The Night Haunters

The First Prodigy's Awakening

Danny watched with a strange feeling in her chest as Savage trained Nathaniel.

The sight brought back memories of when she trained to control her Ripper with Savage, all that time ago. He had Nathaniel fight his inner Ripper over and over again in his inner world. And each time, it made Danny glad that they had chosen this place in the middle of the mountains somewhere in New Mexico for the training grounds. Nathaniel would easily put cracks in the mountains with his out of control strength, shout curses in Italian, Latin, and some other languages he'd learned over his lifetime. Danny watched as Nathaniel would look pained, excited, horrified, and happy all while he was unconscious and in his inner world. Danny couldn't help but wonder what she must have looked like when she was unconscious and tearing through her allies the first time she had been fighting her Ripper in her Inner world. Was she this terrifying? Did she really look like an insane sleep-killing girl?

She remembered the horror at realizing what she had done, then realizing right after that that she had torn up her clothes in the process and made herself look like the demon she was. She had looked exactly like her Inner Ripper when she had come to, and it had freaked her out more than she realized.

That had been the true start of her emotionless persona, since she didn't want to let other people see her after that, at least on a subconscious level since she was so focused on her new duties and siblings to think about how she was acting. Nathaniel and Savage were still new people to her at that time, making her uneasy about trusting them completely. Of course, with Savage's silent personality, and Nathaniel's psychotic one, it wasn't unreasonable to be weary of them.

But now Danny knew the truth know, that they were really kind and caring guys that would always go to any length to protect her whether she needed it or not. Her Ripper was the biggest improvement over all, with the insults toning down to snark remarks that had no venom in them, much like how Danny called her brothers names when they did something stupid.

"This is so boring!" Nathaniel yelled, "Why can't we go kill that stupid Hybrid now?!"

"Because, you idiot," Savage said, irritated, "You haven't fully gained control of your Ripper. If you had, you wouldn't wake up to me pinning your crazy butt to the ground."

"Then how the heck will I know when I'm done?!" Nathaniel yelled at Savage.

"Well," Savage said, sighing irritably, "You won't be yelling at me like that. And maybe you'll be even more crazy than you usually are, since you have a Berserker type of Ripper in you."

"Ugh!" Nathaniel exclaimed, slamming his fist into a nearby tree and toppling it without any effort, "What difference does a Berserker type make anyway?"

"They are harder to control then Assassin types," Savage shrugged, "Probably because they are all about strength and what not."

"How much longer?" Danny asked from where she sat in a tree, casting a questioning look down on her siblings. This tree just so happened to be the one next to the newly destroyed one

"I'd say about one more month," Savage said, thoughtfully after a minute of pondering it.

"A MONTH?!" Nathaniel roared.

Nathaniel threw himself onto the ground, assuming the position that he had made for himself when he visited his inner world.

Savage and Danny exchanged a knowing look, both hoping that the prodding suggestion that Nathaniel was taking too long would speed up the process. The results were hard to see, even for Danny's uncanny ability to discern the emotions of those around her with their facial expressions. But slowly Danny saw that Nathaniel didn't thrash around as much as before, actually remaining seated throughout the process of the inner fight. His eye, or the corner of his mouth, would twitch occasionally, but other then that there was no major change in the expression of her brother.

Savage seemed to notice this too, muttering to himself about thinking that this could be it. Long hours of training had gone into Nathaniel being allowed to freely enter his inner world so he could challenge his Ripper. Danny had shivered at the description of what his inner world looked like, what he had to see every single time he entered that place.

It had been close to five months since Nick's unwilling attempt on Danny's life. They had sent Nick to the East Branch to help reinforce them as the werewolves continued to push for more and more territory. Nick reluctantly agreed, giving Danny a good-bye kiss just when neither of her brothers were looking. He left in the dead of night, having no Daylight ring to call his own to shield him from the sun's deadly rays. Danny didn't like to see him go, her heart tearing as the last images of him vanishing in the shadows, but she knew that there would be grave consequences for his absence from East Branch any longer.

Danny found herself feeling empty in the aftermath of Nick's leave, like a part of her was removed without her consent. Her brothers had noticed and tried to cheer her up with a few fresh kills for a snack. Danny was disgusted with herself that she found the void filled by the agonized screams of the human prey she took, at how sadistic and inhumane she had become in the past fifteen or so months since she herself was human. Her fangs had punctured the necks of the humans as she began to suck the life out of them greedily, their screams for help falling forever on deaf ears.

She was nothing like what she once was, the human part of her feeling nonexistent in the vast sea of herself that was now known as Shadow. The human part of her would always love and cherish her siblings and her first love. It would always ache in sorrow in remembrance of the sad truth that it was alone in the world, that the world she knew as a human was gone and replaced by this hateful spell of blood. It would relish in the adrenaline that being in a battlefield brought, feel powerful in the knowledge of how feared and respected she was. And it would always aim to please the two vampires that had become her family, in order to repay them for the blessing of their kindness.

Nathaniel's sudden gasp interrupted Danny from her flash back, directing her calculating gaze downward to her brother's slumped form. Savage slowly walked over to him, knife in hand to be on the safe side, "Well?"

"He said he would submit," Nathaniel said, his voice as hollow as his eyes, his gaze unfocused as if he was in shock.

Danny crossed her arms, shifting on the tree limb to get more comfortable against the bark, "Then what's with that look?"

Nathaniel looked up, looking Danny in the eyes with an eerie look of shock that was so uncharacteristic of him that it startled her, "I had to watch him torture you, Danielle. He gutted you, burned you, chopped your fingers off one joint at a time...So I'm sorry if I look like crap."

Danny was speechless. She dropped down to the ground thirty feet below from her tree branch, landing in the soft dirt soundlessly. She slowly walked over to Nathaniel, whose breathing was just now getting under control. She fell to her knees beside his slumped form, and embraced him gingerly. He didn't outwardly react to the gesture, but Danny could tell by the calming of his breathing, and the look in his black eyes, that he was grateful for the comfort. Danny found it funny that he would keep the tough guy act up even in the company of his family, but then she remembered how she had only known the man for a little over a year at most. But time was something that was not that much of a factor for her now, and her emotions were at vampire levels as well.

The same went for her boyfriend, her feelings for him growing each and every day. Nick was her first love, so Danny didn't know what exactly to do in their relationship. Danny was slightly mad at herself for her shyness in high school, because she wouldn't be as clueless as she was now about relationships. Danny only wished she could show how much she cared for him, but lacked the knowledge on how to do it to the best effect.

Nathaniel gingerly broke the embrace, then looked with his usual mad man grin, "So...are we good to go?"

Savage shrugged, "Yeah, we should be ready."

"Sweet!" Danny said, walking over to pick up their gear at the base of the tree she had been lounging in.

Nathaniel, however, had already grabbed the gear and slung it all onto his back, "Then let's go!"

Using his vampire speed, Nathaniel vanished into the mountains as he headed for where they had hidden their bikes miles south. Savage and Danny gave each other the same knowing look, then turned and raced after him with their own faster speed. They caught up to Nathaniel within five minutes, which was an absurd amount of time considering the speeds Danny and her brother were known to be able to achieve. But then there was the fact that they were not accessing their reserves of energy as Prodigies and using just their standard speed. Nathaniel had a determined look in his eyes, the anger that was on his face five months ago in Texas not having faltered in the slightest. He had harbored that indignation, the hatred he felt for the Original Hybrid that was responsible for Nick's involuntary betrayal. Danny herself felt an intense anger for the Hybrid, seeing as he forced her first love to make an attempt on her life while she slept. Savage, though he didn't show it all that well except a more menacing glare then he usually had, felt the same way as the other two. Danny chuckled to herself almost arrogantly as she felt a sort of pity for the Hybrid, for him to have three Prodigies hate him like they did, and that the strongest of them was now ten times the strength he was five months ago.

Their bikes gleamed in the daylight, the metal warmed by the sun, with their helmets and riding gloves sitting on the black leather seats. They all were wearing their customized jackets that served as their riding jackets. Danny had ordered them made just before the North Branch had collapsed. They were a hybrid of the riding jackets and the Haunter Gear jackets, having the look of riding jackets but with weapon sheaths and the soundless quality essential to Haunters. They also had the hoods that Gear jackets were known for, which were detachable as well. Danny still wore the special black Gear pants, which were padded on the thighs. She wore so many sheaths that they served as a sort of armor, and Danny's boots were knee high and padded, making her legs both protected and lethal. Savage wore a similar setup, both of them having sheathes strapped to all areas of their bodies, but the difference being that he wore eight inch high black combat boots. Nathaniel was the same as Savage, just with considerably less blades and more armor.

They took the helmets and gloves and put them on, revving the engines as they mounted their bikes. They roared down the dirt road, hidden by the trees until they reached the highway. They raced down the road at top speed, not worrying about losing gas in the process since it was easily replaced. Cars honked at them, driver yelled at them, but they were going too fast to make out what they were staying and they didn't really care. They stayed in a tight formation, breaking it only to pass a car that wouldn't allow them to remain in it. Danny was grinning as they rushed past the border to Texas in next to no time, her brothers looking forward as they pressed on to New Orleans. Cops would try and halt them, but they were either compelled or easily outran by the fast and agile motorcycles the three Prodigies rode.

They were going to make Klaus wish he never heard of their names.

There was a warehouse before them now, a great one that had been abandoned when the things it produced were no longer needed. The three Prodigies of the West Branch stormed forwards into the large building, the scent of an Original Hybrid filling their oversensitive noses. The hoods they wore cast their features in shadow. One of the three, the one known to his enemies as Ares, was in front of the other two. The one known as Savage was to Ares' right, and the one known as Shadow was to his left. The two Assassin Prodigies flanked the Berserker Prodigy soundlessly, both of them wearing scarves over their features that were not cloaked in their hoods' shadows. The three of them walked forward with a purpose in their stride, their red eyes glinting under their hoods.

Vampires that were compelled to their enemies side trembled in fear at the sight of them, the legends that surrounded these three were terrifying enough to make even the most brave of them cower in horror. The vampires stayed in the shadows, hoping to not be noticed by the three Night Haunters. The rumors had spread past just the Night Guardians and the werewolves, the entire supernatural world knew of the existence of these three spreading world wide far faster then one could comprehend. Stories told by the light of the moon that portrayed these three as omens of destruction, as Death's Children. They needed only to see all the knives and blades on the two Assassin Prodigies, and the massive ax on the back of the Berserker, to know that these were the ones from those legends. They knew enough treat them as they would an Original vampire, as if they were royalty.

"Niklaus Mikelson!" Ares roared, the air thick with tension, "Show yourself!"

The Original in question appeared fifty feet in front of them from the shadows, "Demanding the presence of an Original is either extremely brave, or an unforgivable mistake, wouldn't you agree, Nathaniel?"

The two Assassin Prodigies flanking "Nathaniel" suddenly jumped up into the rafters of the warehouse, soundlessly executing the feat without flaw as they found themselves watching from a bird's eye view the best fight they probably would see for a good while. Ares unholstered his massive ax as he yelled his response, "You tried to kill my family. That was the unforgivable mistake, Klaus!"

"What?" Klaus laughed, not looking intimidated in the slightest, "The thought of losing another girl under your tender care too much for you to handle, Ripper?"

Ares roared at Klaus' comment, the jibe seeming to bring up painful memories. Ares rushed forward and brought his ax down on the Original. The Hybrid dodged to the left, the grin still on his face turned to shock as he realized that he almost lost his head. The ax blade went too fast for even vampire perception to pick up its movement. As Ares followed through with his swing, he turned and maintained the ax's momentum so that he brought it down in relatively no time between the swings. The blade bit deep into the ground at the Hybrid's feet. Klaus jumped up with vampire speed and landed in the rafters of the warehouse.

Only he didn't remain there long since there were two Assassin Prodigies throwing knives into each of his joints, the blades soaked with a flesh eating poison. Klaus dodged the knives, taking a few to the gut before he was forced to drop back onto the ground where Ares was waiting. When he reached the ground, he went low, barely dodging another horizontal ax slash from the Berserker, and raced to the left to put some distance between the two of them. His speed was greater then that of Ares, as was his strength, but he for some reason found himself at a disadvantage. The Original found himself infuriated by this fact, stopping in his tracks to surge back at the Prodigy challenger. Ares chuckled evilly, his eyes flashing a menacing glare as he brought down his ax in a cleaving motion exactly where the Hybrid would be. But the handle of his ax suddenly snapped, the now free blade embedding itself in the wall across the warehouse. Klaus' hand was closed around Ares' heart in a vice grip, grinning triumphantly.

"Was that all you have to offer, Nathaniel?" Klaus laughed, "Maybe I should finish you off this time? Giving you mercy more then once seems a little too generous for my taste."

Ares' maniacal laugh filled the dead silence of the warehouse, echoing in every single spectating vampires ears and making them tremble, as his eyes glowed with an insidious blood red, "You talk as if you've won, you arrogant piece of crap. This fights not over until your begging me for mercy!"

Ares grabbed the arm that held his heart quickly, and snapped it in half. Klaus yelped in surprise, grunting in pain as he withdrew his arm and clutched it to his body while it began to heal. Ares surged towards him, his fangs bared as he uppercutted the wounded Original. The Hybrid was sent flying across the warehouse, only a grunt of pain was his response to the blow. Nathaniel appeared before him, and proceeded to crush each and every bone that had anything to do with moving Klaus had. Then he placed his foot on Klaus' chest, pressing hard enough to almost break the skin, and produced a strange metal wand-like device. When Ares clicked a small bottom on the handle, the end of it glowed red hot with the metal shaped it a brand shape. Then Ares pressed the branding device onto Klaus' left pec, the skin sizzling as it was charred. The brand said simply, "Ares". Klaus yelled in agony as the brand seared into his skin.

"Whenever you wake up," Ares growled, pressing harder into the Hybrids chest with his heel and broke through the skin, "You should thank Elijah. If it wasn't for my respect for his power I'd rip your spine out and take your head as a trophy. But this will have to suffice."

He retrieved his branding device, tossing it aside as he dropped to his knees and began to pummel Klaus to a pulp with all his strength without making him go unconscious. His face was bruised and battered, beyond recognition, as Ares slowly lessened his pace until he stopped.

With Klaus barely conscious, but enraged beyond reason just the same, Klaus watched as Ares placed his booted foot in the exact same place as before, pressing even harder. Klaus, as evidenced by the pained expression that wrapped around his furious gaze, could feel Ares' boot break past his organs and stomp down to the ground. Blood splattered all around the Original, Ares chuckling slightly as the action was carried out. Klaus watched as Ares turned his back, all attention away from the broken Hybrid. Ares looked up into the rafters, where the two Assassin Prodigies remained as they had casually watched the entire skirmish.

"I think I got enough blood, don't you?" He said, almost too casually.

The two vampires dropped like shadows from the rafters, landing soundlessly in tandem with on another. They both stood at the same time, and both crossed their arms before saying in unison, "Yeah. Plenty."

Ares chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck, "Well, let's grab the guy's blood and got out of here. All these new-bloods are starting to annoy me with their scent."

Danny was amazed, completely shocked, actually, that Nathaniel was able to defeat an Original Vampire.

He caught the Hybrid off guard, Danny knew, which wasn't going to happen a second time. She walked in formation with her brothers to their bikes, slipped on her riding gear, and drove off with them to find the Hybrids that were rumored to be guarding the city of New Orleans.

The vials of Klaus' blood, the only cure for a werewolf bite, were safely stored in three groups evenly distributed among Danny and her brothers. She had suggested they take advantage of the opportunity to obtain that blood, since Nathaniel had been so sure about defeating the powerful Original. Danny remained silent through the entire fight, watching with great enjoyment as her brother demolished the man who was responsible for Nick's involuntary betrayal. There had been an entire militia of vampires spectating the fight as well, though they seemed to be more worried that Danny and Savage were going to appear out of no where and slaughter them all then watching the fight half the time. Danny found it both entertaining and surprising that her reputation had spread past the borders of the shadow war the Night Haunters and werewolves were having. The Hunters were starting to butt in on all the battles at this point, taking slivers of territory here and there, but really going for the death of both the werewolves and vampires.

Danny raced in formation down the back streets of New Orleans with her brothers, her face set in an expression of determination. Then she sensed an odd presence, something that made her stomach feel slightly uneasy. Danny pulled ahead of the formation and signaled for a stop. Two flashes of their headlights was their confirmation as Danny lead them to a gas station.

There were two cars parked in front of the convenience store, one of the rear view mirrors flashing a reflected glare of sunlight into Danny's sensitive vampire eyes and making her flinch slightly. The glass wall of the store, plastered with advertisements for their products and gas prices, revealed there to be a group of men that seemed to be shadily hanging around the isles of the store. The store clerk seemed to be nervously eyeing the three vampires as they dismounted their bikes, and took off their riding gloves and helmets. Danny dramatically flipped her hair, her locks landing perfectly as she placed her helmet onto the seat of her bike, the red streak in her black hair standing out vibrantly in the sunlight. Savage and Nathaniel flanked her, as she lead the way towards the store's entrance. The men in the store were now all noticing their approach.

The shady men looked her way, one by one, as Danny shoved the door to the store open wide enough for the three of them to enter without having to hold it open. The clerk was fidgeting now, as Danny casually grabbed a candy bar from the shelf and placed it on the counter for him to scan. He took a breath, his attitude telling Danny it wasn't nervousness out of fear of death, but just a case of his finding Danny extremely attractive. Danny wanted to laugh at how misplaced the boy's taste was in women, to find a mass murdering, blood-sucking undead assassin attractive. Savage and Nathaniel didn't seem to notice the clerk, both of them leaning on the counter with their backs to the boy and their attention on their surrounding.

He gently grabbed the candy and scanned the product, "That will be a dollar and eight cents, ma'am."

Danny produced the money and handed it to the clerk, turning around and beginning to leave. The scent was now assaulting her nose, as she resisted the urge to throw up from the subsequent nauseousness.

It came directly from the group of men hanging around the isles. She gave one of them a challenging, nasty look that all but begged for the group to follow them. Their leader, more or less, seemed to smirk and whisper to his friends. Danny could hear his words, pulling up her scarf to hide her own triumphant smirk as they began to rise. Savage and Nathaniel pushed off of the counter and followed Danny out of the store without a word. Nathaniel noticed what Danny had done, and was grinning evilly again, while Savage's scarf hid his own small smirk.

Danny turned right and followed the perimeter of the store until they were in the alley between it and an adjacent building. The footsteps of the group followed them the entire way. Danny stopped, keeping her back to the men as they approached. Her brothers followed her lead, as the three of them awaited their opponents.

"So, princess," The leader said to Danny's back, "You got beef with us or something? You and your little body guards need to be taught a lesson?"

Danny kept her back to them, but turned her head so that she could see them out of the corner of her eye, "What is it with everyone calling me that?"

Nathaniel chuckled, seemingly to ignore Danny's comment, "Yeah, we got beef with you idiots. You guys stink like wet dog covered in some terrible off brand deodorant."

"What?" The leader looked confused, and angered by the insult.

"We're gonna ask you losers once," Danny said, slowly turning to the group of enemies with a death glare to rival Savage's own scarring her features, "You make us upset, you lose a finger. You make us irritated, you lose an eye. You make us mad...your friends will find this alley painted with your blood."

Savage turned this time, speaking in a ghostly, demon like growl that turned some of the group pale, "Are you all Hybrids or not?"

"What the-?"

"Wrong. Answer." Nathaniel vanished in a burst of speed, reappearing behind the group. Two of their bodies dropped to the ground, their heads rolling the other way.

The faces of the men went pale at the sight of their fallen comrades blood splattered all over the alleyway. Danny had been splattered by some of it, the color of the liquid matching the glowing red of her eyes as she approached the men with fangs bared. The leader stepped in her way, whether it was out of bravery or foolishness Danny would never know. The bared his own fangs, which were on both the top and bottom jaw, and his eyes turned black with the iris a golden color. Danny was rather unimpressed by the sight of the hybrid, hoping for them to be at least a little more intimidating to make the whole battle interesting, but sighed in defeat on the subject as she looked into the leader's eyes.

The group of hybrids took after their Alpha, growling and baring their teeth at Danny and her brothers as if to challenge them boldly to fight. Danny chuckled evilly, much like Nathaniel had moments ago, as she felt pity for these dogs that had been enslaved by Klaus.

"You are all going to drown in your own blood," Danny said, pulling up her scarf to cover her features, her eyes glowing a blood red luster as she vanished in a burst of vampire speed. Savage followed right behind her, throwing two knives into corresponding skulls before disappearing in a burst of speed as well.

Nathaniel laughed as two of the remaining five tried to flee at the terrifying sight of the two assassin vampires, crushing their skulls by grabbing them and giving a slight squeeze. Of the three that remained after that, they were each standing sort of back-to-back with their hands morphed into claws and their fangs still bared. Savage and Danny reappeared from seemingly nowhere, both crossing their arms and looking at them with a sort of disappointment. They both had thought they would be at least a little harder to kill, but found that making sure that they couldn't bite them forced the fight to be extremely one sided. They didn't want to waste the limited cure they had just because they got too arrogant and allowed them to inject that venom into their systems. Danny did not want to die because of something as stupid and childish as arrogance, no matter how strong and powerful she was.

"Three on three, huh?" One of the hybrids said, "We can take you idiots on! One bite from us and you're dead!"

Savage chuckled, "You're right that we'd be done for with one bite. But where you're wrong is that we aren't your ordinary 'idiots'."

"Oh yeah?" The hybrid said, as if to challenge Savage.

"We each have all slaughtered at least a few hundred werewolves with our own hands. Since you are the first hybrids we have met and killed, I'll spare you the the time it would take for you to realize how hopeless your situation is. If you tell us where we can find the rest of your kind, we might spare you."

"We would never surrender to a couple bloodsuckers!" The hybrid roared.

"Oh well," Danny said, sounding sympathetic before her tone went cold, "My brothers, they're all your's."

They flinched, looking to the very intimidating figures of Savage and Nathaniel. Savage started to step slowly towards them, a short sword already unsheathed and ready to dice them all up. Nathaniel grinned, cracking his knuckles as he himself approached. The hybrids' vision flicked to the two opposing forces of death as they drew closer and closer. When there was no more space for them to cringe away, they all struck out with their claws and snaps of their jaws. One was lucky enough to give Nathaniel a deep claw mark on the right side of his face. But other then that singular instance. The hybrids didn't stand a chance against the two most deadly Haunters in existence.

They fell just as their comrades before them, and collapsed in a heap of flesh onto the cold asphalt.

And they were not the last to fall.

By the end of that week, the streets of New Orleans were littered by the bodies of hybrids. The public found the bodies, the police proclaiming Savage, Nathaniel, and Danny mass murderers at the top of the Wanted list. News spread like wild fire across the nation of the killings in New Orleans, the world watched as the death toll continued to rise and more and more bodies were found. Hunters somehow found the spotlight in some of the news programs, telling the exact description of what they knew the three of them to look like: Dark clothing, glowing red eyes, knives and blades of every kind, hoods that hid their faces from sight. Terror that the killings would branch out from New Orleans gripped the surrounding area, as the citizens started to buy better defense systems for their homes.

Savage found a computer on the black market that had a sufficient amount of processing power and access to the network and had hacked into the news program as a sort of joke to play on the population. When he got in he had made the words appear in the news feed, "Only the Dead will see the end of war." a quote from Plato that Savage found interesting. The words were in a blood red and a terrifying font.

The response by the people was almost full blown rioting in some areas, as they were so afraid that the government would not be able to protect them. Danny and Nathaniel had a good laugh at the reactions from the world to Savage's stunt, but they soon realized that not everyone was going to find this as entertaining as they were. Michael had contacted them, as well as the other two remaining Branch Commanders, and told them angrily of the tense atmosphere their jokes had caused. Then Nathaniel had heard from the vampire Haunter he had left in charge of the Branch in his absence.

The news was so surprising and infuriating, that Nathaniel had crunched the phone to practically powder without even realizing it. But they had all heard what the Haunter had said before that had occurred. And Danny and Savage were as full of rage as Nathaniel was.

The words echoed in their skulls as they raced west. They seethed as those words hammered against their skulls the entire ride back home.

The West Branch had fallen.

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