A Vampire Hunter D fan fiction
It's not my habit to leave failures around. I shall dispose of all the genes of darkness. You can watch to make sure, if you wish. You've seen a great many things. A few more shouldn't pain you.
– – – – –
"Thank you...D...Stay by my side, won't you? I'm so scared..."
"I'll always be here."
The abyss opened, yearning for everything that she was, everything that she had once been, and the limitless potential granted to her by the inhuman experiments that mingled her genes of light with the genes of darkness carried in Noble blood.
It had, as it seemed it always did with Nobles – vampires – come down to blood. In her, the genes of darkness, once fully activated, and awake, instilled in her a craving for blood. She had answered that craving, taking a life, and been doomed. No, her doom had been foreordained, sealed beforehand, by him. Even if she had resisted the urge to drink blood, this time, and the time after, and the time after that, a hundred-fold, even a thousand-fold times, he knew that she would someday succumb, turn, and drink. To prevent that day – no, it was nothing so altruistic as that. If it were so, perhaps it would be easier to bear, the implacability of his will that this girl, just budding into a woman, must now die from his meddling, his mixing in her of the two genes – that should never have been brought together – light and darkness that had only once, in all of history, in all of his attempts, only once mingled and combined, harmoniously converging only one perfect time to render...
Perhaps it had been something of a kindness in him – to have permitted three of the four to return home, free of the memories of what had been done to them, and of the unyielding fate facing them only ten short years later. Perhaps – or perhaps he wanted to watch, let the experiment fully run its course, witness as the genes of darkness awakened, and fought against the 'host' genes of light. Perhaps he thought to record the battle and gather a few more shreds of information to help bring him closer to the success he so desperately craved to repeat. Having achieved perfection once, what sort of hubris drives him now that he must duplicate it? Hubris, indeed – the Sacred Ancestor...
But this... What happens now... Did he anticipate it? Could even he envision it? Subtle, manipulative, suave... He is all these things, true, and it is his words that conspire to spark my actions now, but, could he have known? And even if, in some convoluted, frighteningly far-seeing way he could, does he, the other he, even realize? Of the two, I'm not certain which one scares me more. But there's just something in this girl's spirit – in Lina – that... Even knowing her fate, having witnessed the others' demise, she turned from the dark path her newly awakened genes of darkness opened before her. Valiantly she sought to create a new path, one not trod by human or Noble, knowing that her journey on it would be tragically short. Of course, D walked that path with her – for it is ultimately his path. That he stepped to one side for her to share those few paces with him – that is the true miracle in all of this. That is what I reach toward, and can't just let slip into the darkness.
She still has the one thing granted by the genes of light that the genes of darkness have not taken from her. Perhaps, if they were permitted to reign unchecked, if she were not destined to die along with the 'flawed' admixing of the genes of light and darkness, it would have been destroyed by the darkness now woven through her being – but, not yet. It shines bright and strong in her. Not as bright or strong as the one shining in him, but still, it draws me as a moth is drawn to the flame. Her soul.
I appear, to the outside world, as nothing more than a face. A weird face – at that – some sort of cosmic jest played on D to prevent him from being too painfully perfect. But, I am more – so much more. More than even he realizes. Ironically, more than even I know. Fitting, I suppose – that I myself am my own most tricky puzzle. When I solve the puzzle of who, or what, I am, will I be free? Will I transcend – away from him – away from D? Who knows? A question for another time.
He's got bits and pieces of the truth, D has. He knows I can latch onto spirits, essences – really anything that supposedly has no form. He's used that ability to utterly destroy, as far as he can tell, vampire spirits that are too driven and tenacious to die – or transcend – or whatever the hell it is that vampires are supposed to do when their body is destroyed beyond regeneration. He's relied on my knowledge of things past – things very distant past – and places he's never seen before. Sometimes I wonder if I've seen them before, too. The knowledge that comes to me sometimes is – strange. Flat, and partial, as it were – not quite as if it were a memory. Perhaps it's the memory of a past version of myself. Who knows? Another question for another time.
What D doesn't know is that the spirits I capture are not destroyed just like that. I'd snap my fingers for emphasis, if I could without alarming him. They exist for a while within me and the power released as they are slowly dissolved – the tatters of spirit-stuff flowing out from them as they soundlessly scream – is the sweetest power I've ever tasted. I've snagged spirit things he doesn't realize I have. Not human souls – they are crafted of stuff so fine even I can't grasp them, but mutants, animals, even some of the stranger plants have spirit-stuff released when they die.
I study them, when I'm inactive. Sometimes D doesn't need me for days on end, and I'm banished from his presence. Of course, I'm never far away. After all, it is his soul that fascinates me most deeply. But, there are times when, as far as he knows, I am quiescent.
That's when I'm studying my captured spirits. Sometimes, with the ones I captured without his knowledge, I just let them go. I try to watch where they go, but I lose them pretty quickly. There's this spiritual stuff – the ancients called it 'ether' – that surrounds us. The human souls I can't touch go directly into the ether, and somehow flow away so swiftly I can't track them. I can follow other spirit things for a while before their substance, if I may call it that, homogenizes with the etheric pool. It seems to be tied to how strong a spirit is. Plant-spirits homogenize very quickly. Animal-spirits take a while longer, and the more intelligent and human-like a mutant is, the longer they take. Some of the mutant spirits are so close to human souls that I don't even try to catch them – though I would if D commanded me to. I have a feeling that I'd tear them apart if I tried. That fate I reserve only for the vampire spirits D feeds to me.
Vampire spirits are unlike the others. I can still catch them, sure, but they don't homogenize – ever. Left to their own devices, they seethe and coil in the etheric pool. Some, like Carmilla, are powerful enough to pull themselves back into the physical world, at least partially. The havoc and trouble she caused us, is in part, why I started my study, and why I have decided that all vampire essences need to be – shredded, as it were – before being released into the ether. Vampire shreds, if they are small enough, seem to homogenize into the ether properly, so it's a benefit all the way around. My hunger is satisfied, and the vampire isn't able to reform, gather enough power after his or her death, and trouble anyone – especially me and D – anymore.
Why then, with all the knowledge and experience I've earned from my study, do I – tremble – as I reach for this one spirit? No, I am honest enough to admit that I'm trying to do what I've never accomplished before – capture a human soul. Sort of, I think. She appears to be both – somehow – pure and bright human soul – I'm not making any commentary on the 'goodness' or morality of such humans, it's just that's how a human soul appears to me here – as well as dense and dark spirit. Ah, did the Sacred Ancestor's meddling go deep enough to do this to her? How truly frightening a thought! But, the evidence is shining before me – near this realm within me that D has only the dimmest awareness of.
I reach for that untouchable soul, twined with the tangible spirit, with the gift of my birthright, so obscured that I don't even know precisely what I am anymore, and pull her into me – the ultimate truth of my existence.
"What–what is happening?"
This is new. No one has ever shown any awareness of my inner realm before. Vampire spirits scream as they are torn apart, but even they appear to be 'blind' and 'deaf' within me – completely unaware of me or their surroundings.
"You are..." How do I explain this? Where do I begin?
"Dead. I know. I never thought about the afterlife, before." The sense of a shrug flowed around us. "It's something I thought to deal with later. When I got old."
"This isn't the afterlife." I told her. What would that make me, if it were? God? Or the Devil? I knew I wasn't the Sacred Ancestor – I suppose he'd 'judge' the vampire spirits that came his way, if the afterlife actually functioned according to the limited human understanding of it. Bah! Who am I to think I know? This isn't the afterlife. Perhaps, to the souls and spirits who are traversing or 'homogenizing' into the ether, it is some sort of a mystical experience that passes for an 'afterlife'.
"It's not? Well, then, what is it?"
"It's–" Freakin' hard to explain! "Look, you know you died, right? And how you died? You sort of just – melted away. That – dissolving – was reaching from your body to your spirit, or soul, or whatever the hell you are, and I–"
"Oh. I guess – I should – thank you. But, now what?"
"You don't know, do you?" Her laugh rolled around me – sardonic and low. "Saved by a clueless savior! Why couldn't it have been..."
Light flooded my inner realm. Light and awareness of the outside world. I'm used to it, as it's what happens whenever I manifest my physical form, the weird little face, in D's palm. But, I didn't do this. This wasn't my doing. Her longing for D was strong enough to pierce the veil of my existence, and show her – well, only part of the truth.
Unfortunately for me, this shaft of understanding, and the fact that her genes – and her spirit – had been so mixed with the genes of darkness, was more than enough. I'd forgotten that he had intended for her to be like him – and she, though deemed a failure in his eyes, was still more than human. Far, far more. A proto-Noble, as it were.
She warped my inner realm. It tickled, and twinged, when she did. I probably could have fought back, maintained the even featurelessness I preferred, but I permitted the change. The bright-yet-dark soul-spirit in front of me took on an appearance – that of Lina in life. I shunted the vampire spirits, some of which I had been tearing apart slowly for centuries, to the margins beyond where Lina's unexpected power could reach. Myself...
How should I appear, if at all, to this scarily powerful girl? Suddenly, I had it.
It wasn't me she was looking at. Even though, that is the form I borrowed to appear before her. Hey, it's one I know. I figured a weird, disembodied face would be far more disturbing. Not that it mattered. She'd spied the window.
I don't know how else to explain it. Whenever I am manifest in D's hand, whenever I become his Left Hand, but don't actually appear in his palm, this 'window' opens up in my inner realm. It is through this window that I connect with D. Any thoughts he deliberately sends my way, and my thoughts to him, flow through here. I use this window to watch him, help him, tease him, and infuse him with power whenever he rather inconveniently dies on me and I have to drag him back to life. My awareness of my inner realm disappears entirely whenever I go through the window fully through to D's side. It is then that I appear in the physical world again.
D, himself, has at least partial control of the window. If he doesn't want me around, and he expends enough mental energy, he can push me back through into my inner realm. From there he can't really stop me if I wish to watch, unless he really puts his mind to it, but he can prevent me from interfering. It's rather annoying, actually.
Lina stared through the window, into the mortal world. She'd exclaimed, because she'd caught a glimpse of D. I could tell at a glance that he was exploring the grounds of where our new 'assignment' lived, testing its defenses, and undoubtedly formulating the plan for taking this target down. Routine stuff. But, to Lina, impressionable girl that she was – or rather – had been, it was magical. I could tell, as her perception of D colored the vision through the window.
Granted, it was hard to enhance any image of D beyond what nature – or perhaps super-nature – gave him, but still, she managed it – somehow. Dratted genes of darkness – or it could be just teenage-girl adoration.
"D!" she called again, pressing up against the transparent membrane that separated my inner realm from the physical world, trying to see better, I guess.
"None of that, now!" I pulled her back from the window. "You can't behave this way."
"Why not?" She turned and glared at me, before taking in the appearance I'd assumed for myself. "You aren't D! Stop that charade, right now!"
"You're right, I'm not D. But, I'm not going to change my appearance. I'm comfortable enough manifesting in this shape. You will just have to deal with it."
"Why? Who the hell are you, anyway..."
I laughed. "Me? I'm the one who belongs here. You are in my realm, here. And, lest you forget, I was the one who saved you, too. Some gratitude would be in order. If not gratitude, at least stop impolitely changing things in my realm around."
We came to an agreement, Lina and I did. In exchange for leaving my realm the way I want it to be, though I did permit her to change the environment in a small area of it for her comfort, I promised not to tell D she was here. I'd have thought she would have been happy to let D know she was here, so close to hand so to speak, but no. She wanted him to remain in the dark about her continued existence. I know many things, but I never have, and never will, claim to know anything about women.
So, I didn't tell him. Whenever the 'window' was open, she was there, her 'face' pressed up against the 'glass' while she watched with an unblinking gaze at the partial glimpses of everything D did – though I did opaque the window over those few, rare times D attended to his most basic biological functions.
She marveled at his life – the life of a Hunter. How dangerous it is. How ultimately tedious some parts of it are, too, as mission after mission unfolded in the same unvarying way.
She marveled at him, as well. His beauty is such that one never gets used to it. It always startles and delights the eye, while some vaguely creepy part disquiets the mind. I know, because I've never gotten used to it, and I've been with him longer than anyone else. Lina could, and did, go on for hours, days even, about how perfect this feature or that feature was, from the fleeting views afforded by the window. How sleek and soft his hair is. I'd made the mistake of letting her 'feel' it when we helped brush his hair once.
I guess I'm just lucky that D rarely ever looks into his palm during the course of our days, even when he's talking directly to me, or Lina would have mooned over him even more than she did. For the most part, the view through the window would be the side of his thigh when he's walking, or his horse's rein when he's riding if I didn't 'correct' it. Long ago I learned how to fix the window on D's surroundings, and set the view upright instead of upside down. It had been very disorienting at first until I learned how to do that.
Lina gained the benefit of that bit of my long association with D. I guess it's good that D himself wasn't in the view all that often or she would have been too dazzled by his appearance to have come to the most important realization of all about D.
How lonely he is.
His path is an all but solitary one. He finds a job, is hired, discharges his duty, and moves on. Sometimes there are allies along the way, but they are never part of the picture of this dhampir's life for more than a job or two. In a way, it is the rivals and enemies that D carries from one mission to the next – presuming he didn't kill them. D's funny that way. Sometimes he only kills when he's got a contract for that particular life. He's easygoing, for him anyway, about the insults and threats aimed his way stemming from his mixed heritage.
Other times, he's just brutal. One look he doesn't like and someone's sliced crown to crotch without a thought. Only kids, and those women who aren't tainted by this dark world we live in, are completely safe when he gets in the wrong mood.
D has this incredibly bad luck hanging over him like a dark cloud where it comes to horses – they die way too quickly and inconveniently. The life of a hunter is hard on the hunter, but it's murder on the mounts. He doesn't even bother naming them anymore.
So, the closest thing he has to a companion is me. And, he ignores me unless he needs me. Or unless I call attention to myself.
In the end, it was this loneliness that got to her. Well, that and the work I've been doing on the sly. Anytime her attention was raptly intent on D's doings on the other side of the window, I'd been gently pulling the clinging darkness from her soul. It was easy enough to do, as long as I took my time, was careful, and focused on only a small bit at a time. The changes the 'genes of darkness' created in her spirit took time to undo, but, time has little meaning for me, her either, now. Time is measured through what happens on the other side of the window – in D's world. With D unwittingly serving as not only a distraction, but something of a polarizing filter, as the lighter things in Lina yearned toward him more strongly than the darker ones, I had all the time I needed to fully clarify her soul of the clinging dark stuff.
The more I pulled the changes the dark vampire gene wrought in her soul away from her, the more poignant D's loneliness became to her. It made sense. She was gradually returning to the purely human being she'd been born to be.
"How long, has it been like this, for him?" Lina, as usual, was looking through the window.
"Long. Long enough. And then some. It will always be like this, for him. Until he dies," I replied. And I let him stay dead if ever that time comes.
"It's – lonely." I could tell she wasn't happy with the word, but I knew what she meant. In my realm, words weren't really necessary, but I wanted her to remember that she was human. Humans need words to express thoughts, so I never let on that we could 'speak' without words.
"An eternal beauty, on an eternally lonely road, eternally alone..." she mused aloud. "I could never have traveled that road for long. I'm not strong enough to endure the loneliness. Even if I hadn't been fated to die, once I – changed – I wouldn't have..." She shook her head. "But to want – what I wanted – so much... Is it strange that I no longer crave that?" She let loose a tiny laugh. "Makes sense – since I have no body left to crave blood with."
She turned, and looked through the window again. D was making his way, carefully, up a massive staircase, his sword in his right hand. I could tell at a glance from the ornate and refined features around us that it was a Noble's house. Our latest mission, no doubt.
"I could never have lived like he does – with this loneliness. I can't bear to witness his loneliness, much less share it with him. I'm not – strong enough."
"No one is, Lina. It is his curse, not yours, to bear it," I replied.
That sad laugh again as she turned to face me. "You brought me here when oblivion was reaching for me. I do thank you for that. I was frightened, and alone, and..." She looked through the window again. "Having a chance to see him again, to watch D as you've let me do here – it's been wonderful." Tears streamed down her face. "But, I can't bear to watch, anymore. I'm not – frightened, as I was before, and I can see now that my loneliness was – nothing – compared to his. I think I'm ready for... For the end, I guess. To be no more." Lina turned toward me. "You can let me go, can't you? Consign whatever I am now to oblivion, just as you saved me from it once?"
I nodded. Relief flooded her eyes, but so did a spark of apprehension, too. "I can let you go, but not into oblivion. Rather, your awareness will cease, but you won't be destroyed. All that you are, all that you were, all the potential you once possessed will go on. I don't know the way of it, but you human souls do not dissolve into the ether as every other spirit I've encountered does. You may not answer to the name 'Lina' again, and I doubt you will remember in any sort of real way, though glimpses of who you once were may flash through your future dreams, but I am sure you will live again." I turned toward the window myself. "D is sure of it, too. Why else would he make a promise to you while you were dying?"
"'I'll always be here'," Lina whispered, remembering his words to her perfectly. Well, they had been uttered by D, so it's natural she would have remembered them.
She reached forward and placed her fingertips gently on the window. "Even if I don't know and don't remember – do you think I, whoever I become, will see him again?"
"I think he would want it that way," I replied.
"I'd like that. I can let go, leave this loneliness crushing me so fiercely with him – and you – and hope to meet him again, for the first time, someday." She turned, and smiled sadly at me. "Even if it's all only fairy tales, thank you, for giving me hope. Even if it is just oblivion waiting for me, I–I'm ready."
"Turn around," I suggested. Something very rare, that occurred only every few dozen years, was happening on the other side of the window, and I didn't want her to miss it. It would serve as the perfect distraction for sending her off, too.
D had stopped his advance into the Noble's castle, and was now studying his reflection in a mirror he found there. I never understood why Nobles like to have mirrors around, since they don't reflect in them at all. They are just weird, that way.
D only partially reflected in the surface of the mirror, but still – it was enough. Lina gasped, and pressed both palms and her face right up to the glass to get as close to that full, though only half-reflected, beauteous image as possible. I don't think she was even aware that she was talking as she started rhapsodizing about the waves in his hair, the perfect texture of his pallid, alabaster skin, or the shadowed depths of his tempestuous blue eyes. I tuned out her voice to concentrate properly as I released the spiritual bonds that held her soul in my realm one by one. Her voice softened, and her words slowed as if sleep were coming over her. Her soul began to drift, so I maintained the position of the window in front of her so that this impossible image of D would be the last thing she would ever see in her awareness of this life.
Watching carefully, making sure Lina's entrance into the hereafter was as gentle as I could possibly make it, I nearly missed it.
D pressed up against the glass on his end. It seemed as if he were looking through the window directly at Lina – as if his eyes locked onto hers with complete awareness of her presence on the other side. One of his rare, transcendentally beautiful smiles curved the corners of his lips up gently, before they parted and moved.
"I'll always be here," Lina whispered, reading the words through the window. "Oh, D...!" Her eyes closed, and the last remnant of her soul faded from my realm.
The warmth, a human warmth, that had briefly lit in D's eyes, chilled and his smile faded so abruptly it was as if it had never existed. "Will you be aware of it when she is born into life again?" I can read lips, too.
I pierced through the window to manifest in his hand directly to answer him. "Yes."
"Let me know the instant you sense her," D commanded.
"It could be thousands of years," I replied.
"And there's no guarantee she'll be born female, again. She might be a guy in her next life."
"I'm aware of that, too."
"The very instant, huh?"
"Because you made a promise?" I guess. Well, I know. I'm just trying to needle him, get him talking. I hadn't known that D knew she was here. Now I'm freaking out a bit, wondering how much he knows about my realm.
Except, he's not talking. He's turned from the mirror, and is now charging down a hallway, back on track for this mission.
Great. Business for usual, for the great 'Vampire Hunter D' and his trusty –
Oh, hell, no. I'm no one's sidekick!
Business as usual for the awesome Left Hand and his trusty mount, D.
Hey! D's crushin' me!
A deep coldness that made D's freezing attitude seem like a balmy summer day pervaded the atmosphere, though D and Left Hand were completely unaware of it. The Sacred Ancestor, from his place of concealment, watched the last of the drama unfold in the physical world, then turned his attention to the ether surrounding him instead.
The soul of the young woman who had answered to the name 'Lina' – as fully human souls did, did not meld into the background ether. Instead, frequencies emanated from within it, maintaining its cohesion and seemingly transporting it from the ether entirely. The Sacred Ancestor had watched this event more times than he cared to count, witnessing the final moments he was permitted to observe of a human existence. He wasn't certain what became of these human souls, though he suspected that at least some of them were eventually born into human life again. D and Left Hand certainly presumed so, and who was he to say they were incorrect? Perhaps that oddly useful parasite attached to D would be able to sense if this particular human soul was reborn, answering the question for him once and for all.
What did that mean for his project, his search for a second embodiment of perfection, if D and Left Hand were right? The possibilities, scientific, metaphysical, and philosophical intrigued him. A few coded thoughts started a massive computer on a new program. He would have to wait for Left Hand to alert D to Lina's soul's return, of course, but there was no reason some pre-calculations couldn't be performed in the meantime.
Perhaps the experiment that had resulted in Lina hadn't been a complete failure, after all. He could afford to wait. Perfection was worth waiting for.