This is the partial first draft to my novel The First Annex. I've changed direction with this one and will be re-writing it, but it'll follow this same plot-line (more or less).
This isn't edited and it's extremely rough. I started it during last NaNoWriMo so I was going for quantity over quality. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think.
Everything was bathed in red—the color of urgency, the color of anger. Sirens blared and a prerecorded female voice repeated over and over, barely audible over the din, "Emergency code 6. All sectors are red. Man stations. Repeat." The sound of hundreds of combat boots striking the linoleum floors and the shouts of the commanding officers echoed throughout the facility.
The boy with platinum blond hair lifted his head, looking at the intercom as though it would tell him which route would be best for their escape.
He turned back to the girl he held in his arms. Her arm was limp and as pale as his, her eyes the same startlingly blue. The most noticeable difference between them was her cybernetic arm and matching eye. She whimpered in fear.
"Shh, Rebeka. Everything will be okay," Desero whispered frantically in her ear. "I promise."
On the other side of the facility an explosion went off, taking out an entire squadron of men and opening a way out. Riel Torres stopped on top of a pile of debris, looking back over his shoulder just long enough to be sure he wasn't being pursued, and then disappeared into the dark as a solid black husky.
"Emergency code 6. All sectors are red. Man stations. Emergency code 13. Irreparable damage to sectors 6, 9, 10. Repeat. Emergency code 6. All sectors are red. Man stations. Emergency code 13. Irreparable damage to sectors 6, 9, 10. Repeat."
The warning "stay out of trouble" was completely lost on vampire Shane Reynard. Regardless of what she may or may not have done, she always seemed to end up on the threshold of some kind of problem. This time, that problem came in the form of a group of gangsters who had discovered who the thief was that stole their cash. Of course, she didn't have the money. She had already spent it on cheap pot and booze.
Luckily, this time she wasn't alone. She faced down around a dozen men with guns and daggers, but next to her stood the lithe form of Lenora Kavanagh, elf assassin extraordinaire.
"How is it possible for one person to get into so much trouble?" she asked, her head turned toward her blonde-haired, red-eyed companion but her own dark chocolate irises trained on the men. They were at a stalemate, staring each other down. Whoever made the first move would be at the disadvantage of having no defense available. The two young teenagers were definitely not going to put themselves in that situation.
At least, Lenora hadn't intended to.
"I don' know," Shane replied as though she had been asked a trivial question about tomorrow's weather. Without any semblance of a warning, she yelled a battle cry and launched herself at the group of men, her twin swords pulled and ready for slicing.
Lenora sputtered, her eyes widening. In her shock she almost forgot to knock an arrow, but her reflexes were ahead of her brain. Before she had fully registered it, she had sunk an arrow into the forehead of an attacker, but two more were there to take his place.
The fight was quick-paced and brief. Within five minutes the two girls, of only the age of thirteen, stood amongst twelve mutilated corpses. Shane was splattered with gore and blood dripped from her once shining blades. Lenora had managed to avoid such a mess being a ranged fighter, but she did have to resort to using her dagger midway through the onslaught. The once pristine room was painted red.
Shane shook her swords in an attempt to knock of some of the clinging pieces of man, but it didn't do much good. She sheathed them anyway, and then proceeded to pull off her shirt until she was only in the white tank top underneath. It was stained pink, but was far cleaner than the ruined shirt she now tossed to the ground. "Yuck."
"That's an understatement," Lenora commented as she wiped her dagger's blade off on a clean piece of a man's jacket sleeve. "How exactly did you end up bringing part of a gang back with you to our hotel?"
Shane shrugged, leaning around the wall to look at the window. She was checking for law enforcement of more of the gang, but the dawn-lit streets were empty. "Beats me," she replied casually. "I think we ought t' expedite our trip."
Lenora sighed. She had really wanted to take a bath. "You're probably right," she said dejectedly. "C'mon, let's clean you up best we can before we head to the station."
It was uncommon to see a vampire of only thirteen traveling by herself, especially with an equally young elf. Both races were immortals, so such youth in human years was considered even younger to the ancient beings. They couldn't afford to attract too much unnecessary attention while traveling through Royal City, the seat of the vampire nation of Virana. This was a concept well understood by Lenora, but equally ignored by Shane. She insisted upon traveling with her swords in view, a smirk on her face, and her feline companion, Yui the tiny white cat, and riding on her shoulder. Not that a pet was out of the ordinary, but Yui wasn't an ordinary pet. Often called spirit animals, Yui was linked to Shane on a deep biological level, a relation closer than the nearest blood relative. The convenient traveling size was a trait of such animals, which chose their masters willingly. They were protectors as well as companions, and Yui's innate ability was his transformation into a saber-toothed wide cat two times the size of the average warhorse.
"Look at this," Lenora said as she leaned forward, shoving the tabloid into her companion's face. "They say Gorgion has flying machines."
Shane looked disbelievingly at the so-called "flying machine." It looked like a giant balloon with a raft tethered to the bottom. "That's ridiculous."
"Isn't it?" Lenora laughed as she sat back in her chair, crossing one leg over the other and going back to reading the strange articles.
The train ride from Royal City to Calarvi was not a long one. Shane made it a few times a week; two hours wasn't bad at all for a transit to work. What did suck was that Tanak Town was twelve leagues from the train station and the only way to go was by caravan or by foot. It can safely be said that the latter was taken much more often, as there was a worn path with thoughtful, handmade signs along the way. Yui was thrilled to be back out in the wilderness, so he immediately took off into the woods to hunt squirrels and mice.
Lenora had never made this trek, evident in how she stepped overcautiously along the path that wound down a steep ledge of the mountain ridge. Shane stopped every now and then to allow her to catch up, but would soon be far ahead of her again.
"Give me a break!" the elf finally cried. She had stopped altogether now, bent over at the waist with her hands on her knees as she tried to catch her breath.
Shane obliged and turned to face her, placing one hand on her hip and shifting her weight to one foot. "Really?"
Lenora's head snapped up, her eyes narrowed into a vicious glare. "Don't you even dare, Shane Reynard. I don't have as much stamina as you do."
Despite the little breaks Lenora needed, they were still able to make it to Tanak Town before the sun set. Shane stood on an outcropping of rock that allowed for a panoramic view of Tanak Town.
It was small, crammed between the mountains and the coast. Fishing trolleys filled up the majority of the berths at the tiny harbor. Nearby was a cobbled circle of buildings that worked as the town square, a marketplace, and a place for festivals to take place or any other community-driven event. Directly behind this the land rose in rock terraces, growing smaller and smaller as it clumbed the mountain. The first eight terraces were lined with homes. White, simple homes of one to two storeys, just big enough for a family.
"Welcome to Tanak Town, population 1200," Lenora read from the sign that had been stuck in the outcropping. "Only 1200? That's how many people were in my school alone." She smirked at her friend.
"But you didn' have 1200 of th' best people in th' world," Shane replied with a proud grin. Then she led the way down the finally path into town.
Mr. Thomas lived on the top terrace. The terrace was wide, but short so there were only three houses at the top. They were one story, because any higher would mean that they would have to lean against the rock wall. His house was the white paneled home at the end of the terrace. A wooden porch had been recently added to the front and he must have been intending to paint it to match the house, judging by the paint cans stacked up next to the door.
For a moment Shane stood in front of the door, unsure what to do. Should she knock? She had never knocked before, but it had been an entire year. She knew he was ill, but she didn't know if there was anyone there taking care of him that would panic if she just barged in.
After a moment of deliberation, she finally decided that she really did not care what happened and opened the door. Lenora followed her inside without questioning; she was used to Shane's blatant ignorance of common courtesy.
The house was dim, the curtains pulled to cover the windows. The living room was immaculately clean, not at all like a house that was being lived in. There were none of the usual sounds that indicated life, even the hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen seemed to a have been dampened.
Shane felt irked instantly. She was used to Mr. Thomas being in the living room, a roaring fire in the fireplace and his record player singing loudly in the background. She was used to light and life.
With a glance at Lenora, she led the way further into the house. She followed the short hallway past the spare bedroom that had been hers so much that she thought of it as such, past the bathroom, the storage closet, until she reached the door at the end that lead into the master bedroom. The door was cracked and a small amount of dull light, from a lamp on the bedside table, spilt out.
Shane lightly knocked on the doorframe before pushing it open and stepping inside. She almost turned around and went back the other way. Yui, who had been balancing on Shane's shoulder since they arrived in Tanak Town, jumped down and ran to the bed. He immediately hopped up on the bed and began to purr.
Mr. Thomas was sitting up in his bed, but only because of the pillows piled behind him. His face was ashen, every wrinkle and crease in his skin more prominent than ever before. His emaciated body creaked like an old house with every breath. He was an old vampire, and very sick.
He smiled and scratched Yui behind the ears. If he could tell that Shane was unnerved by his condition, he made no notice of it as he weakly smiled in her direction. "Shane…" He reached out a hand to her.
All reservations washed away and she moved quickly, sitting beside him on the bed and taking his hand in hers. His skin was so cold—even colder than a normal vampire. She clasped his hand in both of hers and held on firmly. "How're you feelin'?" she asked quietly.
"Like a shiny pile of gold," Mr. Thomas replied in a raspy voice and then began to laugh. Unfortunately, that laugh very quickly turned into a hacking cough. Shane turned her helpless gaze to Lenora but all the elf could do was frown. The elderly vampire turned his head slowly so that he could investigate who or what was attracting his former protégé's attention.
"Who…is this?" Mr. Thomas asked softly so that he wouldn't begin to cough again.
Shane indicated with a tilt of her head for Lenora to step closer. After a moment of hesitation, the elf complied and stepped into the light of the lamp. Her unnaturally colored turquoise hair glimmered in the light.
Mr. Thomas's eyes widened instantly upon seeing her and he drew himself up. His hand slipped from Shane's so that he could support himself on his elbows. "A faerie," he breathed.
Lenora's eyes darted around the room as if looking for the so-called faerie. Shane knit her brow together.
"No, er…that's my friend Lenora," spoke Shane. "She's an elf."
Mr. Thomas shook his head as he slowly lowered himself back onto the bed. Once he had resettled against the mountain of pillows, and released a long sigh from the strain, he said, "I think that may be only half true."
"I believe I know what I am," Lenora snapped, her eyes narrowing as she crossed her arms over her chest.
Shane's head snapped around to glare a warning at her companion. Despite the tension, Mr. Thomas chuckled.
"My, what hot-headed young ladies you are." He paused to cough and clear his throat before speaking again. "Tell me, Lenora, do you dye your hair that color?"
Lenora blinked, her offensive stance faltering in response to the seemingly irrelevant question. "No…"
"Do you know others who were born with a hair color considered unnatural?"
"I don't either," Shane added. She was watching Mr. Thomas curiously. "But why—"
"Impatient girl, I'm getting there," Mr. Thomas interrupted. He smiled. "Not even your mother?" he asked Lenora.
Lenora bit on her lip and remained silent for a moment, then she replied, "I never knew her. My father didn't talk about her much."
"I bet she was a faerie," the old vampire replied in a dreamy tone.
"Pfft." Shane shook her head, unable to stop the laugh that escaped her throat. "Faeries are supposedly a foot tall! I'd like to see a man have sex with a woman that barely reached his knee!"
"I'd say you wouldn't, as it would probably end up very badly for him." Mr. Thomas smiled endearingly at Shane. "But a faerie queen, that's different."
"Faerie queens are myths," Lenora replied. She didn't think it was very wise to be arguing with a dying man, but she continued regardless.
"Any child of a faerie and another race will always be the other race," Mr. Thomas explained slowly. He thought about his words carefully so that he would be concise and not waste his already waning energy. "I once knew a man who had purple hair, and it was as natural as mine or Shane's. I've heard of faerie children with strange eye colors, like the Aryan elves, or strange skin pigment, but I've never met one. You're quite rare, Lenora."
Lenora, looking very uncomfortable now, could not think of anything to say. Silence prevailed in the room until Shane spoke.
"Do you need anything, Mr. Thomas?"
He smiled warmly at her and patted her hand. "No, I'm fine. I'm going to sleep." He turned to look at Lenora. "Come see me again?"
She swallowed, unsure, but nodded. "Sure."
"We're stayin' with Henry."
"Give Samina a chance," advised Mr. Thomas in a whisper. He chuckled at her instant scowl. "She's been taking good care of me."
"Right," Shane muttered and stood. She squeezed Mr. Thomas's hand before turning to leave the room.
"It was nice to meet you," Lenora said awkwardly and quickly followed after her friend.
Shane had not yet been to her brother's house. When she left Tanak Town a year ago he was still living with Mr. Thomas like she had been. She read from a piece of paper house was a two-story townhome two levels down from the top. Windows along the foundation indicated that there was a basement, a rare luxury on the coast.
"What a cute house," commented Lenora. She had been silence since they left.
Shane stepped up onto the little porch, pausing to looked at the welcome mat that was decorated with flowers. She made a face. "Henry must be lettin' his girlfriend decorate." She pressed the doorbell button and waited.
"Coming!" called a female voice from inside. Shane immediately tensed.
Lenora watched for Shane's reaction when the door opened to reveal a young vampire, probably a few years older than them, with short strawberry colored hair and blue eyes framed by oval rimmed white glasses. Lenora caught her attention first, and then she looked at Shane. Her smile was friendly.
"Shane? You're Shane, right?"
"Yeah…" Shane replied. Her tone was unsure. "Is Henry home?"
Samina nodded and stepped back to allow them into the house, saying, "Come on in. He's in the kitchen."
Shane surveyed the house as she walked in. To the right was a long table against the back of a beige leather couch. Two matching armchairs sat adjacent, facing the ends of the glass top coffee table. An old television set sat on a low black entertainment system. Behind that were two staircases: one going up and one going own.
Samina led them around the couch and through a gaping archway to the left, which led into a kitchen with cherry wood cabinets and white granite countertops. At the back was an alcove with large windows and a round dinner table. Sitting at this table was Henry Reynard: shaggy black hair, grey eyes, and built wide. His skin was pale, but he wasn't a vampire. He held a cold bottle of beer.
"Henry!" Shane called and quickly crossed the kitchen. Yui chirped a few times, remaining on Shane's shoulder but kneading his claws into her shirt with anticipation.
Henry stood just in time to be tackled by his sister in a monstrous hug. Yui wrapped around his head and purred.
"Long time no see," he said with a little smile. His voice was deep and a bit slurred.
Shane's heart fell at the tone, knowing that for now. "How did you get this house, huh? Did ya kill Mary Fuller yourself?" she smirked. She knew Henry wouldn't even hurt a fly; his only enemy was his liver.
Henry shook his head a bit, smiling more now. "Have you been to see Mr. Thomas?" he asked.
Shane nodded, frowning a bit. "We jus' came from there."
Samina came to stand next to Henry, smiling timidly at Shane. "Shane? It's nice to finally meet you. I've heard so much about you."
Shane responded by raising an eyebrow at Henry, who immediately filled the silence with, "Good things. Mostly."
"So, where should we go take our crap?" Shane hiked up the bag she carried on her shoulder.
"Oh!" Samina perked up, ready to assist. "Let me show you." She bustled out of the kitchen. Shane made a face at Henry, who only pursued his lips together into a look that said, "Please, Shane."
Shane followed after Lenora as she in turn followed Samina. The red-head went upstairs and stopped at the first door on the left. She pushed the door open and then stepped back so they could go inside. "This is the guest bedroom. It's a little small, I hope that's all right. It has its own bathroom." She smiled brightly.
Shane hummed a response as she walked past her into the room. She stopped once inside and looked around: sky blue paint, a queen sized bed covered with a matching duvet, and a white door leading into the bathroom (which contained a toilet, upright shower, and sink). She tossed her bag onto the bed and then sat on the edge to pull her boots off.
"Thank you," Lenora said to Samina with a small smile.
"No problem. Let me know if you need anything." Samina smiled at her, not as bright as before, and then retreated back down the stairs.
Lenora closed the door and then said, "Didn't you tell Mr. Thomas that you'd give her a chance?"
Shane paused in untying one of her boots just long enough to shoot a glare at her friend. "I am givin' her a chance."
"Not much of one." Lenora set her bag against the side of the bed and sat down. She twisted around to face Shane. "She seems really nice, and obviously your brother likes her. That has to count for something, right?"
"I'm givin' her th' best chance I can, okay?" Shane tossed her boots to the floor, but remained on the edge of the bed, staring in the direction of the flower vase painting on the wall. "I'm tryin'."
The second day in Tanak Town they visited Mr. Thomas again, this time with Samina when she went to check on him for the second time that day. Before leaving, Mr. Thomas asked Lenora if she would come see him without Shane sometime because he had something he thought she needed to hear. So the next day she woke up early and left the house without anyone knowing.
Mr. Thomas was awake when she arrived. He beckoned toward a chair in the corner of the room and she moved it closer to the bed and took a seat. In lieu of a greeting she instead asked, "Samina doesn't lock your door?"
"It's making receiving visitors easier," he replied.
"But someone could break in and possibly hurt you."
Mr. Thomas chuckled. "Kill a dying man? And what good would possessions do this dying man anyway? But thank you for your concern." He smiled warmly.
There was a moment of silence in which Lenora nervously began to pick at her fingernails. "So…you said there was something I needed to know?"
Mr. Thomas didn't respond right away. He sat in silence for a moment, deep in thought. "How much do you know about Shane?"
Lenora shrugged. "I've known her for over half a year now, so a good bit. Why?"
"What of her abilities?"
"I know that you taught her to wield the fire element," Lenora said slowly. "And she's a viper with her elbows swords."
"That she is," Mr. Thomas replied reminiscently. "But there is another ability she has."
Lenora blinked. "Her…stealth?"
The vampire laughed and it quickly turned into coughing. When he had recovered he said in a broken voice, "Certainly that. But there is something you must know about her: Shane is a Shadow Child."
Lenora's eyes widened and she tensed. "S-shadow child? How is she free?"
"That, I do not know. Amura Reynard found her as an infant on the road between Calarvi and Royal City. That was before the train station was built." Mr. Thomas's dark eyes bored into hers. "Do not believe what people say. Children of the shadow are not innately evil. Shane is not evil."
"I know…" Lenora replied quietly. She was disappointed in the amount of shame that did resound in her tone.
"Unfortunately, that is not all. Have you ever heard of God Children?"
Lenora gasped, covering her mouth with both hands. She moved them so that she could exclaim, "Shane is a God Child as well!?"
"Of the stealth and protection god Akakios, but I do not believe that he bestowed her stealth, but instead the latter of his title."
"She has the protection of Akakios?" whispered Lenora, as though she feared speaking the name of the god would draw his attention to herself negatively.
"No, she has been given the ability to protect, and she protects fiercely those of us that she loves." Mr. Thomas paused and took a drink from the bottle on his nightstand. It was filled with a thick, red liquid and the brand read ABO Elixir. Blood. "If she allowed you to come here with her, then that means you fall in that category as well."
"Whoa, hold on." Lenora placed her hands over her face and leaned her head back. Her hair slipped over the back of the chair and the ends just barely brushed the wood floor. She remained that way for a couple of minutes, her mind whirling from the shock of the information. Once she thought she had it straightened out she sat up and looked at him. "Why do I need to know this?"
Mr. Thomas smiled softly, sadly. "Because to be her friend, you need to know. And she really needs a good friend." When Lenora did nothing but watch him, her eyes revealing that her mind was processing as fast it could, he added, "Come see me again soon and I'll tell you a story."
Lenora was able to get back to Henry's house before Shane woke up. Samina was up, however, cooking breakfast for Henry. As the elf walked by she brightly called, "Good morning! Are you hungry?"
She stopped and as if on cue her stomach growled. She placed her hand against her waistline and smiled sheepishly. "I guess I am."
"Come in and sit and I'll throw some more eggs on the stove. Do you like them scrambled?"
"I do," Lenora replied. She moved into the kitchen and sat at the bar. She looked over at the kitchen table. Henry wasn't there, but two cases worth of empty beer bottles kept the table company.
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes until finally Lenora decided to break the silence. "So um…What is Henry?" An awkward question it seemed to be, but it was common in places close to big cities. "I thought Shane was full vampire."
"He's a mix of elf and many generations of human," Samina replied. She peeled off pieces of bacon and placed it carefully on the skillet. "Shane is his adoptive sister."
"She hadn't told me that," Lenora said.
"Not worry, they don't declare it to the world. They're so close that they forget they're not biologically related." She smiled fondly, thinking about the man still upstairs in the bed.
Lenora let the conversation drop right there. She lightly tapped her nails against the countertop as she idly looked around the kitchen, observing the wall decorations and looking out the window at the birds in the trees.
"So where are you from, Lenora?" Samina glanced over at her, a friendly smile growing on her face.
Lenora chewed on her botton lip for a minute, peeling away at the film left by her lip gloss. Samina could instantly tell that she wasn't comfortable with the question.
"I'm sorry…I was just trying to—"
"Oh, no I'm sorry," Lenora said, her brow knit together over her sincere gaze. "I've just never been very comfortable telling people anything about me…Always have been. I waited half a year before I told Shane. I guess I'm just an extremely private person." She smiled awkwardly. How very good at this she had become.
"That's okay," Samina said with a smile, reassured by Lenora's tale. "Is Shane up yet?"
"I doubt it," Lenora sat with a short laugh. "I'll go get her up."
"Oh no, let her sleep."
"Nope," Lenora replied as she climbed off the stool and walked from the kitchen.
She passed Henry on the stairs. She said "Good morning" but got a cross between a groan and a grumble as a response. She opened the door to the guest room and looked inside. The room was still dark, but Lenora could see the outline of the vampire curled up under the sheets. Yui was curled up on top of her hip, sleeping soundly with his tail wrapped all the way around his head.
Lenora clicked on the light. Yui groggily lifted his head and blinked his eyes against the sudden brightness. Shane continued to sleep on, snoring quietly.
"Wake up!" Lenora called. Shane groaned in response, but made no move to get up. The elf rolled her eyes. After deliberating for a moment, she grabbed her pillow and began to beat it against her friend. Yui darted from the room and Lenora chanted, "Get up! Get up! Get up!"
"Agh, stop it!" Shane roared as she sat up, her disheveled hair sticking out in all sorts of direction. Paired with her wide, enraged eyes she looked absolutely deranged.
Lenora laughed but soon realized that was a mistake. She bolted from the room in much of the same manner that Yui did: by vaulting over the foot of the bed and running out the door.
"Yer dead!" Shane exclaimed and took off after her. She caught her just inside the kitchen. She launched herself onto her friend, wrapping all four limbs around her in a death grip.
Lenora fell to the ground with an utterance of "Oof!" and then began to laugh.
"Hey!" barked Henry and all other sounds in the kitchen stopped. Samina had been about to put a forkful of eggs into her mouth but paused, her fork halfway through the journey. "We don't need that ruckus in the morning!"
Shane let go of Lenora and stood, glaring at Henry from the other side of the bar. "An' why? You hung over this morning', bro?" Her tone was bitter.
Lenora watched her from the floor, almost fearful. She couldn't help but to remember what Mr. Thomas had told her earlier. Coincidentally, all the rumors she had heard about Shadow Children getting angry and summoning demons to kill for them also ran through her head. She didn't want to think that her friend would do so to her own brother, especially after what Samina had said.
Henry glared at her, pressing his lips together until they were in a thin white line. Shane squared her shoulders and marched to the table. Beginning to panic, Lenora jumped to her feet and exclaimed, "No!"
Shane froze for a moment, stopping her action of pulling a chair out for herself. She looked at Lenora with annoyed confusion before finishing her task and flopping down in the chair. Henry sat as well.
Embarassed and avoiding their eyes, Lenora sat down at the place set for her. She quietly thanked Samina for the food, who only responded with a nod of her head.
"I thought that you would stop drinkin' once you got a girl," Shane said, only glancing at Henry before looking anywhere else. "Unless she condones this behavior, but I don't see why she would." She settled her gaze on Samina now, narrowing her eyes in speculation.
Samina calmly set down her fork and sat back in her chair, carefully cleaning her hands on the napkin in her laps. Then she set them in her lap and calmly looked at Shane. "No, I don't condone it, and Henry knows this."
"Have ya even tried t'stop him?"
"Stop it, Shane," Henry said angry. His sister turned to look at him again. "This is my problem, not hers."
Shane leaned forward and placed her elbows on the table. "You need to stop, Henry," she said quietly, with more concern than any of her other words. "It can kill you, and it's already doin' it."
Henry sighed, looking down and closing his eyes for a moment. Then he nodded, looking at her again. "I know," he whispered.