June 11, 2010

And nothing would ever be the same again.

((Been waiting to do this post for awhile! yes, the Promethean is the same one that was called to Chicago awhile back, this was our first encounter with him, and the reason Giuseppe isn't mentioned is because he left the group at the hotel in Mexico several days (which, in real time, was several weeks) before this encounter, saying he had something to take care of that was exceptionally important, and of course, wouldn't tell us what it was. Tommy wasn't here either, due to his player being unavailable, neither was Goule, or Asol, for similar reasons. The werewolves were with Tommy, wherever the hell he was. So the group that went to the temple was Harper, Jaleel, Karl, Danzig, Bob, Korbin, and Jamaicastein..just to help everyone keep it all straight. ))

"This is a bad idea." I grumbled to no one in particular.
"What, you scared?" Karl said derisively.
I glared at the misogynist asshole. "Yes, I'm fucking scared! We're going up there to stop this ritual with no fucking intel. We don't have a clue how powerful Stone, or this witch, are, and we're missing half the people who were supposed to help us!" The volume of my voice increased until I was almost yelling at him at the end.
"We don't need those assholes." Karl retorted.

I wasn't so sure.

We stood outside our hotel, next to the jeep. I was leaning against the driver's door as we debated what to do. The ceremony was tonight, we'd learned that much from Asol.. there was no way of knowing if we'd get another chance. It took us forever to find Stone in the first place, and all of us were eager to solve the mystery.. some for the sake of the mystery, some just to get Natalie off our backs.

But most of us weren't even here. We'd gone through all the trouble of coming to Mexico, and half of our group had vanished. I let a string of muted curses go under my breath. So close to our goal and they all up and disappear. Fuck 'em, fuck Giuseppe especially.

"Well I'm goin'. You can stay here and cry about it, but this is the only chance we're gonna get." Karl tightened his grip on his wrench and turned towards the jungle, apparently set on walking the distance to the temple if he had to.

I exhaled heavily, more than slightly annoyed, and looked at everyone else. They just looked eager. There was a shadow of doubt in Theo's eyes, but it was greatly offset by his ridiculous grin. He was the only other person with military training.. who knew first hand what a cluster fuck this may turn out to be, but it didn't give him much pause.

Out numbered, I unlocked the car and started the engine. "Get in the fucking car, Karl. It'll be faster, and we're on a schedule."

And so we went, and I fought past the growing fear in the pit of my stomach. They were right, after all. This might be our only opportunity to take out Stone, if he didn't take us out first.


We had hiked a few miles into the jungle once the road had become too overgrown by plant life to allow the Jeep access. Night had blanketed us more quickly within the deep foliage. We had stopped trying to talk hours ago and focused all our energy on walking. Our guide, of all people, was Jamaicastein, as Theo had dubbed him due to his long dreads, and lack of any other name.. though he looked more middle eastern then Jamaican..

He'd appeared out of no where, scaring the shit out of me, right about the time we'd had to abandon the jeep. Paying us back for returning his heart, apparently. I wasn't going to complain.. we needed the help, and I have no idea how we would've navigated the jungle without him there.

The temple towered above the trees, alive for the first time in god only knew how long. Torches were lit, and we could hear faint chanting coming from the top. The party had started without us, and it sounded like there were a lot more guests than we'd anticipated. It didn't seem to give anyone pause but me.

We split up into two groups. We'd go up separate sides of the temple and flank those at the top, hoping to cash in on the element of surprise. We came prepared, both taking a short range walkie talkie with us for communication.

Bob, Theo and I took one side, while Jamaicastein, Karl, and Jaleel took the other. The steps were steep, rising about 30 stories to the top of the temple, but I was too focused to notice the burning in my muscles. About 10 stories up, there was a small antichamber to the left of the staircase. We heard voices, and slowed accordingly. Korbin was in the lead. He crept up and peeked inside, then looked back at us as we heard the crackle of a radio. He held up three fingers and put his thumb and forefinger on either side of his chin. Three targets, hostile.

I held up the OK sign, and Bob just looked at us, confused. I got close to his ear as I could and whispered, effecting a lisp to avoid those loud 's' sounds, "Three targets, all hostile."

Note to self, hand signals only effective when everyone has military training.

A grin spread over Bob's face, and he pulled out two large knives without so much as a whisper of the metal leaving its sheath. "I'll take care of them, watch the entrance in case any of them try to bolt."

"Get the one with the radio first." I whispered.
Bob just looked at me with a mildly annoyed expression, and slipping into the small cave like room without another word.

Korbin and I had already pulled out side arms. We heard a surprised yelp that turned into a gurgle, the crunching noise of electronics breaking under a boot heel, and then frantic yelling. One came rushing out the entrance, intent to run up the stairs and get help, or raise an alarm, or both, but Theo was waiting for him. He practically ran into Theo's chest, and didn't even have the time to look shocked before Theo had his hands wrapped around the guys head and snapped his neck with a practiced jerk and a sickening crack.

I saw his face, lying on the stone steps, and started to get sick to my stomach. He wasn't more than 16, and he had a Union tattoo on the side of his neck. Stone had brought the cult. Theo watched me, grin unaffected, but eyes holding a hardness that hadn't been there before, and Bob returned, wiping his knives on a piece of cloth, presumably ripped from one of the other kids. He seemed completely unconcerned.

"Lets go." Theo said quietly, his expression holding a question for me.. a silent, can you handle this?. I took a long breath, set my jaw, squared my shoulders resolutely, and continued up the stairs.

We had to do this... and the kids had transformed from children, to enemy combatants.. and the only way I could face this was to convince myself of that.

We kept going, pausing occasionally to avoid being seen, all the while drawing closer to the chanting on the temple top. I don't know how many stairs we climbed in that hot Mexico jungle, but the feeling of dread spread through me more and more with every step.

When we reached the top, my heart was in my feet.

The Temple roof was ablaze with torches and a huge bonfire in the center. Two figures stood in front of it, wearing white ceremonial robes. One was an older women, hair graying but not so old that her back was bent from age. The witch. And standing next to her was the man that we'd been searching for for weeks. Stone. He stood with his hands clasped in front of him, hidden in the large sleeves of his robes, the deep hood pulled up over his face. The shadow inside the hood was so solid that even when he turned to the fire, its light only barely traced the outline of his chin. The witch was addressing the crowd in a loud voice that carried over the chanting of the assembled mass.

And it was a mass. The entire temple top was full of people. So many teenagers, dressed in black robes, that I would be surprised if any member of the cult wasn't here.

Theo spoke softly into the walkie, and it was drowned out by the ceremony. "In position?"

We waited a few tense seconds before Jaleel's voice responded, in a tone that was almost a whisper. "Yeah. You get the witch. I want to take out the motherfucker Stone."

"Roger. We'll take care of her." He put the walkie away and looked back at us. I took a deep breath, and nodded, gun in hand.

Theo managed to find some higher ground, atop a toppled statue and Bob slipped non nondescriptly into the crowd. The swaying kids didn't notice either of them. They were too focused on the witch and her booming voice, praying to some dark god...

Until Theo shot at their leader with an assault rifle. Then all hell broke loose.

The shots didn't quite hit their mark, and the witch dove into the crowd without so much as a moments hesitation, and my own shots sunk into two of the cultists that had been standing on the other side of the fire, behind her. I saw Bob automatically switch direction and start following her, pushing past and slicing through anyone who got in his way. It was chaos. There was yelling and shrieking and gurgling cries for help.. and an undercurrent of jungle noises. The kids weren't trained for this. They ran in all directions, some trying to escape, many trying to stop us.. but they were their own worst enemies, I saw more than a few kids get trampled. Jamaicastein seemed to fall from the sky, landing on top of two kids. He began tearing a path through them with practiced ease. But I blocked it all out to focus on the mission.

Stone just stood there, facing Theo. He slowly dropped his hands, pulling two long blades from the sleeves of his robe, so long that they were practically swords. They glinted maliciously in the moonlight.

But Theo stayed focused. He cursed and scanned the roof for the witch between bursts of fire directed at cultists that came too close. I couldn't see the witch at all, so I decided to switch targets. Bob and Theo had a better chance finding her than I did. I turned and began to fight my way towards my new objective.

Stone seemed to be about to close the distance between himself and Theo when the others joined the fray.

Jaleel put three rounds into Stones chest, and Danzig lunged for his throat.

The bullets didn't seem to do much, aside illicit a quiet grunt upon impact, and spur him into action. When Danzig lept, he simply wasn't there anymore. His blades moved too quickly to be seen, but I heard the dog yelp and saw droplets of red fall to the dirt.

And then Karl was there, taking a swing with his huge wrench. He landed a glancing blow on Stone's shoulder, but took a nasty slice to his forearm. The wrench clattered to the floor as one of his tendons was severed.

Shots rang out from a few feet away, drowning out my own. My peripheral vision told me that two more kids fell to Korbin’s assault rifle. I caught a glimpse of a crouched figure wading through the crowd toward the fleeing witch, knives at ready, but it was taking Bob time to fight against the current of a hundred brainwashed teenagers. They were there to be cannon fodder, and they did their job well. I think that may have been their only purpose the whole time.. to act as distractions for this very night. And we were plowing through them like they were nothing but cattle. The Promethean was throwing them through the air like rag dolls. But I didn't have enough time to be bothered by the moral dilemma.. I was too busy trying not to die.

I witnessed all this in a split second while trying to stay focused on my target. The white hooded figure looked at me from across the rooftop, blood dripping from massive curved blade in his hand. The robe’s wide sleeves hid his hands making the weapon appear like an extension of his body. Danzig lay a few feet away, gored and unconscious, or maybe dead. I saw Karl’s face contort with rage when he saw the dog fall.

As I took aim, Karl took a swing. His fist connected with the side of Stone’s face. The sickening sound of brass knuckles hitting flesh was lost to the screams of dying youth. I fired as part of the hood rotted away from Stone’s cheek, and his cheek rotted away from his teeth. My bullet caught him in the shoulder, but he didn’t seem to notice. He swung the blade around drew it across his attacker’s stomach using Karl’s momentum to his advantage, moving faster than any human ever could. Karl stumbled and fell to his knees. His front soaked in blood; he seemed transfixed, unable to stand again, unable to move at all. It was a killing wound, I knew that much. He was holding his own guts. Not many came back from that, even with immediate emergency care, and we were a long way away from any hospital. My blood turned to ice. I wanted to run, but I couldn't leave them, and there was no way I could outrun him anyway.

We were like flies to him. Even as Bob crept up behind the old woman and slit her throat, Stone chose another target. Jaleel’s gunfire managed to bring another grunt before Stone sunk his blade into him. I fired until the two were too close to fire without the risk hitting Jaleel. I didn't even slow him down.

“Mother Fucker!” Jaleel threw his fist with all his strength behind it, a punch that had broken concrete the night before. Stone stepped around him as though Jaleel were moving in slow motion and pulled the blade down his back. Jaleel let fly a string of curses and whirled, throwing a right hook the side of Stone's head. It connected, and something cracked. Stone stumbled sideways. Jaleel pressed his advantage, only to have it used against him. As soon as Jaleel advanced, Stone lunged forward and sliced Jaleel cleanly across the chest. Jaleel fell and did not get up again. The blade had slipped between two ribs, and the gash was gaping and pouring blood. He was gasping for air. He was alive, but mobility was so impaired by both cuts that he couldn't hope to fight.

My eyes widened as my stronger companions fell. Stone turned once again in my direction, leaving Jaleel to struggle for breath instead of finishing him off. I panicked. If they couldn't stop him, God knew I couldn't.

I pulled the trigger as quickly as I could. There was no cover, there was no help, there was no way out. He was too fast. I managed to fire three rounds and steel myself for a blow before he was on me. In seconds, he moved from across the roof to close enough to kiss me.

But instead, he slid the blade through my body. It pierced my abdomen effortlessly, and I felt it part the muscles and organs, and exit out my back. He used the blade to hold me against his chest. My scream was choked off with the blood that welled up in my throat. My mouth was filled with the warm coppery taste, and I coughed, spattering his chin and the white robe. I tried to raise the gun but he knocked it from my hand almost absently. I tried to put a hand on the sword, a vain attempt to pull it free, but there wasn't space between his body and mine. His arm slid around my back as my knees began to buckle. He held me up, holding me on the blade, not allowing gravity to pull the knife up through my chest.

I looked up into the hood and could still only see darkness. I heard Korbin yell from across the roof, but he was so far away... I was between him and Stone, and the only clear shot was to Stone's head.. and it would be nearly impossible to hit that target with an assault rifle, and not hit me as well. I willed him to shoot anyway, but I couldn't talk.. my throat and mouth were full of blood and I couldn't get enough air in my lungs. Nevertheless, I heard the burst fire of the assault rifle, and I waited to feel the bullets bite into my back, wondering if I would even notice.

But the bullets never touched me. As the shots were fired, Stone swung me around, tightening his arm around my back and pulling me closer still, shielding me from the rounds with his body. I felt the force as the bullets bit into his back.

Wait..what? Why would he..?

My head was swimming and my ears roaring with pain. I could feel myself going into shock. I would have fallen as Stone slowly drew the blade from my stomach, but he held me close the entire time. I heard the knife clatter to the rough hewn floor, and felt blood begin to course down my body, warming were my legs had begun to go cold. My brain was shutting down, but slowly. Gut wounds take a long time to kill you, but I was pretty sure he'd speared more than one major organ. My thoughts were confused. Confused that I was actually dying, confused about why he'd bothered to kill me, someone who was absolutely no threat to him.. and why he was holding me like a lost lover as I turned his white cloak into a scarlet mess.

I was on the verge of unconsciousness as Stone sank his fangs into my neck, and it all suddenly made sense.. he was thirsty. The screams and moans of the dying drifted away as he drank the life from my body. I was unable to battle against it. My body even ached for it; I would have begged him not to stop if I could speak. I would have begged him to keep killing me. I had seen vampires feed before and it had disgusted me, horrified me.. but now all I felt was release. It was better than sex. But I knew I was going to die. Somewhere beyond the pleasure of it was the wretched knowledge that I would soon be no more. No one was close enough or fast enough to come to my aid against the monster. After everything we'd been through, all the horrors I'd survived.. I was going to die in the jungles of Mexico. And despite that, my breath was coming out in small, pleasure filled gasps.

I felt him pull away and the pain returned. The screams returned. The fear returned. There was nothing to see but blood and gore on the rooftop, but my eyes were transfixed on the vampire. My blood starved brain trying to make sense of what I saw in front of me. My rational mind screaming and thrashing in denial, even as I could feel my body shutting down.

As he had fed, his hood had fallen away from his face. My blood covered Giuseppe’s mouth and ran down his chin.


He met my gaze, but seemed unaffected. He ignored the look in my eyes, the confusion, the hurt, the betrayal, and the utter rage. He didn't care. The man that, while I hated him, had still been with us since the beginning. I'd been wrong to think he couldn't do anything to make me hate him more. So very wrong.. I would have torn out his throat with my bare hands, I was so angry.. but I couldn't move. My hands were cold..I couldn't feel them.. and my vision was quickly fading to black. And I hated him the most for that.. that my last moments I'd feel nothing but rage and bitter betrayal..

But he didn't just discard me. He still held me against him, one arm supporting my limp form. I just wanted him to let me go.. so I could sleep..he didn't' deserve to hold me like that..

I watched him tear open his own wrist and hold it over my mouth.

“Drink Harper.”

His voice was rough and urgent. Crimson welled up from the wound. The choice he gave me was no choice at all. I could feel my body drifting away as I clung to life with terrified desperation. My vision was fading, and the only things that cut through the growing fog was the bitter feeling of betrayal and the panicked thoughts that I didn't want to die.. more than anything, I didn't want to die. I didn't want it all to end here. I had to do something, anything, to keep going.

I didn't want to die.

So I parted my lips as a trickle of Giuseppe’s blood flowed from his hand, mingling with the blood of my comrades before sliding down my throat.

I felt life slip away from my grasp. My body went cold; I felt death like few ever have to do. It was not a physical pain. That had faded. I couldn't feel the stomach wound anymore.

It was as though everything I had ever cared about and everything I could have cared about in the future was wretched away from me in a single instant. It was not like the loss of a lover or a child, it was infinitely more painful. It was a loss of hope, joy, color, and warmth. It was the loss of pleasure, sight, taste and touch.

A true loss of all things. Oblivion is not sweet. The moment you die is the single most wretched instant of human existance. The only sweet thing about it is the nothing that follows. The release, the destruction of the very memory of death...but my consciousness remained. I was acutely aware of every sensation I would never have again. I was not allowed to sink into oblivion and forget the miserable, terrible memory of having myself torn to pieces. I was cursed to remain, to remember how it felt to die, to lose everything.

My mind began to falter under the weight of such loss, pieces began to splinter off, and thoughts began to shatter. The mind was not made to endure such things, the mind isn't conditioned to remember death. I tottered on the brink of madness. Just as my mind began to slip into chaos, a stronger beast took hold. A roaring hunger suddenly entered me. It exploded within me, filling the holes and crevices that had once been the home of true life. Hunger poured through me and replaced that hope, joy, and warmth. It overtook my senses and entangled my mind. Hunger brought my thoughts back together and gave them a manner in which to avoid the madness, a singular focus, a purpose: feed.

In those next few moments I did not resemble anything close to human. The Hunger dragged me to the closet body, clawing at the ground with hands that resembled claws.. towards the scent of fresh blood. A blonde boy stared up at the sky with wide blue eyes, barely alive. He had three neat gunshot wounds in his chest. Part of me, the rational part, screamed in horror I tore into his throat and lapped up the blood that gushed from it. But it was a weak and tiny voice, too badly injured to stop the Beast I was now.

Body to body I went, the Hunger roaring through me, animalistic and brutal. It did not free me until it slaked its thirst on four of the bodies strewn across the rooftop, and then the release was sudden and devastating.

The Hunger slept and I awoke to the reality of my cursed existence. At that moment, I felt the melodrama was justified. Red tinted tears spilled from my eyes and choking sobs racked my lifeless body..and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Despair settled over me. I stared at my hands as they shook uncontrollably, they were bloody, with pieces of flesh in the fingernails were I had clawed like an animal at the open wounds of the dying kids. No, not an animal.. a monster. Giuseppe had turned me into one of the monsters.. and I'd let him do it.. Tears poured down my face in a ceaseless wave, mingling with the blood. It felt like lifetimes, kneeling, sobbing, trying to forget.. before I could gain control again. What I'd done came back to me in waves, and I thought I'd vomit, but my body wasn't reacting like it should. I knew it never would.. and tears poured down my face, mingling with the blood.

I looked around in a panic, finally realizing I was still on the temple top, and possibly still in danger. Giuseppe was gone. Stone was no where to be found, he had probably never been in Mexico at all. I stood slowly, my legs shaky, my clothes drenched in the blood of at least 5 different people. I laid a hand on my stomach, and the skin was whole and smooth. The wound in my stomach was completely healed. The roof of the temple was littered with bodies. Karl, Danzig and Jaleel were gone. I had no idea where.. I thought Karl and the dog were dead. Bob and Korbin were discussing what to do with the body of the witch, staying a good distance away from me. I couldn't blame them. I'd just torn through 4 kids in a monstrous blood lust.... I stood on the rooftop of the temple and looked out over the jungle feeling nothing but empty, and wondering if any of it had been worth it.


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