"Kill me. Kill me now," I thought as pain surged through my entire body. The source of the pain was my left arm. I'd been given some sort of injection, some poison. I was being tortured.

I felt nauseous. Bending forward, I clutched my stomach and prayed for death, or at least that I would pass out and it would all go away like some bad nightmare.

But it didn't. It was real. And the black didn't come. Just the searing pain and the feeling I was going to vomit.

They were all around me, the ones who'd brought me here. I didn't even know why they were doing this to me, they hadn't asked me anything, they didn't take anything from me, but one thing was certain, they didn't want to be seen. All of their faces were covered with something or another, the most common being a dark black hood with no eye or breathing holes cut into it. I would have wondered how they could even see out of those things...but I had other things on my mind.

Like the now present fact that my left arm was totally numb. I painstakingly turned my head and glanced at it. It was turning an unhealthy shade of light blue, either from the poison or the lack of blood-flow. I desperately tried to move my fingers, flex my muscles, but nothing happened.

And I heard the most disturbing thing. Laughter. Incessant malicious laughter. And that hurt worse than the physical pain. They'd done it to me simply for their own pleasure, or at least that's what I deduced. Unless they had some other motive and this was just the 'fun' part. And nothing I had could help me. Not my guns or grenades, they'd taken them away from me. Not my magic, I wasn't strong enough for that. And certainly not my fangs, I couldn't even touch these beings.

That's when a thought struck me. Maybe this was some sort of hate group. They certainly were not hunters or slayers who kill quickly and don't torture or torment. They're just out to do their job and keep the world safe. These things were making a game of me, watching me suffer. I swore at that moment, if I ever got out of here and got my strength back, they would be my dinner.

I let out a shriek and cursed at them, which just made them laugh harder. Then I heard a distinct voice rise above the din.

"What are you going to do, little vampire? You think you can escape? I hate to tell you this, but we have no intentions of letting you go. Ever," the voice said. It sounded genderless and harsh, full of hate and pleasure and all things terrible.

"If you're not gonna…" I had to stop. Speech was difficult, my face felt stiff, my lungs felt weak. I sucked in some of the stale air and started again. "If you're not going to let me go, why don't you let…" Breathe. "Let me see your faces."

And the figure that had spoken stepped to the front of the crowd of twenty or so of these...things. It was cloaked and still enimagic in its gender, not to mention appearance of any sort, being draped in all black robing as it was.

"Let you see our faces? Don't you know who we are?" it said, sounding mad with hilarity.

"Sh…should I?" I gasped. I could no longer feel my left leg or my face. I bent over, the top of my head skimming the ground as I sat on my knees, my arms still around my waist.

"I'm surprised you don't. We are the Armada. We do one thing and one thing only: make all vampire's lives a living hell. An anarchist bunch of hunters, you could say. We are born to do this soul task," it informed me, an evil tone in it's low voice. The hood turned towards me for a moment, turned back to the others, and laughed once more….

Then it stopped. All the laughing, gleeful screaming, everything stopped. My vision grew blacker, but I could just make out a faint figure in the doorway and all the heads were turned to him. I shut my eyes and lay on the floor, not able to move or look any longer.

I could hear the silence being broken by the leader's voice shouting, "NOOOO!" and a crashing noise. That's when I lost all sense and gave into the sweet, relieving darkness.

I opened my eyes and above me I saw the night sky…I was outside? No…It was a skylight. I moaned. I could feel my limbs again and they hurt. I wiggled the fingers on my left hand. They moved, but it felt like someone had put my nerves into over-drive, every movement in the air around them painful. I wondered idly how much more it would hurt to cut them off slowly with a dull chain saw.

"I see you're awake," said a voice with the same "educated" English accent as mine. It was a soothing alto voice, and it made me feel better, mentally, anyway. I tried to look up to see the person the voice was attached to, and as expected, it hurt.

"Stay still," it said, and I obeyed graciously. The voice's owner walked over to me, and I could see him now. He was fairly tall, about 5'10'', and appeared to be in his thirties. He had round, thin glasses and charming green eyes behind them. He was wearing a nice suit, it looked expensive. Despite his otherwise young appearance, flecks of gray marked his short, brown hair. His skin was smooth and very cleanly shaven, with only a small scar here and there. Very handsome.

"Who are you?" I asked, my voice barely above a feeble whisper.

"Shh," he said, knowing I was in a great deal of pain. "I'm James. I saved you from the Armada. You would have been beyond repair in another few minutes. They injected you with a great deal of lethal poison…Well, lethal at least to a mortal. It would have simply put you in a coma for about fifty years. But I flushed the toxin from you and fed you, and you seem to be fine…better, now." He explained.

"Fed me…what?"

"Well, I didn't…I mean…" I noticed him tugging at the wrist of his fine gray suit.

"You fed me from you, right?" I said, still quiet, but louder now.

"Yes…" he trailed off.

"And you're not a vampire."

"No…"

I rolled my eyes. Anyone who knows anything about vampires knows not to feed them their own blood. But I knew this, and I wouldn't hurt him. After all, he'd saved my life…Well, kind of.

"Well, thank you, I suppose," I said, trying to sit up, but the tenderness of my nerves stopped me and I forfeit. "And by the way," I said with a grimace on my face, "I'm Norah."

James smiled.

"Lovely."

I gave an awkward grin.

"If you say so."

"I do," he said, and sat beside me on the stretcher-type cot. His eyes drifted toward to the skylight.

"And I suppose you're not going out tonight..." James muttered, staring at the stars.

He stayed like that for a moment, then came back to grips and said, "...So I guess you're going to be hungry."

Well, like any vampire with manners, I didn't want to be a burden…Well, okay, so I did want to. But I wouldn't.

"No, it's alright. I'll survive."

"Are you sure?"

"Oh, I think so."

"Well, if you're positive…" James' green eyes were staring directly into my blue ones. I could feel a blush rising to my cheeks, so I turned my head away quickly.

"Oh, James?" I asked, turning back.

"Yeah?"

"What is the Armada?"

James sighed and looked depressed suddenly, like it was some god-awful thing that should have never been made…And it was.

"The Armada is a group of rouge vampire hunters. Their methods are highly unorthodox and really quite disturbing, as you found out first hand. They can tell a vampire from a mortal or anything else by the kind and amount of energy they give off. And when they find one, they set out to destroy it as slowly and painfully as they can.

"They wear those masks because they themselves are not really human. They're born from human parents, like an Inheritor vampire, but the birth goes horribly wrong. They have no eyes or mouths, and their noses are but two tiny slits in their face, if you can call it that. They are said to be able to see in their minds. They can witness anything that is around them just as you or I could, but they never really see it.

"Armada members don't eat, they absorb energy from humans, which, in my opinion, is worse than vampiring, and they should be the ones being hunted.

"A few humans with a strong hate for vampires have also joined the Armada, their eyes cut out and mouths sewn up. It's a gruesome thing, really, but…" he paused for a moment, as if to say, 'whatever floats their boat.' "And that...is that."

"Wait, James. How can they speak if they don't have mouths?"

"They can't. They project thoughts, not directly into the person's mind as a telepath or medium would, they broadcast them, just as you do when you speak, so all the people around can hear."

Now, even though I was what I was, I found all of this information QUITE disturbing. I remembered the voice and how real it had sounded...So much like speach.

I tried again to sit up and James grabbed my hands gently to help me up. He had smooth large hands, the kind an artist has. I kept hold of them even after I was up and didn't let go until I saw the wary glance he gave me.

"Oh…Sorry," I said quickly, retracting my hands and letting them fall to my sides.

"Quite alright," he remarked with a little sideways smile. "Well, I suppose you'll be needing your rest, now," James said, sliding off the flat little bed and standing on the floor. He reached up and shut the skylight with a little pane of plastic that covered it completely. He turned away from me and walked out of the room, the heels of his shoes clicking softly on the hardwood floors as he left.

I took a deep breath, my lungs not in so much pain now, and lay back again. I rolled onto my side and drifted into a deep, exhaustion-induced slumber.