Hunting Shadows

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Chapter 25

The blade glinted in the moonlight, pale silver sparking, catching and reflecting the light like silver fire. The vampire’s eyes glowed eerily with an inhuman light; much like cat eyes only with something sinister and void in them. He pressed the blade higher against her throat, the tips of his fangs glinting in the pale light. She let out an amused growl. Her eyes turning from hazel to yellow green and nearly colorless in the moonlight; her plan had worked out well; and if she were right… it would also lead Jayson’s men off her trail for a bit.

“Tell me where the commander and his forces are hiding; otherwise I’ll kill you now. I know you know where he is, I can smell him all over you.” He growled.

Even with the blade biting into the skin of her throat, she laughed. This seemed to baffle and infuriate the vampire.

“First, the fact that you think you can kill me is amusing. Secondly; I’m not afraid of you, I’ve killed things bigger and badder than you; have made most of them into things… usually armour. Third; the general’s whereabouts are none of your concern.”

She emphasized the last sentence by bringing her knee up between the young man’s legs with just enough force to push him back, then bringing her knee up a little higher – she front-kicked him away. He stumbled down the trail, tripping over an overgrown tree root. She started running, not away – but towards the fallen vampire.

Using her speed and momentum she ran up the side of a tree that was growing half – hazardly beside the trail she had been running on a moment before the Blade had accosted her. The moonlight sparked off the length of an iridescent short sword that he was sure had not been in her hands a moment ago. Using the tree as leverage, she propelled herself into the air, and for one fantastic moment she looked like a heroine in the books the young man had liked to read before he had been brutally turned into a vampire.

He was just getting to his feet when he looked up and saw the girl, flying toward him; wielding a glowing purple short sword; all silver shadows in the moonlight. It was an epic scene before she was upon him. The sword went in all the way to the hilt, her weight and momentum pushing him back to the ground. There was a momentary flash of pain before the vampire blew apart into ash.

She flicked blood off the blade, wiping a cloth down the length of it. The ultra violet light along the blade glowed eerily in the moon light; she gave it a final twirl before collapsing it back into its original state no bigger than a pen. She slipped it into her pocket, put her headphones back on and resumed her run. Nick Ammar’s nuclear pulsing in her ears as her body fell into the easy rhythm of running. The traps were set along the perimeter of the city, and there was a currant that picked up all bioelectrical life forms; humans, animals, vampires, and every other thing that held a pulse.

Paranoid, she knew; but still she waited until the camera she and JB had installed in the oak tree outside the city limits to turn before morphing into a panther and quietly scaling the tree. Once she was free of the city and the traps it hid within its walls, away from her suffocating and distant boyfriend and over bearing, over protective glowering ex, who had tied their life forces together so he could come back as a reaper; She let herself breathe. JB and Jayson were so similar, yet neither one realized it; one drank too much and thought she was reckless and suicidal, and the other one was death itself. Deep down she knew she couldn’t live without them.

500 meters turned into a kilometer and she kept running, diving head first into the swirling portal at the base of a large oak tree.

A moment of swirling vortex, weightlessness and color, of flying through time and space and then she was falling through the air of another world. Adrenaline spiked through her system and she let herself feel the rush of freefalling; the numbing sensation of air rushing past her body at a high velocity before pulling her rip cord and releasing the parachute strapped to her back.

She hopped worlds until she found one of her favorites, a world bathed completely in moonlight. The dual moons that hung in the sky gave everything an ethereal calmness that she couldn’t find anywhere else. It was also filled with strange and exotic plants that were almost blue, but mostly colorless, with large leaves and smooth bark. The creatures were equally as interesting with glowing bio-luminescent fur that was silky and luscious. The squirrel-creatures that chirped and called to each other like groundhogs on earth would had fur that shone from deep purple to bright blue when they moved in the moonlight.

Leaning against a tree, she soaked in the calm serenity of the world. Glad to escape her over-bearing and distant boyfriend; who even though he was great… had a bad tendency to drink too much when he was stressed out. And then of course there was JB, who had become more of a close friend; accepting that they couldn’t be together... but remained her partner and protector.

She sighed deeply, both men irritated her to no end, and yet she knew she couldn’t live without either one of them. One of the squirrel creatures came by and sniffed her foot; she watched it quietly before pushing a nut that had fallen out of the tree she was leaning against. It picked up the nut, bit into it, decided she wasn’t a threat and after eating the nut promptly curled up and fell asleep just within fingertips reach against her leg.

It had been a couple of days and still no word from Eryn. Jayson was glaring out his office bay window, his thoughts in turmoil. Three days ago, they had a fight and this one hadn’t ended in mind-shattering great sex, it had ended with her storming out and leaving on her custom-built Kawasaki ER-6N motorcycle. He went after her a couple hours later but his search had yielded nothing.

She had disappeared and now he was waiting to hear back from his Lieutenant on the matter of the Blades.

Ace had decided to start attacking the city, at first, they had been isolated attacks on warehouses in the outer sectors, but recently the Blades had become bolder and the attacks became more vicious and violent. Jayson and his men had been kept very busy.

Did she not love him anymore? Did she not want to be with him? She hadn’t answered his most recent calls and the last time they spoke, she had told him she wanted a little time apart; not breaking up; just time to think and regroup. Had she gone back to JB? As soon as thoughts of the reaper crossed his mind, he snarled and struck the window with enough force to shatter it. Spider webbing cracks emanated out from the point of impact and little shards of glass fell out onto the sill.

The quietly sleeping city below him twinkled like a thousand sparkling yellow candles, distorted by the cracked window.

Vaguely he wondered if he should just take his anger and frustration out on the window and remove it completely, and though he had the money to replace it– which he was going to have to do anyway – he felt the need to hit something solid. Jayson stormed out of his office, and stomped down to the training center.

The rapid beating of his fists against the punching bag helped to calm him down slightly, the repetitive hits and kicks; the drain of adrenaline as his head slowly cleared. Panting heavily, he leaned his forehead against the punching bag; lost in his misery and the overwhelming frustration of the coming war, and his missing girlfriend. Jayson finally broke down and made the call.

“Hey… it’s me, I hate to ask this… but is Eryn with you? I’m worried about her.”

It took a moment for the voice on the other end of the line to register what he was saying.

“I thought she was with you?”

“Uh… no, she left a couple days ago, and I haven’t heard from her.”

There was a pause on the end of the line and he waited for JB to talk again. It seemed to take forever and the sun was just cresting over the horizon when JB finally responded.

“She’s alright, I know that. Most likely off-world… and judging by the faintness of the feeling… I’d say maybe a world or two away. She should be home soon.”

“Alright thanks man; I’ll catch yah later.”

“Have a good one.”

Jayson clicked the phone off, and took a drag of his cigarette. Why hadn’t she told him she was going off world? Was it a mission that she was doing without him? The sunrise was beautiful, full of sparkling yellow and white with pale fading purple hues. Worry and regret gnawed at his insides, and he took another drag of the cigarette with the sun glinting in his eyes.

The buzzing of her phone startled her and the blue squirrel creature out of a light sleep. The creature looked around wildly for moment before cleaning itself with vigor. She blinked groggily at the screen, trying to make sense of the words.

“Hey, Jayson’s worried about you… everything ok?”

“Yea, we had a fight that’s all.”

“Trouble in paradise? Lol.”

“Don’t be so smug.”

“Sorry, I don’t like him… want to talk about it?”

“No… yes… ugh.”

“Lol, well, I’m here if you want to talk.”



“He can be such a jerk sometimes, I know he’s stressed about the coming war, but he could at least talk to me, and include me.”

“He’s got a lot to worry about right now. Maybe you should give him a break.”

“Maybe…. But he also yelled at me for being reckless and suicidal. Do you think I’m reckless and suicidal?”

“Suicidal… no; but speaking as someone who’s been your partner and lover for over 15 years, you can be reckless sometimes. I know you, and though you may not admit it, you can be incredibly reckless sometimes; but no… you aren’t suicidal.”

“Thanks; I’ll see you when I get home.”

“Be safe Eryn, please.”

“I will, JB.”

“Love you…”

She turned the phone off to conserve battery power, and sat quietly thinking over the conversation she had with JB.

Over the course of the past few months, he had become accepting of her relationship with Jayson, and wasn’t nearly as overbearing and protective of her as he used to be. Idly she watched the silver river snaking through the land drift by lazily while the dual moons hung sleepily in the sky.

It was so quiet and tranquil here that it was easy to lose herself in the serenity of the planet.

The screech of birds spiked through the air, terrifying and alarming. She bolted upright, panic and adrenaline numbing every sense in her body as her mind tried to comprehend what was causing the alarm. The birds were still making an unrelenting screeching sound that sent shivers of panic racing along her skin; she started running, fear and adrenaline pushing her through the undergrowth and trees. Pausing to catch her breath and collect her bearings, she felt the tremors a moment before she heard the heavy thumping tread of something dragging something heavier behind it.

Two weeks passed without a word from Eryn. No call, no text, and Jayson was really starting to worry. The Blades hadn’t caused trouble in the past two weeks either and everything was relatively quiet. He spent more days in a rough drunken haze, training day and night, finding no better use of his time.

“Sir, may I speak freely?”

“Of course, what’s up?”

His lieutenant took a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing.

“Sir, the men remain loyal to you out of respect for you, but there has been talk about some of them leaving because they would rather serve under someone who’s an evil tyrant than someone who’s drunk all the time. You’ve invested so much time and energy into this one human woman that you don’t realize how much it’s affected you to lose her. With all due respect Sir, I recommend you forget about her, and move forward with your life. A war is coming, General; and when it breaks, your men will need a leader who has all his faculties and is not reeking of booze and inconstant.”

Larry stood rigid while he waited for Jayson to say something. Jayson stood there for a long moment, swaying slightly. A hundred different emotions crossed his features before his face finally went blank and he sat heavily on the training mat.

“Thank you; Lieutenant; I’ll take your concerns under advisement. Is there anything else?”

“Yes Sir, Bryan’s troops reported back with a count of Ace’s forces.”

“And? What are we dealing with here?”

“Sir, the Blades have 14,000 strong, that we know about; and they have been hitting weapons warehouses and manufacturers.”

“I see; ready the troops; but don’t attack, keep the forces ready.”

“Yes Sir.”

Larry gave a crisp salute, which Jayson returned and watched the younger vampire leave the training room. His thoughts darkening, he slammed his already sore and bruising fist against the punching bag; the connections making a satisfying thump.

The creature had a thick rhino – hide with massive club-like arms, as thick around as tree trunks ending in a three-foot scythe that was razor sharp; it cut through trees as easily as snapping twigs in half. Its other hand ended in a gigantic gorilla’s hand. This creature was deadly, and so she ran, skirting the edges of the trees wanting speed instead of stealth. The creature continued plodding forward. Moving mostly as a panther as that was her faster form, she zigzagged through the trees and undergrowth, keeping a wary eye on the creature as it continued to hack and slash at the trees that were in its path. Two more trees went down in succession and she jumped at the nearness of them; it seemed almost as if it were gaining speed.

It slammed its fist into the ground causing it to shake; she tripped over a tree root as the ground under her buckled and she went sprawling. She cursed herself for losing her footing before staggering back to her feet, and continuing to run.

She did not want that creature to capture her, so she shook off the debris and continued to run, hoping for a clearing that would give her enough room to fight.

Behind her the creature let out a baleful sound that sounded like metal on stone. It sent chills down her spine and she shuddered. Her leg brushed a root as she continued to flee, but the trap was motion activated, and a moment before she could reach the clearing, it closed around her ankle sweeping her off her feet and fifty feet into the air. Her head knocked into the side of the tree as the world tilted dizzily – going from right side up to upside down in the space of three seconds. Blood dripped slowly onto the rocks and leaves below; and the last thing she saw was the creature coming to stand below her as the world drifted to black.

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