Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Return - Part 1 : Roof Tops

Aleksei moved silently and carefully across the rooftops. The library wasn't on the side of the city that she arrived on, and she would have to cross Shadow territory on her way to its safety. A light rain fell, soaking into her clothes, adding weight to her already heavy coat and causing her hat to slide down into her face. She paused for a moment, hiding herself behind a large ventilation shaft that jutted out from the roof, its surface cracked and rusted from years of Toxian disrepair. Aleksei adjusted her hat and looked about her to get her plan of approach settled. She adjusted the straps of her flame thrower and canister harness and tightened her over-sized boots as best she could, making sure that each accessory on her person would allow for precision during the lengthy sprint that she would shortly attempt. She crouched for a moment, examining her reflexion in a pool of rain water that had gathered in an a recessed part of the roof beneath her feet. Her face, still soft featured and youthful, looked, at the same time, so tired and weary. Her imagination began to pull her from the gravity of the moment. She wondered what she had been like before her death, running innocent and free along the foothills of the Carpathians. What a lovely bride she might have made, dressed in white to blush and smile at whatever lucky young man had found her hand. She could have been such a beautiful mother...a woman. But she was trapped on the edge of adolescence and adulthood - forever, her memory erased. Trapped between what was, and all that might have been. Her breath caught just below her throat, hinting at some mortal emotion she had not felt in ages. She hissed and punched down at her reflexion in the pool, splashing water up as her vampiric strength turned the recess into a gaping hole in the roof. She stood and growled, furious at herself. "Aleksei is soldier now, " she said, clenching her fist at hole in the roof where her reflexion had been. She knew that the hole, the void, was more appropriate. "No self, only cause," she said again, collecting herself. Just then, something moved above her, crouching upon the top of the ventilation shaft. The weakened metal of the shaft creaking with the creature's weight. Aleksei did not hesitate to see what manner of being it was that had interrupted her private moment of weakness. She moved quickly and was already preparing to jump to the next rooftop when the creature caught her foot, sending Aleksei toppling forward and down into the alley below. She reached out to slow her decent, but her fingernails could not find any grip along the slick, wet brick, as they were torn away. The force with which she hit the ground made a sickening noise of many ribs and limbs breaking. But Aleksei was dead and did not feel the pain of the fall, and was on her feet, moving swiftly through the alley. She shot out and across the street, hearing gun fire in the distance - probably some gang fighting which she did not even flinch at. Across the street was a open doorway that led her into an abandoned warehouse. She moved with a speed that defied her injuries and dove into an open crate. She heard the creature crash through the doorway behind her, sounding as if it had torn the door from its hinges. Aleksei was still as death. The creature moved slowly, making horrid noises as it sniffed the air for any scent of prey. Aleksei assumed it had to have some seriously nasty claws as it made a clicking sound with each footstep, apparently stalking on all fours. It grew ever closer to little Aleksei and she knew she would be found. Carefully, she removed her flame thrower and started its gas. The creature neared, its claws and breathing silenced as Aleksei's mind moved into soldier mode. The enemy was clear, and Aleksei was ready. As soon as its hideous maw reached over the top of the crate, Aleksei sent a wave of flames up around it. It screamed out, making even Aleksei's dead skin crawl. She was up and scaling stairs to the catwalk in a flash, not hesitating to see her attack's affect. She moved toward a window, hearing the beast tearing up the stairs behind her. Aleksei tensed her muscles and placed a hand on her head to secure her hat as she dove through the window and out into the open night air.

Later, as she neared the library, dragging one leg that was reduced to a wet noodle, she could see the smiling faces of many of her comrades as they spoke to one another all warm by the fire. She did not wish to present herself once more to her comrades in such a state. She decided to pull herself into a nearby manhole to spend the evening and next day in the sewer. She would heal as she rested and report for duty first thing the next evening. And as she lowered herself down, the sound of the light shower grew to a thunderous downpour. A flood of water began to make its way into the sewer and Aleksei found herself waist deep in filth. She crawled into a crack in the tunnel's wall and collapsed, allowing her body to begin its healing. She felt hunger suddenly. Aleksei assumed that she had lost more blood than she had thought during her flight across the city.

She did not sleep well through the remainder of the evening and the next day. She woke from dreams of tearing her comrades to pieces and gorging herself on blood till her stomach swelled from the slaughter. Aleksei decided that she had better search for a few sewer rats to feed on before she finally returned to greet her old comrades.

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