B1 — 3. Scarlet

Rachel waited for the man to get ready, sitting on a foldable chair.  He took out the needle to stick into her vein; she held out her hand, but he seemed a little confused.  “Umm, I can’t see any veins?” After a little study, he added an elastic tourniquet and waited, but still, her arm didn’t change.

She hummed.  “That’s odd. I work out a lot; usually, I can see them, but you’re right.  My skin is perfectly smooth; I can recognize the tourniquet too, but it doesn’t feel tight.”

Clearing his throat, he swallowed.  “Okay, I’m going to see about using your accessory cephalic vein.  Give me a second to study your arm.” After a bit of study, he poked her arm, and white liquid began running into the tube.  “What the…”

“My blood is white?”  Rachel asked.

“I guess…”  The man trailed off.

“Hm, it’s really strange.  I could feel the prick pretty sharply, but it wasn’t a painful feeling, just a knowledge I’d been stuck with something.”

He nodded without comment.  After a few vials were taken, he loosened the strip and took out the needle, “What’s your name, by the way.”

“Rachel Sung Park—my Korean name is Park-Sung-Hyo if that matters.”  He added a cotton ball but soon realized the small hole had already healed.  Shaking his head, he directed her to an exit by the decontamination area.

She swallowed nervously and took a deep breath.  I guess I’ll be escorted to the vehicle transporting us … I’ll meet a real vampire.  She isn’t the same vampire as the guy in Seattle, but she’s still a vampire. She went through the plastic wall, parting the slit, and moved through two more barriers before she made it on the other side.

Twelve men in heavy military equipment and green berets greeted her.  “Hello, Ma’am,” a man stepped forward. “My name is Captain Mateo Garcia Herrero; we’ll be your escort.”

Rachel rubbed her left shoulder, examining each of them.  Wow, their posture and just the aura I feel from them … these are really brave men.  She nodded.  “Thanks.”

“This is B-Team, escorting Lunar Hare to rendezvous location.”

“Roger, B-Team.  Mission a go.”

Nodding, they walked briskly down the halls, passing many people in military garb and a few people in lab coats; the men forming a circle around her.  When they came to the front of the building, Rachel’s breath caught. The moment she stepped out of the building surging energy coursed through her.

The company stopped.  “Something—you’re glowing, anything to be concerned about?”  The men took a step back, studying her warily.

Catching her breath, Rachel shook her head.  “No,” looking up, she stared at the crescent moon.  “I think—there’s a reason I’m called a Lunar Hare … I feel like I could work out forever.  I just have this urge to be active—but it’s okay, I’m not going to go crazy or anything. Just feel super motivated, I guess.”  She chuckled apologetically. “Sorry to worry you.”

Holding a hand to his ear, Mateo said, “Note, Lunar Hare, obtain energy when under moonlight and begins to glow.”  Nodding with confirmation, he motioned for them to keep moving.

Rachel’s attention was taken by a few military vehicles that were stationed in front of them; they moved toward a Humvee.

“Roger, Cameron with the Vampire and Lunar Hare; pack-up and move out!”  Mateo ordered.

The men hustled into action, running to different Humvees with weapons atop, and she heard a helicopter coming toward them.  Wow, all of this for us?  I guess there are still some terrorist groups out there killing anyone that looks different … and who knows, maybe another Mythickin goes crazy, who’s to say.

She stiffly walked toward the Humvee door one of the men opened for her.  Peering inside, she got her first view of a Vampire. She was around seventeen or eighteen and wore a straight jacket with a barred muzzle over her mouth, dark PJ’s covering her legs; she seemed completely at ease.

Her skin was as bright as Rachels, but her hair was a silky raven black that hung a little above her lower back.  The Vampire-girl seemed bored as she turned to stare at Rachel, her sclera appeared to be a void; so black that it looked hollow, and large irises glowed with a crimson light without pupils.  In moments, her eyes changed; her sclera turning back to white and irises becoming bright blue before their escort could see.

Slowly entering, Rachel sat across from her; Roger and Cameron taking both sides, by the opposite windows, and shut the door.  Someone sat in the driver’s seat, and they began preparing to move, Mateo issuing orders over the wireless headsets.  “So,” Rachel muttered.  “My name’s Rachel Park. What’s your name?”

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She responded neutrally, eyes sliding over her body.  “My name’s Scarlet Clementine Johnson … yes, my parents are obsessed with Vampire literature.”  She sighed as she looked toward the brown-haired man next to her.

“You can read my mind?”  The man’s face grew pale.

Scarlet seemed to smile.  “It’s not a hard stretch, but noI don’t have that ability; from what I can tell, I have the power to control my blood.”  Her eyes glowed entirely crimson and the straight jacket darkened before ripping into sheds, crystalline blood flowing into razor edges.  Rachel stiffened, and both men’s complexion paled as they lifted their rifles.

Scarlet chuckled as the blood seemed to be absorbed into her hands, eyes returning to normal.  “No need … I’ve already been shot, remember. Though, none of the bullets hit my heart.” She pondered before looking down.  “Oh—sorry, I broke your jacket … why don’t you call for a new one?  I’m getting thirsty too; could you call for a new blood pack? That last one is making me feel dull—honestly, are most people that donate blood this dense?”

The man next to Rachel swallowed hard before pressing his hand to his ear.  “This is Cameron; Vampire broke restraints and is asking for a new one, orders?”

Rachel’s brow furrowed as Mateo swore in response.  “Again? She’s just playing with us; whatever, she hasn’t shown any signs of hostility.  Leave her be—acts like my freaking daughter.”

Scarlet removed her muzzle with ease; her blood-red lips were a line and didn’t twitch as she stared at the Lunar Hare across from her.  She suddenly yawned, exposing thin, razor-sharp canines before rubbing her eyes and turning to stare out of the window, revealing her pointed ears.  She whispered low enough for only Rachel to hear. “Those big ears aren’t for show, are they?” Her blue eyes sparkled as she glanced over at Rachel, but her face remained placid.  “I’ve been testing out my abilities; they’re pretty cool, but I keep getting thirsty after I use them—tired too. They don’t know that though,” She winked before yawning again, scratching behind her ears with black fingernails.

“She’s asking for another blood pack,” Cameron stated, eyes trained on Scarlet.

“She just had one like fifteen minutes ago!  She can wait.”

Scarlet frowned slightly at Mateo’s response and looked over at Cameron.  “I don’t think I can … I feel…” Her eyes rolled back as she appeared to faint.

Both men seemed conflicted as they watched Scarlet lean against the door.  “Umm—she’s just faking it, right?”

“I don’t think so,” Rachel muttered.  “I think using that blood ability took it out of her.”

Repeating what happened, Mateo swore again.  “I swear! If she’s messing with us—fine, Conner, drop off a blood bag … we don’t need her becoming delirious or something and start attacking people.”

Shortly after the order, a man opened the door and handed Roger a bag.  He ripped off the top cap and shifted over to gently shake the Vampire. When she didn’t respond, he held the opening to her lips, squeezing a little into her mouth.

She jolted a little, eyes slowly opening; she studied Roger’s hand with a teasing grin.  “How brave of you; offering me your own blood.”

“What?”  Roger dropped the bag, darting back, but Scarlet was much quicker, snatching the blood bag just as it left his grip.  By the time he was pressed against the opposite door, she was sucking on the bag.

“Thank you,” she said brightly before her features turned placid again.  “Seriously,” she groaned, pulling the bag away from her lips. “It’s the same guy … I feel so dull again.  I guess this is what it’s like being a Vampire—it sucks.” The Humvee started to move as she sighed, looking over at Rachel.  “What’s it like being a bunny-girl—I assume you’re Mythickin too if you’re with me.”

Feeling a little more comfortable with the girl in front of her, Rachel nodded.  “Yeah, I’m a Lunar Hare. It’s not that bad; I can hear everything around me for miles, and I just learned the moon has an effect on me.  It gives me energy or something like that.”

“Cool,” she said dully.  “Oh, so, depending on the person’s blood I drink, apparently, it changes my personality a bit, but blood bags just make me feel … blah.”

What does it taste like?”

Scarlet shrugged.  “Everyone’s different.  It depends on their gender, age, diet, and personality; that’s what I think anyway.  Have you tested out any of your powers?”

“Not really; I’ve just been mostly using my ears.  I don’t know if you could call those powers. What about that blood ability of yours?  You can harden your blood like knives or something?”

“Yeah.  I think I can make microfractures in my skin to allow my blood to come out and absorb it back in the same way.  I don’t seem to need my own blood in my body, I can pull out just about all of it, and I heal super fast, but I haven’t tested anything with ultraviolet light yet … don’t want to burn to a crisp.  Here’s to hoping I’m like a purebred or daywalker or something like that.” She said, holding up her blood bag before sipping at it again, expression showing hints of a sour taste.

They were silent for a moment as Rachel thought on what to ask next.  “So, your type—it’s just a vampire?”

She shook her head, finishing the bag.  “Nope—I’m a Vespertine Reaper, basically a Vampire … I think it’s like, a subtype or something.  I’ve heard about another type of Vampire that controls people’s minds in Seattle.  I don’t think I can do that. By the name, I’m afraid that I’m not the day-walking type though … who knew yesterday was my last time feeling the sun.”  She stated bitterly.

“You don’t seem to enjoy being a Vampire,” Rachel commented, shifting to ease her tension.

Dropping the bag beside her, she hummed.  “Love the powers, but hate Vampires; let’s just say my parents ruined it for me…”

Rachel nodded, not pushing the topic and they fell silent.  The streets seemed to be cleared of obstacles, cars lining the roadside.  From what she could see of the trash-laden streets, there was a massive panic here; store windows were broken, and several sections of housing seemed burned as the National Guard patrolled the streets.

Her ears twitched as she heard a commotion further down the road; it sounded like ice breaking and expanding as people shouted.  The men’s headpieces activated with instructions. “A human with ice powers has appeared; those near Coral Way and Douglas Road intersection be advised.”

Roger swore.  “That’s right in our path.  The other streets are still blocked by cars.”

Sure enough, Mateo swore through their headset.  “Be prepared for action.”

Scarlet seemed to perk up a little.  “Oh, is there going to be action? Another pretend hero or villain?”

Rachel swallowed nervously; she’d heard reports of people with powers fighting other people with powers.  She rubbed her shoulder nervously as she heard guns firing in the distance and people shouting, women, men, and children crying near the chaos.  “Have you met any of them yet, Scarlet? The heroes or villains?”

She took a deep breath.  “You could say that…” Her eyes opened a bit wider than Rachel thought possible as the void returned, red orbs emerging from within as she stared ahead of them.  “A few people died up ahead; several more are severely wounded.” She licked her lips. “We’re just about to the scene; it’s right in the middle of the road. A big man with some form of crystal wall he’s able to protect himself with—oh, my,” her hand lifted to her lips, showing her night black fingernails.  Rachel heard a rapid expansion of ice and a roaring wind that rushed out in all directions.

“What?”  Cameron asked, looking at her eyes nervously.

She calmly put on her seatbelt.  “He can push the ice out and cause a blizzard that seems to freeze people.  We’re about to be hit by a gust, buckle-up.”

Rachel and the two guards quickly fastened their seatbelts; no sooner than the click sounded the driver yelled, and they slammed to a halt.  Rachel didn’t feel the force at all, easily recovering, but Roger and Cameron seemed winded.

“How did you know all that?”  Rachel asked, removing her seatbelt as fog escaped her lips with the plummeting temperature; yet again, she felt no discomfort from the frost as the two men beside her began to shiver.

Roger and Cameron’s headset was a flurry of activity.  “Get out of the vehicles and into cover! Overwatch down—doors jammed—Oliver and Chad frozen…”

Removing her seatbelt, Scarlet hummed.  “I can see through things; it’s like a red-tinted vision that allows me to see living beings, and seems to have zooming thrown in … classic Vampire eyes.”  She frowned as she examined the ice creeping through the door. “What are we going to do? I can’t use my abilities very long with the amount of blood I’ve ingested—my, when have I started talking  like this—this Vampire change keeps startling me.”

Rachel smiled a little.  “Yeah, I’ve changed a bit too.”  Seriousness returning, she asked, “So, what’s going on now?”

They turned their attention to Roger and Cameron as they tried opening the door without luck before touching their headpiece.  “Sir, we’re trapped inside.”

Humming, Rachel looked down at her thin arms.  Well, I have wanted to punch something, but a kick will do.  “Get back,” she instructed.

A touch of curiosity touched Scarlet’s cheeks, but her tone was still unenthusiastic.  “Oh?” She scooted back beside Roger.

Rachel pulled her hair out of the way as she crouched in the small space before kicking at the door with her bare foot.  The metal caved under the force as it was ripped off its bearings and plowed into a nearby car, crushing it as the tires popped, rims skidding to slam against an adjacent building.  Rachel stiffened. “That was a lot stronger than I intended.”

“That was awesome,” Scarlet clapped slowly.  “Okay,” her vision shifted to stare through the vehicle.  “Drat, he’s taken a child hostage; probably around the age of nine—your kick just now alerted him, he’s looking this way.  His ice barrier is back up.”

Taking a deep breath, Rachel turned to Roger and Cameron.  “Can you ask if I can help? I’m pretty sure I can run really fast and grab the boy without him knowing.”

Cameron hesitated for a moment but repeated the information over the headset.  Mateo’s voice was hard. “You’re a civilian, stay inside.”

Rachel sighed.  “Please, I can help…”

Shut cut off as Scarlet stretched with a groan.  “This is so boring; I want to get all of this over with.”  She glared through the vehicle. “Hey, Cameron, let me talk to the Captain.”  Cameron frowned but handed her his earpiece. Holding the earpiece close to her mouth, she said, “Hey, Mateo, this is Scarlet.  I heard you guys talking about how I’m a predator before. Well, I was scared and starving back then—now,” a charming smile touched her cheeks, “I feel like a predator.”  Shadows rose up from the ground to swallow her.

Startled, Rachel darted out of the vehicle to see Scarlet partially hidden from view behind a tall man.  The moon’s light filled her with energy; she could see Scarlet’s void black and shining red eyes, even from this distance as her smile grew; she’d somehow bypassed his icy shell. Blood snaked up around the man’s torso, encircling his neck as he stiffened.

She whispered from behind the man.  “Hello,” she said sweetly. “Don’t worry about stumbling and falling in shock; I paralyzed you.  It seems I have a selective paralysis touch.”  

The boy standing in front of the man screamed as he turned and saw the red liquid flowing across the man’s skin and caught sight of Scarlet.  He scrambled to the edge of the ice shell as it shattered into tiny pieces.

“Run along,” Scarlet said with a bright smile.  “I’m feeling so much better getting that last bit of blood out of my system … some people’s blood just makes me so depressed.  Oh—let me release my paralysis on your breathing muscles and mouth. There, now, what do you have to say for yourself?”

“What—are you?”  He gasped, breathing sharply.

“Well, that’s rude,” she clicked her tongue, “but what can you expect from a kidnapper.  Me—I’m a Vampire,” she took a deep breath. “And you smell like lunch! That’s the correct time, yes?  Maybe dinner … I mean, it should be getting light again soon, so I really would like to wrap all this business up.”

She walked around to face the man, hand leaving his back.  He began to tremble, eyes bulging as he caught sight of her face, her blood binding him.  “You—you’re a monster!”

Rachel’s ears twitched as she heard Mateo speak to a few of his men that were set up; the boy had been taken into a nearby building by another soldier.  “You have the tranq set? The highest dose for the Vampire; human dose for the iceman.” Should I warn her?  I don’t even know if she’s in control right now though … she’s not acting like she was in the car.

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“Such a rude man.”  She tsked, taking a deep breath.  The blood spread across his body. “I imagine the paralysis touch is used for silently draining my prey … I really am built like an assassin.”  She shook her head. Her voice seemed to brighten. “You know, I’ve had this thought. You see, I can change my blood into a weapon; you feel it giving you the closest shave you’ve ever experienced.  It’s malleable, so you can still breath, but cuts literally every hair right to the skin. Now, it also reacts on danger for me; so I’d advise against using that ice you’re trying to summon around me.”

Rachel’s gut tightened.  If it’s by danger then could it react to the tranq darts?

“On my count; ten…”  Mateo whispered.

Scarlet hummed, licking her lips.  “I’ve been thinking, what if I forced my blood into your body, surrounded your nerves, and then start slowly shaving them away.  How would that feel?” She sighed. “I guess we don’t have time.”

Mateo finished his count and Rachel heard the triggers pulled; however, Scarlet smiled as all the blood gathered into her body before she vanished in a shroud of shadows, rematerializing from shadows beside Rachel.  The ice-man stiffened as the tranq hit his neck and he dropped to the floor three seconds later.

“Honestly,” Scarlet huffed.  “No trust at all; I was just scaring him, so he’d never think about doing it again.”  She glanced back at Mateo as he glared at her. “You’re welcome!” She yelled. “All the frozen people are still alive too.”

Her bright demeanor seemed to diminish.  She released a sad puff of air as she glanced toward a specific house.  “Really, he followed me all the way here … Rachel, there’s a wannabe superhero that’s about to attack me—and I’m feeling faint…”

“What?”  Rachel asked, ears perking.

She was alarmed to see Scarlet’s eyes turn back to normal as she began dropping to the ground.  Time slowed as she reached out and heard something flying through the air. She scooped Scarlet in her arms, jumping fifteen feet over their frozen Humvee as smoke bombs exploded around the spot they’d been.  Supporting Scarlet’s head, she landed, hair swinging behind her. I hear someone running toward us … what is Scarlet wrapped up in?

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