The men Watts hired to take me on held me down with cover fire, and two men moved around to attack with shivs while I was still on the ground. The first came down with a stabbing motion, and I rolled onto my back to hold his hand still by locking my ankles around his wrist. The second attacked, and I yanked his companion into the path of the sharp metal shard with my legs, causing his fellow hitman to stab him straight through the shoulder. I released him, and kicked him to the ground, spinning around to sweep the other man’s feet from under him. I knocked him unconscious with a single punch, but the second my head came into view, the gunfire worked to pin me down again.
I took another few seconds to breathe and focus, closing my eyes for a moment to keep my head clear. My extra takes a lot out of me to activate...so it’s best to save that for an emergency. Just as Agent Watts once taught me. Strange that I should be using it against him now. I rolled from behind the tombstone, hearing the dirt being penetrated by projectiles as I moved from one headstone to another. Then I was able to get behind a tree, and took yet another momentary breath. I think I was grazed a few times, but nothing major. Good. Just have to keep heading North. I can lose them in the alleys if I have to.
Just then, I heard a 'whistling' sound coming from the left of me. And had it not been for my trained vampire reflexes, I would have easily been decapitated. I only saw a quick sliver of light as it reflected off of the edge of a flying short-sword, spinning rapidly like the bladed disc of a table saw. I reached up to catch it by the handle as it came right for my throat, looking down at the clearly printed symbol etched into the metal. A Hunter's weapon for certain. And it was illuminated with this unnatural 'glow', sharing a mental connection with the one who threw it. But before I could study it fully, another whistling sound came from the right, and I was forced to drop down to keep another sword from cutting me in half.
The second blade cut the bark of the tree, getting lodged in it for a moment. But then, an invisible force pulled it free, and soon, I felt the other sword in my hand being pulled out of my grasp as well. Both swords flew up into the air, and went right back to the hands of their owner. It was a tall, thin, Asian man, a vampire that must have crossed over in his mid twenties, dressed in a black suit with a blood red tie. His eyes were so dark, his expression...so cold. He caught both swords, and flipped his shoulder length ponytail back over his shoulder as he powered up his extra for another strike.
I tried to keep my eye on him, but the soldiers behind me came back to continue their assault. Bullets flew around my head as I kept myself just out of their view. There were enough tall gravestones to hide behind, almost creating a virtual maze of protective walls for me. The soldiers spread out like a cluster of army ants, trying to find an angle. But I knew how to move both with speed and with stealth. I knew how to corner them and move between them without being seen. Cause them to trip and stumble over each other. It was the only way I kept them from overwhelming me. I reached out from around corners, jumped in and out of shadows, breaking just enough bones to cripple them without killing them. But I caught a hint of that whistling sound again, and by the time I saw the Hunter standing on top of another mausoleum, the sword was already on its way to slice me in two. I contorted my body to bend backwards JUST in time to avoid the full wrath of the razor sharp blade...the whistling edge cutting the front of my shirt and leaving a healthy blood trail on my chest as it broke the skin.
I rolled to the ground, and looked up to watch the glowing sword as it boomeranged back to its master again. I saw him look down at me and my injury with a smirk...and that's when I knew that running wasn't going to be an option just yet. They'd chase me down for sure. If they wound me bad enough to incapacitate me before my next sleep cycle, they'd be able to take me back for extraction and eventual termination. I can't go back there. I won't leave my love behind. Not for them. Not for anyone.
I let my crimson glow blaze brightly in my eyes and sprung back up to a standing position, charging the Hunter at top speed. He drew both swords menacingly as I jumped up to the mausoleum rooftop with him, and we locked ourselves in fierce hand-to-hand combat. He was much faster than I expected. Trained by the same agents and academy vampires who trained me, no doubt. I recognize their tactics. Their movements. I could practically guess who his main instructors were. I moved my head, spinning and dodging as his two swords breezed right past me with deadly intent. The sword blades had a long slit of empty space right down the middle. That's where the whistling came from. Handcrafted especially for him. Maybe even by him. Interesting tactic. It was distracting.
I caught an elbow in the gut, and he kicked me clear off the top of the mausoleum. The hard crash to the ground below temporarily knocked the wind out of me, but I didn't have much of a chance to catch my breath. The Hunter flipped off of the roof, and in mid air he threw both whistling swords in my direction. Their nearly undetectable path curved from both the right and left sides of me, converging in an 'X' shape with the hopes of cutting me to pieces. I leapt forward and twisted my body to avoid them as best as I could, but still took deep cuts on both of my arms! My blood splashed the headstone ahead of me as I saw the swords continue their circle back to his hands. Then...footsteps behind me.
Three soldiers approached, and I spun around to wrap one of my legs around the first man's throat to bring him down and pin him to the ground beneath me. I reached out to grab the legs of the second, and pull them forward, forcing him to fall back as I dragged him close and dropped my elbow into his nuts. There's no other scream in the world like the ones you hear when you do something like that. The third soldier raised his gun, so I rolled off of the first, and kicked the gun to the side, mid shot, as I delivered multiple blows to his head and chest, finishing it off by bringing my heel up...and then down to shatter his collarbone.
The first soldier stood up, but he was unaware of the whistling heading my way. "GET DOWN!!!" I shouted...but it was too late. How can I expect a human to have reflexes like mine? Instinctively, my body maneuvered itself and back flipped out of the way of the twin blades. The soldier was not so fortunate. And I watched, wide eyed, as he fell to pieces right in front of me.
Attacked on both sides by human fodder, I was easily able to deliver a series of blows to let them know that I wasn’t just playing around here. Eventually breaking the first attacker’s arm in three places, and spinning around to hold the gun to the forehead of the second. His eyes widened...his whole life, apparently, flashing before him as it was about to come to an end. “BANG!!!” I shouted loudly! And suddenly, his eyes rolled back and his legs went limp as he fainted at my feet.
"Come on now, 'Flatline'! Make this interesting, will you?" Watts shouted out from the darkness. "These Hunters don't come cheap. You could at least make this show worth watching. I've been talking up your reputation. Don't you disappoint me out here."
Taking a moment to look for him, I saw Agent Watts standing next to yet another Hunter. One who hadn't said a word or moved from her position until that very moment. I saw her removing her hood to display a shockingly bright head of shoulder length white hair. Her fangs dropped, and her eyes turned red as she took in a heavy breath and removed her coat. She had long gold bracelets on her arms, from her wrist to her elbow. Long gold bracelets on her legs as well. From her ankles to her knees. A thick gold belt, wrapped around her slim waistline twice. Gold shoulder braces, gold necklaces, gold rings, gold earrings...and beneath it all, a tight fitting black spandex outfit. Beautiful girl in her late teens, with black lipstick and black make-up circles around her eyes. It was then that I recognized the play.
One Hunter to take me down, one Hunter to act as Watt's personal bodyguard, and the soldiers were little more than a distraction to help even out the odds. I knowthis game. I've run it many times myself on assignment.
I also know that it has one fundamental flaw. When you attack the head of the operation, it puts them on the defensive...and with the humans already in panic mode and shooting at everything that moves...things begin to fall apart.
The best way to beat any system is to use its own laws and limitations against itself.
Knowing that, I cartwheeled away from the approaching swordsman and forced myself towards Agent Watts and his femme fatale.
Watts instantly backed up and 'Snakebite' moved in front of him to intercept me. Our fists made contact as I tried to put as much pressure on her as I possibly could. She was extremely flexible. I had never seen a style quite like hers before. So fast. So unpredictable. So precise. And she had long nails that she used to rake my skin from time to time. She kept her position in front of Watts and cut me off at every turn. Then I heard the whistling blades coming for me again from behind.
I ducked and rolled to the side...giving the female hunter time to focus her energies on her extra. And before my very eyes, I watched as all of the gold she was wearing began to melt itself down and morph into another shape entirely. It was like the decorative jewelry had a life of its own, and it slithered swiftly around her arms and legs like a thick liquid...hardening again in the form of a two headed snake on her shoulders. It was almost like an extra set of arms...but with teeth! The golden serpent hissed from both sides, and she attacked again. This time I had four limbs to contend with. She seemed to command her extra with the slightest of ease. She could change their shape at will, and she was VERY good at it.
Blocking her punches was difficult enough, but when I had both arms blocked, the snake heads would coil around her arms and slither forward to bit me on both sides of my abdomen. She could step and spin and kick and lash them out at me with the momentum of her unorthodox movements, and then call it back to her hands and shoulders while preparing for her next strike. I wasn’t used to fighting anything like this before.
As I grappled with her, I felt one of the snake heads sink its fangs deep into my left thigh, and I had to maneuver in order to pry its mouth open and get free again. She fought so expertly with this golden snake, twisting and morphing the entire time. It wrapped itself around my legs while her nails sliced a few deep grooves in the side of my neck, forcing my acrobatic skills into a frenzy, just to break free and avoid taking any more damage.
"Are we having FUN yet, Mr. Prince???" Agent Watts shouted out.
Where the hell are the police in this town when you need them? They've GOT to be hearing all this!
Footsteps behind me! And the whistle of a blade on my left!
I dropped down to a low stance to avoid the sword, and had to leap forward to avoid the golden snake looking to snatch me up by the ankle.
I kept myself between them, and with two hunters and an entire squad of soldiers around me, I found myself with quite the handful. I blocked and dodged as best as I could, but I was clearly taking a lot of hits. My body wasn't going to be able to suffer too many more strikes. Already I was bruised and bleeding profusely from several nearly crippling blows. I could hardly think straight, purely acting on instinct. But I kept moving, and got in all the major hits that I could get. And then....I heard it.
It was going to be one hell of a dash...but I heard it.
The elevated train was coming. I might have a total of five minutes to catch it...and that wasn't going to be easy.
Thinking only of my escape route, I fought with all of the stored up energy that I had. I needed to keep them tangled. Needed to keep them fighting against one another. I decreased the distance between the swordsman and me, hoping to keep him from throwing those whistling swords with any kind of accuracy. I saw Snakebite transform one of the snake heads into a long sharp spear for a few moments, spinning it around her waist and neck, trying to stab at my legs. I moved quickly to avoid her attacks, and spun around to deliver a harsh kick to her stomach. She slid backwards on her feet, the spear returning to the form of a snake again, until she came to a stop. I heard the whistling again, and moved right in front of her to see if I could get it to take a slice out of her, but seconds before the blade made contact...it stopped in mid air, and 'Shortcut' called it back to his hand.
I looked towards the fence and plotted out the gravestones needed to help me reach the train in time. The soldiers were standing back to let the hunters do their job, but they’d cut me down if I left the perimeter. I was going to have to hurt them. There was no way of avoiding that now. The hunters were skilled enough to stand a chance, but the soldiers weren’t.
Path of least resistance, I suppose…
Both hunters continued to engage me, full force. I could already feel my body tiring itself out. I had to contort and maneuver in ways that I haven’t had to in years. Still, some things...you never forget. I almost miss putting my unmatched martial arts skill to use like this. As much as I hated the life...there’s a sick thrill in the lethal ‘dance of it all that I can’t deny.
Neither of those hunters was ready for the natural talent that I had running through my veins. I think that I surprised them both, even though they came prepared for a major battle with one of the agency's best soldiers. I kicked both of them to their backs at the same time, and only had seconds before Watts pulled his pistol and fired numerous rounds at me. I barely was able to get out of the way in time. But that wasn't my concern anymore. The fight wasn't my goal. The train was my goal. And I didn't have another second to spare.
I flipped forward and swung my leg around low to sweep Agent Watts off of his feet, and kept my head down as I ran for the fence...the remaining human soldiers firing off as many rounds as they could in my direction.
There were police sirens in the distance, no doubt responding to the personal WAR that we had initiated on the edge of this residential area graveyard. I had to be GONE when they got there. Watts has special privileges for this kind of thing. I don't. I kept the view of the approaching train in sight, and kept moving. The dirt under my feet was kicked up behind me as I reached top speed. Then I took a flying leap, hopping on top of tombstones and moving forward towards the fence and the street beyond it. I could clearly 'feel' the two hunters following me at equal speed. They were good. Really good. I guess it's an honor to know that the agency brought out the best to take me down.
I flung myself over the fence, just as Shortcut's two swords whizzed by my head and neck! I fell face down in the street in front of a string of cars, racing at me at 40 miles an hour. I rolled to the right to dodge the first. Rolled to the left to dodge the second. I had to move faster than I ever had before to keep from being run over. Then I jumped to my feet, just in time to jump up and roll over a car that was headed right for me.
I looked back to see both hunters jumping and dodging traffic with ease, and still in hot pursuit. Watts and his human S.W.A.T. team were just now catching up to the rest of us, and the train was racing by in the background. Move! Gotta keep moving!
I struggled through the passing cars, and finally got close enough to jump up and climb one of the streetlamps to get up to the elevated train tracks. It took all I had, but I jumped forward and nearly shattered my ankle bones landing on the inclined surface of the platform leading up to the tracks. I held my stomach and moved quickly to catch the speeding train and spring up between cars so that I could easily pull myself up to the roof.
Scarred and sliced....
I attempted to use every second that I could get, trying to monitor my breathing and concentrate the many panicked thoughts running through my mind into one solid form where I could logically break them down and toss out what I didn't need for the moment. I held my chest, my heart beating with a near overdose of adrenaline. I can't beat them all. Not here. Not now. They've already worn me down.
But that didn't stop the hunters from doing their job.
I heard the slam of their feet hit the top of the train as they hopped up from the side of the tracks. No time to rest now. Can't show weakness. Get up Jonathan! Get up!
I flipped up to my feet and ran to meet them head on...all of us shouting out our battle cries as we lusted for the blood of our opponents. The three of us began our chaotic battle as we each attempted to get the upper hand. They were good. I was better. The agency wasn't going to find another fighter better than me. It just wasn't going to happen. But being outnumbered two to one was going to make things difficult. I slid my body around sword strikes, I dodged snake heads, I blocked punches and kicks until they were both sore from it. And When I struck out at their most vulnerable points...even though I know they were taught to hide the reaction and turn off the pain...they felt it. I know they did.
The agony of golden snake fangs sinking into the side of my neck from behind cause me to yell out loud. I was too busy trying to avoid the blades swinging wildly at my legs to keep my warrior attention divided equally against my attackers. I spun low to sweep her legs, and continued to roll forward to do the same to the swordsman. They recovered too quickly for me to take full advantage. Shortcut was moving those swords at blinding speeds. Only the whistling kept me alert as to their position. And Snakebite could virtually liquefy and harden that gold material into an infinite variety of different shapes at will. And faster than anything that I could keep up with. They were better than I gave them credit for. I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up for much longer. This has to come to an end....now.
It was then that I saw another train coming toward us from the opposite direction on a different track. This was going to have to be precise.
With a few distracting actions on my part, I made my move. I waited for the passing train to get to the very last car...and then spun my leg around three hundred sixty degrees to roundhouse both attackers on either side of me. I jumped. I had almost missed my window of opportunity, and rolled to the very edge, nearly falling to the racing train tracks beneath me. The hunters caught on to the play and both ran to jump on board as well...but this time I was counting on that.
I got up on one knee, and I stretched my hand out in front of me. I couldn't have used my extra in the graveyard. It takes soooo much energy from me to be effective unless it’s a dire situation. If I had used it earlier I wouldn't have had the stamina to fight my way out of that hornet’s nest the way that I did. But for now, I'm praying that this will be enough to ensure my escape.
It began as a fever inside my head. Then, what felt like a growing vacuum in the center of my chest. I saw the two hunters were about to jump to continue their pursuit...so, I was only going to have one shot at this. I felt myself being drained physically. Mentally. Emotionally. It had to be strong enough to work with one shot. No holding back on this one.
The sensation shout out of my palm and surrounded them in mid jump. And suddenly...their extras...in fact, their very vampire essence...was completely shut down in an instant. Every vampire trait, every supernatural advantage, every last detail that made them anything more than your average human...gone in a flash. I canceled out their frequencies, and I watched as their mighty leap from one train to another was cut drastically short. Shortcut's swords lost their glow, Snakebite's gold became brittle and fell off of her shoulders in giant chunks in harmless flakes of glitter...and they both fell to the tracks, rolling behind the train for nearly twenty feet. Breaking limbs, scarring flesh. Nearly killing themselves as I watched them vanish into the darkness behind me. I fell back to the roof of the train as the fatigue overwhelmed me, and I looked up at the stars as the CTA rushed me away to safety. At least for now.
I may have passed out for a bit. I seemed to have lost track of a couple of minutes. I should have known better than to come back here. It was too soon to resurface. Watts isn't ever going to give up on trying to bring me back to the vamppire Elders. Not ever. I should have expected him to be watching. Stupid. If only I had stayed underground. Off the grid. Now he's seen me, face-to-face. He's never going to stop searching now.
I got off of the train as soon as it went into the subway, and I navigated the underground tunnels until I found my little stash of extra clothes, medications and bandages, extra cash, and a few weapons. I 'prettied' myself up as best as I could, and then walked until I got to a subway station close to where my boyfriend, Jory, and I were staying.
There was an old church on the West outskirts of town. An Irish priest by the name of Father Sean McDonnell was kind enough to give us sanctuary whenever we came to visit as a favor to my father, his best friend in life. We stayed down in the basement. An old part of the church that had survived a fire many years earlier and was never rebuilt to be a functional part of the church from then on. I came downstairs, and Naturally...Jory freaked out when he saw how wounded I was. He did all he could to nurse me back to a state of comfort while I did all I could to calm him down. I didn't even realize that I had been shot in the back at least twice during the scuffle. Once in the gut, too. Slices on my chest and neck. I was a lot worse off than I thought. I guess I was too engaged in the battle and full of adrenaline to even notice. Maybe that's why my skills were a bit off near the end there.
"Baby...they hurt you...." He said, kissing me gently on the cheek from behind as he wiped away some of the dried blood from my skin with a wet rag. Jory. My lovely Jory. Sometimes I feel terrible about taking such a beautiful blond boy away from the world and keeping him for my very own. Even more so for dragging him into a world of hiding and secrets and potential violence. But when I look into those deep brown eyes and see him smile...something tells me that it was all worth it. Some things were just meant to be.
I need time to think. I need to find new places to hide. If I know Watts and his team, they'll be narrowing down all possibilities and leaning on every lowlife informant that they can find in order to pinpoint my location. I may only have a few days before he figures something out.
There was a time when I thought my extra could be studied and used to not only pacify dangerous vampires in places where violence wasn't allowed...but to possibly REVERSE the vampire curse altogether. That’s what I was led to believe. They were supposed to use my extra to help rid the city of vampires with malicious intent. They took a lot from me, and they've been using the resulting technologies in sanctuaries and nightclubs all over the country. Frequency canceling devices that were all built off of my extra's blueprint. The IceZone underground club in Chicago was one of the first to take advantage of it. But the Elders want more. They haven't perfected it yet, and they want the whole show. A device that can render a vampire completely helpless. Human. Unable to defend himself if the Elders randomly decided to erase them from the face of the Earth.
There is a strange hysteria growing around the ancient myth of the vampire Mimic these days. The Elders are more determined than ever to rob me of my extra and create ways of using it to battle such a creature. But why? Mimics don’t exist. They slaughtered the last known Mimic centuries ago! I don’t want to be a part of this anymore. Their shadowed agendas and murderous orders are not a part of the world that I want to live in. I wanted to help...but they deceived me. I won’’t be their weapon against vampire kind. I refuse!
How could I have been so easily mislead? With a power like the one I possess...they could enslave our kind and keep them under their control forever if they wanted to. I've seen the framework of their future plans, and I won't let them do it. I won't let them use me to force our kind into an existence of eternal servitude.
Jory and I have no choice but to run. We have to keep a low profile. And I have to protect that which matters most....the love of my life.
I'll heal. Two sleep cycles, tops. But when that's done...it'll be time to prepare ourselves for a major conflict. Because, now that Watts is hot on my trail again after me faking my death, he's going to come at me with everything he's got.
I plan to be ready.
He's either going to close his case...or I'm going to close mine. Either way, the endgame is coming. Because I’ve got a lot more to lose than he does.