Karen followed the gentleman into the mansion before her. 48 hours earlier her life had been turned upside down when he had appeared next to her and told her that she would become part of an elite group of people who had the ability to see and defeat beings that were not of this world.
Karen had laughed at him and continued on her way, assuming he was crazy.
That is until she had been faced with one of those so-called creatures and had been almost killed before the said stranger had saved her. After that, she had meekly followed him and now she found herself here, in front of this old mansion, on an island in the middle of a sea. She had no idea where she was or what was in store for her, but she was ready for anything.
“Are you coming Ms. Karen?” The gentleman, now known as Mr. Lee to her, asked as he stood in front of the door.
She stepped over the threshold of the house and looked around, immediately taking in the two people coming down the stairs as Mr. Lee, continued.
“This will be your new home.”
She had already figured that part out, but who was she to contradict the man that had saved her life.
“It is split into different suites so each person may have their own space. The main study with desks for each person is through the door on the left. Through the second door on your left is a library and there is a lounge for formal company through the first door on the right. The second door on your right will lead to the dining room and kitchen.”
“You will eat your meals together and once a month you and your partner are required to met with the president.”
Karen listened to Mr. Lee ramble as she continued to watch the couple descend from the staircase and approach them, stopping to wait while Mr. Lee continued to speak to her, making no attempt to hide their perusal of her.
“You are free to roam the grounds as much as you like. There are different buildings throughout the grounds for different things.” Mr. Lee continued after giving a nod to the couple, at least, she thought they were a couple.
“The one next to the house on the left is the combat building and the one on the right is where the president is located. You will be taken to him after you have had time to freshen up and get settled in.” He turned to the couple. “I assume you received my message?”
“Yes. All the preparations are in motion.” The lady spoke in a soft, gentle voice.
Mr. Lee turned back to the lady beside him. He had yanked the rug out from underneath her and he knew she was scared. However, there was not time for him to consider her feelings. They were running out of time as it was.
“Once you have met your partner and completed the required training, you will be assigned a job and you will then have a bit more freedom. For now, though, all of your movements are confined to the compound.” He finished, waiting for the questions that always came.
“How long does that usually take?” Karen asked quietly, feeling all the eyes, seen and unseen on her.
Not the question he had expected, but a valid one none the less.
“It depends on the person, but... usually around three months.”
She looked at him, still a bit dazed with everything that had happened in the last couple of days. At 26 years of age, she had had a stable job, a good income and a proper home that she had just bought. Now she would be starting all over.
Not for the first time she wondered what had happened to her peaceful life.
She gave herself a mental shake, trying to keep herself grounded in reality. After the attack on her life, he had taken her home and explained that she had a power in her that allowed her to see and destroy beings that came to earth to take over and destroy the human race.
She had struggled to accept something like that. This was fiction he was talking about, not reality. Finally, she had to admit she was not dreaming and this was going to be her new reality. Once she had accepted that he had continued to explain that she was to accompany him to a compound that would teach her how to defend and protect herself and the rest of humanity. They had then packed up some of her necessities, after he assured her that the rest of her stuff would follow, and had immediately set off for this place.
She thought back to the conversation that they had had on the plane. She had been staring out at the ocean trying to make sense of it all and had turned to him.
“Are you sure that I have this, this power, in me? I mean, It could just be an accident that I saw it. Right?”
“There is no mistake Ms. Karen. It is there or you would not be able to see them.” Mr. Lee assured her.
“Come now, do not freight. The others will be waiting when we get there.”
“Yes. There are more like you and they will help you through the process. Now try and get some rest.” Karen had nodded and tried to do as he had suggested.
Now she was here and it was all she could do not to run, screaming, from the hall.
She looked at the two people in front of her. They were both tall, blond and what could only be described as beautiful with classic features that you only read about in romance novels.
Karen wanted to roll her eyes. She obviously did not belong here with her short, round stature, dark eyes, and glasses. She turned around to leave, only to see a man shut the door and lean against it, blocking the only escape route she knew of. He seemed to know what she was thinking and gave her a humorless smile.
He was shorter than the others but was still quite tall compared to Karen. He towered over her 4′ 11" frame.
She wanted to really scream now. He too looked like he had stepped out of a romance novel what with his long, black, flowing, (there really was no other way to put it.) hair. At least It was well kept as it hung loosely around his shoulders. Her eyes scanned his well-defined muscles and broad shoulders. Seriously, the man was built like a tank, but it was his eyes that got to her. They were golden, like a hawk and they seemed to see right into her very thoughts.
She was waaaay out of her league here.
“Are you done?” He asked in a dry, yet smooth baritone voice and Karen immediately stepped back from him.
“Are you done with your perusal? Do you like what you see?” He spoke again, his voice like silk against the skin.
Karen blushed bright red and turned her back to him and looked at the two before her, well aware that all three were taking in her appearance as well and suddenly Karen was very self-conscious. All three of them were dressed casually in jeans and dress shirts, but they wore them well compared to her sad state of affair in her gypsy style skirt and tank top.
The lady stepped forward and extended her hand.
“Good day. My name is Lilith, Lily for short. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
Karen shook her hand. “Good day, ma’am.” She murmured as the man stepped forward.
“My name is Eric. It is a pleasure to finally meet the person that will be Talon’s partner. We have been waiting a long time for this day.”
Karen’s eyes widened slightly. This was not the first time she had heard the word partner and it frightened her more than the creatures that attacked her did.
She wondered who this Talon was and why they needed to be partners.
Lily turned and spoke to Mr. Lee.
“Did you have some trouble? It seems that you have not had a chance to explain everything to her yet.”
“We have had some complications with this one. I have not had a moment to really get into the details. If you would please take over now, I am needed elsewhere.” Mr. Lee told her and Lilith nodded. It must have been pretty rough if Mr. Lee had not been able to cover everything.
“I will leave her in your very capable hands then.” Mr. Lee bowed and left, glad to be gone before Talon got into the mix. Things were going to heat up quickly.
“Complications?” Eric mused, “What complications?”
“It seems that there were other... creatures... following us most of the way and Mr. Lee had to take care of them,” Karen explained, still quite aware that there was a person behind her. She tried to keep her focus on the lady and gentleman before her, but it was hard.
“Mr. Lee had quite the time keeping them at bay until we got back on land and then he had to rest. It seems that he got injured.”
“I see,” Lily spoke up. “It seems that you have already become a target. It is good that we got you here safely then.” She and Eric shared a look before she continued.
“Come, I will show you to your room and fill you in on everything that Mr. Lee was unable to. If you would follow me.” She gestured towards the steps and allowed Karen to fall into line with her.
Karen glanced back once to see the man that was still leaning against the door. He did not look happy and he was staring at her intently. She blushed when he gave her a saucy, yet cold smile and hurried to catch up to where Lily was waiting for her.
As they walked up the steps, Lily started to chat.
“You will be on the third floor with Talon.” There was that name again! Who was he, Karen wondered.
“Eric and I have the second floor and Evan and Emerald are on the fourth. Then there is Michael and Carrie. They live on the first floor.” She laughed when Karen just stared at her. “Do not worry. You will get it soon enough.”
“I hope.” Karen murmured to herself, already confused.
Lily opened a door at the end of a short hallway on the third floor and ushered Karen into a spacious sitting room.
“This is your suite. The door on the left leads to your bedroom and bath. The one on the right leads to your own personal study and library and the one in front leads to a spare room that you can design yourself. The room is soundproof and you are welcome to decorate it any way you wish. Right now it is a matching set with Talon’s room, but do as you wish with it.”
Lilith motioned for Karen to sit on one of the two couches.
“Now. I do not know what Mr. Lee has told you and what he has not so please forgive me if I repeat anything. Let’s see... where to start? I suppose the beginning would be best.”
Karen nodded and sat as Lily took her duffle bag and placed it in her bedroom before coming back.
Lily sat down and brushed the imaginary dirt off of her pants and looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows for a moment before turning back to Karen.
Karen waited patiently. After all, she had no other place to be right now.
“Let’s see. To put it in simple terms, we are a small group of humans, and yes we are human, that have been found to possess a certain gene called, for lack of a better word, the power gene. I know, stupid name. Especially since this is not a gene at all though. To put it rather crudely, it is a mutation in our makeup that allows a substance that is in the air around us to enter our body and combine with this ‘gene’ to create what we call our power core that gives us special abilities. The most prominent ability allowing us to see and destroy beings from other worlds.” Lilith paused. “Are you with me so far?”
Karen nodded as Lily poured them some tea and then took a sip.
“I am pretty sure I understand that part. Continue please.”
“Now, humans have not needed these ‘powers’ up until about twenty years ago, so they knew nothing of them. However, about twenty years ago the first... being, let's call them, appeared on earth and a human with said power just happened to be there and through sheer dumb luck was able to defeat it. Since then governments from all over the world have sought out and used those that have this ability to track and destroy these creatures.”
“What about other humans?”
“What do you mean?”
“I was told that they cannot see these... beings. Can they see us fighting them?”
“No,” Lilith replied, explaining.
“We have containment fields that we put up as soon as we detect the presence of one. It controls the damage and keeps the rest of the humans out so they will not get hurt. But understand this right now.” Lilith looked right at Karen when she spoke. “They can and will harm humans, even if you cannot.”
“Uh?” Karen was confused. Why would she want to harm a human?
“We each have specific weapons that we fight with. Though your weapon can kill a being, it cannot harm a human. I will say this again, so do not forget it.” Lilith made sure that Karen was looking directly at her. “Your weapon cannot harm another human being. Only the beings. You cannot harm another human, even if you want to.” Lily turned and looked out the window.
Karen wondered why she felt that was so important. Something must have happened.
“How long have you been here?” Karen asked quietly, not ready to have any discussion about weapons and killing beings. Frankly, she did not want to know right now.
“It has been ten years since Eric and I were found and brought here.” She smiled, remembering her first couple of months. Back then there had only been Carrie and Michael to help them through the coupling process. Now they had Evan and Emerald and then Talon came and now Karen.
“So how many people have this mutation?” Karen asked as she sipped her tea.
“It seems that this is quite the rare mutation and so far there are only eleven known people to have it. Therefore, we are well protected and taken care of in compensation for what we are put through.”
“May I ask another question?”
“You can ask anything you want,” Lilith replied. “I may not answer, but you can ask.”
Karen smiled at that. At least she was honest. Lilith let out a sigh and took another sip of her tea before explaining.
“You keep speaking about partners. Could you explain a bit more?”
“Of course. It seems that the powers we possess work best when they are combined with another, but not just any other.” Lilith continued to explain. “The other person is designed for you specifically. Let me see if I can explain this.”
Lily set down her teacup and leaned back in her chair when she caught hold of Karen’s confused look.
“It seems that when Eric and I first met, there was a reaction between our power cores that was not known before. When we were first found, they had kept us separate, feeling that if they spread us out, we would be most effective. That was not the case it seemed. Once we reacted, we found that we were stronger as a unit and they kept us together. It was thought that it could happen with any other power cores, but the government was not certain until Carrie and Michael came. That is when it became apparent that there is only one other power core that will react with another.”
“So each person has there own ‘soul mate’.” Karen put it into terms as she understood it.
“So what happens if one is lost?”
Lily sighed. “It depends on the person. For the president, his power greatly diminished, so now he trains others. For Mr. Lee... He took on his partner's power at their death and he now works alone, unable to mate with another. As for Spencer... well, the burden was too much and he chose to follow his partner into death.”
“Why was it so different for them?”
“I think it had to do with their type of bond.”
“Type of Bond? There is more than one way to bond?”
“Mm. There are three types of bonds between partners that we are aware of.” Lily answered. Now Karen was getting confused. First, there was the power thing, then there was the partner thing, now there was the bond thing.
Lilith smiled. “Still with me?” She asked.
“I think so,” Karen replied, not sure if she really was. “Explain the bonds to me.”
She needed to know as much as possible if she was going to survive and they had not even talked about her specific partner yet.
Lilith gave her a nod and continued.
“You will have to forgive the corny titles, we did not pick them, we just have to live with them.” She explained.
“The first is the ‘love’ bond. This is where the partners not only mate through their power cores but also with their hearts and minds. It is the second strongest of the bonds, but the most stable. The president had this kind of bond so when he lost his partner, his power diminished with the loss.”
Karen nodded her understanding. It made sense, but why second strongest, shouldn’t it be the strongest.
“Why the second?” She asked.
“Because although loving someone and having their love in return is a strong emotion, hate is stronger than love, which brings us to the second kind of bond. The ‘Hate’ bond.” Lilith explained.
“Although it is the strongest because of the power of hate fuels it, it is the most unstable. Eventually, one will turn on the other and betray them, causing the other to die. Spencer had that kind of bond with his mate. The guilt of betraying her finally drove him to madness and he was destroyed as well.”
“That is too bad.” Karen nodded. It was sad to think that that had to happen to someone. To betray another... she could not imagine it.
“The final bond is probably the hardest to watch and is the weakest of the bonds. We call it the ‘love/hate’ bond.”
“The ‘love/hate’ bond?” Karen asked, pretty sure she knew what was coming. The title gave it away.
“Yes. It is when one person loves the other, but the other cannot return the emotion. They will either completely hate that person or they will be indifferent to their emotion. It is probably the most painful to watch. Usually ending with one sacrificing themselves for the survival of the other. Mr. Lee’s partner was the one in love. It seems that when she was killed she gave her power to him, allowing him to have the strength of them both. I think it was her way of staying with him forever.”
“I see,” Karen replied.
“Does it have to be male/Female partners?” She asked.