ran up the stairs without missing a beat, keeping up with Killua and Gon, who for some reason were at the front of the large pack.
Several hours later (her watch was glow in the dark) they emerged into a large swampy area.
They all took a five-minute breather while the proctor explained a few things. Killua took that chance to get a good look at Kurt. The dark lighting had made it nearly impossible to see his new acquaintance properly.
And it was no wonder. With her odd ability to vanish in front of others, and her penchant for darker clothing, it was as if she was a ghost already. The oversized shirt she had on was a very faded black color and didn't suit her. The jacket, which she used to hide the fact the shirt was nearly four sizes too large to fit her frame was a dark gray that complimented the shirt's coloring well. She had a pair of black cargo jeans with a long silver chain as a belt, though it did spill out a little from the loops since it was a bit too long for her waist. Her new shoes, which had been among the only things her aunt had bought her (Petunia took her niece on a one-time-only shopping spree for clothes and a bag) were navy blue in color. Topping it all off was a large black book bag which seemed to hold everything she owned in it.
Killua couldn't help but think Kurt made an excellent assassin. He could barely feel the kid's presence and he was standing right in front of him! Even he couldn't pull that off!
When they started to run again, he noted that Kurt kept pace with him and no one else. She didn't break off when Gon went to rescue his friends.
Eventually, when they got to the next site, Killua asked why she was sticking so close to him and not Gon, who was by far more personable.
She looked him dead in the eye as she said, "I'm still debating whether or not I want to pass this exam. If I do, then I will finally be free to move on with my life. But if I don't, I'll be dead before I turn twelve. Sticking with you seems to be a safe bet on passing."
"Why would you be dead before you turn twelve?"
"I won't last another year with those people. Right now there are only three things that I would worry about killing me. This exam, my so-called family...and myself."
Killua didn't have a chance to ask what she meant by that when Gon appeared. Leorio, the aspiring medic of his group, had been carried back by Hisoka of all people.
The entire time, loud rumbling sounds that she recognized in a heartbeat were heard behind the closed doors.
"Whoever is inside that place is really hungry,"said Kurt.
"What do you mean?"
"I recognize that sound anywhere. It's a bit more amplified than what I'm used to, but that is definitely the sound of a very empty stomach. Whoever it is inside is hungry, but not at dangerous levels."
Satotsu's (proctor) eyes widened. This kid was very good to figure out that the sound was an empty stomach. His decision to allow her to continue was looking better and better every minute.
Kurt took one look at the size of the boars, twitched, then looked at Killua.
"I'll help you cook these things if you help me carry them."
"Deal. Need any help killing them?
The boar was dead before it could sense her presence. Killua's idea of taking up assassination was looking better every second. Unlike most girls her age, she wasn't squeamish about killing people. That's what happens when your own family wants to kill you and could care less if you died from starvation. As such, she had become very well acquainted with the darker side of human nature.
She didn't notice that one of the other rookies was shooting her odd looks the entire time...or that he had heard the conversation.
"Sushi? Really?" said Kurt in amusement.
"You know what it is?"
"Japanese culture fascinates me. So I looked up a bunch of recipes since my hobby happens to be cooking. Sushi is one of the signature dishes of the country."
"Think you can help us?" asked Kurapika. He had no idea how to make sushi.
"Sure, but I have to warn you, I can be a bit of a perfectionist."
It soon became clear that Kurt knew more about surviving in the wild than Gon did. Then again, she was more used to living in the woods than Gon was and how to tell plants apart. He didn't have to survive with the animals and his own family working against him.
With Gon and Killua supplying the fish, Kurapika and Leorio prepared the vegetables, rice and seaweed to her specifications. Once she finished it all off with the fish, the group presented their dishes.
To the shock of the proctor, they got a seal of approval from Menchi. It didn't hurt that Kurt tasted the food before even bringing it up.
Menchi looked at Kurt with approval.
"You'd make a great Gourmet Hunter kid! I haven't seen someone with your skill in a long time!"
"Thanks... To be honest I am torn between Beast and Gourmet as my career choice at the moment."
"Keep your skills up like that, and you could probably do both!"
Bolstered by their early success, many of the others tried their luck. Only a scant few actually succeeded having overheard Kurt's very detailed instructions.
To Menchi's clear disappointment, none of the other applicants managed to get her approval. Their sushi was passable, but it just wasn't the same.
"I've been meaning to ask...but who are you?" asked Kurapika.
"Call me Kurt."
"My...family...didn't exactly give me a name other than 'freak', and I was too busy avoiding my cousin and his gang to see if they had registered one at the public school. However one of my mother's diaries, which I found by complete accident in the attic, did have a name for one of my parents. However it was so smudged I could only make out four letters. So I go by Kurt."
Kurapika was trying not to stare at the kid. Kurt looked far too familiar, yet he couldn't pin down why.
He had only told his friends a half truth about why he was taking the exam. Yes, he wanted revenge for his clan...but there was another reason that he was reluctant to share with the others right now.