Lander: Chronicles of the Beast II
(A/N - This is around the fourth chapter of the second book, which is actually the only part I've written. The first book is called City Below, and it takes place when Lander, the main character, is about eleven. In this short excerpt he's around eighteen.)
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Sparrow was dying.
It had been foolish to think she might have lasted a minute in battle, weakened as she was by the sickness. Lander knelt beside her as she drew her last breaths, acutely aware in that moment of how frail a creature she truly was; she was painfully thin, and the dark shadows under her eyes were a sharp contrast to her ghostly pale skin.
“Goodbye, Lander,” She whispered in a hoarse, fading voice, “I guess I was a fool ta think ye could love me.” And as the life faded from her eyes, Lander could not find it in himself to shed a tear.
“You are wrong, Sparrow,” He said in a harsh whisper, “You are wrong. I would have loved you, if only you had been true to yourself.”
He passed a hand over her empty eyes and murmured a Rite of Passage, one he had found in the scriptures of Jezebel, the god of Truth and Judgement. She deserved that much, at least, for she had longed for honesty even though she lived a life that was anything but.
There was little enough time afterward to do anything but watch as the coppers closed in on him, their faces set in scorn and disgust as they watched the pagan death ritual. He sneered at them as he rose, pulling on his last set of Claws, a cheap pair of commercial-made gloves with the metal embedded in a strip of built-in leather knuckle braces. They were near useless now, the once razor sharp tips now dulled with age and use, but he had long since lost both the dagger that Roach gave him and his will to use Beast-magic.
It was not much of a fight, but Lander was too weary to care. It was only moments before he was brought down by a shot to the back of his head from a stungun; he felt almost relieved as the darkness closed in on him.
Lander awoke to a burning pain in his wrists and ankles, and he did not need to see them to know they were manacled with silver. He smirked; the coppers were all the more foolish if they thought they could restrain him in such a manner. He was stronger than any of them could possibly imagine.
He opened his eyes slowly, squinting from the harsh light. He could make out the slightly blurry figures of eighteen men, strategically positioned in such a way that, should he try to escape, he would get no further than three paces before the first copper took him down. One of the figures was clearly the Captain; the peaked hat and ridiculously extravagant uniform denoted his station, as well as his pompous expression as he surveyed the squadron. He would be the first to die, Lander decided.
The Captain suddenly became aware that his prisoner was conscious, and he turned to face Lander. He glared at Lander for a moment or two, perhaps thinking that the force of his gaze would compel the Beast to surrender any information he might have. Lander returned his glare with a cold stare, and blinked his slitted eyes lazily when the Captain looked away uncomfortably. Suddenly, the Captain slammed his fists down on the heavy wooden table that seperated them, leaning close in an attempt to intimidate him. Lander merely wrinkled his nose at the copper’s unpleasant breath, a mixture of alcohol and perscription drugs - the only kind available, nowadays, unless you went Underground. He was acutely aware of the breach in his personal space, but he showed no reaction.
“Where is the Colony?”
The question was not unexpected, but the emphasis on it was. Lander had not known they set such store in finding the legendary Colony where his kind supposedly lived. He had no qualms about dispelling the fantasy that they might find all the Beasts in one location.
“There is no Colony.” He replied, and watched in amusement as the Captain’s face flushed in anger. He would have some fun with this one before killing him.
“You’re lying, filthy Beast.” The man snarled. “Do you know how long we’ve waited to capture one of you? You will tell us where the rest are hiding.”
Lander gazed at him impassively.
“If I have to wrest it from you in the torture room.” The Captain ignored the quiet gasp that came from one of the higher-ups situated around him.
Lander’s gaze flicked momentarily to the shocked copper. He was nothing special in appearance, though the standardized uniform hung a little loose on his thin form and he looked exhausted. Lander suspected this was the co-Captain, the one who did most of the work while the Captain took the credit, though he hardly looked old enough to be out of the Academy. He looked genuinly shocked at the mention of torture, which only reinforced his youth.
Torture had long since been outlawed, or so Academy students were taught. However it was a well known fact among the Captains and Overseers of the police department that torture was a quick solution to what could become a complicated and possibly demoting problem, if ever there was an uncooperative prisoner. The government turned a blind eye; after all, if it brought in the bad guys then it couldn’t be doing that much harm. The young copper probably didn’t know this yet, though the gods only knew how he’d climbed this far without loosing his naivety.
The Captain was talking again, he realized as the snarling voice intruded on his thoughts.
“When they created Beasts they were meant to be smarter than humans. But you probably don’t even understand me.” Lander didn’t bother to correct him. “You see, it’s imperative that we find the Colony, destroy it, annhilate this abomination that’s tainted our world. This is a human world! Things like you don’t belong here.” The Captain’s face twisted into an ugly sneer. Still, Lander did not speak.
“Where is it?”
A sausage-fingered hand grabbed his collar and lifted him out of the chair. The manacles around his ankles chafed painfully, but he remained stoically silent. The coppers watched their Captain unblinkingly, until one of them made a small motion with his hand and the Captain dropped Lander. Police brutality in front of witnesses, his underling reminded him.
“Speak, Hadan take you!” The Captain bellowed, and Lander curled his lips back in a snarl at the mention of the god of Death.
“Blasphemer,” He growled. “You will never be rid of us. We are the plague that creeps through the crack beneath your door, the monster that snaps you up when your back is turned. You will forget us, and one day we will rise from the depths and reclaim the world we were made to rule.”
His eyes glowed an eerie gold even under the fluorescent light, and the Captain instinctively took a step back, the stink of fear suddenly radiating from him.
Lander threw back his head and laughed, a cold laugh that ended in a long, bone-chilling howl. When at last it trailed off, the chill remained, clear in his amber eyes and feral grin.
“To think,” He said softly, “The folly, the arrogance of man.”
With that he reared up and reached toward the Captain. Too late, the squadron saw that his hands were unchained, though raw, red patches of skin remained from the undiluted silver. The Captain fell with a surprised gurgle, clutching the wound at his throat. One copper rushed forward, a look of shock and anger on his florid face, and joined his chief on the floor a moment later, clutching his stomach and trying desperately to keep his insides from becoming outsides.
The young co-Captain, Ferrar, gasped; he had hardly seen the man move! The squadron hesitated, looking to him for directions. With the chief gone, he was the next in succession. He contained his astonishment and nodded curtly at them, and they moved swiftly forward to surround the Beast. They outnumbered him fifteen to one, and he had no advantages over them this far from the moon and stars. No matter how fiercely the Beast fought, he would be overcome sooner or later.
“To create a creature,” Came the growl, and the coppers seemed suddenly to be halted in their tracks, faces frozen in contortions and hands reaching back for the ever-present stungun. “So much more superior than themselves; swifter, stronger, smarter.”
Lander paused, and his smile twisted into a smirk of purely malicious intent. He raised his hand, and Ferrar’s eyes followed it helplessly. One clawed finger traced an undefinable pattern in the air, leaving behind a glowing sigil that drifted for a moment before disappearing in a twist of darkness. The coppers collapsed in a sudden rush of air, not one of them with the breath that he was born with left in his body.
The Beast then turned to Ferrar, who stood captivated and horrified by the sight but unable to move. “And then presume to destroy the race when they no longer consent to imprisonment.”
Lander watched impassively as the last copper crumpled bonelessly to the ground. The man was not dead, merely unconscious; one needed to be left alive to tell the tale, for it to spread as rapidly as he wished. He turned on his heel swiftly and, pausing to pull a fully charged stungun from one of the bodies, he left. The huge heavy door that lead to the interrogation room slammed shut with all the finality of a coffin lid closing.
What happened in there could not be undone now; events were set in motion, and all that could be done was to watch.