Part 1: Prologue, Part 1Do you sometimes imagine there is another world, running parallel to the one in which we live? Where honour has no meaning, and yet loyalty is the most important thing in the world? A symbiotic, nay, parasitic society, at once so above and yet so below that of mortal men, a place of beauty, and of hideousness...
And if you can...could you imagine being born into it?
A night like any other. One too many drinks in a bar. Picked up a girl that in hindsight was a little too pale, a little too cold. Booze has a way of doing that to a guy. Next thing, she's invited me back to her place...a nice guy wouldn't talk about it. Not sure if I count, but then again, who around here would? Some condom packets litter the floor, the table by the bed. She laughs, her hand carelessly knocking over the empty wine glass.
She looks up, something hungry burning in her eyes. Desire, excitement, anticipation. Running fingers down my face, she brings her mouth close to my ear, and whispers seductively.
'I wanna show you something.'
She kisses my ear, the neck underneath...tongue licks down the cleft of my jaw. One too many beers. My head begins to swim, my eyes begin to close. The teeth in my throat wake me up. Pain renders me sober, and I try to throw her off with now-weakened arms. I scream once, then fall silent.
Hours pass. The heart no longer beats, the eyes no longer blink. And yet, I live. The realisation dawns on me slowly, as I feel at my neck with fingers more sensitive and dextrous than I remember in life. Power flows through me, of many different kinds. In wonder, I sit up.
I look across the room at her, my vision unclouded for the first time that night. 'What the fuck is going on?'
She sits impassively on a chair on the other side of the room, watching me silently. I move to get up, to walk across, grab her, slap her face, demand some answers. I'll beat some goddamn information out of those pretty red lips of hers - the door crashes open, three men barrelling into the room. The first has a long shaft of pointed wood gripped in his hand, which he throws in a wide, powerful arc at the woman in the chair.
She collapses, completely still. I look from her to the men, stunned. I start to raise my hand, to tell them I've got nothing to do with the crazy broad, when the second man jumps at me.
The last thing I remembered seeing of that trashed apartment room before the lights went out was the ominous giant blocking the door. Him, and his ruby-red eyes.
God only knows how many hours passed when I was in that stasis, unknowing and unfeeling. I look around, taking in the derelict theatre, the sparse audience, and the well-dressed man standing regally in front of me. He saunters around the stage like the protagonist in a Shakesperian play, perfectly manicured eyebrows rising and falling with his every word.
He opens his mouth, and straight away I know I wanna kill the bastard.
'Good evening', he oozes. 'My apologies for interrupting any business, or prior engagements you might have had, but my reason for calling you here tonight is a troubling one'.
He continues to drone on, stuff about a special society, and the laws that bind it, but I'm not paying attention. I'm too busy watching the hulking giant, and the woman that threw me into this fucking mess. My hands are tied, and I haven't got a clue how to get away. I've been in some scrapes in my time, but nothing like this.
The black guy whispers loudly into another mans ear. For some reason, even up on the stage, I can hear him. 'The little bitch, what's he doin'?'
The blonde man continues to talk.
'Some of you have come asking, and I have endorsed some of those requests. This time, however, my permission was not granted. Indeed, my permission was not sought at all.'
'This causes me great distress, as I had once considered the accused one of my closest allies.' The man stood, looking sternly at the crowd. This show-trial was obviously for a reason, but I had no idea what. 'The sentence for this transgression...is death.'
The prick took on a sanctimonious tone, his hands steepled, his expression humble.
'Know that I am no more adjudicator than I am a servant of the laws that govern us all.'
He knelt down then, his eyes brimming with mock concern, his syrupy voice thick with poison.
He straightened, turning in overacted pain.
The mountainous brute pulled out a giant sword, like an entire slab of sharpened steel, polished and carved with distorted runes. The great blade came down, carving effortlessly through flesh and bone, the body crumpling to the floor, crumbling to the floor, disappearing in fire and ash.
The man turned once again to the audience, raising his eyebrow, his tone once again all business.
'Which of course brings us to the matter of the ill-begotten progeny. Some are born into the world unfortunately not knowing their sires or our laws, which is why I have decided-'
'THIS IS BULLSHIT!'
The man in blue stood angrily, fist raised, jaw pushed out. His companions held him back, looking between him and the man on stage, as if unsure who to be more uneasy about. Other voices joined his, murmuring in consternation.
The man on stage looked down at the man, anger conveyed in a slight narrowing of the eyes, a slight pursing of the lips. His stance barely changed as he affected a small smile.
If Mr. Rodriguez would let me finish. Which is why I have allowed this kindred to live...'
I didn't hear any more. My head fell, relief surging through me. Rodriguez stormed out of the theatre, shoulders hunched, hands clenching and unclenching, and was gradually followed by the rest of the congregation. Last to exit was a man in leathers, long hair and long beard giving his narrow face a feral look. The man untied my hands, and gestured for me to follow him behind the stage.
'About your sire, tragic, my apologies.'
I looked over this jumped-up choir boy, wondering if I could take him. Decided it was best to bide my time as he casually turned his back on me, walking on, obviously expecting me to follow.
He went on some more, going on grandly about their laws and traditions. I couldn't give a shit. I was hungry, more hungry than I'd ever been in my life. And seriously confused. It'd been a long night.
'You will prove your loyalty.' The voice took on a commanding tone, one that reached into my mind with an iron fist and said 'Listen up tough guy, you think you're big? Cross me and I'll make you wish you died as a child.' I knew I better listen.
'You will go to Santa Monica, and meet there an agent by the name of Mercurio. He will fill you in on your assignment.'
The man turned, facing me with a determined face that demanded obedience, reminded that you were nothing more than an insect. An insect that could be harboured, or ground between thumb and forefinger and scattered to the winds, all on a whim.
'I have shown you great clemency fledgling. Prove it was nothing more than a wasted gesture. Don't come back until you do.'
The man paused, his tone once again formal.