Tracking down a Traitor
Alec and Kassandra stood in the same room, each attending to their affairs of their specialties. The younger sister scanned thru financial information on shell companies used by the organization known as the Hand of Magnus working to locate where one would obtain the amount of money used to buy weapons, materials, employ people as well as the facilities used. Whoever these people were their influence was as deeply rooted as the Council and the Exiles meaning they have existed quite a bit of time to have established and hidden themselves this well.
It was clear the Hand’s objective--they were humans, werecats, and casters who sought the end of vampires no doubt involved in the events of three hundred years ago. Kassandra researched the events of back then, records were not scare, but the mentioning of them in conversation had died off long ago. There are many living in the world who do not know of werewolves save for myth and legend, but there are also those who would never forget. Never forget what happens when you cross the Vampire Council and Virgil Theron. When she read thru the history of the conflict, she saw depictions of the werewolves, their anatomy and wondered about what it is she saw of Maxilyn. She pictured the way these werewolves acted in times of conflict and found there was little difference in their brutality than in the Marine’s own actions. Kassandra shivered at the thought, at how Maxilyn tore into the Mort and ripped its head off without so much as flinching, but then...she did it all to save Kassandra.
It was no wonder she had kept others shut out, had hidden so much of her past. Kassandra wondered if Amanda knew, as her ex-fiance, there had to be something she knew, but then again Maxilyn did not even know she was a caster. How many secrets did he two of them keep from one another? If Amanda had known what her lover was, was that her justification for having her separated from the military? Surely not, she would have told Maxilyn outright that she knew what she was. The vampire then elected to not tell Amanda, or anyone else for that matter related to the Council and her father. Lei was right, her father was the one responsible for the extinction of an entire race...no wonder Maxilyn was anxious around him. Forced into hiding her entire life, Kassandra began to rethink every word, every action the woman ever said or did to the vampire. How much did she unknowingly hurt the woman she found herself in love with?
Months of research, some books having never been opened for quite some time, that the pages almost bled together and fell apart with just the lightest touch. The records in the Theron mansion were significant, though incomplete with the remaining information at her father’s residence, she was able to picture an understanding of what started the war. An attempt at the Elders’ lives over five-hundred years ago had warranted suspicion of werewolf involvement, evidence of fur collected on the weapons in question used to assault the meeting place. Assassination attempts on the Elders was a rare occurrence, very few had the resolve to attack the three eldest immortal vampires in the world and face the consequences. The one in question was most unusual by the familiarity of the castle and the assailants ability to slip in and out without being seen. It was here that the wolves were placed under suspicion, as the guardians of the vampires during the day, the fact the attack occurred during this time rose the suspicion on intended negligence.
For decades after the wolves were progressively removed from guardianship of their vampires lords and masters, but they did not accept this quietly. Werewolves are mortal beings, they age and pass on and the generations that came after began to voice their discontent they and their predecessors held in hopes of resolving the conflict peacefully. They were to be resolved peacefully, if a rouge faction of werewolves had not acted out in public and attacked the peace talks resulting in the immediate dismissal and persecution of many pack leaders. After the leaders’ executions blood flowed like rivers, outright battle ensued after riots and the covens, united under the Vampire Council erupted into civil war. It was then that Virgil made the decision to wipe out the entire wolf population, using them to serve one last time as an example to never defy the will of the Council nor attempt that their lives.
Many covens, vampire, werecat, and caster like refused this order and were thus banished from the Council. They recollected, forming into a band later called the Exiles led by a werewolf by the name of Harkin who fought not only for the sake of the wolves, but for the freedom and survival of those who would stand against the Elders. And so the Judges were brought forth as a prominent force of the Council, used as hunters of the wolves, locating and executing them without mercy. Enforcing the verdict and laws of the Council to the letter, still to this day. When Harkin died, leadership of the Exiles was never made clear, making it difficult for the Council to hunt down a single individual thru the ages until the modern day.
Kassandra was raised without truly thinking about the cause of the war, that it was some far away horror that would never reach her. In the modern age it seems all have ignored the reason the war started and that the reason for people’s fighting having shifted from the sake of a people’s survival to the freedom to live in an open world. She understood this change: why fight for a people who were already extinct? That would be as fighting for the life of a bird dead for days--it was impossible to change what is already done. How then is it that Maxilyn is alive? Kassandra looked to her brother, busy with his work and flipped her IPad to digital copies of archives of werewolves. They were a race that were mortal just as werecats and casters--they aged, though much slower than humans, were stronger, faster and were able to shift. To human-wolf hybrids.
What kind of werewolf was Maxilyn? Able to change from a human to a wolf entirely, there were no records of such a transformation among the collection of records vampires have kept throughout the ages. She swiped to a da Vinci style rendering of a werewolf, they were nearly just as werecats, but with the obvious feature of wolf rather than feline. There were differences between certain packs of wolves, some had more wolf-like features than human when they shifted; this being attributed to the concentration of wolf being stronger in these lines than in others. Werewolves, unlike werecats, could be born or created, but to infect a human was considered to be only under certain circumstances, seeing as the Council put into place limits of supernatural populations for werewolves and vampires. Less mouths to feed Kassandra thought, less problems for the chance to be discovered.
The next photo Kassandra dragged her finger across the screen to see was a detailed family tree of some of the main packs--there were two main packs allied with the Council and half a dozen smaller ones that acted as vassals. One guarded the Elders’ castle during the day and the others were the precursor to the Judges, while the vassals were often soldiers in the army. Looking closely the vampire found there were none with a surname similar to Maxilyn’s, not in any documentation she came across, meaning her family might have been decedent from a lone wolf that either escaped the purge or was never apart of the Council in the first place. All this did was create more questions for Kassandra, especially with how Maxilyn knew she was a wolf and yet knew nothing of the supernatural world prior to their encounter.
“Kassandra!” Alec said louder, seeing as his sister was hard of hearing at the moment.
She looked up, removing her headphones from her ears and asking what it was he needed.
“Father is on Skype.”
Kassandra looked at Alec as though he grew a second head, “Our father? Are you certain?”
For a brief moment Alec looked as dumbstruck as his sister, when he turned his computer screen around and there sat their father, live on Skype. Kassandra set aside her tablet and papers and moved closer, coming around to her brother’s side as he corrected the screen. Virgil greeted his children, his secretary going around and informing him all was ready and to call when he needed further assistance. She had served him and known him long enough to know it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’. It was by her influence that he even agreed to try his hand at video calls, though he hated anything that was not meeting in person.
“Greeting my children.”
The two bowed their heads respectfully until verbally released.
“I never thought I would live to see the day...” Kassanra said folding her arms and smiling, “Father using video calling, the world itself must be ending.”
Alec rolled his eyes, “What do we owe the pleasure? It is unlike you to contact us directly.”
“Am I not allowed to check in on my children’s welfare as I wish?”
“I only meant--” Alec began, but was cut off by the Elder’s raised hand.
"You are nevertheless correct, there is a purpose for my contacting you. The traitor werecat, Henry Petrov, has been spotted in Kisumu, Kenya."
Kassandra's expression changed, she clenched her fists, though her brother noticed he made no attempt to acknowledge it.
"Members of the Sabinus Coven are already en-route to the country, Kassandra will go and assist."
First once Alec openly disagreed, "Father I must object, Kassandra handles all of our financial assets, if she were to be injured or--"
"This was a request from Izona." Virgil said final, "In truth she requested Maxilyn Lykaios, but as she is deceased, Kassandra was substituted in her place."
"Lykaios? Why would Lady Izona seek out a human to assist her? There are plenty of other--" Alec cut himself off, "I understand."
"Grateful I am that the both of you have a clue what is going on, but I most certainly do not!" Kassandra put out.
Alec frowned his brow and messaged it, "Do you forget the Sabinus Coven is one of all women warriors? Why else would they seek out Lykaios? Regardless of her mortal status, she was a woman of great skill and technique."
"I do believe that is the first time I have ever heard you compliment a human Alec." Virgil said humored, "But he is correct, I myself had intentions of inviting your pet to become one of us, but unfortunately her own mortality won in the end. Now is not the time to speak of the dead, Kassandra, you will make for Kenya and meet with members of the Sabinus Coven."
The two children bowed to their father and the call was ended. Virgil leaned back in his chair, his secretary standing faithfully in front of him with the day's schedule.
"You did not ask her about accessing the records on werewolves?" Asked his loyal and faithful Secretary.
Virgil tapped his finger on his desk, "Kassandra has never done anything without a justified reason, if there was a need to draw concern she would have informed me of such already."
"Then why contemplate on asking her directly?" She asked freely.
The Elder rubbed his chin, "Curiosity I suppose. She has never taken an interest in the wolves before and it strikes me as unusual behavior, but then again if she is anything like her mother when she has an interest in something she researches everything and anything to know as much about the subject as possible."
His secretary places her files on his desk, "It was a shame to hear about Maxilyn Lykaios, she showed great promise and as I understood it her and the Principessa were very close."
The Elder sounded in agreement, "Indeed she would have served as a worthy Judge, but such is the nature of mortality. Still...she died honorably, protecting my daughter a the cost of her life is the ultimate display of loyalty and dedication."
"It was her duty." She pointed out to the man who was very much held on tradition of fulfilling one's task and duty to the letter.
"Perhaps, but Kassandra still believes that Lykaios survived the fall." The Elder opened the file on the Marine.
"It is possible, the Hand showed signs of desiring to acquire her, it is very possible that she was simply captured." The Secretary continued.
The Elder chuckled, "If only you had seen her when she walked out of the catacombs--quite a sight. Surviving the events of those tunnels...no, I doubt she would have been captured this long if she were alive."
Kassandra departed the plane after the long and dragged out journey, Gregory, Elise and Stephen in tow as they met members of the Sabinus Coven. There were members she recognized, but whose names escaped her, the only people she had contact with were the Elders and their officers and often never more than a few words between anyone lower in rank. They were brought to a local hotel, the only one in the city where General Eshe and the point of contact from Kassandra’s own coven awaited them.
Henry was spotted departing a plane in the airport where he made contact with a local who took him to the local military commander. It is assumed this man is also a werecat judging by their friendliness in captured photographs as they discussed transportation towards and thru Lake Victoria. For the audio it would appear he means to meet with a coven long isolated, but nevertheless the most powerful in the area that controls a great deal of Eastern Africa. That was two days ago and due to the nature of the area it is difficult for someone not local to go thru the without drawing attention. Though they have a route, acquired by a soldier thru Compulsion they have yet to pursue.
“General, it is good to see you.” Kassandra bowed to the woman far greater in age than she.
General Eshe nodded, “Likewise though I fear pleasantries will have to wait, we are preparing to move within the hour. Henry is without a doubt meaning to contact the local Coven. It is a tribe of casters who lie across Lake Victoria, they are technically not in this country, but with the wars going on it is the safest city to land in and travel from.”
Gregory came around the table, “Do we know which coven he has made contact with?"
The general nodded, "A tribe of traditional casters, we have known about them for a great deal of time, but they have chosen to remain neutral, they have no love for vampires, therefore our coven has elected to leave them be until now."
"Do you think he means to recruit them to his cause?" Stephen asked, keeping his eyes on the map laid out on the table.
"Without a doubt, which is why we have been ordered to capture or kill him. His knowledge of our inner-workings of operations places us at a disadvantage which is why we are not establishing a presence." General Eshe leaned over the table, "Our mission is to observe and the first sight of the traitor we attack, but be on guard, the tribe may very well be on his side already and have no qualms with attacking anyone deemed an enemy."
Each member of the room nodded in agreement and within the next twenty minutes, their force was loaded onto trucks and they were off on the three-hour long journey to a ferry that would take them across the lake. Kassandra was with General Eshe and her guard while Gregory, Stephen, and Elise where in another truck following behind. Separated from the others, Kassandra used this chance to mention the reason she was here in Maxilyn's place.
"General..." She began, "About Maxilyn, she's--"
"Missing, I am aware." The werecat said, sliding her dagger back into its holster on her side.
Confused, Kassandra leaned forward, "If you knew, why did you request her in the first place?"
"My Queen wanted to ensure she was truly missing or that Elder Virgil was simply keeping her to himself. The Elders never refuse one another, therefore in sending you, it is clear not even he knows where she is."
"Father does not believe she is alive." Kassandra said looking down at her feet.
"You know she is and yet you have not told him." The general observed leaning back, "It raises a great many questions about the nature of your relationship and departure."
"If by departure you mean her jumping in the way to save me and falling off a cliff then yes our departure was not one on good terms." The vampire quickly snapped at an accusation the General seemed to be producing.
"My Queen wishes to see Ms.Lykaios safe, she wishes to recruit her into the Sabinus Coven--"
"Out of the question." Kassandra hissed, her blue eyes intensifying in luminescence, "Maxilyn belongs with me--"
"If that were true she would be with you now would she not? Instead of fleeing from the Hand alone and using every means possible to avoid any and all detection." Casually the General added, "But of course you know what is best for her."
Infuriated, but also hurt at the truth of the werecat's words, Kassandra ended the conversation and the rest of ride was silent between the occupants. The trucks rolled onto the boat and were ferries across the lake, hours of travel and they were at last within proximity of the village where the traitor was traveling to. Scouts reported that he and a few others made contact with the village elder and were already discussing matters in the main building in the center of the village. It was dark now, the few lights that shone were within the limits of the village, guarded on the perimeter by gunmen both local and non. The task force surrounded the village, keeping low to the ground, silencing the passing patrol by slitting their throats and carrying off their bodies into the bushes.
Kassandra and Stephen stayed close, Gregory and General Eshe in another team on the other side of the village.
"Kassandra..." Stephen whispered so low a human would never have heard, "If Henry is here, we can't let him get away--he may know where Max is."
The Principessa nodded in agreement, crawling ahead with Stephen the two removed a walking patrol from their path moving the bodies out of sight before advancing. Their backup was not far behind, awaiting for each chance to move when those within the watchtower were not looking their direction. Moving between shadows, they hid behind a truck nearest to the main building in the village's center. There were far more patrol here, the chance to be spotted significant with spells and traps laid out everywhere. The casters went so far as to nearly mute sound from within, inhibiting a vampire's enhanced hearing from knowing their conversation.
Henry had not yet been spotted, but there were few windows in the building making it difficult to have a visual. Kassandra then had an idea, she grabbed a passing gunmen, pulled him to meet her eyes and commanded him to go further. The man shouted, firing his gun into the vampire's gut, she snapped his neck and dropped his body. They had been drinking fluids laced with Nightshade, compulsion did not work on them! Other voices hollered thru the village, summoning the soldiers to gather and assault. General Eshe signaled for her force to attack, taking any prisoner they could, to kill only the members of the Hand and not the locals unless absolutely necessary. Vampires, casters and werecats alike engaged another, during a peaceful night into a blood bath.
The traitorous werecat came out from the building, spotting Kassandra the same time she had he. Henry smirked, waving his hand where he held a wrapped package between his palm. He ran, Stephen and Kassandra giving chase as they moved thru the battlefield, their enhanced speed allowing them to move thru the conflict without engaging every other person. The Principessa slowed, the gunshots to her gut, though ordinary bullets, caused her pain enough to make her cringe. Stephen stepped up, leaping and grabbing Henry, pulling them down to the dirt together. The werecat shifted, slamming a fist into the vampire's face freeing him to stand. Kassandra arrived, firing off her rounds, but the lion-hybrid was too fast to land a shot.
Henry came in front of Kassandra, grabbing the rifle he pulled it free, but the little vampire was not defenseless she withdrew her pistol, sending two bullets into the werecat's side before he began evading those the rounds did not seem to slow him. A man, a soldier accustomed to pain, there was little that would effect him in the heat of battle. This was his play ground, his childhood, his life and his grave, but not tonight. He would not fall to the likes of weak and spiteful little fangs, he would die gloriously, battling only the greatest of foes at their greatest strength--he wanted to fight Maxilyn Lykaios and anyone less was not worth the effort to even kill or mame.
"How's it feel Kassandra?" Henry smirked, "To be the daughter of the man who slaughtered Max's entire race? Did you really think she would love you?"
He evaded Stephen's fist, "I have to applaud her, I would get nauseous just being near you, the fact she let you even touch her must have made her sick after!"
"Fuck you!" Stephen shouted, his fist meeting the werecat's forearm, "You don't know a damn thing about Max!"
Stephen was kicked away, "I know more than you." Henry smirked, "Why do you think she's with us? She finally saw the error of her ways and came to us, her and Shawn are even buddy buddy--"
"Now I know you are lying." Kassandra fronted him, engaging in hand to hand combat, "Maxilyn would never allow Shawn to live, her principle is she never kills anyone unless they first try to kill her and she never forgives someone whose gone after her loved ones."
The werecat laughed, grabbing her arm and breaking it. Kassandra cried out in pain as he held her and the broken arm up.
"She could not possibly love you--its impossible--your kinds are even more enemies than we." He kicked the vampire away, "She knows that, that's why she is running, she's trying to stay away from you." He slipped the package into his cargo pocket, "But its only a matter of time before we catch up, her little leap thru a portal in the north didn't save her, it only delayed the inevitable."
He begins running again, but close on his heels are the two vampires, hell-bent on taking him alive or having his head roll. Let them try. A truck raced toward them, sliding across the dirt. Kassandra and Stephen knew he would be able to elude them--Stephen spun around, yanking free the pin to his grenade he chucked it at the truck--a caster's spell deflected the bomb, sending it back toward an unprepared vampire. The grenade exploded too close to Stephen, shrapnel embedded itself into his body, taking his arm and part of his side, forcing him sliding across the ground. Kassandra saw him, Henry realized her hesitation and thought to call her out on it.
"How many more are going to be hurt for you Kassandra? How many will die because of you?" He shouted, as the vampire fired her gun, taking a piece of his ear making him duck and slow enough for her to collide into him.
"Where is she!" She was up first, able to hold the gun to his face, "Where is Maxilyn!"
Henry slowly stood up, returning to his human form and brushing the dust off himself.
"Find her yourself vampire."
A spell hit her back, dropping her to the ground and disarming her of her weapon.
The truck slowed enough for Henry to hop on and as he was driven away he gave his last words, "Before something else does."