Author: Darwin PM
The Ancient vampire Aderyn flees to a nexus of power to regain her strength. Yet even there they hunt her, the Agent Milla and the vampire Michel already on her heels. She finds possible protectors not from her time, but a future yet to be. Crossover.Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 15 - Words: 68,782 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 05-29-09 - Published: 12-09-08 - id: 2606173
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Chapter Fifteen: From the Outside
Tension filled the interior of the church. No one moved – no one seemed to be breathing. Even Cabal's cough decided to take a leave of absence. Adrenaline overrode any thought of the pain in his chest. They all faced the door, feeling the ominous presence which lingered just beyond its surface. As intense as the hatred was emanating from that creature, all of them expected the assault to begin there.
He extended his senses trying to get a handle on what precisely he was feeling. Whatever it was, he had never cataloged its aura signature before, what he could say?
It wasn't human.
It wasn't any supernatural that he had already been exposed to. In fact, he wasn't always able to lock onto their signature to track their positions, because they seemed to be at times insubstantial. The way they flashed in and out of his radar made it almost impossible to determine the actual numbers poised against the four of them. The most he caught was five at any given time.
"Are you getting this?" Cabal whispered it to the closest vampire, Renate.
"My radar's been messed up since I've been here. I just figured that was a symptom of where we are."
They weren't given time to compare notes further, for there was a slight flux of power and then there was some thing rushing at Renate from the right – not from the door, which caught father and son completely by surprise. It emerged from the shadow – seemed nothing more than a shadow itself, but Renate's cry of surprise and pain was all too real. Cabal closed on the thing – what looked like a shadowy black bear that hadn't eaten in years – his stake already in motion. Only his arm and the weapon in his hand passed through the space where it had just been. It had blinked out of existence. The resulting miss nearly impaled the vampire that had been beneath it, and he wrenched already tender muscles trying to keep his promise – not to kill his father before they got out of this mess.
Cabal wasn't able to finish the epithet, as that small surge of energy erupted just aft him and he was tackled from behind. The move sent him over the top of Renate. Agony stabbed through him, and he couldn't tell whether it was a new pain or an aggravation of the ones he already had.
Then the weight was gone again, before he could bring any defense to bear.
The dhampir took his feet as fast as his continued weakness would allow, and pulled Renate up with him. Automatically and without any verbal cues the two ended up back to back.
"What are they?" Renate muttered, and Cabal could smell the blood the creature had drawn from his father. The vampire grunted and small shudder moved through his frame. It had gotten him pretty good then.
"I can't get enough of a lock on them to tell you," Cabal answered and he could hear the bubble back in his words, the fluid starting to build up in his lungs again. He spared a glance over to the other two who were sharing in this assault. Somehow Milla had gravitated away from Renate and him, and closer to Michel. He didn't see how they had come to associate that way, but he was almost sure Michel ensured the woman remained close to him. Cabal grew angry at the thought, but there was little he could do in the middle of this lopsided battle.
Michel was doing something, because the creatures, three of them, kept lunging, only to fall away and fall short. "Michel?"
The vampire grunted, but gave no more response than that.
Milla was swinging her gun, trying to keep up with the vampire-swift movement of the shadowy creatures. Several times she fired rounds at the apparitions, and each time the bullet passed completely through it to ping off the macadam. After three tries and three complete misses, she gave up, still swinging the weapon but no longer pulling the trigger. Instead she leaned closer to the vampire she'd claimed she hated.
"I think we're dealing with some new breed of demon." Renate muttered, just before Cabal felt that power shift. He reacted, swinging around his father in an attempt to catch the creature in a solid form. A great birdlike maw was opened wide, about to clamp down on Renate's arm. A short beak and four tusks flashed briefly as Cabal realized it was becoming solid. The dhampir struck too soon, his weapon once more passing straight through the beast. A second later he was grabbing Renate's jacket, aiding the vampire's retreat before that wicked maw could latch on. The jaw snapped shut just an inch shy of his father's clothing, and the body of it impacted Cabal with enough force that he bowled the both of them over.
Cabal swung wildly as the creatures charge continued, but it had disappeared in a trail of acrid black smoke before the stake met the creature's desiccated frame. He scrambled to get to get up from the floor of the church at the same time resisting the urge to fight off the helping hand of his father.
Briefly meeting those muddy brown eyes, Cabal nodded. The best thanks he could manage with so many centuries of vengeance still tainting his mind.
"Thanks," Renate muttered in return as he swung Cabal back into place at his back.
"No problem," Cabal sighed, all the louder he could speak with that pressure building in his chest. He felt as if the repairs he'd been able to affect had been undone by the short altercation, like his lung was collapsing all over again. He still managed to voice his amateur assessment of the foe's tactics. "They're phasing in and out of this when."
"If that knowledge doesn't give me an answer on how to hurt them, keep it to yourself."
"I don't feel them phase out." Cabal continued, ignoring the acerbic growl. "I do feel them phase in. If I can figure out the timing – how long it takes them to become solid…"
"Then we've got an early warning system."
"Don't do that," Cabal hissed, startled and angered to hear his own thoughts in his father's voice.
"Finish my thoughts."
"It was a logical…"
"Mom and I had a connection…" Cabal began, stiffening as three more of the creatures phased into their vicinity. Any thought of explanation would have to wait. "Three, one at my six and two more coming from your nine."
Two of the new entrants to the fight were different from the previous assailants. These were humanoid, but like the four-legged bird faces, they had no eyes and jet black skin. They had nails the length and sharpness of steak knives and immediately swung for them as they shifted to take on all three threats. Trying to duck back did little good, for Renate pressed hard against his shoulder trying to counter the third demon. Between that and the swiftness of the attack, there was little chance for the dhampir to come away unscathed.
The nails of the demon were just as sharp as they looked as they laid the leather of his jacket open at shoulder and right forearm. He was already away before the claws could cut deeper than perhaps a couple layers of skin. Cabal's hiss of pain was echoed by a snarl of rage from Renate.
"This is ridiculous," he growled, loud enough to be a bellow, "how the hell am I supposed to fight something that isn't really there?"
"I've almost got the timing, give me just a second or two more."
"In a second or two we could all be dead, boy!"
"I know, I know. Reading and interpreting energy isn't exactly easy, all right? It took me six hundred years to get as good as I am." Cabal snapped, even as he defended himself against another onslaught of demonic minions. The distractions didn't help him concentrate on what the things were doing when they came into this when.
"Must be a slow learner, then."
"Fuck you, Renate." The last came out with a grunt as he was tackled from one side. He managed to get a hit on the creature before it phased out once more, but only enough to wound it, not nearly enough of a connection to kill the beastie.
Another flux in the energy around them announced the return of one of their assailants. The creature was approaching his father, and by Renate's reaction, he wasn't going to get out of the way this time. Cabal spun around him once more, his arm and weapon in motion well before the creature closed on the vampire he'd teamed with.
The stake connected – the dull thwack rang through the church and the sheer weight of the creature pulled the dhampir down with it. He landed atop the desiccated mass of leathery black skin and sharp protruding bones, wrenching his wrist painfully as his fingers refused to let go of the weapon and his weight landed on top of his arm.
He allowed momentum to take him over the creature and onto the floor with his legs under him. Cradling his wrist a moment and then shaking it out when it seemed to be nothing more than an overextension, the dhampir quickly retrieved his stake from the dead thing's head. As soon as it was out, the black body turned to equally black vapor and dissipated into the atmosphere.
This was all done in seconds, and Cabal spared another glance for his father. The vampire seemed shocked and astonished. "I seem to have figured the timing out," Cabal uttered, smiling with just a touch of superiority.
"I see that – none too fucking soon either."
"You're welcome." With that, Cabal resumed his spot. Straining his senses, the dhampir felt no immediate threat, and only then chanced to look at the other two in their party. Michel had managed to kill two of the creatures, but was wrestling with another, and looked to be on the losing end.
Over his shoulder he tugged on his father's jacket. "We need to get over there."
He felt Renate shift as he looked where Cabal was referring to. "Why? Thought you hated Michel."
"As much as I would love to see him get his ass handed to him, if he goes down, Milla's in deep shit. The only way we're getting through this fight is to band together…all of us."
"Well, no time like the present."
Cabal had been expecting it, that any attempt to regroup would lead to an attack, but it didn't make the ensuing battle any less draining. Not only was he having to track his own marks, he was having to cue Renate in on when his assailants were prone to the vampire's claws. He could feel how weak he was getting, how hard it was getting to breathe. He could only hope that the two of them could make it to Milla and Michel before he could no longer function.
The most eerie thing about this entire fight was that their opponents made no noise. Even when stricken by punishing blows, the demons did not cry out – they did not groan or snarl – they merely attacked and dashed away, harrying their quarry in an effort to subdue and then overwhelm them.
Father and son leapt onto the seat of the pews, trying to make it to the center aisle and fending off creatures at each step. They were both bleeding now, and Cabal knew he couldn't afford much more blood loss, even with his ability in this realm to repair his damaged flesh.
As he placed his toe onto the back of one pew in an effort to dodge a suddenly very solid humanoid demon, Cabal missed his step and went down heavily. It seemed to be all the more his body wanted to take, and for long frightening moments he couldn't make himself push up from the bench where he'd come to rest. He could feel the energy his assailant was giving off, looming over his back.
Strong hands grabbed his shoulders, yanking him up just as the bench under him shattered into splinters of stained wood. The creaking sound as another bench protested stabbed into his ear, even as he tried to get his feet back under him.
"C'mon we're almost there."
"D…don't get yourself killed over me," Cabal managed, though the sound was nearly lost to the atmosphere. "I am the liability here."
"You made me a promise boy, and you're going to live to see that fucking thing through."
"You make it sound like I've given up." He managed more volume that time, raising his weight off of Renate's supporting hands.
"Better not have if you're my kid."
"Exactly." Finally he was able to straighten, realizing that Renate had gotten them the rest of the way to the remainder of their party.
Michel scowled at Cabal as the two merged with him and Milla. That disdain was turned on Renate a moment later, "You continue to insist on keeping the handicap with us?"
Milla was obviously torn between vigilance against the creatures popping in and out of their vicinity and concern for Cabal. He wanted to tell her not to bother over him. He always looked like hell when things like this happened, and almost always still had fight left in him when it came to death or winning.
"You fool!" Michel hissed.
He wasn't able to say more as another creature appeared directly before him. It was all the blond could do to fend of the slashing claws – this time unsuccessfully. Michel's hiss of frustration was loud as a new line of blood appeared across his cheek. It just as quickly repaired itself.
"Listen to me," Cabal wheezed in the next lull in the battle, "I've been able to pinpoint when the creatures are totally within this when. I can ensure your strikes count."
He included them all in his sweeping gaze.
Michel scoffed, turning to scan the church for more signs of pending attack.
Cabal shook his head at the stubbornness of the other vampire – too proud to listen to solid advice. It sounded a little too familiar – too uncomfortable for the dhampir. With his own inability to listen to good advice ringing between his ears, he gave up trying to convince the man further.
"From above." He said it calmly, and all of them looked up. "Count to three and then strike. It'll be solid."
Milla was already aiming at the descending creature and Renate was poised to strike it should she miss.
"Now!" Cabal ordered when his own count went past the third second.
Milla fired and the creature's trajectory changed abruptly, landing at Michel's feet in a crumpled unmoving heap. The vampire stared at it for mere moments, before returning his glare to the dhampir. Cabal tried to look steadier as he clutched the back of the pew in an effort to remain standing under his own power. "They haven't changed the pattern since they began their attack. I can tell you when they come into this when, and when their phase is complete. We need to work together if we're going to get out of this fight alive."
Michel turned away once more. At least Cabal had managed to close down his running disdainful tirade.
"How many more do you think there are?"
"I don't even know what they are." Anger and fear tainted Michel's single statement. A chill went through Cabal – of the four of them, the blond was the most experienced on what existed this side of the veil.
"I thought you said you weren't new to this?" Despite having schooled himself against instigating hostility with Michel, Cabal snarled that question.
"Adepts have been coming here for centuries and still have not exposed themselves to everything that visits or calls this realm home. Do not presume too much. I doubt even Aderyn has met all its denizens."
Cabal switched gears so fast he made the other three jump. "Incoming, six of them from all sides. The one closest to Renate is going to attack first."
"How do you know that?" Milla spared the breath to say.
"It's my talent…always has been." Cabal leaned harder into the wood at his back, trying to hide the fact that his knees were about to give and dump him on the floor. The last thing he wanted was Milla and Renate worrying about him. "He's in, hit him. Milla single count and then that one's yours. And Michel if you're not so proud as to have a half-breed's help, the one to your right is going to be in the when at the count of three."
Then something unexpected happened, though Cabal recognized the feel of the energy surge, having been through it three times already. "Oh shit, hold on!"
The words were seconds too late as the fabric of the church ripped apart at the seams, dumping the four of them, and the creatures attacking them out into nothingness. Cabal felt himself falling, stupidly trying to catch something solid as the floor seemed to give altogether. It didn't take long for him to lose sight of friend and foe alike as darkness seemed to swallow him. Vertigo caused him to black out, only to awaken again as he impacted something solid.
A grunt wrest from his throat, as he expelled air with the force of that landing. He tried once to draw a breath, eyes pinching when his already sore body spasmed on him. His second attempt was slightly more productive. "Oh…that hurt." He exhaled.
Another breath escaped him, and he let his body relax once again – to get it to stop protesting his movement. He stared across a dark surface, feeling the bite of its rough texture against his right cheek. He focused as he noted a much lighter colored substance that rose from ground level about four inches, and then on a building beyond that. Cabal blinked seeing the blurry yellow lines just inches from his nose that marked a division between sides of the road.
The idea that he was lying face down in a street, and that he might possibly get run over, spurred him to motion. He pushed up, and a groan escaped him as the pain returned tenfold. The bubbling breathing was loud in his ears, where it had been completely absent a moment ago. He could only manage to roll over onto his butt, propped on his arms to get a better look around him.
Where am I?
He didn't even want to venture a guess, not as strange as this realm was. With a little more effort and a lot more pain, Cabal made it to his feet and stumbled out of the roadway. Once on the sidewalk, he spun and leaned his back against the seemingly solid plasteel of a four-story building.
Apparitions were apparent here, thinner in number than they had been in other places, but still they walked by him, insubstantial, ignoring him where he leaned on the single solid thing around him. Merely a block down the road details grew fuzzy, until the edges of the cross street were lost in the fog of the miasma, of the affects of others on this realm.
Well he wasn't home yet…that much he knew. The surroundings however looked familiar. He was too addled from his injuries, the fight with the demons, and the sudden expulsion from Aderyn's construct to truly contemplate its familiarity.
Weakness struck Cabal once again, and he felt himself sliding. Quickly he propped his hands on his knees and lowered his head between his shoulders, hoping the move would help him catch his breath.
He remained that way for quite a while
"Why is it…" a voice said from just before him, "that every time I see you, you're beat to shit."
Startled to be addressed with familiarity in this portion of the realm, Cabal darted his gaze to a dark shadowy figure standing not two feet from where he was trying to rest.
"Who…who are you?" Cabal uttered, his words burbling from between his lips, water over stones, nearly unrecognizable as human speech.
"And you never seem to recognize me either." The man knelt in front of him, bringing a dark skinned face into better relief. "I'm the only Afram friend you have – or so you keep telling me."
Cabal's eyes widened in shock, "Eastwood?"
Thick lips drew down into a scowl, "You know I hate it when you or anyone calls me that. I'm going to blame it on the obvious poor shape you're in – again."
"Clint," Cabal gasped. "What're…what're you doing here?" He lowered his chin and shook his head, "What when am I in?"
"My when – I'd say – being that your standing against my apartment building."
Renate didn't have the luxury of fainting as he fell through nothingness into another unknown. He had never been a fainter – no matter how hurt he was or how dire his predicament, his brain didn't take pity on him in that manner. There was nothing to see, and the fall seemed to last forever, which frightened the vampire. Being out of control of his fate was never a comfortable feeling.
He didn't even see the ground rush up to meet him, and the impact jarred up through his legs, collapsing his knees and sending him onto his ass. Rocking back and then forward again, the vampire propped his wrists on his knees and surveyed his surroundings.
Renate found himself in another forest, and for one moment he feared that Aderyn had found a way to yank his leash and bring him back under her heel. As he continued to survey his surroundings, he realized that the trees were wrong, the undergrowth a different variety from the deciduous forest around the Ancient's sanctuary.
It reminded him of something he had seen on a trip when he was still little – still human. The Olympic Pennisula? The Sequoia Forests? He'd been to both places, but couldn't decide just which place matched to that ancient memory.
Renate frowned. He was lost. And, not an adept in this realm, that could spell big trouble. His gaze roved once more, looking for some other member of his impromptu party. Beyond the shadows of other visitors in his vicinity, there was no one.
With a grunt and continued grumbles about his lot in life, Renate regained his feet once more. Slowly, the vampire turned a circle, trying to disprove his first assessment. Still no other recognizable soul appeared from the tall straight pines surrounding the small clearing.
Standing in the middle of the clearing, with her back to him, was the one person who looked solid enough to be the owner of this realm. The woman was dressed for cold weather, even though Renate couldn't feel a chill in the air here. A dark thick ribbed sweater poked out from the sleeves of a bright red vest that looked like it could be a life preserver. The rest of the lady's attire consisted of flare-legged jeans and hiking boots.
The vampire started for her, only realizing when he stepped into a pool of light streaming through the boughs overhead, that it was the middle of the day in this place. Renate's entire body went rigid, and a moment later he ducked into the deep shade of one of the larger boles. Only then did he realize he was experiencing no pain – there was no smell of flesh charring.
He looked down at his hands, expecting to see welts and blisters across the light tan of his skin. Nothing…not a single bit of reddened flesh. Cabal had been right – there seemed to be no rules in this place.
"Don't tell me…vampire?" The voice surprised Renate and he wheeled once more. Evidently the woman had realized his presence here and approached him. She'd snuck up so quietly that Renate hadn't even heard her. Of course, it had a lot to do with his preoccupation with getting a permanent scar.
She stood some three feet from him, head tilted to one side and an expression that mingled humor and curiosity. Her face was one he could only recall seeing in ancient history books. It was a squat with an extremely flat nose. High, wide cheekbones and heavy brows made her face small and rather circular. Dark brunette hair hid most of her prominent brow in shoulder length waves – though some in the back was pulled into a ponytail that barely qualified. In his time, she would have qualified as Indam, however he knew without a doubt that not only was she purer than any of those bloodlines, she was of a race he'd never seen – that didn't exist anymore.
Assessing the skewed aura signature for long moments, he tried to assess how much of a threat she might be to him. After some deliberation with no help from that other sight, he decided she wasn't.
With that decision, he made himself relax, "How'd you guess?"
A beaming smile made an appearance out of that darkly-hued face, "Dunno, must have been the extremely comic dash for shade, or the furtive check for wounding you did afterwards."
Chagrined at how that must have looked to her, he smiled himself. "That obvious?"
"Uh. Yeah." She shook her head, and shifted to her other dainty foot, "Sunlight doesn't work here like it does in the real world – unless the creator of the sphere actually consciously wills it. It still amazes me how most vampire adepts still don't believe that."
"It doesn't?" Tentatively he stuck his palm in full sunlight, still expecting pain. He was grimacing and couldn't help himself. And still nothing happened. "Huh, fancy that."
Her head tilted like the RCA dog once more, "What are you doing here?"
"Yeah, good question." Renate shoved his hands in his pockets. "I'm really not sure. The when I was in fell apart."
"You're not affecting my space, here." She stared at him more intensely. "You're not an adept at all. How did a deadhead, like you, end up here?"
"That's a very long story." One he wasn't willing to share with a woman he'd only just met.
"Better question, how did you – as a deadhead – get into my dreamwalk?" She looked around now, seeming nervous, "My client catches you here, he's going to be pissed!"
"Client?" He followed her gaze. "What are you talking about?"
"We're outside observers to a third party's dream right now." She dragged him from behind the tree. "Did you really think I belonged in a forest like this?"
"I don't know." It sounded like a trap, and he tried to be as non-committal about the answer as possible.
"I don't, Australia is a long way off from anything like this. Do these look like Eucalyptus trees to you?"
"I'm from Colorado, last check they didn't grow Eucalyptus. Actually they don't grow much of anything there anymore."
She looked at him quizzically for long moments.
"My client has been having a recurrent dream – insists it's a place he's been but doesn't remember. He's paying me to recover the kernel of memory from this dream and explain it to him. You're presence here may bollocks that."
She grinned up at him. "It's not me that's going to care. But he's not going to be happy when he's got to have an additional session."
"What exactly are you?"
"Human. I'm descended from a long line of Aboriginal shamans." Her head quirked ever so slightly before those dark ancient eyes met his again. "My family is talented in Dreamtime – the ability to find our patterns and destiny in our dreams."
"Which makes you?"
"A genuine – official – Dreamwalker." There was pride in her expression, and a touch of sadness as well. "Being a woman didn't make them want to trust me much – so I had to find other avenues for my talents."
Though he had been listening, it didn't sink in until that moment what she had said her race was. Standing bolt upright he asked, "Aborigine? As in, from Ancient Australia?"
"Well it's not so ancient in my time." That brilliant grin came back once more. "Obviously, you got carted here from the future."
"2993." Renate said it automatically; his eyes back to the bright heavens and the sun he never thought he would see again. It was really too bad that none of this was actually real.
The woman whistled loud and long. "The Earth hasn't destroyed itself yet?"
"The humans tried – really hard." Renate made himself look into her young and yet wizened face. He realized standing right next to her that she barely came to his chest. "How about you?"
"1963." That explained some about her disdain when talking about how she'd been ousted for being a female shaman. Equality wasn't exactly up to standards back in those days – from what the history vids told.
"I'm Regina by the way."
He hadn't been expecting such a European name, considering her background.
"We've got to get you out of here."
She thought for a moment. "Well. Where were you when things fell apart?"
"A church – a construct that never changed. Only…I think it's completely gone."
"Wow you definitely find yourself in some anti-vampire areas don't you?"
Renate grinned at her. "It's a good thing the rules don't apply then or else I'd be screwed."
"Yeah pretty much." She looked about her. "Are you sure this place you were is gone?"
"All of us got ejected, the place literally disappeared around us."
"That usually means the one controlling it has left the realm."
"Great." Renate removed a hand and ran it through his hair. "That bitch is the one that brought me here."
"Her name's Aderyn – another vampire."
Regina shook her head. "I'm sorry. I could probably tailor my client's dream back there so you have a jumping off point. But that's not going to happen if this Aderyn has left for the real world again."
"But, see, I don't think she would." Renate met her eyes again. "She told me she was weak in the real world, spent, she came here to hide and recuperate."
"The other possibility is that she was attacked by another entity." She looked dubious. "That doesn't happen often here – at least that I'm aware of."
"Well we – the three others and myself – were in the middle of an assault by some kind of demon." He looked through the boles of the trees seeing the edge of the miasma pressing closer to them. "Is it possible it was a coordinated attack on us and her?"
"To what end?"
"I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud." Renate sighed through his nose, more frustrated than he wanted to admit.
"Well for now stick close, and let me see if I can finish this job."
"How long do I have?"
"Until I wake up, or he does. I wake up is worse – then you're stranded. He wakes up; I just walk into someone else's dreams."
"Sounds like fun."
"It could be." She started walking towards a young boy who had appeared at the edge of the field. Renate was reluctant, but he followed in her wake, more concerned with being on his own in this strange place, than disturbing her client's dream.
A/N: Okay, another new chapter for you all to peruse!! It know it's probably about a week late...but it's not so easy when the chapters aren't already written anymore! LOL!
So our unwilling partners find themselves scattered to the four corners of the nexus...and some with nary a way to get back again!
What happened to Milla and Michel? I guess you'll have to wait to find out!
NEXT UP: Something from BBQ! Dunno what...were all on the creationism schedule again!