My team of five enters the subway behind me, removing the heads of a couple of nesting strigoi in passing. “On your right!” I say, to Damien as a strigoi quickly makes it’s way to him, it’s stinger extended. With a quick swipe, the stinger’s flopping on the floor and the Strigoi’s screaming in pain. “Shut it up!” I say, continuing deeper into the subway. The annoying belting’s instantly silenced. Making our way deeper into the tunnel, our progress is immediately halted by a group of strigoi. Staring at us, they emit a guttural purring. Crouched in attack mode, they come at us quickly.
Spreading out we go at them, reducing their numbers. A stinger misses my face by a few inches, as i’m working on two other strigoi’s. Somethings not right there’s too many, we shouldn’t have this many to still contend with. “There’s a hole somewhere, we need to plug it!” Jessica tosses a few silver bombs into the darkness where we encountered the group of strigoi. “Fire in the hole!” She yells, as we all take cover. A loud bang, and the screeching is too much to bare. “All right, that’s all I need to know! Let’s get out of here!” I instruct the group. We make a hasty retreat back to the surface.
Now that we’ve located another nest, we’ll blow it up to trap the bastards down there. Prolonged time without blood won’t kill them, but it will hold them until we can figure something out. Meeting with the General, i’m expecting a “Job well done” speech, instead i’m hit with a transfer. “What? No, I can’t move my mother again, she’s just getting used to Boston.”
“It’s not up for discussion, you go where we need you.” I’ve always had a problem with authority, so I don’t know why I signed up for this shit... I could have stayed my ass in North Carolina, the weather’s good, the strigoi numbers are lower than average, and my mother was somewhat happy. Since the master’s death we’ve been able to live a life similar to the time before the strigoi. Yeah sure, we’ve been reduced to living in communities behind steel walls as high as skyscrapers, and using metro rails connected to each community to travel, but hey we’re surviving.
“And if I refuse?” I say, on the verge of saying fuck it all! “You and your mother will be reduced to level 2 citizens. You can cook, am I correct?” I’m an expert at boiling water. “I’ll go but my mother stays here, and she’ll keep her level 4 citizenship.”
“Of course, as per your contract.” I want to smack that smug look off of his face, the bastard. I opt for a fake smile, and a roll of my eyes as I leave.
Telling my mother of my transfer is what I expected it to be, her weeping almost brings me to tears. “Mama I’ll be fine...” My use of the adolescent title for her causes her to burst out in a fresh batch of tears. “I’ll be so lonely...I’ve lost your father and now i’ve lost you.”
“If I don’t go, they’re going to move us down to level 2 citizens. That sobers her up a little, my being a huntress affords us level 4 citizenship with the perks of a higher qualify living district, food, healthcare and domestic helpers. “You have friends in the community, and if you get over your phobia of the metro rail, you can get out and see the other communities.” I say, kissing her on the forehead. I’m going to miss her theatrics.
Being driven through the streets of this disaster zone, I’m disgusted at what New York has been turned into. The radiation is long gone, but the squalid aftermath is abysmal. Looking up into the sky, a single ray of sunlight in all this gray is a welcome sight. The sun has yet to show it’s full beautiful face after all these years, but some say that there is hope.
New Yorkers refused to hide behind steel cages, and they’re paying the cost. The natives are almost extinct, with the highest rate of strigoi infection. Entering a large compound guarded by soldiers, our wrists are scanned before being let through. I’m taken to my sleeping quarters, by a tall attractive soldier with a southern accent. Opening the door i’m amazed at the splendor of the decorations. It’s a large Victorian styled room beautifully furnished. “You must be really important...” He says, remarking on the size and opulence of the room. “No, I just hunt the bad guys.”
“A huntress, you must be good at what you do, to be working with him.”
“Have you met him?”
“No, but i’ve seen him.”
“What does he look like?”
I have a light chuckle at his words. “I’ll be back at seven to escort you to dinner.”
“I get an armed escort?”
“Yes ma’am for the whole week. He likes his counterparts to be well received.”
“I can find my way on my own.”
“Oh no, the pleasures all mine. I get an upgrade in sleeping quarters, dining, and not to mention a pretty face to look at for seven days.”
“I like you, you’re a realist.
“It’s the only way to be, ma’am.
“It’s Cori.” I say, offering my hand. “River.” He says, taking my hand in his, instead of shaking it he kisses it. A true gentleman...
“I’ll see you at seven.”
“Seven it is...” I’m a sucker for the northern accent, but his southern drawl’s definitely a panty dropper.
Upon waking from my nap, i’m showered and ready to meet Mr. Quintus and the gang. River’s on time, knocking on my door exactly at seven. “What’s wrong?” I ask, at his confused look. “Well... it’s a formal affair.” I look him over in his “black ops” getup. “You’re not exactly dressed for the occasion either.”
“Everyone must know their place, even if they’ve been granted certain...temporary privileges.” Soldiers are level 3 citizens, they should be level 4. They may not actively go out and hunt the strigoi, but they do their part protecting the people from them. “I’ll wait outside while you change.”
Yeah right, i’m hungry and who wants to be decked out in heels and a dress, if the strigoi some how manages to breech the walls of this place. This compound is too open and unsafe. “Nope, im fine.” His devious smirk, causes me to shift uncomfortably. Dark hair, sexy brown eyes, tall athletic frame. Yeah... Mr. River and I are going to get along famously. “I can already tell that you’re going to be trouble.” He says offering his arm to me.
All in attendance stands, when he enters the room. I’m the last to come to my feet, wondering “what the hell is all this”. He’s not a god. “No, but I am your savior.” His gaze directed at me, he removes his hood as everyone turns to watch me. I forgot about his ability to read minds, but since he called me out, I silently give him my analysis. Odd pale discoloring of the skin, elongated ears, the palest blue eyes that i’ve every seen, and the neck gives evidence of a stinger, so he probably doesn’t have a prick. “Your thoughts?” Asks a jolly General with amusement in his eyes. “Nothing you say will hurt Quinlan’s feelings, he doesn’t have any.” He adds, with a chuckle. The rooms quiet, everyone looking at me expectantly.
“She’s wondering if I have a prick.” He says taking a seat. The room erupts in laughter. “Trouble with a capital “T”. River whispers to me, and I can’t help smiling. “And even more beautiful when she smiles.” I manage to get through dinner, with River’s witty banter to keep me entertained. He’s intelligent, gorgeous and single. “Are you a psycho?” He’s walking me back to my rooms when I drop the question, i’ve been dying to ask all evening. “Where did that come from?”
“Well you’re attractive, funny, can hold a decent conversation... there’s got to be something wrong with you, if you’re single.”
“It’s kind of hard to establish a serious relationship with everyone dying daily.”
“Yeah, but no special someone, anyone?”
“No. Why are you interested?”
“I might be.”
“Well, when you figure it out, let me know.” He says, opening the door for me. “Have a goodnight.”
“You as well.”