Dash was more than happy to welcome in a new vampire in need, but Twilight was far from being hospitable. "What do you think you're doing? You're bringing in yet ANOTHER person off of the street? Do you understand how that affects our ability to defend..."
"Twilight, please. Can't you see this boy needs our help?" Dash answered, and was telling his helpers to get Gyro some medical attention before she could protest much more.
"I need to talk to you." She demanded, and she and Dash walked around the corner for what was going to be a very heated discussion. On her part anyway. Something about Dash's spirit didn't really give way to feelings of anger all that much. He just didn't seem the type.
The three of us carried Gyro to the room that I was staying in, and laid him out on the cot. "Are you sure these people can help him?" Dion asked.
"Definitely." I said. "It's what they do."
"When we get back, we'll tell Bryson that he's staying out with some ravers until tomorrow. It'll keep him from panicking...at least for a little while. And we'll stop upstairs to get cleaned up and all before we sneak back into the lot." Dion brushed away a few colored strands of hair away from Gyro's sleeping face. "Stupid boy. You know how much we worry about you."
Jun winced from a pain in his side, "Rain is on one of her little excursions right now. She probably won't be back for a few days. Hopefully, her little brother here will be all healed up and ready to confirm our story by then."
"Are you afraid she'll tell Bryson?"
"Ha! No, I'm afraid she WON'T tell Bryson. Chances are she'll wait for us to be alone and take us out herself!" This from someone who has just taken on a literal one man army on a shakey fire escape. Then again, I'd be lying if I said the possibility Rain's fury didn't scare the shit out of me too. Gyro would occassionally tremble a bit in his sleep and I watched as his legs tensed up and caused him to convulse slightly as he reacted to the toxins in his system. We all took a second to look at each other, knowing that he'd be ok eventually.
Dion let out a sigh of relief. "Ok then. Let's go."
They began to head for the door, but Taryn turned around and saw that...I wasn't following them. "Justin?" Everyone stopped, looking back at me. But...I couldn't go. Not yet. Not until I knew what was wrong with me. I was...DANGEROUS. To all of them. And I loved them much too much to put their lives in peril over something I couldn't understand. And certainly couldn't control. Especially after what I had done to Cato tonight. The damage I had done, out of 'self defense'. Imagine if I had been angry, if I had the time to truly get my emotions involved. I did the right thing, running away from the lot the other night. I don't think I could bear hurting them again.
"I'm not coming."
"What do you mean you're not coming?" Taryn asked, always concerned about me.
"Taryn...I love you. God knows I do. But right now...I need to stay here. I need some answers. Or at least...find out what questions I should be asking." I said it, but I could see Taryn's heart breaking right in front of my eyes.
"I'm staying here with you, then."
"If YOU'RE staying here, then I'm staying with you. End of story." He said.
"If you stay here, and I stay here, and Gyro and Rain both go missing, Bryson is going to spaz out. He'll have everyone scouring every city block until we're all home safe. And I can't come back to that place. Not now." Taryn was going to say something else to convince me, but I lifted his chin to kiss him before he got the chance. "I know you want to help. And I promise you, you will. You HAVE." I kissed him again and he hugged me tight. "We'll continue our conversation later. We pinky promised, remember?"
"Yeah...I remember." And he held onto me for as long as he could before Dion and Jun headed out. "I'll come see you tomorrow."
"You better." I answered.
Before walking out of the door, Dion turned to me to nod gracefully. "You know where 'home' is, when you're ready. Right?" Home...the word itself sounded so complete. The friendliness and warmth in his noble gaze made me feel good inside. Dion could always do that, with such little effort. There was just this silent 'understanding' that passed between us. One where I said I was sorry, and he accepted it wholeheartedly. Some of the greatest and most meaningful conversations ever shared...don't need a single spoken word. Dion gave me a warm grin, and left to join the others. My family. I've never had a group of people mean so much to me.
An hour or so went by before I really moved again from that spot on the floor next to the cot. Gyro stayed asleep, only occassionally stirring once every fifteen minutes or so. The medics in the place had given him a shot or two, and had wrapped his head in cool damp cloths to keep his temperature down a bit. They told me that they'd be starting leech treatment the following day while he slept, and that would get a great deal of the drugs out of his system. The only downside was that he was going to be pretty damn hungry when he woke up. He'd have to feed again in a week's time once the treatment was over. I suppose it's better than the alternative though.
"Knock knock..." Dash peeked around my doorway, and he came in to see how Gyro was doing. "He seems to be healing already. I think he'll be just fine."
"Here's hoping." I said softly. Dash could instantly tell something was wrong. He crossed his legs and plopped right down on the floor next to me, sitting Indian style with a hand on my leg.
"So how about you?" He asked. "How are YOU feeling?"
"I dunno...ok, I guess."
"If you have to guess, then that's a no." I shrugged my shoulders and didn't offer very much else in the way of chit chat, but he was beyond patient with me. I guess he always had been.
"I've had some tough decisions to make recently. It's been tiring to even think about it all the time." I saw Dash looking at me, listening to every word, and stopped myself. "I'm sorry. You don't need to hear about all of this. I'm sure you get pounded with sad stories all the time."
"If so, then one more won't hurt." He said.
"Don't you...don't you ever get tired of hearing it though?"
"Well, I'll admit to being a bit weary from time to time. Even some of my assistants say that my smile doesn't shine as brightly as it used to. Then again, my interactions with people have become a lot more cryptic, it's not that lighthearted fun stuff that it used to be. So yeah, I suppose that there are moments when I want to run screaming in the other direction and just share a smile with somebody instead. I suppose it's just one of the natural side effects of letting the horrors of the world into your life. I think you truly begin to see how much...pain is out there. And how very little you can do to stop it." Dash stared off into space for a moment or two. "It can make you so very brittle emotionally, to have so many people put their lives in your hands. Especially with problems this severe." Then he looked back at me. "But I cherish every single moment of it, Justin. And I won't turn my back on them. I won't turn my back on you. Ok?" I think Dash wanted to help, but was also aware of the fact that I wasn't really up for talking about it. I'm baffled as to how he can keep it all straight in his head. I would have been insane if someone needed me that badly every single day. If I had to be perfect and flawless in every possible way in order to help them. Knowing that my slip ups, my mistakes, could cost them more than I was willing to deal with. I guess a part of me didn't want to talk about my problems, and another part of me didn't want him to have to add it to the pile. So I kept quiet and left it alone. Dash, quite honorably, changed the subject. "So that was your boyfriend? The Taryn boy?"
"Um...yeah. He is."
"He's cute. And you two make a cute couple." He smiled. "I noticed the band on your arm when you first got here. It's still showing pretty strong on you. That means it's genuine. That means it's 'real'. It's a special thing to meet someone like that." Then Dash rolled up his sleeve, and on the smooth surface of his skin, I saw that he had a band of his own. Almost the same, but the design was slightly different.
"You've got one too???" I said, seeing another bond for the first time since my crossover.
"Yep, sure do. I share it with a very special person in my life. He means everything to me."
"Where is he? Is he here?"
"Well...no. It's a bit more complicated than that. I feel him in my heart all the time, but...we don't get to see each other all that often." His smile dimmed a little bit, but stayed present. I think more for my sake than his. "It's a very long story..."
"This place was built on very long stories." I said, quoting Xairen's words. "I've got all eternity to listen. Besides...it'll help me avoid some of my own stories for a while." I said. "So what's his name?"
"Hamish. His name is Hamish." He didn't try to hide the fact that his face lit up ten times over when he said the name. "It seems like just yesterday that I saw him. He was beautiful. I can remember every detail, every line, as though it just happened five minutes ago. I haven't counted a single year since we've been together. I don't have to. There's just time together, and time apart. That's all that matters now."
"So...where is he?" I asked.
"Overseas. Far far away overseas." He looked over at me, and then stretched out his legs to get more comfortable. "We met in a sanctuary, much like this one. Laying low, staying out of trouble...he was one of the human helpers on staff there at the time. We talked, we laughed...it was so easy to fall for him. My mind and my heart and my body all pointed in the same direction and just...click...it happened." Dash's expression changed slightly, to one of slight discomfort. "But the sanctuary didn't last. It was raided by hunters a few months later. The carnage was unimaginable. They had no conscience at all, and cut as many vampires down as they could get their hands on. It was awful. Hamish and I made it out alive, as did most others. But the sanctuary itself was burned to the ground. Just like many other sanctuaries before it, I suppose."
"And Hamish had to go away?"
"Not really. But he plays a very important part in not letting things like that happen over and over again. When too many vampires congregate in one area, they collectively give out a signal. It's almost like a mental beacon of sorts. Not even Frog can mask it for long, it's deeper than technology. They can detect the signal, and they'll find us. So we have to keep our populations down as much as possible, to avoid a total wipeout."
"How do you do that?"
"Well, a lot of vampires just need a temporary hostel. Someplace to get off the streets and lay low for a while. But for more serious matters...those of us who can never again be seen on the surface...we provide them transportation to other parts of the country, sometimes the world. Plces where they might be safe." Dash said. "There's a community of people out there who help those who can't escape their demons, to find a way out. Hamish aids a small resistance of rebels, smuggling vampires from one place to another. Once a vampire makes the Hunter List...it's more dangerous for them to stay still than it is for them to keep moving. They need more than the shelter that I can provide them with here."
"What are 'Hunters', Dash? Why do they want to hurt us?"
"They don't 'want' to hurt us, Justin. They're ordered to..." Just as he said it, one of Dash's nurses came in and asked for his assistance with one of the children on the other side of the compound. "I'll tell you more about...well...everything, later. Ok? I'll send someone in with another cot for you to sleep on since your friend seems to have gotten so comfortable here." He smiled.
"Are you coming back? I really need some answers here, and I'm running out of places to look." I said. He made no promises, but told me that he'd be there the next evening after Bible study if I needed him. And he was gone...leaving me alone with my thoughts once again. Dwelling in the confusion that my world is perpetually lost in. It was maybe four hours until dawn, and since Gyro wasn't going to be much company tonight, I figured I'd explore the place a little bit more. The next hour was spent watching everyone wind down for the night, until the rooms became dead quiet. The children had a bit more energy, but they were hardly running around like the were
Walking the long hallways of the old sanctuary, I became aware of a gentle disturbance in the silence around me. It was almost inaudible, but there was definitely a feeling of movement coming from around the next corner. I followed the sensation until I came to a small room with a sandy floor. Inside of the room, was Twilight, and she was practicing. She was always practicing.
I looked on without saying a word. She was blindfolded, and guiding her movements slowly with grace and precision, perfecting her fighting techniques to a level that went beyond being human. Then again, I guess she would have to. She never stopped pushing.
"It's not polite to stare." She said suddenly. I was caught.
"You heard me?"
"I sensed you. The air around me feels more 'full' when someone else is in the room." She said, and stood at attention as she removed her blindfold. Her ice blue eyes came into view, the beauty of their glow only conrasted by the serious scowl on her face. "How is your friend?"
"Better. I think he'll make it through just fine. He'll be good as new soon."
"Good. We don't need extra occupants right now. His very presence here jepordizes our safety." She said, and walked over to grab a towel to wipe the small beads of sweat from her brow.
"Gee...don't be too friendly or anything." I said sarcastically. "I thought this was supposed to be a sanctuary for those in need."
"It IS. But what it is NOT is a boarding home or a soup kitchen for you to bring in whatever drugged up friends you happen to run across in the street." She tossed the towel into the corner, and put her watch back on.
"Gyro is NOT some 'drugged up' stranger! He's my friend. He needs help, and you guys are equipped to give it to him. I brought him here because I THOUGHT I could trust you..."
"Make no mistake, Justin. I couldn't give a rat's ass about you OR your friend! I do security! THAT'S my job! And anything that creates a conflict between me and my ability to DO that job is to be dealt with immediately. You are putting all of us at risk by bringing your friend here under such circumstances, and if it were up to me, you'd BOTH be out on the streets!"
I could feel the hostility boiling in her mannerisms, and I began to feel a twinge of it myself while looking at her eye to eye. "Well Dash seems to like having us here just fine." I replied, expecting a confrontation. But something happened to her. Her mood changed. Instantly. Her focus shifted away from me completely without warning. Similar to an attack dog that had suddenly heard a strange noise from outside. I started to speak to ask her what was wrong, but she put up a hand to silence me before the words could even leave my mouth. "Shhhhhh....." She whispered. I could almost see her wheels turning, her senses on high alert, reaching out as far as her humanity would allow. She didn't move, she didn't even breathe, and her eyes moved slowly from one end of the room to another.
"What is it?" I whispered softly.
"The meter on my watch...it moved." She said.
I looked down at it, and it was waving, only slightly, but she took notice of it right away. "What does that mean?"
"It means someone is using a low level transmission to communicate." Twilight became more tense as the needle on her watch slightly jumped again, and I could feel her digging in to the very ground beneath her with her feet. Preparing herself. "Someone is whispering into a receiver...and they've gotten inside somehow." She looked up at the ceiling above us. "We've got 'visitors'."
She then pushed me aside as she quickly finished drying the sweat from her face with her sleeve, and walked over to grab her fighting sticks from the corner of the room. I watched as she began getting ready, gearing up for one hell of a fight from the looks of it. I was left standing there, confused, wondering what the hell was going on here. "Wait a minute. Wait...what's happening here?"
"Go! Now! Find Dash and make sure that the children are safe."
She gave me a stern look as she pulled on a pair of black leather gloves, and a black mask to cover her face. "HIDE!" She moved swiftly out of the room like a soldier, and I had no choice but to follow her out, turning in the opposite direction once I reached the hallway. It was strange, I couldn't sense ANYTHING. Nothing at all. That damn 'Frog' machine was suddenly put on high and dulling my internal radar so much that I was completely lost as to what was going on. How a 'human' could detect trouble before I could, I'll never know. But I suppose that's Twilight's job. And I'll be damned if she isn't good at it.
I moved quickly through the dimly lit hallways, and happened to run into Dash as I was running out of places to search for him. "Dash! Dude...Twilight told me to find you..."
"Yes, I know. I saw the signs." He said. "It's too late to avoid a confrontation now. They've already breached the outer perimeter. They'll be here any minute." It was then that I could hear the footsteps of people right above my head. The ceiling began to drip particles of dust down on us as the footsteps got harder and more urgent. We were being 'invaded'...and there was nothing we could do about it. The gig was up. Dash turned to me with an urgent look in his eyes. "Find your friend, take him to one of the more secure rooms and keep him safe. Do NOT come out of that room no matter what! Do you understand?"
I nodded, but was startled by the sudden sounds of gunfire upstairs. The shots rang out and echoed through the halls of the underground lair. The footsteps got closer, now charging further downstairs, and a loud banging began to thunder throughout the sanctuary as they tried to force their way in. Whatever it was on the other side of that door, they were not going to be held back for much longer! "Dash..." I said. But he merely pushed me in the direction of Gyro's room.
"GO!!!" He shouted, and he ran forward towards the wall. Then, without saying a word, he put his back to the wall and I watched as a secret compartment swallowed him up by spinning him safely to the other side. It happened so fast that it took a second or two for my mind to adjust to what had happened. It was a neat trick.
A few loud crashes got my attention, and I had to get out of there. I ran back into the room where Gyro was laid out, and he seemed to have rolled out of the cot and found a somewhat more comfortable spot on the floor underneath it during his few brief moments of consciousness. I covered him up from head to toe with blankets, as though it would act as some kind of protection from the enemy trying to force its way inside the compound. Gyro wasn't awake, but he was still shivering slightly as the drugs in his system attempted to take over his young body and finish him off. If he hadn't been a vampire, he would have been dead by now. All I could do was stay with him and pet his soft hair gently as he fought off the deadly poisons inside of him. Poor kid, he's got a hard time ahead of him while this stuff works its way out.
I heard another loud ruckus in the distance. And what sounded like a small army of people came rushing into the hallways of our fortress. That noise was quickly followed by the shouts and screams of the inhabitants of our little world down here. Mostly the young ones. I wasn't sure who the intruders were, or why they were here...but there was no doubt about it....they were coming this way!
I got up to my feet, more out of fear than anything else, leaving Gyro on the floor, and remianed perfectly still. I listened for the footsteps, trying to find out where they were going. And it wasn't long before I started creeping forward towards the doorway of my darkened room to see what was happening. I tried not to make a sound, but I forced myself to keep moving. I could hear a struggle in the rooms above and around me. Fighting, grunts, shattered furniture, and an occassional gunshot. Dash's team of well trained monks were definitely doing what they did best, but I began to wonder how effective they could possibly be against whatever it was upstairs. I peeked outside of my door, and could see a few men through the dust and rubble in the hallway. Athletically built, soldiers in their own right, and moving in some kind of strategic formation through the maze-like area. They were dressed in all black uniforms, and hurriedly went charging through the halls in their search. In the dark, their outfits were barely visible, except for bright green neon visors that they wore over their eyes. Possibly to help them see in the dark. And if they needed that apparatus to see, that meant that they had to be human.
I ducked behind the doorway as they ran past, and I could hear more fighting going on up ahead. The shit was really hitting the fan in this place, and while there may have only been 15 or 20 of them, there were enough intruders there to do some real damage if something wasn't done to fix the problem soon. Looking back at Gyro on the floor, I wondered if it would be ok to leave him there. Just for a moment. He was helpless, completely passed out and unable to fend for himself. If anything were to happen to him, I'd never forgive myself. And if RAIN ever found out, she'd wipe me out of existnce for SURE! My conflicts kept me still and silent for the time being. But I knew that something had to be done, and despite my secrets...I knew that I could help.
Just then, a few of the young boys I had seen earlier ran past my room screaming, as they were being chased by the men in black. That's when I saw another small hole in the wall open up instantly...and Dash grabbed the two boys, pulling them into the wall with him. He disappeared with them just as quickly as he had arrived, and the two men couldn't get behind the wall to get at him. Dash must have had an entire network of secret passages behind the walls, and he was using the entrances and exits so swiftly that I doubt anyone would be able to react before he was gone again!
The men raised their machine guns and began shooting at the wall with the hope of breaking through. The symphony of gunfire drowned out the shouting of the sanctuary's residents, still frantically running back and forth in the halls. I had to cover my sensitive ears to keep from going deaf. The men stopped shooting and tried kicking the secret door in, but to no avail. The wall stood just as solid as it had before. The two men were so involved with their persuit, that they didn't notice a small hatch open up over their heads. That's when I saw Twilight quickly drop down from the ceiling onto both of the attacking enemies in the hallway, catching them by surprise! The two men fought valiantly, but Twilight was MUCH too fast for them, and she rendered them completely unconscious in a matter of seconds! The way she moved, her speed, her strength...it had to be seen to be believed. Those fighting sticks of hers had practically crippled them with the first few blows. The rest was easy after that. It was an honor to watch her work.
Twilight made sure that they were out for the count, and then moved her way over to me. "They're scouts!"
"They're here searching for something. Or for someone!" She said, and then heard another noise from around the corner. "Get back in your room! Stay there!" She shouted, and ran down the hall to confront the enemy head on. Twilight put a hand on the scout's shoulder and seemed to practically run up the side of the wall as she flipped over and brought him down hard to the floor below! As she moved out of sight, I was able to catch a glimpse of her fast moving shadow as she began going toe to toe with anyone that stood in her way. There were some flashes of light against the wall as the ment tried to fire off rounds in her direction. They didn't get much of a chance. She was on them before they could aim the barrel. And the ones that took the time to aim, never got to pull that trigger. They were no match for her, I could see that as she put all of her hours of training to use with brutal precision. It was then....that I felt it again.
My arms began to twitch, my legs, my senses heightened themselves to such an intense level that the hair on my arms stood straight out on its end. My body was 'readying' itself without a single command. I could feel my shoulders drop, my stomach tighten, my body was stretching itself out for combat. It worried me, my mind still full of images from the last time that I let my instincts take over. I could still feel the sickening connection between my fist and Taryn's face. The sensation that I felt when I struck out at Dion, Max, Jenna....my friends. My 'family'. It brought me back to that moment in the classroom when I unleashed all of my fury onto the boy who had pushed me soooo very far. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to lose that control again. I went back into my room and leaned against the wall, hoping and praying that I could keep my composure. My body tensed up even more as the noises got louder, and the fighting outside my room got more fierce. The monks were holding off the guards with all they could give, but the soldiers pressed on. I could hear it, I could 'feel' it. I had to clench my fists to keep from doing something I was going to regret. SHIT!!! What do I do? What do I DO???
My mind kept telling me that I couldn't get involved. I SHOULDN'T! I had to keep this under wraps. I was already in big trouble for exposing my abilities and not laying low like Comicality told me to. Shit...for all I knew....these scouts were sent here to find...ME!!! I can't keep fighting out in the open like this. I'm putting everyone I know and love in danger by doing so. And I can't leave Gyro here by himself either. I'll just...I'll just stay here. Just like Dash and Twilight instructed. They know what they're doing. They're TRAINED for this kind of thing. They know this place better than anybody, it will be ok.
That's just what my mind was telling me. But my heart, as always, had other plans...and my mimic abilities were siding with it. My knuckles popped, and the energy built up in my limbs like a caffeine rush. It felt like a blast of 'anger', rage even, but without the emotion attached. It was purely physical. The kind of sudden uncontrollable impulse that causes you to strike someone after they had crossed that line that you weren't expecting them to. My eyes were struggling to turn a dark shade of blood red, and I could feel the crimson blush taking over my vision as my fangs fought to be freed from their prison. NO! NO DAMMIT!!! Stay calm! Don't do it! DON'T!!!
I stayed hidden as I heard a small crowd of screaming children run past my door in terror! And Kyra was one of them. They came spilling into my room to hide from the war in the hallway, and as they passed me, they grabbed at my hips and tugged at my shirt...standing behind me with the hope that I could give them some protection from the monsters attacking the place that they had been calling home for so long. "Don't let them get us!" They shouted. "I wanna go home!" They cried. "I'm SCARED!" They shrieked. They were just KIDS! My fists unclenched themselves, and my instincts burned hot in my veins. I didn't think I could hold it much longer.
The noises outside got louder, the crashes more explosive, and the soldier like footsteps rumbled closer. The boys and girls crowded around behind me tightly, even Kyra, showing the first sign of true fear that I had seen on her face since I had been there. And I looked up just in time to see one of the intruders enter through the doorway of the room. I used my outspread arms to keep the kids behind me, and gave another quick glance to Gyro on the floor in the corner. This was it, it was fight or flee. And I was NOT about to let these kids be hurt! I felt my body energize itself to full potency as I let go and allowed it to prepare itself to strike.
"Search the rooms! EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!" Came another voice from outside, and the man moved forward. His arm reached out for my shoulder. It was a definite mistake.
My body reacted the second he touched me. His outstretched arm was broken immediately as I grabed him by the wrist and used my other hand to strike at his elbow! He screamed out loud, and my leg raised to deliver three quick kicks to his ribs and chest. Then, with one strong forward kick, I sent him flying back out of the room and against the wall! The room fell silent, and when I looked back the kids were standing there wide eyed like they had just met Santa Claus. "Don't move, ok? Stay in here where it's safe." They didn't answer, instead backing up from me and lining themselves against the wall next to Gyro. "Watch my friend for me. I'll be back for him." They nodded in unison, and I walked out into the hallway to face whatever was coming my way. I hope Comicality taught me enough to get through this.
I peeked my head out into the hallway, my limbs burning as though they were filled with liquid nitro, and stepped out into the conflict taking place. I saw a woman, about 25 years old, run past me screaming, and she was being followed by two men in black. This is it...I'm officially a part of this thing. Might as well give it my all. I felt my body jump forward and roll down between them, only to hop back up and grab one by the throat. I smashed him hard against the wall while my legs sprung up to tightly wrap my ankles around the other man's neck! My upper body fell down to the ground, and with twist of my hips, my legs still firmly locked, I brought the second soldier spinning to the floor with me. The first tried striking out at me, but my arms blocked every blow, not letting a single punch through. The second I sensed an opening, my fist shot out and connected hard with his ribcage, knocking the wind out of him as he soared backwards to slide across the floor. I spun around to take on the other one, and with a few skillful kicks, I sent him flying backwards towards the wall. It was then that I noticed a smaller figure in the distance...watching me. The halls were dusty with the scuffling of fighters from both sides, and this granulated fog had just begun to settle around me. But as my vision became clear, I saw Dash...standing on the other side of the room. His eyes met mine, and I knew that I was caught red handed. He knew, and there was no more hiding my abilities at this point. I suppose it's something that I'm just gonna have to explain later.
I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder, gripping me tightly to pull me backwards. My shoulders acted on their own, circling around to free themselves from his hold. Then I was able to grab a hold of his arm, and spin into him to deliver a high kick to his face from over my shoulder! I looked around to make sure that there wasn't anyone else around me, and that's when I saw Dash nod approvingly in my direction. A smile broke out on his face, and he dodged back into the wall, disappearing to rescue more of his precious kids from the battle inside. I moved around the corner, following the long hall to see if I could help out some more. As much fighting as I had done before, I had never felt my senses pulse with such a desperate urgency. It was like they wanted to rip someone's head off, ITCHING to do some damage. It was something that I was going to have to consciously tone down if I wanted to keep from killing anybody. Because the way I feel right now...I'd rip them apart!
Moving swiftly down the hall, I came across another soldier who was grabbing hold of a little boy and using some machine to stab him in the arm with a needle. As though he were taking blood DNA samples or something. Hearing the boy scream was enough to set me off, and I charged ahead! My first punch almost dislocated his jaw! I grabbed the kid and pushed him off to the side and out of harms way before roundhousing the man to the floor. Two more came emerging out of the cloud of smoke in front of me, their green visors appearing out of the darkness before anything else. The first fought me head on, fiercely swinging at my face and my legs, trying to disable me enough to keep me from fighting. My body could duck, dodge, and jump faster than he could even think about it, and after giving him a swift kick in the nuts...I brought down my elbow hard on his back. I wasn't sure if I had really heard any bones crack, or if it had been my imagination, but I had no time to worry about that now. My body was already on its way to target number two.
I ran down the hall top speed, and noticed the guard pull a PISTOL from his side holster! Vampire or not, the human mind is never ready when it comes to having a gun drawn on you. Especially with this being my first time. I didn't feel like testing my supposedly 'near-invinceable' body on whether or not it could take a gunshot at this range. Still, my body kept running in his direction, even faster in fact. I couldn't STOP! And almost screamed when I saw him take aim for my head!
However, an incredible surprise to us both, my feet left the floor and momentarily stuck to the wall on the side of the hallway! Never once losing my momentum! I felt my legs push out and spring forward, jumping from wall to wall, wall to ceiling, ceiling to floor...in a speedy zig zag as he fired five bullets in my direction! It was happening so quickly that I didn't have time to think about what I was doing! I had never DONE anything like that before, and was able to easily dodge every shot while still racing forward! The guard shouted out as I pounced on him with the full weight of my body, knocking him hard to the floor. He dropped the gun, and I yanked him up to his feet. I pushed him against the wall and bean punching him repeatedly in the chest with my right hand while holding him up with my left. I just kept hitting him, again and again and again. My instincts tapping into my emotions and filling up with more and more rage by the second. "...Draw a fucking gun on ME????" I shouted, and angrily kicked him to the ground! It was then that my vision went completely red, my eyes had switched over, glowing hot and shining bright enough to almost reflect off of the walls around me. They blazed brightly as I felt my fangs spike down, and the madness took over once again. My most animalistic instincts came bursting out to the surface...there would be no escape from my wrath, not now.
I sprinted down the long corridors now, not even worried about being careful anymore, and fought hard to protect any screaming man, woman, or child that I could find. These soldiers just stepped into the WRONG fucking church!
Dash did his best to warp in and out of the walls as quickly as he could. Even in a roomful of kids, he could snatch them into the walls two at a time, and be gone before the soldiers could catch a good glimpse of him. He moved strategically, never in the same place twice, playing a chess game that they couldn't keep up with. It was ingenious. I almost took a hit watching him. A soldier kicked out at me, and actually hit me square in the stomach, knocking me to the ground. I held my abdomen in pain, trying to catch my breath. "Is it THIS one???" He shouted out to his 'captain'. "Is this the target???" Target? Me? Is he talking about me?
The captain looked over at me, adjusting his visor to see more closely. But before he got a fix on me, Twilight burst into the room and flew towards him with fighting sticks in motion! She struck him hard enough to shatter his visor completely, causing the glowing green lens to go black instantly. Taking the cue from her distraction, I put my palms down on the floor, and flipped over to kick out at the man in front of me. Then swung my leg around to knock him off of his feet. I stood up just in time to see seven or eight more soldiers flood the room. Something tells me that I miscounted them at fifteen to twenty men. I must have burned through at least half that many myself..and they just keep coming.
"Move! Move!" They yelled at each other. "THERE! Take 'em down!"
Both Twilight and I jumped forwards at the same time, and took the soldiers head on, fists swinging wildly. I grabbed one guy by the arm and twisted it back and forth, keeping him in front of me while the others tried to strike at me. By the time I had let him go, he didn't even know which way to fall. Twilight dived right into the middle of the platoon and began taking them all on from the inside. She was fearless, a blur of forceful motion, hitting them two at a time. Meanwhile, I worked on the outside of the circle, watching them fall one by one as I picked up any spare ones that wanted to keep moving. They didn't stand a chance against both of us. No way in hell.
My body was getting stronger, my reflexes were getting faster. With all of the moves that Comicality had taught me, I had absorbed a lot more. It made me wonder if I could have gotten that 'wall jumping' thing from that brief run in with Cato earlier that evening. Could I have adopted it that fast? It seemed impossible. What's worse, these men were coming at me with such an agitated assault, and I was absorbing that too. They fought like assassins. Swift, cold, effective. The more I knuckled up with them, the more aggressive my own style got. They just kept feeding me wih a more dangerus set of moves. If anything, they were making me even deadlier than I was before.
I could feel myself breaking arms, legs, dislocating joints, delivering blows hard enough to almost kill a man with the impact. There was no controlling it, no dulling the sharp blade of it. My techniques were going to put an end to their struggle by any means neccessary. That became clear to me when I felt my leg swing down and brutally snap one of the soldier's ankles. His foot was laying on the floor sideways, the joint broken to the point where shards of bone were poking out through his skin. And I didn't feel sorry. My eyes burned even brighter, in fact. When the next man swung at me, I cartwheeled out of the way and wiggled my way around one of his teammates. Then....without a thought...I tilted his head back and took a huge disgusting bite out of his shoulder! I could feel my teeth sink into the nape of his neck and scrape the collarbone underneath as a gush of blood splashed up onto my face. An unnatural scream left his lungs, and I kicked him in the back, sending him flying forward into two of his friends. A wicked grin curled up on my lips as he twitched and squirmed on the ground from my bite. I could feel the warm blood on my lips, and lustfully licked it away with a slow swipe of my tongue. The taste of it covered the roof of my mouth as I stared hungrily at the sacks of meat in front of me. It was taking hold of me again, I could hear those imaginary tribal drums in the distance....bring it down a few levels, Justin. Don't let the animal in you get too much free reign over you.
Twilight took a few hits, and even though she was still going blow for blow with the best of them, she needed my help. I jumped into the fray alongside her, and the both of us began whipping up a cloud of dust from moving so fast. A kick...and one man fell. An elbow to the face...and another one fell. A clothesline sent a third to the ground on his back. The fighting got even more heated as three more men entered the room, concentrating their attack on taking us out. And the both of us wet wild. We were NOT going down! Not today!
My body spun and twisted so violently, dodging and striking at the same time, that it got away from me for a moment. I jumped up with a spin kick and Twilight barely ducked just in time to avoid getting hit. My arm instinctively swung around towards her head, and thankfully she caught it. "WATCH IT, kid!"
I shrugged my shoulders, realizing my mistake. "Sorry..."
But the moment was short lived as they closed in on us again. Twilight began hitting them in the back of the knees, attempting to keep them from being able to stand or press forward. But she was beginning to feel fatigued, her arms becoming weary and numb. She was human, and she wouldn't be able to keep up at this pace for much longer. My sensitive hearing picked up the sound of a clip being loaded into another gun, and I spotted two men in the corner ready to fire on us. Shit! I jumped out of the center of the battle and found myself standing on the wall again. So I DID absorb something afterall! But my grip wasn't NEARLY as strong as Cato's was, and I was already slipping. I only had a limited amount of time before I fell back to the floor. I had to be fast!
I quickly sprung forward with a push, and felt Jun's extra suddenly turn itself on out of nowhere. His complete focus took out all of the noise in the room, all of the fighting, all of the dust....everyhing. The whole universe seemed to go black in that one endless moment, everything slowed down almost to a complete stop, and nothing else existed except for me...and the guns pointed in my direction as I flew towards them. My mind never felt so free of fear, so confident. In that instant, I had nothing to be scared of.
What seemed like an enternity of focus to me, was only a split second to them. And I was able to grab both of their wrists as I flew past them, forcing their first shots up into the air as I rolled behind them! I DID IT! I saved us! DAMN this is sweet! Then, I jumped up to spin around and kick both of them to the floor simultaneously before they could react! My focus returned to 'reality' just in time to see Twilight bring the last soldier down to his knees before giving him a punch that put him to sleep. She looked over at me, breahing hard, not knowing quite what to make of me. She put her suspicions to rest for the moment though, and just walked back towards the door. "Move your ass. If there's a third wave, they'll be here soon." And she left the room.
"You're welcome..." I mumbled to myself, and hurried out after her.
The shouts and cries of the children in the hallways was considerably less than it was before. But there were still a few left, and we had to follow their worried whimpers in order to find them. That DAMN 'Frog' machine! I could sense certain things up close, but my heightened sensitivity was acting faint, slow, and sluggish under the Frog's mind clouding waves. I couldn't reach out far enough to find them, and had to walk through the halls practically blind. "HELLO?" I shouted out. "HELLOOOOO???"
I heard some muffled cries from one of the rooms at the end of the hall in front of me. It was a long, thin, hall...narrow enough to touch both sides with my arms outstretched. And it was smokier and dustier than the others. It must have stretched out for a good 80 feet with no doorways. Still, there was the echo of children coming from the other end. The very air around me was deadly still as I moved forward...the fighting still raging on in the distance. I walked closer and closer towards the dim light at the other end of the passage, but as I got into the middle the light behind me went out. I turned my head for a moment to look behind me and saw nothing. And yet, when I turned back...I noticed the silhouette of a man standing in the light ahead of me. He was not too much older than me from the looks of it, with long silver hair that hung down to his shoulders. His clothes were loosely fit on him, and he had a small cape draped over his shoulders in stillness. But he was not one of the sanctuary's protectors. And what worried me even more than that....was that he wasn't wearing a visor. He could see in the dark just fine.
He was one of US!
I saw a flash of his eyes as they blazed red, and he started walking towards me down the long corridor to meet me half way. "Why are you here?" I asked him, but he said nothing. He just kept walking. "Is it me you want?" I shouted, but he just kept walking. Getting closer to me with each determined step. "AM I WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR, YOU SON OF A BITCH???" His silence enraged me, and I prepared to dig into him DEEP once he got within striking distance! "WELL, HERE I AM!!! COME GET ME!!!"
I jumped forward at him, both hands reaching out for his throat. But this was no human in a black suit, no soldier with a pistol. Whoever it was, he was trained to effectively deal with people like me. He stopped me in mid air with a forward kick, and sent me soaring backwards in the opposite direction. It was effortless, accurate...an execution reserved for a master. He had begun walking forward towards me again before I had even hit the ground, and I had to get up fast. I attacked again, my arms pushing themselves forward with a fury, frantically looking for an opening. Then another kick landed directly in the center of my chest, and he caught me with a forearm that almost broke my nose! I fell back and the pain of his attack stung for a few moments before I found myself struggling to get back on my feet. This was NOT going well!
I regained my stance, relaxed my shoulders, loosened my limbs, and took a deep breath. My body settled into a whole new focus, and I was ready. The time for holding back was over. I waited for him to make the next move, and this time when he reached out to hit me, I caught his hand in mid punch, and pushed it back at him...almost spraining his wrist. He was caught off guard, but only for a quick moment. He began lashing out one punch after another, and I was blocking and dodging expertly, but couldn't get in a hit of my own. He was too fast, too skilled. And then, even with my mimic ability on full blast, he was able to land a few punches inside my defenses. The hallway was too narrow to really maneuver around him, and I could feel myself getting pushed backwards as his attacks became more aggravated. Finally, I got my opportunity. I saw a quick opening coming up! It was as if my mind reading ability tapped into him and predicted his next few moves a few seconds ahead of time! I didn't know how I did it or how it worked, but I knew that I couldn't let my excitement take away the only chance I had to get out of a severe asswhipping from this guy! I jumped up, and both of my legs kicked forward, connecting with his chest, and knocking him back a third of the way back down the hallway! When my back hit the ground, I jumped right back into my stance and waited for him to get up. I had accomplished one of two things. Either I let him know who was boss around here.......or I had just pissed him off.
>From the look in his eyes when he got up, patting the dust off of his cape...I'm thinking I pissed him off. He slowly spread his arms out slightly at his sides, not moving from his position, and closed his eyes. I readied myself, but was visibly nervous. Not knowing what the hell he was up to. I watched him carefully, afraid to move, afraid to speak....and that's when I saw small wisps of smoke rise from his palms. I looked closer, and he seemed to be secreting a heavy dose of sticky liquid from his hands, and it began to slowly drip down to the floor. The liquid sizzled as it hit the concrete below, and it burned little holes in the ground with its acidic nature. I took a small step back from him, and that's when his eyes opened, fixing their gaze directly on me. It was a vampire extra that I wasn't quite ready for. Who would be?
Suddenly, he lifted his arm up, and a long acid web shot out from his hand! It wrapped around my left leg and pulled my feet from under me! As I fell backwards to the floor, I could feel the strand burning right through my pants leg, hungry to eat away at the flesh underneath. I broke free from it just as it started to burn my skin, and I rolled back to get away from him. His other arm raised up and shot out another long web at me, but I rolled to the side to dodge it. It hit the floor next to me, and began to dissolve into the concrete. Fuck! Another strand shot out! And another! And ANOTHER! I got to my feet and was moving from side to side to dodge the attacks. But as the webs began to clog up the tiny space, I was running out of places to move. I had to stop this...and NOW!
I tried charging towards him, his long strings of acid shooting out three at a time, and I had to be careful to stay out of their way. He shot to the right, I dodged left. He shot to the left, I dodged right. If he shot high towards the ceiling, I ducked. If he shot at my legs down by the floor, I jumped. His patterns got more and more complicated as I decreased the space between him and me, and I was surprised that my improvised acrobatics were enough to keep me safe and moving forward at the same time. A few of the drops dripped down onto my shoulders and neck. I could feel the sting of the liquid as it touched me. It hurt a LOT! And that was just a few drippings! I moved faster in his direction. He backed up a bit, crossing his streams into such an elaborate pattern that I couldn't possibly get through. But my feet left the floor and went straight for the wall, soon transferring to the ceiling! My grip on being upside down wouldn't hold though, and I dropped down in front of him. Thank God I didn't slip up before getting past his obstacles.
He delivered three quick punches to my midsection, and I was thrusted back against the wall. I fought back, getting a good chop in at the front of his throat. He recovered much too quickly though and flipped me over his shoulder onto my back. When I hit the ground, my leg shot up and kicked him in the face! Then he spun around and kicked me in the stomach! We traded a few more shots, neither one of us getting the edge. With the exception of Comicality's 'training', I don't think I had ever faced anyone so precise. Even my arms and legs were beginning to tire at this point. I was exerting too much stress on them, I knew it. This was beyond what my muscles were trained for. And even though I was fighting for my very survival...they will begin to tighten up and cramp on me if I keep this up for much longer.
I balanced on one leg, letting my kicks take over while my arms got in a short rest. My abilities brought up memories of 'Sparrow' in the fighting arena, and his swift flurry of kicks were coming in handy against this mysterious stranger. He couldn't possibly block them all, and little by little I was wearing him down. If he blocked one kick, I caught him with another. If he dodged one kick, I caught him with another. And when he was able to figure out the pattern and caught my foot in mid kick...the other foot quickly left the ground and swung over to strike HARD at the side of his head! He went down to the floor, eating dust, the pain of my kick racing through him. What could I say, I was proud of myself. Maybe too proud. His hand came out from under his sleeve, and a large glob of that corrosive substance shot out at my feet. It covered my right shoe, and it started melting instantly. SHIT...I kicked it off of my foot as fast as I could and backed away from him. So much for giving Dash back the pair of shoes he had lent to me.
The man spun up to his feet and sent more webs spiraling past me. I leaned aside to dodge them and began to duke it out with him once again. He kicked me off of him, and then shot out to burn a hole in my shirt. I patted it away with my hand as it began to eat through the material and got some on my hands. God DAMMIT, it burned! I saw him reach his hand out again, and kicked him under his elbow to direct the next shot up above his head to hit the ceiling. It was my only real defense, and I was able to push his arms away everytime he attempted to shoot another web in my direction, deflecting his aim to different parts of the hall before he got the chance to burn me again. It was difficult trying to predict every move, trying to dodge and redirect every shot of his extra...but somehow, I kept up with him. And it was getting slightly easier as I felt pieces of his fightig style being absorbed into me. We fought tooth and nail in that small dark hallway, his hands secreting just enough juice to sting me every time I blocked a punch. But I wouldn't give in. I couldn't. I kept fighting, and he kept right up with me. Waiting for me to inevitably tire out. He kicked me back far enough to get some distance, and started spinning more webs than I could possibly dodge. I flipped backwards, back and back and back...far enough down the hall where the webs couldn't touch me. I could smell the dissolving concrete in the air, hear the sizzle coming from every inch of the hall where his acid strands had landed. I kept flipping back at a dizzying pace, but some of the strands hit their mark and burned me anyway. Even with all of my evasive tactics, he was able to hit me anyway. It hurt like a bitch! And when I stopped flipping backwards, I got into a stance, low to the ground...and my unique extra suddenly started to build up in the front of my mind, ready to fire at will. He want's to play 'special abilities'...we'll play!
My mind took all of my emotions and compiled them, concentrated them, into a blast so strong that it could no longer be held back. That immense hatred, that sadness, that fear, that guilt...every sickening ounce of that emotional POISON...it all circled itself around my head like a dark halo, and the adrenaline rush inside of me forced it forward into a concussive blast with enough power to rattle the walls of the entire sanctuary!!! I screamed outloud, feeling the rush of intensified madness leaving me all at once. The explosive repercussions of holding back everything that I felt, all of my secrets, all of my problems...a life of tragedy and pain released in a focused laser that could not be escaped! The silver haired man was pushed back to the other end of the hall, laying on the ground holding both sides of his head and twitching in intense pain! I feared the walls themselves would crumble from the impact, as they seemed to crack and blister with the force of the blast. I stood up straight, relieved from that explosive release of power, and readied myself for more. I had plenty more tricks where that came from. After regaining his senses, however, the stranger decided not to continue fighting. Instead, he got up and moved back around the corner where he came from. I chased after him down the hall, but when I got to the end...he was gone. As a matter of fact...ALL of them were gone. The soldiers, their vampire assassin, the whole lot. Gone twice as fast as they had dropped down on us in the first place.
"HELLO?" I shouted. "Twilight? Dash?"
"Justin!" Came a voice from right behind me, scaring the living SHIT out of me! It was Dash, and I almost lashed out and hit him on reflex alone!
"Jesus! You startled me!" I told him. But he only grinned in response. We looked around at the slightly damaged, but still strong surroundings of the place. Nothing that couldn't be fixed in a few days time. "I think...I think they're gone."
"I'm not picking up any traces, but we're gonna check all of the rooms just to make sure. Can't be too careful. Whatever it is that the scouts were looking for, either they found it or they didn't. I'm thinking they didn't."
Twilight came from inside one of the walls and was talking into a walkie talkie to her guards. She hardly noticed us, she had business on her mind. "Calculate our losses. See what's missing and what isn't. We're on high alert from here on out, got it?" She turned it off and asked me and Dash, "Are you two alright?"
"I'm fine." Dash replied.
She lightly rubbed at a rather large bruise that she had gotten on the back of her shoulder during the fight. I could see her twitch a little from the pain, but she remained stone faced, ignoring it as much as humanly possible. "They knew that our machines were set to detect vampires in the area. That's why they deployed human soldiers in the first wave to get past our warning signals. But this wasn't a random hostel raid. They were sent here for something." Twilight's gaze turned to fix itself on me. "Or someone..." I looked away, as though that could protect me from her stare. It didn't. It burned through me whether I was looking back at her or not. She had had her suspicions about me from the moment I got there, and with my recent display of special abilities while fighting alongside her...I'm sure that it had only made things worse. Comicality warned me, Tim warned me, they said that I should keep my powers under wraps. They told me I shouldn't let anyone know. That I was going to need protection from the powers that be if it ever got out. I was beginning to wonder if this was the beginning of a much larger problem. Something that even Com himself told me that he'd be unable to help me with.
Twilight walked over to me, her eyes slightly squinted as though it would aid her in analyzing me. "Exactly...what kind of trouble led you to this place, Justin?"
"I'm just here for my friend to get well. That's all..."
"I mean before you brought him here. What reason did you have to come knocking at our door?"
"I...I told you..."
"No. No you didn't." She persisted. "Tim told you about us, is that what you said? He had to have had a reason to offer you possible sanctuary here without there being any kind of sudden emergency. Why did he give you the location of this place..'just in case' something happened?"
I didn't answer, and she didn't back down. To dig myself deeper, even in a secure place like this, might turn out to be a mistake that I wasn't willing to repeat. It seems no matter where I go, or what I do, or what life I lead...there's ALWAYS a secret. Always a torment. Always some reason to keep everyone at arms length. I'm destined to fail at every life I lead, and it's times like this that I wish I wasn't leading one at all.
"Twilight...take a look at this." Dash called from a bit further down the hall. It was the only thing that saved me from her line of questioning. Not that I could ever expect her to forget. She slowly peeled her eyes from me, and looked over in Dash's direction. He was crouched down, rubbing his fingers in the small grooves in the walls and the floor. "A Hunter was here. I can tell." He stood up as Twilight walked over to join him. "There's a corrosive substance covering the walls and floor. And look here..." He pointed to the footprints left on the dusted floor. "This is a military fighting style. This was no scout mission. The Elders sent out an assassin. A particularly nasty one too, from the looks of it. Whoever he was, he was here to take someone out."
"It was a Hunter?" I asked. Hunters are...other vampires?
"Yep, no doubt about it." Dash stood back up on his feet.
Twilight got a signal on her walkie talkie, and received a damage report. Then looked back at me. "We've got 4 dead. Fourteen wounded. No other sanctuaries in the area were hit...just this one. This was a strategic attack, they PLANNED for all this to happen. But they didn't find what they were looking for, evidently."
"So...if he were looking for somebody...that is...if he had found him..." I stopped for a moment before letting the words leave my mouth. "...Then his orders were to 'kill' him?"
"As quickly and efficiently as possible, yes." Twilight answered. "Targets don't get second chances. Hunters kill without explanation, they simply follow orders."
"Actually...this assassin was here for someone, but I don't think it was our friend, Justin here." Dash added. "Did he draw a skiv on you while you were fighting, Justin? A long round silver blade, used to puncture the heart?"
"I...I don't know, everything happened so fast."
Dash looked at me for a moment, then back over to Twilight. "I can't be one hundred percent sure about it, but I don't think our attacker was here for him."
"How do you know?" She asked.
"Because if he had been...Justin would be dead right now." The words echoed inside of my mind, never fully coming into a form of concrete reality unti he said it. Dead. Someone, somewhere...might have wanted me dead. Dash said he didn't think he was there for me, but how could he be sure? Did that mean that he was looking for someone else, and I stopped him from finding him? Or did I just get lucky enough to survive my own demise with the abilities that were given to me? Maybe he WAS after me and I fended him off...for now. I didn't know what to believe. I did know one thing though, if all that mysterious man was doing was trying to get around me without me really being his target...then God help me when I really DO become his target. Or anyone elses for that matter.
Suddenly, all three of us jumped as three teenage kids came loudly crashing through the ceiling and landed on the floor behind us! They fell pretty hard, and were moaning as a ton of dust came falling down on top of them, almost painting them grey. That's when we looked up and saw a small kid, about eight years old, look over and say he was sorry in Spanish. Dash shook his head. "Ok, I've got to get the rest of the residents out of these walls and passages before the youngsters go hitting anymore buttons." He said, and as he passed me, he smiled wide and put a hand on my shoulder. "Thank you." I nodded, and I heard another wall start spinning in the background. "Don't touch the buttons! I'm coming to get you out." Dash walked off to free the rest of the kids, and Twilight merely gave me a satisfied look before walking out to finish her checks on the damage done.