The Road That Leads To War
Danny blazed down the highway at her sleek bikes top speed of around two hundred miles an hour. She'd left L.A. with every blade she had, with them either strapped to her person or in her back pack. She had fed at gas stations on the clerks after she compelled them to give her gas at no charge. And she had to find shelter at a motel during the two days since she had left. She wore her riding gear, black skinny jeans and the usual black knee high boots. She actually had Michael ready her Gear from when she'd been over there so she could leave her actual Gear with her brothers. Nathaniel had sent her off as soon as he could, with escorts to the edge of the city limits in case the Hunters got any bright ideas. Her black racing helmet had a dark tinted visor, and white tribal patterns on the sides.
Her phone rang through the built in headset nestled in her helmet, "Hello! You've won a years subscription to-"
"Silentium omnium inimicorum suorum, et non sit qui supersunt," Danny cut off the North Branch's unique system of confirming whether or not a Haunter was approaching. Savage had told her that the code for any of these for West Branch Haunters was to recite their creed.
"We've been expecting someone in particular, comrade," the calm make voice came back, "And since you're from West Branch, my guess is that you are Shadow. Is that right?"
"Yes," Danny responded in her eerie version of Savage's intimidating voice, "I have business with your commander under the authority of the Commander of the West Branch."
"Carry on, friend," the male voice said, "The next gas station on your right will have two Haunters running the side bar. Ask for the Bourbon and a plate of fries with extra salt. Got it?"
"Copy," Danny muttered and cut the connection promptly. Soon enough, she came upon a gas station with a bar right next to it. Danny smoothly pulled into the parking lot and shut off her bike. She took off her helmet and half fingered riding gloves and set them on the seat gently. She took off all her sheathed weapons that were strapped to her chest, hips, back, and legs and stuffed them in her back pack and set it down on the seat too.
When she entered the bar, she saw two skimpily dressed bartender girls eyeing her curiously. Had they been human, they might have been outright frightened of how Danny dressed combined with how she carried herself. With her demeanor like Savage's, and her gaze also the same, she had an aura of menace. She was, of course, dressed in all black, which only enhanced her frightening look. The entire amount of people in the bar that were there for various reasons did in fact seemed unsettled by her presence as she moved to the bar and sat quietly down. She felt eyes burning a hole in her back as she casually slipped off her jacket to reveal the black tank top she wore under it as one of the bar tenders came foreword.
"Hello, stranger!" The girl smiled, but her eyes held an expectant look.
"Hey," Danny spoke in a low monotone. "Mind if I have a bourbon and fries with extra salt?"
Her face went solemn, "Good, follow me."
She started towards the kitchen. Danny followed her and subconsciously rested a hand in her jeans pocket, where she had a switchblade at the ready in her hands. She continued to follow the bartender as she went to a refrigerator and quickly removed the panel on the back of the metal box. Through it was a tunnel that lead to what looked like the basement of both the East and West branches basements, which held their Armories. Sure enough, Danny found the expansive cave which held rows of Armories with a cluster of Haunters waiting on the other side of the room looking expectantly at her.
"What news to you bring?" A strong looking Haunter said in a tone that oozed authority.
"The werewolves are back. The Commander of the West Branch says to prepare for war," Danny said in monotone.
Their eyes went wide and they started to grab their phones and communications devices to spread the word. Danny tapped into her Ripper strength reserves and used her exceptional speed to, for all intensive purposes, teleport away.
The next two branches, the Central Branch and South Branch, took the news similarly. Both instantly began to call on their safe houses and spread the word that they needed to prepare. She received a report on her way back to her bike by a new blood Haunter that there were reports of large amounts of werewolves appearing from hiding places all around the continent. Danny had quickly nodded and continued on to her bike. It had taken two days for her to reach the North Branch, it would take two for the Central branch, and three to reach the South Branch. A week's time to think of how she will feel to walk back to where it all started after she came so far.
Danny was on the highway towards the East Branch's New York headquarters. The Manor she had been Turned in. The first place where she felt like everyone completely and absolutely trusted her. But unlike her parents, these new family members were always there somewhere in the Manor. She would spend quite a long time in her apartment waiting for her parents to come home. The only days she saw them throughout the day was on weekends. As opposed to the possibility of an eternity of 24/7 protection and care from the Haunters. But now both of her parents were dead. She'd killed her uncle herself because he'd been the one to commit manslaughter, yet he had no remorse for his actions. Her grandparents, Danny knew, would die of old age within a decade or so. After their passing, she would have no blood relatives. She didn't care much anymore, the thought that her entire family had been murdered within five years, with three of them dying in the span of six months had lost it's impact. She was numb to it.
Numb to pain, unwanted emotion, and suffering the agony of grief over the span of eternity.
Danny liked it like that, and she knew for a fact that her emotions were not turned off, since she still felt the nervousness and utter glee from the thought of seeing Nick again, though she herself had no idea why her heart fluttered at the thought of him. He'd left almost without notice, slipping back to the East Branch Manor not too long after Danny's transferring to the West Branch some six and a half months ago. But with the events happening around that time, Danny had found little chance to dwell on how she felt about his absence. Now, as she blazed across the border into Virginia, she knew that she had missed him a great deal, and also the rest of the East Branch. It was after all where she grew up, both as human and as a vampire, and for that it will always have a place in her heart. So many of her memories, good and bad, were made in the state of New York. So many of her accomplishments were also made there too.
But an hour or two later, Danny saw a sign that made a grin creep across her face. A place where one of her greatest exploits had been made. A place where, coincidentally, she would have to stop for gas. And to feed and bunk down before the fast approaching dawn.
The sign read: "Welcome to Mystic Falls."
"Pour me another one," Damon groaned, slamming down his empty glass in a drunken haze.
The bartender, a cute girl at that, eyed him with a look of this-is-your-last-one-tonight-buddy, and refilled his glass for at least the twentieth time that night. It was another rough day for him, and his nightly tradition of endless booze seemed to be the only pleasant thing happening right now. He downed the glass he'd just been given and gave a long exhale.
"Oh, this sucks," he muttered under his alcohol-smelling breath.
He heard the door creak open, and an almost nonexistent footfall. A few of the conversations in the Mystic Grill had stopped and some had lightened their volume. There as the sound of people shifting in their seats, all of them in the direction of the door. Damon stared foreword to the collection of booze in the shelves behind the bar. The seat two down from his left creaked lightly. The new visitor was probably female, or a really lightweight male. The bartender starts towards the newcomer about a minute after that.
Damon stole a look, and was hit by an odd mix of emotions. It was a girl. She had long jet black hair with a streak of a sort of vibrant blood red near her bangs that ran all the way to the end of her hair. She had nice, smooth curves, but it looked like she had strong and toned muscles under her abnormal clothing. She wore knee high ebony boots, black skinny jeans, and a black leather jacket. She had a dark-grey hoodie under that leather jacket. But there was two very interesting things: her eyes were a beautiful and pure ice blue, but had one or two blood red imperfections. And the other was that all over her body, there were strange lumps. Near the top of both boots, all over her torso and hips, waist, arms, everywhere. But when she moved to pick up the glass the bartender had given her Damon saw what one of those lumps was. The dark hilt of a knife glistening in the dimmed lights of the Mystic Grill.
Oh c'mon! Not her again, Damon thought as he groaned.
She seemed different since the last time he saw her. There was a way she carried herself now, a look in her eyes. The first time he met her, she'd snapped his neck. But there was a certain hesitance about it, as if she just went on instinct because she couldn't do it on her own. She had helped with transporting him to that eerie mansion up in New York, she'd looked unsure. As if she were subconsciously deciding if she could make it with those assassins. Even the tone of her voice, so strong and delicate sounding at the same time, held that same uncertainty. But regardless of those insecurities, she seemed determined to make it there.
Now, Damon could tell she had changed. She had a frightening look in her eyes now. It held a grim and determined expression, under-layed with the menace of a trained killer and the power of a predator. Her body language was more rigid, tense. Like she expected to get jumped and be forced to fight. She always subconsciously had a hand near the lumps in her clothing, and her senses seemed to be heightened. There was no uncertainty, no hesitance in her movements or her attitude. She had matured greatly, in a way that could only happen when one had to go through and see some awful things. To lose everything was the only way to mature in that way within only half a year.
But Damon, of course, dismissed those facts as mere information and walked over to her with his usual sly coolness while inside he was fuming. She noticed him right away and turned towards him, a neutral look on her face. She recognized him and the smallest smirk cracked into the mask of her indifference. Damon only got more angry and added the smallest hint of menace to his tone as he spoke:
"Long time, no see," He grinned, in a way that had made most everyone's skin crawl.
But she remained stoic and spoke in a monotone, "Seven months. Are you staying out of trouble, Damon Salvatore?"
Damon growled, "Cut the parent act. Why the hell are you here?"
"I'm on assignment, idiot." The girl shrugged, "Why else would I want to come to this cesspool?"
Damon ignored her, "Where have you been all of this time? And why. Are. You. Here?"
The girl looked slightly disappointed, turning back to her drink, "I'm not allowed to say. The fact I've told you anything gets you and me in trouble. But don't worry, I won't say anything."
"Why you little-"
"Before you start calling me names because I won't tell you what you want like a good little girl, I tell you that you'll probably regret it. You want a fight? Then let's get it over with, 'cause I have a war to fight."
She downed the last of her drank and left the seat she was in. Damon, fuming, followed her. Just then, he saw two very familiar figures pass by the girl as she made her way out of the Grill. Stefan's and Elena's look of concern towards Damon's almost pure rage of an expression stopped him dead in his tracks.
"Damon, what happened?" Elena asked.
"Nothing," He hissed, "Outta my way, I have a score to settle."
Danny was was quite annoyed on the inside. The stubborn and prideful Damon Salvatore was not the type to let someone harm him and get away with it. All Danny had wished was to get gas and feed, then leave. Now, she had to duel this vampire and was going to lose a good bit of time. No doubt, he probably had allies all over this town that would come to his aid. Just what he needed.
Danny sighed as she heard Damon's and two familiar footfalls. Without so much as looking back, Danny spoke, "What are your two friends doing here?"
Danny was walking into a dark alley where no mortal should interfere and stopped about halfway in. She stood with her feet shoulder-width apart, hands casually in her pockets, and looking foreword as she had her back to the three people behind her. They stopped too, Damon in the center, a male footfall on his right and a female one on his left. They seemed to be nervous while Damon was just plain angry.
"Well?" Damon growled, "Are you ready, you little-"
"Who are you?" Danny recognized Elena's voice almost immediately.
"You should be more concerned with what I am," Danny responded calmly. "My name means nothing anymore. And since it's the only thing tying me to my old life, I despise it now. What I am called, though, doesn't matter either. So why do you care, Elena?"
"How do you know my name?" Elena tried to look strong, but Danny saw right through it.
"You don't remember?" Danny lifted an eyebrow, "I'm the one that knocked you out after I cut up your arm."
Her eyes widened, "You?"
Danny chuckled and turned to who she remembered to be Stefan. She smirked, also remembering that in the Archives that he had been a Ripper, and a rather good one at that. She decided to at least make the time she was losing because of this pointless confrontation worth it.
"Stefan Salvatore," Danny said, looking into his eyes, "Do you remember what it was like to be a Ripper?"
He blinked, shocked at the question, "How did you-?"
"Just answer the question, Stefan," Danny interrupted him.
Stefan's mouth parted to speak but promptly closed gain as he gained a grim look on his face.
"Well, I remember it like it was yesterday," Danny dropped the bombshell on them. Their eyes widened in surprise. They looked at her as if she were crazy. Danny lifted her head slightly, so that the moonlight lit her face, they could see as her ice blue irises flashed red, then returned back to normal. They were obviously confused by that display, and were even more startled when a blade jutted out of the back of one Damon Salvatore.
"But I don't need to turn into a monster to destroy all three of you vampires." Danny said softly as she slowly drew out the blade of his chest. The only reason, Danny knew, that Damon didn't attack while she stabbed him was the shock that a seven month old vampire had moved faster then he ever would. But just as she sheathed that bloodied blade, she made two fluent flicks of her wrist. Stefan and Elena, blinked and both grimaced in intense red hot pain from their sternums. The hilts of the throwing knives Danny had thrown too fast for them to see protruded from their chests.
"Let that be a warning," Danny said was they slowly, with groans of pain, slipped the blades from their chests, "To never mess with me, or my comrades. Just imagine if you got me angry. We both know that it wouldn't end well for anyone."
Danny slowly walked over to Stefan and took the blade as it hung limply in his hand. Blood dripped from the tip of the knife. He only stared at her, not trying to resist at all due to the confusion he was feeling. But when Danny grabbed the knife from Elena's palm, she sensed Damon snap out of his daze and use his vampire speed to attack her from behind.
Danny reacted purely on instinct. She whipped around, the throwing knife still in her hand. Just as Damon reached her, Danny sidestepped, pivoted, and sunk the blade into Damon's back into his heart. Then she used her momentum and shoved Damon into Elena. Both of their eyes widened as they crashed into one another. Danny merely glanced down to make sure that they wouldn't get up, then looked at Stefan.
"What did you mean? That you are a Ripper? Like me?" He said, looking at Danny.
Danny, sighed, "I am a Ripper. A cursed Ripper to be exact. It's why I joined the Night Haunters. It's all I'm good at. Killing. But I like it like that. So to answer your question, Salvatore, I'm like you, but I don't hide away from what I really am. I embrace it."
Stefan blinked as Danny bent down, jerk the blade out of an unconscious Damon, and sheathed it as she turned to leave, "Wait! What're you doing back after all this time?"
Danny stopped in her tracks, "Since you've been the sensible one out if the two of you, I suppose I can tell you. War is coming, Stefan, and it's going to be a terrifying, long while before it's over with. That leaves you two options; ally yourself with us and fight by our side when help is needed, or don't and be considered an enemy. The choice is your's. But what ever you do chose, it better be quick. Because the enemy is probably already among you."
And with that she turned away from Stefan. She walked to about the end of the alley, then used her extraordinary speed to practically disappear from his gaze.
Danny slowed to a stop before the dark doors of the North Branch Manor. She heard the labored steps of who she believed to be Elsa, as she walked the halls on guard duty. She heard voices talking and laughing in the meeting room next to the kitchen. There was one upstairs pacing in a room. Danny smiled nervously and started walking towards the doors. She purposely made her foot falls as loud as a normal humans, so that they would surely hear her approach. She steadied her breathing and lowered her heart rate to keep from bursting from anxious and nervous energy. When she heard all conversations and motion stop as she drew closer, Danny focused on the door intensely. Every detail popped out to her the closer she got, until she was before the grand entrance and knocking timidly.
"Silentium omnium inimicorum suorum, et non sit qui supersunt," Danny whispered almost inaudibly.
"Yes?" A bored sounding Tony opened the door with a glass of whiskey in hand. His eyes widened as he smiled down at Danny's slender frame. "Why if it isn't our little pupil."