Nightwolves Dawn to Dusk -The Semi Prequel
By Clarrissa Lee Moon
In Loving Memory of Jwan Darlene Donica
This is the story of my life before becoming a vampire. Before finding out that I was a daughter of a Goddess. Before knowing I had three mates who longed for me. Mundane, ordinary in some ways, but still unbelievable for most people who had talked to me before “The Big Change”. If I sat down with anyone and told them my life story, they would, nine times out of ten, not believe a single word I had said. True, most people would have committed suicide if they had gone through even half as much as I did. No one, normal or sane, could have survived the things that I had to go through as a child or a young adult. Most people viewed me as either a liar or someone to be feared, because I did survive— and in most cases thrived in such a violent world.
Let me give you a summary of my childhood life. My mother had me to trap my father into marriage. He was, at that time, being groomed to become the next Don for his Mafia Family. Either she didn’t know the whole family were also dark practitioners (and knew of her scheme) or she didn’t believe in the reality of a family of real witches, dark or otherwise. Needless to say, it didn’t work. She had told me my father (a marine at the time) had gone to Vietnam and was planning on returning to her after his tour of duty. I never found out if he knew of her pregnancy at that time, but a year later she said she had received the dreaded yellow slip of paper informing the family that my father had died. His best friend had shown her the paper to prove his death. The rest of the family wanted nothing to do with her or me when I was born. So, she became a single mother, in a time when that kind of thing was still heavily frowned upon; she married another man quickly, and my step-father was the stuff of nightmares. I had been beaten and molested from the time I could walk. If there was abuse before that, I didn’t remember it.
At the age of seven, I had my first astral projection event. I was outside of my body, standing on a porch and looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Funny thing was, at that time we lived in Colorado. But I stood on that porch, unafraid for the first time in my life. A being suddenly appeared on the porch with me. I didn't know if he was an angel or what, but I didn’t have any fear of him. I looked up and said, “I want to stay here. This is home.” He looked down with sad eyes and said, “You can’t, you must go back. There is still more for you to learn.” I screamed at him, and then begged him not to have to leave, but then I was suddenly back in my body, screaming and crying that I couldn’t stay at the good house by the beach. I had no understanding of what happened to me, but I got a clue a few weeks later. My mother and her friend were having coffee and playing the Moody Blues on the stereo. My mother’s friend started telling my mom about how some of the band members were into magick and astral projection. She then went on to explain what astral projection was and I listened to every word. Seven years old and I understood everything she said. I also knew that was what had happened to me.
Later, I was watching a show about the Bermuda Triangle and how people, planes and ships would disappear forever. I started researching everything I could about it and found that there were dimensional portals other than the Bermuda Triangle. It was just one of the most famous ones known to most people. Finding out about these places started a plan in my head. I was going to go through one of these portals and be gone from my mother and stepfather forever. That’s how bad things were, that even at a mere seven years old, I would risk a great unknown and possible death, rather than stay at home. What seven year old knows enough to research Dimensional portals and astral projection? I did and I learned more and more every day. Even before that first experience though, when I got angry, things would shake and cupboards would open and close by themselves. My mother would threaten to have me exorcised and would call me devils child and such. A real ‘Carrie situation’ in many ways for me. One thing was constant in my life however; my own personal hell would only get worse as time went on.
Finally, even my mother couldn’t take my step-father’s abuse anymore, more for her safety than for my well-being and she divorced him when I was ten. Things were still pretty bad in my childhood, and later, when I was twelve, I had had enough. She had slapped me just for looking at her. I got up and slammed her into the refrigerator in our kitchen and told her if she ever hit me again I would kick her ass. Later that night, I ran away from home, not willing to take anymore from her or the new man she had married. He had the same look in his eyes as my first step-father did. So, I left home.
Now, a twelve year old on the streets has very few choices of making it alone in the big world. But, I had never sold my body for sex until I was nineteen. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Instead, I learned how to do many things a young preteen should probably never learn. I ran with hit men, Hells Angels, and drug cartels. I learned how to kill, how to maim, but most importantly, how to survive. I had done everything from running drugs up the pipeline from Florida to New York. Learned how to kill a person ten different ways, by just using normal household cleaning products—leaving no trace or making it look like an accident. I ran huge loads of drugs in my car, a 1969 Nova SS, until it took one too many bullets outrunning the police on a long, dark highway we won’t mention; statues of limitations being what they are today.
Now your normal, everyday person would think this girl had turned into a monster, but I would refute that. The upside is, I learned how not to be a bigot or a racist from the Hells Angels. I learned how much a person's life was worth from an assassin. I learned how to survive in the most dangerous situations from the drug cartels. But the most important thing I learned, was the worth of my soul through magick. True, I didn’t care much for anyone around me, whether they lived, breathed or died the next day, including myself for many years. I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) along with nightmares and panic attacks. I barely functioned in a society that couldn’t understand the inhuman tendencies I battled every day; but once I had my first child, that was when I finally learned how to be human. My first son saved my life and saved my soul; all by staring up at me with a look of pure innocence and trust, in that I would take care of him and protect him from any harm, large or small. That was the day my life started its second phase; that of a mother. I married two years later, feeling that my son needed a strong father to grow up the right way, but my husband had other ideas once I got pregnant with my second son. I never was one for talking abuse in any form, once I learned how to fight back, and I divorced him, since he wasn’t going to bother being a good example of how a man should be. He tried to kill me and our unborn son the night I tried to leave, after finding him with a waitress. My cop friends took him for a ride and showed him that his actions were a real bad idea and suggested he sign any papers I wanted signed. He did sign, with a shaky hand, the divorce papers which also gave me total custody of my second son. Heavily pregnant, I moved us away, and went to the last place on Earth he would ever look for us. Tucson, Arizona was the safest place for us, since everyone knew how much I loved the sea and how much I hated the desert. Again, my past with various nefarious types came in handy. I learned how to disappear and do it well.
If you ever want to throw someone off your trail, go to the place they know you hate. It’ll be the last place they’ll look. Change how you dress, how you act and what you do from day to day. Hiding 101.
So, I went to college and took every class I could and aced just about everything at the top of my class. I won awards for high achievements. I won the Board of Governors award and earned four degrees. A total 180 of my previous personality. I had my third son, because some know-it-all doctor didn’t bother mentioning to me that the Pill wouldn’t work when a female takes antibiotics for pneumonia. Since his biological father was nothing more than passing time for me and not someone I wanted to keep, I didn’t feel any anger when he told me he wanted nothing to do with the baby. I was quite happy to raise him on my own, as well. When I called my mother to tell her the good news, however, she spent the next half hour telling me what a whore I was and how I just screwed up my college goals. Such wonderful faith my mother had in me.
I did two more years at college and was about to go for my golden number five degree when I stumbled upon a new way of using astral projection to get me my true heart’s desire. I wanted true love; a soulmate. A man who would move Heaven and Earth to stay by my side until the end of time and love me no matter what. A man who could love all of me; the good, the bad and the not so nice. Only a soulmate could really love a person such as myself. A person whom I could trust to be a good husband and a good father. This was how the third phase of my life got started. The third part, where I finally bit off more than I could chew.
Nightwolves Dawn to Dusk-The Semi Prequel
Clarrissa Lee Moon
December 28th, 1995
My days usually started at 6:30 am every freaking day.
I woke up, got my boys awake and dressed. Fed them, got all of our things together—the stuff they needed for the sitters and/or school and the things I needed for my college classes. Only my two oldest boys, Christoph, who was 8 and Crimson, who was 6, were in a new public school I was trying out, hoping that this one would be good for my boys and not the nightmares the previous schools had been. Craven, at 4, was still much too young and needed a sitter daily. Today, however, it was a trip to the sitters for all three boys while I got a head start on my classes that would be starting in January. It was how I ruined the curve for those preppy types who had daddies that were rich enough to pay their way through school while I begged, borrowed, or stole what I needed just to survive and go to class. I was always at the top of my class and often took self-paced courses when available, so I could finish them in record time and save a huge amount on paying the sitters. Plus, it gave me extra time I could spend with my kids and for coming up with new ways of budgeting, making every dollar scream for mercy. I was relentless in my goals. Today ended up totally different.
I dropped the kids off, planned for my classes and got the books early so I could get my head start. I had planned for every nickle that would be spent for the coming semester. I drove home after picking up my boys. I walked in the door and put in a Disney movie to keep them entertained while I got their dinner made and start our nightly routine of getting them into bed so I can study until 3 am. I sighed heavily as I washed the dishes, mopped the floor and felt so lonely I just wanted to sit down on the floor and cry.
This had been my life for four years now. Day after day, night after night. There were no funds for a girls night out and no girls to even have a girls night out with. Most people just didn't like me. Men just wanted to fuck me. Dar, an elderly lady in her 60's, was the only one I could talk to and she was much too old for going out for a night on the town. Hell, she was most likely in bed already. Women my age were just a pain in my ass most times. I didn't understand them at all. I knew about guns and how to kill a man fifteen different ways; they talked about getting their nails done and what kind of hair color to use. Now with college, they only wanted me to help them get A's, and then after the semester was over, I never heard from them again. This semester, if someone wanted to be my “study buddy” I was going to tell them to fuck off. I hated being used. Those thoughts brought the depression and loneliness back in full force. Damn it.
I had three beautiful boys that needed a father badly. I couldn't be everything they needed all by myself. I needed someone I could trust— someone good enough to be a positive role model. But either I was too picky about what I thought a “real man” should be, or they just didn’t make them anymore. Maybe I was just a ball-busting bitch? This was my nightly guilt trip I put myself through. Was it any wonder I didn't sleep much? Yet again, I would pull myself up by the bootstraps and paste a phony grin on my face for my kids benefit, finishing the housework and mommy chores for the night.
I put the kids to bed, read them their story and gave them their kisses. Then, instead of picking up a college text book, I went and turned on the TV. Hey, one night out of the week, I decided I could just veg and watch the Highlander. Now that was a man, but in real life a man like that probably wouldn't give me the time of day if one really existed. I was way too rough around the edges. I still got looks from the professors when I walked in with my blue jeans and black leather jacket, but I was not there to dress for them. I was there to learn. Most teachers found that out right quick and put their judgments on the back burner once they saw me go to work in class. For those that didn't, I switched classes real fast, before I hit them for being assholes or they ruined my G.P.A. out of spite.
But a man like the Highlander would be a good father, a wonderful lover and strong enough to fight by my side if the situation called for it and not be threatened by me. That would be awesome! Too bad in real life they just didn't seem to make a man like that. Someone smart enough to see beneath the tough exterior and love me in spite of myself. To love all of me, despite the bristle of defense I wore to keep people at arm’s length. My eyes started to slide closed, filled with thoughts of having a real man who had class and could honestly love someone like me.
Then, something happened I hadn't felt in years. I felt my soul slip out of my body and rise towards the ceiling. I let myself go, knowing sometimes this could lead to a good thing and found myself in a room with a very expensive feel to it. There was a huge bed with black and gold silk sheets and I focused on the man lying in the middle of it, who seemed to have just passed out from exhaustion. He was handsome with dark hair, but cut short in a businessman’s style. He sort of looked like the guy in the Highlander show, but his features were slightly more defined. More handsome in my opinion, though this man too, had strong Sagittarius looks with his dark eyebrows curved just so over his almond-shaped eyes. I couldn't tell what color they were because he was asleep, but the rest of him was magnificent. Strong, well- developed muscles, but not overdone. All he was wearing was a pair of black silk boxers and I wanted to see them come off. The next thing I knew, I was naked and straddling him, overwhelmed with my own desire as I gazed at his sleeping form. Somewhere in his subconscious, his body was responding to my presence, because his cock had slipped from between the slit in his shorts and was standing at attention for me. I couldn't resist and slid myself down on his long, perfectly-formed penis and felt his firmness fill me. I groaned in delight, finally feeling like I had found the perfect man who could fill me just right, but the spell was broken as he suddenly woke up, and I got snapped back into my own body. The last image I had was him looking around trying to find the woman who had just been sitting on his dick.
Back in my own body, I too, snapped awake and shouted out loud, “What the fuck was that?”
It could have just been a dream, but as I physically felt that I had just been filled between my legs, I seriously doubted it. I knew when I was out of my body though. I still hadn't learned exactly how to control it. So, not a dream then; who was that guy? He was gorgeous and had to be a practitioner, if he felt me. His room spoke of living well, which was not a good thing in my book. Men who came from that price bracket, didn't waste time with biker trash like me, unless they were hiring me for a body-guarding job, or for other, more nefarious things, which I just didn't do anymore and hadn't for years. I left my illegal days far behind me when I got pregnant with Christoph. I didn't recognize the guy, but I sure felt something from him that was most unusual. I shut off the TV and went to my room and opened my footlocker for my books I hadn't touched in a long time—books on witchcraft, astral projection and more. It was time to bone up, because this had felt just too real and I needed to know who he was. For some reason, it felt like my life now depended on it. And that was freaking me out as well.
Present day near the Kla’ din portal
“Baby, come back to me. Come back to us,” Demitri sobbed, unable to hold in the tears any longer. Andre and Antonio were as upset as he was, but they tried to offer him comfort and still touch Cat at the same time where they could. Andre otherwise couldn't seem to find his voice and Antonio was repeating over and over to Demitri, “It'll be all right. We'll find something. We'll get her back.” Her siblings reactions ranged from shock to pure anger, depending on their unique personalities. Ja' Kelo kept shaking his head, as if the reality of Cat being gone hadn't quite yet sunk in for him. Ja' Callum and Ja' Monel had soon reached the portal and came bursting into the park.
Ja' Monel's anger was something to behold. “What exactly has happened to our Meshama?” his tone cold and deadly. Gerard quickly filled him and Ja' Callum in on the events that led to the moment.
Ja' Callum’s face filled with anguish, as he too, scanned Cat for an aura, and saw how broken Demitri was for the lack of one showing on her. He walked closer and reached out to offer what comfort Demitri would take. Ja' Monel edged closer to Ja' Kelo and the both of them moved closer to the group now surrounding Cat. Once Ja' Monel had touched Ja' Kelo, it seemed to snap something inside of the younger man and he started crying. Ja' Monel held him closer and let him spend his grief while he gazed at Cat in utter despair.
“Who did this to our Meshama?” Ja' Monel's voice turned into a cruel growl.
“A Bokor, basically a black voodoo practitioner,” Gerard told him.
“Is there any ways of breaking this curse?”
“Not here, no.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“The spell went like this:
(Three times you will see the black; black of the sea, black of the night and black of the snake will bring you the black of your sight. Three times cursed, three times dead. Your worst time in life will be in your head.
Until the end of time, you will live the undead—breathing but not living, heart beating, but no loving. Nothing in, on or of this Earth will break this in my stead.)
It seems to be an ancient curse, because there is nothing like it in any of the more modern voodoo books I have.”
“So, she saw these things and her soul was taken?” Ja' Monel asked.
“We're not sure, actually. If you look closely in her brain area there is a small black bubble. It's heavily shielded.”
“Break the shield then.”
“We can't. It might cause Catrina to go insane if she is inside there anywhere.”
Antonio spoke up, “Nothing in, on or of this Earth will break this in my stead. Maybe if we got her off this planet we might be able to do something.”
“Let's take her to our home in Kla' din. She'll be safer there at least,” Ja' Monel agreed.
Ja' Monel still had Ja' Kelo in his arms, but he had calmed down now, feeling the hope spring up in Ja' Monel's heart. Ja' Monel turned to Ja' Callum, “Get Demitri to calm down. This is not the time for grief yet. We need to take her home with us.”
“I feel his pain,” Ja' Callum said quietly.
Ja' Monel eyes widened for a second. “Block your bond with him as I have blocked mine from Ja' Kelo and get him calmed and moving. Let's see if we can get her to walk with us; if not, then carry her.”
Ja' Callum took a deep breath and blocked Demitri's pain from himself and started to talk to him swiftly.
“Let her go so we can see if she can walk with us.”
Reluctantly, Demitri let go of her and backed away, now hugging himself as if in deep pain.
“Meshama, walk with us,” Ja' Callum told her.
Cat just sat and stared blankly.
Gerard said, “Names have power. Let me try something. Catrina, get up and walk.” Still, there was nothing.
Slightly perplexed, he tried again, “Catrina Lynn Garcia, walk.”
She moved suddenly and started to walk in a straight line.
“Catrina Lynn Garcia, stop,” Gerard ordered. She stopped.
This seemed to make Demitri feel even more anguish over the situation and he couldn't watch her being controlled like a puppet.
Demitri turned away and Ja' Callum again offered him solace, which he took, allowing Ja' Callum to hold him close. “It'll be all right. We'll take her home and try everything in our place of worship. We have many spells and potions. Remember that one we used to reverse the non-healing curse on her not too long ago?”
Demitri nodded and took a deep breath, “Yeah that worked fast. You're right. There has to be something.” Ja' Callum gave him a smile and clapped him on the back. Demitri backed away, but still couldn't look at Catrina being ordered around and seemed to try to block it from his sight.
They maneuvered her through the portal, where the dragons were on guard at Kla’din. One of them ambled over, happy to see Cat, and then came to a dead stop as he drew near enough to sniff her.
Snuffling deeply, he shook his head and reared back in panic, bugling distress.
Soon, all the dragons that were near were bellowing in grief over their Mistress who seemed dead to them. Cassie started to shout for Cornelia, Cat's first and lead dragon for the guard while on Kla' din, and Cornelia came flying in like a dark cloud on fire, shooting flame as she dropped in for her landing. She, too, came at Cat at a fast pace to smell her, and a thrumming started with all the dragons that welled up in a long, mournful trumpet that was loud enough to make the humans and Kla' din's cover their ears. It was louder than their usual battle trumpet, more soulful then the howl of the wolf, and seemed to last forever, echoing across the desert crystal sands of Kla’ din.
Cassie kept trying to shout over them to get herself heard, but the grieving from the dragons wouldn't stop. It took Gerard, using a sharp blast of power that was more powerful than an M-80 firecracker, to get the attention of Cornelia. He then quickly told her the specifics of Cat's condition and that there was hope to reverse it.
Cornelia quickly let out a loud bellow and got the dragons nearest her to stop and soon word spread to all the dragons that Cat was not completely dead and there was hope for revival. The Dai' Khan's chimes were tinkling constantly with reports from the Je's of the unusual frantic state of their guardian dragons. The Dai' Khans had to repeatedly reassure the Je’s that the dragons would soon calm down.
When the dragons quieted, Cassie spoke again to Cornelia. “I am sorry. We should have thought to warn you of Cat's condition before bringing her through the portal. Cornelia, please forgive us.” She implored of the black dragon who was still spewing jets of flame in agitation.
Cornelia bent towards Cassie’s face. ‘Swear to me our Princess isn’t dead. She smells dead, she feels dead. How can she not be dead?’
Cassie gave her a solemn promise that Cat wasn’t completely dead. It wasn’t a lie—her heart beat (if slowly) and blood ran through her body. There was just no one home at the moment and hopefully they could figure out how to get her soul back inside of her, if it wasn’t inside that black bubble in her brain. Shamus shimmered inot full existence between Cassie and Cornelia.
“What happened to Catrina?” Shamus gritted out. Cassie took a step back, unused to having Shamus look so foreboding. Yes, he could get gruff and crotchety, but she had never seen him look as dangerous as he did right then.
Cornelia inched her huge body further in to catch her words and Cassie explained to the mob that had gather around the group all that had brought Catrina to Kla’ din in this condition. Even the military soldiers were looking uneasy, as the anger levels could be felt rising in the air around them from Catrina’s familiars; and that included Shamus, himself.
“Why wasn’t the curse seen to once it was laid on her, may I ask?” Shamus turned scorned-filled eyes at her mates.
“There wasn’t time. She kept running from emergency to emergency, rescuing her kids. You know how she is about her kids. Nothing else matters but their safety first.”
“What has happened with them?” Shamus queried.
Her mates filled him in on the events that had taken place and Shamus sighed heavily as they finished. “There was nothing anyone could have done then if any one of her children were in danger; and now these Draugralls dare take a Prince of the Blood.” He turned towards Catrina’s familiars. “They will pay for that, as the voodoo queen will pay for her insult against our Mistress, but first and foremost, we must protect the princess and bring her back to us fully restored. Vengeance will have to wait until we can get her soul back. This isn’t the first time we have had to rescue her soul. We will do so again,” he shouted to the crowd.
Dragons reared up, bugling their assent and then formed up in a circle around the group.
Shamus turned back to her mates, “The safest place she’ll be is inside a Temple. The sanctity will keep her safe from being called by the voodoo maven, who still has complete control over her until we break this curse laid on our Princess.”
Ja’ Callum said, “Then, we’ll take our Meshama to Temple in her City-Palace. Kla' Jantedunn tu Kla' din.”
Nightwolves Battle for Kla' din
In Loving memory of Darlene Post
By Clarrissa Lee Moon
On the Break
The light burned throughout my whole body. It felt like a million volts of electricity were running up and down the entire length of me. Somewhere deep inside, I knew what this feeling was, but I couldn't recall where I had felt it before. All this was secondary to the intense feeling rushing through me. It was painful and uplifting at the same time. The pain I could understand. Pain and I were old friends. Pain was a feeling, and any feeling can be controlled. The uplifting feeling was completely alien and I didn't like it one bit. But that too can be controlled.
Then, abruptly, it was over and I awoke fully, screaming out loud.
My hands were already grabbing for my knives, a gun—anything, so I could be ready for any threat when I rose. But I found nothing. Not under the pillow I could feel under my head, nor the bed flap under my body. I could feel no outlines of weapons anywhere from head to toe and I knew I was in extreme danger.
Whoever else that may be in the room would know I was awake now, and I knew I had only seconds to react.
Rolling out, I opened my eyes and grabbed the first things I could use as a weapon and shield; a nice, heavy candle stick and some kind of metal top that was covering a dish of food. I kept moving until my back was up against a wall, all the while scanning the room for threats. And there were so many threats. Too many for me to handle alone and I knew I would be alone. I was always alone on a job.
Was this the job? Did I get caught? Did I miss my target? Why didn't they strap me down?
Well, that would be their first mistake. No matter how many there were, I would take as many as I could before they killed me.
“Whoa, Cat, it's ok. You're safe, baby. It's ok.” This guy with dark hair and eyes was making placating movements with his hands.
I watched those hands in case he went for my face or neck. He moved slowly towards me, inching closer and I dropped my left foot back. I had a target now. I would kill this guy first, then work my way around the room to the far side where I could see a door that hopefully led out of this fucking place.
The guy coming toward me must have sensed something, because he stopped dead in his tracks and gave me a look I couldn't understand.
“Who the fuck are you calling Cat?” I snarled at him.
“Catrina then, but I thought you liked Cat?” He looked confused and sounded hurt.
“I have never been called Cat and I hate being called Catrina. So, if you don't know my name, that makes you an enemy and that leaves you with two choices.”
“But...” he began.
“Shut up. Two choices. You let me leave, I let you live. You don't let me leave, I kill you and everyone here and I still leave.”
He and others gasped at my statement. A female, who looked vaguely Asian, came forward slowly with her hands out to her sides to show me she didn't have a weapon. I still didn't let down my guard, but I watched her closely. I knew she could tell I was capable of extreme violence and was treating me like I was dangerous. This was both good and bad, depending on the outcome.
“Demitri, I think you need to back up a bit, please,” she quietly implored him, never taking her eyes off of me.
The guy she called Demitri did as she asked, reluctantly, but the look on his face was one as if I had hurt him deeply somehow and I couldn't care less. He was backing off and that's all I cared about. It brought the threat to me down a notch or two, but this small woman could be just as, if not more dangerous, so I didn't allow myself to relax.
“Sister, are you all right?”
“Yes, we're sisters. Don't you remember?”
“I don't have any sisters. I'm an only child. So strike one. Now, let me leave or things will get very bloody, I can promise you that.” I wasn't threatening. I was telling her and the rest of them nothing less than the truth. Looking around at all the people’s expressions, some looked shocked and a few had tears rolling down their faces. Others looked lost and confused, but a few looked hard. Real hard, and as lethal as I was; and they didn't bother to hide it from me or anyone else in the room. Two men stood out—one looked like he was in the military from the gear he had on; his face was baby smooth and seemed sweet-looking, but for the hard gleam in his eyes. The other man standing slightly to the left of him looked dark and foreboding with his startling cold, blue eyes and black hair; he had strong Italian looks, but for those blue eyes. I would have to watch out for both of them when I let myself loose. They'll be the hardest motherfuckers to take down in this room. Everyone else looked like they could take care of themselves, but for those two who could go that extra mile. They had the same hard edge I had and that made them more dangerous than anyone else in the room. And who was the freak with the wizard-looking robes and hat on? These people really needed some therapy or good drugs. Maybe both. But that wasn't my problem; getting out of here was first and foremost the main issue.
“Don't you recognize us, Catrina?” she asked, her brow puckered at the top bridge of her nose.
“I've never seen anyone here before and I will leave, so make room now.” My voice dropped into a growl. I was planning my moves that would get me to the door as quickly as possible.
“Wait, please, and listen. No harm will come to you here. I promise.”
People were looking at one another like they were having conversations, but no one was actually talking. I really needed to get out of here and away from these people and find out where the fuck I was, so I can get back to the compound and find out what went wrong.
“That's what they all say, but it’s all pretty lies,” I said quietly.
“No, not this time. I swear it. Please, a compromise.” She looked like she understood something of what I would do, but wanted to try to talk to me regardless. I was trying to figure out what her game was.
“I want out. It's simple enough. Your problem is, how many will die before I get to that door.”
“You want the door. All right, if we clear the way to the door, will you stay and just listen to us for a few minutes?”
With them moving away from the door, I could get out much faster and with less chance of taking a major blow before I reached the door frame.
“Fine, two minutes. No more. Make it good.”
They moved away from the door as promised. The way was now clear for a fast run. But I was curious, so I held my side of the bargain.
“You say you don't know anyone here, right?”
“Do you know who you are?”
The weird guy with the robes and hat moved forward slowly with his hands out from his sides as well.
“Do you know what year this is?” He asked and others gasped and a few groaned with this question. That was very interesting to me.
Giving them that information wouldn't compromise me at all, but I couldn't understand why they would ask such a stupid question. It was their time though, so I didn't give a shit. “1983.”
His eyes turned grave and he almost whispered, “Then your name would be C.C. Coffman and your other name would be Chimera.”
I almost gasped myself. Only two people alive knew my other name and neither one was in the room. Lots of people knew me as C.C. Coffman, so that didn't matter; it was my street name. But, for more nefarious doings, I always used my other name and that one was used only by the one who trained me, and the other who would hire me for certain jobs. Neither of them would give anyone else my name. Was this the mark I missed? Why couldn't I remember what job I was supposed to be on? No one looked familiar and if this guy was the mark, I would know everything from the time of his birth, the first time he got laid, and the time when someone decided he needed to die. And yet, no one in this room fit that bill. I didn't know anyone, so how could any single person here be the mark I missed?
Oddly, I felt better at that thought, because I had never missed before. But, then why did I wake up in this room with all these weird people who looked like they watched Fantasia one too many times?
“How do you know the name ‘Chimera’?”
“It was the name you used when you worked as an assassin.”
I almost moved forward to rip his throat out. I held back, running every scenario I could think of on how this guy could know my name and what I did for a living. This place didn't look like a police station or a hospital, but that didn't mean anything. I've seen cops pull some real off-the-wall shit to get what they wanted, including spiking coffee with drugs. Only the military-looking guys in the room would fit that bill, but what about the others? Some looked like Ninjas, others like Lawrence of Arabia gone wild. Others looked like something right out of a Disney flick. The oddest bunch of freaks I have ever seen even inside the wildest of acid parties. Nothing was adding up, except one fact. I was in deep shit and the more information I knew, the more of a chance I would be able to get myself out alive and back to where I belonged. Assuming I didn't fuck up a job so badly, they were waiting for me with a bullet with my name on it. I would worry about that after I got myself extracted from here. And this guy said ‘worked’, as in past tense. That didn't make sense at all. I was still an assassin.
“Not that I am coppin' to nothin', but how would you know that if it were true?”
He sighed deeply and looked sideways at the small female standing next to him now. “What we would need to tell you would take more than a few minutes and you'll have a hard time believing any of it, and I know how much you hate being lied to, even as a child.”
The small female nodded. “The shortest explanation is this. The year is actually 2010 and everyone here is related to you in one form or another and you don't remember any of this because we just brought you back from being a zombie.”
The wizard-looking guy pursed his lips. “I am thinking bringing you back so fast made you pull back to a time where you had absolute control over every aspect of your life. It's the time where you felt the safest, because you never let anyone get close enough to hurt you. You were the one who did the hurting to others—usually for a good fee.”
He looked back at the others. “This could be a survival response for her. The only way she can cope with what happened to her.” Some of the others were nodding in agreement and I almost smiled. Almost.
“So, how many hits of acid did you all take?”
This was starting to make sense. I wound up at a party somewhere and someone must have slipped me something. That's why I can't recall jack shit. Now this is something I can handle. I am still going to kill the one who slipped me the dope. I quit taking drugs two years ago because it took control away from me. Working with the people I did, you needed to be in total control every single second of the day, or you wound up dead. There was no room for error. No second chances. If you fucked up, you died. One simple rule.
I saw one woman in the small crowd was heavily pregnant and frowned at her. I should kill her too on the way out. I hated bitches who took drugs while they were pregnant. I'd probably be doing the kid a favor.
The small female looked at the wizard. “She won't believe anything we say, will she?”
He snorted, “Would you?”
She turned back to me. “Please go outside and take a look, and then we will tell you everything at the table in that room.” She pointed down the hallway, past the door I wanted out from. “Two doors from the left. You should be prepared for seeing things you never would imagine, whether drug induced or not. The truth is, you're not on Earth anymore; this is your family and your home now. Things have just gotten really bad for you, but at least we got you back, partially. We will do anything we can to help you remember everything that has happened since you've had to take care of yourself, but you are no longer an assassin and you have a lot of people who love you now.”
It was my turn to snort. Yeah, right. When someone says they love you, they're just setting you up for a nice, big scam. Tell me another pretty lie, little woman. Not on Earth anymore? Okkaayy. These people have watched Star Wars too many times. Next, one of them will be telling me they were my father and I should join with him. I almost laughed. Almost.
They were letting me out though, and that's all I cared about. I stood up from my fighting stance slowly, trying to watch them all out of the corner of my eye, as I carefully strode toward the door, waiting for one of them to make their move.
No one moved though. A few of them looked like they wanted too, but none made a move.
“Front door?” I asked, as I moved past the archway.
“Straight out the double doors ahead,” she softly answered.
No one jumped out from any of the other rooms. Nothing impeded my progress right out the double doorway. Nothing stopped me, until I walked outside into the bright, blinding light, and saw what looked like a huge, black dragon that had grayish smoke blowing through its nose in spirals. Seeing a huge, long, pure black dragon lying on the front lawn with wisps of smoke coming from its nostrils was enough to make me stop dead in my tracks. When the creature stirred and turned its large head in my direction and snuffled, it was enough of a shock to make me back the fuck up. A low crooning started to rumble from its chest as it inched closer to me, like it wanted to smell me.
Now, I have faced guns pointed at my head. I have faced gunfire, vicious fights, cop raids and a host of hellish incidences, enough to give me nightmares for the rest of my life; but having this obviously fire-breathing dragon trying to sniff me was a bit more than I knew how to handle.
“What the fuck?” I lifted the candle stick to bash it if it came nearer.
The dragon jerked its head back as if it read my mind.
Good, the creature didn't like candle sticks. I can work with that.
“Please don't hurt her. She is just worried about you.” The small woman's voice came from behind me and I turned to face the renewed threat.
“How the fuck can anyone hurt a dragon?” I turned to look at the thing again. “It is a dragon, right?”
She nodded. “You can hurt her easily. She is your dragon and will not do anything to hurt you, even if you are killing her. Her name is Cornelia and she has been very scared for you.”
Either the drugs haven't worn off yet or there was some really freaky shit going on here.
I made myself look around the dragon itself to the landscape beyond, and saw more buildings like this looking like something from a Middle Eastern movie set complete with a Taj Mahal and plenty of sand dunes way out in the distance. Sparkling blue sand dunes to add to the freakishness. In the immediate vicinity were smaller homes lined out from either side of the palace beyond the four foot wall surrounding the place. Lush greenery and tall trees were laid around all the buildings to help with shading. The other thing I noticed was a huge, 1,000 ft. tall purple crystal obelisk standing in the shimmering light. It was shimmering, because it was erected right in the middle of a large lake. Off to the other side were real, honest-to-God pyramids. Three of them, which reminded me of a picture I’d seen of the Giza pyramids in Egypt. If the dragon hadn't been enough proof to show me I wasn't in Kansas anymore, the monolithic monuments were. I walked carefully around the dragon to the wall and looked at the streets paved with blocks of hardened squares of cement, but it wasn't cement. On the side street walked people, mostly men from the garb they wore, and they too, resembled Middle Eastern men, minus the beards. What made me blink several times was seeing the biggest wolves I had ever seen in my life also padding their way in between the folks who paid them no never mind. No one seemed afraid of the huge animals and the wolves, to me, acted very odd. I had seen wild wolves before, and never would a wolf walk so calmly among men without nipping or growling if someone got too close. You left a wild wolf alone and they would never come into a town like this with so many people outside. I closed my eyes and counted to ten, taking deep breathes in and out like I had been taught. I took an evaluation of my mental and physical state and found nothing that could explain why I was seeing something that shouldn't be. And let's not forget the dragon. I turned back around to see the small woman who was now stroking the muzzle of said dragon, like she was trying to sooth the creature's hurt feelings.
That was when I knew I had to face the facts that were so obviously staring me in the face.
I had to get control of this situation. So, I reverted back to my training mode. Access the situation. Take stock of what ammunition and weapons I had to work with. Find the threats. Deal with the threats. Get home and call my trainer. Simple.
I walked back to the small woman. “Fine, explain this. But, if I’m not satisfied with the answers, I might still kill everyone here if I get annoyed enough. Are we clear?”
She nodded sadly and swept her hand, as if to guide me back inside the palace.
“Oh, no, after you,” I said to her. Like I would put a potential enemy at my back in an enclosed space. What did she take me for, a novice?
I walked inside hearing the dragon crooning forlornly. The dragon wasn't my problem. It only became a problem if it kept me from getting back to my trainer.
I felt physically better as I entered the shaded palace, but I was still tired. The sun was so bright; it hurt my eyes, making them start to water. It must have been really hot too, since I felt lethargic and ready to pass out. I hid this weakness as I had been taught. Never let anyone see that you’re hurt, lest a potential enemy take advantage of it and use it against you. Showing any weakness outwardly could make the difference between me getting back to the compound or winding up with a Jane Doe toe tag.
Everyone was sitting a table that spanned a long and wide room, meant for occupying many people having dinner parties and what not. That was my best guess as I saw everyone sitting, waiting patiently for me to find a seat. The only empty seat I saw was at the head of the table and I moved toward it. On the opposite side of the table sat a man with blond hair and blue eyes. I almost let out a sigh of regret, because I had a penchant for blond hair and blue-eyed men. He and the two who sat next to him were extremely handsome. I don't think I’ve ever seen men as handsome and well-built as they were. Near my seat, sat three darker haired men. They were also extremely handsome and had dark brown eyes, but the resemblance to my step-father's coloring always put me off of men who looked like this, no matter how well put together they were. I hated my step-father, so I stayed away from men with dark hair and brown eyes as a matter of course.
I sat at the head of the table and for some weird reason it felt right. That this was my place. I shrugged off the feeling and resumed my visual scan of potential threats, accessing the situation, gathering information.
The dark haired men looked close enough in resemblance to be brothers and probably were. They also looked very saddened, which would make them slower in responding to any attack I might have to enact. This was good to know.
Putting on my ditzy party girl facade was a bit late. No one here would buy it now. So I would just continue to gather the Intel I required to get myself back to where I needed to be. Where things made sense.
The small Asian woman took her seat between two other men and nodded to the wizard-looking guy. “Shamus here will explain everything. The only thing we ask of you is to just listen.”
If it got me the information I needed, I can listen all day long. That wasn't the problem.
What was the problem, was the load of bullshit the one they called Shamus started to lay on me. And it just kept on getting better and better.
“...once we put your astral 'I' back inside, it broke the rest of the curse and you returned to us. However, the damage inflicted on you while you were under the curse has made you partially amnesiac. That's why you don't remember any of your family or your mates here.” He finished up and sat back down in his seat.
“So, what you're telling me, is that I’m related to everyone at this table by blood or by marriage, except for you and Trixie here and the military guys. But they're like family because we’ve fought so many battles together already and spilled blood in the same mud? Right?”
“And you and Trixie and even that dragon out there serve me, because I am a princess of a Goddess? Right?”
“That, and more; but, basically, yes.”
“Ah huh.” I sat back in my seat trying to find the angle of any of these people. What did they have to gain? What did they want from me? Did they want to steal it, take it or kill me for it? Everybody has an angle; everybody wants something and if they're nice to you, that's when you really have to watch them. It's just a matter of the method they will try to take it from you. Once you figure out what they want and the method of how they want it, it becomes easy to turn the tables back around and fuck them up with it.
But, for the life of me, I couldn't see the angle. I had nothing on me personally. Just a black t-shirt and a bottom pair of pants from a gi. Shit, I was even barefoot.
It wasn't money. If I had any, they’d already gotten it. It wasn't drugs, because I stopped using two years ago. Though, I still muled for top dollar every now and then. It wasn't sex. They had enough women here to orgy their brains out without adding me to the pot and most of these women looked a hell of a lot better than I did. Maybe they were setting me up for something?
“All right, you with the blue eyes and black hair,” I pointed to the one they said was my brother by blood.
“Gerard,” he answered coldly.
“Gerard. You're supposed to be my physical half brother and we share the same father, although I know he died in 'Nam.” I held up my hand to stop him from commenting, because I wasn't done.” If that's true, there are only two people that know what my father's last name is and his birthday. That's my mother and me. And she sure as shit wouldn't tell anyone else, because she’s scared shitless of the Family. So, what are the correct answers?”
“Giannini and his birthday still is July 14th.”
I felt my face lose color and that didn't happen to me often.
No one knew that. I never told anyone in my life; not even Ace. My mother, I knew, had a deep-seated fear of the Family, always warning me to keep away or they would kill me, then her. I took the warning to heart, knowing how Mafia Families worked. They were utterly ruthless. I ought to know. I had work for other Mafia Families from time to time.
That meant the man sitting down the table was my real brother, even if no one else in this room was related to me; I could consider him family very easily. Years earlier, this would have made me ecstatic of having another blood relation. Today, it was bringing on a panic attack and I hadn't suffered from those in quite some time, thanks to my trainer, Ace. I got to my feet and walked towards the back of the room, picking up a blue and white vase, with the intention of smashing the fucking thing.
I could hear Ace's voice in my head. 'Panic is fear. Fear is a feeling. All feelings can be controlled. Where's your control, little girl?'
I took several deep breaths, in and out, like I had been taught and regained my emotions. I sat the vase back on the side table and walked back to my chair, calmly sitting down. I would not shame my teacher by acting like a child with no control.
“Meshama, you can break anything here you would like. It is all yours to do with as you will.” The handsome blond one they called Ja' Callum, pleaded. He looked so lost, as did several of the people around the table. I noticed they had moved the pregnant female behind two of the males.
I ignored his plea and the protective ring around the pregnant female they said was my sister-in-law.
“What does Meshama mean?” I asked instead.
“Dear Goddess/Wife,” he replied gently.
“I would have been happy to see her lose her temper and release some of that inner anger.” A dark one had said to his brother sitting next to him.
“I know what you mean.” The one they called Demitri replied, but his eyes were all for me, filled with pain. Whatever his problem, it was his own. I had my own problems to worry about.
I had accessed the situation and gained information. Now I needed knives and guns.
“I need weapons. Where can I lay my hands on some knives and small arms?”
“Why do you need weapons, Catrina? “ Demitri asked me, with concern growing on his face.
“You said I was safe. You said I can do anything I wanted. You said I led this team when on missions. I can't do that without weapons. Or were you lying?” A warning note was in my tone.
Demitri looked to Shamus who nodded his head to him once. “It will make her feel safer. So long as no one comes against her, she won't use lethal force.”
I didn't like hearing how someone I didn't know or trust, knew so much about me, but I kept my silence. If I kept my aggression down, they'll let down their guard faster, and then I'll be able to find out what their game was. I believed most of what they told me now, but it was the niceness that made me leery. No one was nice to you unless they wanted something from you. That was a hard learned lesson; one I will never forget again.
Demitri nodded to Ja' Callum, who then simply raised his hand and waved towards me. Out of thin air, a black leather jacket with several different types of weapons appeared on the table right in front of me. I was startled and jumped clear backwards, right over the chair, not even touching the top of it.
That, too, took me by surprise, until I recalled what Shamus said about me.
“Oh, I forgot. I am also a vampire now.” I looked around the table and a few of the men had stood up, not out of respect, but because they weren't sure what I was going to do.
“I'll need one of you to teach me how to use this power and control it. Who will show me?”
Demitri asked softly, “Babe, why don't you take the day to rest and recoup? You've only been returned back to yourself for a few hours. Surely, training can wait until tomorrow?”
I looked at him coldly. “Who will show me how to deal with this stuff, now?” I repeated to the room at large.
The small Asian woman glided forward. “I will, if you'll come with me outside, so we don't break anything by accident here?”
I nodded, scooping up the leather and bundle of weapons and walked right past the men who claimed to be my husbands. No, wait—the term they used was mates, but I got the drift; it meant the same thing as husbands. Well, whatever they were to me, they'll have to learn quickly to stay the fuck out of my way. The response they'll get will be one they will not like. No one ever told me what to do or when to do it, except Ace, and only in certain circumstances. The sooner these people learned that, the faster we will all get along. It really didn't matter to me one way or another. With the information I had and now weapons, I was halfway to my goal like I had been trained. But, where was the threat? How was I to deal with a situation with no ready threats? And even if I found any of them to be a threat and dealt with it swiftly, my trainer was gone according to the one called Shamus. My compound, my home was gone. A shaky feeling was creeping up on me and I didn't know how to deal with it. All I had ahead of me was learning to handle new weapons. Esoteric weapons, silver swords and nice, shiny guns filled with silver bullets. My, how times have changed. My trainer would have had a ball with all this new stuff that could kill in so many more different ways, and with so many different beings to kill. I was looking forward in learning how to control even more power than I apparently had when I was a little kid.
But the last half of my ‘to do’ list still wasn't clear to me. Who to kill and where was home base? I needed these things answered or that shaky feeling would only escalate. I remembered the last time that happened and I wasn't looking forward to seeing those nice young men in those clean, white coats, putting me in another straight jacket. Wait, I was a vampire now—on another world. There were no hospitals to contain something like me here. No one to shove pills down my throat and knock me out. No one to put me in a four square foot white, padded room and lock me away, until I could convince them I was a good girl again. I walked behind the one who said she was my sister and smiled.