Good evening. I should probably mention immediately that this story won't be updated often. At the moment, I'm working on too many projects that are holding my interest moreso than this is, which means it won't get nearly as much attention. But, because I adore this side of the story, I'm posting it in hopes for feedback.

As a side note, the Fury are my own creation, and therefore should not be mentioned in any story on this site. (unless your pen name is E. C. Shelley, to which I have given complete permission.) If you come across a story that includes the Fury (or any creature that is remotely similar) please contact me in a pm, and I will be most gracious.

Take into consideration that this contains many spoilers consistent with my other novel, MONSTER, and happens to be much more explicit. Yes, there will be blood, and yes, there will be implications to other adult content, such as rape, violence, swearing, and anything else that I see fit. If you're ready to handly it, continue on and enjoy the story.

Chapter One: Canal Fulton

There are certain laws you must abide by when you're constricted by my sort of lifestyle: Always keep your guard up; Question everyone and everything; Never expose too much of yourself; Trust no one and nothing; Never talk about it; Never get too close, too attached; Hate when love is too much of a risk; Hate only as a last resort.

There was no such thing in my world as night or day. The sun bled into the moon, the sky into the horizon, sunset into twilight into midnight into sunrise and back again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. There was, however, existence. Continual existence that was pitiless, never-ending, and cold. Freezing cold.

I stood from my position on the sapphire-blue velvet couch and began to circle my room. To an every-day human, it would appear the essence of normalcy. The mahogany, hardwood floor; the soft-gray walls; the azure, deliberately drawn curtains. It was almost sickening how precisely clean everything was. Things such as dust, dirt, infestation of insects did not exist. We were a perfect race, or so appeared to be.

Though, if you paid close attention, you would notice that my room was missing one vital, humane item: a bed. In fact, there was not one single bed in the entire Winchester-esque mansion I resided in. This might seem a little odd once finally acknowledged, but it would make complete sense as soon as you considered it. The undead do not require sleep.

I stopped short in front of the large, Victorian mirror that hung in the western end of my room. It was slightly menacing, reflecting every single detail that I despised about both myself and the place I lived in. There was nothing I could do about any of it, and the mirror seemed to be taunting me, snickering at my helplessness. I drew up to it, inspecting everything it showed.

Even though I had previously deemed it impossible to pale any further, my skin had somehow managed itself and was almost completely white. My near abstinence of food might have been the problem. It was a good thing I didn't correspond with humans; they would have been convinced I was albino, despite the jet-black of my untidy hair or dark, midnight blue of my eyes. I tried not to look into those eyes; they were usually devastatingly devoid of life.

In one quick motion, my knuckles met the reflective glass. There was a satisfying pop as the thin mirror caved in under the power of my strike. My hands did not bleed; my flesh was nearly indestructible. I watched as cracks spider-webbed and obscured my angular face, how everything seemed to disappear before me. If only real things, not only reflective things, were so easily destroyed.

The tug of a mind brought me back to my senses. As if on cue, there was a tap on the door. "Alexandre?"

I recognized the voice, and turned wearily away from the shattered furniture toward its direction. "You may enter."

The small, round face of Imogen peeked into the room, her blonde hair framing it in poker-straight curtains, her glassy blue eyes downcast, as usual. I attempted a small, easy smile, and she returned it tentatively, though her news was sure to be painful.

"Alecto would like to see you in the east wing," she reported, only letting a fraction of her body enter the room. I saw her eyes rake over the broken mirror, expression emotionless. This hadn't been the first piece of furniture my rage had obliterated.

"Very well. Oh, and could you please send Carmen back in here to clean up this mess?" She nodded solemnly, curtsied, and left to fetch her fellow servant girl. Imogen was a perfect example of what happened if you were caught breaking the laws: you were forced into servitude, or, if you were lucky, executed. Whether Tisiphone was feeling merciful that instance or not determined your fate.

In Imogen's case, she had told her brother, who was human, of what she had become, and the Council had discovered her actions. So, they slew him and brought her against her will here to remain in servitude until either the Council, or she, ceased to walk. Live was not a completely accurate term; Imogen was not among the living. She was the same as I, the same as all the residents of this house. She was a Fury.

To keep our presence a secret was a law you were forced to abide by. If humans discovered the existence of such things as us, the Fury, a mythological-like but very real race of carnivorous, angelic monsters, chaos would ensue. Blissful ignorance was a better state for the poor things than panic. It was rare, but a few newborn Fury would confess what they truly were to a close friend, a former lover or spouse. Truly, the induced fear of the Council is what most often kept newborns silent.

I knocked lightly on the door, quickly inspecting the minds in the room beyond. That was my gift: I was able to sense minds, or the memories that they beheld. View them like old movies, and even rip them away. Well, this was the most prominent, useful part of my gift. The other one was more a nuisance, more a curse than something I was lucky to have, though neither I desired. If I could give both away, I would do so without a second thought. Ones who broke the laws were not the only Furies forced to work in the house.

Alecto, Tisiphone, Megaera. Those were the easiest to pick out, their minds bright with their own individual essence and power, the self-appointed law-enforcers of our race. Another two hunters, Gerard and James, though their minds weren't as easily decipherable as the first three. Two fellow Elite, Michael and Vincent. And one more person I didn't recognize - a girl, a newborn.

I let myself enter the room to find exactly as I'd envisioned:

Victor stood to the far left of the large table situated in the farthest wall in the room. As usual, his prominent chin and hooked nose were a little out of place on his sinister face, reminding me of a sort of white banana. He wasn't exactly as beautiful as the rest of my kind, but he had a strong presence that ticked off what humans would call the 'sixth sense'.

Megaera was on the left of the table, her dark brown hair falling in waves down below her shoulders. Unlike Victor, an average human would have fallen to his knees at her beauty. Her green eyes weren't cold, but they weren't exactly compassionate, either.

Tisiphone was on the far right, jaw set, blonde locks reaching below her waist. Her eyes were, however, a cold, frosty blue. I'd heard Imogen and Carmen call her the 'Ice Queen' behind her back, something I found slightly humorous, in spite of my hatred for the woman.

Michael was lazily lounging off away from the rest of the party, not even bothering to attempt to pretend that he was paying attention. He was a little more tolerable than the others. Younger, only about forty-years-old, and good-humored. Despite his age, his appearance did not succumb to the finite hardships of time, and looked not a year older than twenty. On the other side of the room, Gerard and James stood with their arms crossed over chests, watching closely a tiny girl, who lay sprawled on the ground, whimpering.

My eyes closed in on the person I could most easily say that I despised above all else. Alecto was a lean, tall woman with lustrous, strawberry hair and large chocolate eyes that could see all and would reveal none. I swallowed my hatred and assumed a mask of polite indifference.

"Ah, Alexandre," Alecto purred, regarding me with a smile. Her voice was laced with an intentional honey that, over time, I had grown immune to. "Nice of you to join us."

I inclined my head slightly, keeping my eyes on the girl, already collecting the information that they desired from me. "Her name is Lily Gonzalez. She was born July 15th, 1982. Sired by Jeremy Plaines; accidental."

Lily stopped her whimpering, and lifted her head to meet my gaze. She was simply pretty, another factor that indicated an accident. Our race was typically egotistical, only selecting the most beautiful and intelligent humans to turn. Besides, no one wanted to have a simply pretty newborn tarnishing their reputation.

"Has she told anyone?"

I ran through her memories even further, to the time period shortly after she had awoken from the painful state of her body fats and fluids being burned away and perfected. We were required to be beautiful to the human eye. If you consider it, the sense is clear. Humans are shallow; they fall over themselves to get into the good graces of someone that is more attractive compared to someone unattractive or even average. They find you much more trustworthy; in their eyes, you could do no wrong.

"Where am I?" Lily wailed, pulling at her dark hair, a nervous habit I had picked up on while roaming her mind. She used to do it most often when she was around a boy named Marcus, whom I suspected as a crush. "Who are you people?"

No one in the room aside from I acknowledged her outburst; I flinched. "She doesn't even know what she is," I informed them with a careful lack of emotion, staring deeply into the flat brown of the little Hispanic girl's eyes in attempt to calm her. "She'd only just gotten out of the change but a few hours before we found her."

Alecto nodded, and I watched Megaera record my diagnosis into a largely bound journal, as she had for all the newborns. Every single Fury in the United States, a grand total of 76 - 77 if they didn't dispose of Lily - was in that book, including the roughly 200 who had been executed over the past millennium.

Actually, I would not be surprised if both her and Jeremy were to be executed. You had to pass on the laws to a newborn you sired or face the consequences. And it was just really unfortunate for the newborn to have such a horrid sire. The Council was not empathetic.

"Lily," Tisiphone addressed the girl in what I was sure was a deliberately smooth voice. Lily jumped, but reluctantly turned away from me toward the menacing woman. "Do you remember feeling a lot of pain, for a long period of time?" I ignored the rest of the conversation. At this point I became aware of that fact that the Council had silently decided, using their acquired skill of telepathy, that they would spare her life. They were so in tune, they could read each other's thoughts. Being best friends for over a thousand years does that for you.

"You're going to be placed into the hands of one of our servant girls, Imogen, and she will explain everything to you, including our laws, and your new role in this house. Imogen?" The door swung open, and the girl who had retrieved me earlier stood in the frame, ready to take the newborn under her wing. Another use of the Council's power was summoning the servant girls.

"Yes, my lady?" Her tinkling voice was almost a relief compared to the ones I'd been listening to over the past few minutes.

"Take Lily here and show her around, if you would."

Imogen bowed gracefully. "As you wish, my lady."

I awaited Imogen to take Lily's hand, leading her out the door and toward the servants' quarters, then began to take my leave.

"Alexandre?"

Upon hearing Alecto's voice, I stopped, turning my head slightly back toward the long table sitting the three people I abhorred most in my pitiful life.

"We're going to need you to take care of something for us." Alecto smiled, her features appearing even darker, deepening in wickedness. "There's a man in Ohio that goes by the name of Alistair Firestone, and we suspect that he might have informed some of his human friends of what he really is. He's an odd one, refusing to feed on humans. He supplements his hunger with animals instead. I need you to travel there and check his memories for treason. If you find any, eliminate him."

"If I may be so bold, why aren't you sending Gerard or James to deal with him?" I answered, not bothering to hide my annoyance.

"They're going to deal with that oaf, Jeremy," Tisiphone answered coolly, not looking up at me. "Besides, you're of no help sitting around in your room or up in the library. It should be good for you to get some fresh air."

I restrained a defiant snarl. Our kind did not need to breathe, despite the fact that I relied on my sense of smell more than any other, so the thought of 'needing fresh air' was nearly laughable. Instead of succumbing to the woman's provoking, I whipped around and left the room, fuming.

Alistair Firestone was odd indeed. It was rare, but I had heard of it before: a man so encased in self-hatred that he tries to redeem himself by swearing off all of the richest meat the earth has to offer and aids them, in a way. I considered it. Would I be able to swear off human flesh? Sure, I could go for a long amount of time without food, most often for the sole reason that sometimes I couldn't bear my second, less convenient gift, but swearing off human flesh and blood? It was an interesting concept.

Yes, our diets consist essentially of humans. No, we're not vampires. We're not sirens. We're not some sort of Greek monster that ravages the earth and massacres villages, eating women and their children. We are a civilized species; unlike humans, but very much the same.

Furies and humans look almost exactly alike. In fact, each and every one of our race was birthed human. We have mundane features: noses, lips, eyes, hair, fingers, shoulders, tongues. We look almost exactly as we did when we were human but we are exceedingly superior to our previous selves. Our strength, for one, is that of hundreds of humans. Picture an average-sized person tossing a mini-van through the Empire State Building, or ripping a large oak out of the ground by the roots. Our speed can reach enormous heights, depending. And then there's the topic of our beauty, which I won't get into again. In a world in which looking amazing is not something hard to come by, personality becomes amiable and rare.

Suddenly a mind hit mine, like a pack of raging wolves, reeking of the stench of rotten meat. I gagged inwardly, no longer breathing. Karl. I looked up to see the man sauntering toward me, his wide, sharp smile in place. It was people like Karl who would easily and guiltlessly give our race the bad name that had birthed the legends of vampires.

Still drenched in blood from his most recent meal, the only known physical Elite stopped in front of me, his face absurdly and wickedly distorted. There was no denying his beauty, as was with the majority of our race, but if not for each of his three-inch long choppers he had attached to his gums. His teeth were exaggerated, white, and forever exposed by his unnatural grin. I doubted he could frown without piercing his own lips. In fact, I had read about a vampire legend from Crete that had formed due to one of his massacres before the Council had gotten their hands on him. He was now their equivalent to a top assassin.

"Evening, St. Clair," he greeted me in a taunting tone, aware of my distaste in his form of hunting. I did not allow myself oxygen, not that I absolutely needed it, but feared the scent to be even stronger in this grotesque man's presence. "Have you had a bite yet? The eatin's good on the other side of the reserve." He snapped his jaws at me, his teeth clacking together like some carnivorous animal's. I bit back another urge to retch.

"No, actually, I haven't," I answered him tersely, keeping up my pace, and praying that he wouldn't follow me back to my room. The reverberating sounds of his footsteps told me otherwise.

"You're not going veggie, are you?" What he was referring to were the Furies who abstained from human meat. He must have caught wind of that Alistair Firestone in Ohio.

"Of course not. I just prefer to eat my food, not play with it." I made a suggestive gesture at his clothing with my eyes. "Nor wear it."

"Aw, you know I like to have fun with 'em," he continued to taunt in his Hungarian accent. "Their screaming can be so delightful."

"I guess that's the difference between you and I, Karl. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a trip to prepare for." And I entered my room, closing my door on his impossibly wide smile.

Upon entering, I immediately took in the replacement mirror in its entirety. It was a silent reminder that I was the same thing as all of these people that I felt absolutely nothing for.

--

I left the house that night. There was no reason to delay my trip; no rest was required. Though, as I skittered between the trees, stealthy and quick, I decided I would welcome this journey as a plausible excuse to get out of the house. This assignment was a great indicator that they were beginning to trust me. It only took them nearly fifty years.

Despite my unnecessary tendency to breathe, the running was slightly refreshing. As all Furies could, I was able to go long distances in short amounts of time without the need to rest. Only a little over a few hours later, I was near enough to Canal Fulton, the town in which this Alistair Firestone resided, that I could show myself in a gas-station.

The only thing I was in need of was the time and maybe a water bottle, so as to not appear suspicious. Water could be refreshing, wetting the back of my throat, but it did nothing to quench my hunger. I wasn't feeling entirely hungry yet, but I hadn't eaten in two weeks, and that was pushing the limit.

I entered the 7-11 with forced casualty. There was a teenage girl behind the counter, in the middle of blowing a bubble, leaning back and propping her feet up. She flipped a page of her teenie-bopper magazine. Upon seeing my face, she did a double-take, popped her bubble, and dropped her magazine. Obviously, I was the first Fury she'd ever laid eyes on.

I nodded slightly in her direction, unable to hide a smile, and followed an isle to the back of the gas-station, where I began to examine the water bottles. A quick glance at the clock overhead told me that it was 10:11 PM. If I moved quickly, I could get to Canal Fulton before the hour ended.

Choosing a random-flavored water bottle, I began to walk briskly back toward the register. Then it hit me: Something was wrong. I stopped, turned toward the door, and waited. Within not a second, they entered the gas station.

I knew their intentions before they even opened the door. They were there to rape the teenager, clean out the register, and kill any unlucky soul who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I studied the first one's mind quickly while his eyes fixed onto me, a trickle of fear rippling from his thoughts. He hadn't been expecting someone else to be here. He wasn't a good person, a criminal, and the girl and I wouldn't have been his first victim. The other wasn't much different.

"Hey. Pretty boy."

I started from my examination of the man, my teeth grinding as I realized he was speaking to me. He held a gun in his hand, aiming it at my head, obviously taking me as more of a threat than the girl. The other moved through the aisles, searching for any remaining customers.

"I said, get on the ground."

I didn't move.

"Are you deaf, or just stupid?" he snarled in what was meant to be a sneering tone, but was laced in uncertainty. His mind was tapping into that sixth sense, which was telling him I was to be feared. The human subconscious was something I'd always found intriguing. "Get on the fucking ground!"

"Don't touch her," I ordered sternly, zeroing in on the other man, who had gone around the counter toward the girl. She yelped slightly in fear, finally taking her eyes off of me.

"Or what, pretty boy? You gonna suck my blood?" I felt weary at the reference to vampires. Sure, I was pale and attractive, as vampires were supposed to be, but I could do a massive amount of damage unheard of in vampire lore. He made little fangs with his index fingers, yelling, "Bleh! Bleh!" in a pathetic faux-Transylvanian accent.

Smirking, I dropped my water bottle and shrugged out of my jacket, not wanting to stain it with blood. "Something like that."

I then launched myself at the first man.

As if he'd anticipated my movement, somehow, he was able to maneuver himself out of my way and unload a few rounds of bullets into my back. I stood from my crouching position on the ground, completely annoyed by his attempt to kill me, and cracked my neck. It wasn't until then that I realized how severely hungry I was.

I turned to them, only a slight itching in the flesh where the first had fired, and ran a hand over my back to collect the tiny objects. Then I held it out to them, and let the bullets roll from my palm and onto the ground. The soft clink they made when they hit the floor was the only sound in the room. My pupils must have expanded, for the three of them were gaping open-mouthed at me in horror.

"Holy shit," the second man whispered, visibly quaking with fear. "He really is a vampire."

I shifted my gaze to him with an animal-like cock of my head, and he shrunk in fear. "No," I corrected him with a deadly smile. "Something much worse."

The first one tried to fire a few more rounds into my face, but this time, he was not quick enough. I flung the mundane, useless weapon across the room before he had time to blink and crushed my teeth against his neck, ripping at the jugular, paralyzing him with a mixture pain and the venom that coated my pearly whites. I heard the girl scream.

I'd have to get the other before the first began to change. So, mouth dripping with blood, I turned to the two remaining humans. The second man began to flee, but the girl stood her ground, frozen in terror. I tried not to look at her, didn't want to see the beast reflected in her eyes. If I did, I might stop now and run away from myself.

The second man wasn't difficult to catch. With his back to me, I easily jumped him from behind and opened his throat, just as I had his friend. Once done, I tossed him into the underbrush behind the store and returned for the other. He was writhing where I'd left him, the venom already enough of the way into his bloodstream to begin to induce pain. The girl was leaning against the wall, her chest heaving. When she caught sight of my return, she began to cry silently.

"I'm not going to hurt you," I assured her softly, holding my hands in what I knew she would recognize as surrender. I easily picked up the man and tossed him near his partner in crime, then returned to her. She was still crying, despite my promise, and cringed as I kneeled beside her.

"I'm not going to hurt you," I said again, not unkindly. "Are you hurt?"

Her tears stopped, and she looked at me differently, with awe, ignoring my inquiry. "What are you?"

I shook my head, smiling wryly. "A monster."

Before she could form her next question, I ripped away her memory of the night, and she collapsed from the trauma of losing a figment of her mind. Humans are such fragile things, I thought as I cleaned up the mess and pulled my jacket off of the ground. With a little consideration, I also helped myself to the water. I thought it fit that I deserved a free bottle.

Once I'd finally finished my meal, the images of the men's lives before I'd shattered them fresh in my head, I began my journey again. That was the other part of my affinity, the hateful, useless one: I was able to see someone's life through tasting their blood. Imogen would often warn me that I was a little too empathetic for my own good. It would get in the way of my need for food, forcing me at times to go for nearly three weeks without something to eat. I didn't want to know who's life I'd taken away. It was almost like I'd known them personally, like they were an old friend I'd mercilessly murdered. And then, their last moments before I . . .

Tonight was easier, though. It was a sort of God complex, of that I was aware, but the thought of saving an innocent life and doing humanity some good was rejuvenating. If I hadn't been there, that girl would have never had a chance to grow up, never had a chance to go to college, gotten a real job, had kids, or grandkids, for that matter. I saved her life by taking theirs.

I slowed my pace down to what humans would have considered a powerful run, but felt to myself only a soft jog. It wasn't hard to pick up the scent of a Fury; there was only one in the small town, as was expected. It was still the same as that of burning wood, which under any other circumstances would have been delicious, if not for the fact that all Fury smelled that way. It was one of the only things we couldn't cover up.

There was something else with him, Fury or human, I could not exactly tell, which was definitely different. I usually could pinpoint the race of a creature, but this time, it was something else.

I finally discovered his home, where the wafting, overpowering scent was strongest. Pausing in front of the three-story, white house, I felt the distinct rush of an unexpected emotion: jealousy. This man was given the privilege of freedom. He had his own place to live, in his own little town, most likely living among his overly-friendly neighbors. He wasn't feeding off of them, that was for certain. In a town like this, that sort of thing would be too conspicuous.

I pushed open the door with ease, listening to the soft splinter of wood as it gave in under the pressure of my force. The ebony couch was expensive, and smelled of the rich leather in which it was constructed of. An LCD television that was rarely used sat atop a mahogany stand. The soft clap of my new Kenneth Cole's, only slightly scuffed from the run, was satisfying on the hardwood floor. I surveyed the room with a trained eye, shuffling through its memories of the resident.

Yes, even homes have memories. This excellent skill of mine was seldom used, unless for my own personal gain. Nothing could easily lie to me. I watched Alistair Firestone walk by me, a ghostly silhouette of what had already come to pass, his head bowed in thought and his hand slowly stroking his smooth chin. He hadn't been very old when he was turned; I hypothesized between the age of twenty-five and thirty, the same as that of which most Furies had been bitten. This was the perfect age to attract my kin: not entirely an adult, but no longer a child, and still handsome, plagued not by wrinkles or complete maturity. Not nearly so cautious.

He worked a lot at the desk in the corner of the room, studying. I was unable to call upon what exactly he was so intensely working on, but it was evident that he had spent most of his sleepless hours of the night on this sole topic.

I ascended the staircase. Obviously, he was the only one who lived in the manor, but he had allowed a friend once to visit. One time. She had never returned. I studied both his and her body language as the ghosts spoke silently and decided that they were extremely partial to each other. Despite the undeniable fact that she was human.

Some Furies felt the need to hide among humans, pretending to be something they're not so as to become friendly with the area they were hunting in. A perfect example would be the White Ladies of Fau in France, beautiful women who lived among humans and seduced men into their homes so that they could feast upon them. They weren't sirens; they were Furies.

Most of the rooms in the house were unoccupied, though they did have beds. Possibly to appear inconspicuous, I mused. I paused before one room on the third floor, decorated in scarlet, Victorian pieces. It didn't remind me of the house I was forced to live in, but a place where I might have lived long ago. I slowly made my way around the room, appreciating its finery and expensive taste. Then I stopped at the bed.

It had been over fifty years since I'd laid in a bed. Why not? It wasn't as if this Alistair character was going to live through the night anyway. He'd told the girl of what he truly was when she'd visited him. I'd picked up that tiny detail from the way she rushed from the house in a teary-eyed frenzy.

Lowering myself slowly onto the bed, I let a sigh escape through my lips as the plush mattress enveloped my body. It was an odd sense of relief that washed through me and sparked at my fingertips. Like being alive again.

Something changed in the air. A ripple of emotional energy tingled my gift of sensing minds, and I was on my feet in the blink of an eye, leaping down the steps and out the door. He was in the woods, not too far off from here. And he was expecting me.

How he was aware of my checkup, I did not know, but this question passed through my mind without deep consideration as I felt my pupils dilate, covering the entirety of my eye and making them appear completely black. I could feel the thump of life in each and every of the tiny animals I happened to pass by, able to see in the dark as well as if it were drenched with the sun's beams of light.

He was only a few hundred yards away, his and the girl's voices low, though decipherable. I decided not to eavesdrop, though from what I could pick up, I knew that they were arguing over his position as something inhuman.

I stopped just outside of the clearing where they were located. Another human, male, around the age of eighteen was now with them. His body emitted tiny waves of resentment, aimed at my target. They stopped speaking, and I felt the wind blow my scent in Alistair's direction.

"He's here."

I stepped out onto the clearing, breathing in each of their scents and making mental notes. I would probably have to kill them all, though taking extra precautions never hurt anybody. Disposing of the bodies was going to be a pain, seeing as I was already full from my previous meal.

"Good evening," I said loudly, officially letting my presence be known. The girl's breath caught in her throat as she fixed her now bugging eyes on me. She would have made a good Fury, I decided with an unintentional smirk. Not that I would ever condemn anyone, whether foe or friend, to the life I had no choice but to endure, but she was striking for a human, her long black hair framing her oval face and soft-brown eyes. The other male was not anything special, just brown haired, as most humans were. I refocused my attention on the Fury.

"What do you want?" Al Firestone demanded in what was meant to be a strong voice. The fault in that plan was the fact that I was stronger than him.

"Alistair Firestone; You have broken the code of the Council, something you were made aware of on your first night as a Fury," I stated formally, beginning to encircle the group like a lion approaching an injured gazelle, undecided on what limb he shall rip off first. Partially surrendering to my predatory instinct, I cocked my head, examining them with what might have appeared as hungry eyes. "By breaking this code, you have accepted full responsibility for your actions and will now suffer the consequences. Have you anything to say for yourself?"

Albert swiftly slid into a crouch, his upper lip curling over his teeth in a snarl, his pupils dilating with anger. The human girl stood her ground behind him, a look of terror plastered across her tiny face. With a jolt, I suddenly realized that he was attempting to keep her safe from the danger. This was not going to be pleasant.

"You will be killing no one tonight."

I smirked. "Too late for that."

He hurled himself at me, unbreakable nails extended, jaw wide, prepared to protect his love from anything, no matter how ferocious. I whipped a blast of pure energy at him, sending his body flailing into a tree, ripping it in half. I hadn't moved a single muscle.

"Let's lend this forest a bit of preservation and make this quick and easy," I suggested smoothly, bracing a leg against the broken trunk of the tree and leaning my elbow upon it. To my surprise, his hand suddenly clenched my calf and, without effort, twirled me like a lasso and into another nearby tree. I recovered faster than he had been able to, and we rejoined in the clearing, where the humans watched us in horror and disbelief.

We began to circle each other again. Clucking my tongue, I shook my head. "If you must insist on doing this the hard way . . ."

"There is no other way," Alistair corrected me. There was a hint of sadness in his tone. "I must protect those whom I love, or die trying."

"We all make mistakes," I reminded him solemnly, trying to decide who's side I was on: my own, or Alistair's.

"You don't understand, though," he insisted. "It was not a mistake. I couldn't bear not telling her. You have obviously never been in love, or you would know what I am speaking of."

"You're right." I smiled wryly. "I've never been in love, and I don't plan on ever participating in such an act. Evidently, it only brings pain."

He studied me for a moment with different eyes. "What's your name?"

Caught off guard, I unintentionally faltered my concentration. It would have been an all too perfect time to strike, but Al did not, and that I was lucky for. "St. Clair. Alexandre St. Clair," I answered his question grimly.

He seemed surprised. "They sent one of their few Elite on a law-enforcement mission?"

Elite were what they called us, the Fury with special powers that the change had granted. As far as the Council knew, there were only five Elites walking, and all of which were under the control of the Council. Michael, able to see almost all Furies and their whereabouts. Lucas, avid healer. Karl, the only known physically recognizable Elite by his abnormally sharp, long teeth. Myself, Alexandre, with a strong affinity for memories. And Victor, the Elite trainer and tracker. He'd been with the Council for centuries.

"We've been busy lately." I shrugged.

Alistair nodded, as if aware of these matters we were to deal with. "You know, you don't have to do this."

"Yes, I do."

"No, you really don't. The Council hasn't left that godforsaken house in decades. They would be unaware of my continual existence. Or you could simply spin a tale of my innocence. They trust you that much. If otherwise, you wouldn't be here."

We suddenly sprang at each other, minds working in such harmony that we clashed together in the center of our circle. There was a loud rumble, not unlike thunder, as our hollow bodies collided, and our hands grasped each of our opponent's.

"Not a bad attempt," I commended, my smirk straining at the strength I had to force into my shoulder muscles to hold him back.

"Not too shabby yourself. I was counting on your reluctance to agree to my suggestion."

We parted, engaging in a stare-down that lasted only a millisecond before we clashed again. His hand, quick as a bullet, took a hold of my forearm and flipped me over onto the ground. Though, this maneuver only fed my own attack as I caught myself with my now freed arms and aimed a kick square in his chest. He staggered backward, but did not fall. I slipped easily back into a normal standing position.

This might take a while, I thought wearily as we threw sharp, ill-planned strikes at each other. Furies were undead, so naturally, we did not tire easily. This fight could've gone on for a month, though I'd rather it didn't.

We met again at the center of the clearing, the air trembling with our speed and strength. The humans would have only seen blurs here and there of the fight, though when we came together, we were almost like normal people wrestling each other.

With a growl, I used my mind's capability to throw him off balance and seized the chance to dig my teeth into his throat. He yowled in pain. Now, to kill him, I would need to dismember his body and burn the remains. The easiest way was to paralyze him by separating his head from the body, then, using the matches located in my right pocket, I would set the rest of him aflame. The humans would be only so easy to deal with once Alistair--

Something steely and white-hot dug itself into my cheek, and I yelped, letting free my iron-grip on Alistair's throat. We both jumped back from each other, one of my hands holding my face, the other clutching the human girl by the neck. She clawed fruitlessly at my knuckles, the silver-laced dagger laying on the ground between Alistair and I. With a twitch of my fingers, I could crush the air passage located under my palm, and end the girl's life. I hissed as the cut seared deep into my skin, wanting more and more to do just that.

It was careless of me to not pay close attention to the humans. There were only three things that could penetrate a Fury's flesh: one, another fury; two, our race's most hated enemies, the Lupen; and three, silver. A scar made by any of these forces was inerasable.

"Don't hurt her!" Al cried in desperation, standing from my mental attack. There was a true slice of fear in his eyes. "I'll give in, just don't hurt her. You can get rid of me, erase her memory of my secret, and leave here with only one battle scar and the Council's condolences. Just, please. She's the only thing I have to live for."

Again, I hesitated. Did I dare go against the Council's wishes? It would be step one in severing my connection to the heinous group of monsters. After some time, I might be able to . . .

"She can survive," I decided suddenly, liking the plan more and more as I considered it. "But her entire memory of you shall be erased. She will no longer recognize either of us, and she will remember nothing of tonight. You may also walk away with but one battle scar, but you cannot break the laws again, or I will be forced to finish what I started."

A wave of relief, like someone had splashed water upon his face, softened his expression. Though, there was still sadness. I took in the form of the human boy, cowering in the corner of the clearing as if frozen in time, and then returned my gaze on the girl. She still was clutching at my knuckles, and I let her feet touch the ground, but did not loosen my grip. Her long ebony hair pooled over my pallid arm.

"May I . . ." Alistair began, taking a step closer. "May I bid her farewell?"

My eyes flickered between the two, and then I dropped my hold. "Very well."

I approached the boy, so as to lend the pair a moment of privacy, and he stared up at me with blank eyes, as if he were not believing what he was seeing. I didn't bother to tell him that I intended not to do him harm, but immediately got to tearing away his memory of both Alistair and myself. He slumped against a tree trunk, losing consciousness. Upon further inspection, and out of curiosity as to why he was here with the other two, I found that he was the brother of Lacey.

Lacey. That was her name. For some reason I locked the memory of the girl into my own mind, storing her face, though the likelihood that I'd ever see her again was slim to none.

Then I took to erasing the memory of Firestone from his town, most of which were asleep in their beds. He'd have to start with a clean slate, but I doubted he'd allow Lacey to fall in love with him again. I could interpret from the sadness seeping from his mind that he'd already given up hope for the both of them.

"We're ready." When I turned around, I saw tears streaking the girl's cheeks, and felt a twang of guilt at what I'd have to do. I approached them, though Lacey still clung to Alistair, and smiled what I hoped would be supportive and not a twisted, sadistic grin. Alistair gave Lacey a little push, and with one last longing gaze, she faced me.

"Will it hurt?" I was startled by the soft caress her sweet breath blew in my direction, but kept my eyes closed. Butterflies. She smelled of butterflies and jasmine flowers and dark chocolate. Yes, I would forever remember that scent, the one that made my mouth water even on a full stomach.

There was no response I could give her.