White Tiger of the West

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Old Ones

Chapter One – A year later

“Focus Rylee!” Maki shouted as she held out punch mitts. Rylee’s attention snapped back to her friend. Maki yelled out combos and Rylee executed them with as much speed and power she could muster. She could feel the strain and fatigue in her shoulders and thighs. She and Maki had been training now for a year and Rylee could see how she changed from being casually fit to being almost as hard as rock. She could run faster for longer, her muscles had toned defining her arms, her abs rippled under her black tank top. They had been at this now for an hour when Maki took off her mitts and smacked Rylee with them. “What is your deal?” She yelled, placing them back on the rack. They got up earlier in the morning to run a few miles, lift, and do punch mitts, before Rylee had class. Then in the evening they sparred before Maki had class. Every day for a year. Rylee met her gaze.

“I don’t know!” She exclaimed back.

“What are you going to do when you’re fighting one of them and you lose focus?’ She asked questioningly, her eyebrows raising.

“I don’t know.” She responded more quietly picking up her bottle with protein power in it and filled it with water shaking it and taking a long swig from it. “I’m going to talk a walk before class. Clear the cobwebs.” She added. Maki nodded, thinking that might do some good. Rylee turned around pulling off her gloves and tossed them in to her bag along with her sweaty hand wraps. The stink rousing from them reminded her she needed to wash them…soon. She nodded to Maki and left putting in her head phones.

The cool breeze felt good against her wet skin, it also chased away the heat that made her skin flush. She listened intently as the music started, she didn’t blare it like she noticed some kids do, and she kept it to where she could her it as well as hear what was happening around her. She stepped onto the path that led through the small wooded area on campus. It felt nice to finally take a break from training and enjoy the freshness the spring air had to offer. She took deep breaths sucking in as much air as she could and let it out slowly.

He watched from a distance, noticing when she stepped outside to put her headphones in. When the wind blew he could smell the salt from her sweat, when the sunlight shined down upon her, she glistened. The light hit the little droplets of liquid on her skin. He watched her always… Soon he’d come to know her. He watched as she stepped onto the path leading into the woods, he would have thought after the attack the first time, she’d be wise enough not to wander out on her own, even in the sun. He looked down at the ruby red stone on his right hand. His birthstone protected him from the sun. He had discovered a while ago that it was the color of your birthstone that could protect against the sun, if the stone was genuine. He decided he had waited long enough, he was going to introduce himself. Watching, he disappeared from his perch and appeared 10 feet from where she would soon pass.

The battery on her mp3 died and she placed the device inside her pocket. She knew better than not to charge it even when she thought I had enough battery life. Coming across the small stream that ran through the woods like an artery through a human being, she knelt. At the edge she cupped her hands under the surface of the cool water and drank. Letting the water slide down her throat cooling and soothing as it went. A sudden snap of twigs spun her around. A man with thick black hair and framed green eyes, almost as if he wore eye liner, stood before her. He was dressed in black jeans that conformed to his body and a forest green under armor t-shirt that lucidly showed off the definite muscles in his stomach. His arms filled the width of the sleeves, making it seem as though the seam was about to rip. His hands came up.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to startle you, but I’m new and I’m lost.” His voice was deep and strong like that of a tree firmly planted in the ground. “I’m Nate Cypher.” He held out his hand. She watched him having no intention of shaking it.

“Rylee Matthews.” She gave him her name not sure if she should have.

He watched, anger surged through him as he watched her. How? How did he get here before me? He asked watching the stranger, observing his movements. This fellow was not human, and he was in his way. The girl seemed to be debating, she didn’t trust the strange man no doubt, and her training had taught her that. Yet she walked with him. He was going to be a problem a big one if not taken care of. The unseen man watched as Rylee walked the other to campus. His anger, for now, was pushed aside. Like him the other must know of what the girl is, drawn by her power.

He watched as she ducked to get the water from the stream, thinking of the best way to introduce himself, when she suddenly spun around. He realized, when he looked down that he’d snapped a twig. The color of her eyes struck him first they were like he was standing on the tallest of mountains looking across the greenest of grass, they intensified and broke apart like what would happen if you shined a light through a prism. The colors separated, he could see green, brown, yellow, and a little bit of red around the pupil. As soon as he had seen it, it was gone when she stepped out of the light. He looked at her raising his hands in a white flag motion. He didn’t think there was an ounce of fat on her just lean defined muscle. Rylee Matthews. Even as she gave him her name she was weary about it. Good… Don’t trust anyone, not even me. He thought as he followed her to campus. He knew his way, he just wanted to see if the legend was true.

“Mr. Gillian’s class is to the right.” She indicated with her finger as she pointed. He nodded, flashing a brilliant smile. Revealing whitened, straight teeth.

“Ah, thanks again. Maybe I’ll see you around.” He asked leaving the bait.

“Maybe.” She answered with no sudden emotion. Bait half taken. He thought as he turned and walked down the hall to his class.

She watched him turn away from her. She herself turned away to take a quick shower before her class.

She pulled her psych book and took notes. She listened intently as her professor lectured about the difference between how the brain of a normal functioning human being worked and that of a criminal of the highest order. Rylee found herself wondering if these theories could apply to creatures with unbeating hearts and no souls, then again some humans could be listed under those same characteristics anyway. Before the end of class she had two pages and a half pages of notes. The bell rang and she packed up going to meet Maki for a late lunch. She was where they always sat, a small table near the window that over looked the entire cafeteria so they could keep a look out on everything. “You better?” Maki asked. Rylee looked down at her tuna salad sandwich on wheat bread.

“Yeah. Walking helped.” Rylee said taking a large bite of her sandwich. Maki nodded eating her usual noodles and half sandwich.

“What the hell’s your problem?” A man yelled, Rylee turned to see a large kid, probably the college’s quarter back standing in front of a blond woman, probably his girlfriend.

“Marc please, sit.” She said quietly.

“I asked you to do one thing and your dumbass couldn’t do it.” Rylee watched as he raised his arm above his head. Just like that she was up. When his arm came down Rylee was between the girl and the player. She caught his wrist.

“And this is how men abuse the power they should never have gotten.” Rylee said throwing his arm to his side.

“Back off Rylee.” He said, puffing out his chest and flexing his muscles trying to intimidate her.

“How about you pick on someone your own size?” She said. He laughed and went to throw a punch, Rylee caught it and twisted it behind his back, once behind him she kicked the back of his knee and he fell to them.

“What’s going on here?” The dean of the campus said taking in the scene before him. Which consisted of Rylee having Marc pinned.

“Dean Martin please, she was just protecting me.” The blond turned to Rylee and mouth, thank you. Rylee nodded and released Marc. The old man looked to Rylee.

“Is this true?” He asked, Marc picked himself up from the floor to stand beside the dean.

“Yes, Dean Martin.” Rylee nodded respectfully. Marc looked out raged.

“Just like that, didn’t you see anything? She could have killed me!” He exclaimed. That’s when Rylee met his gaze with a sly smile. The dean gave Rylee a once over.

“Not hardly.” He said before pulling Marc away.

Rylee walked back to where she had previously been eating her sandwich. “I despise men like him. And there seems to be more of them over here than in China.” Maki said, witnessing the entire ordeal.

“Well he’s getting sloppy. Beating her in private I can do nothing about, but in public he can for damn well be sure I’m not standing by.” She said strongly sparing a second to look over her shoulder. The dean and Marc had left, and he would no doubt get off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist due in part of his social standing as the college quarter back.

Even though the kid was only human, she looked like a goddess dishing out justice. Her bright forest color eyes never wavered from the football player, though he did flex his biceps and puff out his chest, displaying his evident strength. She didn’t seem to notice, that or she didn’t care. He watched in anticipation when she brought him down to his knees, almost effortlessly. This girl had more power than even he knew. He no longer wanted that power, he wanted her.

Rylee couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched, but she shook it off when Maki asked if she was ready. Rylee nodded thus commencing the dance. Rylee lunged going for the knees, Rylee was easily taller and outweighed Maki by 75 pounds or more was dodged. Maki moved to the side leaving an elbow strike on the base of Rylee’s neck in her wake. She winced in pain. “Don’t go for the knees. It leaves you exposed to a counter attack and it takes to long.” Maki now in sensei mode explained as well as scolded at the same time. Rylee wondered if she had learned from Ip Man, who is known as a master of Wing Chun as well as being the one who taught Brue Lee.

They reset and Rylee tried again, trying a different approach. This time alternating offensive and defensive positions. Maki threw a knife hand intending for it to land, harmfully, to the base of Rylee’s neck. Rylee defensively moved the attack aside using the outside of her left forearm to brush it away while landing a two to the body (meaning when she blocked with her left she punched with her right). She finished with a left hook to the side of the head. Maki having caught the brunt of the body shot staggered out of reach for the hook, damaging if she’d caught it. “That’s it, very nice!” She said excitedly, commending Rylee on a job well done. A grunt swept away their attention.

Standing at the foot of the mat was a stranger Rylee had met out in the woods. “Mind if I cut in?” The question was directed toward Maki who paused. Rylee studied him for a split second trying to determine his intent. Finally she nodded to Maki, he stepped in her place. At least now Rylee didn’t have to hold back. “Ready?” He asked. Rylee nodded. With no delay he assaulted. Rylee dodged and blocked his assaults, switching to western boxing Rylee ducked under a jab he threw and landed an upper cut to what should have been soft tissue, but against her fist felt like cast iron. He recoiled away from her punch as if it hurt. His movements weren’t like that of a humans. They were quick and concise. Every move, twist, or turn was executed with elegance. Suddenly Rylee got a feeling of wrongness. Just like a switch being flipped, she went from light sparring to fighting. Fighting as if her life was in danger. He noticed the change and backed off, the gym thankfully, was empty. From the waistband of her pants she drew a hard wood stake pushing it against the hard marble skin of his heart.

“So Nate. I don’t suspect you’re lost this time.” Her voice was acidic. Maki backed away, ridiculously like she’d been hurt.

“I’m not here to hurt any of you.” His voice remained calm. Rylee could discern no quivering. The comment seemed genuine.

“What do you want, vampire.” At the last word she twisted the stake a little further into his skin.

“Easy. I’m not here to hurt either of you.” He made contact with Maki, but with the last comment his focus was entirely on Rylee. “I’m here to protect you.” His voice strengthened as he spoke. Rylee studied his green eyes looking for any reason to push the stake all the way through. She dropped him placing the stake back in waistband.

“It was very STUPID to spar me. If you didn’t intend to reveal yourself.” With that Rylee turned away.

From his place leaning against an oak tree he tisked. Now that was sure stupid… He thought with a slow smile. Now surely Nate knew she would discover him when they fought. She held up well against one of his kind, but of course, the battle was different when his kind was thirsty for blood.

“Perhaps you should have heard him out.” Maki suggested. Rylee looked up from where she was angrily shoving her equipment into her gym bag, she spun around.

“You’re joking right. He was one of them! Everything you’ve taught me says they are vile, evil, soulless creatures and it’s my destiny to eviscerate them!” Rylee heatedly and with passion spoke. Maki nodded.

“While that all is true. He is not one of them. He is an Old One. These vampires are not made they are born. They are specifically assigned to those who are chosen for protection.” She stepped closer her teeth ticking on the differences.

“You are my protection.” Rylee said, looking intently at her, Maki smiled sadly.

“Yes, but my power and skills are limited. His are not.” Maki added.

“How and I supposed to trust him?” Rylee asked. Maki smiled brightly.

“The second you accepted the celestial protector oath. He became your bound warrior.” She said with almost as much energy. Rylee glared at her, she was fuming. None of this was told to her, she was not told of any of this.

“Fine. Fine…whatever.” She growled. Maki nodded.

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