"Been looking everywhere

But No-body seems to care

When I'm all alone

Where is everybody

Tell me what's happening

Am I supposed to know what to do?"

-Alone, Sick Puppies

Soulless Prologue: Snapshots

The small city was just beginning to quiet down as the book store closed. Kari picked up her ever present messenger bag and hefted it over her shoulder. Kari's boss locked the shop behind her and waved goodbye, heading in the opposite direction. Kari walked down the sidewalk, water was standing on the streets from the recent rain. She looked up at the night sky, the moon was probably low in the sky by now but the sky was covered in dark clouds promising more rain soon. Kari pulled her hood up just in case, it rained a lot here.

She stepped closer to the buildings as the city bus went by, the lights casting shadows on the buildings. The whole night seemed muffled, quieter than usual. Kari reached up to her collar bone and ran her thumb over the pendent she wore there. Whenever she was thinking or upset her hand always went to it, the simple motion had become a comforting habit, to know that the little silver oval was still there.

She wasn't far from her house now. The place they were living now was not the smallest they had stayed in but it wasn't very spacious. At least she didn't have to share a room with her sister. She walked up to the small house, sandwiched between two other buildings. A small potted plant sat on the steps, it was sagging, the soil too wet, the poor plant close to drowning. Kari poured some of the standing water out of the pot and placed it under the awning so it wouldn't get any of the coming rain.

The door was locked; Kira was probably off somewhere partying with newly made friends. Kari pulled her key out of her pocket and struggled to unlock the door. Shoving the door open she dropped her bag next to the door, closing and locking it behind her. If Kira had been home she would have fussed until Kari brought the bag back to her room. Kari collapsed onto the couch glad to be alone in the house. She picked up a small remote off of the coffee table and turned on the TV, turning the volume up. She didn't care what was on; she just had to make sure there was no room for real silence.

She got up and walked up the stairs to her own room, the small bed had a wrought iron frame and a thin comforter. It sat in front of a wide window with a small wooden seat. Kari climbed up to the window seat and pressed her hand on the window, the glass around her hand immediately fogged up from the heat of her skin. There were drops of water clinging to the outside of the glass. She watched the people hurry by under her, each too absorbed in their own agenda to see the girl sitting in the window seat.

One person caught her eye, medium length black hair brushed their shoulders and they walked with a brisk graceful step. Kari sat up straighter, her eyes straining to see more clearly. The person paused and turned to address someone behind him. Kari withdrew from the window, the man was in his twenties and his eyes were a clear blue. She had been foolish to even think it might be... She shook her head and got down from the window seat. She paused and looked at herself in the mirror standing at the foot of her bed, facing the wall.

She looked like she was eighteen or nineteen, dark brown hair fell past her shoulders almost reaching her elbows, she should really get it cut. Dark green eyes that used to startle her in the mirror now gazed unflinchingly back. Her skin was pale from lack of sunlight and there were dark circles under her eyes. She ran a hand through her hair with a sigh and leaned back against the wall. In truth it had been nearly seven years since she had actually turned seventeen, she hadn't really aged a day after that. Kira suspected that it was the result of her spending so much time around demons, it affected everyone differently but this was a common reaction.

They had been moving around a lot ever since they realized. They would stay in one place as long as they could before packing up their things and leaving. Kira herself only looked to be nineteen or maybe twenty. Kari suspected she was trying to make Kari feel better by slowing her own aging down, as she knew "angels" could do. But she had never said anything to confirm this.

She lay down on her bed, willing her eyes not to close just yet. The only light in her room came from the window; she could still hear the TV in the other room, the sound carrying upstairs. It was a few hours before Kira got home and turned the TV off, the sudden silence was so loud that Kari flinched. The street lights flickered out one by one and Kari held her breath, this was her least favorite part of every day. Darkness fell on the room and as Kira closed the door to her room across the hall a smothering silence settled over the house.

Kari clenched her fists in the comforter and closed her eyes hoping tonight would be different. She fought off exhaustion for as long as she could before she finally fell headlong into a nightmare. The same one she had every night, haunted by blood, demons, and dark uncaring green eyes.

Not very far away right outside of the city was a large Victorian style mansion. It loomed above the city, risen up on a hill like a watchful creature crouched above the cityscape. Its looming windows were all dark and many rumors surrounded the strange mansion that was supposedly a school for troubled teens. Passing by one of the dark windows Zeke paced in his office. Papers were piled up on his desk, paper work, home work to grade, all manner of things. He glared at the offending stack that threatened to keep him up all night. A large cup of steaming coffee sat on his desk and he took another sip of the strong brew.

Sitting down in his chair he massaged his temples not even wanting to look at the impending amount of work he had to do. The phone on his desk rang and he picked it up with a muttered curse. "Yes?" He paused, waiting as the person on the other side of the line talked. "Very well, I'll be right there."

He stood up brushing off his front before exiting his office and heading for the main entrance hall. "I hate dealing with new arrivals," he muttered, but with the headmistress gone he was in charge. A couple of teenagers that he recognized as current tenants stood in the large hall, slung between them was a bloodied boy whose body kept going into spasms. "Where did you find him?" Zeke asked looking at the boy's bloodied form. Short light hair was soaked with blood and the boy's body would occasionally jerk a sound somewhere between a snarl and a yelp coming from his bloodied lips.

One of the two that held him spoke, Zeke looked him over, he knew they were both in the academy's pack but why hadn't the alpha been the one to pick up this newly changed boy? The one that spoke had lightly tanned skin and dark hair that was kept neat. The other was dark skinned with dread locks and he seemed completely at ease, calm emanating from him, which was rare for a werewolf."We found him a hundred miles east, in a large field, most of the blood is a deer's but he is injured as well, we think he was shot at."

Zeke nodded and crossed his arms, "Take him to the infirmary and make sure he is cleaned up and taken care of. I will put him into classes as soon as we are sure he is completely recovered."

The boy looked up, some amount of sanity had returned to his large scared brown eyes. "Where am I? What's going on?"

The calm Were smiled down at him, revealing teeth that were oddly sharp almost as if they had been filed. "Welcome to the pack."

"And welcome to Nocturne Academy," Zeke added. "Publically known as a school for troubled teens."

The werewolf laughed, dreadlocks shaking, "Yeah, we're all mad here, down the rabbit hole you go."

Amidst a crumbling city a group of people stalked through the wreckage, searching the shadows. Their light gray coats brushed the ground and their hoods were drawn up, hiding their faces. The tattoos on their arms glowed faintly in the darkness. A sliver of moon hung above their heads like the Cheshire cat's insane smile. The only sound to be heard was their footsteps and the occasional howl of a far away wolf singing its lament to the night.

Crouched in the remains of a building a figure quickly ducked out of sight. They moved soundlessly from shadow to shadow, staying away from their pursuers. A flash light caught them in its bright beam. Eyes flashed in the light like a cat's and with a hiss the person threw their arm in front of their eyes to block the assault of light. Before the man could cry out that he had found the demon, his throat was slit, blood spilled down his skin and his lips moved in silent agony. The body slumped to the ground and the demon quickly pulled the cloak off of him, wrapping it around his own shoulders and pulling the hood up. Taking the flashlight from the man's dead fingers he headed to the forest walking unnoticed by the Demon Hunters.

At the edge of the forest he paused and looked back, his eyes surveying the scene behind him. The Hunters were still looking for him, searching each shadow for the demon. It wouldn't be long until one of them found their fallen comrade, however he planned to be far away by the time that happened. He raised his hand, dark fur covered his hands and arms halfway up to his elbow, long dark claws curved from his fingers. With a slash he opened a pathway in the thick vegetation and disappeared into the forest.

After he had gotten many miles away he allowed himself to pause. The weight of the Demon Hunter's coat felt too heavy on his shoulders and he didn't like the feel of the fabric against his arms. He pushed the hood back, and looked up at the thin strip of sky that was visible through the treetops. Moonlight made his pale skin seem luminescent and his dark green eyes glowed in the failing light. Black hair shone under the moon's shallow rays and he leaned against a tree to catch his breath. With a shudder, his hands returned to normal. It was difficult to force the change from human to whatever he was now that Misery was gone. None of the other demons still had any powers they were just supercharged humans now, so why did he sill have claws?

Xerex shoved the thoughts away and continued to walk, he had no certain destination in mind, he just needed to keep moving. He should have gone with Luke and the others when they left to go past the dark forest into the unmapped lands where the Demon Hunters wouldn't follow him. He had heard rumors that they were building up an army of supernatural beings to face the growing threat of Demon Hunters.

He still remembered the day they left, it had been nearly six years ago...

"Xerex?" Luke walked into the small apartment where his friend was sitting on the couch. "I told you we're leaving, last chance, you sure you don't want to come with us?"

Xerex looked to the window not meeting his friend's gaze, "I can't."

The smile fell of Luke's face and he ran a hand through his short white hair. "Xerex...she isn't coming back..."

Xerex tensed but didn't say anything, he had looked everywhere, he hadn't quit searching until last month. He still searched the faces that passed him on the street almost without thinking about it. He knew she wasn't coming back, but he didn't want to leave. It was just easier to make Luke think that was his reason. "I can't go."

Luke sighed and shook his head at his friend. "Well if you change your mind come look for us, I'm sure you will be able to find us."

Xerex pulled the hood back up, "Maybe it's time to take Luke up on his offer," he growled in a low voice, after all he couldn't stay out of this war forever.