Chapter 3 - Humanity
Maximus was curious about why they didn’t bring anything with them this time, no duffel bag, cuffs, or weapons of any kind. While remaining seated on the passenger side in Socrates’s van, he kept his view at the empty sidewalks. Each time they passed a parked car, he would picture Hazard standing behind it, like earlier. Maximus didn’t bother to mention the incident with Hazard to Socrates. He figured it would just throw him off his game for whatever Socrates had planned for him. The image of the random car that almost hit him kept playing back. How could he not have heard a moving vehicle? Was he that distracted? Or was it some effect of that Reaper? As he kept replaying everything in his head, he noticed that they were now in the Nightlife District of Novatown.
Maximus’s attention wanders off to the people walking around the busy environment. Some people seemed drunk while others were fooling around since many bars and nightclubs were open. Of all the years living in Novatown, Maximus never passed this area during these hours. Socrates turns into a narrow part of the road and begins slowing down his speed like someone would when looking for something. After a moment, he turns into a movie theater parking lot. It wasn’t too big but enough to where each parking space had room between them. Socrates backed his van up then set it in park. The back of the theater now in perfect view. Maximus glances at him, waiting for some explanation, but his attention returned to the theater when hearing a group of people coming out. The crowd was around his age group. He even recognized a few of them from his classes. He again glances back to Socrates, who, at this point, kept his stare at the crowds. It was almost like a lion’s stare when hungry.
“So, are you gonna tell me what this is about?” Maximus asked.
Socrates kept his attention on the crowd as he responds.
"Vampires love the taste of young blood. It has a sweeter taste than your average adult. At this time of night, those kids are like walking donuts.”
“Like Boston cream or glaze?” Maximus jokingly asked.
Socrates didn’t respond. He just held his stare. Maximus let out a sigh, then turned his gaze at the crowd. The crowd of teens hung out for a bit till slowly; each group drove off in their car until there was one couple left. The young couple was against the car making out.
“Well, now I feel like a creep,” Maximus said in a semi embarrassed tone.
“Keep your eyes on them,” Socrates repeats in an aggravated tone.
The couple kept making out till the point where it was becoming more intense with each passing moment. The male then opens the back door and gestures for the female to get inside. She giggles then bent down to get in. Of course, the male pats her on the ass before getting in with her. Maximus looked back at Socrates, still unsure as to why they had to be an audience.
“I’m not trying to sit here while that dude gets laid. What’s the point of this mission?”
“I’m sure he’ll be done in a few seconds anyway, so be patient.”
Maximus rolls his eyes and leans back when returning his gaze at the couple inside the car just as the back window started fogging up. The parking lot lights weren’t as bright as they were supposed to be, but bright enough to show that they were in the back, enjoying themselves. A few moments later, another car pulls into the parking lot. It was a Black 1975 Cadillac Convertible. It parks right next to the couple, which was odd since, other than a few other vehicles in the parking lot and the van, there were various spaces. A well-dressed man steps out of the Black Cadillac. His clothes looked like something a runway model would wear, along with his hair that resembled the look from The Cure’s frontman.
“He’s a Vampire,” Socrates said with confidence.
“It’s his hair. Isn’t it.”
“No, his scent. Can’t you smell it from here?”
Before Maximus got a chance to respond, the male in the car shouts, “Hey, bro, get the fuck out of here!” to the Vampire. A look of shock comes across the Vampire’s face. He then reached in and grabbed the man by the hair before pulling him out with ease. The female screams as the man got tossed about five feet away. As soon as Maximus takes off his belt, he grabs the door handle, but Socrates grabs his arm firmly and says,” No, watch.”
“Watch what? That Vampire is going to kill them.”
Maximus grinds his teeth together in anger since everything in him said to run out there, but he had to trust that Socrates knew what he was doing. Just as the male got back to his feet, the Vampire grabbed him by the throat and lifted him high above the air. The male held onto the Vampire’s wrist while his feet dangled in the air.
“I saw you in a vision. In this very parking lot, on this very night. But I can’t figure out why. Nothing about you smells special. You reek of stank and desperation. I’ll have to take a long bath when I return home,” the Vampire said in his soft voice as if this was just another night.
The female frantically gets out of the car and runs over near the Vampire. “Get off him!” she shouts. The Vampire rolls his eyes. “Urgh, shut up bitch.” he said right before snatching out a small throwing knife. He then throws it to the woman at such speed that it was already hanging off her throat before she could blink. Blood sprayed from her neck just as she fell onto the ground. Maximus again tried to get out of the car, but Socrates tightens his grip on his arm.
“Not yet,” Socrates said in a deeper tone.
“What the hell do you mean not yet? He just killed her. He’s going to kill the other guy!”
“No, he’s going to feed off him.”
“I’m going to stop him.” Maximus said.
Socrates pulled Maximus closer to him. Now faced to face, Socrates looked deep into his eyes to show how serious he was. A growl soon followed.
“Listen to me, Maximus. Our job is to keep the balance. We’re not vigilantes or goddamn superheroes. We only interfere when it’s a mission. It’s what separates us from the uncontrollable ones that cause harm to this shitty world.”
Although Maximus was uncomfortable, he kept his gaze on his.
“I don’t need to be told what to do to know when to do the right thing.” Maximus said.
“In this line of work, you do.”
“I’m not going to let someone die on my watch. The Angel Carriers have to understand that, and so do you.” Maximus said in a now more irritated tone.
“How do you think we have our house? They cover it. It’s not like I can pay taxes or get a job. Let’s say you’re on a mission that requires you to sneak into a police station, and you get caught. You can’t just fight your way out because, technically, they’re the good guys. You’ll have to surrender. In a matter of hours, The Angel Carriers pull some strings then you get out. If you get caught while you’re not on a mission, you’re on your own. It’s their way of making sure everyone follows the rules.”
They stare each other down since Maximus doesn’t reply. When they both turn their attention to the Vampire, he already had his sights on them. The same dead white color with some hint of red in his eyes. The blood around his lips was dripping down onto his expensive-looking shirt while his fangs remained semi-visible.
“Stay in the van,” Socrates said before getting out. His eyes Lycan eyes come into view while keeping his gaze on the Vampire. Socrates smirked as he stepped in front of the van before speaking to the Vampire in his usual serious tone.
“I’ve allowed you to have your meal, now run off half breed.”
The Vampire slowly licks his lips while keeping his distance. He could tell that Socrates was a fighter by his scent, far more experience than him.
“I did not see you in my vision, though I fear I’ve gotten an answer to my question.” The Vampire said.
“Next, you’ll get a foot to your ass if you don’t leave,” Socrates says back without hesitation.
While keeping its eyes on Socrates, the Vampire bows, then gets back into the Black Cadillac and drives off. Maximus got out of the car and made his way to the dead male on the ground. He could see the bite marks on the side of his neck. Maximus sighs then looked over to the female, who was also dead from the fatal wound.
“We need to leave before the police get here. Let’s go,” Socrates said as he made his way back to the van.
Maximus kneeled down and slowly pulled out the throwing knife from the woman’s throat. He used the bottom of his shirt to wipe off the blood, then joined Socrates. The drive home was a quiet one since Maximus wasn’t entirely sure if what he allowed to happen was the right thing. Once Socrates pulled into the driveway, he turned the engine off then looked at Maximus.
“In this line of work, you’re going to see things far more gruesome than the blood of the innocent. It’s your job to pull through and keep pushing ahead. This job takes both physical and mental strength. I’ve seen hunters who were the best fighters go down because they mentally couldn’t take it. I’ve seen the most mentally prepared hunters fall in combat because they were too cocky. I’ve seen what happens if you’re not ready. So if you’re not prepared for your mission tomorrow night, let me know now. Save me the trouble from burying you in the backyard.”
Maximus kept his eyes on the throwing knife in his hand, then calmly said, “I’ll be ready. I have to be.” before getting out of the car to head inside. Socrates leans back and takes a deep breath before eventually joining him. The next afternoon just as the bell rang for lunch. Maximus went into his locker to get a book he needed for the next class. He figured why not get it before lunch.
“I just can’t believe they’re gone,” said a girl a few lockers down. Maximus glanced to see the girl visibly upset when speaking with her friend.
“How could someone do that to them? They didn’t deserve it,” said the girl. She then fell silent to keep herself from losing it.
“I know, honey, I know.” said her friend before hugging her. Maximus knew she was referring to the teens who were killed by that Vampire last night. He closed his locker then walked off. Eventually, Maximus ended up going to the bathroom since no one was inside. It was small, with only four toilets and a single urinal. He walks to the window and leans his forehead against it while trying to keep himself from thinking about last night. Maximus closed his eyes, but only for a few seconds since he shot them right open.
“If it makes you feel any better, I took no pleasure in taking the souls of that lovely couple you let die,” Hazard casually said while leaning against the bathroom door.
Maximus turned around to meet Hazard’s gaze. The very sight of Hazard in his school made him feel more uneasy than usual. The idea sank in that he really could pop up anywhere, and it didn’t sit well with him. Just as he went to respond, Hazard continued.
“I don’t like to see meaningless death. It’s no fun. I like the soap opera type of extinction, you know? Like when a husband shoots up his wife in a fit of rage when catching her cheating on him with the plumber. Or when a girl can’t bare being in love with her mom’s boyfriend and ends it all. Something along those lines.”
“Why are you following me?” Maximus asked in a frustrated tone.
“Are you sure you want to know? Or are you just striking up a conversation?”
“Tell me!” Maximus shouts. Hazard pretends to get scared and lifts his hands to his chest, then shouts, “Don’t scare me!” in a fake female’s voice. He chuckles soon after. Maximus’s eyes turn into Lycan form, though he was unaware. It put a smile on Hazard’s face.
“Why are you smiling!?”
“Do I need a reason to express joy? Jeez, you sound like Socrates now. Soon you’ll be letting people die left and right, just like him.”
Maximus growls, then sprints to Hazard, where he manages to grab him by his collar then toss him to the wall across from him. After impact, Hazard begins laughing.
“That’s the spirit Maxi-tits! Bring out that killer beast and beat the shit out of me!” Hazard shouts.
He seemed unaffected by Maximus’s actions while remaining against the wall. Just as Maximus takes a step toward Hazard, he catches himself in the mirror above the sink. He froze when seeing how terrifying he looked with his Lycan eyes in view. He had never seen his Lycan eyes before, only on Socrates. Maximus knew he had them but never knew just how intimidating it truly was. Just as Hazard comes into Maximus’s view from the reflection of the mirror behind him, Hazard whispers, “See, you’re the killer. Not me.” before vanishing. Maximus Lycan’s eyes fade away as he stood there, staring at himself. He ended up skipping the rest of the school day to skate around the neighborhood. It helped calm his nerves, as well as the beast within. Maximus knew he couldn’t just go back home since Socrates would hit him with so many questions. The Reaper topic was not something he wanted to get into, especially when he was supposed to start his first mission tonight. Maximus found himself skateboarding on the road that circled within Novatowns National park. Maximus figured the chances of getting caught ditching school there were less, so he stayed on the bike line as he continued. After a short while, he stops short when seeing Laura in the jog line. She had black leggings with a zipper hoodie that was halfway down. The black sports bra underneath, along with her standard body shape, was enough to make his heart skip a beat. He moves off to the side by the bushes when seeing her speaking with a man with sweat pants and a hoodie. Maximus assumed the man was jogging with her. Although they were a fair distance away, Maximus could still hear the two speaking to each other. It was easy since there was no one else around at the time being.
“Look, I told you already. I don’t have a cell since I’m new to the neighborhood so quit asking me for my number.” Laura said in an aggravated tone.
“Oh, come on, baby, how could you not have a cell? Don’t all you models have one? Let me show you around after our jog.” The man side.
“Our? No, my jog, which you interrupted, which I’m going to continue. So have a nice day.”
Laura tries to resume jogging, but the man steps in her way. Not aggressively but enough to where it was uncomfortable.
“Listen, babe, your fit. I’m fit. We both take care of ourselves pretty well. It’s almost a crime if we don’t get together for some lunch or dinner.”
“Well then, consider me a convict.” Laura sarcasticlly said.
“Than consider me, your parole officer.” the man quickly fired back.
Laura rolls her eyes, then attempts to go around him, but the man grabs her wrist while keeping a smile even when she looked dead in his eyes. Maximus narrows his eyes, then puts down his stuff to help her, but before he took a step further, Laura gives the man one stiff knee to his crotch. The man goes down instantly while holding himself in pain. Maximus makes a quick u-turn and hides back in the bushes just as Laura leans down at the man and pats the side of the man’s face.
“You couldn’t handle me anyway, boy,” Laura said with a smirk before continuing her jog. Maximus kept his eyes on her till she was gone.
Maximus eventually made his way back home around the same time he would usually get there after school. He stayed in his room for a few hours till it was time for dinner. It was usually around five, but it did vary from time to time. The kitchen table was small, but still big enough for four people to eat comfortably. Once Maximus came downstairs for dinner, he saw his plate already on his side. Chinese take out. Elf Dude was already on his side, sucking down some noodles. Eating was probably the most time he would be quiet, when awake anyway. Socrates came back from the fridge then took a seat. While Socrates put some duck sauce on his pork fried rice, he glances over to Maximus, who at this point was doing the same thing.
“How was school today?” Socrates casually asked.
Maximus raised his eyebrow when looking back at him. It was a standard question, but one he never asked.
“Uhm, it was fine.”
“Oh yeah? Bet it was. It would be sufficient for me if I only spent half the day there too.”
Maximus continued using his fork to mix his sauce with the rice while keeping his gaze at it since he didn’t want to look up. Socrates took a bite of his food then stared at Maximus while chewing. Maximus felt his stare but kept his eyes on the food.
“Why did you ditch school?” Socrates asked in a somewhat demanding tone. Elf Dude chewed on his noodles while looking at Maximus. He, too, was curious.
“I couldn’t focus. I had a headache, so I just needed to get out of there. I’ll make up whatever work I missed.”
Socrates and Elf Dude take a glance at each other before looking back at him. Elf Dude held out one of the steam dumplings he ordered then said,” This is your brain.” He crushed the steam dumpling in his hand and continued with, “This is your brain on drugs. Or when you skip school, you get the point. I freaking crushed my dumpling so that you get it. Do not make me regret it. Or my falling dumpling will never be at peace.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Maximus sarcastically said. Socrates takes another bite of his food and chews on it slowly while piecing together what to do with him. After a moment, he walks off.
“Don’t touch my food fuck face!” Socrates shouts back. Elf Dude narrows his eyes at Socrates’s plate then whispers,” Shit bag.”
After a moment, Socrates returns with the envelope.
“Well, if you wanna ditch school, I can’t stop you. However, since you did, it means you have more time to take in the mission’s details. So eat, and save the questions till after the briefing. Got it?”
Maximus nods then took a bite of his food just as Socrates took out the papers from the envelope. He slides a photo to Maximus then begins his briefing.
“Bison. Before they turned him, this guy was an amateur MMA fighter in Vegas. He’s 6,4 and built like a fucking tank. Don’t go toe to toe with him because even with the training you received, I don’t think you can take him. So weapons only.”
Maximus examined the picture and saw that the Vampire looked as dangerous as Socrates said. Even had the sides of his head shaved down with only the top part brushed back, almost looked like cornrows. When Socrates slides another photo, Maximus stopped eating when he realized that it was the same Vampire who killed the couple at the theater.
“Raphael. Before he was turned, he was a painter, maybe even a stoner too, not too sure though. He’s six feet. But don’t let that fool you. Rumor has it that one of the Spencer Mansion Elders taught him how to use professional throwing knives. The same one he used on that chick. Although I still don’t know why they would turn such a person. Anyway, last one.”
Socrates slides the last photo then continued.
“Dante. Not much is known about this one when he was human. The only thing we know for sure is that he’s the one running the show. Like you, he’s 6,2, but unfortunately, that’s all we got on him. Judging by the picture and how he seems to want to control everything, we think he wants to turn the Spencer Empire into some mafia-style business.”
Maximus kept his eyes on the picture and could tell that Dante had the cliche look of someone in the mafia. Black slicked back hair, nice suit, even had a pinky ring.
“Any questions?” Socrates asked Maximus, though Elf Dude would respond once he sucked up the rest of his noodles.
“Yeah, I have one. How in the hell did they manage to get these photos? Do The Angel Carriers have extraordinary photographers?”
Elf Dude laughs at his question.
“I don’t freaking know. Now, Maximus, any questions?”
“Just one. What exactly is the Dark Drow at the club going to tell me that you haven’t already?”
“First off, the Dark Drow’s name is Ace. I forgot to tell you since that chick next door interrupted when I first brought this up. We have the basics. Ace will have more of the facts.”
“Facts as in what?” Maximus asked.
“Facts as in where their last elder, Lavon, is located. He was the one left in charge after their original leader fell. We need to know if this new crew is working on their own or under his orders.”
“Ok. Is there a photo of Lavon? Don’t I have to dust him too?”
“No, he’s not your mission because he’s well above your rank. So if you run into him, run. Got it?”
“I guess. So what time am I leaving?”
“Five in the morning.”
“Five in the morning? How am I suppose to go to school?”
“Easy, after your mission, so get some sleep early tonight.”
Elf Dude lets out a loud burp then stands up.
“Don’t be a diva, Maxwell. It’s best to go at five because that’s when the place closes. All the Kitsune whores will be sleeping. Ace as well.” Elf Dude said before taking his leave.
Maximus raised his eyebrow then looks back to Socrates.
"Kitsunes? Isn’t that like female Lycans? Only more cat-like?”
“They are nothing like Lycans. They are dangerous because they’re unpredictable. Yes, they have feelings and everything else like us, but they lack the damn common sense at times. Ace has Kitsune strippers working for him. I suppose he keeps them around for his protection as well as employees. Their long cat-like tails tend to get mistaken as part of their outfits. Just watch out for their claws, and you’ll be fine.”
“Wait, you said the Dark Drow, well Ace, doesn’t have magic. So how is he able to keep so many Kitsunes around him? Aren’t they impossible to control in a pack like that? I doubt they all love the guy.” Maximus said since he was becoming more curious about the whole premise of the mission.
“It’s because of his girl Kate. She is the head Kitsune there. She loves him, so she keeps the rest in line. It also means she’s very protective of Ace. You might have to take him away from there to get him to talk. You won’t be able to take a group of Kitsunes on your own.”
“Ok, I got to get Ace out of that club to get info out of him. I’ll repeat that. I have to obtain a Dark Drow out of somewhere when he can easily make a portal back inside anytime he wants. That sounds somewhat impossible.”
“You’re a smart kid. I’m sure you’ll figure out something. But keep in mind, The Angel Carriers will want a report on this mission once it’s all finished. When these Vampires are taken care of, you’ll know for sure how you’ll be able to measure up.”
Meanwhile, at school, most police cars were gone. Leaving only one patrol car parked out front. Two officers sat in the car, talking about the case.
“You know I joined the force out here so I could stay away from these types of cases.” said the first cop.
“These types of cases happen no matter what district you’re in,” the other cop replied.
“You have to be a buzz kill no matter what, huh?”
A woman with blue jeans and a yellow bra walks up to the front of the police car. She had a body like a model. She had a hello kitty beanie on her head. Her blonde hair seemed to flow against the wind as she stood there. The sun made the pink streaks in her hair stand out. When the cops notice her, they were bewildered by her sudden appearance. Her pink Kistune eyes stood out more as she smiled wide. She then waves to them.
“Hi,” she said in a tone that was high pitched and friendly. The two cops get out of the car amused but still trying their best to take the job seriously.
“Where you come from?” one of the cops asked.
“Shut up,” she said, followed by a giggle. The cops look at each other, not understanding why she would respond in such a way. As they walk closer, she steps back slowly.
“Ok, stay put.” the cop said in a more serious tone.
“Nope,” she responds in her same pitched friendly tone. Before the cops could respond, a man with combat gloves and an eye patch grabs both of their heads and slams them together, knocking them out. As they laid there on the floor unconscious, the man looks down at them then fixes his cut sleeve denim jacket. His hair was a neat mess, dirty blonde. “Fucking idiots.” said the man with the eyepatch. He then looks over to the Kitsune girl and gives a wink. She blushes then shakes it off since she was trying to be serious.
“You know I don’t want to be in this town for too long, Frank. It brings back too many bad memories. But since we’re going to be here anyway, I’m going to make time to see my sisters.”
Frank smiles then walks up to her and places his hands on both sides of her cheeks.
“Freya, you worry too much. Besides, you know why I’m here. Just trust me. I won’t let you down. Got it, babycakes?
She smiles then kisses him on the lips. Frank wraps his arms around her waist while kissing back. Things seem to get pretty heated till a long tail pops out behind her. Once Frank spots it, he breaks the kiss.
“God damn Freya, put that shit back,” Frank said while looking around. She hid her tail, then crossed her arms and pouted. Frank went over and picked up the two cops with ease. He then throws them into the back of the police car.
“There, how you like it, mother fuckers,” Frank says before slamming the car door shut.
“Alright, you wait out here and keep a lookout. I’ll be back in a few. I have to see it for myself. Got it?”
Freya nods then gave him a wink.
“That a girl.”
Frank kicks the school door open, causing the lock to break. He then quickly walks down the hallway till reaching the end. Frank rips the police tape in front of the principles office in half and kicks the door open. Once inside, he glanced around the office as if he were looking for something. As Frank got closer to the desk, the faint smell of blood hit his nose. He leaned over the desk and took in the scent even more. His Lycan eye color came to view just as he did.
“For all the times I got sent here, I never wished death on the poor bastard.”
Frank stands up straight and closes his eye while trying to take in every possible scent in the room. He lets out a small growl. “Reaper,” Frank whispered. Just as he was about to leave, he stops short.
“Lycan too? Hmph, guess the new hunter is already on the case.”
Frank smirks then heads out. A moment later, Hazard appears in the principal chair while looking out the window. He watched as Frank and Freya got into their car. It was a black 1981 Pontiac Firebird that had a picture of a wolf’s head on the hood. Hazard watched as they drove off. Once the car was out of view, he smiles then vanishes.