Chapter One

Tristan Marken never expected that he could become someone; that his name would become one that people would know and remember. He thought that maybe he could be a bachelor in some dingy apartment or some newspaper boy. He believed that he would grow up to be some low-class civilian. But never could he have imagined that he would become a murderer…until it was nearly too late.

"So what's the plan?"

"We destroy these fools."

"I know, man, but how?"

A tall, burly teen stood up with a wicked smirk. "I say we rip'em limb from limb," he growled menacingly. His name was Tiberius Johnson, but in the streets and alleys of Los Angeles, he was Tiber, member of Deep Blood, a notorious West Los Angeles gang composed of twenty-one teen boys.

"This ain't no fist fight, man. I want those whelps dead," a medium height, worn-looking adolescent said. His name was Lawton Wyman and he was the leader of Deep Blood. His face was hard from years of living with gangs in alleys and from countless fights, trivial and lethal. There was a giant scar that ran from his left shoulder to his right hip across his torso that was usually always visible, seeing as he hardly ever wore a closed shirt. No one knew why he preferred to walk around in that manner, but everyone had the same assumption: He wanted everyone to see what he'd been through. His scar was like his trophy; one he wanted to show off.

No one even dared to call the leader Lawton Wyman, not even the guys from the other gangs. He went by one name no matter where he went. Blade.

"Besides," Blade continued while pulling out a handgun with a fairly evil grin of his own. "I've been dying to try out this baby. She wants blood, and I intend to quench her thirst."

Growls of agreement spread through the group of boys. They had all come together slowly, each turning to the life of a gangbanger at his own pace, but eventually they had all come to be in the same boat. All of them seemed the same, but one. Tristan Marken, known as Torrent, was the new guy. It was the summer of his eleventh grade year, which made him the second youngest member of Deep Blood, just before a thin sophomore called Splint. Tristan had joined the gang and had been accepted as family. He'd never truly belonged anywhere before, and having people to be with even if they were thieves, muggers, and murderers felt like a positive change. But still, he felt out of place. Inside he wasn't like the boys around him. They were hard-core, fearless, and he was just some pre-senior who had nowhere else to turn. He didn't belong.

"Tomorrow night we're takin' a little field trip down to East Sixth Street, fully-armed," Blade announced coolly. Deep Blood had recently been assaulted by a neighboring gang called Sixth Death. The fight was never meant to be lethal, but one of Deep Blood's members, a guy called Froth for his white hair, was stabbed and hadn't survived the night. The members of Deep Blood were infuriated by the death of their brother, and they now planned their revenge.

Tristan gulped as everyone else cheered. The last thing he wanted was another fight. Who would die this time? Would it be him? He had no reason to fear his own death, for life no longer held meaning for him. Would it maybe be Blade? For some reason it was hard to imagine the leader of Deep Blood being killed. It just didn't seem like it could happen.

The newest Deep Blood brother wanted nothing more than to run from the dark alleys of West Los Angeles and never look back, but he had made a commitment to the gang that could not be broken under pain of death. There was no way to escape the people that he now called family. He wasn't supposed to be there; he knew that. He didn't want to be there, but he forced himself to stay. He had no self-esteem; nothing to tell him that he could do better. He could no longer find the truth in himself that he once had as a child.

"Torrent, do you think you can get us some guns for tomorrow night?" Tiber asked with his gruff voice. Since he had joined Deep Blood, all of the members had expected Tristan to acquire and pay for all of the weapons and supplies they needed, seeing as his parents were the wealthiest ones.

Tristan swallowed nervously, trying to make his voice sound as brave as possible. "Err…how many should we need?" he asked though he really wanted to ask how he, a seventeen-year-old kid, was supposed acquire guns for an entire gang. Of course, it had been a wise decision shutting his mouth.

"Eighteen at most," Blade answered for Tiber while spinning his new gun. "A few of us have our own."

Tristan nodded and tried to stand as fearless as possible. "I'll do what I can, but eighteen isn't just a few. No promises, man." Blade gave him a scrutinizing look before nodding back.

"How we gonna close in on them?" a kid named Sledge asked. Blade immediately flew into the plan. The assault had only been two nights ago, but that was all the time the leader needed to form a suitable plan.

Blade rambled on and on, but when it came to Tristan, his words were falling on deaf ears. Tomorrow night he would go and confront another gang. Not to engage in some petty knife fight. No, they were going with guns and with one intention; to kill. His blood turned to ice at the very thought. This wasn't what he wanted! He had never wanted to become what he was now! But, to Tristan's great misery, there was no turning back.

Where was the little Sunday school boy that he once was? He was still there, but he had been rejected to make room for a gang member. The little boy was just waiting to return, but there was no more room left for him. There was no place left for right in Tristan's new world. And the feeling he had once gotten when he was wrong? It was gone. It had been absent for years.

Hours later, after a liquor store robbery, the gang split up for the day. Tristan trudged to his parent's home with a heavy heart. Tomorrow, he would become a killer.