Chapter 2: Signs
"Tell me why the hell I agreed to this idea again?"
"Because you love me and the outdoors?"
Fabiana rolled her eyes as she put the large backpack down.
"Why I'm actually dumb enough to listen to you every single time is something I've always questioned," replied Fabiana.
"Come on...you know you wanted a break from the city anyway," said Mili rolling her eyes.
"I'll go get the wood for the grill?" she asked.
"Meet you back here in an hour then," said Mili with a wink.
Fabiana pulled a machete with its sheath out of the backpack and walked off towards the woods.
"Don't burn anything to the ground while I'm gone," she said.
Mili scoffed as she sat down in the chair she set up before taking out her phone and starting to play a game.
"Who would've thought that I'd actually end up back in these woods again...I guess anything's possible,"
I looked up at one of the trees and smiled; it had a lot of suitable branches that we could use for wood. I closed my eyes and listened closely for any signs of onlookers and once I was sure I wasn't being watched, I jumped up and managed to cleave a few of them off with the machete. I repeated this process for a few other trees until I was satisfied with what I had gathered. I then began to remove the smaller limbs in order to carry it all back to the camp where Mili was waiting to start the cooking.
I jolted from my task and turned to see a man holding a sword in his left hand. He was relatively tall and was wearing glasses. He had dark skin and he judging from his voice, he definitely wasn't from Canada. He was wearing a dark leather jacket along with matching cargo pants and a simple shirt. Along with the sword, he had a bow strapped across his back.
"Didn't mean to startle you...but could I have some of that wood?" he asked.
Half of me wanted to believe him because he seemed so honest but considering that I wasn't able to hear him coming, not to mention detect any sign of his presence at all despite my very heightened senses, I felt something was wrong.
"Who are you?" I demanded.
He placed his sword on the ground and removed the bow before putting it down as well.
"My name is Carl Hill, I'm just a guy who lives in this forest and I just ran out of firewood so I was going to get more...I woke up late and I was just hoping you could save me some trouble," he explained.
I didn't hear his heart race when he spoke so he had to be telling the truth. Feeling a little more relieved, I nodded to him. He then looked at the branches on the floor before raising an eyebrow.
"You're really good at climbing I see," he said as he approached.
I shook my head.
"Been doing it since I was a little girl," I replied.
He laughed softly as he began to pick up some of the branches.
"Did you come into the woods alone?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied.
He nodded slowly.
"What's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?" he asked.
"Getting away from civilization for a little while; tired of the hustle and bustle of the city," I replied.
"I agree; the city gets really tiring,"
He somehow managed to lift a good number of the branches I had chopped off without showing any sort of effort. Something was wrong...
"You're really strong to be able to lift all of that," I said.
"I've been camping in these woods for years so you learn a thing or two while you're out here," he replied.
His heart jumped twice and my fists clenched instantly.
He sighed deeply.
"And you're an Eagle aren't you?"
My eyes widened.
"How did you-"
"No regular person has senses that sharp...do you really think I didn't see you jump up and cleave those branches off?" he interjected.
He made no move to go for his weapons and shook his head.
"I'm not looking for any trouble so I'll just take these and leave in peace...I don't see any reason for us to fight each other because all we want is to survive right?" he asked.
I couldn't believe he was saying what he just did and before I could retort, I felt a rush of wind beside me. I turned to see that Mili had arrived.
"I recognize that smell anywhere...he's a Hawk," she said.
Her voice was sinking more and more into her feral state and I immediately got in front of her.
"He's not here to hurt us," I explained.
Mili smiled as her eyes began to turn orange.
"This smell...he's assimilated a few people because I haven't smelled a Hawk this delicious in years," she said.
Carl picked up his sword and bow in one hand and began to walk away.
"I hold no ties to my kind so I won't fight either of you...see you again sometime,"
Mili suddenly rushed towards him and I shouted for her to stop. Almost within an instant, Carl tossed the branches aside and shifted to the right to dodge her oncoming punch. He then sighed deeply as he drew his sword.
"I really don't want to kill anyone today...but I guess I have no choice,"
Mili charged again, only for him to sidestep her and land a huge kick to her stomach before punching her back, dropping her to the ground with great force. She didn't seem fazed by the attack and rolled to her feet before managing to land a punch to his right cheek. He stumbled back a short distance and looked back at her, completely unfazed.
"You're pretty strong...you're no ordinary Vulture are you?"
I quickly put myself between the two of them.
"Mili stop! Control yourself!" I demanded.
"Get out of the way Fabi," she growled.
I began to focus on my skin, preparing to light myself on fire in order to replace her rage with pain; it was the usual way I used to get her to calm down.
"It's been so long since I've tasted Hawk DNA...let me indulge myself just this once," she snarled.
I didn't even get to react as I felt a whoosh of wind beside me and the next thing I knew, Carl had closed the distance between himself and Mili and got behind her before delivering a very hard chop to her neck. She immediately slumped but he caught her before she hit the ground.
"I take it that she's your friend?" he asked.
"My only real friend since the fall of my kind..." I replied.
He nodded slowly.
"I might have a way to stop her animalistic outbursts...if you'll follow me to my home," he said.
"Why should I trust you?" I asked.
"I could've killed the two of you a long time ago but I chose not to...besides, you two don't seem like bad people," he replied.
He picked Mili up in his arms.
"I am not like the rest of my kind...I was one of the few who actually didn't favor the invasion and they turned against me as well because I didn't want to get involved," he explained.
"There were actually Hawks who sympathized for us?"
"Not all Hawks are sadistic geniuses...besides, don't you think it would be nice to have your friend not try to kill people?"
I swallowed hard as I looked at Mili's unconscious form.
"Alright...lead the way,"
I slowly felt my body come back to life. My eyes slowly opened and the welcomed image of Fabiana came back into view. I smiled.
"I guess I haven't gotten better after all these years," I said.
"Why didn't you stay at the camp?" asked Fabiana.
My eyes narrowed.
"I...had a vision that you were in danger so I came as fast as I could and that was when I caught that Hawk's scent," I explained.
"Is that your gift?"
I looked behind me to see the man, mixing something in a mortar and pestle. I clenched my fists immediately.
"Relax you crazy girl; I'm not your enemy," he said, raising a single hand.
He poured some kind of dust from the pestle into a mug and then stirred it vigorously.
"This will allow you to suppress your sense of smell so that you don't go crazy and try to eat me again...because if you do so again, I won't hesitate to send your head rolling across the floor," he warned.
He placed the cup on the end table next to me as he picked up his bow.
"I'm going to reset my traps and get the kill I made earlier," he said.
He then disappeared through the door and the gust of wind indicated that he flew away.
"Can we trust him?" I asked.
"He hasn't tried to kill any of us yet...so I think we can," replied Fabiana.
I sighed deeply.
"I'm really sorry for losing control...I thought that I could resist it," I said.
Fabiana approached me and hugged me.
"No harm done...now drink that,"
I slowly forced the putrid liquid down my throat and for some reason, I wasn't able to detect the scent of the Hawk anymore.
"Can you smell him?"
"Not at all," I replied.
Fabiana nodded slowly.
"Has he been saying much?" I asked.
"Mostly talking about his life here; he's spent four years living out here in secret," she explained.
"Why in secret?"
She sighed deeply.
"He's a wanted criminal in Europe because he went on an assimilation spree...I don't even have a clue as to how many gifts that man has taken for himself,"
"So why the hell are we sitting in his cabin when we should be making ourselves scarce?" I snapped back.
Fabiana's eyes narrowed.
"He said that...he thinks there are others of my kind within this country and he wanted to seek them out," she explained.
My eyes widened in shock.
"But...how could there be any survivors? Every single one of them were slaughtered in that massive invasion...you even saw a lot of them die when you went back in to save my parents," I said.
Fabiana shook her head.
"I have to know Mili...I have to know because if there's any chance of my race reuniting and reclaiming their place in the world...I have to contribute,"
I sighed deeply and nodded. Fabiana sometimes took a few days away from school in order to search some of the nearby towns for any sign of her people...but it was to no avail. If only I was able to control myself...if only I was able to keep my feral instincts in check around others apart from her...then I could help her satisfy her curiosity; it's been one that's consumed her ever since we came here three years ago.
"Sorry about that wait ladies,"
I turned to see that the Hawk had returned with a dead deer over his shoulder.
"Tell us about your hunch," I said.
He smiled and shook his head.
"So I'm supposed to tell you everything when you tried to kill me?" he replied.
"If you're as neutral as you say you are then you have no reason to keep it from us," I said.
He placed the kill in another room before returning to us and having a seat in the lounge chair. He quickly lit a cigar and took a hit of it before tapping some of the ashes off the edge.
"I do have reason to believe that there are more than one Eagles living in this country...do either of you watch the news?"
"Not particularly because our schedules kind of make free time a rare commodity," replied Fabiana.
He shook his head.
"There's been some kind of serial killer at large who's been killing Hawks and Vultures exclusively...granted most of them actually do deserve it but at the same time, I see no reason for a Hawk or Vulture to be murdering so many of them," he explained.
"Vultures typically don't kill their own kind and a Hawk that turns on its own kind would never be able to stay hidden for very long...so I guess that's a solid lead," she continued.
"I for one am not interested in Hawk politics; I discarded that way of life the moment the invasion was ordered...and now here I am years later living like some kind of hermit," he said with a chuckle.
He then looked at me.
"I'm really sorry for hurting you...you kind of gave me no choice," he said.
"No hard feelings...just don't scare me into thinking that you're going to hurt my best friend again," I warned.
He shrugged in agreement as he handed Fabiana a newspaper.
"Most of the killings have been taking place in Vancouver so I'm guessing that our Eagle in question has been hiding somewhere near there," he said.
"How do you suppose we find him?" asked Fabiana.
He seemed in thought for a moment before raising his finger.
"There's no real way for an average person to tell the difference between the carriers unless you're a Vulture who can smell the difference when gifts are being used so based on that, one of his gifts have to allow him to identify his victims before he strikes so my theory stands like this,"
He looked at Fabiana.
"You go there and try and blend in...I suspect that he'll find you and try to talk to you but again, this is assuming that he's an Eagle," he said.
"So you expect her to risk her life on some hunch that this is some kind of Eagle with a detector for his own kind?" I asked.
He nodded once more.
"I'll do it...but why help us Carl?" asked Fabiana.
He shook his head and looked out the window.
"I'm tired of living in secret and I've always been interested in seeing how you Eagles work considering I've never been able to see one up close, until today that is," he explained.
"You don't believe what your kind has been saying about us?" she asked.
He shook his head.
"I've never known an Eagle to be a criminal until this guy showed up and from what my friends used to tell me, your kind is a good bunch," he said.
"So you actually want them to return?" I asked.
"It would be very interesting yes...and I don't at all think the world is a better place without all of you because so many things have disappeared since that invasion...most importantly genuinely kind people," he replied.
Fabiana rose to her feet.
"Are we going together?" she asked.
"I suppose we can head out at the end of the week...I don't expect to return here for a while so I guess it gives you two time to come up with alibis," he replied.
I nodded in agreement.
"So at the end of the week, we'll come back here and we'll head out," said Fabiana.
Carl nodded and took another hit of his cigar.
"Let's hope I'm not wrong," he said.