Chapter 85 - Victory
Rowan ended up face down on the floor with blood pouring from her nose and a split lip. If it were the first, fifth, or tenth time that day, it would be alright, but all she did was get up off the floor to hit it again a heartbeat later. Her body hurt, and each time she had to get up, it took more and more effort.
“Do you require assistance?” Alena asked less cordially than she could have. This wasn’t her sister Alena; this was vampire Alena - aloof, intense, slightly derisive and mildly superior, but mostly insufferably arrogant. The weird thing was that Rowan grew to realize that Alena every right to that arrogance.
Getting your butt whipped was one thing; having it handed to you? Something else entirely else.
“I think Angel’s finished playing, Marcus,” Alena drawled as she rose from her haunches and strolled toward Marcus, who observed them with less than indolent attention. He reminded Rowan of a predator readying itself to pounce. Some tiny part of her still found his intensity insufferably sexy.
Angel, Rowan frowned at the unexpected use of that name, which seemed to belong to some other version of herself, from a different lifetime and world. Something briefly stirred inside her at the memory, images too fleeting to properly grasp. Alien thoughts and concepts she barely recalled
Rowan rose from the ground in one smooth and powerful motion. She turned while doing so and landed facing Alena’s back. Rowan rushed forward in a blur of speed, and when she almost reached her target, the world gained a clarity she’d never experienced before. Something inside her disconnected, and reconnected in a whole different way.
Rowan’s perception of the world around her shifted as she found herself both focussing in on Alena, and taking a mental step back. She could see the possibilities as if someone wrote them in the air, and she had all the time in the world to consider each as if time itself had stopped. She knew what courses of action to take, and even how Alena would most likely react.
Rowan changed direction, rolled to the ground and with one mighty swipe, she brought Alena down. Without losing control of the movement, she once again changed direction to keep Alena from twisting to her feet.
In an instant, Rowan was on top of Alena, reaching out to choke her sister with one hand while driving an imaginary stake through Alena’s heart with the other.
In humans, the brain is the only organ in the body that doesn’t regenerate to form new cells to replace old and damaged cells - the main reason people who suffer head injuries sometimes undergo a change of personality, amnesia, catatonia or severe memory loss.
The same thing happens when a human changes into a vampire. The virus attacks the weakened cells, slows the body down, starves it of all its needs, but prevents it from physically dying - if the cells die or go beyond salvation, the virus dies.
Blood carries oxygen that the brain needs and the brain is the hardest part of the body for the virus to attack.
Shock is the whistle that gives the final victory, the body stops for just a fraction of a heartbeat, and the invader moves in unopposed to take over, restore the systems, rewrite the programming, strengthen the body, and repair the damage.
What humans see as death during the turn was never that; it’s more like drowning and being resuscitated — pain is the first symptom of change as unbearable agony takes hold of the awakening creature and then follows the thirst.
Blood contains a series of ingredients that this remade body cannot manufacture on its own, ingredients only found in blood. Those ingredients quickly break down outside of the body, and some of them are only present in humans.
This new body cannot derive all of it in significant enough quantities out of traditional foods and cannot extract or digest it, giving birth to a raging thirst born from the demands made upon the system.
Some people suffer a head injury, and afterward, they’re the same person with a few new hang-ups while others become different - aggressive, violent, passive, or suicidal - things the original state would not have allowed. Changing had the same effect.
Rowan often wondered what Alena would have been like had she been born the mortal daughter of human parents, some human prince or lord?
Marcus applauded the effort with an odd half-smile that rocked Rowan from her reverie and made her realize that she trembled from the energy she exerted.
“I wouldn’t have made a very good human,” Alena must have caught onto the gist of Rowan’s thought as she took her fall from grace with a smirk, and the promise of vengeance in the twinkle of her eye.
“I disagree,” Rowan countered just as Alena flipped their positions.
“Nice try,” Alena smirked, but she frowned when she realized Rowan was smirking too. Alena glanced down to find that the imaginary stake had slipped past her guard a second time, at that moment, she looked like a proud parent, and Rowan sobered.
For that expression coming from Victor, Alena would have killed and had - to no avail. The twisting path of love and respect was only straight as the crow flies.