I prepared for battle. A small group of vampires were milling around maps, planning out our attack. They didn't care about their appearance; they had fought long enough to no longer fear being caught in fire or silver ropes.
In other tents I could see that the more experienced fighters had their hair up, shoes laced, but wore their garbs rather than their armor. They too were the most experienced in fighting and felt it easier to move around without the restriction of armor weighing them down.
I was was put with a bunch of fresh out-of-training hunters, and to fit in, followed all the protocols. I had to blend in. I wasn't ordinarily a fighter in a hunting party. My job was to infiltrate, gain intelligence, and deliver it back to the Elders.
With my fighting experience, I could go out naked and still fight better than most of the vampires here after my training-- but I was sent on a mission: find the traitor.
It was a more long-term mission, where I would need to fit-in, observe, build trust, and deliver intelligence to the Elders so that they could pin-point the traitor with their other resources. In the mean-time I would need to do the job duties of a hunting party-- hunt wild humans and follow their mission criteria.
"Let's get moving runts!" the commander of the party ordered. Everyone straightened up, closed up the tents and got moving.
It was still daylight as we ran through the forest. It was silent except for our footsteps cracking branches and leaves about. I began noting everybody in this battalion.
I had no interest in the battle, but I was sent by the Elders, and Elder Reyson (or at least, who they call Elder Reyson) put these orders out especially. He didn't send out these kinds of orders often.
"We're at the midway, everyone set up the rendezvous tents!" the commander ordered. The battalion stopped running, dropping the supplies.
"Hey princess, you need to help too!" some snarky vampire snapped at me. I gazed over at him, flipped him the birdie and sat down.
"I'm not your trainee, I'm a front-line hunter. Go have one of your supply chums help out. You got five right behind you," I replied. He was an irritating fellow that I couldn't care less about.
Glaring, he finished the tent set up himself, and then we gathered up to wait for the commander. Once everyone had got into formation, the commander addressed us.
"The battle plan is similar to other attacks. The battalion will be set up as ten teams of ten. We will attack their battalion, capture the commander, and most importantly capture as many stock as possible to bring back," the commander explained.
"We want to be able to fill up the Farming District with some fresh stock," he added as a joke. We knew that these stock wouldn't be going to the Farming district. They were probably riddled with diseases that would harm our domesticated humans. They'd be sent straight to the butchers.
There were a few chuckles in the crowd, and then the commander went back to discussing the serious matters.
"As usual, if you somehow get separated from the battalion, you are to meet here. This is the rendezvous. You will be allotted forty-eight hours to get back here.
"If you do not return here within that allotted time you will be left with only two options. Travel back to the city to face the Elders as runaways, and plead your case. Or be hunted down as runaways by the Elders."
After that cheerful warning, he went to drone on and one about the plan, team make-ups, order of attack, and travel routes. I had mostly tuned completely out after he discussed front-line duties, and made use of the time to observe the others.
Who was fidgety, whose facial features were off with odd emotions. I had three vampires I would have to keep my eyes on given my observations after the hunt was over.
Given that I needed to blend in, I followed the teams lead in breaking-through the defensive-line. It wasn't that they were bad at doing it, just that there were at least five other methods that I could think of that would have been faster.
I was becoming impatient; I hated the hunt lasting this long. I started to look around for the human commander. If I handled him, then I could start my other mission. I didn't want to be stuck on a hunting party for three years.
"What are you standing around for?!" a vampire yelled at me.
I waved him dismissively and kept looking around the battle field.
I found the human commander standing atop a machine with four guards. Looks like it was some form of tank. Their guns smelt of gasoline, but I paid no mind to the smell.
It was a common distraction method they used to deter vampires from approaching. Since vampires took over the continent, we had not processed gasoline leaving very little left. They used it sparingly.
I sprang at them, my eyes dilating into my feline eyesight in excitement.
But, it was not a distraction.
This battalion has the resources to use fire guns.
It was not a front, and the fire hit me. It hurt, but I was mid-spring in the air and couldn't stop. My excitement turned into anger instantly, and I knew I faced life-or-death.
If I stayed and finished the job, I would be viewed honorably, but if I fled, I would be a coward.
I landed, and wrapped two guards in steel wire before their startled faces could comprehend what was going on. The steel wire cut into their skin, and blood began to drip onto the wire. I ignored the urge to drink, and instead kicked the steel-wrapped guards off, whipping my head around.
The other two were fearful and frantic, continuing to spray their fire-guns at me. I found enjoyment out of their eye widen in fear, but their fingers remained pulled on the trigger.
Tired of their antics, and with me bleeding and burning, I flick my arm so my blood splatters over the pilots and across their faces. One looked down shaking the gun to try and rid the blood, the other staring at me taking a small step back.
I smiled, ignoring flames as it lick its way up my arm. The pain could only be described as a lava-boiling hug.
I snapped the wire and whipped it out to wrap around them. They wore enough gear that I didn't need to worry about it cutting them clean in half; the bullet proof vest would be a nice cushion to the wire.
As I walked closer to the tied-up humans, I noticed numbness in my left arm. My flesh had been burning too long, and now it was beginning to dangle there useless, slowly melting off. My anger began to reach new heights.
I made quick work twirling them so the wire wrapped around the two a few more times before I kick them off roughly. I snapped to where the commander had been, but he had already fled off the machine.
My right leg was numb and melting. I heard my left arm thud onto the machine as I spotted the commander shuffling ten feet away from the machine. The fire was becoming excruciating, but now was not the time to focus on the pain.
I leapt off the machine with my left leg, directly at the commander. Midair my right leg fell off, making me focus on landing stealthy with my left leg.
I realized the commander was an idiot and hadn't moved from his spot, and rather than landing near him, I landed on the commander causing us to roll down the dirt hill. My right arm and left leg were wrapped firmly around him so that he could not escape after.
"Let me go! Let me go!" He yelled, struggling between the hold and the roll to get loose.
I lost the feeling in my right hand and lost it during the roll down the hill.
When we stopped I could feel that the fire was gone due to the dirt, and he struggled from my loose and failing grasp. I couldn't understand what he was yelling, his fingernails were scratching my face trying to make my grip looser.
Another vampire came dragging the commander out by the scuff, growling while wrapping him in many unnecessary layers of steel wires.
I was bleeding everywhere. I laid down in exhaustion on the dirt and felt the blood pooling about drenching side of my face and my garbs. I felt like I was slowly growing cold.
As I went to relax as the vampire was attending the commander, I noticed a small female. She had no fear in her eyes, causing me to immediately spring myself upright.
She began to raise her blasted fire-gun at us.
'That effing thing again,' I thought to myself.
I jumped at her just as she pulled the trigger, preventing the Senior from getting caught in the fire. My landing had her screaming in pain. I was on fire, again, and she had caught on fire.
She flailed blindly, and I took longer than I had wanted to trying to wrap her securely in steel wire with my numbed arm and teeth.
My blood made things more difficult, as I kept slipping the grip my my arm. I got tired of the charade, I bit her arm causing her to yelp and cry out.
She didn't notice the several layers of wire around her arm after I bit her.
I allowed her to fail out of my grasp to the ground.
"Now, stay down," I growled as I shoved her down the hill. I loosened the grip on the wire to allow the wire to wrap itself around her towards the other vampires.
She sobbed in the remnants of pain she had, she deserved it for burning me and making a hassle. But she wasn't engulfed in fire or dead, so she was still edible.
I mulled over the entertaining thought of her in the farming district for a moment while my face began to become a mask of fire.
Water would be the only thing to stop the fire now; but water in my bloodstream was sure death.
Death would be imminent either way.
The fire was like no pain I had ever felt. It was like a scorching heat-- a white hot branding iron pressed against your skin but never coming off.
I did my job. It wasn't my main mission, but I never faltered.
I could live with that. I could live with a short life.
It didn't bother me to die. I wouldn't need to fight, to torture, or to kill anymore.
As I began to welcome the idea of death, using that sense of relief to ignore all the pain and accept it.
That was until some moron splashed water on me. The water was much more painful than the fire by ten-fold. I screamed out from the pain.
I couldn't grit this off, smile at it, use it to fuel my anger. Water was like a poison to us. Unlike the white scorching iron, this was like a complete opposite.
My skin felt like it was exposed to a tundra, with scorching winds filled with ice pelts. My skin and insides prickled like needles and knives stabbing at me every half-a-second.
It was a gut-wrenching pain causing my cuts, stubs, and exposed muscle to smoke. Black-smoldering smoke pouring out of me until it was scarring giving off a pale gray singe. Although my limbs eventually stopped smoking, my ears continued to produce pale gray smoke.
The moron who poured water on me picked me up. "Sorry about the pain," he apologized.
With a deathly glare I turned my eyes to him. "Why?" My voice croaked.
He raised an eyebrow. "Do you want to say goodbye to us or not?" he seemed confused.
I hadn't thought about that. Why would I? Who would I say goodbye to? There was no one. They all died what seemed to be ages ago. All I was doing, all that I was meant to do, was my job. There was nothing else in my life.
Thinking about saying goodbye to someone was a concept I did not often think about anymore.
"Oh," was all I could muster. I knew anymore elaboration would make me suspicious, and I wasn't dead yet. Play the charade until the last breath, no matter the circumstance.
The water was still causing its damage inside me. In my bloodstream, it was freezing and burning at the same time.
At the very least, fire slowly licked it way around. The water was everywhere, in every pore of my body, burning it to what felt like ashes, and freezing like a solid block of ice.
But my body was still there, still one solid piece (minus the hand, arm and leg).
I could hear someone in the background ordering him to take me back to the Elders immediately. I could hear yelling, but I could not distinguish what the yelling was about. The pain felt unreal, and time past by quicker than I anticipated as we had made it into a room of paper. It was the Elder's Domain.
I could hear more yelling, but again, the pain made it impossible to focus on what they were saying. Time past and I could hear more yelling. They were yelling a question.
'Focus, focus, focus,' I began a mantra over and over until I could finally hear them.
An Elder was asking if I wanted to live. Yes, of course I would choose life over death, but no words could escape my inflamed lips. Even if they did, it would be screaming. I knew if I talked, I would only scream from the pain. It was too much pain.
After repeatedly asking, another Elder piped in. If I did not answer, they would leave me on the floor to die in agonizing pain until I died.
The pain would only intensify as time passed. And, as time passed, it would begin to slow, rather than speed up.
I would die slowly, and painfully.
Was there a pain stronger than this? I wasn't sure, but for once I feared something more painful than this. Assassin training, I was tortured, beaten, starved, anything that could be imagined. This did not compare to all of that combined, and for once in my life, I was frightened.
"I WANT TO LIVE, I WANT TO LIVE!" I screamed. I kept screaming the same four words, over and over. I couldn't stop. I could feel my body being lifted, but my voice wouldn't stop. I screamed, sure that everyone in the city could hear me while the fresh air filled my burning lungs.
He brought me to the Blood Pool. "What's your name?" he asked.
He didn't understand. I couldn't say any other words right now. My mind was racing between pain, and fear of the pool below me. Of course, everyone feared the Blood Pool. Anyone who went in never came out the same, mind or body.
When he began to understand that all I would keep screaming is "I want to live," he merely nodded.
He slowly began to place my body into the pool. "I'll wait for you to come out," he says softly, gently. His green eyes watching tenderly as I began to sink into the pool. Fear replaced all the pain I felt.
Soon, everything was red. I no longer felt like I was burning or freezing. I felt completely numb, with an odd tugging sensation at my cuts and burns. Almost like I was awake for surgery where a local anesthetic had been administered.
But… what would happen to me?
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