Chapter One - The Chase
Chapter One: The Chase
The slap of bare feet hitting wet pavement echo a dingy alley in Downtown Los Angeles. Humans know not to cross into that part of the town after nightfall; it belongs to the supernaturals. Rain batters the city, leaving a glossy edge to everything left out on the chilly fall night. A young woman hurdles through the danky narrow space between old buildings, droplets of water beading and gliding down her skin. One slides through her hair along her scalp, sending a shiver up her spine. She swipes the back of her hand across her forehead to wipe away sweat and wetness. Golden locks whipped back and forth behind her with a “snap” every time it changes directions. Her bright emerald eyes dart from one place to another, seeking an escape from what chased her; using her abilities in this situation would be ideal, but she can’t control them, and without control, especially in this torrential downpour, can only spell disaster.
A deafening roar splits the smooth sound of rain; she reels toward the sound in time to witness a creature veer around the corner of a building. It’s a truly hideous sight to behold, with the shape of a man donning ashened skin; ebony bone-like spikes jut from several of the joints, the ones at the back reaching at least a foot in length. A second monstrosity leaps from the opening to the building across from it, massive claws digging into the aged brick. They move like a feline, their shoulders broad and biceps thick in order to propel themselves forward at incredible speeds.
The woman spins on her heels and sprints toward the end of the alley; both creatures barrel after her, tearing chunks of stone up. A charcoal blur flashes by her side and she skids to a stop, her feet nearly slipping out from under her on the soaked concrete; one beast cuts off her path forward, and the other one at her heels. Comparing the hiss of a snake to the sound this monster made would be generous to the snake. Its lips peel back, the slit in its mouth stretching almost ear to ear, reveal several rows of razor sharp teeth. An eternity passes in the seconds she locked gazes with the creature; the options are limited, and any movement might trigger the beast to lunge at her.
She claps her hands over her ears when both of the monsters tilt their heads back and pierce the dark, rainy sky with a boisterous screech. They charge at her from both sides, and she whirls around to the one behind her, dashing at it. The creature vaults into the air, making use of its muscle clad legs; she slides down onto her side to avoid the pounce, hastily bouncing back up as the beasts collide. She wastes no time bolting away from them, not daring to glance back; they scramble to their feet and tear after her.
These things have been chasing her for days, giving her no leeway to rest and hardly any to eat or drink. There were originally three, but she somehow has managed to kill one of them two days ago. The extreme fatigue takes its toll on her, dulling her senses. She squeezes her eyes shut, pushing harder off the rough concrete; it hurts, everything hurts. I can’t keep this up. The honk of a car startles her; glancing to her right, she recognizes the glow of headlights speeding toward her. She darts across the street into an alley identical to the previous one.
Tires screech, glass shatters, and metal crunches from behind her; the car must have hit one of the monsters chasing her. She doesn’t let it falter her, however, keeping her pace, too terrified to sate her curiosity. A horrendous shriek originates from behind her as she rounds a corner, her bloodied bare-feet scraping across the pavement.
The woman tumbles forward - something catches her ankle; she glances back and panic overcomes her. Her eyes follow the pinkish, rope-like flesh swaddling her ankle back to its source - the monster - it’s the thing’s tongue. It steps back, dragging her with it; she stretches her arms out to find something - anything - to grab ahold of to keep her away from this beast. Her fingers finally graze a doorframe and she latches onto it with every bit of strength she has.
“Let me go!”
She tugs her leg toward her torso, but the immense strength is near impossible to fight. With its tongue pulled taught, it whips its head to the side, forcing her to lose her grip on the doorframe. She kicks at the creature’s head as it drags her along, but the damn thing was just out of reach. An idea strikes her and she reaches down to her ankle and wraps her fingers around the slimy flesh. She doesn’t know if it will work, but there isn’t another option. The droplets of rain sizzle and steam when they land on her skin; it must have worked, because the beast recoils, unraveling its tongue, and shrieks in pain. She scurried to her feet, but before she could take a single step, her throat is constricted.
She and the monster both balk at the loud BANG; a few seconds pass, then another, and another. The creature’s tongue leaves her neck in the commotion and she drops to her knees, coughing. She scans the alley and spots a man, confusion written on his face; the monstrosity is still on its feet after being shot three times. Jet black liquid oozes from the three bullet holes in its sternum.
The woman attempts to scoot away from the creature, but it slams its claw onto her ankle, pinning it to the concrete. She yelps when the talon tears into her flesh, drawing out blood; the creature leverages more pressure onto her joint, and her bones crack with the weight. The thing doesn’t stop. It completely crushes her ankle, eliciting a pain-filled scream from her; hot crimson oozes from the sundered flesh and washes away with the rain.
In desperation, she grasps the bastard’s deformed hand, the pain being too much for her to bare; its flesh bubbles and melts and droplets simmer on both her and the monster’s skin. A vociferous howl leaves her dazed, eardrums ringing; it clutches her crushed ankle and hurls her into the wall with all its might. The building shudders as her body impacts with it, blood splattering in a five-foot radius of the impact zone; she hits the ground on her stomach and falls still. Gashes and tears cover her body, her peach top, now shredded, soaks with burgundy stains; bone fragments and slivers of brick poke out of her skin.
The creature turns its full attention on the man wielding the pistol, lips pulling back in a vicious snarl. He curses under his breath and slides the pistol back into its leather sheath. Slipping his hand under his obsidian trench coat, his fingers encircle the butt of a sawed-off shotgun. He quickly yanks it out, takes aim, and squeezes the trigger; the BAM reverberates off the building walls. The body slumps to the ground, lifeless; bits and pieces of skull, blood, and brain matter scatter the ground, some as far as three yards away. The man flips the gun in his hand and guides it back into the holster.
He, cautiously, inches toward the young lady, assuming the worst. The creature’s strength was insane to cause such damage; he studies the indention in the building’s side, rainwater mixes with the girl’s blood and drips to the ground. He kneels next to her and lodges a finger against her carotid artery, and much to his surprise, her pulse throbs at his fingertip.
“How is that possible?” He lifts her lip, inspecting her for fangs - none; he examines the rest of her body for markings or any other signs that she is one of them. He tugs the back of her shirt up to check out her wounds, but they are gone, like nothing even happened. His eyebrows draw together as his gaze shifts to her ankle, skin stitching itself together before his very eyes. His brows shoot up at this new development -no one has seen one in centuries; they were believed to be extinct.
“Could it be… Are you one of the last members of that race?” His lips curve into a grin: he can use her.
A pair of yellow eyes gleam the light of a streetlamp, watching from deep within the alley as the man lugs the girl over his shoulder and disappears around the corner.
Deep underground, in an outdated laboratory just outside the city limits, a man hunkers in front of an old junker monitor displaying the girl; his desk a mess with papers scattered across it. He pushes silver-rimmed glasses up his nose, and a stained, cream colored lab coat drapes over the back of his squeaky, torn chair.
“Well, well, you managed to get out of this predicament.” The corner of his mouth rises in a half grin, his voice deep and gruff.
“I can’t wait to get you here, my little pet. You’ll make a fine addition to my collection.” He slicks his tongue over his lips, running his hand through the mop of salt and pepper hair atop his head.
A younger man peeks his head through the steel door.
“Sir, you summoned me?”
“I want you to release Him. Send Him after the girl, but be sure you stress to Him the importance of not harming her; not more than necessary. She will provide excellent and much needed samples.”
“Yes, Him! He should be able to get the job done.”
“But He’s very unstable, and refuses to obey.”
The scientist frowns at the young man’s protest.
“I’m sorry, I’ll do it right away.” He bows deep and scurries off.
“It shouldn’t be hard for you to convince him.” A wicked smile crosses the scientist’s face.
The young woman stirs, her eyes fluttering open; everything is blurry until her vision focuses. She quickly jolts up and studies the room: she lies on a stiff, alabaster couch. An oriental floor rug covers part of the dark wooden floor, a pearl marbled coffee table centered before the couch; she rises to her feet, and roams to the giant window in the center of the living room wall. Rain streaks the glass while lightning brightens up the night sky in the background; the scenery is different, not the same run-down building she remembers from earlier.
The door swings open, startling her. At the same moment, lightning strikes a nearby building antenna, thunder rattling the windows. A man saunters in, carrying a glass; she recognizes him from the alley.
“You’re finally up I see.” He admires the lightning strike for a moment.
“Who are you? Where am I? What happened to the monster?” The questions flood out of her mouth.
“The monster is dead; you’re at my place. Here, you must be thirsty.” He offers up the glass to her.
“Dead? How?” She holds the glass idly in her hand but doesn’t take a drink.
“I killed it, of course.”
“How could you kill it so easily?”
“It’s not hard; I do this kind of stuff for a living.”
“What kind of stuff?”
“Killing monsters, like that creature.”
She falls silent for the moment. He feels untrustworthy to her.
“What’s your name?” he asks with a friendly smile.
“Sakura… Sakura Komadori.” She gazes at her reflection in the window, clothes in tatters, hair a matted mess.
“Did you kill the other one?” she inquires, fearing that another monster is already on its way to find her.
“The other one?”
It’s just as she thought. She doesn’t know where these creatures originate from, but they have targeting her non-stop since her escape.
“Don’t worry. If they come here, they will die.” He pauses for a moment. “You’re a Genso, aren’t you?” he asks, though it seems he already knows the answer.
Her eyes shoot to him as he steps up beside her.
A man stands atop the roof of an adjacent building, staring into the enormous, floor to ceiling, window; he watches the hunter and the girl. He needs to collect the girl; that’s the mission he has from the scientist. His eyes focus in on the girl, creamy white skin, slender frame, a beautiful face. The desire he feels to sink his fangs into her delicate flesh is almost overwhelming. He continues to his surveillance; the hunter approaches the girl, and he feels a tinge of jealousy. A low growl escapes his lips.
The man reaches for Sakura, but she jerks back, dropping the glass. It shatters on the floor, the liquid splashing on the edge of the rug. Smoke rises from the wet spot where the liquid landed.
“Tell me, what powers do you possess?” He curls his lips in a smirk.
“They’re of no concern to you unless you wish to die.” She can’t shake the nervousness from her voice.
“If you’re going to threaten me, don’t sound so cowardly!” He lunges at her, grasping for her again.
“I want that power!” he yells.
“No!” She starts for the door, but he grips her wrist tightly.
“Give it to me!”
The glass from the window shatters inward, landing scattered about the oak hardwood floor; giving a start to both Sakura and the man. She manages to yank her arm away from him, but a bigger problem now faces the two. Rain pelts the hardwood and an icy breeze blows Sakura’s hair back, a shiver shaking her body. The assailant crouches just this side of the broken window, black clothing masking his frame, his gaze on the hunter.
“I will most certainly ‘give it to you’ Hunter.” His lips curl back in a hiss as his teeth grow into sharp fangs.