Authors: Kia Carrington-Russell
Published by Crystal Publishing (Australia)
Copyright © Kia Carrington-Russell 2014
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
Cover Design: © Ynne Black
Interior Image: © Ynne Black
All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or partially used by any means unless prior permission by the publisher.
To all my fans, team, friends and family- Thank you so much, without you and all your support I would not be where I am today. Thank you.
ven when I conjured all my strength, his speed was unmatched. He grabbed my sword with his hands, blood spurting everywhere, his eyes now savage on me. In one swift movement he threw it away, grabbing my throat, ready to rip out my heart. His fangs were very large and blood dripped over them. Had he bitten into one of his own comrades? I could not breathe, but I did not gasp for air. I would not fall so far as to want mercy from his kind.
Before he plunged his fingers into me a hand stopped him. My heart pounded, yet I was not scared to face death. A swift movement was made and I fell to the floor, holding my throat. Whoever had grabbed his hand tore him away from me. I looked up in front of me to see the familiar coat. It was Chase. His back was to me as he faced the vampire who had almost killed me. Did the Council really have such old and strong vampires right under our noses?
“Don’t touch her. She’s mine,” Chase snarled, holding two swords.
“She threatened Whitney!” the other vampire spluttered.
“Tythian.” The small voice of the woman from behind him broke the tension. “It’s okay, we can go now.”
He buckled to his knees in front of her, cupping her face gently. “I’m sorry,” he whispered to her. “I did not know they would use you for this.” She gently caressed his face. In amidst the ghastly noises of weapons scraping against one another, it seemed to them that nothing else mattered as they gazed into one another’s eyes devotedly.
“Let’s go home,” she said with a reassuring smile. I was mortified how comfortable she was in the blood war that raged around her.
Before I could stand, the vampire had grabbed her chair and, with lightning speed, they were gone.
Chase turned to me, his fangs not as large as Tythian’s, but I could see he too was a very old vampire. “Esmore,” he whispered. Before I could run for my sword to use it against him, he had already vanished, leaving me by myself.
Kora and Kasey were the reason why he fled. They had advanced on him, trying to entrap him. For what reason he hadn’t tried to kill them I wasn’t sure. He simply hid amongst the dark. I could still feel his presence close by, but it felt as if he were only watching. Not fighting, but just watching how everything would play out. Realizing Chase was gone, they focused on another three vampires, entrapping them as Dillian and Tori covered their backs. One by one, the girls trapped more. There were so many of them.
Teary was fighting off four. Except for Tythian and Chase, they all seemed like younger vampires. You could tell by their strength and speed. Usually we could challenge vampires if they were no more than one hundred and fifty years old. After that it became very difficoven to compete against a vampire who had lived for so long.
James was now by my side. He had gathered my Barnett bow and sword for me. I used my arrows instantly on a vampire who ran for me, piercing his chest. He crumbled to the ground, quickly decaying. I roared in anger at how easily I had been overcome by the previous two vampires. I sliced through another vampire, cutting down his throat and through his belly. I cut across another’s head, slitting their throat and puncturing their chest. I raged again, feeling myself fill with hatred and a need to see their blood. I cut off one’s arm, plunging my sword into its chest, driving so deep into it that after a few steps I had nailed it to a tree. It slumped around my sword, its skin turning a shade of black. I pulled it out, watching it begin to decay.
A huge fire lit behind me. Teary was controlling the flames, sweeping over the ten of them that encircled her. There must have been one hundred vampires. This was a well-thought out ambush. James grabbed one vampire’s throat and then another as it ran from behind him. Smashing both their heads together, they shattered from the impact. James steely skin was impenetrable. He grabbed his sword from the ground. A vampire must have knocked it out of his hand. He punctured both in the chest before they could heal.
In the distance I could feel the presence of many more coming. For that many we would have to use the grenade. It was us against many. As if knowing what I was thinking, James ran to Teary as she continued to sweep her hand containing the fire around.
In the distance a vampire stalked toward Teary. He too was strong and old. I had the feeling that others followed him as their numbers grew. James now had the grenade, and he was pulling the pin. Inwardly I counted the short seconds in my head.
Teary continued to control her flames, still engulfing the many around her.
Two vampires came at me and quickly I thrust my sword into them, before shooting an arrow into another oncoming vampire.
. James threw the grenade at the large army that stampeded toward us.
The leading vampire swept one hand across them both. Teary’s flames were instantly put out as a gust of wind extinguished it. The wind not only pushed James and Teary back but Dillian, Tori, Kasey, and Kora as it smashed into their backs, throwing them forward. It had even taken the Council vampires along with it. This vampire had the gift of control over wind. The grenade was thrown toward my team.
With all the speed I could muster I ran for them, grabbing a hold of the grenade in the air. I ran into the distance so the grenade was nowhere near them, throwing it at the army that charged toward them.
The grenade exploded near the army, but shattered much more than just that. Quickly a burst of dust swept over me. The burning flames of the explosion encased my body. I heard my name whispered by an angelic voice, but noted it was probably the afterlife calling for me. This must now be my time of death.
he pressure of a new world is limitless.
There is no expectation of a future;
when the past has been so carelessly destroyed.
Society’s former glory has been taken.
Now we must survive and try to maintain numbers.
The world seems abandoned.
But in the dark monsters lurk.
I am a Token Huntress.
I will find the humans who remain,
And with great pleasure will destroy all vampires.
I am the vision of the new world.
I am Token.
I am Hunter.
Do not become my prey.
he stagnant smell of the classroom was getting on my nerves. I looked behind me to the window, desperate for fresh air. The small windows seemed to shun the sunlight. What little light that seeped through the glass highlighted the dust particles that floated lazily above the heads of my equally bored classmates. The small room seemed crowded, yet there were only eight of us in total. The hunter to my left sighed deeply, and I rested my elbows on the desk as I attempted to stifle a yawn.
At the front of the room stood our teacher, Miss. Femine, who spoke nervously to us now beside our formidable Head Huntress, Miss. Campture. The door beside the large chalkboard was the only exit, and, almost metaphorically, it was Miss. Campture who blocked it. She often came to check up on the classes. We were expected to be knowledgeable in all fields, and Campture monitored our progress like a hawk. Our education didn’t cease until we reached the age of thirty — only then were we deemed intellectually competent. Those radiant yellow eyes rested on each of us in turn. Her long snow-white hair was as stiff as the air in here, and her frown lines were visible from four desks away. Miss. Campture’s eyes locked on mine as she registered the insult. I diverted my eyes, knowing I had been busted. Every hunter had a gift and hers, unfortunately, was the ability to read minds.
I tapped my fingers lightly on the leather garter that was strapped around my hips, trying to distract myself from thinking about her. I scanned the room. My classmates varied from seventeen to late twenties. I could only see the back of their heads, but I knew all their eyes were glowing iridescently. Their unique eyes were the physical feature that claimed them as hunter from birth — the defining feature that differentiated them from the defenseless humans. On the eighteenth birthday of a hunter, a special ability unique to them becomes enabled. All of their gifts had activated except mine. When I awoke on my eighteenth birthday, no gift was apparent. In fact, my purple eyes had dissolved into a dull gray.
Someone coughed, snapping me back to the present, and my eyes met Miss. Campture’s once more. I supposed I owed her gratitude. I was kept in the Hunters’ Guild because I had been born a hunter — my eyes had once glowed as brightly as theirs. There was also the fact that they could not deny my superiority in combat. I was the most skilful of my generation of hunters. I excelled in both raids and in battle. Vampires feared me and hunters respected me. My speed, stamina, strength, and tactical projections in battle were unprecedented. Undeniably, I was the best of the younger hunters we had in our guild.
Despite this, speculation had grown with each day that passed after my eighteenth. Conspiracy theories were whispered in hushed tones when my back was turned. They said I was the first hunter to have lost my iridescent coloring — the trademark stamp of our identity. They asked it carefully of each other:
If she is not a hunter, then what is she? What is her ability? What is her place amongst us? What right has she to lead us into battle?
I swallowed my bitter retorts each and every time. After all, I had no answers. I turned to science instead, thinking again of our genes. Evolution was both necessary and inevitable. Perhaps our DNA was altering and I was merely the first case. Perhaps others would follow, other hunters born without gifts. Perhaps humans had been too quick to celebrate when they created us.
My mind drifted to the early-history lessons we attended which explained our origins. The first hunter had been created by humans in 2016, and for a very specific purpose: to stand against vampires. The project was successful, or so we had been told. Scientists had concocted a sub-species of human. It was a long and slow process, apparently. The humans began to kidnap vampire subjects and study them from as early as 2012. They learned slowly, and they suffered many setbacks. Synthesized blood of the vampires had been injected, cells had been manipulated. Of course, the first subjects were claimed by the virus in the blood, which turned them into vampires themselves. But the thirty-first human subject to be tested on was a success, and the first hunter had been born.
The injection deteriorated every cell in the body and replaced it with vampirism. Apparently, when scientists studied the blood under a microscope, they could see it squirming as if it were alive itself. If a cut appeared on the surface of the skin then the blood would frantically heal the wound. The thought was disturbing, but we benefitted from it. Although we did not heal as quickly as vampires, we healed faster than humans. Selective DNA combined with the capabilities of advanced technology had resulted in a new breed: the hunters. We matched the vampires in almost every way.
In the technology age, the twenty-first century, they were also trying to create things called military robots. They were not human, but were machinery instead — impractical. Of course, the technology era did not have time to advance this machinery before the vampires swooped in, so they were left with us. Although we functioned and looked like humans, we were a different race completely. We could run faster; our stamina and endurance beyond compare. Eyesight, smell, and touch were far more advanced. We had an exceptional ability to heal, and we did not need as much maintenance to sustain our bodies, such as food, water, or sleep. Our levels of human emotion were very weak, however. Emotion was not something we entertained. Perhaps it was the alteration made in our genes many years ago when we were first created. Attachment and sentimentality only slows you down.
They learnt quickly that we were something entirely different from them. After World War III began in 2017, the vampires used the distraction as a final opportunity to overrun the humans. Military was stretched around the world. The world had already suffered damage and disease following the nuclear bombs, mass deaths, and general havoc. In 2019, survival camps were being instigated for humans and the remaining human population was protected by hunters. These camps still exist, but they have lessened in both numbers and in standards. By the 2020s, the world’s natural resources had been depleted. Electricity, water, and conventional gases were sabotaged by both parties.
The wars changed the world beyond recognition. Nuclear weapons had changed the face of the land. Pollution increased dramatically in civilized society’s final decades. A thick laye of dust and fumes cushioned the earth’s surface, disallowing the sun to penetrate our atmosphere as it once had. The lack of light enabled the vampires to roam freely. They could now prowl the lands in both night and day. It was in the 2030s that the guilds were created. Their role was to raid for supplies and to look for humans. Any humans that were recovered were transported to safety; any vampires found were killed on sight.
It was once predicted that by the year 2300 the earth would be so hot, parts of it could not be lived in by humans. The drastic decline in the human population went some way toward stalling that process. The world went back to a more organic state, and the animal population grew. Animals that should have been extinct by 2100 multiplied uncontrollably. New, strange plants evolved that depended less on sunlight and water. Trees and vegetation grew where it could, creeping through the silent streets of deserted cities. Freshwater was rare and hard to procure. The oxygen in the air became thin as plant life struggled to survive. The world became a dark, sparse forest of abandoned civilization. Broken cities grew gray and dangerous. Lurking in this new landscape were hunters, humans, and vampires, as well as an abundance of animal life. The species at the top of the food chain was now uncertain.
In 2115 the government — who at the time still had some authority over the hunters —attempted to take back military control of a place called the ‘White House,’ in a land then recognized as ‘America.’ Some humans resented the leadership the hunters were asserting over the survivors, others feared them. The government still had many weapons at their disposal, and many hunters were wiped out by the vampires in this last act of rebellion. This foolish action allowed the Vampire Council to become strong. It was the humans’ final failure. This was when communication between the human government and the hunters ceased completely. Hunters took control both of themselves and of the remaining humans. After many years of reproduction, the hunters became a powerful force, though some hunter offspring were born human.
It was then that the Guild noticed a change of behavior in some vampires. Usually they were strategic, intelligent, sharp, restrained. Now a more monstrous and barbaric kind of vampire emerged. They hunted everything, but they were easily killed. It was as if they were deranged, completely devoid of intelligent thought. They even slaughtered the animals relentlessly. We called them
Now, we continue our ambition to save the human race. Although the humans created us, we know that they were incapable of looking after themselves. It is for their own good that we now are in complete control of their care and well-bring. Our camps are evidence of this. We nurture them and ensure their survival as a species. It is, after all, embedded mechanically in our genes.
Amongst the hunters there are always a few elite ones, and I am one of them. These are the ones who are the leaders of small groups of between six and eight members. These hunters are superior in organizational skills, fighting, speed, talent, and stamina. They are Token Hunters. We have four Token Hunters in the Guild, each one in charge of a raid team. We usually go on raids to gather supplies and to seek out humans to take back to the safety of the camps. We are the ones that search for the Council, our mission to bring an end to their kind.
It was an honor to be named a Token Huntress at such a young age. I turned eighteen six months ago on April 20, 2322, and was made a Token soon after. My birthday had been tainted by tragedy. On the night before, my mother had slipped away in a raid without my knowing. There was a rumor that humans were dwelling in a forest nearby. The next day it was reported to me that she was dead. I was now parentless; my father had been killed by sabers when I was only ten. Ever since the day my remaining parent was taken from me, life had not been the same. I now only focused on my strength. I felt cold and impassive about life. My title of Token Huntress was the only thing I really cared about.
My eyes trailed over the bulky arms of my boyfriend, James. We had been together for a little over two years. His blonde hair had been recently shaven, and he had fluorescent green eyes. Those eyes were now staring back at me worriedly. I felt agitated by his concern. For a long time now we hadn’t been on the best of terms. He was just too pushy on matters I really didn’t want to focus on, such as a future together.
I turned my gaze to Miss. Femine as she held up a weapon called a
. Many of us had heard of them before, they were tools from the past. We had now reformed them, making them into weapons. Tanya, a huntress whose ability allowed her to harness electrical currents, had obviously been put to use. At first the hunters were not sure what to do with her ability, after all, the time of electricity was long gone. Now, at sixty-five, her gift was found to be one of the most invaluable ones known amongst our kind. We were hoping this weapon would become useful for our raids.
“The chainsaw was commonly used in the twentieth century, and even before then. It was often used for chopping wood. However, after some adjustments we have supplied it with enough battery life that it will be useable for a few days. Does anyone have any comments on how they think this may fair in battle?” Miss. Femine asked.
Corso, a hotshot, spoke out, just as he always did. He was one of those
kind of guys, and sadly, James’ best friend. “It would be practical,” Corso nodded enthusiastically. “It can be used over a long amount of time and it can do a lot of damage very quickly. You could easily target at least their arms or legs, or something larger, even if you couldn’t get to their heart straight up.” When he finished, he leaned back in his chair and folded his arms smugly.
I would personally conclude that such a weapon would be more efficient for beheadings. The two ways to truly kill a vampire was to either pierce their heart or behead them. The idea that fire and sun were the only methods to kill them was quickly scratched out in the 2000s — it had no effect on them. Sure, their skin melted in the flames, but no matter how long the fire was on them, they never died from it. Their blood healed them instantly and repetitively as they lay in the flames. Annoyed, I pushed away part of my golden-blonde fringe which was in my eyes. The strands should have been tightly bound by my long braid at the back. I deliberated between fixing my hair and entering into an argument for only half a second.