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Alexander Starkiller

Aidan immediately turned his eyes at the remark. Never look into the eyes of an angry animal. Again, she wasn't just an angry animal. Still had to work on that. "Sorry, I just said it like that because I think that way. I don't think you are a fool," he said, trying to defuse the situation.

But apparently he already had, by offering the water. That was interesting. He put the canteen away.

7/29/2011 #31
FierceOcelot

Marlena looked away and sighed. "Sorry. It's been too long...since I talked to anybody. Wouldn't want to make the first person I've seen in a while my enemy." She moved to the wall of the cave, sat and leaned against it, pulled out a bottle of water from her backpack and took a few sips.

She put it away when she was satisfied, and asked a question. "How far have you traveled...?"

7/29/2011 #32
Alexander Starkiller

Aidan looked back at the woman. "Distance? I don't know. I was near an Eastern coast when I left. I don't know where I came from is called, other than the town name. Whatever it was before the wars? What it is now? I never figured out what was decided, or what it was called before. Anyway, I don't know where I am now, so I can't say how far I've traveled.

"How long though, maybe a few months at tops. At least several weeks. Days blur, you know? How about you? How far have you gone?" he asked softly. He fidgeted with his hands, then pulled off his long coat and vest.

7/29/2011 #33
MongooseDelta

Tony dreamed of sorrow, grief, and terrible physical pain. He was holding a wounded female vampire who wept blood tears that fell onto his vest, turning into acid that ate through to his soul, defeating layers of armour that he'd built around the memories to hide them from ... Malachi. He awakened with a start to find himself lying draped over a statue of the most beautiful young lady imaginable. He blinked. Wait. This wasn't a statue, this was the vampire! He jerked away, slamming painfully into the wall of the snow cave. In a panic he scrambled to get free. Only after he stood outside, struggling to control his breathing did he notice that she lay, undisturbed, in exactly the position she'd assumed when she first lay in the snow cave beside him.

7/30/2011 #34
FierceOcelot

"Months, too. Maybe years. I've always kept moving. I never found a place to settle down." Marlena looked up to the ceiling. "As for distance...I'm not sure. Probably as far as you." She set down her backpack and rummaged through it, pulling out a energy bar and tearing off the wrapper. She offered half of it to the man.

7/30/2011 . Edited by Fleur-de-lis Evans, 9/3/2011 #35
Alexander Starkiller

Aidan hesitated. He was busy trying to figure out what that bar was. It had been ages since he'd seen one. He was having trouble naming any sort of bar shaped food. Chocolate bar? Granola bar? Surural Bar? No, that last thought should be cereal bar. Yes. Now, what else? Maybe an energy bar. His eyes flicked to the wrapper, dangling down, ripped in half but still holding on. Yes, it was an energy bar. Now what does that mean? Filling, vitamins, level amounts of calories. Probably. Should he take it? He had his own food.

Aidan had a plan now. The delay had been maybe ten seconds, but it felt like a lifetime. He apologised first. "Sorry, haven't seen those in years," he explained. He gingerly took half of the bar, and chewed slowly. Not too bad. Weird, though.

After he had finished, he rifled through his pack, and took out a giant gecko steak. About the same size as he had heard cattle steaks were, a long, long time ago. It was wrapped in a palm leaf, when he had passed an oasis or pond or whatever. He ripped it in half as best he could, and offered the slightly larger portion to the woman.

"What's your name, by the way?" he asked as he held out the steak.

7/30/2011 #36
FierceOcelot

Marlena waited patiently for the man to take half of the energy bar as she ate the other half. It seemed like he was trying to place where he'd seen it before. Marlena didn't doubt the possibility that he hadn't seen that kind of food in a while. There were things that she herself had forgotten.

The man pulled out a...what was that? A....a steak? Some sort of meat, that was all Marlena could tell. The man tore it, rather tried to tear it, in half, and offered the larger piece. Marlena took it reluctantly, staring at the texture, trying to figure out what kind of animal it came from.

She answered his question. "Marlena... My name is Marlena."

7/30/2011 #37
Alexander Starkiller

"Gecko steak," Aidan explained. "It's pretty gamey, but mostly it just tastes like meat. And salt, to preserve it."

And Aidan paused a moment. "Marlena," he said softly, rolling the word around in his mouth. "Pretty name. Interesting, too. I doubt you are from Magdala, though," he quipped, before realising that what he said might have gone over her head. Then again, she probably knew the origins of her name. He continued, "Then again, perhaps the glace you had lived in was strong and elegant, or your parents were."

He looked back at her, nervous now, after talking so much. "I'm Aidan," he said softly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Images flashed before her eyes. Distorted pictures of families, men, women, houses, panic... The images stopped suddenly. All was black. Then a blue light appeared in front of her. It drew closer at a blinding pace, a trail of light behind it. It filled half of what she called her vision, drawing close so fast she thought she could feel the air rush. Then it smashed into her.

She breathed for the first time in many years, true breathing, fulling expansion of the lungs before full expulsion of air. It tasted of chemicals and sweat. Her eyes opened suddenly, almost at the same time. Bright light blinded her, and it took several minutes to see clearly. To see clearly that she was in a capsule. Or a tube. No, a capsule, it had a glass panel, a vertical bed, medical equipment strapped to her.

Oh, and she was n***. No, not n***, just in a skin tight flesh-toned suit. She flushed hard, at being exposed like this, being the glass. Until she realised that the glass was tinted. She could see her reflection. She made sure everything was okay. Slim nose, not quite regal, but have a slight curve up. Small, petite chin. No dimples, thank God. Thin eyebrows, yet oddly bold enough to instantly attract attention to the eyes. She couldn't see the colour of them right now, but hopefully they would be the same brilliant emerald.

The capsule didn't open. She kicked, pushed and hit buttons, but nothing worked. Hm. There was a timer on the capsule wall, though. And as long as it wasn't a bomb, she'd get out in only an hour. She could wait.

But how did I get here?

7/30/2011 #38
MongooseDelta

Tony began to pace, calmer now than when he awoke, but still agitated. He had draped himself over the vampire in his sleep! What did that mean? What was happening to him? He was supposed to protect the hidden ones from her kind. He was supposed to hunt them down and destroy them with maximum prejudice. And here he was not only tolerating one of them, but acting like a close companion? That had to be a sin, somehow or other.

He went down the list, but couldn't find anything he had done wrong. That wasn't good enough, so he went ahead and prayed fervently, pacing in the snow outside the snow cave, repenting of everything he could think of that he'd done wrong since the last time he repented, and of many things he'd not done wrong. Identificational repentance was a good thing, right?

And what was with that dream? It was as though memories were coming back to him from before! He knew he looked young for his age. People insisted that he looked 35 at the oldest, and a well kept 35 at that. But he could remember back 50 years, and even then he had been a young man of at least 20. But that only made him 60 or so years old. According to all the evidence he'd found, and the word of Morgan, things had turned nasty over 100 years earlier. How could he possibly have memories from the time before? Was he some sort of vampire himself?

Tony freaked out at that thought and nearly threw himself from the cliff just to see if it would kill him. He did avoid the sun and prefer to remain awake late into the night or to rise long before sunrise. It varied. He did drink blood, though only that of the Nazarene. He aged very slowly. He didn't need to eat much or drink much water. He healed quickly from illness and injury when he drank the blood.

"Oh, God, help me!" He cried out. "Show me what I'm supposed to be here!"

Only one thought came in response: "The dream is real, don't you think?"

"But what if it is? What if I'm really, really old, and did befriend a vampire? Doesn't that make me a fraud? Sell out? Hypocrite?

"Are you true to what I've called you to?"

"I don't know. What HAVE you called me to?"

"You know. What are the commandments?"

He listed them from memory, quoting the Scriptures in Yiddish

"How do you know that language? Who taught you?"

"My parents."

That thought startled him a little.

"Remember them?"

Images slowly came into focus in his mind; images from his childhood. Images from what he knew was several centuries before things went bad. At least, centuries before they went bad for the rest of the world. They were always bad in his homeland of Palestine, ever since the death of king Solomon. Sure, the history books and the Scriptures showed that there were ups and downs, but it seemed either the two kingdoms were estranged, or ruled by a gentile.

The way he thought about the gentiles; did it mean he was a jew? One of God's chosen people? His family hadn't worn the star, had they? Had to run and hide, instead, in order to keep protecting the concealed ones from the Collectors. Collectors were vampires. Vampires were collectors, as they collected souls for their master, who was Satan.

Wow. Just that information was a lot to process, without any clear memories except a few snapshots worth. He sat down to mull it all over, occasionally shaking his head. It was incredible! How could it be true? How could he be one of them? The Nistarim, ordained by God to fight this ongoing war against the collectors. Wow. and backward that spelled Wow.

7/31/2011 #39
FierceOcelot

Marlena raised an eyebrow. Gecko? Hmm. She took a small bite, rolled it over in her mouth with her tongue.Tastes good... She chewed, swallowed.

Her lips curled upward at one corner, a smile held back as the man commented on her name. Magdala flew over her head, though. The man nervously finished by giving his name. Aidan.

Marlena turned to look at him directly, holding the steak left-handed. "Were you some sort of teacher?" she asked. The light on Aidan's person revealed amusement in the smoky gray eyes that were now focused on him. "I'm not up to date on my history lessons."

8/1/2011 #40
MongooseDelta

Malachi started out of his reverie at the arrival of Morgan at his side. She moved quick and quiet, this one.

"Good evening sir Tony," she said. "How farest thee?"

He blinked, not having heard speech like that since . . . He couldn't remember anyone ever talking like that. It was in the books back at the compound, but he'd never heard it himself.

He waved off the comment. "Well enough. And you don't have to call me Tony, if you prefer Malachi. I remembered that much last night. My name, that is."

He turned his eyes a little, his head remaining still. "And you? Sleep well?"

"Quite! The last time I was that warm was back south, one time when I actually had access to a fire place. Those are nice; fireplaces. Did you have one, back?" She nodded with her head toward the compound.

"Nah. Only the governor had one of those. Maybe some of his high ranking people. Fuel's too hard to come by. We try to conserve and make sure everyone will have enough over the long term. But getting that kind of rule of law put into place was like pulling teeth!"

She snorted at the thought. "I can imagine. I don't think anyone else's done that without killing people and making a terror of themselves. What sort of leadership did you have up there?"

Malachi waited several beats to answer, and Morgan just turned her entire body toward him, drawing her perfect legs up under her on the snow bank.

"He's a good leader, this one. I guess I sort of raised him up. Groomed him. I found myself in-charge by default, back 50 years ago. Didn't like it much. Did what I had to to get the community established. Gave people jobs and such. But as soon as I could I gave leadership to this young man. He took to his own ways but kept it all going. A hard man he is; tough but fair. You just follow the rules and you'll be fine. Don't, and it's a wide world out there you can go to. Of course, it's not a kind world, and more than one has died who thought themselves above or outside the law."

"Is that why you're out here?" she asked when he stopped.

He chuckled. "No. No. I've often taken little trips abroad. Hunted. Looked for lost wanderers to bring in. He's tolerated it, though I think he worries about me. I've been advocating with the council for some time now to send outreach parties to find people to bring in, but they've become sort of isolationist. Finally I just decided it was time to go. No rules against that. So here I am."

"What do you think you'll do?"

Malachi shrugged. "Find people. Get to know them. Spread the Word where they'll hear. Maybe send a few north, or establish a monastery if I find a good place. A few acolytes. How about you?"

"That sounds as good a plan as any, to me. And speaking of people, I think there's a party about 20 miles down valley, there to the East. They're heading west, but slowly. We can reach them before they move past that next ridge, if we hurry."

"Well then, navigator. Give me a chance to clean up here, and then you can lead on," Malachi said, with a mock serious tone and expression. Morgan laughed a beautiful laugh with genuine good humor in it, and was gone in a moment.

He watched her go, as much as he could. Her movement wasn't too quick to follow, but was more equivalent to that of the wild animals. Definitely faster and quieter than any other humanoid he'd ever seen, but without the ugly brutishness of most of the zombies and mutants and such. In a moment she was back with his pack and sleeping pad, the pad all rolled up and lashed onto the pack. He blinked.

"Uh, thanks."

"Sure. Now let's be off. You can hunt me a deer or something for payment." With that she turned and skipped down the trail, Malachi hurrying to keep up.

8/2/2011 #41
Alexander Starkiller

Aidan's eyes widened at the question. He held the eye contact as he said, "No. Never a teacher. Well, I had to be at least somewhat, since there is no formal education set up most places. But not a real teacher... No, I've always had this ability. Random knowledge and the like," he said softly, hiding only part of the truth.

His dark blue, closer to black than blue, eyes flicked away, then back at Marlena's eyes. "What about you? What did you do before you started wandering?" he asked, interested.

8/2/2011 #42
FierceOcelot

Ability, huh? Like some kind of superpower?

"Before I started wandering..." Marlena echoed Aidan's question quietly. She was silent for a moment. She knew full well what she used to do. Knew it obviously was immoral, and illegal. Knew it probably didn't matter in this day and age. So what was there to do? Tell him?

"It's not a job you'd call legal..." she said. "It's not one I'd rather talk about, either..." She wouldn't tell him, but she wasn't going to lie to him.

8/3/2011 #43
Alexander Starkiller

Aidan's curiousity was piqued. "Legal? What laws are out there? I hear there's a Republic somewhere out west, but that isn't where you came from was it?" Aidan asked softly, eyes shining in the firelight.

Then she said something else. "Oh. I'm sorry. Yeah, you don't need to say anything you don't want to talk about," Aidan said, retracting his previous statement.

8/3/2011 #44
FierceOcelot

"I meant illegal...well, in the world before all this happened." She gestured around them. "This apocalypse... I learned about the life before all this..." Marlena didn't have anything to say after that, so she trailed off into silence.

8/3/2011 . Edited by Fleur-de-lis Evans, 9/3/2011 #45
Alexander Starkiller

"You mean before the War? I wouldn't really think poorly of you just because you broke some ancient laws," Aidan said. He took a moment to pull out his crappy Geiger counter. He missed the one on his PIP Boy, that had been a work of art, but this one sufficed. It didn't pick up radiation, obviously, or it would have been really noisy.

Aidan put that away and looked back at Marlena. It hit him that it was rather surprising that she'd allow herself to be in a small cave with a strange man. Hoping that this was not a common thing for her, glad she got lucky with someone like him, he pushed the thought away.

8/3/2011 #46
MongooseDelta

The fact that the people they were hoping to intercept stopped traveling and "circled the wagons" so to speak -- where had that phrase come from? -- enabled Malachi and Morgan to make good time in their effort to head them off. By the time the small gathering of travelers was getting ready to move on again the next morning Malachi had a large fire going. Morgan helped with starting it. Friction took on a new meaning when you could rub sticks, rocks and steel together several times as quickly as a normal mortal human could.

It was getting light out and Morgan was beginning to tire and grow weak, as compared to her peak fitness in the middle of the night, but she was still about as capable as an above average human. She came to him beside the fire, a look of anticipation and curiosity in her eyes. She wore a dress that she must have borrowed from one of the girls from the camp. Its colors were faded, but it had probably been brightly colored at one time; perhaps before. Clothes were sometimes preserved and passed down like that, and this one had the quality of workmanship characteristic of the clothes from that time. It had a somewhat low u cut in front and almost fell off her perfect shoulders. It hugged her narrow waist and hips before flaring out around mid calf height.

Malachi pulled his eyes away and began to dig in his pack. In short order he pulled out his shofar. It was a tightly curled ram's horn. Difficult to blow enough air through to make a good sound, but this one seemed to have a supernatural power to summon people and to call them to battle.

"Whoa there, Rabbi" Morgan said, hands out to stop him. "That'll hurt. Uhm, just wait for me to get upwind, okay?"

"Oh, uhm, yeah. Okay." This could present a difficulty. None the less, Malachi waited as she jogged back up the valley for about five minutes. He then put the horn to his lips, took a deep breath, called silently out to God, and blew.

The fire might have been enough. It was the universal "welcome to my home" sign for all who saw it. The scent of meat boiling in the pot would add to its draw to those below who probably lacked good meat. Morgan had brought the mountain goat down earlier after a brief discussion of what he hoped to do.

The horn, the fire, the food. It wasn't long before first children, then their chaperones, and then others began to trickle into the circle Malachi and Morgan built for the purpose.

Malachi welcomed the children with a grin, getting down on his knees in the dirt and offering little bits of bread to them. He considered making and offering toys, but that often caused trouble. He could give food to them all.

The chaperones initially objected to them playing with the new man, but his clothes were nicer and more well kept than any of theirs, the fire was warm and food smelled good, and he didn't seem to be hurting the children.

"Good morning!" Malachi called to the nearest person over the age of 12, as he teased a child with a piece of unleavened bread. "My name is Malachi. There's soup there. Come, join me. Do you have a bowl or cup?"

It wasn't long before the entire gathering had migrated to positions around his fire, though they largly left his side of the fire to himself. Except for the children. They were all over him, and he enjoyed playing with them for a bit. The parents and chaperones certainly appreciated the break, as well as the food. Their kids would complain less today than usual.

"Shall I tell you a story?" he asked one of the children who was bolder than the rest.

"You talk funny!" another one said.

Malachi laughed. "That's because I'm very, very, old. How old do you think I am?"

The children stumbled over each other's words, trying to decide and tell him. He winked at one. "Oh no. Very good guesses, yes. Very good guesses. But I'm far older than any of that."

Morgan sidled up just then, her appearance drawing gasps from many of the people, whether because of her beauty or her pale skin it was hard to tell. She certainly didn't appear to be a threat.

Malachi then spoke in a stage whisper. "Don't tell anyone, but SHE says I'm 1000 years old! Can you believe that? But I've got a story about something that happened even longer ago than that! This is a story about the ancient times, the times before the times before our times. Do you want to hear it? Well then, give me some room now."

As the children backed up enough for him to pull a drum from his pack, he began to tap a simple rhythm on it. Morgan picked up the beat, beginning to sway and step to it, her body moving in a flawless dance as he told the story of redemption in terms the children could understand. Morgan acted it out, her passion surprising Malachi, especially considering how uncomfortable it probably made her considering the demon. The children's attention was rapt. The parents looked puzzled and surprised. None of them had heard anything like this before. They didn't have any immediate objections to the story itself, however, so they kept their peace and just listened.

8/3/2011 . Edited by Fleur-de-lis Evans, 9/3/2011 #47
FierceOcelot

"Well, that's comforting." Marlena smirked at Aidan's comment. She saw him pull out a Geiger counter.Hmm. I think I might have one, myself... She rifled through her own backpack as Aidan did whatever he was doing.

She thought she had one earlier. Or was it that she'd lost it? Not good...she'd go through the backpack thoroughly later. Aidan's Geiger counter hadn't gone off, so she'd be fine for now.

Looking up, she saw that Aidan was looking at her, probably thinking about something at the same time. She held the gaze for half a second, then looked away awkwardly.

8/4/2011 #48
Alexander Starkiller

Aidan looked uncomfortable. A lack of social skills is rather embarassing when talking to a stranger. He ran a hand through his hair, looking at the fire.

He apologised softly, saying, "Sorry, don't mean to stare." He fiddled with his vest, absently checking supplies.

8/4/2011 #49
MongooseDelta

There's always the fear, when telling a story, that the audience might not like it. When telling a story with a moral, there's the fear that the audience might not like the moral. And when that moral concerns eternal life and death, there's the fear that the audience might reject the message and burn in hell for all eternity. Shudder. Malachi had always been a good speaker, at least, in the last 50 years he spoke and gained followers, ultimately building the compound up back north. But there were those who split off from the community because of his radical commitments. It wasn't long after coming to that day that he met Jesus and started preaching His word. Things came back to him, and as they traveled together and explored ruined communities; met other travelers; he began to put the truth back together. It also helped that he had a pocket sized Bible with him. He knew it was very important, an authority on the things it spoke of, but had to realize all over again that it was the Word of God; showed His love for people; and instructed them in how to live. Then it was a matter of communicating that to people who had never heard the beginnings of the message.

Much had been lost in the last 100 years. It was a sort of dark ages. There were those still inventing and producing but they were few, far between, and constantly under attack from those who wanted their stuff without having to produce it themselves. Everyone who remembered the time before; even those who were young when the wars themselves happened, had long since died. Some passed on their memories in the few contemporary writings or in a newfound oral tradition, and some of their grandchildren were growing more mature in the present day. But no one alive really knew how it had been before. Maybe Malachi would remember, but for now all he had were snapshots of memory.

None the less, the children were engaged throughout his singing of the story, if not in the singing, then in Morgan's dancing. He wondered at how in tune she seemed to be with him. She couldn't read his mind and she'd never drank his blood, she said. So how did she know where he was going with it? Had they really worked and fought and lived together long enough for her to learn his pacing and methods? Whatever the case, it seemed to work. Soon enough he brought the story to a close.

"So, one day, that very same hero, Jesus, sent His Spirit to me. He came and knocked on the door of my heart. I knew He loved me and wanted to guide me, so I opened the door of my heart and He walked right in! Now I live and walk with Him every day, no matter what happens. And you know the best part?"

He waited for them to indicate their desire to hear it.

"He'll do the same thing for each of you!" He pointed to each of them in turn, making eye contact for a moment.

"There's plenty of His Spirit to go around; always has been; always will be. Now, finish up the soup, and if you want to know more about how to live with Jesus come over here and we'll go into it. I'll be here all day."

He smiled, clapped his hands, and rose to wander off a little to give people room around the fire. As he did so, he nodded his thanks to Morgan, who smiled back and curtsied. None of the people in this group had ever seen other people so refined as these two, or acting in such formal ways, and they looked at them in open wonder.

8/4/2011 #50
Fleur-de-lis Evans

Cassie jumped up moving to the far side of the ante-chamber. Following two gun shots, and two agonizingly long minutes, Cassie strained her ears hearing the dying screams of the Walkers, or as Vincent called them "Feral-Humans." She wondered if Vincent, who had gone scouting two hours ago, was following these people. Then she reordered her thoughts. He was following them. Cassie was sure he would be hidden in a safe location spying them out. At least, she assumed the gunshots came from other sentient beings, last time she knew the Walkers couldn't use guns. She did know, though, which cave would be used if it were humans.

She hoped the amount of dead Walkers and small animals wouldn't alarm them. After all, she needed to eat and Vincent had been distilling the Walker's blood for her to drink, and in the meantime the human side of her still needed meat and other foods to keep her fully functioning.

Without warning, there came a loud pounding sound and Cassie turned to find a boar racing toward her. The eyes looked glazed over, and Cassie wondered if the beast had come from the river-let on the other side of the caves. She jumped backward taking Vincent's bow from its place on the ledge and loosing an arrow through the boar's shoulder. The beast fell is high-pitched scream echoing through the cave. Its body made a hollow flopping sound against the stone and Cassie ran to it, kneeling by the creature and calming it in its last few minutes of life.

She was so focused on her task that she forgot about the earlier gunshots. If the ones responsible for the shot were humans, Cassie was sure she'd find out soon enough. No sane person would ignore such a high-pitched noise. But, Cassie had a boar to focus on, and she worked to calm and clean the beast as it died, the noise of the creature's last moments and the rush to the ante-chamber's small fountain drowning out any other noises.

8/6/2011 . Edited 8/13/2011 #51
MongooseDelta

Malachi took a deep breath and prayed. The turnout wasn't huge. In fact, it was very small. A couple of children came over to him to hear him talk some more, so he sat on the ground and chatted with them. One was really interested in the Nazarene. Wanted to give his life to Him, in fact. The other was simply following the leader, but when Malachi asked him if he wanted to know more he nodded his head. So Malachi led them to Jesus. They would have to stay with their parents, of course, and he didn't have Bibles to hand out to them, but he would stay with their company as long as they would have him, and the children could learn more from him each day. Would that be all right? Would it be all right with their parents?

The parents weren't ready to commit to this strange faith the newcomer proposed, but they appreciated the food and his ready manner with their children, and welcomed him to remain for a time. He let it go at that, declaring that he needed rest, and asking if they might all camp here through the day and the next night? After a quick consultation the leaders agreed and soon camp was set up. These people weren't experienced in the wilds like Malachi thought he might have been at one time, but they never were comfortable in established villages either. If nothing else, they were quick to set up and break camp.

Malachi found a large tree a couple hundred yards from the others and made a bed beneath it. Morgan arrived trailing several young ladies who wanted nothing more than to be as much like her as possible. Who knew? Maybe she would win some of them over. But the increasing sunlight filtering through the overcast sky was clearly wearing on her and her exposed skin was beginning to reden. Malachi invited her to take her rest beneath the tree, and she did so gratefully. He offered her his blanket and she wrapped herself in it entirely, shielding herself from what light made it through the spruce branches, and lay still.

Some part of Malachi still wanted to stay up farther into the day, tired though he was. So he sat against a rock beside the tree and idly munched on some unleavened bread.

8/10/2011 #52
FierceOcelot

Marlena was ready to call it a night. Not in the cave, of course. She'd just met this guy, there was no telling what he'd do. She had lowered her guard the last time this situation came up. The man had woken her up in the middle of the night, trying to....she didn't want to think about it.

All that mattered was he didn't succeed. And in the case of this man, Aidan...She was ready.

He seems harmless, at least to humans.

Yeah, that's what you thought last time. Remember how that turned out?

Marlena eyed Aidan one more time before speaking. "We'll need our rest. Hopefully that damn dust storm'll be gone soon." She leaned back against the wall, only to flinch and jump to her feet at the high-pitched scream that rushed through the area. The Glock was out and raised, aimed toward the cave entrance.

8/11/2011 #53
Alexander Starkiller

Marlena seemed to be uneasy around Aidan. Why, he couldn't even fathom. He still felt responsible, even if there was no way he could make it "right".

Then she said that they should rest, and it was reasonable to him. "All righ-" and then this horrible screaming. Near by. Aidan scrambled to his feet, pulling out his S&W revolver, pulling the hammer back and aiming out the entrance with Marlena. He slowly stalked outside, noticing how the dust was slightly down...

8/11/2011 #54
FierceOcelot

That wasn't a human scream. A creature just died, which means something that's more dangerous killed it. The question here: Do I want to find out what the killer is?

Marlena stayed where she was for a moment, then followed Aidan. Seeing nothing, she quickly went back into the cave and grabbed the Remington, then safetied the Glock and stowed it in a pocket. Shouldered the backpack as well. If they needed to get moving quickly, leaving it behind was not an option.

She rejoined Aidan at the cave entrance. So what now? Investigate, stay here, or leave?

8/11/2011 #55
Alexander Starkiller

Aidan caught sight of Marlena's actions and concurred. He went to his stuff, throwing sand over the fire, taking his pack and rejoined Marlena. He glanced at her, then pointed away from the noise. They should continue to head south though the canyon--if that's what it was. He said as much, and slowly starting walking away, dirty rag over his mouth again.

8/12/2011 . Edited by Fleur-de-lis Evans, 9/3/2011 #56
MongooseDelta

After a couple of hours things settled down a bit and Malachi was able to take a "cat nap." What was a cat, and how did it nap? He'd seen pictures but had no memories of actually seeing one, certainly not one napping. There had a been the occasional wild cat, but if he saw one of those it was probably either hunting him or being hunted by him, and certainly wasn't napping. The concept, though, of taking short, light naps he did understand.

He awakened to the sound of children talking about him from what he presumed they thought was a safe distance. He waited for them to creep closer. It was inevitable. One ventured to within range, and like a wild thing he sprang upon the child, grasping it with just enough force, by the wrist, to hold it, and tickled it viciously. The child shrieked at first, and then started laughing uncontrollably.

A boy rushed in to save his friend, and Malachi turned on him, making monster noises, grabbed him, and tickled.

Soon the whole group were clammering for him to try to catch them, and a game of tag began. In this he had to be very careful not to hurt the children, and he managed. But the children had so much energy! Soon they turned on him. Two latched onto his ankles and let him drag them through the grass. Others pulled on his arms. Finally, exhausted, he stopped, made sure no one was in his way, and crumpled.

"Dog pile!"

He took it in as good a humor as possible. This was how it all began.

There was a little stew left from last night -- They'd made quiet a lot, and he made sure to keep a lid tightly on the pot in which it was cooked -- and when the kids got bored and wandered off he stoked the fire and heated it up again. This would remind the adults that he was still here, still giving.

Morgan awakened later, but having gone a day without blood her skin had returned to its usual deathly pallor. This would make it dangerous for her to appear among the people, so she waited beneath the tree until they were all focused on their food. She slipped away, then, and went hunting. She didn't need the blood to survive, nor even to remain strong and comfortable, but if she were to interact with the people -- which seemed to be Malachi's enduring intent -- She needed to appear human. At least for the time being. That and the meat she could supply would keep the people interested in what Malachi had to say. So another long night's hunt began.

Morgan hadn't been a hunter by trade at any point in her life, but Antonious, her sire, did train her well and the two of them spent several hundred years hunting down other vampires and werecreatures. Many of these had intelligence comparable to that of humans and purported to be more cleaver in hiding their tracks than most wild things. She gained some skill and used it now, starting on the high ground, staying low so as not to be skylined, and working her way down seeking tracks or sign of any kind. Most wildlife preferred to flee to the high ground where predators were unlikely to go but Morgan was an accomplished climber and a vampire. She would force any wildlife downward where it would be trapped in the brush of the valley; easy prey.

8/12/2011 #57
Fleur-de-lis Evans

Vincent kept to the shadows crouching in the nooks he had discovered during the few months him and Cassie had been staying in the larger cave's ante-chamber. These two humans were different than the others he and Cassie had encountered. The man, Aidan, and the woman Marlena, were definitely human beings. They didn't seemed to be deformed or unstable, but he wasn't going to bet on their outward appearance accounting for their inward state of being. From their initial meeting, Vincent was sure they had each been traveling solo for a length of time, in which they had kept away from other people.

He could read body language well enough to decipher that the woman was not comfortable around others especially men. She seemed to be deciding if she were going to trust Aidan or not. As far as the older man went, Vincent could tell he was well-mannered and travel-hardened.

Glancing up at the dust-filled sky, he guessed that it was nearing night-fall, which meant that he should return to Cassie. He would be using the long route, in case any other humans were around that had been staying out of his established patrol routes. That's when a high-pitched scream echoed through the area.

'Cassie!' he thought. He sprang backwards pivoting on his feet and shooting off in the opposite direction he had come. The branches around him rustled, and a few twigs may have broken, to give away his position. He didn't care.

That scream was loud enough to attract unwanted people. And, since she hadn't spoken in months, Vincent was positive that people would take her reaction to them in one of two ways: They would think she was being "snotty" or "insubordinate" or They would take it as an invitation to take advantage of her.

8/13/2011 #58
FierceOcelot

Marlena silently agreed and followed Aidan as they went south. She had no maps, no real way of finding a city or civilization of some sort. There was always the stars and the sun, but out here that wouldn't be useful unless she knew where she was. This guy had directed the two of them toward that cave... but still had no explanation as to how.

She began to consider asking Aidan whether he had a map or not when she heard rustling, then the familiar crunching of twigs crushed underfoot. To their left, among the cluster of brush and trees, she saw movement.

The Remington was loaded, at the moment, with 12 gauge Brenneke slugs. She raised the shotgun and aimed at the shape, though she chose not to fire. Whatever it was, it was moving away from them. A dangerous creature would have charged, like the bi-pedal...thing that she and Aidan had dealt with earlier.

"Did you see that?" she said to the man quickly in a harsh, hurried tone.

8/17/2011 #59
Alexander Starkiller

Aidan nodded, making a sign to stay silent for now, and then one to keep looking around. He started walking again, eager to get out of here. He glanced at the brush that had made noise, pulling his S&W and checking the chamber. Still six bullets from when he had reloaded. He closed the chamber, and quietly cocked the hammer back, slowly walking faster. He looked over at Marlena.

8/17/2011 #60
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