Rachel moved her head to look out the window but knew the moon wasn’t in sight. This sucks … I don’t even know if normal medication will work on me anymore. You wouldn’t think so; I don’t think I have the same biology anymore.
Chuckling softly, she drew Bree’s attention. “What?”
“You know—I found out something really strange recently. So, my blood, it tastes like mint.”
“Yeah, mints; I licked my blood to stop the bleeding, and it tasted like mints.”
“That’s is really odd.” Bree giggled weakly.
They both fell silent, and Rachel retreated into her mind.
Start at the beginning; if I’m being honest, I know I did this for my own gain, but it’s not like I didn’t want to help Maria or any of the people we saved. I brought Zoe with me; I defended Scarlet … really like Scarlet, and Maria’s growing on me. Fiona’s sweet, and it wouldn’t be bad to have her around … what am I even thinking?
Scratching her left eyebrow, she groaned at the pain and shifted to massage her left shoulder and tight thighs, trying to relax. Scarlet wanted to be friends, and I said I’d like that. It’s such a simple concept; everyone had friends, but … I tried to avoid connections. Be courteous to people, but never get close; focus on my schooling, release stress with training. It was all so simple and I never once regretted it … hated Alexa getting in the way of it all. She disrupted my rhythm … now, this has.
I can’t lie to myself and think I can just return to school. I can only plan for the present and what little information I can gather … no wonder I subconsciously put so many points into my hearing; my hearing is the one thing that can get me through this crisis. What I need is information, but I don’t hear anything really new or pressing to us. Maëlle and Kyle are asleep, while Anthony’s practicing some kind of spear moves in a room by himself.
She listened to a few conversations, but it wasn’t anything she hadn’t already heard or puzzled out; there were just reporting information that she’d already uncovered. After a few seconds of filtering between voices, she stopped on Scarlet and Fiona.
“… do you mean, Brion’s going to be hungry? Is that a pet you have?”
“Yeah, he’s my cat … he freaking almost killed me at first. Apparently, I don’t smell like I used to; that’s one thing I’ve noticed about animals, they focus more on smell than sight.”
“That’s right; I remember Rachel told us that you were controlling rats to break you out of that fish tank.” She giggled. “The infamous Fairy breaking out of her glass prison.”
“Poor guys,” Fiona whispered. “Two of them were pretty rude, but the rest were nice.”
“So,” Scarlet’s tone dropped an octave. “Animals have different personalities and can understand a lot of stuff?”
“Kind of,” Fiona paused. “How do I explain it? They can learn things; like the rats were pretty easy to train with my commands, but it’s not like they had the imagination to do things themselves. It’s like how you can train a dog to do certain things, but they actually don’t understand a lot about it—my skin and hair are so soft.”
“That right? What’s it like seeing people now—being so small? Is it like Jack and the Beanstalk or Thumbelina? Everything’s super big and intimidating, and we’re giants?”
“Kind of … I really liked Thumbelina, and now I know what it feels like. I mean, when you’re looking at a cat that’s the size of a house or you—I mean, you’re as tall as like—like a skyscraper! I’m three inches tall, and you’re like sixty-two inches tall.”
Scarlet hummed as she washed her hair. “Yeah, I can see that—I’m five-one, actually … so, I’m more than twenty times your height. That’s like me looking up at eleven or twelve-story buildings … Rachel must seem massive with how big her ears are, and people that are six-foot-plus.”
“See, this sink is like a full-blown swimming pool that’s about three and a half to four and a half meters deep. Plus, I’m super weak; cat treats that I used to think weighed nothing are now like five or fifteen-pound bricks … it’s discouraging.” She mumbled.
“Maybe we can fix that; don’t think I’m making fun of you, but we could get a toothpick and some marshmallows. Maybe you can work up your strength a bit?”
Fiona chuckled mirthlessly. “Thanks for the thought, but I don’t think adding one or two marshmallows is going to make much difference; it won’t help me push that door open and closed.” She breathed a deep sigh. “I just need to accept that my life’s changed—I have to learn to deal with it; fixating on what I can’t do anymore will just drive me insane. What about you?”
“Me? What about me?”
“C’mon,” Fiona huffed. “You always talk about everyone else; tell me how you’re feeling about your change. I got small and weak, but I can use magic, and my main source of food is sugar … what girl wouldn’t like that? So—what about you?”
“What about me,” Scarlet trailed off. A soft laugh escaped her throat. “It’s different; I mean, I can do this.”
“Oh, holding the showerhead with your blood; that’s cool.”
“I guess … it takes some concentration since I’m manipulating my blood manually instead of using a preset weapon type, but since my Blood Manipulation proficiency is maxed, it’s easier.”
“Proficiency? Do I have … holy snapdragon—my skills have proficiencies? Wait … you’re just trying to distract me! Tell me how you feel—then tell me about these proficiencies.”
Scarlet’s laugh was sad. “Yeah—I’m dodging the question. How should I even answer? I don’t see the same; my vision is tinted red. I can smell odd things that I couldn’t when I was human. My teeth ache … it’s hard to describe; as I use my energy, barbs stick under my fangs and stab me, over and over again. It’s not bad if I drank a lot of blood, but as my energy drops, the pulse increases—digging, jabbing, and clenching my jaw just makes it worse.”
“That sounds terrible … I just get really weak when I’m low on energy. I feel a little numb, and my mind starts to drift.”
“That’s just one thing, though,” Scarlet mumbled, shifting her hair out of the way to wash her body. “Emotion—well, just negative emotion—it pokes me, jabs and tickles my skin, and it feels good … weird kind of good. It makes me want to taste it—that’s another thing, how blood tastes. Every person’s blood smells different, tastes different, and it’s—it’s intoxicating.
“I can taste and feel their temperament; it’s almost like all five senses can be experienced in just absorbing blood. I can convert that experience into energy though or let it filter through me in a strange mixture of emotions—I can even tell if people used drugs … that part of the taste is—different. It’s not bad, but not great … just kind of numbing.”
“Sugar’s a bit different for me; it’s more … colorful. When I eat it; it’s like color is exploding in my mouth … it sounds less odd than it feels. Kind of like that commercial, taste the rainbow. I can tell the difference in the sugar I eat; how refined it is, the size of the grain. It’s actually pretty complex; every bite tends to have something different.”
“Sounds magical,” Scarlet giggled, but it dropped a bit as she rubbed her arm; water splashing around her. “I’m cold, but I don’t feel cold. When I touch my arm, there’s no heat; I know that, but the cold doesn’t affect me. It was the same when I was near this ice-guy; it was super cold around me, but I wasn’t affected. I’m sure—yup, I have some Cold Resistance.
“This Lizard-guy told me I don’t have any body heat … how is that going to affect relationships? I mean—how can I even think about that when—it’s stupid.”
“No, it’s not!” Fiona yelled, heat in her voice rising. “I’m worried about relationships too! It isn’t fair; not at all! We both don’t know how this will affect the rest of our lives…”
“Yeah,” Scarlet breathed out a long breath. “You’re right—I just—don’t want to focus on all the bad things, because there’s so much. I hate it—I hate being a Vampire, but—I loved being a Reaper.”
“Huh? Reaper?” Fiona asked, rubbing her body with something, likely soap.
“When I fought Relica, I needed something to hide from her sunlight.”
“That’s right, Rachel did mention that you had a shadow ability that helped you fight the sunlight Relica used.”
“Mhm, but I think Rachel was trying to hide a lot of my fight—there was a lot of information that could scare people. Like—Guise of the Reaper; it’s an ability that basically turns me into a baseline Grim Reaper. I can see Life Force—steal it even; I have a reserve of Life Force, but I can’t use it because I don’t have an ability for it. I stole the Life Force from the people Relica mutated … those poor people.”
“Wait—those monsters were real people?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Scarlet muttered, swallowing hard. “Relica experimented on them—broke them mentally and changed their bodies; she linked them to her own Life Force to act as shields. She was—if I hadn’t faced … she’s the second scariest person I’ve ever met. Obsessed with knowledge and willing to do anything to get it. I was so scared—she was so close—that close to turning me into a slave—like those…” She trailed off.
“I’m glad you’re okay … I haven’t met many people since moving here—I don’t make friends that well.” Fiona whispered.
“What? I thought you were a Streamer and YouTuber, and what about Erica?”
“Yeah, but that’s different … that’s just a bunch of names that I talk to. I don’t know any of them, not really—and they don’t know me. They’re a great community, and I’m happy to talk with them, but it’s not the same as like—like being with my sister.” She swallowed, sniffing as her voice cracked a little. “I didn’t even want to move to the U.S.”
“Then why’d you leave Ireland?” Scarlet asked, shutting off the water and drying herself off.
“My parents thought it’d be good for me to get away—see the world more. Erica was moving here because she was offered a position with a firm and she handled almost all my legal stuff … so, I kind of convinced myself to come over. I was making enough money to support myself and had enough savings—but I just didn’t want to go out.”
“I get you,” Scarlet said, standing a bit away from the mirror as she combed her hair. “A bunch of my friends graduated high school and went off to college or got jobs, but—I kind of hid up in my room and focused on—on annoying my parents. I just didn’t feel like doing much—I draw, and I liked drawing, but I was just kind of floating.”
“What kind of…”
Rachel opened her eyes, breathing a long puff of air as she heard someone break away from the flow of agents to stand a few feet away from her. He was a dark-haired man with a standard suit without the jacket, blue tie held down by a gold-colored clip. He was at least an inch or two taller than her.
“What are you doing here? You’re the Lunar Hare, and that’s the Unicorn next to you, correct?”
Running a hand through her hair, Rachel resisted a wince as the movement irritated her sore muscles, but Bree answered before she could. “Don’t worry about things that don’t concern you; if you want answers, go talk to Special Agent David.”
The man’s muscles tightened defensively, but he nodded and walked off.
Smiling at her, Rachel chuckled weakly. “Thanks.”
“Well, it was none of his business,” Bree whispered, leaning back and closing her eyes.
That was pretty brisk, but I guess she’s stressed too.
Rachel looked up as she heard a helicopter enter the airspace, landing atop the building and the name spoken piqued her interest. General Dallas just showed up? He’s a four-star general; why would he come here and not the other major military bases with the Colonels or Majors nearby? There are people in this office that have been sending him information about us and the other Mythickin and Legendkin.
She leaned back again, sighing as she closed her eyes and listened to General Dallas. He exited the vehicle alone, meeting someone on the roof that saluted him. Dallas’ voice seemed aged, and his tone was hard but cheerful.
“Special Agent Johnson, it’s been too long. Last time I saw you, you were leaving Iraq a war hero.”
“Thank you, General; it’s thanks to you that I managed to transition back in the States, and it was your recommendation that got me accepted into the department.”
“Nonsense, your record speaks for itself; so, you have those files I requested.”
“Yes, General. I’m a little shocked the President signed off on your involvement. I heard that your program was shot down?”
“Well, you don’t make it as a four-star General without a lot of friends,” he chuckled, taking some files as he was escorted into the building. “By the way, has your office heard the good news about Special Agent David?”
“No, what good news?”
“I see,” he muttered. “Well, you’ll all hear soon enough,” he laughed. “So, I take it that Assistant Director Kelley knows I’m here?”
“Yes, she’s awaiting you in her office.”
“Excellent, lead the way.”
This could be trouble … his proposal was shut down by the President, but he has something else brewing.
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