Chapter 1 -Maximus
The next morning
Maximus was in his final class, impatiently waiting for it to be over. The teacher was explaining something about the civil war. He had no clue about what precisely since the leafs falling from the trees kept his attention. He was always the type to enjoy the little things in life, even with being a Lycan. The only time he would feel like his breed was when he trained with his father, Socrates, who was also a Lycan. Other than that, he just loved to enjoy life.
“Maxwell!” the teacher shouted. Maximus casually looked over to the teacher with a small smile.
“Yes, Mr. Reed?”
“Can you explain why you’re not paying attention?”
“Sorry, it won’t happen again.”
The teacher gave him a look but continued with the class. Maximus was never a bad student, so the teacher didn’t feel the need to continue scolding him. The bell rings a few minutes later. As usual, everyone rushed out, more so since it was a Friday. After getting his skateboard from his locker, Maximus headed outside. Just as he was about to get on his skateboard, his friend Adam pats his shoulder.
“Yo Max, you gotta come to Ashly’s party tonight. Her parents left for vacation this morning. You know what that means, party like a rockstar!”
“That sounds awesome, but.”
He knew the party would be fun. However, he had a scheduled training session with Socrates set up for tonight. So Maximus had to do would he would often do, lie.
“I can’t. My dad and I are going camping tomorrow morning.”
“Bro, no way. Doesn’t your father want you to get laid?”
“I’m not worried about getting laid. Besides, I can do that whenever.” Maximus replied in a not so confident tone. Adam laughed since anyone who knew Maximus often had common knowledge that he wasn’t the typical ladies’ man.
“Sure, and I can get a handjob from Mrs. Cassady. God, I love it when she writes on the chalkboard.” Adam jokingly said.
They both share a laugh since Mrs. Cassady was one of the hotter teachers. They chit chat for a bit more before Maximus finally gets on his skateboard and heads off. Even though skateboarding wasn’t uncommon, he skateboarded for a different purpose. The rush, speed, swift dodges he had to make when going down a hill, all of it, was to feed his inner Lycan. Sometimes he would even skateboard with his eyes closed. It was another way to rely on his instincts. The training he would do with Socrates was always more for the physical aspects. Once Maximus got home, he already saw Socrates in the living room. The TV was on while he stared at it with an intrigued look on his face. Socrates always had this look to him. That look of “Yeah, he’s been through some shit” type of look.
“Maximus, take a seat. I want you to see this.” Socrates said while keeping his eyes on the TV.
Maximus rolled his eyes but took a seat on the sofa.
“They’re about to repeat the story. Pay attention.” Socrates said while still keeping his gaze on the TV.
~ Welcome back to channel eight express. I’m your host Johnson Kiddle with some breaking news. Channel eight express very own, Stanley Anderson, was involved in a fatal incident with his wife of ten years, Melissa Anderson. The couple was found dead with multiple stab wounds to the body. Police say there were no weapons found at the scene, which has many to suspect a possible double homicide. Neighbors say the couple would argue almost every day for the past month or so. Police are still investigating~
Socrates turns off the TV then looks at Maximus.
“I went to the scene of the crime this morning, didn’t catch anyone’s scent but the police. Which means something killed that couple. I feel like this could be the one. Your first mission.”
Maximus nods to indulge him. It wasn’t the first time he heard Socrates speak of a possible mission. Many times he would be ready for it, just for nothing to happen.
“Well, if it happens, I’ll be ready,” Maximus said just before getting up. Socrates cuts him off before he could go any further.
“We leave tonight, eleven.”
Maximus heads upstairs but made a sudden stop once near his door. The odor of weed hitting him as if someone threw a bag of it against a fan. He waves the smell away and spots his bedroom door open.
“Elf Dude,” Maximus whispered before making a sigh. Once he stepped inside, he could see Elf Dude on his bed with a fishbowl, with no fish, just the bowel. Though he was an Elf, his blonde hair was skin shaving on the sides. The top was of medium length though it was sometimes hard to tell since it was rarely brushed.
“Elf Dude, why are you on my bed with a fishbowl?”
The bloodshot color in his green eyes gave away how high he was. Even the long pointy parts of his Elf ears were red. “Maxwell!” Elf Dude shouted in his loud Irish tone before continuing.
“Indeed, this be a fishbowl. I found it in someone’s garbage.”
“Why were you digging in the garbage?”
“Never you mind why. I need to find myself a fish.”
“You have to make sure to fill the bowl with salt water.”
“Salt? My bowl is for a fish, not french fries.”
Elf Dude walked out with his fishbowl with a false sense of pride. Maximus rolled his eyes, then closed the door. He always wondered why Elf Dude smoked and drank as much as he did but could never bring himself to ask. Maximus never liked to take on touchy topics. Especially to people, he considered family. Later on that night, eleven o’clock on the dot. Maximus got into the passenger side of Socrates’s van, where he was already waiting. After a few minutes of being on the road, Maximus took a glance in the back of the truck. He saw the duffel bag they often brought for training more stuff than usual.
“So, what type of training session am I going to do tonight?”
“Search and rescue.” Socrates replied in a serious tone.
Maximus had more questions but didn’t want to ask to much. Anytime he did, the night would be longer. After a silent ride, they finally park in the parking lot section of Novatowns National park, the second biggest park in New York state. Socrates put the van in park. He then reaches over and takes the duffel bag. After looking through it for a brief moment, he pulls out a pair of handcuffs.
“Stay in the van for five minutes. Make sure you start counting when I’m out of sight. After that, go out for the hunt.”
“Gotcha. One question, what am I hunting for?”
“You’ll know once you find it. Just remember, no killing, use the cuffs. Are we clear?”
Socrates leaves with the duffel bag. Maximus sighs.
“How in the hell am I gonna do this one?” He said to himself while keeping his eyes on Socrates. Once he was out of sight, Maximus begins counting down. Once he finished counting, he took a deep breath and got out of the van. His view now straight into the dark parts of the forest that no human would be able to see with the naked eye. Lycan’s, however, had no problem seeing in the dark, just part of the reason their breed was best for hunting. As he roamed into the woods, he began to wonder why he was only giving handcuffs rather than a weapon. Maximus then begins to wonder how the party he was invited to earlier was going.
“Shit, no. Focus.”
Once Maximus regained himself, he took a glance at the full moon. He never did understand the lore about Werewolves becoming more vicious on a full moon since he never experienced such a thing. Nor did Socrates, not that he knew of anyway. After a few more minutes, he stops short when hearing a female sobbing in the distance. He picks up the pace while keeping light on his feet as he followed the sound. It wasn’t easy to do since leafs were all over the ground. More so since it was still early Fall. After about a minute, he stops short when seeing a woman tied against a tree with barbwire.
He rushes to the woman. When closer, he could see the razor-sharp edges against the woman’s skin. It was now when he realized her mouth was tied, along with being blindfolded. Just as he went to take off the blindfold, the woman shakes in a panic and tries to scream.
“Hey, relax, it’s ok. I’m here to help. Just stop moving so the barbwire can stop cutting into you.”
Since Maximus didn’t have anything sharp on him, he opened the cuffs and used its ends to pull apart the barbwire. It took him a few minutes since he had to be extra careful not to cut the woman any more than she already has been. Even with the woman sobbing the whole time, he finally managed to break her free. She kept her head down, her long brown hair hanging down from her face as she did. The only thing she managed to do was take off the cloth that covered her mouth.
“Ma’am, who did this to you?”
He undid her blindfold as she tried to answer his question.
“A sick, crazy man..... with long hair. His eyes were.....were black and yellow, like some.....some kind of....of.....man-beast.”
He took a step back with a disbelief look on his face since what the woman described seemed like Socrates. The woman continued in the same distressed tone.
“He dragged me from my.....friends. He slapped me across the face. Then....then, tied me. He tied me onto this..... tree.”
Maximus looked away. He didn’t know what to say to this woman. How could this be right? Socrates was always rough around the edges but, was he like the Werewolves of legend? A beast? A heartless beast? When he turned back to the woman, she was looking dead straight at him. Her eye’s now in view. He could see the dead white color with some hint of red in her eyes. Vampires. Maximus took a step back since he now realized the objective of the mission. He keeps his gaze on the woman. She didn’t move, but her eyes followed his every movement.
“Tag and bag, Maximus!” Socrates’s voice echoed out somewhere in the woods. The woman looked around in a panic when hearing his voice.
“Is this some sick game to you mutts!?” she shouted. The woman sprints forward and tackles Maximus to the ground. He manages to keep her still while making sure she couldn’t use her fangs to bite him. Though a Vampire couldn’t turn a Lycan into one of them, fangs could cause damage.
“We need her for information! Restrain her!” Socrates again shouted from somewhere in the woods.
“Information?” Maximus repeated. The woman managed to slip out of his grip and made a run for it.
“Hunt her down!” Socrates shouted.
The chase was on. It was like a lion chasing a deer. Never once losing the scent. Both continue sprinting through the woods at high speeds. He knew that restraining the woman before exiting the park was the main priority. The Vampire’s wounds made the blood rush out from her veins faster, which caused her to lose balance. Maximus catches up to her just as she wobbled up to her feet. A small blade now in view in her hand. Maximus slowly catches his breath as they both stare each other down. The Vampire tightens her grip on the blade. Maximus kept the handcuffs open in his hand so it would be easier to use.
“Wheres the other dog? Or are you a Beta wolf? Yeah, you are. I can smell it all over you. Young, clean, wet behind the ears. You’re the lackey. Where’s your Alpha!?" the woman shouts.
When referencing Lycans, the term” Alpha" and” Beta" was how their breed identified each other during older times in a time before Maximus. The very fact that she used those choices of words gave away that she was no rookie.
“How about you let me restrain you. We can talk about whatever you want after. Sounds good?” Maximus said in a calmer tone.
Although he gave her an option, to her, his deliverance showed how cocky he was. It rubbed her the wrong way.
“You dare speak to me in such a way?” she fiercely said. In a blink of an eye, she sprints at him, blade first. Maximus only had seconds to react, so at that very moment, he clamps the cuffs on her wrist. The woman attempts to punch him with her free hand, but he thinks fast and headbutts her, which caused the blade to fall out of her hand. It bought him enough time to slap the cuff on her other wrist. As she remained bound, he held onto the chain between the handcuffs with one hand. His other hand was around her neck just before pinning her up against a tree. Socrates casually walks out from behind another tree. His eyes remained on the female Vampire when speaking to Maximus.
“Good work. Now, this would be the part where we make the bitch talk.”
The woman snarls, fangs in clear view.
“There he is, the Alpha. Is this how you get your rocks off?”
Socrates didn’t answer her. When he stood side by side with Maximus, he gave the woman one long stare.
“Let her go.” Socrates said.
“What? Are you sure?” Maximus said while keeping his grip on the Vampire.
“Yeah, let her go.” Socrates repeats. Maximus was hesitant at first but ultimately let her go. Before the woman got a chance to move off the tree, Socrates grabbed her by the neck. He wasn’t as gentle when he made the back of her head slam against the tree. A slight growl came off Socrates as he did it. While keeping his grip and stare on the woman, Socrates continued talking.
“In certain situations, you might have to get information out of these soulless pricks. It can be to save a child. Maybe stop a massacre. Whatever the reason, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to get what you need.”
The Vampire’s eyes were fighting to stay open. The loss of blood was to blame. Soon as Socrates noticed the same, he slaps her across the face with his other hand.
“Wake up bitch! Now tell me where the drugs are!” Socrates shouts.
“Drugs?” Maximus wonders to himself. The Vampire tries to regain composure while also being confused about the question.
“Drugs? You must have taken a shit load of them to ask such a question.”
Socrates backhands her again, followed by another shove against the tree.
“You will tell me, or I’ll spend hours tearing out each limb.” Socrates says in a darker tone.
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!”
Socrates throws a punch to the face of the Vampire for her outburst. It was hard enough to make him lose his grip. She fell on the ground hard, blood now dripping out from her mouth. Maximus looked away because, with all the training from the past year, this was his first time doing anything physical outside training sessions. Socrates kneeled while keeping his stare on the woman.
“Gimmie the blade.” Socrates said while keeping his eyes on the Vampire. Maximus knew he was referring to him, so he grabbed the woman’s blade she dropped earlier than hands it to Socrates. After taking the blade, he held the woman by the hair to keep her eyes on his.
“Last chance. Where are the drugs?” Socrates repeats. The woman responded by attempting to bite his face off. Before she had the chance, he rams the blade into her heart. It stopped her instantly. Even though it wasn’t necessary, he twists it before pulling it out. Maximus moves next to Socrates, who was now standing over the woman. Her skin begins to break before turning into ash.
“I’m so confused. Was this chick a drug dealer?” Maximus asked.
“This is how Vampires die. Dust, back into the ground where they should stay,” Socrates said, ignoring Maximus’s question.
Socrates then picks up the handcuffs and heads over to the tree where he left his duffel bag.
“You need to improve your poker face.” Socrates said.
“My poker face?”
“You need to learn how to control your hunter mode.”
“Hey, I caught up with her.”
“It, you caught up with, It. Vampires are soulless. Feelings, gender, opinion, family. None of this matters when it comes to them. When you deal with Vampires, you must show the same emotionless trait as them. Or else they’ll know you’re a pushover.”
“I wasn’t acting friendly with her.” Maximus says in a defensive tone. Socrates narrows his eyes at him. Maximus sighs once realizing he used the term “Her” instead of “It” like Socrates mentioned.
“It, I wasn’t acting friendly with it.”
With the duffle bag in hand, Socrates slowly walks up to him. Maximus eyes widen as he got closer.
“You’ll understand, one way or another. Maybe the walk home will help you think. Cya then.”
He watched as Socrates walked off. After a moment, Maximus sighs then looks back up at the moon. It did seem to be brighter than usual, which brought a smile to his face. After only a couple of steps, something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. He turned around to see a figure further down to his left. He couldn’t make out what it was exactly, but he saw Hazard standing there when he narrowed his eyes to get a better look.
“The hell is that?”
Hazard’s eyes stood out like a nightlight. His stance was as still as a statue, not even a blink. The continuous stare lasted for less than a minute, though it felt like much longer. The hairs on the back of Maximus’s neck start to rise, but Hazard slowly vanishes. As if the wind took him away. Maximus stood there for a moment to gather his thoughts. Eventually, he hurried off. The next day was a cloudy one. Maximus hadn’t seen Socrates all morning, but it didn’t matter too much since his scheduled Swordsman training with Elf Dude was about to start. Maximus sat on the ground in the basement, where the training always took place. It wasn’t the average basement. Different weapons hung from the wall. It had a bookshelf on one side of the basement that held all sorts of books about supernatural beings. The other side of the basement had a large round table with an unknown symbol in the center. Elf Dude walks in with two swords in hand.
“Hey, those are real swords,” Maximus said in a concerned tone.
“Indeed, Maxwell, nothing gets past you.”
“You know what I mean. We usually train with wooden swords.”
“This is true. However, Socrates insisted we level up. You know, like in those video games you kids play.”
“I’m eighteen, not a kid.”
Elf Dude hands him a sword then takes a couple of steps back. Once Maximus held the sword in his hand, he stared at it in awe since it looked ancient.
“Wow. Where did you get this from?” Maximus asked.
“Sometime during the Middle ages.”
“God damn man, how old are you?”
“Never you mind my age. Be grateful I’m sober for our duel.”
Elf Dude takes his stance with the edge of his sword pointed outward. His eyes locked on Maximus. It was easy to tell that he was a warrior at one point in his life. Maximus held his sword even though his look was more like a deer caught in the headlights. Elf Dude raised his eyebrow when noticing it.
“What’s wrong?” Elf Dude asked just as he lowers his sword.
“Uhm, how is this going to work? I mean, when I mess up and get hit with the sword, it’s just wood. These are real swords, get my drift?”
“Ah yes, almost forgot to mention the rules.” Elf Dude said while shaking his head in relief before continuing.
“Our session is not only to master the art of the sword. But also self-control. Observe.”
Elf Dude lets out a war-cry before leaping himself at him. He then swings his sword while Maximus’s eyes widen in horror. But to his surprise, it stayed in place, inches away from his neck. “Self-control.” Elf Dude repeats just as he takes a step back. A confident smile on his face while Maximus, again, kept his deer in the headlights look.
“Lighten up, Maxwell. I promise this skill will come in handy.”
Once Maximus calms his nerves, they begin training. At first, Elf Dude would strike Maximus’s sword so hard that he would often drop it. But after a few more times, Maximus managed to keep his grip. As they continued, he slowly began to do as good as previous times. He even started to forget they were using a real sword. Elf Dude picked up on his confidence. So decided to challenge it. They pick up the pace, the sounds of the metal on metal surrounding the basement. Elf Dude’s sword starts to glow white. It was enough to distract Maximus. At that moment, Elf Dude shouts another war-cry. With a single swing, he knocks the sword out of his hand. But what followed wasn’t planned. The energy coming from the swords shoots out a shock-like bolt to Maximus. After the impact, he was sent across the room till the wall stopped him in mid-air.
“Maxwell!” Elf Dude shouts.
He ran up to Maximus as he laid against the wall. His head was hanging down as he shakes him by his shoulders.
“Maxwell, say something. You must!”
Maximus opens his eyes while grunting.
“What the hell was that?”
Elf Dude gives him a quick hug then stands up.
“My apologies, I was trying to up the training process. I was a fool. However, it’s best we did not mention this to Socrates.”
“You won’t have to,” Socrates said while leaning against the doorway. His tone was serious, like most times.
Elf Dude lets out a frustrated sigh.
“You need a damn bell collar to alert me when you are near.”
“Hmph, the day I wear a collar would be the day you go back to living in a tree with the rest of the Keebler elves.”
“That’s racial profiling, you son of a bitch.”
“So complain about it on social media.”
Socrates and Eld Dude would often bicker at each other like siblings. Once a day at the very minimum. As they continued, Maximus made his way back to his feet.
“No, don’t worry. I’m just fine.” Maximus sarcastically said while rubbing the back of his head. Socrates goes and picks up the sword Maximus dropped.
“Of course, you’re fine. You’re a hunter. That is if you don’t get killed by Mr. Warrior Elf.”
“I already told Maxwell that it was an accident. Isn’t that right?” Elf Dude asked while staring at Maximus. Maximus looked back and forth at them, then just flat out said, “Right. We’re good.”
Elf Dude gave a proud nod before snatching the sword out from Socrates’s hand.
“See. Now bogger off. You damn dirty ape. The hour has come upon me to smoke my victory joint. Goodday.”
Elf Dude takes his leave.
“I don’t understand why Elf Dude can’t go on missions. When he’s not intoxicated.” Maximus said.
“It’s not his job. It’s yours. Simple as that.” Socrates harshly responds.
“Yeah, it’s my job. But it’s not like-”
“Maximus, enough with all these questions,” Socrates says as he cuts him off.
“I only asked one question.” Maximus defensively said. Socrates rubs between his eyes to take a moment. Maximus could already tell that he was getting frustrated, so he decided to change the subject.
“So, last night in the park, just when you went up ahead. I saw something. It wasn’t a Vampire. The thing just stared at me before vanishing.”
“What color eyes did it have?”
“Like a reddish-yellow color, kinda seemed like one half of its hair was white, the other was black.”
“Are you sure?”
Socrates took another moment to think.
“Hmm, never heard of something with that description. The eyes resemble a Dragon. But we can already scratch that out.”
“Existed. Pretty sure that era died out.”
“Did you ever see one?”
“Let’s not get off track.” Socrates harshly said. Maximus sighs, then sat back on the ground just as Socrates goes over to the bookshelf. He watched as he skimmed through them. After a few moments, he tosses a few books near where he was sitting.
“Look through them books till you see something that resembles what you saw.”
“Right.” Maximus said while looking at the books.
Socrates goes to leave but then stops by the door. He then glances over his shoulder at him.
“You sure you ok?”
Maximus gave a small smile when looking back at him.
“Yeah, I’m good.”
“Good.” Socrates says before heading upstairs.
Maximus spent most of the day looking through the books. He only took breaks to eat or use the bathroom. After some time, he laid back on the ground with his arms and legs spread out. A loud yawn following. He decided to close his eyes to gather his thoughts.
He pops up when hearing Socrates call out to him from upstairs.
There was no response.
“Urgh!” Maximus shouts just as he got back to his feet.
Socrates’s tone was louder, angrier too.
He dragged himself to go upstairs. After taking one step, he saw Hazard at the top end of the stairs. The same dead look. Maximus’s eyes now widen as his fist clenches up.
“Maximus!” Socrates shouted again.
Once he saw that Hazard held Socrates’s detached head in his hand by his long hair, the air leave his lungs. There was no blood, no signs of injury.
“You have a mission Maximus, kill yourself and everyone you love. Only then, you’ll receive peace.” said the headless Socrates.
He didn’t know how to respond. Nothing in his training prepared for something like this. After staring at Socrates’s detached head, his eyes slowly turn to Hazard. Hazard remained still, quiet, and somehow, sadistic. Finally, Hazard raised his arm out. Socrates’s head now high in the air.
“Well? You heard the man.” Hazard said in a tone that was eerily smoothening.
An unrealistic amount of blood shoots out from the base of Socrates’s head. It falls like a waterfall till knocking Maximus off his feet. Maximus pops back up from the floor, the same spot where he first closed his eyes. His heart was racing. His eyes, moving back and forth as if fireworks were going off in the room. Luckily, it was only a dream.
“Think I’ve been reading these books way too much.”
After throwing some water on his face in the bathroom, he sat down on the backyard’s porch. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a wooden fence surrounding a 2000 square feet yard. A yard which Socrates made sure no one stepped foot on. He sat there with his knees pressed against his chest. His arms crossed on top of his knees while looking out to the sunset. It always did get dark earlier around this time.
“Find anything?” said Socrates as he casually sat down next to him.
“No, nothing. Well, maybe. I’m not sure. I think?”
“One question doesn’t require four answers. Did you find something or not?”
Maximus had some ideas, but he decided to play it simple since he wasn’t sure about them.
“No.” Maximus said.
“Hmph. I’m sure your figure it out. One way or another.”
Maximus shrugged. They looked at the sunset as the dark orange color of the sky started to get dim. The color of darkness slowly taking over. He stared at the moon as it slowly began to get clear as the night faded in.
“So why can’t we turn into full out Werewolves on a full moon again?” Maximus asked.
“We have been over this already.”
“Right. But why? I get that we have Humanity in us, and Werewolves don’t. But we still share the same bloodline. What makes that breed so much different from us?”
“Don’t know, don’t care. Werewolves are uncontrollable beasts who love the taste of flesh and nothing more. Lycans, our kind, we have souls, we have common sense and the ability to know what’s right and wrong. That’s all you have to know.”
“I just wanted to understand more about it. That’s all.”
Socrates takes a deep breath then attempts to lighten his tone and explain it again.
“It’s like Vampires from birth compared to Vampires who are, turned.”
Maximus rests his head on his arms while listening, just like he used to do as a boy whenever Elf Dude would tell stories about his adventures.
"Vampires who become turned usually don’t last long. Mainly because of the influence they see on Vampires in movies or TV. They can never be as strong as one from birth either.”
Even though Maximus knew everything he spoke about already, he decided not to interrupt. They rarely ever spent time together that didn’t involve training. For that reason, he just enjoyed the time as Socrates continued.
"Natural-born Vampires are the pain in the ass. When they breed, they rarely ever keep the child. Unless certain of their usefulness, but who’s to say? Guess it pays to be soulless when you think like that. Just remember, they’re stronger, faster, and more tactical.”
Maximus nodded. Socrates took a glance at the full moon then stood up.
“I have an idea for tomorrow’s training. It’s going to test your self-control in ways you never had to deal with before.”
“You mean Monday. Tomorrow is Sunday, my only day off. Remember.”
“Right, well, Monday. I suggest you enjoy your day off since Monday’s training will show me where you’re really at mentally.”
Maximus looked up at him. Curious to know more but decided not to bother asking. He would rather keep a clear mind for tomorrow. After a few minutes, Maximus finally decided to head inside. Just as he got to the doorway, he looks over his shoulder. He gazed around for a moment. He shrugs then closes the door behind him. Leather gloves slowly slide on top of the wooden fence from the other side. Hazard peaks over and stares at the backdoor. The only parts of him in view was from his nose up. He didn’t blink. His stare just stayed on the door until finally, he vanished away into thin air.