by KeKe Evans
I felt the sting of the wind as it whipped in its fury, pulling tendrils of my hair from their place and slashing me in the face. I called to the wolves to cease their roaming, and ordered them back into the fold. There were no vampires about this night. I beckoned to my sister, whose outstretched arms implored the powers of the wind. She dropped her arms to her side and the wind died down, dropping to a whisper which barely moved the blades of grass.
Ariel came to stand abreast of me, her face contorted in anger. "I know they're out there. I can feel it."
I nodded "Their power resonates here. Yet, we will accomplish nothing if we drain our powers and find only remnants of their presence."
Ariel agreed and I felt the pull of my mind as the wolves resisted, hungry for blood and war. No, we must not tarry, come, come and we will fight another day.
Saber came trooping out the grove of trees first, his pink tongue lolling and his eyes glowing their bright blue color.
"Good boy," I said as he came close and rubbed against my leg affectionately. The rest of the wolves came bounding through the trees and I turned to go into the city.
The City of Humans was encircled by thick, stone walls worn smooth by years of wind and rain. The city was a haven for the vestiges of humans living in the area. There were other, smaller protected cities, but this was by far the largest and most heavily armed. I was a general in the Humans' army, unaged and held young though I lived through the war of 2010, and Siege of the Darkest night. I had been chosen by the elders to help lead the armies of man against the creatures which sought our destruction, thus I was ensured eternal youth. I was an Animanger. I could control animal minds, most notably those of wolves and dogs. My sister was a Shadow Chaser, with the ability to control wind, rain, and earth.
Various abilities emerged with the gift of youth. Some could fold time and space, able to glide long distances with a single thought. Others could move matter and take on the physical and mental characteristics of any enemy they fought. And still some could predict and help change the future; those with this ability were apart of a delicate network, and were kept deep within the city to avoid being taken by the Others. We walked past the reinforced gate, and I nodded in greeting to the Keepers as they strolled the city wearing their scythes.
"The council is restless sister," Ariel said to me as we marched along the cobble stone street. "They are calling for blood."
"We do not have the power to attack now. Our armies are nearly depleted. We need more time."
Ariel said nothing and continued walking. Her eyes burned with dark brown fire and her dark brown skin became luminous as we came to the steps of the Magistrate. I knew without asking that I appeared the same way. Our bodies responded in this manner whenever we came close to the elders.
I pushed past the heavy doors and walked onto shined marble and past tall fluted columns. Light pressed unbearably against my eyes and still I continued. We walked until we could see the shining, bright bodies of the elders, their delicate wings moved slightly of their own volition, as if they alone were live, breathing beings.
"Telar, you found nothing this night?" the Elder Jeral uttered, his displeasure evident in his face.
"No, I did not. The wolves searched everywhere. There was evidence of their presence, but they must have left and gone elsewhere," I answered.
"We must destroy them. They are weak now, they have lost their greatest warrior and strategist," Elder Aksha replied, her soft voice whispered in rich timbres.
"There is no need, they will not attack now, not with Pelakmar out of the way. Besides, we have to replenish our army. We also need more tools and weapons."
Elder Aksha nodded slowly "Granted."
I turned and followed the way I had come. I could feel the brightness of the Elders oscillate and become one burning ball of beautiful sun and light before they disappeared.
"They are gone now," Ariel commented as we began walking out the doors "What say you regarding this matter? What are you thinking?"
I shook my head and sighed. The vampires were not attacking not because they were weak, but because they planned. This time, they would be bold, and actually attack the city. Yet, I knew that if we dared attack now, we would be decimated en masse. My plan was to wait, build up the army and attack before they could put their plan into action. If they penetrated our defenses and got to the other humansą..
"You're thinking about the other humans aren't you?" my sister remarked.
"How did you know, sister?" I asked.
"We're sisters remember, we have been for the past three hundred years."
I said nothing and we began to make our way to the center of the city.
The residents of the inner city strolled here and there, their colorful clothes and manner marked with a careless air I could only envy. The musical voices of children filled my ears and the cry of babies in the distance made me wince. We had so much to lose. I watched as a man and woman sat along a bench, staring blissfully into each other's eyes. I noticed a woman cleaning her house, shaking dirt from the rugs and humming lightly beneath her breath.
"Telar!" Roni exclaimed as she bounded up, her curls bouncing prettily "What did you bring from the Elders?"
I smiled at her. Roni was a mere thirteen summers and had an effervescent quality about her. She always commented that she would be a general in the Humans' army. I could sense she had not the strength nor will, but instead would end up a mother and wife to a handsome husband.
"Nothing. But do not worry yourself with such matters such as Elders.' What have you been learning in school?"
Roni beamed, her light brown eyes twinkled with excitement and she swiped lazily at errant strands of hair. "I've learned Algebra and English, andłI learned about the Siege of the Darkest Night. You were alive then, don't you remember?"
I remembered all too well. I had been young then, not even a member of the army. That night, everything humans had been taught were fantasies and simple conjectures of troubled minds came out to kill. My comfortable world had been shattered that fateful night. I remembered winged vampires crashing into the living room as my family and I watched television. Neighbors ran madly through the streets, blood streaming from their wounds. The warrior inside me was awakened. My sister and I managed to stave off the bloodthirsty creatures long enough for troops to take our family to safety. That night was the end of civilization as we knew it. The vampires as it turned out, had been under treaty with humans for millenia, stories of their existence had been ferried about as outlandish tales and they fed rarely enough; humans' suspicions of their existence was mitigated because of this.
As the numbers of vampires swelled, so did their hunger. They refused to be silent any longer and instead attacked as we lay vulnerable, in our own homes.
"Do vampires really fly?" Roni queried her voice tremulous.
"Yes. Some of them. Not all," I answered.
"Was this America then?" Roni asked in wonder.
"Yes, it was. It was huge. It encompassed the land from one ocean to the other."
"Will it be America again?" she returned.
"Maybe. If we can conquer these creatures it may not be--but it will be even better."
Roni smiled. She rushed off to her mother's hut and ran inside. I felt a tremor of dread run through the pit of my stomach. If we didn't conquer these creatures, humans wouldn't be around to build anything.
The dining hall was filled with the Armies' warriors as they laughed, joked and drank the warm ale being passed in heavy wooden cups.
Bryn's heavy baritone voice could be heard. "And then the vamp looks at me and says, I really do like you humans. In fact, I have a pet human at home."
Laughter began and he continued "I told him, I said, well I'm sure this is what your pet has to say to you. Then I took my scythe and sliced him in half. He was flopping about talking about "I love Humans, I really do" all the way up until the sun rose and he fried."
The warriors found this extremely hilarious as they chuckled and grinned. I sat down at a table and the serving woman gave me a mug of warm apple ale. I drank it down deeply and quickly, letting its warmth flow down into my stomach.
"Telar!" Bryn greeted as he watched me drink the ale, "The Great Army Warrior. How many vampires have you slain this day?"
I shook my head. "None. But before tomorrow is over, I'll have killed my share."
Bryn chuckled. "So shall we. So shall we. What say you. A little wager?"
Everyone within the hall became hushed "If I kill more vamps than you, I'll wager that you're to come to my room, and do with me what you will."
Low whistles abounded about the room. I smiled. It was no secret that Bryn was enamoured of me. Over the years he had written several songs and verses about my dark brown skin, brown eyes and heavy mane of black hair. I had taken his romanticism as nothing more than the ranting of a randy young boy. Bryn had been only eighteen when was changed and became a general.
I thought that I would play his little game. I grinned and said "I believe I will take you up on that, kind sir. If I win, what say you come to my room and do with me what you will?"
He smirked, his dimples dancing in the depths of his cheeks. "I say you will win. You are the better betwixt the two of us. I agree to the wager."
I sipped my ale and replied "And if I lose?"
Tandori stood, and his long black hair seemed like a cape against his muscular frame. His dark skin and eyes hinted slightly at his Native American ancestry. "She is the best killer among us. I dare to say she will win."
Everyone agreed and the talk turned to trivial matters. I felt someone brush my hair as they came past. I looked up into my sister's face. "It's not nice that you play such games with his emotions. Why not bed the man? He's handsome and strong. And you've not had a man in over two years, not since--,"
"I know," I muttered "Not since Vajja."
Vajja had been the first and only man I had ever come to love since becoming a general in the humans' army. He died while on a suicide mission deep in Vampire territory and had died trying to free a legion of Telepaths and Psychics that were key to our survival. "It was my fault. I should never have sent him there."
"No," my sister replied "We are an army first. We are a people second. Our priority is to keep humanity alive. He knew what he was in for. He insisted that he be the one to lead them out, knowing that once he crossed the Lycan threshold, he would die."
The Lycan lived on the outskirts of vampire territory. They guarded their terrain viciously and often worked in league with the vampires to kill any and all humans that crossed their paths, especially those possessing powers such as we. The Telepaths and Psychics can easily control their animal minds, thus ensuring their own safety. Their powers do not extend to others, however, and Vajja died while leading them across the Lycan lands.
I sighed and held back tears. I could not cry for Vajja. I could only hope to kill as many of those despicable creatures as I could.
I stood up and turned. "I am going for air sister. Do not follow."
I quickly made my way outside to the cool night air. I breathed in slowly, my ears picking up faint sounds of vampires mating in the distance outside the wall.
Vermin, I thought, they mate and burn and pillage and piss all over humanity's goodness.
I walked further and looked up to the night sky. The moon was full and round; the shining orb a beacon in the darkness of night. I could remember when humans had created a settlement upon the moon's rocky surface. I could recall when humans had begun building technology that would give us the ability to roam the stars. Now, we had nothing, nothing but a few old warriors in a dying city. I walked slowly out to the city square. In the square was a remnant from the pastłmy old Honda. The car was still in relatively new condition and I smiled, remembering the first time I had purchased it.
I had been only twenty years old, not even old enough to drink alcohol at the time. I had waltzed into the nearest car dealership and had signed on the dotted line. I had been so proud. I then remembered how I had used the car to run over a vampire as my sister and I tried to keep them at bay. I felt tears flow freely from my eyes. My sister came walking behind me, her soft feet whispering against the street's tiles.
"Don't torture yourself sister," she told me "It is a relic. Nothing more."
We came astride the four-door vehicle and looked inside. I tried the door. It was unlocked. We smiled at each other and slid inside the car.
The interior was clean, and the leather well tended. "The inner city humans have taken good care of this vehicle," my sister commented.
"I agree, dear sister," I replied as I slid behind the wheel, remembering days when there were highways, and roads, and streets connecting all sections of the city.
We climbed out the car and closed its doors. I laced fingers across the car's hood and followed my sister as she walked back to the doors of the dining hall.
Sheyla, the warrior with the gift of fire was now telling everyone about her adventures. She was gesturing wildly, and everyone was enraptured with her tale.
"And then the vermin came close to me. I could see the yellow of his eyes. And I wondered if the yellow matched the color of his tail, because when I showed him a ball of fire," she produced a perfect orb of flame across her fingertips, "He turned and ran." She extinguished the flame and continued. "I threw a huge flame bomb and he burned. His mentor was crying and screaming. The old man came rushing towards me, with wings and all, and I fried him as well. Good riddance. Nothing but vermin."
Everyone at the hall agreed and raised the cups in salute. Cries of "Hear, hear!" could be heard.
Suddenly the alarms sounded. The mellow mood of the hall changed as warriors grabbed their scythes, weapons, beams and sabres. I began to call the hounds to us with a mental pull. Sheyla produced a huge ball of flame and picked up her scythe. It was time to do battle.
As we approached the gate, I could see the Keepers in the distance, their long scythes held in their hands in a defensive pose.
The bay of wolves could be heard as they ran close to the Keepers. I called to the Falcons circling the city. I could see nothing through their eyes as of yet and they cried out to me their worry. We marched outside the gates as a single unit, our footsteps thudding loudly into the night. I watched the distance anxiously, trying to make out the figures of vampires. I soon saw them, they emerged like liquid, spilling out from trees and coming up from the grass.
"Kill them!" I charged the wolves. The wolves began to run to them, tearing limbs and flesh as the vampires screamed and ranted. Everyone rushed off, fighting and cutting and slashing. A vampire with red eyes came close to me and I swung my scythe, making contact with its head and neck.
"Bitch!" it said in a light feminine voice, "I'm going to suck you dry."
"Try it vermin. You'll get a lot more than a mouthful of scythe next time."
Saber bounded up and pushed the vampire away and began to tear into its flesh. It screamed and fluids splashed up into my face. "Please," it begged "Please."
I stared into its dimming red eyes and felt no sorrow, pity or grief. I turned away and sought more vampires to fight. I saw Sheyla in the distance, her bright orange flame lit the bodies of vampires as they tried to move in on her. I felt something pull at my hair and pushed backwards. An ugly vampire was standing behind me, its change upon it. Its body no longer resembled a human's. At this stage, most vampires could not be discerned as male or female.
"That was my sister, bitch!," it roared.
"Well you're welcome to join her," I replied. We circled each other and I swung my scythe. I followed through with my arm blades and cut through its chest and arms. It fell to the ground, turning to ash and dust upon the grass.
I saw a warrior had been surrounded by vampires. One of which was feeding from him. I shook my head. There was nothing more I could do. I would have to kill both he and the vampires.
I ran screaming into the throng, scythe raised high above my head. I managed to decimate all four of the vampires. One ran into the field only to be stopped by Saber. I looked down at the fallen warrior. "Please," he begged "Help me. Help me." I could see he was already changing. His eyes began to glow with a dim red light and mouth began to crack and move as fangs extended. I raised my scythe. "No," he said, the word barely distinguishable through his newly forming teeth, "Please, No!"
"Rest in peace, warrior. You have served humanity well."
I came down hard with the scythe, tears streaming down my face. They will pay for this, I thought, they will pay. I felt the ground shake and the wind began to whip furiously. My sister had arrived. She began creating chasms in the earth that swallow the legion of vampires that could not fly. She then closed the chasms, crushing those who had fallen inside.
My sister and I came together, Sheyla came to stand among us. Warriors began to stand in line with us. Sheyla began to throw fireballs into the bodies of flying vampires. I took arrows from my back and unlatched my sling. I began shooting one arrow after the other in quick succession. My sister called down lightning to strike them all. Others began crushing the vampires with their minds, some moved into the distance, folding time and space and surprising the vampires at will, attacking them before they could even be seen.
Soon, the plain was quiet. The wind died and the few vampires that were left were running for their pathetic lives. I called the hounds to us and they obeyed, running and barking and reveling in their victory. You have done well my friends. They answered with baying and growls, content that they had triumphed.
I turned to my sister and she gazed into my face. Suddenly her expression changed to horror. "Sister, Vajja!" I turned and saw Vajja in the distance. His eyes were glowing an evil red. I began to raise my scythe and he appeared suddenly in front of me, grabbing the scythe and me as well.
"Telar!!" I heard my sister yell as the entity held me close.
As we traversed time and space, I felt my mind bending, folding only to come together. I struggled to get away from his vise like grip. Then I could feel whirring, whirring, and dizziness overcame me and my mind was consumed in darkness.
I awakened in a soft bed, covered with silky sheets and linen. I jumped, reaching for my scythe and arm blades.
"They're not here," a voice said. "I've taken them."
I saw Vajja step into the light. He looked as he did when he and I first met, but I wasn't fooled. He was no longer my beloved Vajja. He was one of them.
"What have you done?" I asked my voice shaking with emotion. "Vajja what have you done?"
"Look into the mirror beside the bed," he told me as he walked about the room.
I sat up and moved to the edge of the bed. I walked to the full-length mirror and screamed. My eyes were becoming as red as Vajja's and I could feel my canines lengthening. "NO! Why don't you kill me! Death is better than this!"
He laughed softly. "It is not as bad as you would have it, my love."
"Don't call me that, vermin!" I exclaimed.
He smiled sweetly and came close to my face. He pressed his lips close to mine and I pulled away and spat.
He laughed once more. "You're already turning. There's nothing you can do. Just accept it. If you try going back to the city, they will kill you where you stand. I'll let you think about that."
I watched him fold himself and he appeared near the door across the other side of the room. He opened the door and closed it behind him. I was astonished. I had no idea that generals who were turned could keep their powers. I sat down on the bed. He was right. I could not go back to the city. They would kill me rather than listen. There had to be something that I could do. Something--
I reached out to the great falcon circling the city. Tell the other animangers, exactly what I say. I am a lost cause. I have been taken and turned. Tell the others that they are trying to turn us. We still have our powers even when we turn. This is a grave thing for the city. Tell my sister I love her and I always will. I broke contact and I could feel that the great falcon understood and even now she was calling the animangers with the message.
I began to cry, softly at first, then with great wracking sobs. I was dead. Dead. There was nothing that could be done. Soon the need to feed would overwhelm me and the beast inside will soon take control of my senses. Suddenly I felt reality shift and Vajja sat beside me.
"Do not be afraid my love. You are among kin. I will not harm you," he said as he laced soft caresses through my hair.
"I do not want to be a monster. I would rather die," I told him, my voice steely and cold.
"Ah," he replied "Is the wolf, that noble creature, a monster simply because he feeds? Or the Falcon because he stalks his prey? We are nothing more than another kind of creature, one that hunts and seeks only to survive."
"I will not kill to satisfy blood lust," I retorted.
"You will feel differently," he said "Come, let me show our city."
I followed him and walked out into the confines of the city. There were vampires everywhere. I growled and Vajja shushed me. "They are family now. Remember that."
The city was nearly majestic in its adornment. There was artificial light and vampires walked about wearing refined and ornate clothing.
"There are many different levels to our society. Wełyou and I, are apart of what I guess you could say, the ruling class. We are a refined lot, simplistic in our aims, and extol the virtues of English, reading, math and science."
Time and space shifted and we were among the winged vampires. They passed us indifferently. Most walked about aimlessly. "These are the mercenaries. They have limited intelligence, and can be easily controlled."
I felt time and space shift once more and found us in a large, light filled room. The room was adorned in gorgeous shades of red, and gold and women and men danced gracefully, their gowns and tuxedos sweeping along the clean floor.
"Ah, yes. We often look for ways to entertain ourselves. Dancing is one of them."
We came to what looked to be a shower room. Its tiled walls still held showerheads and a group of vampires slowly circled a woman. She was human. She lay naked on the floor, cowering and screaming, hands held over her head.
The vampires suddenly attacked and she screamed. Blood spattered onto my face and hands and I yelled and screamed. "No, No!"
Vajja laughed and rubbed the warm liquid from my face. "Taste it," he told me.
"No!," I shouted, "Get away from me vermin!"
He put his hand to my nose and I sniffed. The smell was so enticing that I felt my canines lengthening. He took his hand away and laughed. "Come, come. We have more to discover."
He folded time and space and held me close. As he held me, I felt his lips brush mine and felt my body respond. When we were at our destination, I pulled away, feeling ashamed that I had reacted in such a manner.
A human male in a desert suit was standing over two humans, one male the other female. He was whipping them relentlessly.
"This is our newest addition to vampire society. Traitor humans. They gather information from inside the city and in return we make them into one of us."
I cringed. I could not believe any human would willingly betray his own kind. I watched as he raised and lowered the whip over the humans. I heard their cries as the whip made contact with their delicate skin.
"No!" I screamed and lunged. I grabbed the traitor and felt my canines extend. I ripped into the tender flesh of his neck and he bucked and swayed. I drank until he was drained and I let him fall to the ground.
"My dear," Vajja said "Congratulations, I do believe you've made your first kill."
I felt strange. My body seemed on fire and my eyes had trouble focusing. "What's happening to me!" I screamed.
"You are becoming a full fledged vampire. When half vampires make their first kill, they truly turn."
"You did this to me. You knew the sight of a traitor would make me lose control."
"Ah, yes. The great warrior kills in a righteous fury, and becomes one of us. Quite fitting I must say."
I dropped to the floor. I could feel fluids and organs forming in places where there were none. I convulsed and screamed. My mind became besieged with alien thoughts. I was losing my humanity. I was losing all I had lived for, worked for dreamed for, I became one of the hunted.