Here He Comes-Aeryn
I sipped on my blood wine, examining the biological impossibility before me. He was fairly attractive, with his long dark red hair and deep green eyes. He had a narrow, angular face and thin, mean eyebrows. How I loved a redhead! Yet from what I’d seen of vampires in this universe, most of them had much lighter hair. No one would ever mistake Karia for any other vampire. He was perfectly unique. A sentient virus. Terrifying. My skin prickled in pleasure at the thought. He sported his long black leather jacket and pants; horribly uncomfortable attire for anyone else. He wore it well. Currently, he had his jackbooted feet propped up on the table and his hands folded across his abdomen, leaning back in his chair. His green eyes regarded me, unblinking and curious. I optically devoured him, teeth tingling the slightest bit. His lips curled up ever so slowly into the hint of a smile. I cocked my head, setting my cup down. His hand shot out and clasped mine, pressing it into the glass as if we needed to lift the cup together. “Aeryn…Mik is preparing to come out to meet you.”
“I suspect it’s not to welcome me on board,” I replied dryly.
“He wants to show you some things. Painful things. Things I shared a part in creating,” he hesitated, beginning to lift his hand away.
I placed the fingers of my other hand around his wrist and held fast. “You fear I’ll judge you?” I asked softly.
“I am responsible for so much death and destruction. It would only be fair,” he ruled, equally quietly.
“Everyone needs an opportunity for redemption. Let me know your spirit and then I’ll decide. No matter what he shows me I’ll judge you by your soul as I see it now,” I promised. My fingers left his wrist and climbed the length of his arm, crawled around his neck, and tugged his head back by the tail as I slid into his lap. “Is that satisfactory?”
He leaned further back, gulping. “Anything, my queen,” he whispered, trembling as my other fingers danced down to his chest. “Be careful. My blood is poisonous.”
“I am Lilith,” I answered simply, digging into his belly as I bit him. It was the first time he’d ever been bitten. His dick hardened so fast I nearly mistook him for being Mark Blue. I pinned his arms above his head and drank from him. Instinctively, he fought me off, struggling to free himself, hyperventilating. I held fast, riding him out. He’d always been the hunter, never the hunted. His body tensed beneath me for a moment but I dug in deeper. And then the most fascinating thing happened. He relaxed completely, surrendering to me entirely. “Good boy,” I purred, running my hands over his nipples. His eyes rolled up into his head and he came. I sipped from his memories and his soul. A childhood spent running. He and someone named Katoni in hiding for decades, hunted by dark creatures from my universe. The same bastards Eve had sent after me. Katoni and Karia did whatever it took, jumping bodies and universes. Karia saving Mikassa from…Rumpelstilskin? How bizarre. I’d have to figure that one out some other time. A later memory of Karia becoming the plague. A first person view of cells, of DNA, of unraveling, of deceiving, of taking over. How amazing. How tragic. Adapting, learning, killing. The sleepless nights (not due to guilt; his kind needed no sleep) spent contemplating how many he’d wiped out. The endless counting of his many victims, over and over again. And there, a glimpse into his source. What he was made from and who he was made for. And why.
I tumbled back, gasping as if for air. “Oh god, Karia! Oh Set, oh Ptah! Jesus!” I rushed back to him and held him as if I’d never let go. “You poor man. Good god, I am so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. It never was,” he sighed, still a bit jellied. I flowered his face with kisses until he gained the strength to push me away. “No, Aeryn. Let me freshen up first. I’ve never prematurely ejaculated before in my life,” he used humor to defuse the intensity of the moment.
“Says you and every other guy,” I scoffed and rolled my eyes.
“Thank you, Aeryn,” he spoke in a more sober tone, stopping to kiss my forehead. “Thank you.”
“I’ll protect you,” I swore. “You are mine now. Hurry back, Karia. I’m still hungry, but not for blood.”
Mark Ulf and I sat across from one another, a black candle between us. “You know I like fire, right?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Shut up, asshole,” he replied affectionately. “Concentrate. I’m going to show you a few things. So you’re better prepared for what’s coming.”
“How old are you?” I wondered, taking his hands in mine.
“Ancient, yet new. I lost track,” he shrugged. “This is only temporary. We’ll be joining later for good.”
“Understood.” I touched my forehead to his and began to mold with him. History itself opened to me from his point of view. Mark Ulf first arrived on Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago, a messenger from the Anunaki. Along with thousands of Faeries, other angels, and whatever else they called themselves, he set to work preparing Earth to recognize the gods. He was there when the First Human project was commissioned and oversaw the timetable. Lilith was adapted to Earth and then given a companion. They fought and she charged off, deciding it was better to be alone than subservient. During her travels she encountered one of the guardians of the Tree of Life, Seraphim Vitas. Ze, along with the Nephilim Samael, brought her to the Tree so that she might gain true immortality and ensuring they’d have forever to talk. She drank the sap and ate the fruit. In return for her immortality she and her descendants were given the option of taking up the Promise. The Promise would grant her ilk with the responsibility of judging the human race so that the gods could rest. She accepted the Promise and abducted Sera to be her companion in the land now known as Italy.
A while later Adam was given another companion, this one obedient (at least outwardly). That whole mess with the snake (who, by the way, was not Satan) happened and Original Sin began to propagate in addition to the Promise. Lilith gave birth to thousands of new creatures, each race born of a unique combination of her DNA and that of her many different partners. Even Adam couldn’t resist the new goddess on Earth. When Cain came of age and after he killed his brother he, too, went to find her. Eve, the scheming bitch, got back the only way she knew how: in the most underhanded way. She conjured up a jaded demon to help her exact revenge. This demon took her and together they birthed Shadows. The Shadows shrouded knowledge in mist, punished without reason, and poisoned the Immortals. Mark Ulf warned Lilith of the future that would come to pass if Eve and her Shadows weren’t stopped. Lilith lured the Shadows into the next realm shortly after the Toba Event. She lost her physical body on the way back. She reincarnated through her own bloodline but each new body was capable of dying and tended to start off as human.
Meanwhile, Mark Ulf was caught in the latest battle of the gods and could not meet her newer incarnations. He travelled the Earth leaving clues (and not a little bit of porn) for the future version of her he would meet. He also searched for and protected Soleceet, the boy who had a large destiny on his shoulders. Well, if he ever got around to fulfilling it, anyway. All of that time Mark Ulf had spent keeping him safe only to have the boy dart off on a mission to find his girlfriend. Honestly, I think he’d spent too much time in Clarence’s prison out of time. Clarence had been his best friend and so when he’d been punished Cel had kept him as much company as possible. Unfortunately, the Prison of Deficit was a terrifying place and not for the reason you’d think. I refocused on Mark Ulf, pushing aside the memories of Cel and Clarence. Ulf was there for Marduk’s fall from the top, his imprisonment, and then assisted the Dark Faeries in finding new lives.
I broke the mold with myself to reflect on what I’d learned. Because Ulf had spent so much time out of time it was literally impossible to calculate his actual age. Even with that, though, he was at least as old as the human race itself (homo sapien, at any rate). And Lilith, she just grew even more amazing the more I learned about her. Whenever she’d died she had been drawn back into the spirit realm she’d banished the Shadows to. I was struck by an overwhelming urge to find Aeryn and love her to death. I doubt I’d ever admired anyone else as much as her. For that reason the bite was so much worse than it had been with Razi to know that she still didn’t like me or want me. I leaned back against a block and regarded my former self. Why did she like him better? I scowled at him, feeling an unfamiliar emotion that I could only describe as jealousy. Damon was right; I had changed. I thought of how he’d made love to her repeatedly and my scowl deepened. I wondered if Stuart had rubbed off on me or something. This wasn’t like me. And even my talk (and subsequent fuck) with Damon hadn’t relieved the maelstrom of emotions inside me. Because I knew where all this was leading. I could feel the hell coming. And then it hit me.
I met the other Mark’s eyes and knew he felt it as well. Fear. Not like the fear of Karia or Mikassa or Marduk or Innocence. No, it was a fear that could never be allayed. Michón was growing. She was ready now to open up about her past, about why she was here, about every dark and twisted memory she held. While I loved that, while I was prepared to bear the burden with her and face it all beside her, I knew where it could inevitably lead. I’d never realized precisely how deeply she’d invaded my soul that I couldn’t fight this, even knowing how furious it would make her. I didn’t know how to handle it. To be completely honest, I didn’t want to learn. If she faced everything once and for all then she might leave. She might decide she didn’t want any of us anymore. I was horrified that I might lose her. The fact that she might leave us-leave me-behind was too much. And so I’d cling onto her. If she left…if I lost her…I’d just die.
Ulf thought all of this with me. Identical black tears ran down our cheeks.
*Stuart’s point of view
“Stuart, can we talk?” Ripley asked me. We were still on Middle Earth. Mikassa had let us know via speaker that he’d be taking us on a field trip in a few days. An ominous mood had settled over the ship. The walls barely lit up anymore. Many of them were now black and most of the others were gray. I was tempted to take up drinking but Mitchell managed to talk me out of it. However, I had borrowed a pack of cigarettes from Mark.
I lit one up now and gestured for Ripley to sit down. “Go on.”
“Mind if I stay?” Damon asked.
“No, Dad. I don’t mind,” Ripley smiled and sat next to me on my couch. As promised, Michón had made me a new room, twice as large as before.
I raised my eyebrows at the exchange. I’d been gaining memories from our time out of time and it had definitely come as a shock to discover who Ripley’s parents were and what he’d done to me and Michón. And what he’d been through…if we ever needed more reasons to hate Mikassa we never ran short on them! I really felt for the kid, even if he was madly in love with me. I watched them for a moment as Damon patted his knee. “I’ll stay quiet if you need,” he offered.
“No worries. You mind if I grab one? I’ve never tried it before.” Rip nodded at my cigs.
“Go ahead,” I invited the boy who had lived as a tree for hundreds of thousands of years. What the hell is it like knowing you were a source of eternal life? I mused.
“I wanted to update you on the Alana situation,” he began, using his pinky finger to light his cigarette. Odd but useful talent, that.
“Yeah? I’d almost forgotten. It’s been easier with Mica with her being gone on the planet,” I replied. Damon sipped some wine, threading a bracelet with his other hand. He was making it for Michón and would send it out of time to his future self. I could barely make out the movements of his fingers; he was so quick. I shivered a bit when I recalled just how much power demons like him had. He’d kept it under wraps to avoid discovery when the Great Cull was going down. That’s why he’d become a pirate in the first place. Then he’d come to kick Mik’s ass but instead ended up making one of those damnable deals. By then he’d gotten so used to hiding his powers that he didn’t use them around others very often. But lately, he hadn’t been holding back. I suppose he was feeling more like his old self. At least one of us was feeling better.
“Ah, yes. I guess so. Anyway, I went to see her so I could begin building her alternate reality… But, uh, as I was gathering intel I realized it wouldn’t be possible,” Ripley continued.
“What? Why not?” I questioned, a bit alarmed. I nearly missed the ashtray when I ashed my cig.
“Remember Mark R?” He leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees.
“Yes. What does that have to do with…”
“Just listen. The real Mark R did make it home. But when he returned he was meaner and it was nearly impossible to get rid of him. That’s because the Mark that came back wasn’t exactly real. He was a tulpa,” Ripley explained slowly.
My eyes widened in shock. “Created by whom?”
“By Michón. Out of her guilt for using him as a distraction and out of her fear of him as a male. She was afraid any male she let close would attack or molest her eventually. All of that negative energy she kept hidden from us but it had to go somewhere. It coalesced into the form of Mark R, a guy she had a crush on but feared intimacy with. Only Soleceet could get rid of him in the end,” Ripley finished, letting it sink in.
Damon looked pained. I almost thought he’d yank my cigarette away and take a puff himself. I found myself holding it out to him then remembered myself. “Ripley,” I spoke hoarsely, “what are you trying to say?”
Resting a hand over mine, Ripley answered, “I don’t know for how long it’s been this way but Alana is not real. The Alana that exists here now is a tulpa. The original is gone from our world.”
“Whose?” I asked gruffly.
“I don’t know. But none of us is powerful enough to get rid of her. We’d need to find Soleceet.”
“We’d need to be free to do so first,” Damon snorted.
I still didn’t fully grasp why my son had left to find his girlfriend instead of actually helping us. Maybe he was cursing himself for having given in to Michón finally. Maybe that’s why he’d wanted to find his girlfriend from the start; he couldn’t stand wanting Michón because it meant he was his father’s son, that he was more scaroth than Faerie. The important thing was that we needed him and he was gone. But if we got through this, if Aeryn saved us, I’d bring my boy back. That reminded me… “Shit, I haven’t been to see Rafael in a while. Thank you, Ripley, for letting me know. We’ll have to tiptoe around this Alana as well. We’ll figure it out. Damon, please take me to my son.”
“Sure. Will you be okay, Rip?” Damon wondered.
“Yeah. I’m going to do some more research on tulpas. I’ll see you later,” he smiled.
I was in the gym when he showed up. I was working my way through the course and he stood, arms folded, regarding me with what looked like extreme hatred. I lowered myself from the inverted bars and stepped over to him, keeping at least five feet in between us. Purple eyes smoldering, he tilted his head as he looked me over. “Do you need something?” I asked him, keeping my voice level. “Our trip isn’t until tomorrow.”
“I figured we should meet properly.” His voice was surprisingly soft. His expression morphed into a pleasant one now that he sensed I wouldn’t bite his head off. “Will you walk with me?”
“What do you actually want, Mikassa?” I remained where I was. I had no fucking time to play around.
“Come now. I simply wanted to see if we can resolve our problems somewhat peacefully,” he replied in a taken-aback tone. He even had the nerve to put one of his lily-white hands to his chest.
I scanned him carefully, moving my hand to my curved knife. I’d had Damon imbue it with some spectacular curses and it would be able to harm Mikassa now. “Where to?”
“Just around. I doubt you’ve seen the whole ship yet,” he smiled kindly but I sensed a shark beneath the surface. He moved closer, leaning down to say, “Please call me Mik,” in an overly bright voice. It wasn’t a request.
“Mik, lead the way,” I invited grudgingly.
His smile broadened and he led me out and began the tour. He kept his energy leashed, thankfully. If I’d never met him before it would have been too easy to mistake him for being harmless. “It seems you’ve stolen Karia from me. He refused me once before but this is different. Vampires rarely choose masters,” the elf chatted lightly, practically skipping down the hallway.
“Does it bother you?” I asked as I strolled behind him.
“Of course not. It amuses me. I want to pry your secrets loose. I’d like to dissect you to see what you’re made of,” he kept speaking in a pleasant tone.
“Mik, tell me something: have you met me before? You told me something similar when I last saw you.”
“Oh? Interesting. Yes, this is actually my first time meeting you. In this incarnation, at least,” he divulged.
“Ah, true. You mean the Toba Event. Hm, you appear the same as you did then,” I pointed out.
“That’s because I am. I’ve been alive for a while. That’s what our trip tomorrow is for, by the way. It’s to show you exactly what I’ve done with my life,” he said nonchalantly.
“Why show me that?” I wondered.
“I want there to be no illusions between us. I want you to know me as well as I’m about to know you.”
Though his voice was non-threatening I shuddered all the same. Here he comes, I thought. Ready to act finally.