Chapter 1: Vrede
Jägers crowded the jägerhall to surround a makeshift portable stage that had been set up for the occasion. Upon the stage stood 20 or so individuals who had been chosen to be offered the jägerdraught and had accepted the draft. As they kneeled, pledging their loyalty to any and all Heterodynes, through life and with death, the older jägers of the crowd began to remember their time when they first took the draft, a few either chuckling or scoffing at how much the tradition has changed over the past 139 years.
I was mearly 16 when I joined the master Vlad Heterdyne's fierce raiding party, reason being I was quite good at fighting, laughing and intimidating. I enjoyed the sheer adreneline of the chase and the slaughter as many others of the party did. It was a general trait in the newly established town of Mechanicsburg. The year was now 1081 and it was great.
It was a bit of the surprise that the master decided to try and create his own children in a lab and it was the talk of the town. The raiding party didn't go out as often when the master was working on somthing this large so it was instead spent with family. In reflection, it was slightly expected of him to go against nature's natural order as he had been doing since he was 12 and possibly killed his father in doing so. He finally succeeded in 1083, leaving 1084 to be a fun open year.
I was quite lucky during this year. The multiple excursions allowed for improvememt in fighting, strategising and other things. Often times master Vlad would end up distracted by some animal of that specific region that had unique traits or by some free range test subjects that he would chase down with his tentacle arm, lashing out at the poor lucky people who he chose to keep. During those common times it was a bit iffy on what to actually do such as who to attack and kill versus only keep mostly dead, which is a little bit alive, or how to attack best that would elict a epiphany of screams or be sneaky, depending on what as needed. Overall, most were not too bright as they were only there for the hunt. I was there for that too but unfortunately for me, I was apperantly also the most co-ordinated when it came to attacks. When the Heterodyne was off frolicking than someone had to keep things mostly an organized chaos. Hence, the first semi-official; as I wasn't really ever officially stated to be, evey one just decided, now that I think about it; General of the raiding party.
When 1085 came around, I was intregued to hear that Vlad started doing tests with the spring Dyne. No one had really seen it but they all knew that the second Heterdyne, Knife, had drank from it and built the castle with newfound strength and stamina. The results were sure to be interesting.
Unfortunately the work also made it boring again. On the upside, one of Vlad's lab children did succeed and was quite amusing to play with. Little Tolvard would keenly build detailed intricate structures out of bent wire and small blocks of wood only to find amusement in setting them ablaze and putting minerals in the flames that made it burn beautiful rainbow colours. When I was 23 then the heterodyne approached me and spoke.
"I hąve to teşt the new pøtion I madę. Care to tesţ it for mę?" He asked with a manic grin, underlaying harmonics still evident.
I felt the need to ask "What's it do?" because if any spark, or at least a Heterodyne, feels like they need to ask your permission to use you as a test subject, rather than just pull you to a lab, it probably has a higher chance of death than being a minion. I had thought I was just going to accept being a test subject no matter what but when the master's face was some what serious, I decided to listen and consider the oncoming facts first.
"There's a 2 of 10 chance you survive and a 17 of 20 chance you die, rounded of course. Bųt the rewąrd wįll be âwsomę. Ţhę pøwêř, ťhē eņhãňçėđ ābîłīťîėş, ah ťhê wøňđèřfůł mőñśțŕøşīţý" he said slipping into harmonics and drifting off.
None the less, though, the master was asking me to test this meaning he must have hope for me being successful, and who am I to crush the hopes of my respected master by denying him a worthy subject? Plus it sounded fun. Mostly it sounded fun.
"Very well, I'll do it"
"Great! Mind telling a few of your best men about it? 15 or so joining would be wonderful" he said quickly, looking out around himself sharply as if to catch something.
So later that day I did.
"Hoy! Drel! I need to talk to you!"
"Yessir?" He asked turning around. It annoyed me a bit that others had taken to saying yessir or calling me director.
"The master told me about that potion thing he was working on and he needs test subjects."
"You should hear the details first, such as you probably won't survive"
"So whats the point then? What's it do?"
"I imagine kind of the same thing it did to Knife Heterodyne"
"What? That's awsome! But how does he know it'll work?"
"He doesn't, theres an 17 vs. 4 of 20 chance you die, rounded"
"But that goes over 20"
"Theres probably just a higher chance you die than the survival rate would suggest"
Drel didn't continue with the illogicalness of it other than a quiet "pessimist" and just said, "yah, I'll do it, it's been really boring recently"
I told plenty of others, much more than 15, because more than half declined. That was it though. It became dull for a bit as the time was filled with playing games and betting, as there wasn't much else to do. I didn't really have any living family; my mother had died three years before I had joined in the raiding. My father perished nobly in the dangerous line of work, minioning, and with no siblings I dedicated my life to the raiding. So in this down time I was playing Tafl with Zog while he went on about some pretty girls that him and others had won from the spoils of the last raid, or at least the ones who haven't died or escaped and mostly the ones who willingly stayed in theis town of mechanics. On the upside some of them could cook decently or sew and weave. Again, town of mechanics, we have food and clothes but theres not much skill to improve them, just the skills to build better weapons than others and take what they have to unwillingly offer.
About a month later, a minion came by and told us that anyone who had chosen to volunteer should meet in the castle's enclosed courtyard, which none of us knew where it was so we ended up following. When all 14 people from the party arrived there were already 11 others waiting.
Chapter 2: Mir
Myself along with the other... subjects I suppose, all mingled around in the courtyard just inside a large area of the castle where we were told to meet. There were about 25 of us, most recognizable from the small but deadly raiding party but there were a few others that I hadn't recognized. Such as a tall built man who seemed to be a blacksmith but only just barely, more so an apprentice, along with a man I recognised from the bar who played a carved bone flute and another who I really had no clue about. The last man looked a bit terrified completely, yet somehow determined.
"Hokay people! Follow me! The Heterodyne is waiting for your arrival!" The minion led us inside the castle and to somewhere. It had been a long while before someone mentioned what everyone thought.
"This is ridiculous, we is going in circles! Do you even know where we are going?"
"Get on with it!" Shouted Drel.
There were a few other shouts in agreement as the minion wrote on a paper he held. By the time we stopped at our supposed destination, there had been only 7 who complained and 2 others who had actually walked off.
We were in the basement of the impressive castle. It had actually been nice to have a walk around given I've never been in it. The basement looked like a normal lab but was much more spacious and had rooms lining the eastern wall along with larger contraptions that were steaming and dripping a glowing blue liquid into vials of stuff. Vlad Heterodyne was watching intently as one more drop fell into the vial, filling it merely a seventh of the way, before he quickly took it out and turned a handle which stopped the flow. He took the vial and filled the rest with possibly water from a jug and shook it harshly. As he continued to do so, he came over and addressed us.
"Šø ýôų ãļł ķñôw whý ýøů'řē hęřê". The minion took this as a cue to come over and show the paper he had to Vlad. He frowned a bit, to himself, and continued. "Vanil, Forskov, Strin, Drel, Trudel, Wanski and Plaüfin, leave." The ones called either looked surprised, offended or annoyed, but did as they were told with minimal objecting grunts and mumbles, some more than others. Vlad then carried out a vial tray with 16 on it and stood there. "Ìf ýőû äřę şťįľł wįĺłìńğ, čømë ğěț ā vîął äńđ ďŕïņķ îť īň ôņê øf ţhė řøômš" he said smiling like a crazed spark.
We all just stood there a moment, confused. This definitely wasn't how most times would go when a test subject was needed. And this was Vlad, 'the Blasphemous' as he was slowly being know as, which made it a bit more unnerving. The first one to go up was Raid Director Vrede. I still wonder what made him the leader exactly but eh, whatever. He confidently went up to the smiling Heterodyne with a serious look and took one of the vials and retreated to a room. Slowly others followed, I was one of the middle ones, and we all went to a room. There was one person who backed out last second and was dismissed but the rest of us didn't. It wasn't long after I had chosen a room and entered that the very solid metal door was closed as screaming had started. I heard the door being locked and the screams got louder and began mixing with scratching and banging. I almost didn't want to drink the vial anymore but it didn't seem I had much choice. Besides, I willingly took the vial and chose even before then that I was going to do this. I quickly opened the vial and swallowed its contents before I tried backing myself out again. The flavour was strange. It definitely tasted of lemon, a weird tangy acidic flavour was present and some other strange flavor with a uniqueness of blueberries that made it taste funny. Overall, as it went down it tingled my tongue and my throat then my insides. I could feel it's path down to my stomach and it spread throughout my whole body. As the tingling set in every where, it slowly crept to be more intense, without warning it felt like stabbing pain for every prick.
I may have cursed a lot as I crouched on the floor with my hands under my elbows, digging into my torso, trying to control my perception of the pain.
It didn't work in the least. I heard yelling from others but it was drowned out by the pounding in my ears and my added screams. The back of my head had a terrible head ache, if the painful ripping and feeling of my skull being split by a chisel could be classified as a head ache still. It made my vision go black and clouded on the edges and I gave up on crouching to sitting against the wall and holding my head. I had the feeling my skin was crawling, really, itself, every individual pore, moving, rolling, rubbing against every other singular imperceptible dot of skin. As I barely dared to squint through my tightly closed eyes I saw my skin was slowly growing random blotched areas, changing from my normal peachy tan to a light muddy grey green. My hair seemed to fall out, though there wasn't any on the floor, and get quickly replaced as my stomach started turning. The feeling of being able to sense every hair falling and pulling from it's roots, coming out from it's hold in my head and my stomach feeling like I had gotten food poisoning was bad enough to kill me but it just didn't, instead only made me sick.
I leaned to the side and threw up on the ground. Blood. Red Fire! Why had I decided to do this!? I'm probably going to die! Farming was better than this!
But I can't think that way, it'll only ensure my death more than 17/20, I still have 2/10 chance of living, however that works.
But now my head feels like it's being clamped and has a really bad pressure on the back of it. I wretch again and manage to feel behind it, a small hard bump.
I don't register the viewing panel on the door being opened nor the person who may be looking at me, only the light. It blinded my already black edged and blurry eyes and from somewhere I get a rush of adrenaline, lust for blood, madness, and I lunge to attack the door. I scratched at it with my short nails as my fingertips felt raw and my cuticles being melted by acid. There began a horrible scraping noise during my attack on the door as my fingers no longer touched it but something else did. I howled in pain as a last wave of torture rippled down my legs, crippling me to the floor. Then I hit my head and blacked out.
Chapter 3: Frid
I was breathing hard, laying on the ground. I had felt my skull grow out through the sides of my head when I was going through that torturous pain and it sure as hell had been worth it. I sit up, kneeling as the sliding viewer on the door opens and a voice drains through. "Øh! ăņõţhēř öñę! Wőņđêřfųł! Ťhąť måķêş ťhřęē!"
I grumbled lightly in the back of my throat as the light stung my eyes. I was tired after a thing like that but not enough to sleep so I just rested my head on my arms, draped atop my pulled up knees. When I yawned it felt that my jaw extended more than it used to, and the new teeth were larger than my old ones, though, somehow, I could still close my mouth comfortably. My jaw was in pain though, along with my gums which were still bleeding but not as much.
It was a long while, a very long while, before everyone quieted down, screaming, panting, whimpering or attacking the door-wise. The Heterodyne finally came back and by then my pain had dulled already, strangely, and the small horns on my head no longer caused a really bad headache. One of his minions opened the door and I stood to casually walk out. It was really wobbly and I went dizzy for a bit but I managed.
The lights were dimmed but I could see just fine. There were a grand total of 2, including myself.
Two. I didn't recognize the other in the least, but the face shape was vaguely familiar.
"Wherz efferyone else?" He asked with a gruff voice, his words a bit transformed.
We just stood there a bit first. Vlad Heterodyne came out the last room shaking his head, writing in a blank book till he looked up. "Wêľł ãţ łëąšţ ťhęřë'ş țhřęě şůbjêçťş śťįłĺ" He came over and asked our names. Crowley was the other one; a name I never knew too well from the raiding party. "Whêřę'ş ťhê țhē țhīřđ?"
"He died from madness after tearing out his eyes and then his throat from what seems to be interrupted reformation of his brain, sir!" Called out a minion while moving a large, shaking, squealing crate.
"Ah, wëľł țwø ťhëň"
"Three sir!" called a second minion, leaning out from a room near the middle.
"Wêĺł whãţ ìş įť ţhēň?"
The second minion went back in and partially dragged, partially carried a newly pale olive green person from the room. He seemed a bit loopy based on his lack of ability to go straight and he wasn't using his legs much. He talked coherently, though.
"Hallo! Sorry, fer being late, hy think hy passed out. Hey, vhere's Direktor Vrede?"
I, in all honesty, had not realised that. Everyone in the party knows Vrede, he keeps, well, kept I suppose, people organised, in some sense of the word, or at least kept them from doing things they weren't supposed to do. It wasn't much but if he wasn't there it surely would have been true chaos, especially with Vlad too constantly distracted to direct or plan a raid.
The answer was obvious so the topic was dropped and we continued.
"I'm Mir" he let go of the minion to try and stand himself but stumbled and ended up having to sit on a table. He smiled. It was a bit creepy looking but hospitable. There was a lot of teeth, sharp pointy teeth.
Crowley had ended up wandering around, going through tests as instructed.
"Hy like your hair!" he continued excitedly.
"What do ya mean?" I tried pulling down a piece of my hair to see it but I always keep it short.
"Its a nice shade of mint, it contrasts well with your dusty rose skin"
I really wanted to see my reflection now. Mint? Really?
"Uh, thanks I guess? Hyu know hyur hair iz pink right?"
"Hy rather enjoy this colour, und hy thought it was more a pale red"
"Ýøů ťwö! Į ňëēđ ţø đø šömĕ ţéşťš, şø čômę, hůřŕý ūp"
We went over and he tested our vitals first. "Økäŷ, ńōŵ thät thīńgÿ ŵîth thê øthēr thīńg, oo! ī ŵõńdęr îf Ī çäń püt thåt ŵįth thē ţomątøes... øh! ýôůř ěýëš åřę øřãňğė! Øņē şëčöñď, īţ'łĺ ţąķē łőňğėŕ ţhãņ öňė šëčöņđ řęåĺłý bűťţ ñøņę ţhë łęšş..."
Vlad talked to himself, a lot. And never seemed to be on the same topics for long. He put a blanket over my head, surprisingly I could still see, though, not incredibly well but I could make out vague colours after a few seconds. I know because he would show me papers and ask their colour under the blanket. He took it off and my eyes readjusted quickly. He did the test again with two papers that were the same type of colour but different shades and was surprised, or maybe excited, when I said one was definitely lighter.
I ended up having to do a jumping test too, to see how far I could go, and dead lifts. We all went through mostly the same tests but Mir ended up doing a whole lot better with the jumping once his legs stopped being worn. Vlad then gave us rooms after the testing to use while we were here. He wanted us to stay in the castle so he could compare us to other subjects, unknown for how long though.
Not much went on during our stay there though it was boring. I ended up exploring the castle a bit cause, come on, I've never seen inside it before! Though the most interesting part was the armoury. It had a lot of variety in weapons, most that didn't really have names. Before long, two others joined the small group, but during the past two weeks before that, I felt something strange happening. My head felt weird sometimes and Mir and Crowley acted different, more noticeably Crowley, not much different that is but I pick up on these things. Nonetheless, we were still changing.
Chapter 4: Coein
I was part of the second batch to turn and now there was me, Renault, Barsin, Zog, Crowley, Mir and Frid. It's been a week since Crowley, Mir and Frid have been kept in the castle under observation but only a day so far for me. We didn't actually do much when we were there, we just had to stay for some testing, just general stuff like heart rate, blood testing, vitals and what not and as expected, he was met with some interesting results. I don't know what they were or what they meant but, ey, long as I'm not dead.
When I finally got to leave the room I was put in, there were a few things I automatically noticed. My fingers were bloody, for one, and the room was slightly brighter and smelled weird. I was met with two others who were apparently Crowley and Mir, both distinct in ways other than just sight but I didn't mention it. I didn't talk to them much. I had seen them a few times at the bar that I usually sing/work at. It has ok money but at least most of the people are nice, Crowley sometimes gets really rowdy when he's drunk so I've had to knock him out a few times before. Mir mentioned someone named Frid who was apparently off elsewhere.
The first thing I had to do was just take my heart rate and what not. It wasn't too hard surprisingly. I mean, I've never been one to run but I wasn't even really breathing hard after four laps around the edge of the room. We went through a blood test at the end and the leeches seemed to act strange. Normally they would just latch on but this one was twitching and squirming and wouldn't let go. It had to be pried off and when it was removed then the marks disappeared almost automatically.
I was kind of ignoring what Vlad was saying because I wouldn't really understand it anyways, and rathered just thinking to myself, but I did look at his notes that he left out when he went to talk to a minion. I tried looking them over but most of it was encrypted but I could make out some parts like on the phrenology tests then some thing was mentioned about my head being very slightly larger that before the draught. A strange thing though is it mentioned my skin being a very yellow olive-ish colour I looked back at my hand and wondered how I hadn't seen that before even though I noticed my nails, which seemed quite a bit longer now than earlier by maybe another half of a thumbnail width. I tried biting them down, having long nails annoy me, but my teeth were too weirdly shaped for it and it just wouldn't go through the nail as if it were stronger than a big toe's toenail.
Vlad came back with a minion following and put his hand on both foreheads. He frowned a bit and called Mir over, doing the same thing and writing it down in the notebook I was holding. I watched as he suctioned the pen to write down whatever he discovered.
"So vhat's differant?" I asked him.
"Hm? You speak? I was beginning to think you were dumb. Any idea why your nails were bloody?"
"No, can hy know how hy em differant?"
He listed off different things, most of which I already knew but a few things like something changing in my vocal cords, or brain and system structure I hadn't. There wasn't enough data for him to tell me how my brain or structure was altered or if it even was but many of the others who had died, died from half transformed organs, personal infliction or brain damage.
Over the past weeks, only us seven of the 42 subjects survived, 35 didn't. I had known many of them, either from around town or the raiding but more than half had been abductees who had very willingly accepted Heterodyne rule, so they were new. Alas, though, they perished. Though they did still willingly give their lives to try and test the draught.
Over the next week, myself and the others got to know each other while we were under observation. I had been turned with Renault, Barsin and Zog so I decided to see if I could learn anything about them first. Zog was a natural leader, though perhaps slightly active but could see the general view of things. Renault was a bit creepy and spoke in circles and didn't really care either to be there or about others. Barsin was not much of a socializer but friendly at least and seemed to be able to fake social skill. They all had a unique smell and did little things, like how Barsin basically never held eye contact for longer than 2 seconds and tried to avoid it, that were slightly annoying. Mir and Crowley were interesting too but strangely Frid wasn't seen around much, though more so during the end of the week. Everyone was unique. In skin, eyes, extras or scents; this was sure to be interesting.
At the end of the week, Vlad had apparently gotten all the information he needed for the time so we were let go and free to wander but first, that night we held a funeral for those who died trying. The bodies ranged from being grossly partially deformed with bones showing and twisted or intestines making bulges under the skin where there shouldn't be to nothing seeming wrong to them being fully transformed. Vlad wanted any evidence of the experiment that a spark could easily dig up and study destroyed, thus we burned them in a mass pyre. The town gathered to watch the ones they knew burn, having given their life to serve science.
We got to re-discover who we were for a while and get used to our new abilities for a while but it wasn't long before we were called upon to be used as what we were made for.
Chapter 5: Crowley
It's been a good while since I've turned. I mean, it's only been a week and a half or so but hey. After be'in let out of the castle I visited my mum in her Small n' Delicate Clank Repair shop.
"Crowley, dear! How was it? Obviously something happened. Tell me everything and I'll get lunch started, ja?"
"Vell," I began. I told her all about how turning felt but I couldn' tell her of the draught or about what changed other than outside appearance and other obvious things, but I did describe the draught anyway. How it tasted, bitter and like chemicals with a hidden rotten meat flavour, and how it smelled, kind of like water but mixed with the after-rain dead worm smell and a lab.
We ate lunch together and I showed her that I could finally lift father's hammer. It had only been meant for decoration because it would've been stupid to use it for anything but I fell in love with it when dad brought it home one day when I was 5.
Mum gave me a sandwich and it smelled delicious. "Vhat's in here? It smells like ham, lettuce, dirt, that one type of seasoning, cheese dat vas aged a veek or so, but hy svear dere's something else"
Her eyebrows went up in interest. "Well, yes, I tried using cricket flour this time. Does it smell that different cause it seemed the same to me"
"eh, it's probably just the senses"
"Well you're a very nice shade of red. It suits you"
"Hy love ya too mum. Need help with dishes or in de shop?"
"No, no, you just rest for a bit. There's wood out back you can chop and your brother's going ta be home soon"
It was a while of chopping wood, the sun started to go down, before I heard footsteps that were trying to be light but just weren't, much like that of my older brother. I ignored them so that I could act surprised but was startled when he jumped me.
"Ha! You sucker!"
"Bot hy heard hyu!"
"Pfff..well,.. you jumped and nearly knocked us both down!"
"Well if hyu hadn't jumped on mine back!"
So then he slide off. Gerard then hugged me tightly saying, "Thank god you survived"
I stood there smirking and brought us to the ground. We wrestled as we would often do, but hadn't been this easy before. Ha, I finally get to beat the sucker.
It was a good time with family, only got a few days though before one afternoon a pack of monsters, the new ones, and the raiding party ran past my house hooting and whistling and laughing, so being normal for the raiding party. A smile split my face as I grabbed my poor dead father's hammer and ran out, joining my brothers in arms for blood.
I've got no idea what they were chasen' but the run was a nice stretch. People began spreadin out when we got to a more cut off area that was a deeper place and we chased it down there. Everyone stopped and by then a lot of the complete humans had dropped out of chasing to rest. Pfff. The whole area started smelling, bad but at the same time somehow disturbingly comforting, of everyone cause it was warm from running in this late spring day that was really hot out. I heard someone scream and I shoved my way closer to the front, thank god I'm tall. Everyone started scattering in chaos as I stood there wanting to know what it was and it was a great surprise. The wimps were running from a rabbit!
I went up to it and kneeled down to pet it.
It bit a good chunk of the skin off my hand.
So I tried bludgeoning it over the head with my hammer.
The strange thing is that I don' think I've ever seen any rabbit with as nasty, big pointy teeth as this one had. I ended up just chasing it around, hoping I'd hit it and get my revenge at some point. Plus I was pissed as it. There was much yelling. A few others joined, the two normal looking people in red shirts that joined were killed shortly after they got in the fun. Me, Frid n' Mir were chasing it around as it flew past us everytime, Barsin tryin' to outsmart it with rocks, Renault standin' in the corner watchin' and Zog and Coein were trying to block it off somewhere.
It took the time until the sun started setting when most everyone else had left and irritation to kill the little monster and all that happened was Renault threw a quill of his at it.
It went much quicker to skin and eat it for dinner.
"Zo vhat vas dat?" I asked gruffly as I bit into a juicy leg.
"Oh! It vas one of de animal test subjects dat Vlad had tested on first!" Offered Mir.
"He told me und Zog to go hunt it down and kill it" Coein interrupted.
"It had gotten out a few weeks ago" Mir ended.
"We should head back eventually" mentioned Barsin.
We all finished the rabbit and Barsin put the bones and teeth in the skin and carried it back. We walked and chatted, and it was kinda nice to be around others who were turned. Frid's a neat guy and I know Coein from the bar. Renault was trailing behind and awkward the whole time.
It got dark out but it was still pretty clear. I crossed into Mechanicsburg and went back home slowly. It was nice out, but my hammer started to chill and it was freezing when it touched me. I took the nice walk to finally be fully accustomed to the extent of my abilities, cause seriously, it's really annoying when you can hear every little detail, when suddenly you're stronger and don't know how much power is fine for a walk. I got home and lay face down in my bed with my hammer next to it. Seriously, I had to kill a guy to get that thing, he deserved it. I drifted off to the scent of myself and my home and comfort.
Chapter 6: Renault
I have never been a social person in any sense of the word. You know that. I don't much care for people and there's very few I actually like. Usually I tolerate and ignore them, give help or services or advice when I feel like it and no other time. This likely worsened when children would tease me for not having eyebrows when I was younger, also the reason I took the draught. To get away from them and leave it behind. I had gotten used to it so not much in the way of wanting vengeance but if I was going to be mocked and scorned for such a minor difference I'd rather the difference be more obvious. In truth, though, I had not thought it would be this obvious. I was more so thinking I was going to die but at the same time, when I actually took the draught and swallowed it's spicy, chemical like, glowing blue liquid, I wanted to live. If only to know what would become of me, but mostly because the ridicule I stood for wasn't worth it.
I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't done that but, I still am indifferent to most people. I still don't much fit in, I have quills coming out of my back and head! Nobody has really talked to me either. Over the three days after we got out of the castle I just stayed at the same place I've always been, helping at mum's where I was left after my parents were killed like the others who live there. I'm not really mad about that though, I didn't much like them either. Always were leaving me alone for their "high end social parties" and all the other whatnot you remember me mentioning in the beginning. Then our far distance neighbors, the Heterodynes, who has just recently settled, came by. I mainly tried to stay out of the way but ended up being picked out of the corner and brought with them. What would I have done if I stayed anyways?
I'm repeating and first mentioning this now, here, because I like to keep things organized. You know that. But the point is,
I've never been social, till now. I'm still not but I want to. I actually want them to talk to me, to notice me, I want to, sincerely want to, interact with them, not just imagine it, so thats nice. From what I've gathered about them I think I'd really like Mir, maybe Coein. Mir is fun, talkative, calm, friendly, and seems to not have a care. Coein seems to be a laid-back person. Crowley I don't much care for along with Frid. Barsin could be fine. Zog seems smart and all but also slightly bossy and dangerous like Crowley.
That's another thing. Are we still people really? But instead I'll answer that later.
So it hasn't been long, two days maybe, since the incident where that test subject escaped. It tasted like cooked rabbit. Already, though, we were being called back again for a differant something. I was slightly excited to see the people who were more like me again. It ended up being that Vlad just wanted to do another check up and since everyone who was turned was still or now in the raiding party then they had to stay closer by in case of anything. This was fine by me since I didn't really have much of a place other than mum's.
We were given rooms that were just extras, and were not too far from the dining hall, which were mostly only used by full time minions on occasion and those of the raiding party who didn't have a place to stay, or so I have gathered. There were some non minions milling about the castle who would occasionally help with moving heavier objects or helping get moving and shaking objects/things under control. I rather enjoyed walking around. It was nice and peaceful with a calming background noise of people screaming and running around. The courtyard was a nice open space with walls around it other than one side which had doorway arches and over it no roof. Nobody seemed to use it though so when I asked a minion if there were any targets I could use he said no but directed me to some supplies I could use to make one.
I decided to just keep it basic. This meant a piece of paper with coloured lines smeared on it, so I could at least practice throwing while I am here, can always use improving. I was spontaneously joined later on by Frid and Coein.
"Zo vhat hyu doink out here?'' Frid asked as he sauntered up.
I looked up from being about to throw again and stared cause I feel it was fairly obvious.
"Mind if ve join?" added Coein.
I shrugged because I do not care either way but I do not know what they would do.
"Hy found a veapons storage vhile hy vas vandering dat ve could use" Frid pointed in a general direction and started walking, Coein followed. It took a while for them to get back but when they did, they also had Crowley and Zog with them and Frid had a staff like thing. I cannot decide whether to complain about the added noise and people or take it as a chance to change myself and. . . socialize again.
I just continued with my aim practice while, apparently, the others decided to fight each other for practice, except for Coein who was just throwing things in the air to see if he could hit them well enough. I got bored fairly quickly and ended up just watching the practice fighting from a distance. It was Zog versus Barsin, whenever he showed up, and it was interesting to watch. Over to the side though, Crowley was trying to teach Frid how to punch correctly and Coein was also watching the fight. Barsin seemed to be winning. Mir walked in from behind and came up to ask me "Hey, you want to go next?" with a friendly grin.
I shrugged and then quickly debated in my head, I mean, I do not really know him at all nor do I know his abilities but if I want to change then I have to bother try too.
Chapter 7: Barsin
Zog was fun to fight. That courtyard was hardly used anyways so it's nice that I can practice whenever if I feel like it. It ended up being a draw between me and Zog but in the next fight with Renault and Mir, Renault totally won. Mir was good too but he needed to not move as much when doing... anything really. It let him get hit a lot. I eventually got bored and left to just stroll around the small town. I've seen most of it but not all. I was one of those people who were abductees and brought here. I was from a town not far from here but there I was kind of a weirdo that did nothing but study and learn new skills as a hobby, didn't talk to people because if I did then then they're usually creeped out or off set by my interest in knowing different ways to torture someone with everyday objects. Those people were rude, I'm glad I was abducted cause if I hadn't been I probably would have never left.
I walked through the town, content, as the townspeople gave me some distance, maybe a few wary stares and definitely a lot of curious ones. On my way, then every now and then someone, usually children, would come up to me and comment on my appearance. Even I hadn't seen myself yet. Some of the adults were a bit unjustified when they commented on the fact that I was an outsider and have only been here 2 years and shouldn't have been able to take the draught. Finally I went down to the shop I had gotten when I first arrived here. It didn't sell anything specific, just what I felt like doing or making. I heard some people come in while I was in the back looking for something but I forgot what.
"Hoy Barsin! Is you back?" they called. I ran in a semi-graceful manner to the front as to not further ruin my specific
"Alverdis! It's been a vhile. Hyu here fer zumting?"
"Wait, say that again" she stood there with her hands on her hips.
"New accent, ja?" she pointed out. "So how's my girl?" I just then remembered the existence of the last order/request I had and turned around to get her 'girl'. I set the heavy, well worked shovel on the table, newly cleaned and touched up.
She gave a breathy laugh through her nose. "I meant my other girl'' she corrected.
"Ho, Lilya, hy dun know bot de only time hy really saw her raiding party vas vhile eating bot hy didn't notice her dere zo she's probably staying off to der side, iz probably der only ting dat's keeping her from beink discovered und kicked out. It vould be nice if she could talk to pipple instead of hidink"
''Eh, even if she could she probably wouldn't. At least she's having fun, ought to visit though." Alverdis took her shovel off the counter and weighed it in her hands. "There haven't been any raids lately, is it 'cause of Vlad's project thing?"
"Ja, bot hy'd imagine dat he'll be finished zo hyu ken get back to buryink stuff again soon"
She payed and left with her shovel and I stood there a good while in a blank state of mind before I remembered what I was trying to find earlier. I went to to the back and got out a weapon I made sometime ago that I ended up just keeping it for myself because it was beautiful and I had spent so much time on it that I just couldn't sell it. It's a common problem I have.
I opened up my shop for the little time I could run it since apparently I'm now part of the raiding. I didn't know whether I had to strictly stay on the castle area or just near it but my shop was close enough-ish so eh.
Disappointingly, over the next few days, not many people came in so I just did random work around. Those who did, though, mostly regulars, acted strangely. Normally they'd just come, pick up their stuff, maybe ask questions that I would quickly answer and leave but the air seemed different now. I pride myself in being able to read people and it seemed that they were just trying to avoid me now. Why? I'm the same person and all, so I just ignored it. I was almost estatically thankful that a raid had been called again only four days later that week. I closed the shop quickly as I could as soon as the message minion told me the summons and dashed out the door. It was thrilling to run, I never gone as fast, although there were more than a few time I practically ran into someone and had to quickly apologise. On my way there was a cart coming from the vegetable fields that Vlad had worked with many years ago and it was right in my path. I was going too fast to stop in time so the next best thing I thought to try was at least jump over it. It worked way better than planned. I thought I was going to hit it regardless but i flew right over. I made it to the town's main gate entrance just as the party was arriving.
I joined the others for the most of the trip before slowly lingering to the back where I found Alverdis' daughter.
"Blue fire! Who in the world is you?" she tried to keep quiet.
"Hym a friend ov hyu mamma's, my name's Barsin"I wanted to try and sound as neutral friendly as possible because based on what I've heard from Alverdis, she's not much one for people in general.
"Is that what happens when you drink whatever Master Vlad's been making?" She questioned while motioning in my general direction. I gave a large grin, though I feel it came off as smug looking but she didn't seem to mind. "Ooo... I wonder if I can get it. What else can you do?"
We had a nice long conversation up until we finally arrived at the nearby town of Geschwitz that had unique types of whatever we needed right now. I don't actually know, the Heterodyne is the one that runs these raids for stuff and I don't really care to ask as long as I get free stuff and get to have fun if only as a distraction. I removed my mace from my shoulder, thankful I had enough mind to grab it from my shop as I had been leaving, to join Lilya in a good fight. It was good fun while it lasted. The townies' reactions when they first saw us was hilarious. Most of them stood there in shock and confusion a while before panicking or screaming and trying to run. This one guy stood there till I came up to him and I tilted my head than smiled and that's when he fell to the floor and scrambled back but then he stood up only to trip over a sheep and hit a raider who was standing behind him. He died. I just had to pet the poor, poor, traumatized sheep before continuing cause it was just so fluffy looking.
Chapter 8: Falvo
Three years after Vlad made the first jägers, he opened for volunteers to test the draught again. Oh, and people started calling them jägers as in hunters, it suits them. Anyways, I wanted to take the draught. No specific reason, just curious, just kidding, there's a reason. To take big chances and prove my glory!, amongst other things. I didn't exactly know where to go because all that was announced was "you wanna try to be a jäger? I heard..." and the rest varies depending on the person. If only there was a more efficient way to spread news without altering the original message. Putting it on papers that you hand out seems like a good idea but it would take forever to write the same thing down a hundred times or so. You could put them on walls but nobody's bothered to do so yet. And then again, I'm pretty sure I'm only one of the few who can actually read.
My best guess was to go to the castle at least and probably ask some random minion about volunteering. It was a nice brisk walk through town to the castle, rather conveniently placed in the center, if ya ask me. It wasn't hard to find a minion once I finally got to the front gates of the castle, they were basically everywhere, running about like little dandelion seeds on a really windy day.
"Oh, just follow the signs that were put up" they said pointing at a large piece of paper with an arrow standing from two smoothed sticks stabbed in either side. I do not know how I missed that.
"Right! Good day, sir!" I waved and strutted down the hall. I've never seen the castle before but it was quite grand, it'd be a shame if it were ever lost. I followed the signs through a hall with a whole lot of levers. Who needs that many levers? They weren't lined up nicely either but everyone to his own I suppose. I finally came to a set of stairs with a table and, surprisingly, a female minion waiting, or I assume they're a minion.
"This where you volunteer to be a jäger?"
". . ."
"So, how?" so far, she was not being very useful.
"Sign this" she slid a paper over with writing on it. Of course I can read, but, honestly, not much, and I'm pretty sure this was a different language. It was kind of frustrating. I gave up and just signed.
"Good, now just walk down the stairs, you will see a large room, glowing, don't touch anything. Just wait with the others off to the side and someone will be down shortly with further instruction"
"Thanks miss!" I had already walked down far enough to not see the table at the entrance when I heard a squealing from the minion then whispers. I couldn't hear anything clearly and if the squeal was for a person who wanted to volunteer then I'll know who they are when they come down. It didn't sound frightened though so I continued.
There weren't many people down here yet, 5 maybe, and with them were the first jägers, for some reason. I walked over with confidence and introduced myself.
"Hallo, I'm Falvo" a few of them shook my hand, less of them said their name in return, rude. We waited a while, a long while. Three people came down simultaneously after me so there goes determining that one person. Time passed and people got bored enough to dare each other to eat a bug, if they found any. Others just played games and the jägers stood off to the side chatting quietly and pointing. It wasn't until 7 more people came down that the Heterodyne finally joined us.
"Õh, I thoųghť thēre woûlď bë moře voļunťeeřs" he said looking around and wiping blood off his hands. He whispered something to a minion before continuing. He walked over to a table and took the tray with vials in it and filled them up from a barrel. They weren't all even but, I'm not the spark here so maybe there's a reason. He gave everyone one last chance to leave and someone raised their hand to go to the bathroom. As he was being directed by a minion, Master Vlad handed out the vials and sending us to rooms.
I got one of the vials that were filled between more or less and sent to a middle room. I took it as soon as the door closed, to avoid thinking, for once in my life not completely confident. It tasted strange and felt strange at first but then hurt, a lot. My stomach got a horrible cramp right away and I had to sit down. It all continued on for what felt like hours and finally in the end I was just lying face down on the soothing cold of the stone floor that maybe had a few new scraps in it. When the door opened and someone walked in though, I bolted to the corner. I wasn't in full control anymore, I was growling at whoever was trying to touch me, the light stung my eyes, and the smells started burning my nose. Someone else walked to the door opening after the other one retreated. They smelled, good, really good. It calmed me down a bit, it somehow being familiar and once I could see his face, I recomposed my self very quickly. Master Vlad lead me out of the room and the first jägers were standing there. The taller red one came over and rustled my hair before introducing himself as Crowley. A different one, Barsin, congratulated me on my survival. They all smelled but not the 'haven't taken a shower in the past four months' smell, more like 'pillow I've always slept with' smell, always unique to each person but they all shared a slight underlying hint of chemical water. I felt like I was going to fit right in. Another new jäger came out and we all looked to see who it was and they were much to everyone's surprise.
Chapter 9: Lilya
I managed to be able to get into the volunteering because the registry minion was a girl. She squealed when she saw me and had me wait to go in, just in case. When I finally went down, of course there was only guys. I stayed off to the side and stood at the end of the line when Vlad passed out the vials. He looked at me knowingly when he gave me the draught but said nothing, just sending me to one of the rooms at the beginning of the hall.
Turning was painful, to put it lightly. My mid to lower back was stiff and horribly aching the whole time, if I moved it stabbed. My head had a pressure on it causing a headache on my forehead that was closer to resembling really bad congestion mixed with acid.
I really tried not to scream, too loud, and was met with mixed results. It wasn't really a scream but more like an animal yowling. It took a while of going through this... these horrid waves of internalized hellfire, before it finally ceased and the door opened not long after. I was breathing, panting more like, up against the wall as I rubbed my head, trying to stop the aching. The light didn't help. I complained quietly to myself as I tried avoiding making my migraine? overstimulation headache? worse. Whoever it was kneeled down and tapped my shoulder. I barely glared up through my hand to see the Heterodyne. I sighed and stood but he smiled.
"You're the only girl to take it and survived!" He said excitedly. He stood me up and I was temporarily dizzy. I was lead out and managed to restabilize on the way. Vlad walked away and I continued out, suddenly stopping when I realized, everyone was staring at me.
"Haha!, you suckers! I showed you all! Ya, I is a girl, vhat now?" I spun around and put my hands up, all in my head, that is, while in reality I quietly walked to a corner and played with my tail. There were small bumps on my head too, I noticed, as the others came over and greeted me.
"Ho! Iz a gurl!" said the mint haired one, Frid, I think, "iz soch a small und sissy lookink thing"
I glared at him a bit and was about to retort before the white haired shorter one, Zog?, interrupted
"Hold on now, she could be useful fer zumting "
Barsin, possibly the only one I know, was looking rather disappointed in humanity and after one last comment from Mir about me being a "delicate thing, how did she even get to take the draught? Are you alright? It's a surprise you survived at all!"
"Hoy! She, no, Lilya haz been in der raidink party fer de past 4 years und none of hyu haz noticed. Who cares if she's a gurl, der master knew dat vhen he handed her de draught, she served vell und villinkly und survived, ja?" I continued to stand there, still with my mouth open as if about to speak my eyes just staring in that way you do when thinking to yourself about how you were just about to say that exact thing but were inturrupted.
A few of them dismissed the speech a bit but were slightly considering it. Others, mostly those who hadn't talked, came up and introduced themselves, congratulating me on surviving even though I just stood there and tried to avoid handshakes or invasion of my personal space. I smiled slightly but not much because in all reality, I still just really don't like people. Mir apologized and seemed friendly enough, Renault was really awkward, Coein was okay, Falvo a bit full of himself and Crowley was just loud and maybe a bit intimidating. Overall, Barsin was the only one I was actually fine with. Strangely, despite my indifference or negative preference towards any of them, I really was just... drawn to them a bit. Like home. A home I lived in all my life but hated so much because of various reasons like loud floors or unstable walls or loud extroverted siblings, but home.
There was another fun excursion not too long after I turned for the yearly fall harvest tributes. It was a surprisingly warm day for fall and quite nice out, perfect day for research. As much as I wanted to avoid all the others like I had for so long as a human, I was also obsessed with jägers and now being one made watching them easier. They really were close at varying degrees. They stuck together most of the time; laughing, talking, smiling; but would still interact with people. They mostly just seemed to know each other, be able to bond over an experience they know the others had but nobody else has. It was strange being a part of it but at the same time, completely not. There were a few times, two maybe, on the whole three week trip, that I considered joining them during a meal and maybe even talking outside of the few times Mir, Renault or Barsin tried starting up a chat, but it would've just been weird because I don't actually know them at all.
The excursion was fun, though. Not exactly a raid but, eh. Word had gotten around that the Heterodyne had made "blood thirsty, war minded, horrid looking, irrational monsters that would tear your throat out and cook your eyes for stew" apparently. I still had my extended metal point spear that I used in raiding and I love it. It expands my reach and has good balance and overall I've gotten better at using it. Combining what I knew from over the years with my new, yet-to-be-tested abilities, such as how high I could jump now? It was great! But always a nagging in the back of my head, it annoyed me so much.
On the upside, after a short while, the others, human or jäger, stopped treating me like a stereotypical woman all like, she can't do this, she's a girl. I showed them, I showed them all .
Chapter 10: Fernan
I took the draught 6 years after that girl did. As it seems, using giant clanks in battles was becoming more common so on a few raids, Master Tolvard went on his first raid at 10 and had some examples brought back to take a look at and improve. Needless to say, he did make larger working replicas that would burn anything in it's path with differently coloured flames and could store extra things if found. Hence, they needed mechanics. I was already a minion for the Heterodynes, working on smaller areas where told, hell, I even helped build some parts of the giant walking rainbow flame throwers of doom so I was a bit surprised when Tolvard asked out of the blue if I would become a jäger for him, because having a jäger who actually knew what to do as a mechanic would be incredibly useful.
I hadn't really wanted to, with the death rate and all but the further into the year it got and the more raids that had gone on and how often I practically died when trying to fix the stupid clanks? I started considering it. Finally, sometime after Tolvard was 11, I told Master Vlad I wanted to take the draught. He looked fairly surprised after I finally got his attention and repeated it a few times and he mentioned that there were a few others who had come by too.
Later that year I took it. Later that year I went through the most unbearable pain I could ever imagine in my life. Later that year I survived and walked out to see most of the others who had also taken the draught, who knew the pain of going through the process of changing and was welcomed with terrifying smiles and a strange form of new family which was a bit weird since my parents had died recently and my younger brother moved to the fields on the outskirts, away. I automatically noticed that the girl was missing along with the spiky one and mint hair one and while they might've told me their names, I really don't remember them. I blame the fact that most of the time I was wondering if I had gotten shorter despite already having been a short person.
It... took a while to get accustomed to how the jägers all worked together. I tried just staying with the other mechanics I had worked with before but for some reason, the fact that my appearance changed, was base enough for them to now be tense, awkward and uncomfortable whenever I was around. It was depressing and lonely, even one of my friends from the group, while still claiming to be friends, slowly drifted away from me. And I swear I hear people sometimes talking about how strange jägers are, unnatural, not supposed to exist and questioning why Vlad made the draught and why we would take it. It kind of just made me more ill-tempered and proud to have chosen to take the draught. Who cares what they think? I chose to serve my Heterodyne in this way, what is it to you? So I was slowly, forced I would say, to be with the other jägers since I was no longer human, it seems.
They were pretty fun people, as it turns out. Coein taught me how to hit, Renault taught me to dodge and basic one-on-one combat and Falvo taught me how to aim. I tried teaching those who were interested a few things about mechanics but none of them seemed to actually pick anything up. I saw whats-her-name around a few times, only ever interacting with Barsin really so he's the one I asked about her.
"Vhat's 'er name again?"
"Vhat? Who, Lilya?" He said surprised as he paused in his potato peeling.
"Yea, 'er. Vhy's it dat she just stays on der outside ov tings?"
He shrugged his shoulders and continued with a new potatoe. "Go ask her yourself, ja? She von't bite or anyting usually und she'll probably chust talk hyur ear off"
So I did. Curiosity is the reason I learned to be a mechanic in the first place, after all. I found her during dinner later that evening in one of the extra rooms usually only used by minions or raiders who don't exactly have a place to stay or are more often called.
"Hallo, hyu iz Lilya right?" That was stupid, of course she's Lilya, she's the only female jäger- was the type of stare she gave me back to match my own thoughts. She continued to sit on the bed with her strangely shaped feet crossed and not responding other than taking another bite of a good sized bread roll and humming.
"Vhy iz it dat hyu don't talk to anyvun odder den Barsin really?"
"Hy dun like people" she snipped. But that was it.
"Hokay..., vhy?" I at least want one decent conversation out of this strange person who no one ever notices. She took a bite before replying and did so with her mouth constantly chewing.
"Cause pipple are idiots who decide a gurl is lesser den a guy in any vay, dey's annoyink, hy ken't talk to dem und because fer some reason den enjoying beink alone rather den vit odders iz veird. Vhy should hy like dem? Hy dzhust vant to live mine life, ja? Out ov curiosity, dough, ken hyu teach me mechanics? Hyu see, vimmin ken't really hold mechanic jobs und hy've always lufved how de look und hy vant to know how dey function" she finally went quiet and swallowed.
I was trying to process all she said and was thrown off guard by the ending sentence. "Vait, vhat?"
"Teach me about machines. Hy vant to be a mechanic" she turned to stare at me, still not in the eyes but just to the side, with a cold stare that was hiding something. I wanted to know what.
Chapter 11: Volflam
I thought taking the draught would be fun and, red fire, I was right! It practically felt like I was actually going to die during the process but, ha!, I didn't! It was a bit embarrassing to walk out of the room in front of all the others who'd I'd now be working with, I assumed. Are the jägers just a subsection of the raiding party? because the guys, in the human part at least, are mostly boring.
I'm still trying to get used to how much more I can hear and smell and to some extent see. It actually was very annoying at first, still is a bit, at least I've been able to figure out how to ignore things and other stuff, like some smells or sounds, I'm just going to hope I get used to them. What I was most excited for, though, was getting to field test my new abilities on a raid.
It was unfortunately the opposite of being sooner than expected. It took maybe more than a week to go on a raid again. Tolvard led raids mostly since Vlad was likely to die soon in a few years anyways. Sure, the kid was only 11 but, hey, you only get 40 years or so. As soon as he finished-... looking at or whatever, his latest clank project then he decided to just go pillaging for other interesting parts to cobble together on the contraption and hope they turn out deadly, or at least interesting. So until then I got to see the other monster-people. >~O
"Hey! Vhatcha doink?" I announced, walking over. The room was a large corridor near the room that I woke up and ate the breakfast waiting for me in. All of the structure was red speckled stone but I couldn't tell if it was natural or not. The windows looked out to the courtyard where a variety of activities were set up that I'd have to look into later. Most of the monster-people started laughing when they realised I walked in.
"Hoy, hyu ok from de few days ago?" asked the pink haired one, obviously trying not to laugh again.
"Ya, de vay hyu just tripped into dat barrel ov, vhat vas it? Experimental shtuff fer to cover op pipple's bad smell?" Tossed in whoever the one with the yellowy olive green and blonde hair was.
"Dat vas only after de part vere he tried flirtink vit de minion und den vit de big glass bubble vhen he vas all loopy from de ting dat Master Vlad gave him to calm him down, ja?" added in the short white haired one.
"Und before dat vas vhen he came valking out in song, verra loud, used a lot of gestures after he stopped growling at der light und de loopiness kicked in" mentioned the other short one but bald, kinda wider too.
"Hyu vere knocked out vhen hyu hit hyu head on der stone table fer de past two days" casually mentioned the spiky, quiet one.
"Vhat? Regardless, hallo, hym Volflam" I gave a mock salute, grinning like a madman. "Ken hy get a shirt?"
"Awwww..." complained two girl minions passing by behind me, joined with someone else who I missed when I turned to see.
I pulled on the shirt that was taken from the red person and promptly thrown at my face.
"So what's out there?" I gestured towards the courtyard, only now noticing the few others already out there and hence went to join them.
There was another green one with four back-curving horns attempting to throw some knives, key word trying; a minty haired one testing a staff and a slate one lurking far off to the side, seemingly trying to stay out of sight while they fumbled with the wrapping on a short spear. I mulled around a bit, just to look at the stuff till I found an amusing little weapon. It vaguely resembled a sling shot but with more parts, easier to pull back, a nifty aiming thingy and some other suspicious looking tiny levers on the left branch (above the handle). I picked up one of the metal balls that I assumed was ammo and put it in, pulling it back to shoot at the set target, those were some interesting scorch marks, just about to let go when...
"Nooo!" I fell to the ground with the weight of the mint haired one atop me. The ball went flying towards the target anyways and hit just outside the middle. Nothing happened though.
"Get up, get opgetop!" He yelled as the weight left my back and before I knew it I was being shoved very quickly to behind the wall of the corridor. The horned one followed quickly and the girl just calmly glided further to the side.
I don't know why it was necessary. We ended up just staying there for a good 2 minutes before I started getting bored and heading back out.
I was pulled back just in time as the sphere exploded into randomly spouted shrapnel and fire, boring holes into the stone walls, in some areas through the wall. The fire followed the shrapnel's paths in neat lines, a whole lot of neat lines. The entrance to the corridor that I was near was far enough away for less things to come flying that way but as I kneeled below a window to peer out it and watch, a line of flames nearly scorched my head in less time it takes to blink. It looked really, really fun. Only if I could use it on someone else though, preferable someone I either don't like, know or care about.
"Dat vas fun! Vhere's it from?" I asked, with a sinister look exposing my new teeth.
Four-horns stood, as did minty, and brushed himself off from crouching behind across the entrance. "Dat vun dere" he pointed accusingly, "found it in an abandoned veapons project closet und decided it could be fun" I could tell though he wasn't really upset. "Apparently it had been abandoned because novun could figure out vhich type of sphere vas vhich und it caused many akcidents like earlier"
I went back out and tried something. I picked up two random balls, or spheres apparently, and tried shaking them. The sounded the same but then I also smelled them and they smelled different. Mostly of metal, and I probably wouldn't have detected it before I was this, but one smelled more like the stuff used to burn fire, similar to the air now and when the other one I shot exploded; and the second more like... if rope had a smell, it would smell something like this. Then again, I've never really bothered smelling rope before so for all I know it could be rope.
I had some fun with the slingshot, there were maybe five different types of shells and plenty of them. After figuring what each one did, making sure there were still extras so more could be made, I just practiced with the rocks. Throughout the time the others came and went. Still don't know their names, almost no one introduced themselves, other than the dark grey-pink-red haired person but I've already forgotten his name, so the only things I could tell them by are appearance and smell. You know you're not human when you start being able to differentiate between personal scents, though only if I concentrate. Even if I didn't know their names, we still talked every so often and on my first raid then the slingshot was ready to use and overall I could tell that this was going to be fun.
Chapter 12: Atreu
I am merely a simple minion for the Lady Caligula Heterodyne. Her father, Tolvard, died a while back, his wife, the Lady Jaynix of the splendid town of Canton, unfortunately died in childbirth. I never really knew them. My service and life have always been under Mistress Caligula. The jägers linger around the castle sometimes when they're not out plundering surrounding tributaries like bloody marauders. It's not a bad thing that their bloody marauders, the Masters are the exact same, it's just, they're almost more intimidating than the Masters. Maybe it's because of the teeth or that they're all violent, personally it's because if you ever see them, there's always more than one, it's like they're going to gang up on you and surround you to close all escapes. I don't like them so I try to ignore and avoid them, I really do try.
"Hey hyu!" I jumped and stopped in my tracks, practically dropping the basket of clothes I was carrying, really hoping he hadn't meant me but I was lying to myself, I was the only one there.
"Ja?" I was smiling so it didn't seem pained and tentatively turned around.
"Hyu know vhere de abandoned projects storage iz?"
"Uh, um j-ja it's over in the, the uh, the purple hall, left off of the first floor north, wait! no, I mean south main hall"
He stared at me with his strangely coloured eyes.
"Iz hyu hokay?" He asked, his hair falling a bit in front of his face.
"No! No, no, I'm fine, good day, sir" and with that I took off at a brisk walk in the opposite direction of the strange olive jäger. I just knew he was watching me, I could feel it.
I finally slowed down when I turned at least three corners and went up some stairs. That's another thing, I don't get why their pronunciations got so much more obvious, it's hard to understand sometimes.
"Hey Atre-" I suddenly dropped my basket and turned to see my co-worker Benush. I sighed and went down to collect the spilled linens, checking that it was still okay for being clean.
"What was that for?" He asked, coming over to help with the mess.
"*sigh* I'm just on edge, I had to tell a jäger instructions to storage D"
"Aahhh... whats that one have again?"
"It'sthe abandoned weapons projects" I stared blankly.
"Hey, don't judge me, you're the one whose job it is to know those things, not me!" I stood with the basket and rolled my eyes.
"So what have you been doing?"
"Other than trying to avoid Vlad's strange unnatural inhuman creatures that should've been dead by now? The usual"
"Hey now, I'm sure they're not that bad, they were once human"
He gave a judgemental huff stating "Says the one who cowers and scurries everytime he sees a jäger"
I readjust the basket and decided to drop the subject and continue with my job, that and I didn't have a reply because he had a point. I walked up the stairs another flight and made my way to the third east hall where most of the bedrooms were kept. I finally made it and switched the sheets on the once rarely used beds. Caligula was, high energy, so thank goodness the beds were on the third floor. She was also quite scary and had killed off the last three consorts of hers, two for their money and the third for the fun of it, the most recent literal bloodbath being why the sheets needed washing. Either way it wasn't really my business, I just do laundry and give directions. She was the Heterodyne and loyally protected the town and in return the town is loyal to her.
I made my way around bedrooms, changing sheets that smelled old and musty and dropping off the few clothes before heading back down to bring the basket back to the laundry area. On my way down, from a second floor window out of the main hall I could see most of the city. It was beautiful with the sun setting even if some was blocked by the path way up. I could see the courtyard too and when I looked down then the jägers were there, almost all of them, laughing, talking, playing around a bit, the red on had a massive hammer that he just casually lifted and propped against the wall. It seemed to become a game, see who could lift it the easiest. And I thought to myself, they really didn't seem that bad. Strong, cool, habe support from others, now I kind of want that, especially to be strong I mean, come on, all I do in this stupid castle is give directions to rooms and do laundry, and I don't even really do laundry, I just deliver it. This mulled over in my head for a few days, weeks, months and eventually I forgot about it a bit until Mistress Caligula was going around to find people so she could test the dyne draught that Vlad made, just to see if she could learn anything new.
I was pretty surprised when she asked me, I'm not that special, but that thought came back to me of what I saw that night and so many nights after that when I watched them. I accepted. I was brought down to a different area of the basement through a door I've never noticed at the end of the main hall where it connects to the north hall, which is strange because I know every room in this castle, it's my job to.
Almost everyone else down there looked kind of scrawny, kind of like myself, now that I think about it, and most of them I didn't know. The Mistress had all 16 of us line up and she made us swear that we would continue to serve her and her descendants, which is ridiculous but eh. She stood in front of us all and had us get a vial ourselves so I stepped up to her and took one. We were separated into the rooms but she never had the doors completely shut, instead just nearly. As people began drinking I saw through the crack her getting carving tools, knives and other whatnot out, at last second before I drank the vial, I stood and walked out, handing it back to her as the screams started up. I suppose there's worse things than doing laundry
Chapter 13: Nathen
One of the guys got pinned back against the bar counter, crashing the mugs off the top. Regardless of being filled or not, he grabbed one of the heavier metal bound, dense wood mugs to block the knife coming down from his opponent.
"Hey! Cheating!" I called out with a few others. It is just a standard bar fight after all, want to keep it friendly. He put the knife away quickly and tried grabbing for a chair but got hit upside the head by the base. He stumbled a bit and held his head, rubbing it, and turned around with a cross between a snarl and a playful smile, tackling the other guy in a blink of an eye. Everyone gathered around the fight to watch, cheer and give them chairs while some of the other more violent people would jump to join in. It was exhilarating to watch.
It got quieter after a while and I had to head back to the castle. Being a raider means you always have to know if you're needed, and I could stay with my father but we don't get along real well if at all so normally I just take a room in the castle. There's not actually that many people who stay there, most live with their parents or in their parents' house after they passor with their spouse.
I arrived at the large entrance doors that always amuses me at how big they are, I mean, is it really that necessary to make them that tall? Just an eighth of it would be plenty for getting the larger procured mecha pieces from other sparks inside. It's the same with the halls. My room, however, is fairly standard if not a bit small. It has four beds with about an arm's length and half a forearm between the two sets of stacked beds. Thankfully no one has decided to take a bed in that room, but on the down side, no one has joined me in that room. Most, if not all, of the jäger take up lodging in the offered rooms too. Some I see less often and others never leave when not on a raid or a hunt. I don't mind them, mostly just try to ignore them, they seem to already not like people but I don't exactly blame them based on what I've heard.
I walked down the corridor to see the courtyard that had been established as a small little training area for if you felt like it. Apparently the jägers had set it up when Vlad was still the Heterodyne a couple generations ago and they're mostly the ones who use it. Mostly because the stuff the have out to practice with was all discontinued weapons projects that are unpredictable and ridiculous. I rather enjoy joining them sometimes when there's less of them out to have them show me stuff. Sometimes I'll make a bet with them, and usually loose, of what something new they found does. Yeah, we get along. And because they're experianced and terrifically old I've been able to learn to fight better on raids so bonus for that! I'd like to say I've become one of the better fighters of the still-human part of the raiding party but I will admit to a bit of possible bias in the drawing of that statement.
It caught me completely off guard when I was summoned to the Lady Heterodyne's lab one late morning and she asked me a question that had never crossed my mind, just hadn't thought of it.
"Would you like to try and serve me as a jäger?" I didn't even know that was still a thing that the Heterodynes were doing. The last person to change anyone into a jäger was Tolvard a while back. So the best I could answer with was,
"Huh" she stood there a very short while before getting bored and going back to her project that I believe included a dug up body and some guts, neither of which looked human. I, on the other hand, stood there a good while before being escorted out and told where to go if I decided to go with accepting the draft and when.
Hence, two days later on a wednesday I went to the supposéd staircase on the corner of the main hall and north hall on the first floor. There were a few others down there, most I didn't recognize from the raiding and I could definitely se why, they all kind of looked like wimps. Except maybe one or two.
After the last person came down the stairs; Atreu it was, I knew him from needing to constantly ask directions; the Lady made us swear we would protect her and her children and her children's children, etc., etc, though she didn't even have children. I did swear because it would be ridiculous not to. If I live even as long as the current jägers, who were apparently standing off in the corner just watching, have, I would most definitely protect my Lady's lineage, the Heterodyne lineage, the protectors of my home, especially if I have anything like half the power the jägers have, and I keep my word.
I walked up to get a vial and went back into the line. It was pretty surprising that Atreu was here to take the draught, which he walked up and willingly did, he didn't seem the type. We were put in the rooms off on the right with the doors mostly closed. At the very least, they weren't locked. I slightly tasted the draught before quickly drinking down the glowing blue liquid in the dark room because it tasted horrible. Well, not horrible per say but definitely weird. When it passed over my tongue, it felt like I had been eating straight lemons and had made my tongue raw. As it went down my throat my eyes grew heavy but not tired and they hurt to move, like looking at the sun. The whole process was weird until I started feeling a strange torturous pressure at the base of my skull. It made me go dizzy, further clouding my already maddened mind fill with pain and something trying to take over. My vision went blurry and spotty and I started stumbling instead of incessant scratching at the apparently blocked door.
My instinct and new voice let out a pained screeching howl. I hadn't comprehended the running footsteps until someone ripped open the door and came over to me. At first I really wanted to attack but they just smelled so nice, and, and comforting. My neck and part of my back was cut open but that was nothing compared to what I was writhing through just previously. I knew something was happening but all I could process was something like bone being cut. I could feel it being part of my back, even if it was not there before, and it dully hurt as it was sawed through but the aching, dizzying pressure left. That kept happening in multiple limbs and eventually, finally, I passed out from exhaustion and pain while my teeth were being pulled and adjusted.
It was finally over. I still felt a bit like attacking something when I was stood up, adrenaline still rushing, and taken out to the large lab room. I was mumbling and maybe, maybe very quietly cursing to myself.
"Chigi, ow- leetle red feeshes, dem it-" but it finally subsided allowing for a different kind of pain, overstimulation. The best I could do was cover my ears and squint at the bright blurry humanoid shapes of colour. I tried recomposing myself so I was calm and happy again which is always better than trying to dwell on whatever else isn't. I approached the group of maybe 10, possibly a few more, as they were talking to each other and someone new with white hair and a cream or light white-brown skin colour. I would be concerned about how pale he was if they didn't all have weird skin colours. With cheer and confidence I walked up to introduce myself.
"Hello, hy'm Verni" I answered once someone noticed and asked, I didn't want to interrupt after all.
"Oh, iz so cute, ja? Hyu iz a verra pretty pastel" mentioned the tall red jäger as he rustled my hair
I had to pat and brush it back into place as I noticed how strangely soft it was."Oh, thank you, hy hadn't a chance to notice yet"
He snickered and looked back up but this time met me with a face of confusion.
"Vait a minute, he vas blue, ja?" Everyone else in the room looked baffled mixed with being in awe, though some more than others.
"Ooo" quietly voiced someone from the back but it was loud and clear with everyone just watching which just made me confused in turn.
"Vhat is it?" The Lady Heterodyne casually stating the reason of everyone's amazement.
"Your skin is changing colours" she said with raised eyebrows and maybe a hint of interest. I raised my hand to see it in the dim lighting provided by the spring dyne behind me. It was a pastel orangish and there was no evidence of it changing colour. I frowned at it and turned my hand over and it was only orange so I gave up. Maybe their eyes were just deceiving them.
"Ha! See? It's changed again" pointed out one of the taller jägers with green olive skin. I humoured him and checked my wrist again, not expecting much but at the same time expecting something. It was, in fact, surprisingly, now a pastel coloured teal. I wanted to experiment and tried concentrating on changing my colour myself to nice skin tone of sorts. I stayed calm and thought of the colour I wanted. Slowly, very slowly, the teal sharply faded to being a pastely pinkish-orange. It looked a little strange for a skin tone but it worked. It was amazing. I ended up just smiling for pure excitement, or maybe astonishment, at how fun it could be, constantly changing colours and all. Colour is a great thing that I'm thankful I can see unlike some people that I truly do feel sorry for.
My moment of disbelief and optimism was briefly interrupted by another new jäger being carried out of their room. They did not look well, as they were boneless in the princess style hold but at least breathing if a worryingly minimal amount. The minion carrying him rushed him over to the table to lay him down and moved so the heterodyne could check him over. She ended up cutting open part of his chest multiple times and a lot of strangely coloured pale yellow and red liquid drained out but he seemed to breath more easily. He blinked as the cut the Lady had cut open over and again started closing but this time without being reopened. It was a bit disturbing if by 'a bit' I mean I possibly gagged a little but it didn't sound like I was the only one. Thank god he was okay. He coughed up a bit of blood but then was able to sit up fully. I stayed quiet as some of the others, mostly the first jägers, went to check he was okay, ask him questions, congratulate him on surviving and he gave a weak smile and gave a weak laugh.
"He, hym a jäger now eh? Oh, gott, tat vas a helluva lot vorse shan any bar fight *cough* Vhat de, *tsh-tshh*, ho dat chust sucks"
Ken enny ov hyu say hyur 't-h's properly?" He looked around, hoping for at least one of them to answer.
"Vhats a jäger? Iz dat vhat de townies iz calling us now?" Asked someone about my height with quite a bit of white hair.
"Yez, apparently ve's not effen human anymore, ja? No matter dat ve used to be" verified a short bald weirdly yellow jäger with a huff of agreement from a dusty-red haired one near him.
I interrupted their justified complaining of their humanity to ask the new jäger on the table something.
"Vhat happened to hyu?" I spoke up.
"Hm? Hy- hy dun ektually know. Hyu ken ask who ever vas cuttink me up vhen hy vas changink, de vun who smelled really good"
"Der Lady mebbe?" Asked the the really pale one from earlier.
"Vhy vould it be der Mistress?" Questioned a grey olive jäger.
"Vell, she is de only vun who smells really nice" he replied. All the others beside us three looked at eachother confused.
"She just smells like a person, or at least nottink special" said the rosy skinned, mint haired jäger.
"How vould hyu-"
"She vandered off vunce vhen she vas little"
Lady Heterodyne came over to us as she was writing a few more notes down and spoke to whoever was on the table. "Now, Nathen, it seems the irregular bone growths and pockets have stopped so you should be fine. Any questions?"
"Hyu smells verra nice" complemented, Nathen apparently. What a strange name. "Vhy?"
"That could be a side effect of something I added that my sťûpid gřaņd fathër hãdň'ţ thøůghț ţő. Dön't wõrry abøut it, ýou wiłl suřvive suppøsedĺy, in thěroy, wēlł hypoțhetičally, höpefulły, nõthing cañ be completêly assurěd... you'ļl be fiňe" and that's all she left it at as she went off mumbling to herself "Ťhēý đīďň'ţ ţhıňķ ţô třý aīđiňg ţhê přöčęšś êīţhëř, čöůłđ'vë ğøťţëń å fėw mőřę łīvıňģ śūbjęčțś..."
We stood a while in quiet complementation till I finally broke the disturbing sound of silence.
“Hyu never introduced hyur selves"
I actually have picture lf all the jägers in this story, most aren't coloured though, but would people be interestd in me adding them to their respective chapters?
Chapter 15: Shaf
was a nice fall day out but still too early in the year to do the fall harvest run. Lady Caligula wasn't much one for the 'manic disorderly raiding and instead set up agreements with the towns and cities in that we controlled that they would be protected from others in exchange for stuff that's useful, such as soldier or metals. Some hesitated but their other choice was that we would raid them in a loud and disorderly manner, maybe killing a few people off by 'accident', abductions and taking more stuff that required by the agreement and hey, it's been successful for three years so far, though I still think the old way would've been funner.
Not much happened that day. It was relatively calm. It had only been a couple months or so since I joined the jägers and see how they acted with each other was, interesting, and I almost felt like part of them.
It was right around lunch so we all left to the dining hall. I took my plate of lunch and sat at one of the tables that were moved into the corridor. I don't know when they were moved here but the awkward tension in the dining hall when I got my lunch explained why pretty well. Since becoming a jäger, it feels like I'm just constantly hungry, most of my plate had some sort of meat or potato on it with the exception of the genetically modified, what is it, a cubic tomato?
"So Shafield, how's hyu taking de new body?" asked Volflam as i ripped at what tasted like chicken.
"Chust Shaf iz fine. Iz veird though. How do hyu deal vit de noise?" My ears twitched constantly and I immediately noticed when someone walked up behind me. I turned to a smell noticeably different from the other jägers, more alluring, pleasant, and was met with a dull expression that was ghosted with strength, struggle, and now there was a new smell, just barely getting through the odor of soft cheese bread and potatoes that she carried. It seemed bitter, acrid and overall discomforting. I tried to just not notice and did better than a few others around me, Volflam and Crowley smirked. Lilya came up to me and the piercing bitter smell got slightly stronger. She didn't do anything outside of start touching my hair. It was nice and the bitterness faded as her face seemed to go more to a neutral- indifferent poker face.
"Hy like hyur sheep tail" she plainly stated but you could tell she was trying to hide some sort of excitement. But that's all she said. She took her tray of carbs and very little meat and went to go sit in the empty corner table.
The rest of lunch was loud with chatter, stealing food which maybe caused a few flying potatoe gremlins, up until Frid came running down the hall from where ever he wandered to this time, grinning like he just found the perfect trophy from an enemy. "Ve's got an army approaching!"
I quickly shoved my food in my mouth before hurrying to get up and join them on the wall where Lady Caligula would likely be, assuming Frid told every person about the approaching army on his way and one of them told her . I was right and anyone would've heard her shouting from atop the ever growing walls around our town.
"Whâţ!? Āğåįň!? Whąť đīď țhēşė pēøpłě ňöţ ğěț fřőm țhē ĺâşť ţwø ıđīõțš whø ťřīęđ âțťāčķïňğ!?" She continued on a mad state rant and then started ordering some jägers and conveniently placed minions off to prep the defenses she'd been working on because of this kind of thing. For others such as myself, Frid, Crowley and Coein, she had other tasks.
"Ýøu," she pointed behind us at apparently Lilya; I had not noticed her up here. "Yøu'rê wīth më. Thë řėst of ýou cäņ hêäd down tø thę gätę and třý to makë thêm bāck off, ņow- actuałĺý, Ī šťïłļ ņêęď ťö ťëşţ mý ñĕw węäpöņš şö, jūst wąìt by ţhê ğaťē" she lead Lilya off and left us there to head down and await orders. With how often this has happened since Tolvard died and she literally fired her temporary caretaker and general manager of the town, some guy with a weird last name, the raiding party was becoming more of an army.
We headed down to wait by the gates. The oncoming army was still fast approaching with no sign of any of the Lady's supposed destructive creations going off. It was a bit worrying how close they were getting.
Really worrying. I was saved by the beautiful harmonics of manic Heterodyne laughter as a large vaguely cannon shaped object was rolled across the wall right above me by someone else. I could just make out several spheres being loaded into the cannon and the angle being set as the Lady adjusted some dials on the back and pulled a lever as the barrel was held in place. The spheres went flying and hit with a really bright flash and a horrid smell that I could just barely pick up. It made everyone of the invaders start to drop to the ground but only for a short while. When they wobbly stood back up they started sprinting towards the gates, invigorated for a fight.
The Lady was scrambling up on the wall and quickly gestured for us standing by the gate to go out and distract the other invading army. We were joined with the others and the humans of the now army and the aura that we all gave off was that of bloodlust and exhilaration.
"Ve fight!" Yelled out Crowley as he was the first to run out with his massive hammer at the ready.
Everyone followed his lead with yells, whoops and hollers, joining in on the catchphrase that later caught on over the years. I went out bare handed but my newfound ability to jump came in handy. I flew over a swing from a sword, a poor standard sword, and landed on their shoulders, knocking them to the ground. My nails, hard enough they hurt my teeth to bite them, were my weapons that I kept at the ready. Being in a battle was nothing like the extremely dull and boring life I had out on one of Vlad's farms before I joined the army for a change of pace and I did learn some useful things like hand to hand combat. I slashed at people's throats, whoever was closest was fine. It was especially amusing to be able to rip through someone's chest and break their ribs to their heart. That is something I definitely couldn't do before. I held the heart in my hand as my shirt was bloodied with the gross squishy red stuff that slid out like a well oiled worm. I have time to practice not accidently ripping the heart. Multiple enemies surrounded me with various weapons and all tried attacking in small groups. I matched them up to have them stab each other and take a fun looking sword for myself. It just made them mad and unfocused as more would attack at once only to be fended off by a swish, stab and thud in their torso. This one guy managed to get all his limbs cut off and yet decided to continue attacking as he slowly died in painful vain, so I ignored him.
They all shortly paused giving me time to finish them when there was a loud clanking from multiple points behind me as someone shouted, "Get down!" I dropped to the floor amongst the circle of severed limbs and open torsos as flat single-winged ovals were shot and spun down from the sky only to spread some sort of new gas in a wide circle around it a good meter or two above ground level. The gas spread quickly, thoroughly distributed by the number of flighty ovals, and quickly they all ran around screaming and crying, rubbing their eyes. I couldn't see much below the non-watery fog but it made my eyes water worse that onions. A few dropped down near me dead and I got a close look of horrible blistering and burns all along their upper arms, shoulders, face and throats. The whole inside of their mouth was blistered and ripping, their throat bloodied and raw.
Someone crawled over in front of me, Falvo it was, "Isn't dat awesome? They look like a melting pool of death" he said grinning.
Volflam then came over too on a stomach crawl like Falvo and joined the conversation. "Ho yez, und de vay dere hair chust catches fire like dot"
"Und de vay de all vas screaming und crying, hy dares somevun to touch de fog before it disappears" added in Barsin who also joined in but was atop of me and Volflam.
We all stared at him like he was a crazy spark, and not even the good crazy like the Heterodynes.
"Hyu iz an idiot iffen hyu tinks enyvun iz gonna touch dat death cloud" criticised Falvo.
Needless to say, no one dared touch the death cloud as we waited for it to safely dissipate above us
Chapter 16: An Extra Bit
Lady Caligula looked down over the field below as the gas dispersed to show the opposing army getting back up, stronger looking even.
"Ñò! Ńø, ņò, ňö, ńô, ñó, ņõ, ńöôø.... it wasn't supposed to do that" the Lady Heterodyne was scrambling back and forth trying to figure something to do and landed with the idea to use the jägers she had standing at the gates as a distraction. She shooed them out to the field from her position on the wall. Oh gott, why did these idiotic, manic, power-driven douches have to keep attacking!? This was the third time in the past four months.
Caligula mocked them in her head as she headed down the steps on the inner side of the wall to prep the next device of definate destruction unlike the previous one. "oh, just because the one ruling Mechanicsburg, a nicely placed fortress with a spring of great power as said in myths, is ruled by a girl then it'll be easy to take over cause women are delicate creatures who could never rule or lead an army properly because blah blah blah etc.etc. etc." She said, lifting her skirt to not trip over on the unguarded stones placed far enough out for two people to stand on with nothing in between. Lilya stood up on the wall a while observing the oncoming fight about to unfold and wondering if she was supposed to follow the mistress and decided to go with her.
Meanwhile on the ground, the raiding party was in a chaotic mess. With how often Mechanicsburg had been attacked recently, the party was more of an army now. The whole of them came running out of the gate whooping and hollering and shouting calls of "We fight!" The enhanced enemy army made for a struggling battle for the new army of Mechanicsburg, jägers began flanking them, corralling them to a smaller space in perfect hardly spoken, shouted if anything, mostly by Zog, unison and teamwork.
"Hoy! Shaf! Get over dere!" He pointed right and directed anyone else, whoever was closest to go left bound. Shaf tore through anyone trying to escape like a bloodthirsty, carnivorous, fluffy sheep cloud of doom with the addition of claws. Talons would better describe the short fury known as Fernan weaving between people's legs to cripple them. A flash went off from a spherical shell that burst on someone's head from Volflam’s newly acquired slingshot. The intruders were still being corralled together as the process was interrupted by a shout out of "Get down!" of which the raiders and slightly more than half of the enemies acted on. Just in time too as flat ovals with a bug wing on one side spun down, diffusing a thick foggy gas at average shoulder level. Those still standing sent torn cries through the fog. The damage was revealed as they dropped down like flies with acid burned faces and slime oozing out of hollow eye sockets.
"Zo, hey" casually started Barsin from the ground, raising his eyebrows at the intruder staring at him as if he were the menace here. It got annoying and rude pretty quickly so Barsin killed him where he lay with a quick jab as another jäger came up from behind him.
"Hoy, hyu dare me to touch de fog?" Falvo's eyebrows bounced and he grinned.
Barsin just stared in surprise at if he was serious. "Iz hyu kidding? Hy mean, sure, if hyu really vant to bot iz a stupid hydea"
"Hokay! Hy touch it den"
Barsin rolled his eyes and crawled away and it wasn't long before he came across Shaf.
"How long do ve have to stay down?" Frid asked. He continued crawling till he came to another one of the enemy intruders.
"Hy dun know, till de fog leaves?" Replied Mir.
"Hyu mean dissipates?" offered Frid back.
"Who is that?" Startled the intruder.
Mir quickly stabbed him in place as Frid managed to crawl closer to go for the kill, temporarily startled by a low muffled shout that turned to laughter. Before it was over, the intruder finally died.
"Hy vonder vhat dat vas" Mir stated.
It didn't take too much longer for the burning acid fog to disperse. Most stood, some brushed off and others restarted the attack right away. It took a while to re-corral all the intruders into a circle of monsters.
"Hokay, ve give hyu 60 seconds to run" announced Volflam. "Ready, set-"
"Wait! You coward, letting your enemy run as you stand there!? Fight us right now like a man, if there's even any humanity lef-"
"Hyu finish dat sentence hyu die right here" threatened Coein.
"50 seconds, go" Volflam finished. A few of them did just stand there as more than half escaped through the opening created towards the forest for their lives. They stood ten seconds before the intruders were slaughtered in their place. It didn't take long to send the rest of them screaming off into the woods and ten more seconds passed before the raiding party cheated. The hunt was afoot.
Now, here we see the moranicus intrudorus weaving through the trees in hopes of escaping it's most feared predator. It jumps and dashes but the prey's speed and might is no match for the infamous creature known as the jägermonster. This predator can track the moranicus with it's heightened sense of smell and hearing and can gain quick ground due to it's strong legs and muscles. The moranicus trips on a root and the jägermonster approaches quickly. As the jäger hovers over it's inescapable prey, the moranicus scrabbles and manages to hit it with a stick. While the jäger is disoriented the moranicus runs again, unaware that jägers hunt in packs.
"Hy call de blonde vun!" calls out Renault as he eases out a quill.
"Hoy! Dat vun vas mine!" loudly replied Falvo.
"Renault! Take der left, Falvo der middle, hy gots dis side. Let's round dem op!" directed Zog.
The other of the jägers slowly joined and the rest of the remaining amusing, though annoying, moranic intruders were moved together and picked off one by one till only three remained.
"Please don't kill me and eat my eyes! I have a family!" pleaded one of them in the circle.
"Pff-" Mir laughed through his nose, "hyu look zo pathetic on hyu knees like dat, und vhere did der eatink ting come from, ha, ho gott, eating hyu eyes, ridiculous"
"No, no ve iz definitely goink to eat hyur eyes" corrected Barsin.
"Nah, vhat if ve just let dem go? It could be fonny beink known as 'blood thirsty monsters dat iz gonna eat hyur eyeballs in soup from a bowl of hyu skull', ja? Mebbe it vill spread!" reasoned Volflam. It earned him a glare from most of the older jägers, ones who were already upset about their humanity being stolen when they were called jägers and ostracized. Falvo shrugged and Barsin hummed. The rest of them deflated and gave up, instead choosing to try and enjoy this moment. The lucky three remaining looked about confused and very, very concerned for their lives still. The circle opened and they started walking backwards before tripping, scrambling and running again, now to sweet freedom.
"Den again, it only takes vun to deliver a message" Renault stated and aimed. Two quills gone and one runner remained, not having even noticed the two dropping dead behind him.
"Zo, ve head back den?" suggested Frid, swinging his staff over his shoulder. They all headed back slowly in idle chatter.
"Vhich vay iz out of here again?"
Chapter 17: Kurich
The Heterodyne asked me specifically to help him understand the jäger drought that's been going on for a while. He asked me. Of course I accepted, I just decided to take it later than expected, perhaps after the screaming was done for a few days. I had approached him in his statistics analysis lab where he was still looking over the results from the others. He was feverishly writing on the board in front of him, only glancing away to look at notes. I waited patiently so he could maybe notice I was here. It took a good ten minutes before he started frowning at his notes and searching through discarded papers. He finally looked up and saw me and quickly rushed over.
"Ýöū wīłļ ťąķê ţhė đřâůğhţ"
"Uh, sure, I was going to ask if I still could anyways"
"Pęřfėçť! Åñđ ēvęñ īf ýøů đõ ďįë Ī çãň şťįłľ ğėţ ťhë mīśşīňģ íņföřmąțîöñ Î ñěėđ" he laughed manically, pushing me towards the basement again. The glow from the spring dyne reverberated off his round features and he started humming to himself. He went to the stack of barrels that were labelled with letters and years. He took some from a barrel with a C on it and 1135 so 25 years ago or so. He brought me the vial he filled from the barrel.
"Ýöů şūřë ýôū âřêň'ť båčķīňğ öûţ äğåîň?" his eyes judged me as I stood there, not knowing quite what to say up until the eloquent wording fell from my lips.
"Hells yeah, I mean, I swear, I will take the draught this time, and I never break a promise like that" I pledged with an upbeat serious tone. I'm assuming I didn't need to take the oath to serve the Heterodynes again. I accepted the vial from him and he just had me drink it where I stood, strangely, no room. He pulled up a chair as it went down my throat and took out a notepad, a pencil and set various tools such as a small saw and a scalpel on the table nearby.
It burned down my throat like a drinking whiskey for the first time, mixed with just a touch of mint which made my nose clear but felt freezing cold when I breathed. I felt like I broke my nose again and my ears just ached with constant ringing, my teeth all hurt and my jaw was in terrible pain too. My stomach cramped as I doubled over, using a table to my right as balance. I don't remember much what else happened, to many things to account for. I do know that the transformation makes you lose track of time. The pain takes 2 minutes last for 30. I don't know how long it took for me to turn but as soon as the pain started fading, I collapsed. The Heterodyne lifted me up and put me on the table I had used and left me there a while, but that entrancing smell from when he picked me up still lingered. I slept.
I woke again in a room with many others surrounding me. Like, there were at least twenty people there, jägers I mean. They were all jägers. I looked around at them and there was a pretty navy-sky blue frau with silver white hair standing near my head, looking a bit worried.
"Hallo dere, beautiful, vats hyur name?" I said sitting up and winking at her. She frowned.
"Hy'm not a gurl, und my name's Emris" he said lightly.
"Hokay den handsome" I said grinning playfully and giving him a wink. I'm not into that kind of thing or anything but everyone ought to feel special, yeah?
Everyone else was staring at me with varying degrees of judgement. I stretched and the questions and greetings suddenly started.
"Velcome to de jägers, brudder" was the most common thing said. Everyone was patting my shoulder, tousling my hair, casually touching my arm. The people who went before me weren't as much, they still seemed to just be observing. I stood and was consequently hugged to death by a pale jäger with flouncy, short, curly greyish blonde creme white hair and purple eyes. I looked around at everyone, seeing the different colours of, everything really and held my hand as far as possible so I could see it clearly.
It was a strange hazel-green color and my nails had grown quite a bit.
"What colour's my hair?"
"Here" one of them reached over and pulled a hair out.
"Hoy!" I flinched. "Pulling out short hairs hurts" He handed it to me. It was still black but if I turned it just right the light made it look slightly blue purple greenish iridescenty.
Throughout the rest of the day, the jägers helped all us newbies with getting used to our own bodies again. I could walk just fine but it was a hassle to understand how much strength to use for various simple tasks, like a handshake or holding a glass. It might've made it harder that I swear I can't feel things the same as I used to. I can tell the pressure is there, and I can still tell heat, but it's just like if your hand was numbed and it's just starting to feel again after holding it to a cold surface, I think. I could be totally off.
Apparently their version of helping you get used to stuff included being tackled to the ground and played with like a wolf cub constantly. A 'learn it for yourself' type thing. A nagging that played at the back of mind quieted down a bit while I was with them. I eagerly played along and after long, they all started heading back towards the rooms as the sun had been set for a good while. There were definitely not enough rooms for twenty-plus people, and I don't think the all day minions stayed here anymore. On the other hand, there were multiple beds in a room, usually four. Even with the empty rooms left, the older ones would all double up, other than a few exceptions. I slept in my own room as most of the others I turned with did. It was peaceful and I ended up passing out automatically. Turning takes is exaughsting.
Chapter 18: Dengrik
The bodies were burned the day before Kurich got out. I knew many of them and I believe that they all died with honour. Still a bit saddening that not more of them survived, I could've gotten to know them over the next few generations and introduced other I already knew to the older jägers. But it's not the best to dwell on the past. After Kurich turned, then I found the Master in his statistics study talking to himself. He saw me and motioned me into the room.
"Wäñť ţø hêåř áböūţ țhę ğŕęāţ īďęâ Ī čämē ūp wįťh?" He asked excitedly, like a child who just got their first skull and hammer.
I shrugged, he had already started telling me about his new and brilliant plan that was likely overdone and possibly useless, at least for right now.
"Węľł whęñ Ī wåš ìmpřövīņģ ťhę đřâůğhţ, ţhéň Ī şāw ţhê đýñëş ţřůë pøţęñťįął!" He went on with exuberance for what seemed like a lifetime about potential energy, something about some sort of plasma radiation, which I really hope isn't dangerous, amongst other sciencey things. There's a reason I had just signed up for the army rather than being a minion=_=. The only thing I completely understood were the words 'expanding the dyne' and 'raging waters with immeasurable power' which snapped me back to reality, actually worried.
"Hyu gots precautions fer dat? Like, mekking sure all de pipple don't die, pipple like hyu mebbe?" I hoped he considered actually using some sort of way to control the dynes flow given that exploding it doesn't sound very living-friendly. Fun, of course, it would be hilarious to try and stay on top of a piece of wood while it's overflowing. Thank god I mentioned it because this Heterodyne doesn't seem to think ahead much, less so than his mother and the others, according to the jägers.
"Øh, ýęš, mīńîmåł čâšůäłīťéş wøűłđ bę pŕëfėřręđ, Ī šůpøşë" he he distractedly thought to himslef. He started pacing again before jumping at a conclusion and running off, shoving past through the doorway. I quickly followed for all the reasons this could go horribly wrong. What if he died!? That would be the end of the Heterodynes, and then what? I followed him out and down a hall only to find him leaning out and sketching from a window. He hurried down three flights of stairs and tuned down the hall to get to the window by the basement door and frantically sketched some more before heading down stairs farther, gathering a few minions along the way. He missed the bottom steop and tripped forward onto his head, hard, effectively whipping the sketches from his hands and knocking him confused. The minions coaxed him to lie down as he struggled to continue his brilliance but his words were slurred and sentences misconstructed that a blonde minion from behind casually punctured him and let a bright dark green and yellow-flaked substance slip through into his waist.
"Oh thank god, he hadn't slept for days since he's started working with the draught" sighed a tired looking minion that was carefully laying the disoriented spark down. The heterodyne was still widening and clenching his eyes shut or squinting through uneven slits, going cross eyed at a few points.
I managed to talk to a few of the minions to ask about his plan for the dyne. It seemed that none of them actually knew of it and one taller, dark tan minion with grey toned goldenrod hair suggested, more so pleaded a bit, for the jägers to help make sure people don't die for once. So I mentioned it to Zog back at the jägers' rooms. Everyone crowded as I tried to get as much detail of it as possible.
"Oh ho, hyu iz a smeaky-sneak" labelled Frid.
"Hokay, ve keep de pipple from dying then, ja?" Said Renault, taking charge. He told a few of us to go tell the townspeople about the possible flood and the rest of us he used to make a vague path to direct the water, just in case. We made a relative trench from a dip that was already running down the mountain, through the town. It was lined by either the houses already there or rocks we placed, just in case. It would've taken much longer hadn't we have a starting point and so we finished long enough before the sun went down to become bored and decide to get drinks.
There was a little bar opened up by a nice man, only bar in Mechanicsburg that accepted jägers with minamal aprehension. The bar was a spacious small thing, there were a few tall round tables and a few tables by the wall, no chairs and most of the floor area was empty. For good reason too as most patrons ended up tackling each other and knocking over tables so better to just have them out of the way. Course you had to keep it friendly, anything less and you're banned for the week. Same went for the jägers as long as we could keep it under control.
We had a few drinks under the agreement that some of us had to be able to function tomorrow. There were a few jägers who just don't drink so I'm sure everything was going to be fine.
Nothing went fine tomorrow. It started off with being that no one got up at a reasonable hour, other than Lilya, Barsin and Milton, all of which got up way before the sun. The Heterodyne hadn't actually slept as long as the green stuff should've made him so his ridiculous plan to expand the spring dyne was ahead of schedule. The sun just rose and half of the jägers were dead asleep from last night. The ones that didn't get up when Volflam ended up calling out for people to get up were doused in freezing water. Most of us rushed down to the basement to the dyne while the others headed out to the eroded river path. When we got down, the Heterodyne had already dropped something in the spring from atop a platform and it was bubbling a lot. Coein and Verni ran to get to the Heterodyne, Keyser was trying to see if he could move the rocks blocking the path to the eroded stream beyond the castle wall, joined by Crowley. I rushed over to help. The stone just got a bit loose when the spring erupted like a gyser, shooting a jet into the air through the ceiling, before comeing back down and flooding out the basement. It crashed throuch the wall sending bricks everywhere as Crowley, Coein, Verni, Keyser and the Heterodyne were swept up in the current as the water filled he room and I went under.
Chapter 19: Nyota
We ran down to the town to make sure people were out of the way and the path was clear. When we got there, everyone had already cleared out and the only ones still there were Lilya, Barsin and Milton, standing by the short demolished gap bridge. I breathed a tense sigh of relief and quickly asked about the other preparations.
"Is the path clear?
"Is the wall weakened?"
"Da" she reported, not in german or romanian but eh, it's Mechanicsburg.
"Is everyvun out already?"
"Ye-ye-yessir" Milton stuttered, in a quiet voice.
The tension loosened and I stood straight. "Right, so we just need to make sure no one drowns and that the dyne water stays in the path. Barsin, go on that side" I pointed across the gap, "and cover the area at the top. Lilya," I was thinking of putting her further down but when I placed Barsin she just tensed up and receded. "you cover the other side, Milton, further down" I turned and pick the jägers out of the group in an order I saw fit. Sure, I didn't know them too well but I did turn with them and we stuck together after that. There were a few who needed 'motivation' to take orders, others needed a good telling off and a beating to follow orders from me without mouthing back.
Just as we had all started getting into our places then the wall of the castle blew out, a wave of rushing water raging down the hill, mostly, kind of, following the path. Well, not really.There ended up not being much we could actually do to keep the water in the indent, it just went everywhere but thankfully still stayed on the same general side of the mountain. I stood as Coein, Keyser, Crowley, Verni, Egregious, and Dengrik rushed by. I rushed to get them as most everyone from farther up came running down. It was a slightly frantic attempt to catch everyone from the water, first priority was Egregious, because if he died then there was bound to be.... something, something horrible if he died and there wasn't anyone else, no leader, no master, just an aimless town of wandering minions and a group of monsters who grew too loyal open to be taken over, the greatest fortress anyone has seen and then somehow avoided being set on fire from the wailing cannons.
We ran. Desperate, I found a piece of a collapsed house that I hauled as I tried to get ahead of them. I tossed it to Mir who was waving far ahead of me to give it to him. He made a mad dash forward as soon as his hand caught the large beam and placed it out in the stream, straining to keep it from being yanked away. With a thud, four bodies hit the wood, clinging for dear life, Egregious and Keyser floated past, unconscious. I ran, jumped up on a roof and lept out into the water, flailing. The current pulled me quickly under and I kicked to get back up for air. I gasped and grabbed a pieces of wood coming past me. I managed to catch them, hauling them up on the wood and waited till the water settled.
The raging slowed, no longer pulling us under, the depth went down and I could just barely touch the ground. I nudged us over to the edge as other helped pull us out. I was panting and coughing in the grass but Keyser and Egregious weren't breathing. Crowley picked Egregious up and turned him upside down, coming down on his back as if he had a bad cough. Keyser lay on the ground as Milton pressed down on his chest. The both took sudden gasps and started coughing harshly as water came pouring out. Milton jumped up and his eyes were blown wide, Egregious with the same look but mad. The both started randomly laughing.
"Hahahhahhha!!!! Hym gonna burn de whole vorld! Und effery town! Hy vill not be ignored! Ahha, hy see it now!" Milton belowed, sans stutter.
"Hahahhahhha!!!! I see it now! Oh, I could rebuild the whole castle! The town! It will be bigger! Better! Yessssss I like it."
They were both going loony bat crazy, and we would've probably knocked them out if they weren't slightly glowing. It was worse when they'd been unconscious but now it was dimming. They passed out after the glow faded and fell asleep. I didn't realize how tense I had been until suddenly everything fell from my exhausted form, still lying on the grass by the dyne.
I finally managed to get up and Kurich came over to help me stand.
"And where've hyu been?"
"Hy was out mit two tvins in a bar"
"In your dreams"
"Yas, exactly like een my best dreams." He dragged me over to the group as Shaf picked up Keyser and Renault got Egregious.
"Bout time hyu showed up" Dengrik judged.
"Hyu's de vun who started de party vitout us, ve missed all de fon!" Pouted Kurich, smiling nonetheless.
"Und ve almost got killed! De Master almost got killed!" Breathed Dengrik.
"Hyu's over reactink. It's not like de Masters hadn't tried stupid shtuff before" Provided Mir, trying to calm him down. He hummed and grumbled quietly to himself after that. "Bot drowning iz a first, hy mean, how iz enyvun supposed to breath in de vater? Best hyu ken do iz float on vood"
We all dragged ourselves back up to the castle for much needed recovery, some more than others, only to find out that the whole west side and part of the north of the castle and above where the dyne was flowing was in ruins. I blanched and gave up, just for now. We ended up just staying in a room that had been on the opposite side of the castle, the guest rooms. There weren't very many, and there were still others who had to stay somewhere so the jägers ended up all fitting into two rooms, Egregious had one and the other staff and minions spread out in either the remaining four rooms or the town. The rooms were actually pretty spacious so it's not like it was too crowded. The older amongst us all kind of slept in a pile, other than Barsin who was near but not in the pile, Renault who had to be on top, and Lilya who was constantly twitching, it looked more like violent shivers, in the closet with the door almost closed. When I was going to sleep then I strongly felt that it would just be more comfortable with the others in that pile. Kurich and Audris had joined it. I ignored the faint pull and took the surprisingly free bed. It was soft, comfortable, warm, and yet it was also one of the worse nights of my life.
Chapter 20: Keyser
We started rebuilding the castle two days later. As soon as Egregious woke up then he started on drawing out new plans for the castle, and we started rebuilding only two days later. We already had the pieces, the castle was broken but the stones were still usable. It went pretty quickly for rebuilding a castle. Most things were the same but there were amusing traps added, using the technology from walking clanks that Tolvard got hold of then they could be activated if you just step in the right spot. He made quite a lot of spots so we marked them with conveniently stored red 'paint' we found that wasn't ruined by the recently added glowing river. A whole new tower section was added where the collapse was, the courtyard was rebuilt, same with the rooms. We ended up running out of stone from the castle and after a short excursion to a nearby stone-based town, brought back too much extra.
"Węlł thêre'š ênouğh śtöne, I čouļd ądđ å plāçe foř ţhe jãğerş" He thought aloud, turning to Zog next to him for confirmation.
"Eet could be useful in de long run, ja" he agreed.
It was a basic thing. Four walls with pillars holding up a roof with a few rooms for newer jägers. There were blankets, no other beds in the hall though, but everyone had slept on the floor the night after the dyne exploded so, I don't think anyone really cared.
Living with the jägers was weird. I had only been one myself for a total of ten days, most of which were chaotic from the dyne then fixing damages from the dyne and not to forget drowning. Do not want to do that again, shoulda seen it coming.
"Hey lookit dis!" Falvo was trying to run up the pillars after a few attempts, there were thin handholds that suddenly appeared as he was running up the side. He grabbed one and it held and he stood on another that was shot beneath his feet. He looked down and I looked over to see Renault showing off a toothy smile. "Dis place needs to be decorated" he said hopping down. I went off to one of the rooms, there wasn't anything interesting there anyways, besides I wasn't one to stay around people long, though I guess we're not really people, it still applies. I stayed in the room a while just thinking, not about anything specific, my mind just wandered. It grew late a few jägers stopped by, trying to get me out of the room but I didn't want to. I felt like I should, though, had to, a nagging in the corner of my thoughts trying to get me to be around my kind, that it was safer. I tried really hard to ignore it because after that day, I swore to myself I would never get attached again. But I started getting a headache and grumbled out of the room. I walked into the hall where most others were playing with each other, in childish ways of fighting, pouncing each other and beating the other with pillows that had been liberated from their storage place. It all, all of it, the sight, the smell, the noise, the ambience, it all felt right and my headache eased a bit, now just a dull mist in my head. So fine, if this keeps the headache at bay, I'll stay around but I'm not getting attached, never again.
Someone pulled my arm in and Shaf ran past, just a hair away from squashing me, and he called out "Hamster pile!" then ferociously tackled down Crowley, forcing him still by using him as a hard rock pillow. "Hyu move hy make hyu bleed" warned the deadly sheep. There was slowly woven a vague semblance of a new floor.
I was pulled in by Audris who seemed incredibly comfortable with this whole situation. Everyone was piled around each other on the floor, most of them already asleep or having given up fighting it. He found a comfortable spot and let go of my hand. I started walking away.
"Shtay, it'll get rid ov de headache" informed Fernan, leaning against Volflam.
I turned, "how do hyu...?" I started, trailing off.
"Pfshh, hy only became a jäger because my Heterodyne vanted mechanics who vere less likely to die. Many ov my covorkers died and de vuns who didn't take it ostracized me, kind ov had to join de jägers, doesn't mean hy liked it at first, bot dere vas alvays dis feeling ov belongink somvhere, plus, it was accept it and stay around dem vhere it now feels like home or have a migraine" he opened one eye to look at me. I walked away and he shrugged. That night I slept in one of the rooms instead.
Over the next few days, not much happened, the older jägers just helped teach us newbies how to handle things and stuff. I was in for a surprise cause I thought I was pretty controlled when I was knocking the stone from the spring. Running and jumping did now actually take some control, as did such a simple thing as grabbing things so they wouldn't break. Ha, I guess I just don't know my own strength, ja? I talked to people and it was fun. I rummaged through the weapons that had been recollected after being swept away by the torrential current and my favourite was this really long extendable pole-stick that made jumping even funner. The first time I tried it I just ended up digging it into the ground too far and hitting Volflam in the head. The second attempt went better but I used too much strength jumping and brought the stick out of the ground with me thus ending in falling to earth on my face and a pole landing on top of my head. That happened multiple times. Sometimes the inevitable decided to mix things up and instead I would hit a wall or fall backwards or not land right. Well I showed it. On one attempt I didn't fall. The pole got stuck in the ground and wouldn't fall at all. It was quite a ways down but also the only way so I had to jump for it, which I should've thought it out and climbed down because it did hurt my ankles, probably less than they would've, thank god, but they were still shattered, or at least sprained. I couldn't get to the Heterodyne to fix them and the others insisted it was just a scratch and bandaged my feet the best they could. But they were all friendly, can't really say nice, I mean, they acted like a family with constant bickering but a very close family that still loves each other in a weird touchy way, but I could get used to it.
Chapter 21: Boetius Stolz
Sorry for the late update. School has started being more existant and I've been working on my holloween costume, it's gonna be great. So anyways, here's this chapter, I'll try to put the next one up soon. Thank you for reading and by all means, please comment. It helps with motivation.
It was interesting to live in the jäger hall, most of the time, but I didn't want to live in my parents' house so, eh. The first few days after the confusion and the new river, which no one woke me up for, were filled with practice, basically. And I mastered my new abilities quickly.
"Hoy vake op!" Something soft hit me across the face with enough force to feel like a rock. I growled in the back of my throat and slid down the wall farther, dragging my pillow with me. My arms were crossed, up until the assailant took my wrists and yanked me up, throwing me over their shoulder.
"Let me down hy ken valk mineself" I demanded.
"Vell obviously not since hyu veren't getting op, hy vas thinkink hyu legs didn't vork" the voice said, I recognized it as belonging to Volflam. I calmly kneed him hard in the stomach and he just took it, giving only just barely.
"Pff, und dis iz vhy ve iz training hyu op fer hyu new body, zo hyu know vhat hyu're doink" I tried kneeing him a bit harder and he folded and put me down.
"Hokay, dat vas a goot vun" he managed to wheeze out. I stood triumphantly.
"Hy know exaktly vhat hym doink" I crossed my arms and Volflam stood again.
"Ho, hyu's gonna end op learning more den skills" he grumbled. I walked ahead of him, leaving the hall for a trek to the courtyard. There was some stuff missing from the area and it looked a helluva lot different. The whole area was larger, no roof, a buncha weird contraptions. Most importantly, that weapon I found first time I got here was gone.
"Ho come on! Vhere de hell is it? And don't hyu flippin tell me it got lost in de dyne and no vun's found it yet?"
Falvo seemed like he was about to speak but was interrupted by Mir putting his hand over his entire face.
"Nope, sorry. Ve vill... try lookink for it" he said.
"Dem it, hy'll go find it mineself since hyu people couldn't find it dis whole time"
"Hoy!" Multiple voices called out. "Ve's jägermonsters"
I scoffed and walked off to find my weapon of choice, best one I could stand out of the others there. I searched for a long while and came back around lunch. I walked into the mess hall and brought my plate over to the established jäger section.
"Hyu veren't gone long" noted short stack, Fernan was it?
"Hy'm not done yet" I retorted. A few snorts came from down the table a ways. I looked back up to who was sitting across from me and was met with gorgeous colour-reformed rich dark orange skin expansing up to a lovely face framed by a mass of small dark blue braids.
"Vell hallo dere sveethot, vhat brings hyu here?" I spoke, laying my fork back down on the table and raising my eyebrows. She looked up, revealing stunning orange eyes infused with dismissive interest.
"Excuse you?" She said with a thick accent and a deep voice for a girl like her.
The others around her slowly started moving away.
"Hy don't remember seeink hyu taking der draught but it did wonders for hyur skin" I replied.
There was a spark in her eyes and something sharp came down on my hand. "Hyu keep hyur hands to hyurself, und my skin iz dis colour naturally hyu self-absorbed idiot" she stood and started walking away, rudely dismissing my compliments. I stood, to follow after, having to dislodge the fork first, and turned her around by the shoulder.
"Hoy, hyu needs to learn to respect a man, ja?"
She dead stared at me for a moment before removing my hand from her shoulder.
"Hyu izn't a man, hyu iz a jack-ass" she deserved the slap she got.
And after it I was thrown to the ground as she beat me. I tried getting her off or having someone else get her off, she was frikin crazy!, but everyone just stood around us, some still eating their meals messily.
I fought tooth and nail as she tried pinning me to the ground and I flipped us over and was about to knock her light outs when she kicked me off! I swear those in the ring around us were making bets. Other were cheering for her! I tried getting out of it, I'm not stupid, but ended up being blocked by Crowley and Kurich. She lifted me by my collar and took out a short blade from her side and held it to my throat.
"Hyu disrespect me like dat again und dis blade iz going through hyur brain real slow" she threatened. I had no choice but to barely nod in agreement. She dropped me and I glared as she walked away. The ring disbanded and I stood, wiping the blood from my mouth.
The next few days went more smoothly. It was mostly spent with the others trying to teach one on one combat, which I picked up quickly.
"No, punching like that will blow hyur opponents head off, vich iz no fun, softer" directed Renault.
"I know what I'm doing" I sneered.
"Fine, hold this can"
I snatched the can from him and it crumpled quickly. He took it back and messily straightened it out, sort of.
"Hyur not supposed to crush it" he said handing it back. I took it carefully this time and he quickly knocked it out of my loose grip. "Too loose, hyu still need to hold it"
"Fine! Have some odder newbie do dis stupid exercise then. Hy'm not going ta need it, hy's a jäger "
Renault calls over Emris, an incredibly young volunteer to have taken the draught, 20 maybe? and with a semi-serious look on his face waits for Renault to continue.
"Hold dis fer me" he said, handing the can over. Emris took it and Renault went on instructing him to hold it in different positions that he could hit the can but it never left Emris's grip, but also never dented. I knew I could do that. I grumbled and took the can back from Emris who just raised his eyebrows slightly. I held the can loosely but it started slipping between my fingers so I tightened my grip very slowly, up till the point where I managed to dangle it by it's base without falling or crunching, between my thumb and finger.
"Ha! Told hyu hy knew vhat hy vas doink" I disproved Renault.
"Right after hyu took de time to learn, ja" he replied unimpressed. I mostly just practiced on my own, went quicker that way once someone explained.
Chapter 22: Emris
The jägers were a good group of people; 'people' being used for lack of a better term and 'good' being relative. They did help me get through figuring how to control myself all over again but a few of them were clot poles about it. Definite teasing of us 'babies' was a thing. They still seemed nice enough, even if none had bothered asked my name yet. It hadn't been long yet since I've turned but I was still hoping to go on a raid soon. So far I've been stuck being randomly pulled to help with tasks that were more difficult for normal people. Not to say I'm not willing to help, it's just that it's gotten boring and I feel that I could do more that carry crates or wrench strangely stuck levers into place. Even running mutated animals to the kitchens when whatever the Master's doing just doesn't go right.
"Hoy! Newbie! Vit me!" called out one of the older jägers, Crowley I think. I followed him with a few others who still went by a similar title to a work room in the castle and upon entering was met with piles of multi-coloured fabrics ranging from standard brown to turquoise and skeletal metal structures neatly lined up on a separate table. Chairs lined the work stations with conveniently placed needles and thread, a few already being used by superficial minions that were likely pulled off the street.
"Zo vhat dis den?" I looked around and my mind offered an idea but it was a ridiculous notion.
"Stuffed animals" replied Crowley with a ha-ha-you-sucker grin. "De master vas tryink to find a use fer de Dyne's power so he figured dis fonny contraption here. De vas short on hands zo, have fun sewing der cases!" He called from outside the door. The three of us stood there awhile, confused before one of the other minions excitedly beckoned us to sit down, slight desperate for help it seemed. We all sat, Audris to my left and Milton stood there for lack of a seat before we moved over for him and he took up Audris's left. He mumbled out a stuttered "thanks" before one of the minion showed us what exactly we were doing there. We just had to sew the cut out pieces together and put the contraption inside before sewing it up the rest of the way. Easy, right?
No, it wasn't. Trying to sew with these nails was a horror. I could hold the needle correct until they got in the way of putting the stitch in and it was all such a delicate thing to do. It was hard to concentrate and it was not going well. Well it was just fine for the other two, somehow.
"Vhy's ve stuck here?" I questioned to anyone. "Ow- demit" I shook my hand and sucked the finger I pricked. It wasn't bleeding, hadn't time to start before it healed, but it still hurt.
"Because de Master needed help und ve vere de most convenient. Iz no problem" offered Audris. He pulled the thread through the fabric and brought it back around to the under side rather than going down through the top. It was much easier once i tried it, I just hope it doesn't affect anything. We were stuck doing this till lunch at which point I, in a very casual fasion, quickly walked out of the room towards the mess hall. People were already filling in, pressing through the doorway in hopes of getting something before there's only vegetables left. I managed to squirm my way between two other, made easier by the fact that the one behind me backed up slightly. I moved down the line and while it's convenient that there's stuff prepped in the castle for staff and others staying, besides the Heterodyne, I almost wish I had time to go down to the town's market and get something instead. I quickly picked a few portions of what looked like chicken and a cheesey bread role before joining the others.
The table was kind of crowded. Strange for the fact that the second table placed behind me was mostly empty, other than a few sparsely placed jägers who remained quiet. Where I was, it was loud. Everyone was talking over each other, occasionally hitting a nearby face with over dramatized hand additions to outrageously unreasonable sounding stories from anywhere between a hundred plus years ago and this morning, a few being repeats. I listened in to the general things I could glimpse, trying to add into a conversation if one of my opinions felt like it. Somehow I got roped into playing a stupid game.
"Hy betcha he stabs himself!"
"Hy tink it'll be de pinky dot comes off"
"Hokay, hy gots it on de pointer finger!"
"Hy calls de middle"
"Hy dun vant to bet bot hy dun tink dat he's gonna stab enyvhere"
I had no idea who said what, the voices hardly processed as the sharp knife moved quickly with my hand between stretched fingers. At first and for a while it had been easier to follow, even as it sped up, now it was mostly rhythmic pattern and spaced out hope that continued the movement. L-first space-L-second space-L- third-L-third then back to the second and first and repeat. My eyes grew blurry and I grew bored, brought back to reality by a sharp pain slicing through the top of my middle finger. I blinked, trying to get back to a state of thinking and processing properly to notice varying amounts of cash being forked over to Fernan. I yawned and finished my lunch before having to go back to the endless piles of fabric and cold dead eyes on stuffed animals that I swear want to try choking me or smothering me with their soft, lifeless skin. It was droll but I had a purpose. Even if not an ideal use of it at the moment, I still swore to serve the Heterodynes and I shall, hopefully getting better at it along the way.
I returned to the workroom from earlier, it was much clearer now that the finished dolls were taken away to stare at someone else. I don't know how Egregious plans to use the water this time but based on the recent rise in population of ravaging ducks with sharp teeth, they'll probably be useful for something.
Chapter 23: Ivan
The small lit'le crit'ers of sorts have ga'en out'a hand lately. At least them ankle biters make for good snacks and their as fun to chase down as they are to eat. Keyser, Renault, Frid, Zog and Falvo all joined me in making it a competition of sorts, who ever could round up the most live ones by the end of an hour. Mir offered to watch, make sure no one cheated, and Verni and Barsin elected ta just watch.
"Vhat do hyu vin?" Frid swung his staff from his shoulder, furrowing the ground and leaned his weight on it, digging it farther. I scoffed slightly, and my smile turned to form the wise words of a soon-to -be winner.
"Der satisfaction ov vinning und de chance to brag about it" Everyone seemed good with that so with a vague countdown of sorts, we took off. Most of the cri'ers were swarming around the river and food shops of any sort so it was easy to find them. The hard part is trying to get them to stay together. I tried put’ing them in a rather convenient hole but the rats and ducks kept flying out and the fish just hopped up and over the side. The only ones that would actually stay there were the chickens, or were hey snakes? who seemed to just not care where they were put. I tried getting more chicken snakes but, while they can hardly fly, they slither really fast, and when you get ahold of them their wings are all flapping around unless you actually hold them down. I imagined the others were having just as much trouble. I tried putting a cover over the hole but the stupid fish slid it off with it's jumping hitting it up and over far enough to escape with the other creatures that felt like it.
The call that an hour was up sounded sooner than expected. I quickly pushed a few of the fish and a rat back into the hole and recovered it, this time sitting on top till the others came over.
"Zo? How many?" asked Falvo.
I stood and lifted the top off. All the creatures came rushing out and I counted them as they passed. I turned to see Zog scowling on the ground and Renault standing farther off to the side with Falvo trampled on the ground, Frid up in a tree and I could just barely see Keyser still running away from the pack of aimless animals chasing him down.
Not really a pack though, there weren't that many, and they didnt work together at all. "Dere vas only eight ov dem"
"Hokay" said Frid, jumping down.
"Vait, hyu ektually counted dem?" asked Falvo amazed, but quiet enough that it seemed to be more rhetorical.
We all moved to Zog's next who had 14 tied up in a net, Frid had quit part way through, Falvo's ducks ate most of the fish and the chickens got away leaving him with 6 and Renault forgot the 'alive' rule so we used his for cooking. We couldn't find Keyser's and he wasn't back yet so we just disqualified him.
"Hy knew hy vould vin" boasted Zog.
"Ho? Und vy iz dot, gramps?"
We brought Renault's and some of Zog's back with us to the kitchens in the castle to cook them properly, if we could figure out how. None of us were actually allowed in the kitchen but nobody's allowed in the kitchen other than the cooking staff and the head cook makes sure of it. He did make a deal that he'd cook up our catch for us but we had to get here early for lunch if we wanted any of it otherwise he'd serve it.
Lunch wasn't too far away so till then I mulled around the castle a bit till I was called into a room by Audris.
"Hey, hyu know vhat happened to de stuffed animals ve finished?" he asked casually.
"How vould hy know? Hy've been out taming beasties" I gave a smirk at the thought.
I continued with my walk, coming across a closet at some point that had some suspicious looking levers. I was about to pull it before I remembered lunch and it seemed like it was nearly time so instead I rushed back to the mess hall. Thankfully, I got back in time, just barely, as I tried to sneakily make my way in front of the others.
"Hoy, vatch it"
"Cut in front ov me und hy vill strip hyu ov all hyu have on und kick you out to de middle of der room" casually noted Nyota, picking a trey from the others and continuing. I stepped in behind her with more than slight protest from the others. The line shuffled along and I annoyedly dragged a plate off the stack as I slowly progressed through. The head cook still had some crit'er left for me when I got there but had already given most away.
I set down next to Volflam, he seemed cool, and joined in on their conversation. It was pretty standard, nothing much more than retelling stories of 'the one that got away so we hunted it down and tore it apart to make into soup cause it totally deserved it after it dropped that rock on me' and also included trying to compete over who's better with the ladies. The former of these two topics made me realise, the oldest jägers are smart. I mean, not that smart but more like an acquired knowledge thing. Given how long they supposedly have been around, what, 69 years or so? Not that old but still. Most don't live that long before death chokes them, probably an upside from the new healing.
I finished my lunch and stayed a bit to walk out with Mir who seemed like a nice guy before. We passed that one work room and went outside to peruse town again. We hadn't made it past the arch at the bottom of the long winding path to the castle before seen one thing.
Fires. Fires, screaming, people springing up into the air, and a few children who were chasing the strange fuzzy assailants with open grabby fingers while parents trying to chase down their childen who has a spare kitchen knife or running from the cold, button eyed glares of the small, dyne-powered automatic crit'ers. Mir blanched and I hit my forehead, grinning through my wrist at the chaos just behind it.
Chapter 24: Milton
I could here screaming outside in the town. It started part way through lunch and I tried mentioning it but the room was too loud and I just couldn't say it right.
"He-hey, der s-seems to to be someth-something wong i-in de touwn" I tried saying but I got drowned out from the surrounding noise and already being quiet. I tried mentioning it a few times before finally giving up and just sat at the empty table with Barsin, Lilya, Renault, Nat'en, and Fernan, but separate from them. So I just quietly cursed the others and swore vengeance under my breath as I twiddled the knife in my hand and ate my chiken alternative for lunch. Renault tried talking to me a bit, that was nice. He's not the best at conversation but he did try talking to me. I tried being as clear as possible but still had to repeat a few things a few times.
"Hyu-hyu kn-now dat dere-re's s-s-sc-scream-screamink in der touwn, j-ja?" I mentioned as I finished my plate amongst others.
"Hym verra sorry, bot, vhat again?"
I spoke slowly so I could properly articulate and enunciate the words I wanted to form. "D-dere's .... s-c-ream-ink in...de...touwn" I let slip a bit of urgency in my voice.
"Vhat de..." he quickly rushed our treys back to the drop off and we ran out of the mess hall. We joined Ivan and Mir standing at the bottom of the path, practically ran into them. The fire was warm and soft, except in the places where it ran around with melted eyes and charring remains of my hard work. Ivan stood a bit till he dashed off to help someone who was being choked by a stuffed animal snake. Renault just put his head in his hand for a second before starting with putting the fires out via smothering. Mir decided to make a quick dash back to the castle and tell the Heterodyne and the others. I stood and watched. Didn't know exactly how I should help. There was so many things wrong that it was a bit overwhelming to figure out how to begin. I was still there when most of the others, a few minions and the Heterodyne came down. Egregious gave a basic order to try and get some of the animals back with minimal damage and so Zog and Nyota assigned tasks and areas to those who hadn't run off already.
"Hoy, newbie, Milton, hoy Milton!" I looked over to Nyota . "Think hyu ken start vit gatherin op de animals in dat area?" She said pointing far off to the right. I didn't question, it gave me something to do, and I ran off to do so.
Them little buggers were annoying little shits. I ended up having to jury-rig a device thing to explode them with. Wasn't as hard as I thought, just keep one of them from moving and it'll explode from pent up energy. I kept that to a minimum and instead just got the most of them angry enough to follow me into some hole that was conveniently already dug and had a lid placed over it. I ran and bounced over the lid, the animals only three seconds behind, and just as the skeletal frames and hole ridden fabric was about to step on the board, I flung it up to make them waterfall in. The stream eventually stopped and parted. I used the lid as a new shield and bashed them over the edge. A few somehow got up on the roofs and were jumping down but went flying soon after I hit them. A few more followed their path into a deep woven basket out in the distance. One hand that was previously holding said basket waved and I could make out the figure of Falvo.
More came swarming from behind me and pushed me into the hole. There were significantly less nuisances than I remember putting in there. A quick look around showed small tunnels that had been messily scraped, shovelled and blasted away. I could fit two hands in one. Then there was a churring and soft padding from the tunnels. I back away and was swarmed with a mass of fluff stuffed, metal boned fuzz. They looked horrible, their eyes melted or missing, fabric charred, hands, paws or compatible thoroughly stained and worn, stuffing spilling form their head and rips and tears splitting apart the mouths and missing limbs. I was beaten with small arms, though having a metallic skeleton with no muscle restrictions made it hurt a lot worse. I got hold of one and freed it from it's volition. I tossed it to the others and fled as they ignored the energy overload about to take them out. The hole was deep but not that deep, maybe around the height of a house and a bit. I clawed, rolling over the edge onto solid ground in a scramble as the stuffed animal's skeleton exploded, spewing shrapnel towards the others including myself and locking some joints if not destroying the power center.
Falvo wolf-whistled in the distance and set the basket down to wave with both hands. I stood and brushed off before remembering there was still a problem to deal with.
As the fires went out, their yellow light dimming, the metal framed fabrics' destruction dwindled. It took into the night before it was done. Not many were kept 'alive' to test what caused the malfunction of automatically attacking the town was but there were a few who managed. Of course, then, it was tiring to walk back. The few of the jägers that must've had trouble seeing in the dark a bit kept tripping in random holes that the stuffed animals of doom had dug for their escape, which a few succeeded in.
I complained quietly to myself on the way back, would've been nice if any of the rest of the army had helped, and crashed asleep in the pile of passed out last-minute pillows and blankets. Falvo can bring that basket to a lab himself for all I care.
Chapter 25: Audris
Well there went a waste of work but at least we know that the stitching mostly held so that's good. Since the whole stuffed animal ordeal was mostly done, I decided it was fine if I just wandered the town a while. I wandered around with Frid and Nat'en. Frid ended up leading us to a bar, I was interested, Nat'en was laid back but dubious at best about drinking. The kid was still young after all. There were already a few others lounging there; Crowley, Volflam, Shaf and Keyser; in the throws of what seemed to be a drinking contest with a couple of townies. Keyser was definately drunk, Crowley and Shaf weren't, or at least hid it better, and Volflam was throwing them back in time with a blonde guy across the table who was shaking and looked ready to pass out. His cup slammed down empty and the other guy finished by three seconds later before attempting to proclaim a rematch and falling out of his chair.
"Ha ha! Und de vinner iz me! Enny odder challengers?" Vloflam called out in a high pitched voice.
Frid walk over to join the group, I hung back with Nat'en to observe and possibly chat a bit.
"Can hy buy hyu a drink?" I asked as we continued to stand blocking the doorway. He blinked and shook his head before looking towards me and giving a shy-ish selfless smile and shaking his head again.
"Oh, ho no-no, no it's fine, hy'm goot" regardless, he still followed me over to the bar counter. I bought myself a drink and we started up a conversation. "So if dat did heppen den teo-ret-ticly den he could vin de gurl und kill his foe at de same time, bot ov course hyu have to take into account de venomous rattle rats und de slime trees. Vit does in dere den all kinds ov stuff ken heppen
He sprung his head up from his hand and blinked rapidly then cut me off. "Are hyu drunk already?"
This just left me confused because, "no, vhy?"
Nat'en's eyes bolted around the room a bit before he place his hand behind his head and chuckled a bit. "Ho, sorry hy, have to be somvhere around now, ah, gots to go" and he went off. I finished my drink and after watching the drinking game continue one more round; Shaf squaring off against Crowley. Shaf seemed to be winning but his accent was slipping horribly into something else and Crowley was tossing back his last round, shouting out his blatant opinion on chickens. The mug hit the table where there had been at least 12 other cups and glasses cluttering the surface.
I left. I decided to just head back to the castle to see what the others were up to since Nat'en ran out on me.
As I was leaving, a fish scurried near my foot so I trapped it's tail and took it along as a snack. The jägerhall I returned to was tense and glares were bounced back from one to another. There were a few like me who were the more recently turned and just trying to stay off to the side, confused.
I retreated to the rooms and at the very least there was less jägers there but something still felt off. I got chills when I passed one room whose door was completely closed. I stood there a while debating to go in and ended up doing so but it just got worse. Lilya was on the bed laying on her side with a small piece of cloth pressed to her chest. I careful made my way over so I was in her line of vision, but given her blank stare I doubt she could see me. I moved to shake her and she darted her eyes to me, dead, cold and almost lonley it seemed, but they steeled over quick.
"Da? Vhat do hyu vant?" She asked plainly and moved to sit up with her back to the wall.
"Iz hyu hokay?" Her eyes were dark, her whole being looked... blank, and she clutched that dirty piece of fabric like a lifeline.
"Hym fine. Iz dzhust a bad headache" she scowled and silently threatened me to continue, so, in favour of self-preservation, I nodded once and slowly left, looking back at her as I closed the door, a surprising glimpse of tears starting down a confused face.
I sighed and continued on. Perhaps I should tell Barsin and Fernan about that, or see if they can explain it. If anyone it would be them given that she doesn't interact with anyone else, I've hardly even seen her around.
Fernan seemed to be grumpily working on repairing some machine and it took a while to find Basin but he ended up actually being fine. He sat on the roof of a newly constructed, again, Small Gears and Stuff shop in town.
"Hoy, ah, Barsin? Ken hy ask hyu a qvestion?"
He looked over the edge of the roof and vaulted, or maybe slid, down.
"Ja? About vhat?" He said walking over.
"Vhat's vit Lilya? She didn't look verra gud" I started messing with my thumbs, I hope it wasn't anything serious, I hardly know her yet.
"Oh, dat. Hyu know how efferyvun normally iz verra close? Und really social?"
I was waiting for him to continue before I realised he wanted an answer "... oh, hy tought dat vas vun hyu vas askink dat hy don't answer, bot ja?"
"Hokay, vell, me und Lilya aren't social bot she's more stubborn about it" he stretched and began walking around me
"So? Hy see hyu around all de time, hyu iz social" I said turning my head.
"Hy'm social because hy have to be, plus it isn't zo bad ennymore und hy still get my alone time. Lilya iz stubborn though. She really doesn't like changink herself fer something" he completed a circle and began again.
"Zo... vhat do hyu mean?" I turned around.
"She get terrible headaches because she isn't around other jägers enough. It's stupid dat ve have to. Bot she'd rather torture herself den except de mindset. Und hy tink it's gettink vorse" he stopped walking and stared at the ground ahead.
"Zo, efferyvun who becomes a jäger get a similar mindset bot Lilya is fightink against it?" He raised his eyebrow and stared incredulously.
"Jaaa, dots vot hy chust said..."
"Do hyu know vhats wrong vit de odders?"
"Eh? Hy haven't noticed enyting" he shrugged and started walking away.
Chapter 26: Jabril
"What's it like being twins?"
"It's great" I answered, annoyed.
"We spend all our time together" Bon took over for me, "it's like I was born with the perfect friend, and I get to see them-"
"-be with them," I added, trying to seem pleasent this time.
"all the time" we said in unison.
"So what do you like? I mean you" he pointed at Bon, "but it's going to be the same anyways" I held back a scoff and smiled.
"Well, I like learning" I offered.
"I'm interested in games"
"I like women"
"Wait, quick question, would you both date the same girl?"
That was a new one, we both blanched and pulled faces because in all truth that would be disgusting. Bon quickly recovered and covered us with a simple no, because he's not interested.
"Oh!” the townsperson said confused. “So do you guys do those prank things where you switch out to confuse people? I bet that's fun"
"Sure, yes, it's hilarious" by this point I gave up and was just half-ass faking enthusiasm. We finally managed to get away when we were called over to our group of the raiding party.
The raiding party had been called for a fun trip to a nearby town that had recently hit a jackpot of iron ore in the mountain nearby and it was about time they shared some of the wealth.
The funnest part was when we got back. The next day, the whole of the raiders had to gather, humans and jägers and a couple of experiments from estranged sparks or previous Heterodynes, all in the gathering hall that had been constructed since the walls that separated it into three rooms broke down when Egregious Heterodyne died three autumns ago, but that's a different story.
We all gathered before Mordred Heterodyne and he started pointing out seemingly random people in the crowd of non-jägers. They were directed to leave. Most then left, a few of them hung around to see what was going on but were badly sunburned then got frostbites over that from a fun old device from Caligula and were forced to leave lest they were fed to the mythical owl-snake that Vlad had supposedly made. Given that it was already noon then it really did need to be fed.
I stood close to my brother as the crowd was more slowly thinned. There only stood nine others remaining by the time everyone was picked away. Mordred lowered down from the platform and stepped off to stand before us. The jägers off to the side were smiling or trying to keep a straight face, few successful.
"You've been chosen to take the draught. You may back out at any time but accepting the jägerdraught can bring
me you great power!"
The group of eleven was closer together now and started mumbling amongst ourselves. Me and my brother shared a look.
"A chance?" he said. It wouldn't seem like much to an outsider but those words meant something.
"Finally, to be frickin free" I responded with arms crossed and staring down at a small kick of sand. Finally a chance to be free from being put together as one entity, not two people with their own individuality, oh no, because that's too confusing for people. The chances were pretty high that not both of us would survive the draught. Not to say I don't love my brother like a brother, hell, even if it is a stereotype, we do work together really well, it's just that people are so sickening.
I looked up and gave a challenging glance. He glare back and it turned into a staring competition. We faced each other and shook the other's hand.
"You're on" we said in unison. "May the best twin live"
The whole group, humans, a construct and jägers alike were all lead to a different room. It was smaller, and there was a separate room where the candidates were lead. A door covered the only entrance to the room and Mordred stood at the front, picking up a waiting tray of vials and motioning those who were willing to come forward. No one left, as expected of the fierce raiding party. Bon and I went up together, possibly for the last time.
There weren't any rooms for us but if we were taking it anyways, might as well share the experience with our future jäger family.
Me and Bon went to the side, away from others and gave each other wicked grins and traded vials.
"Ready?" I started the countdown.
"Go!" He cheated, throwing his back and I just barely followed. It went down my throat burning like citric acid but tasted like snails. Bon fell to the floor and I partially caught him only to drop myself. He stayed curled up, hugging his stomach while a spike went down my back and a little further. My skin crawled and there was the most uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach, a cramp mixed with my insides being stripped out. My hands were held so tight that the nails hurt and lactic acid began to build up in them. My coughing blood everywhere kept me from screaming but Bon had no such problem. His skin was blotchy, his dark hair was fading and he was clinging to the wall. I couldn't see much else through my blurry eyes. I concentrated on trying to breath so I could get through this. No point in fighting, it's going to happen. I lay, sweat soaked and aching, every move of my back was a stab through my spine, I breathed shallow forced breaths and squinted up. My eyes opened in shock to see a newly turned jäger right in my face, eyes blank, dark and snarling. I ignored my pain as much as possible and scooted back as quickly as possible and he just chased after. Eventually I managed to hide and he used a dead corpse to rip to shreds instead. The door unlocked and reopened once everyone had died or turned but that one jäger was still crazy. The door opened and I flinched from the light at first but the other paused and dashed out to attack only to be automatically knocked out from a hit to the head. I stood and there was a rustling over in a corner between the side of the platform and wall. He stood and messily made his way over. I helped steady him and we both made our way out.
Chapter 27: Bon
I opened my eyes to a sudden pain in my head. I was sitting against a wall in a large spacious hall. The jägerhall by looks of everyone who surrounded the other two newbies in the middle of the room. As I sat up and started moving someone called it out and the group moved over to me. The newbies pushed to the front as all attention was on me. As soon as the blue haired yellow skinned one made it to the front, I had stood.
"Vell look at dat"
I stumbled a bit and my vision went blackish but when I regained full consciousness I was knocked back against the wall in a firm hold by the baby blue and pastel yellow blur.
"Dem it, ve're shtill both here" and I definitely recognized that voice.
"Ja, bot on de op side, ve're both still here?" I replied, returning the firm hug. I smiled, a suspicious glint in my eye, and whispered, "hoy, hyu noticed how everyvun is ignoring eachodder?"
"Ja, it's been goink on since ve gots here, dere suffocating us"
"Hy tink ve need to run a leettle social experiment"
We broke apart and Jabril laughed heartily while I kept it under my breath, but gave a thankful smile. A mug was shoved into my hand and I gladly accepted it. The celebration continued but the air was tense. There was a small group off to the side who seemed fine so we started our investigation there.
"Hallo," we approached with feigned smiles and I tried to seem friendly. "und who are hyu?" I turned towards the favour of the short, red haired, jäger and held out my hand for hers. The bald guy next to her and the miss stared at it then at me confused so I retracted my hand. "I'm Bon und dis iz mine brudder,"
"Jibril" he introduced himself with a short two-fingered wave-salute. "Hyu guyz just looked like-"
"Hyu vere goot to talk to-"
"Zo ve stopped by" Jibril gave a convincing smile that conveyed interest.
"Do hyu alvays do dat or iz it fer sometink special?" Asked the girl bluntly.
"Mebbe hyu are special" I tried giving her a wink so she would warm up a little and we could get on with a decent, information filled conversation.
"Hy vill slap hyu iffen hyu try flirtink vit me vun more time, ask enyvun" she lightly threatened but with no drink to hold it was definitely possible. The guy with her just took another swig from his mug and put his hand on his hip.
Jibril elbowed my side, indication to change tacts. "Vhat mine brudder iz trying to do here iz ask, do hyu know vhy efferyvun iz ignoring eachodder?"
Well there goes that fun experiment. "Und vhy is it so tense?" I added.
"Ho dats easy," the guy finally spoke up, "dey's all sick ov eachodder. It heppens vhen hyu spend a long time vit de same people, de leetle habits start gettink to ya"
"Hy'm soprised it took dis long" the girl stated, with her arms crossed, looking down.
"Zo, vait, vhat about hyu two?" I was confused about that one fact, if everyone was annoyed, shouldn't they be too?
"Introvert" she stated simply.
"Ve spend less time vit dem so vhen ve notice de tings dat annoyed us, ve could have our time to acknowledge und ignore or accept it. Iz because ve're not as drawn into de pack as de odders, energies spread like disease" he finished with a drink.
This was certainly interesting information that I tried making sense of for the next few days to no avail, at which point I gave up and asked the master of piecing information together.
"Jibril, hy don't get vy it took dis long fer de odders to get annoyed, vouldn't it be like, a year?"
"De social bond got in de vay of noticing dese tings" he explained simply. "Und stubbornness"
It seemed obvious in retrospect, or made sense at least.
There started a noise stirring up from the castle and the short mechanic jäger ran by, announcing for everyone to meet by the third gate. We went with the crowd and when we got there it wasn't the raiding party, it was only the jägers there. Once nearly everyone was there, we headed out, stragglers left to catch up. We mostly just ran while Master Mordred rode a mechanical mix between a wingless chicken and a lizard. We stopped for a while near dark, it was quiet, sure some jägers chatted but only in small spaced groups of two or three. Jibril, Lukari and me stayed closer to those who didn't seem like they'd bite our heads off if we accidentally annoyed them. We all sat around the fire and ate roasted free-range dinner, a worried silence between us.
"Hy dun like dis" whispered Lukari uneasily.
"Hy don't eidder but der iz nottink ve ken do bot vait" Barsin took another bite of giant lizard.
The quilled jäger walked over and sat down between Barsin and me so it was a circle.
"Tch, dey's annoyink me so much, iz it fine if I just eat vit hyu?"
The other three shrugged and Jibril scooted closer to my side. "Hy'm sorry, efferyvun iz beink rude recently. De raid vill do goot to lett off sum steam, ja?" He chewed a bit. "Hy'm Renault. Who are hyu tree?"
Lukari leaned across the circle and shook his hand with a smile. "Hy'm Lukari"
"Jibril und Bon" I said pointing respectively.
That night I slept outside next to the others. The fire was kept going by the few that were up for the watch shift, mostly the ones that could see better. It was cold for sure but being surrounded by bodies sufficed. The tension eased a bit as some jägers decided to use eachother as pillows or blankets and it seemed as it should.
We headed out again early the next morning. Really early, too early.Jibril dragged me up and slapped me as he stared at me still bleary eyed as I was, sadisticly wanting me to go through the same torture of rising with the sun as he. The sun wasn't even up yet but the tension was back. We trudge to collect our shoes we had taken off and I skipped putting them on till I stepped on a stone.
The group took off within the ten minutes and we were speeding away on a morning jog as the sun rose behind us with what I'm sure was beautiful colours but I couldn't care this early in the day. It wasn't more than an hour before the walled gate of Oberwellen was in sight and finally the atmosphere was tense, with excitement.