The Storm

After some time, Rubicon powered down the Vette, stepped outside, and stood in solitude, absorbing the starry night sky. He felt at peace, not hungry, and as he stared skyward he recognized that there was something grander and more mysterious about life and death than all that the Kindred and mortal notions about such things had to offer. Certainly his perspective had widened ever since he passed through that great and terrible doorway into the realm of the undead.

Below, about thirty meters down the hill, a marine breeze stroked tall, lanky grass as waves caressed the shoreline. A young lady and man reclined on a blanket, holding hands, wide-eyed as they inhaled each other's beauty and sweet fragrance, as lovers do. With liquid grace, the lady drew her boyfriend close to her and kissed him deeply, lovingly.

Rubicon's face melted, eyes alight, as he perceived the deep pleasure of the moment. Memories of his wife, from his own mortal past, faded into his present field of vision, overpowering it such that he lost himself in thought, temporarily numbing his senses to the outside world. He touched the face of the beautiful vision, as if she were directly in front of him, and she returned a smile and that glint in her eyes - she was his sanctuary. She then suddenly began to scream, as if in pain, which startled him. The screams became louder, and as she continued to scream, reality bled back into mental focus, and he realized that the loud cries were coming from below.

Rubicon stepped up to the edge of the hill to get a better viewing angle, and he observed the two lovers running across a wooden bridge below and to his left. In their general vicinity, just behind them, could be heard the sounds of claws clattering across the wood, and snarls, as if several rabid dogs were chasing them. Nothing could be distinctly seen, however. With supernatural athleticism, he jumped the large distance to the ground below, landing in a perfect stance to immediately initiate running toward them. As he got closer, he could make out shadows chasing the two humans, but no distinct shapes could yet be identified. The scratches and growls were much louder though, as were the frantic screams from the two being chased.

The lovers, out of breath, reached a large tunnel, and trying their best to avoid the impending danger, hurriedly stumbled inside. It was to no avail, as the shadows easily caught up to them, and like a tornado, violently snatched the girl from her boyfriend, the latter of whom was simultaneously knocked back thirty feet against the inner wall.

Rubicon reached the opening to the tunnel, but instantly and mysteriously became paralyzed in midair. Frozen and suspended, he was still able to watch the horror before him.

Gurgles and snarls competed with the girl's screams and the sounds of her bones snapping. Her boyfriend gathered his wits enough to lift his head and look over in her direction, where three shadowy, demon-like figures were hunched over her, breaking her arms and both of her legs with superhuman strength. She cried out in agony, and between the shifting, dark shapes flitting over her, blood and vomit could be seen erupting from her nose and mouth.

She watched helplessly her own dismantling.

As her lover screamed out in disbelief, two smaller creatures darted out of the shadows with incredible agility, knocking him back -- one biting into his left arm, the other chewing on his face. Each of them could only be described as an oversized hand with a large head attached, where the wrist formed the beefy neck, and the fingers were their means of locomotion. It wasn't just any head though, but one with two horns, razor-sharp teeth, and blistering read eyes. The young man writhed and hit at them, while at the same time trying desperately to crawl toward his girlfriend.

The small, meter-tall creatures were obvious results of bone and flesh crafting experiments, and likely of the Tzimisce, Rubicon perceived. Shocked by what was transpiring, and helpless to do anything in his supernaturally frozen state, he observed something yet more bizarre. One of the shadowy creatures that was bent over the semiconscious girl began laser-slicing the top of the her head, completely removing the upper section of skull. A low, droning noise then filled the tunnel as the creature attached a dome-shaped device to her brain. The dome gradually turned bright-blue, radiating its light into an aura that filled much of the tunnel. One of the entities then turned to Rubicon for the first time, less shadowy now, revealing piercing red eyes with a massive smile of steely teeth, as if taunting him.

After several seconds, the dome dimmed, and the shadowy figure who held it in place removed it and placed it into a container. The three figures then, like wild predators over their kill, began slurping the blood from her head, mouth, and anywhere else it was found to be oozing. Biting off her hand, one of the creatures then sucked the remaining blood from her body via the stump, and she finally passed on from her mortal life.

The creatures then scurried over to her boyfriend for a second course, frenetically ripping and clawing at his head until it sheared off, after which they satiated themselves in orgiastic fashion on the blood spewing from his carotid arteries. Once the body was drained, the three figures dissolved into the shadows of the night, with the two smaller creatures racing behind, disappearing as violently and rapidly as when they first appeared.

In that instant, Rubicon dropped to the ground like dead weight. Picking himself up and dusting off his black trench coat and midnight-blue pants, he surveyed the aftermath of the human tragedy. He had never witnessed this kind of brutality in feeding, though he had certainly heard related stories. It was "the beast," the animal within, and it was one of the facets of the vampire life that disgusted him. Yet he knew that all Kindred fought against this same inner nature, fought against it from becoming victorious. Most say it is a losing proposition and is only a matter of time before one's truer nature takes possession. Obviously, those that committed this atrocity had already gone off the deep end.

Rubicon was unwilling to accept that destiny for himself though, and he knew he must face this fear head on. He must understand the enemy if he ever was to conquer it. He needed to determine the source of this attack, and just as importantly, the purpose of that dome.