J. Armstead's NOCTURNES

The Site for Author JOSEPH ARMSTEAD

These Angels Are Dangerous: The Beings who populate the universe of Nocturnes and Neon and The Book of Dark Memory ...

 

"In the blink of an eye
a star may die.
Legends last forever.
So, too, do we.

 

We are Eternity Made Flesh. 
Homo Immortus. Eternus Humanae. 
Deo Sapiens Eternae.

 

Olympians.

 

The Children of Time.

 

Untouched by Decay or Disease,
ageless and unknown,
Untouched by the Grace of Family,
The warmth of Hearth and Home,
wanderers, nomads, ever apart.

 

We are Forever.  We are you,
loving, hating, lying, fighting
needing, hungering...
yet never dying.
Once worshipped, once villified,
once Gods, now devils,
We are the stuff of your legends.

Call us Methuselah,
Dorian Gray, or Lazarus Long,
call us unreal, call us myth...

 

In the blink of an eye
a star may die.
Not so, we.

Legends last Forever.
So, too do we."

 

--- from Immortalis, A Dialogue With the Darkness

 

OLYMPIANS,  A Short History...

 

As human beings are classified by the scientific designation of Homo Sapiens, they are "Deo Sapiens Eternae".  They are Immortals.   Incredibly long-lived there are only 1100 of them astride the planet at any one time.   That number is kept constant by some unknown cosmic Law of Balance: should an existing Olympian be killed, then a suppposedly "normal" Earth-human who possesses the dormant "TransAgathic Gene" that most closely matches the family DNA of the dying immortal becomes their replacement.   They are "catalyzed" into their biogenetic mutant heritage by an electrochemical phenomena known as "forging".

 

The Olympians are solitary beings, not known to favor many alliances, and they possess incredible knowledge about the true course of human history, what they call the "Secret Tree", that is kept hidden from normal Humanity.

 

Olympians are flesh and blood beings and they are prone to all the laws of natural physics affecting most of normal humanity.  Olympians run the gamut of ages and sexes because some Olympians were "forged" (the process of turning from a human limited to a normal lifespan to an immortal) after another Olympian was killed, so they are frozen at whatever moment the catalytic event happened.

 

Olympians are stronger than normal human beings by a factor of three to one, making them not quite as physically powerful as the Moon-Chosen vampires.  NONE of them are bulletproof, none of them can cancel the effects of gravity and fly.  If shot or stabbed in the brain or beheaded, they WILL die.   If shot or stabbed in any vital organs, they will, like normal humans, be very badly wounded and suffer those ill-effects, but UNLIKE humans they will NOT die -- they will eventually heal.   Some of them heal incredibly quickly.

 

Olympians are immune to all natural poisons.   They cannot contract diseases.   Though they still eat and sleep, they only need to do so a few times a year -- their inner bioelectric energies can sustain them for many decades.

 

Each Olympian has a different extrasensory ability or physical mutation, they very rarely have BOTH a physical and a mental preterhuman ability.   Some are telepaths, some are telekinetics, some are prescient, some are pyrokinetic, some are hydrokinetic, some can bend the frequencies of the visible light spectrum and become invisible, some are physical chameleons, some are more mineral than organic (stone or iron for flesh), some can dematerialize like smoke or fog, and some can traverse great distances in the blink of an eye through sheer force of will.

 

Once, in the time of Alexander the Great, during the reign of the Caesars, the Olympians fought a devastating and bloody war between one another.   Ancient countries were destroyed, entire societies of humans were enslaved and then wiped out, dark primal gods, called THE NAMELESS were worshipped and living sacrifices were made, the Eon-Kings killed the Young Lords.   Sorcerers and Torturers, human beings altered in service to the Olympian Eon-Kings, were created with greatly extended lifespans and odd physical mutations and they possessed the ability to temporarily bend physical space and possess other human minds.   They roamed the globe like hunting hounds seeking the foes of their masters.   This period of their history is called "The Purging" or "The Time of the Tomb-Makers".

 

They do not talk about it with outsiders.

 

No one knows why they exist and no one knows who amongst these beings is THE PRIME, but they ALL know of the immortal called "The Adversary".

 

He is Montgomery Quinn, vampire-killer, and there has never been an Olympian like him.   Even among the Olympians, he is a mutation of unexpected power.

 

His physical strength is seven times that of a normal human being, he has limited powers of telepathy and telekinesis, and he can discorporate, like a vampire Elder, he can break down his atomic structure and alter it to become like a thick mist guided by his willpower.   And he has his mysterious war-pike, "Qus'n Fadyim" [a name derived from the Tunisian Cha'haqia dialect, a precurser to the modern Tunisian Tamasheq dialect, which translates into "Angelkiller"].   The war-pike is an energy-vampire.  The war-pike possesses a life-force of its own, and occasionally makes dark demands on its owner: the weapon will devour the life-energies of Quinn's foes and this can, in turn, drive him into an uncontrollable killing frenzy.   It cannot be wielded by any other being because if touched by any hands other than Quinn's it will turn on the handler and kill them, drinking their life-essence.  However, the war-pike is a symbiote and it bestows on Quinn a greatly enhanced healing factor.   The weapon craves the life-essences, or rather the "anti-life" essences, of the Apollyonu vampires most of all things it kills.

 

Quinn hates the weapon: Qus'n Fadyim has, on more than one occasion, killed allies loyal to Quinn.   Over the long centuries, this has isolated Quinn and made him a hero to some and a bloody devil to others.

 

Welcome to the dark world of The Adversary...

 

 

 

“Olympians” and all related concepts (“forging”, The Prime, Eon-Kings, Young Lords, THE NAMELESS,  “The Secret Tree”, The Adversary, and Qus’n Fadyim/Angelkiller, and Moon-Chosen/Apollyonu)  copyright © 2000 - 2015 by JOSEPH ARMSTEAD

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The Structure of the Moon-Chosen Gathers....

As with most things fictional, in an attempt to make them more real, authors try to imbue their creations with a sense of historical significance. Put bluntly, we make up histories and try to give our creations a sense of structure.

Here's the At-A-Glance statistics on the details of the Moon-Chosen societal structure.

VAMPIRES prefer to be referred to as "The Moon-Chosen" or by their ancient racial name, THE APOLLYONU (so named after Apollyon, the Dark Angel of the Apocalypse, also known biblically as "The Destroyer"). In their native Romani tongue, the ancient High-Speech of Rumania and the in the Rom-language of the gypsies of the Transylvanian plateau, they are called "wampir". The American street-slang term for them is "nightrunners".  They are genetic mutated cousins of Humankind, products of Parallel Evolution, they are our biological "relatives".

There are several blood-lineage levels of vampiric power and authority, like lines of nobility and royalty. They are, in order of descending physical power and political importance:

a) ANCIENTS

b) ELDERS

c) FIRST BLOODS

d) SECOND KIN

e) BLOODED BRETHREN

f) FLEDGLINGS

g) FERALS

Like the Mafia, the vampiric clans are divided into families that reflect their lineage and their loyalties. They call these families GATHERS. Worldwide, they are split into three "nations" or GENs under which these families are divided. They are:

* GEN NOCTURNA, is based in the United States and on the North American continent, but includes Central America.

* GEN VESPERTINE, which are the vampire clans of western Europe and Australia.

* GEN SHAITANNON, which are the GATHER-families of Asia, India, and Africa.

It should be noted that the Apollyonu of South America and of the countries in the Middle East all seceeded from any association with any GEN and are rogue families who are constantly at war with one another. They are structured along medieval feudal guidelines, the power and control of the family going to those with direct genetic bloodlines to the Elders. It should be noted that only in these backwater areas of Moon-Chosen society does actual slavery, where one vampire can place another in eternal bondage, exists.

Under the vampiric GENs there are anywhere from four to six Gathers, and each Gather has a political ranking formed by the collected wealth of its members, the importance of the originating vampiric bloodline (the status of the "father" or "mother" who created the familial bloodline), and the number of older vampires in that Gather who retain their elemental superhuman powers in undiluted form, including that of mesmerism and that of flight.

There are, too, some Moon-Chosen who, by right of their designated role within the Gather structure, do not actually owe alliance to any one Gather or GEN. The HARVESTERS, monkish and nomadic wampir, seek out new sources for human blood consumption that do not threaten the covert existence of them as a race. The HIGH MARSHALS are the secret police of the wampir, mediating and settling violent disputes of territoriality and enforcing the ages-old Codicils of Conduct, the Scarlet Covenant, that protect the existence of the vampires from Human society.

Under GEN NOCTURNA, the predominant Gather-families are --

1) the Damiannas

2) the Stromas

3) the Verrigottas

4) the Juliannas

5) the Kamenacs

6) The MacStanclefs

Under GEN VESPERTINE, the predominant families are --

1) the Spectralles

2) the Ombriumos

3) the Ethereons

4) the Villards

Under GEN SHAITANNON, the predominant families are --

1) the Maasq

2) the Shi Fan

3) the Nyrata Bushi

What follows are some Moon-Chosen "FACTS":

* When Moon-Chosen decide to take on a human identity and mingle with human society, they call this "Veiling" or "La Danse". But they CANNOT engage in this deception without the approval of their Gather Elder(s). To Veil without permission is punishable by death.

* They refer to normal human beings as "Uninitiates".

* They only feed every 10 to 13 days. Like reptiles, they need that amount of time to fully process the food they've taken in, which is, of course human blood.

* They can have children, but not as normal mammals do, more like the duck-billed platypus in that they are spawned of eggs, not live births.

*The Moon-Chosen have enhanced senses (taste, touch, sight, hearing) and they have enhanced physical strength (about 5 times that of a normal athletic human being) and advanced powers of healing (a more highly developed nervous system with 30% more nerve ganglia, a T-Cell count in the tens of thousands and advanced leukocyte production allow them to virtually regenerate flesh and bone, like a salamander). HOWEVER, for all that, they are still highly photosensitive and phototropic -- sunlight and ultraviolet light damages them, can hurt them badly. Their physiology has an extreme allergy to metals, so any silver and/or platinum puncturing the flesh can create wounds that will not heal.

* Moon-Chosen DO have reflections. They are subject to 90% of the same laws of Newtonian and Einsteinian physics as normal humanity.

* When Moon-Chosen decide that they need "agents" to do their bidding, they become puppeteers and take control of other lesser wampir through telepathic mental domination. They are called "Blood Masters" and their slaves are called "Thralls". On rare occasions they also do this with and to human uninitiates, but generally this burns out the nerve ganglia within the normal human mind and the humans are driven insane or they become catatonic.

* They have vastly extended lifespans, but only the Ancients, Elders and the First Blooded bloodlines approach immortality (about 20 normal human 75 year lifespans). Second Kin, Blooded Brethren, Fledglings and Ferals can live as long as 450 years, but anything beyond that is extraordinary and generally attributed to bio-engineered enhancement (which, by the way, is forbidden by order of the Ancients and Elders). ONLY the OLYMPIANS, a.k.a "Haunts", like Montgomery Quinn [The Adversary], are truly immortal.

 

The Moon-Chosen/Apollyonu, GEN NOCTURNA, GEN VESPERTINE, and GEN SHAITANNON and all related concepts copyright © 2000 - 2015 by JOSEPH ARMSTEAD and may not be used in unauthorized stories or story mediums nor may they be reproduced in part or in whole without the author's express permission.

 

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THE  BOOK  OF  DARK  MEMORY

 

"Render unto Darkness,
Those things
born of the Dark,
Render unto Flesh,
that which is corruptive
of Flesh,
Render unto Pain
All Things that Hunger
for Agony,
Render unto The Infernal
All that is Vile,
Render unto the Darkness
that which is Infernal..."

--- Lamentation of the Summoning,
Liturgy the Third, In Bokum Psalmo XVII,
the Book of Dark Memory,
Bernician Edition, Edinburgh
(Celtic translation:
Lord Sir Robinson Bosworth-Bane, 1412)

 

 

 

They exist in a world that is MORE than a world, in a place that is NOT a place, in a Reality BEYOND anything we know, a dimension of pain and violence where suffering is food nurturing a dark and ageless power.

 

They are THE INFERNALS.

 

They have haunted Humanity since the invention of fire, since the nights when the first man-ape stared up at the stars and feared what lurked in the darkness between the lights.   They live in our nightmares and in our darkest, most bestial moments.    They can come to us as a whispered voice, as a sudden homicidal fantasy, as a incendiary impulse to commit mayhem, they come to us when we are weak and our pain is at its greatest.

 

Sometimes they come to us because we have called them.

 

Birthed hungry and homicidal from a centuries-old artifact called "The Chimera Link", these unlovely angels from hell enter this world through a dire ceremony performed for bloodletting.  The Link changes hands, drifting across history, across the face of the globe, despoiling and ruining every life it touches, infecting these already crippled human souls with the corruption of a relentless lust for violent sensation.   Pain is their drug and hate is their weapon.

 

They do not know compassion.  They do not know fear.   They do not know love.

 

They are forever.  Immortal.  Relentless.  Murderous. 

 

They hunger, they hate, and they wait…

 

These are the stories of men and women in extreme circumstances who encounter the very worst, most powerful incarnations of their evil influence, who discover for the first time that we are a species haunted by the presence of THE INFERNALS.    These are stories of Evil Embattled.

 

This is the Book of Dark Memory.

 

 

 

EXCERPT from the novella "AGONISTES ETERNUS" (2005) --

 

 

Good Christ, but they had made a mess of things.   It was a disaster.  It was awful.

 

It was typical.

 

The air was ripe with the rich musk from sweat-dappled bodies made feverish from disease, pain, and physical exhaustion.   There were dark wet patches on the ground that discolored the straw-like growth of weeds that covered the grainy, loose soil in irregular patches and old snack food wrappers, bent soft drink cans, shards of amber-colored glass from broken beer bottles, and discarded cigarette butts littered the acre-wide clearing that sat at the edge of a clump of old maple trees.   Flies and gnats flit through the humid air in messy phalanxes.   The rising moon cast weird shadows on the clearing past the intertwined branches of the trees that edged the rhomboid shaped field.

 

Nine bodies, all dead, were clumped around an eleven foot-tall metal tower that looked like a piece of metal sculpture.  It was a multi-tiered column made from razor-wire, rebar rods, corroded copper pipes, shiny chrome shapes cut into geometric patterns, and snaking loops of black co-axial cable.  Here and there, fist-sized pieces of torn flesh hung from off it.  The flesh was still dripping blood.

 

Scientific Security Criminal Anomalies Agent Patrick Madigan could smell the putrid reek of fecal matter riding the sluggish twilight breezes.

 

A male forensic technician in a blue nylon tunic came up to Madigan shaking his head, a gauze safety mask covering his nose and mouth. 

 

“No footprints anywhere near the collection of bodies or leading to and from the ironwork tower.   No torn clothing scattered anywhere.  Four men, I estimate their ages to range from about eighteen to thirty-five, and five women, mid-twenties to early-forties, various nationalities.   No bullet wounds that I can find.  Their bodies were all shaved of hair pre-massacre,” the man said, “And it doesn’t look as if they’ve been out here more than maybe three hours, probably less.”

 

A thickly-built short woman, also a forensic tech, walked over to Madigan.  She wore glasses that barely sat on her pert pug-nose and she was carrying a digital camera.

 

“Got some tire tracks off towards the trees, so it looks like they may have come out from the forest.   There’s blood on the ground but not enough for the number of people here or enough to account for all the wounds they’ve suffered.  All the blood pooling looks to be post-mortem.  These people were killed elsewhere,” she said.

 

Yes, indeed, it was a proper mess.  He couldn’t believe the arrogance and lack of regard these bastards showed with their bloody-handed actions.  It’s not like they were afraid of getting caught, it wasn’t even as if they were at all concerned with getting caught.  They weren’t thinking about the consequences at all.

 

They were having too much fun.

 

Madigan felt a shadow start to loom over his left shoulder.  Someone had walked up behind him.

 

“So whaddaya think, here, Pat?”, FBI Agent Bob Lamburton, the man he’d ridden with to the slaughter site, asked him.  “Is it a Kaggermann Alert we’re lookin’ at?   Did someone activate that damn artifact again?”

 

“Preliminary examination of the scene seems to support that”, Madigan answered.

 

“So what’s this, the third one of these slaughter mounds we’ve found in about five months?  Yeah, the third.   This one has the largest body count, though.  All totaled, I figure maybe twenty-two homicides between all the sites.  That’s way too ugly to hide.   We’re gonna catch hell on this from the media if they ever get whiff of it,” Lamburton commented.

 

“They won’t.  SSCA, Homeland Security, the FBI and the DOJ have it all tied up.  Anyone leaks word of this to any news media or to any unauthorized agency will be in a world of hurt,” Madigan stated.  “Talking about a Kaggermann Alert to anyone outside the investigative field team is damn near a treasonable offense.  There won’t EVER be a repeat of the Facility A-11/Outwater Glen debacle.  Remember XPETE, the External Projects Technical Engineering unit run and funded by the National Security Agency and the Office of Scientific Management?   It was back in the mid-1970s.  The XPETE project was destroyed by press leaks. When Congress caught whiff of what had happened when the XPETE team had activated the artifact without telling anyone they crucified anyone and everyone who had anything to do with the project, you know that.  No one is going to let that happen again.”

 

“Oh yeah?  Then how do you explain this?” Lamburton challenged.

 

“I don’t,” Madigan hissed tensely, “I just hunt down the bastards responsible for doing it.”

 

The lead Medical Examiner, a tall taciturn man named Worcyznski, limped over to meet the two government agents, leaning heavily on his cane as he walked.

 

“These people were tortured before they died.   I’ve got easily identifiable multiple ligature marks around wrists and ankles and even around some of their throats.  More, from the scarring and abrasions around their nipples and genitals, it looks like some of them suffered sexual torture with implements,” the doctor said with measured disgust.  “I shudder to think what else I’ll find once I get these bodies back to the lab for a proper autopsy.  What the hell have we got here, Agent Madigan?”

 

“Playtime in the Devil’s workshop”, he said past a sneer and then turned to walk away.

 

“What the hell is THAT supposed to mean?” Worcyznski shot irritably at the federal agent’s retreating back.

 

“Exactly what he said”, Lamburton interjected.  “We’re not expecting to find regular human perps here or even a normal human M.O., not even for abnormal criminal psychopathy.   We’re talking about devils.  Real live demons.  Get ready for a sick-ass ride, doc, ‘cuz it just gets uglier from here.”

 

Without another word Lamburton turned away and quickly followed Madigan back to the car.

 

The Medical Examiner stood dumbfounded as his lips silently mouthed the word “demons”.

 

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These story concepts and related character descriptions, including the CHIMERA LINK & INFERNALS, XPETE the External Projects Technical Engineering unit & "Facility A-11/Outwater Glen" are copyright © Joseph Armstead 2001 - 2015, and may not be reproduced in part or in whole without the author's express permission.


 

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THE PORPHYRRICON

 

The Porphyrricon --

NIGHTFLESH

Part One - Stroma:       Sanguinarius Rex
Part Two - Julianna:     Pyrrhicus Eternii

 

BLOODBLOSSOMS
Part Three - Damianna:   Maledictive
Part Four - MacStanclef: Delerium Execretive

 

HELLFANG
Part Five - Verrigotta:  Hemorrhagic
Part Six - Stroma:       Heir Abominant


THE PORPHYRRICON is the saga of Klaw Cavanaugh, a Second Kin Apollyonu wampir, a sometime assassin and full-time career criminal perpetrating La Danse and intermingling with normal human society as a human in the city of New Barrington.  Klaw is a ranking member within the Stroma Gather and he is a spy for the vampire Elder Nero Serranova, an 800 year-old Moon-Chosen prince, a megalomanical tyrant with dreams of uniting the disparate Gather-families of Gen Nocturna under one banner.  To do this would require Serranova shredding the uneasy secret truce existing between the Canadian and US governments and the vampire nation, a truce known by some high-ranking covert organizations as a document called "The Raptor Protocols".  Serranova orders Cavanaugh to orchestrate a series of clandestine meetings with rebel factions within each of the Gen Nocturna North American Gathers in an effort to overthrow the centuries-long rule of the conservative Blood Council and to supplant them with his own murderously vicious vision of future vampire-human relations. 

 

Cavanaugh delves deep into the darkest secrets of Moon-Chosen society guided by one-eyed Lucraysha Radcleff, a ranking member of the dreaded MacStanclef Gather, and enigmatic rogue intelligence agent Jordan Pride, an operative of the UCCCF's "Freak Show" unit, a normal human Uninitiate who may or may not be puppeteered in-thrall to one of the deadliest of the sleeping Ancients, the legendary 1500 year-old blood-drinking madman known as "The Algonkin", a mutant beast of tremendous supernatural powers who once nearly destroyed The Stroma Gather.

 

Through a series of dangerous encounters with criminal kill squads, Cavanaugh becomes aware his every move is being closely watched by a dangerous foe of the vampires, the sorcerous shape-shifting Demonics, and that Josiah Kreed, a policeman and enforcer within the Demonic community, has Klaw and his team-mates marked for murder if they cross the line while discovering common secrets between the Demonics and the Moon-Chosen.  Kreed's manufactured identity as a Mafia Consigliere to a powerful human crime family masks his real role as a demonic Dread Marshal who maintains the uneasy truce between the two antagonistic parahuman species.

 

Klaw Cavanaugh, Lucraysha, and Agent Pride become an unlikely saviors to normal unsuspecting humanity and avengers of ages-old homicidal wrongs as they battle tyrannical blood-princes, Mafia hitmen, rogue intelligence operatives, vampire rebels, and mystical demons in the service of Nero Serranova's mad gambit to seize control of vampire destiny and begin his dream of endless bloodletting!

 

*        *         *         *         *         *         *

EXCERPT ---

From the cold night outside the boat house, the sound of the ocean pouring into the Bay, high tide, mixed with the clanking of a heavy gauge steel chain against the pulley housing its length.  Everything sounded wet and forlorn and the air was tinged with the scent of copper and animal musk.

"It doesn't have to be like this, Lyonella.  It doesn't have to go this hard", a man's voice, smooth and educated with a light southern drawl, said from the deeper shadows to the front of the eighty foot boathouse, past the dim orange light filtering in through the skylight overhead and beyond the front edge of the boat slip.  "This isn't necessary. We can work through this..."

A high-pitched androgynous giggle drifted behind the first speaker's words and she heard a muffled "Shut up, Lassiter!"  The giggling was momentarily stifled and she heard the man Lassiter growl "To hell with that bitch!" in response.

She was alone, being hunted in the hours before dawn, by ex-comrades, people whom she had known for decades even though she'd never allowed herself to claim them as friends, a trio of members of the Damianna Gather.  Her body felt fatigued, sluggish, it was getting hard to concentrate and keep her thoughts focused, and she knew that her energy was waning at a very, very bad time.

She hadn't fed in nearly nine weeks.  She was starving.  Deprived of nourishment, her body was adapting itself to a descent into torpor to preserve her cellular stability.  Even her unusual body chemistry and extranormal metabolism couldn't keep supplying her with the level of energy needed to continue combat with experienced Apollyonu deathstalkers like the gaunt cackling misanthrope she knew as Lassiter, against the dour, muscle-bound Neitzschian named Cappeletti and their leader, suave and lethal Tiberius Redfern, Prince Timone Lupescu's captain of executioners.  She was very close to truly losing everything for the first time in her pampered four hundred year life and she was frightened that the decision she had made to finally stand up for her beliefs would be all for nothing. But it had to be worth it, she couldn't allow Prince Lupescu nor any of the rest of the Damianna Gather, the clan of Apollyonu nightrunners to whom she once owed her allegiance, take away the importance of this one gesture of defiance she'd made in the name of Justice.

They weren't going to destroy The Childe.  Not this time.  Not again.  Not like those other times when the miracle had happened before.

Lyonella looked down at the unconscious form of the nine year old boy she'd been protecting, slender, pale, vulnerable and all too human, and she regained her fortitude.  The boy was a healer, an empath, and he could reverse the curse of vampirism, the ages-old genetic mutation that haunted Lyonella and every member of the Apollyonu species.  He could make them human. He could save them from the murderous impulses of The Need.

He could keep them from having to live off human blood.  The boy was precious beyond words --- she would not let them destroy him, like they had others like him over the centuries.

The Demonic outlaw, Pontiflax, her secret ally, an outcast from the sub-species tribe of non-human mutants who often clashed with the Apollyonu for territory on the Borrego Bay area, had warned her that the Damianna Gather would turn on her the moment she refused to accept the death contract on the Childe, a boy she knew only as Simon.  Pontiflax had done his best to get her to understand that her wampir clan would not see the existence of the empath as being in their best interests: the boy could tip the fragile balance of power in the continuing intrigues between the six vampire families in New Barrington.  Whoever controlled the Empath could perhaps distill and direct the genetic-altering power of the boy's mutant ability as a weapon against the Moon-Chosen, as the Apollyonu were known amongst those members of the human community aware of their existence.  He could make them, as a species, more vulnerable than a month of unending sunlight -- he could deprive them of their ghastly power, their strength and invulnerability, their speed, their incredible longevity.  Pontiflax told her that she should stay far away from the whole affair, pretend she knew nothing about the boy, pretend she didn't care.  After all, she was just a silly debuttante, a plaything of the powerful warrior sect, minor royalty within the Gather-family.  She was not a warrior.  She couldn't hope to stand against their savagery and their unrelenting lethal assault.

But stand she did.  She had done so for nine weeks.  Even after her friend Pontiflax had been killed.  Lyonella would not turn her back on Simon.  Never.  How could any in the Damianna Gather have expected otherwise?  She was, after all, Simon's great-great-great grandmother.

Enough was enough.

She rose from behind the boat-winch she'd been using for cover and stepped out away from the unconscious boy.  She felt the heat of her killing passions suffuse her cold flesh and she felt it spark the reserves of her vampiric fury into a growing slow burn.

She would find the strength she needed.  Somehow.  Someway.

Tiberius Redfern saw her emerge from hiding and shook his head. He seemed genuinely sad to be hunting her.

"Lyonella, please... Give up this foolishness.  Is the little freak truly worth all this pain? He's an Uninitiate, a human.  You no more owe him any allegiance than he would owe the cow whose flesh he eats at his local fast food restaraunt.  You're one of the Moon-Chosen, you have lived at least five of his meager lifetimes, seen the passage of history from barbarism into science and into this unimagined electronic future.  You have seen kingdoms rise and crumble.  And what has this dirty little apeling seen? The cartoon network? MTV? This conflict serves no one.  Even amongst his own kind, the child is considered a freak of nature, a mistake...!"

Lyonella said nothing. Debate was useless. Redfern and Cappeletti had never been human.  They were pure-bloods and had been born Apollyonu. Lassitter was a homicidal psychotic.  She had experienced The Turning, the sensation of being brought across the genetic transitional divide between human and Apollyonu, on the eve of her wedding day.  She had been an unwilling participant, the victim of a cruel vampire joke.  They would never understand.

She stood her ground staring poison at the vampire killsquad.

"If you leave the woman and the boy alone, I promise I'll kill you quickly," a cold male baritone abruptly said from the open doorway to the boathouse.  The voice belonged to a muscular, burly brawler who carried a pair of large bore automatic handguns.  His black leather motorcycle jacket dripped water from the damp night and his gloved fists were steady as rock as they kept the guns aimed at the Moon-Chosen assassins.

They all knew him.  It was a shock to see him there, to know he had decided to get involved in such a politically dangerous and emotion-charged situation.

Worse, they also knew that now that he was involved, it definitely meant that someone was going to die.

Redfern, Cappeletti and Lassitter spun around to stare across the gloom into the steely charcoal-colored eyes of Klaw Cavanaugh...

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These story concepts and related character descriptions, including "The Raptor Protocols", "Gen Nocturna", "the Blood Council", "UCCCF" and "The Freak Show", Apollyonu/Moon-Chosen, Demonics, NERO SERRANOVA, KLAW CAVANAUGH, LUCRAYSHA RADCLEFF, JORDAN PRIDE & THE ALGONKIN, and JOSIAH KREED, "Dread Marshal", are copyright © Joseph Armstead 2005 - 2015, and may not be used in unauthorized stories or story mediums nor may they be reproduced in part or in whole without the author's express permission.