Something New Ch. 12byloumey1©
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"Keep holding, reinforcements will arrive soon," Raven's harsh voice cawed softly in her mind.
Lisa felt a wave of relief. She was still locked in a dangerous dance with the shadow creature, and the longer this went on, the more likely she would make a mistake. Whatever else this creature was, it knew how to manipulate people, and she'd had a couple near misses.
It was not lost on Lisa that the two of them were very similar. Had she made different choices about who she wanted to be, she could very easily have become very much like this thing she was fighting. Of course I would have been miserable if I had chosen that path, Lisa thought to herself grimly.
She watched the creature as it watched her, both of them trying to see into the other without giving anything away. They seemed to be at something of an impasse, and Lisa was privately grateful for the pause.
It narrowed its eyes. It was more than a little irritated. It didn't seem to matter what it tempted her with or how it tried to manipulate her, time and again all she did was refuse with that unshakable calm. This is simply not possible, it thought to itself. Nobody can resist. I always find a person's price.
Except this time it hadn't. It considered everything that had occurred and was brought up short with a sudden realization. It stilled, and looked at her in shock.
"Have I turned green or grown a second head?" Lisa asked, her lips twitching slightly with amusement.
"You are content. How is that possible? Nobody is content. Not really." it whispered, unable to believe what it was seeing.
Lisa shrugged in response, and felt Raven prompting her to speak further. "When I started dancing I realized that if I didn't enjoy myself, that it was my fault not my partner's. Ever since then, I have striven not blame others if I was unhappy, and took responsibility for myself. Eventually that attitude overtook the rest of my life."
"But you still desire things. A desire for something speaks to a lack."
Lisa smiled. "The two conditions are not mutually exclusive. Just because there are things I would enjoy does not mean that I am not happy with what I have. I enjoy ice cream, but I won't be miserable if I do not have any."
It considered her words, and Lisa noticed that it was starting to look slightly more human. She was still unable to make out any details about it, but there was a sense of solidity that had not been there before. Lisa took the opportunity to examine the creature before her more closely.
"Finding anything of interest?" it asked, its blue eyes suddenly boring into her.
Lisa met its gaze calmly. "That depends on how you define what is of interest."
It blinked, once again taken off guard. It was finding itself more and more unsettled by the woman before it, and did not much like the feeling. "And what did you see?" it finally asked.
"You spend much time cloaking the truth of who and what you are. Do you really wish to hear the truth of what I see?" she asked. She knew its answer, but she also knew that if it agreed to listen, her words would have more power.
"You think I deceive myself? I would not have such an ally in shadows if I did. Speak."
Lisa gave it a somewhat sad smile. "I see an existence that has missed many opportunities for great joy and happiness. I see an existence that could have been so much more, and instead is a long repetition of pettiness. I see an existence as gray as this place because it is afraid to let in the vibrancy of life. In short, the ennui you are so desperate to escape is of your own making."
Its eyes flashed in anger, and Lisa smiled and said with another shrug, "You asked and you said you were ready to hear the truth. Do you now get angry because the truth I see is not what you wished to hear?"
Her words had the desired effect of being the proverbial bucket of cold water, and the creature before her calmed though it was still on edge. Lisa was satisfied with this. She knew that she'd put the proverbial fly in its ear.
Max examined Lisa's unconscious form for the umpteenth time while The Voice prepared herself and Thom under Tiernan's eye. Nothing had changed. Her body was alive, but she simply wasn't there. His shifted dragon eyes showed him that quite clearly every time he looked into her, and every time he looked, it only made him angrier.
Max knew he should stop examining her. He knew he needed to be calm for what was coming, but somehow he just couldn't stop checking, couldn't stop looking to see if anything had changed, couldn't stop trying to find where she'd been taken.
This is pointless and you know it, he berated himself. He could track just about anything physical, but he didn't have the ability to track a spirit, much less free one. That only added to his frustration and anger.
"Are you like one of my children? Have you no control over yourself?" Keisha's smooth voice came from behind him, and he twitched slightly in surprise.
Keisha smiled slightly, she knew Max hadn't detected her till she spoke, and she was making a point. "At least a childling vampire has an excuse, what excuse do you have to allow your anger to control you? How will that help get her back?"
Max shut his eyes and went still with the effort of controlling the rage that was surging through him with her words. His only movement was the tip of his tail twitching in agitation. Keisha was quickly becoming a target, and he wasn't certain what he would do if he actually lost control. He remembered the aftermath of Hilde's betrayal, though even with Lisa's help, he still had no memory of what had happened during that curtain of rage. He'd like to think that he wouldn't hurt his friends and allies, but he was not willing to bet their lives on it.
"Have you no answer?" Keisha asked, her voice still smooth and controlled. She was taking a calculated risk speaking to Max like he was one of her own younglings. Still, she was best suited to snap him out of his anger. Weres may have to beware going rogue, but when a vampire lost control, their rage turned cold and calculating and was far more deadly.
Keisha watched Max carefully, knowing her next words were risky. "If she could see you now, and we're not certain she can't, how would she feel to see you behaving like this?"
Even Max's tail stilled, making him like a statue in the moonlight. If he had been in human form, he would turn as red as his scales in shame. Max knew exactly how she would feel, and the thought that he may have caused her any further pain or anguish finally snapped him out of his anger. His ability to think and plan returned with a rush, and he saw the fatal error he'd nearly made.
Max turned to face Keisha, his eyes no longer flashing with barely contained anger. Instead they were clear and focused. "Thank you, Keisssha," he said softly. "I'd like to join the ressst of the planning."
Keisha nodded, smiling in satisfaction as they joined Christian and Carol.
"Is all ready?" The Voice asked.
"Yes," Christian replied. "Our peoples, both Keisha's and ours, are guarding Thom's home, this circle, and the surrounding land."
"Our people are Underhill and standing ready," Tiernan answered coldly, his dislike for their present course of action still evident in his voice.
"Then we begin," The Voice replied sinking to a pillow on the ground next to Lisa's still form. Thom followed her lead and sat next to her.
The Voice closed her eyes, and moments later, Eldingar was once again speaking through her. "Your dislike of this plan is well known, Tiernan," she said in her bell like voice. "You need not broadcast it at me. I tell you once and for all this is the path that brings the greatest chance for success. Do you continue to doubt, will you continue to fight me?"
Tiernan looked at Eldingar-Sonja, evaluating his words. Finally he spoke, "We will not fight this plan, but as for doubt..." Tiernan trailed off and narrowed his eyes before continuing, "Even such as you have been known to make mistakes."
Eldingar-Sonja gave him a grim smile, "And just what do you think this is all about? Tonight we rectify a very old mistake."
Tiernan sucked in his breath, his eyes going wide. "THAT is what has fallen into our laps?!" he exclaimed before softly muttering a stream of curses in his own language. "I should have known. Why did you not tell us this sooner?"
Max's eyes widened slightly, and then became hard as flint. He had a fair idea of what Tiernan and Eldingar were talking about, and he was not pleased with Eldingar's silence on the matter.
"It would have made matters worse," Eldingar-Sonja replied with a sigh. "We have a chance of success. I will not jeopardize that to appease curiosity."
Tiernan evaluated Eldingar-Sonja for several minutes, while Christian, Carol and Keisha looked on, trying to figure out what they were talking about. "You will explain everything when this is over," Tiernan stated in command, not request. His green eyes turning to jade with anger.
Eldingar-Sonja nodded. "When this is over, I will be happy to explain everything, to everyone," she replied. "For now, though, time is growing short and we must begin. Keep alert."
Christian, Carol and Keisha nodded, melting into the dark forest surrounding the circle, while Tiernan simply disappeared. Max settled himself in a tree, wrapping his tail around the trunk for security. His job, along with the team of weres and vamps that had been put under his command, was to guard those remaining within the circle.
He had deliberately not manifested his wings or tail membrane. Those were only useful for flight Or for playing with Lisa, he thought with a brief smile. Flight would not be of advantage tonight. Not only was the moon bright, but the mountainside was forested with pine and aspen trees. Something the size of a goshawk could fly well in this kind of terrain, but he was way too large. No, for this, it was smarter for him to use the trees like a squirrel.
Max settled himself in the Ponderosa he'd chosen. He tasted and scented the butterscotch of the pine's sap each time he flicked out his tongue. It gave a subtly sweet undertone to the flavor of the forest, and he had to admit, it was a hell of a lot nicer than what came to his tongue in a lot of other places he'd been.
Max checked in with his team. He'd distributed them in a ring around the circle and assigned pairs. Each pair was stationed close enough to keep tabs on their neighbors, in order to prevent an enemy from taking out a set and making a hole in the line. He'd also made certain that each pair consisted of one vamp and one were in order to make full use of the abilities of both.
Max would typically not team those that hadn't trained together, but since they didn't know what type of creatures might be coming at them, he wanted the abilities of both species watching at each point. Besides, the way he had them distributed, he could separate vamps and weres into two different lines. The individuals in each line would be used to working together, and he would be able to direct the two lines independently if necessary.
Having gotten a rundown on the people under his command from Keisha and Christian, Max had a feeling the two groups would partner well. After all, they were each familiar with the abilities and tactics of the other group. It wasn't that long ago that they had been fighting each other, after all.
Max was impressed with both leaders. Keisha had gone as far as to threaten staking any vampire that attacked an allied were, while Christian had threatened to set his mate loose on any were that attacked an allied vampire.
Max smiled, remembering the pale faced looks Christian had gotten when he told them that piece of news. It would seem that in a very short time, the entire pack had decided that pissing off their alpha female was very very bad.
If nothing else, perhaps a closer relationship between the two species can be forged out of this night, he thought, flicking a brief worried glance at The Voice, who was now moving to place her hands on Lisa's shoulders.
Max knew he was the only one able to see them. Tiernan had laid protections over them before leaving, including a rather potent glamorie. If it weren't for him having dragon eyes, right now, he'd see nothing but dirt and moonlight.
Max pulled his gaze away again, and focused on keeping anything from getting through.
Lisa was at another impasse with the creature. On the up side, she was beginning to feel a deep level understanding of it forming within her, and she knew when it finally snapped into place, she would likely have the information she needed to handle the thing.
The sparring matches with it had changed. It was still trying to tempt and manipulate her, but buried within all of that, was some part of it reaching out for change. That part was the single most dangerous thing to Lisa at this point in the game. It was a part of the creature that was genuinely seeking healing, and was also the part most likely to trap her.
Lisa felt her understanding of the creature suddenly snap into place, and was startled at the realizations it brought. "It was human once, wasn't it?" Lisa asked Raven.
"Yes, a very long time ago," Raven replied.
"She... yes, it used to be a she," Lisa mentally muttered half to herself and half to Raven. "She wanted control and she's given up her humanity, her gender and everything else to become this ... thing."
Raven silently acknowledged that Lisa was correct, and let further realizations sink in. "She was bonded to something... Make that she still is bonded, but the bond is twisted. Ah... the one she is bonded to would break it if they could.
Lisa went silent, and studied the creature before her, as it studied her. She saw the original bond still there, but there was more. There were more attachments on this creature than just the one bond.
"The links it sets up with other people, it uses them to inhabit their body, but it's more than just being a possessing entity." Lisa focused in on that aspect. There was something strange about it, and she'd not encountered something that felt quite like this before.
"Shit," Lisa let out a mental curse when she realized this creature was doing something that shouldn't be possible. Then again, I'm the one always saying that nothing is impossible. I just would have thought the energy for something like this would be prohibitive, Lisa thought to herself.
"The original bond. That's where it's getting the energy to pull this off, isn't it?" she asked Raven. He paused, checking for himself, and then once again confirmed her assessment. Lisa went silent considering this new information.
This was different from a normal possession. For one thing, this creature was capable of possessing multiple people at a time. The really disturbing thing, though, was that it was physically as well as energetically possessing them. She'd never seen a being that could put some of its physical body into someone else.
"This is why it's shadowed. It has joined its physical body with all of these different people. Hence no gender and no real form. The others need to know this, especially Tiernan. It can't be stopped without addressing this. Are you able to pass information to the others?" Lisa asked urgently.
"I cannot, but one is coming who can. She'll be here soon," Raven replied to Lisa's relief. Whatever else happened, this was vital information for the others.
"We're about to come under attack. Calliehg Pack." Christian's mental voice alerted Max. Both he and Max were the most practiced at mentally coordinating large groups, so Christian was currently Max's primary contact. Max took in the images and information that Christian had about their attackers, and then passed it along to his team.
According to Christian, Calliegh pack in question had coveted Smythson lands for centuries, but had never been strong enough to attempt to take them. There had been an uneasy truce forged between the two packs during the were-vampire wars, but Christian had known it was only a matter of time before that truce ended, now that there was peace between them and the vamps. It would appear the alpha of that pack thought now was the time to attack.
Snarls and the impact of bodies began to reach Max's ears, and he knew battle had been joined. It wasn't long before he heard Christian's howl ring out over the forest making Max glad that Tiernan had laid sleep on the neighbors before leaving for Underhill. The neighbors weren't that close, but there's no way they wouldn't have heard the snarls, much less that howl, and they didn't need complications like police or animal control.
"Hold your positions," Max ordered his team, sensing some were getting restless. All of them immediately settled at his orders, and turned their attention back to watching for anyone that slipped through the front lines.
Harriet was drawing heavily on her animal side. She'd considered shifting, but while her bear nature gave her great senses and a hell of a lot of strength, she lost a bit on agility. Her gut was telling her that right now, speed was more important, especially since they'd been partnered with vamps.
It wasn't that she thought her partner would attack her, but rather that they wouldn't be able to fight as well together. She felt this was especially true since he hadn't trained with her to know how to take advantage of her strength. So instead of fully shifting, she contented herself with letting her animal side enhance her senses as much as she could and stay human.
She was grateful for those senses when it gave her warning before her vampire partner suddenly spoke in her ear. "Heyla, furry one," he whispered in a light teasing tone, "that nose of yours manage to pick anything up?"
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" she growled mentally, deliberately not turning to look at him, and keeping her focus on watching the forest around them. "Silent communication, remember? Do you want to give away our positions?"
Misha stepped back away from his were partner, startled at her words. At first he was angry and was about to reply in kind when his reason surfaced. Then he realized that he was behaving like an idiot.
"Sorry, you're right," he said, and was pleased to catch a bit of her startlement at his apology. "Guess I'm a bit out of practice," he said by way of explanation, and deliberately did not add that though he was rusty at this sort of thing, he was also letting himself get distracted by her, something he hadn't allowed to happen to him since he was first changed.
She really wasn't his usual type. She was large framed and muscular, and he typically went for more petite women. Still, she was very feminine, even in her tactical gear, and her blunt way of speaking appealed to him. Not to mention the fact that every he came near her, he practically drooled for a taste of her.
Maybe later, he thought to himself, after all this is finished. After all, adrenaline can work wonders. In the meantime, he figured he'd do a lot better if he stopped thinking with his dick, and started focusing to be certain there was a later for both of them.