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Skin: Children of the Night

Chapter Text

"Even a Person Who is Pure of Heart and Says Their Prayers by Night
May Become a Wolf, When the Wolfsbane Blooms and the Moon is Shining Bright,
Or They'll Crave Another's Blood When the Sun Goes Down and Their Body Takes to Flight."

Vytal.  One of the largest (and most northern) cities in Maine.  A proud metropolis home to more than 60 thousand souls, Vytal was a hub of economic  prosperity.  Founded on the coast, its fisheries supplied grocers and restaurants up and down the Eastern Seaboard.  Its businesses were centers of financial, medicinal, and technological wonders.  And, every summer, families from across the state came to enjoy its beaches.  Truly, Vytal was the jewel of the Pine Tree State.

But this story isn’t concerned with Vytal.  No.  Our story takes place  further North, in the unincorporated land  just shy of Canada.  Here, there’s a collection of homes and businesses collectively called Beacon.  In contrast to Vytal, less than 10 thousand people call Beacon home, though they do get some runoff from their neighbor’s summer traffic.  Unincorporated, it has no authentic  system of government; the only things keeping the residents in line are the board of selectmen, the sparsely staffed State Police office, and the people’s own desire to maintain the status quo.  Beacon has an accredited public school system, but no local college.  It has a museum filled with the collected antiques and curiosities of the deceased collectors, but none of the grand institutions of art, science, and history.  It has no hospital, just a couple of clinics.  The State Police's buiding boasts no morgue, and only a small collection of test tubes and computers to act as a “lab.”  There are no buses or taxis in Beacon, only shuttles for the retirement centers.

Yet, there is one thing that Beacon offers that nowhere else in the whole country does: a chance to begin again.  They say Beacon was founded by outlaws looking for a place to lay low until they could escape the Law.  Some say it still is such a place.  All anyone can say for sure is that no one who moves there is very eager to boast about there old lives, and the locals aren't too nosey about them.

But it couldn’t be home, not to one young lady with snow white hair.   Weiss Schnee drove her old Mercedes  down an empty, dark road.  Most of the homeward bound traffic had already gone, the downside of taking the late shift in the restaurant she worked as a valet at.  It was dull work, tasks she was mind-bogglingly over-qualified for, but it paid well enough.  She was still making rent in the bed and breakfast place in Beacon she was staying at.  The only downside was that she lived in Beacon whilst working in Vytal.  Her car had good gas mileage, but she wished she could eventually find work in Beacon.  Maybe something a little more interesting than just parking and retrieving cars all night.

As she wound the corner of the forested path, Weiss’ headlights illuminated a shape in the road.  She slammed the breaks.  Breathing hard, she blinked at the sight before her:  there was a body lying in the middle fo the road.  A human body.

Weiss put the car in Park and unbuckled.  Stepping out, she rushed over to the fallen person, cell phone already in her hand.  It was a man; he had orange hair and was dressed in a white coat.  The white-haired young woman bent over to check him. 

“Ohhhhh. . .” the man moaned softly.

Weiss punched 911 into her phone.  “Hello, emergency services, I would like to report—”

“There’s no need for that, Snowflake.”

“Wha—?”  Weiss gasped.  The man on the ground had spoken.  One of his hands snaked out and wrapped around her wrist, trapping it like a manacle.  The other  yanked her phone from the other hand.  Pressing the “Call End” button, he casually threw it away.  Weiss saw it fly off into the woods. 

“By the way,” the man said, standing up.  "Thanks for stopping.  I’ve been here for almost an hour now.  I was starting to get worried I’d missed all the traffic.”  His words were biting  with sarcasm and his eyes were hard.  They held no mercy, only cruel amusement. 

Weiss reached behind her back and withdrew a collapsible baton.  Flipping it open, she struck the man as hard as she could.  The carbon-steel was light and fast, but strong and unyielding; a strike to the face could easily break the victim’s jaw.

The man caught the weapon in his bare hand. 

“Ouch,” he said.  “You know, that actually hurt, Snowflake.” 

Weiss struggled to twist the weapon free from his grasp, but, like her other hand, it was impossible.  Spinning his wrist, the man disarmed her , then kicked her feet out from under her.  From her position on the ground, Weiss saw him calmly twirl the baton in his hand.  In the illumination of her car’s headlights, she saw a red mark on the palm, but the hand should have been bleeding at the very least.  “Concealable,” the man said.  “I used to carry a cane, but those went out of style for the casual man on the street.  This doesn’t have quite the same flair, but I can make do with it—Ouch!”

While he was talking , Weiss had reached down and fumbled her backup weapon into her hand:  a switchblade knife.  Flipping it open, she slashed at the man’s wrist, but something was wrong; the weapon skidded and tugged, as though it was being used on something tougher than flesh.  She drew blood, but it didn’t look like a serious injury. 

“Bad idea, Snowflake,” the man said, all amusement gone from his voice.  Tucking the baton into his belt, he reached down for her.  Weiss stabbed at him, but he caught her wrist, twisting it.  Weiss screamed as the joint popped.  Her hand went limp, and the knife clattered to the ground.  “I was going to make this fast, but now?  No more Mr. Nice Vampire.”

Weiss would’ve panicked over the man’s statement—obviously he was some kind of delusional psychopath—if it werent’ for his eyes.  They had gone black.  Not dilated  pupils (which would’ve been impossible standing in front of her headlights, anyway—the irises had turned a pure, pitch color that too out from his pale skin like blood on snow.   Then his jaw opened.  Wide, too wide for a human mouth.  Then he lunged forward, and Weiss felt a burning pain erupt from her shoulder. 

Panic gripped her heart, but Weiss refused to give up.  She had come to Beacon, left behind everyone and everything she knew to live.  She wouldn’t let some freak stop her.  Her arms incapacitated, Weiss kicked at the man’s shins.  He grunted against her, but only tightened his grip.   Weiss felt herself grow weak.

Then she heard a crashing sound in the forest beside the road. 

The man jerked his head from her neck.  Weiss whimpered in pain, but continued to struggle.  The man ignored her.

“Oh, crap,” he muttered.  “I should’ve stayed in town.”  Weiss collapsed to the ground, whimpering.  She looked up and saw the man trying to force his way into her car, his long legs requiring him to move the seat back.  “Sorry, Snowflake.  It’s been fun, but I’ve got to—”

“GGGGRRRAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!”

“Whatever the man was going to say was cut off as an enormous, tawny-furred shape erupted from the forest.  It bounded over Weiss and barrrled to her car.  Weiss heard glass shatter and metal scream, but the door was already closed.  The man threw the car into reverse, yanking the car away from the monster, then twisted around and shifted in to Drive.  The last Weiss saw of her beloved Mercedes was the taillights disappearing back toward Vytal.

The big animal stood up, staking itself.  Growling, a sound reminiscent of thunder, it tensed to pursue the vehicle. 

“Yang!  No!” a voice cried. 

The beast stopped and turned around.  Weiss strained her head and saw a dark-haired, pale-skinned woman approach her, carrying what looked like a katana.  Weiss’ heart raced, no doubt pumping her precious blood even faster from her body.  For a moment, the white-haired woman imagined the mysterious woman would draw her sword and finish her.

But the woman spoke.  “We have to help her.”  Bending down, the woman spoke to Weiss, her voice was cool and calm.  “Do you want to live?” she asked.

Vigorously, Weiss nodded.  The pain in her neck screamed like banshee, but she ignored it.  

The woman continued.  “Can you stand being like him?  Because, if you do . . . you know what he is.  You know what you’ll become . . .”

Vampire.  The word was unsaid, but Weiss understood.  Tears sprang from her eyes, not from the pain but from the awful, mind-crushing truth she was processing.  Vampires were real, and the only way she could survive this was to become one.  Moreso than during the attack, panic and despair threated to overwhelm her, to drown her like a sailor thrown into the sea. 

I have a promise to keep, she though.  This life, whatever burdens came with it, was hers, and she would not give it up because of one mouthy asshole.   Spitting the blood, from her mouth (was it her imagination, or did the woman’s eyes darken for just a moment?).  “Live . . .” she moaned.

The woman nodded.  “So be it.”  Then, she leaned down, and once more, Weiss’ world was filled with pain blocking out nearly everything else. 


Blake bit her lip as she yanked her head back.  She’d been careful only to inject her venom into the bleeding girl, despite the scent of blood that flooded her nostrils.   Her teeth broke skin, and she greedily sucked her own life-fluid, trying to drown the hunger that filled her mind like the howl of a banshee. 

Yang padded up beside her, gently head-butting her side.  Blake opened her eyes and relaxed her jaws, allowing herself to breathe again.  Her companion’s golden eyes stared back at her before turning to the side as Yang offered her neck to her. 

Blake smiled at the gesture.  “Thank you, Yang, but not now.”  Her stomach twisted in on itself at the statement, but Blake suppressed the pain.  “We have to get her home, first.”

Snap.

Blake spun around, cursing herself.  Even with the girl’s screaming, she should’ve  heard them approaching, although smelling them would’ve been impossible through the haze of blood.   A line of large wolf-like creatures emerged from the woods, forming a semi-circle around her.  Most of the beasts about Yang’s height, though a couple were bigger, one male was almost horse-sized.  Their fur ranged in color, but the one in the center had chocolatey hair.  The female looked down on her, not making a sound.

“Yang and I found a Vampire . . . feeding on her . . .”  Blake explained.  “He drove off . . . I had to save her.”

The beast rolled its head in an exaggerated fashion.  It was a movement Blake knew meant, “Obviously.  Get on with it.”  Sighing, glad she wasn’t being blamed for her decision, Blake stood up, cradling the girl in her arms.  Over her cries, Blake spoke.  “I’m taking her home.”

Now the brown-furred creature sounded.  It let barked once.  The sound echoed down the road. 

Blake stood her ground.  “We have to, Coco.  She’s going to turn, and we need a safe place to keep her while we train her.”

The beast growled, clearly unhappy with this argument.  Yang came up beside Blake, and she was thankful for the support.  One of the  lupine beasts, a small, russet-furred specimen papped up to her.  Whining, she licked the girl’s hand.  The white-haired victim wasn’t so loud anymore, the pain reducing her to shudders.  The red-furred creature whimpered and turned towards the pack’s alpha.  Meanwhile, another brown-haired female, this one beside the leader, lowered her head and gently nudged her in the neck.  The leader growled and swiveled her head, catching  the bitch’s ear in her teeth.  The subordinate female  offered no resistance, just letting out a quite sound that sounded more like a cat’s pur than a wolf’s growl.

With a rumble, the alpha released her captive’s ear, licking it once.  Then, she barked once at Blake.  The leader backed up and ran back into the forest, the others following after her, following the trail of the girl’s stolen car.  Blake almost fainted in relief as they left.  She doubted Coco would actually attack her; the female’s bark was worse than her bite, but it was a very nasty bark. 

The last to go was the russet-furred one.  Yang growled at the female.  She whined back before  looking up at Blake.

The woman smiled.  “She’ll be at the house when you get there in the morning, Ruby.  I promise.  Go after them.”  She wasn’t sure how much the female understood her in that form, but she seemed to get the idea.  Licking the girl’s hand one last time, she bolted after the others, her form blurring faster than Blake could keep up with.

“I guess your sister’s found herself a girlfriend,” she said to her remaining companion.  Yang sneezed at her teasing tone, but turned around, ready to depart.  “Wait, Yang . . . Could you . . . could you carry her, please?”  Blake asked.  “The blood . . .”  Blake cursed herself for her weakness, but the scent of blood had weakened her horribly. 

Her friend allowed her to place their new charge on her back.  The nameless girl gripped the hair of Yang’s mane weakly.  The poor thing.  She had no idea what she was in for.  Well, Blake thought, in some ways, it wasn’t as bad as pop-culture made it out to be.  Provided of course that the girl didn’t turn into the sort of self-hating sad sack who thought she’d lost her soul and was undeserving of love. 

Pausing only to pick up the girl’s knife, possibly her last remaining possession, Blake placed her hand on the girl’s back to steady her, and the trio began the long trek back home.