Arik Awaken's (Part 2)
"One of your kind," Kyle replied as he took in a rather pained breath. "The light," he grimaced deeply. "It blinds me."
"I know," Arik assured him without a hint of remorse. He was indeed intrigued by the revelation he'd made, but not nearly enough to distract him from his momentary curiosity. "Your hair and skin are as natural as any human's that I've seen. In fact—" he flicked one finger over a button on the man's shirt, applying the slightest hint of pressure to send it flying off into the shadows of the room. A second one soon followed and the cotton was parted away from his chest. "Your skin is darkened by several degrees. How is it possible when your kind barely tolerates the light of the sun?"
"I can tolerate the sun," he insisted. "Sunlight isn't the problem. I can shield my eyes—alter them so extreme shifts of light aren't painful to look at. This light spectrum though…" He shook his head and continued to wince. "Without protection from it—"
"Show me then," Arik dared him.
"I can't open my eyes in this light," Kyle objected with greater irritation than before. The sweat on his brow was increasing with each passing moment.
Arik realized he would not get his demonstration without dimming the light, so for the moment he decided to play along just to see what would happen. He was curious to see how the Greys had evolved to overcome their one true weakness. Without taking his eyes from the creature before him, he willed the light to lower by half. Then, he found himself waiting—bidding the creature to finally open his eyes.
Kyle released a sigh of relief, able to see through his closed lids that the room had darkened back to a tolerable level. His eyes blinked in rapid succession as he opened them, but it took him several long, slow breaths to relax enough to cooperate. Looking down at the floor, he at last closed his eyes before opening them to reveal eyes as blue as Arik's own.
"This is your natural eye color," Arik asked him with suspicion.
"No, it's not. The change of color just allows me to blend in with my surroundings—most of the time. It's just a trick of nature." With that, Kyle began to feel a bit like a science experiment under such close inspection and it irked him. With a measure of defiance in his voice, he snapped, "For the record, creature is just as objectionable to me as spirit or angel are to you. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop referring to me as that."
An amused tsking sound came from between Arik's lips then. "I haven't called you anything, to be specific. If yours weren't a species that pokes around in other's minds, you wouldn't have to hear the word at all. What do you think you should be called?" Why he was even humoring enough to ask, he couldn't possibly say.
"I'm a man! Just like you."
A short bark of laughter did erupt from Arik then. It was a sound so foreign to him that he hardly recognized it or the feeling that accompanied its release. "A man? I am not now, nor will I ever be a man. What is your name then? If you have one."
"Nothing you could pronounce," Kyle answered rather lamely, wondering where the audacity to spout that nonsense stemmed from.
"Since you aren't staying long enough for it to matter, there's no need for me to make one up for you then, Creature." Intense blue eyes glared down into his before he shoved away from the stone wall with some finality. "You will only be here long enough to give me the answers I want before I spit you out of existence."
Careful… Answer only what is needed to deliver the female, came the words of warning from an Elder who'd been overseeing the mission.
As if there were any careful way to approach this situation! He'd done his best to shield himself from them during his weakest moments just now, but he'd nearly revealed a fatal flaw in himself to those who were cautiously monitoring the situation. If they ever learned the truth of what lurked within the depths of his half-human mind… The fear he was truly capable of feeling…
It was exceedingly difficult to shield oneself from the elders even during the best of times, but his blood was made from the purest of the genetically altered half-breed humans here on earth. He was an exception to nearly everything the Greys thought they knew about half-breeds. In moments such as this, he was thankful to possess the ability to disguise the inner workings of his mind from them. They could never know just how susceptible he was to human emotions, despite their best efforts to teach him how dangerous they could be for his kind.
Feeling somewhat calmer now that the demon had stepped away from him, he opened his mind up fully so they could see what he was seeing. With the attention taken off of himself, he was able to look with more than a little curiosity at the imposing presence of the man—er, being—who ought not to even exist in this day and age. For all the records kept throughout history, the Kindred were the most notorious race ever known to exist. It was believed until now that they had all died off in one macabre and fascinating tale of biblical proportions. That the myth itself stood in this very room… It boggled the mind!
It intrigued him that Arik did not resemble one ounce of what he'd imagined he would find when he'd first stepped foot in the fortress. His was a race of energy wielders. Some wrote of their being angelic in nature, white-winged wonders who could perform feats of impossible might and magic. It was said they had once been the peace keepers of the universe, pledged to a moral code to which even the Greys humbly bowed. But this..? This creature? This being? One of the most revered and long-honored and longest lived beings known in all creation? It was impossible to fathom.
Which of what he had seen was his true form? Was it this image of the man standing in the room right now? Or, had it been the dramatically different entity that had first greeted him in the hallway? That form rested beneath Arik's skin and he could easily see it as he stared at his back, given the chance to look upon him with unshielded eyes. He could see the same thing when he looked upon the woman lying on the couch, staring beyond the physical form of her body.
Arik was an impressive looking male figure, standing just over six feet tall. He was dressed in something out of another era. The natural leather material resembled something of a warrior's outfit, which was perhaps what he truly embodied. His dark hair was long and unkempt, attesting to his disinterest for maintaining anything of a neater appearance. That was not what made him look so fearsome, however.
The exposed skin of his neck and arms were a color that suggested he'd spent his life living outdoors under a bright sunlit sky, rather than existing so far beneath the earth away from it. Every inch of it was severely scarred in long, twisting lines that shimmered and glowed in a faint, fiery light that moved even when he was standing perfectly still. Whether they were marks from battle or a natural part of his body, Kyle had no idea. It made him appear entirely too sinister, in either case.
It was also impossible to tell what his state of mind was in this moment. He had surrounded himself in the strongest shield Kyle had ever witnessed on another being. His mind had become impenetrable to further examination. Somehow, Arik had effectively blocked him from using even his strongest empathic abilities to try and form a game plan.
Resigned to remain where he was, braced against he wall in wait, Kyle felt like an eternity had passed in utter silence. Arik had moved to approach the female, but whatever he saw or felt in her presence was a mystery. He knew there were more questions coming and he kept his features schooled and his mind opened now to the elders. Despite his uncertainty, he felt back in control of both his distress and fear. Should things take a turn for the worst, he could instantly be removed from this dwelling as easily as he'd entered it. Arik's threat of impending doom was no concern to him in any real sense.
"How do you know she is one of my kind," Arik asked after some reflection as he crouched by the sofa. His expression remained quite skeptical in the face of his question.
Couldn't he sense the being hidden within the woman's skin? Or was this merely another test of some sort? Perhaps he wanted to know how his species could be so easily identified while in human form. Uncertain what had sparked the question, Kyle decided to answer him truthfully.
"Her mind and body have shielded her quite well. The Elders can see straight through to her soul though. That image cannot be altered or hidden from them. The woman's true form rests deep within her body."
"The Elders," Arik remarked and began to rise. "So it is not you who could see what she is?"
"I can, although I never would have known what she was." Where were these questions leading? "It was one of the Elders who divined her race—which is why I have brought her to you."
Amazing… The scarification on his back! As his posture stiffened, the faint glow emanating from within the deep crevices began to brighten and circulate. Was it an indication of his emotional state? Or perhaps it was merely an increase in blood flow…
Arik's expression intensified as his lips pressed together in consternation. He backed away on his heal, turning those sharp eyes back on him with the woman all but forgotten again.
"How did you reach this place? If you managed to enter it, then you're obviously capable of leaving it the same way."
Aw, shit! There was the conundrum. He knew in that moment what Arik was going to ask next. How in the world could he eloquently refuse the request? His response was sure to rouse and wake the beast, there was no doubt about it. Even without using his gift of empathy, he knew upon sight that Arik's temper was escalating once more. His anger—and possibly a hint of sudden excitement.
There was no way this would end well. He could only prepare himself for the storm his next words were about to unleash.
"I cannot take you with me when I leave," he briefly shook his head with finality.
"Then you shall never leave this fortress at all," Arik hissed from between clenched teeth.
The air in the room began to change in some indiscernible way. Kyle could feel the sensation of static electricity crawling all over his skin. The marks running rampant over Arik's body began lighting up madly as the demon within him began to rear its ugly head.
Kyle needed no further incentive to move. Arik was beyond pissed off and the time for trying to reason with him was at an end. Sending his thoughts to the elders, his entire being dissolved at once, shifting him through time and space to slip free of the invisible bonds of the restraints that had held him in place. When he opened his eyes, he found himself standing on firm ground in the hall where he'd first appeared.
He watched with some fascination as Arik whipped around and locked his eyes upon him in the distance. Somehow he'd been able to track his movement, instantaneous as the transition had been. How long this meeting could be maintained was highly debatable, but he issued a firm warning to the elders not to remove him entirely from the fortress until all hope for its success was lost. Thankfully, he was free to move of his own will now.
"There is no where that I cannot find and destroy you, Creature," Arik spat with pure venom lacing each word. In the blink of an eye, his corporeal form disintegrated as he faded into nothingness. A strong current of air began to spiral violently in a powerful vortex as Arik flew full speed toward the hallway. His movement stopped with a precision that was almost as thrilling to witness as it was terrifying—morphing in one swift motion back into his demonic appearance.
Thankfully, the elders were not momentarily stunned into mindless action as Kyle currently was. Once again, they shifted him directly out of existence, back to the wall where he'd formerly been pinned. Before he had completely materialized, he saw the mirror beside Arik exploding into a million pieces. Had he been standing there in that moment, he would most certainly be dead, as promised.
Kyle's eyes widened measurably when some unseen force of nature blasted out of Arik sending the deadly shards of glass hurtling directly toward him in yet another attempt to spit his soul from existence. This time Kyle ignored the threat to his own life. Arik's rage was blinding him to the only person in the room who was capable of being sacrificed here.
Under his own power this time, he shifted to the woman on the couch, grabbed her up and shifted with her to the farthest point at the end of the entrance hall. In the air was nothing but the minute particles of glass that had been sent flying into the sitting room. He shrouded the woman as best as he could from the dust, hovering over her as he perched against the wall.
Not daring to tempt fate a second longer than necessary, he shifted them together back across the distance to the far reaches of the sitting room the moment the shattering glass finally settled. He faced the beast, debating the wisdom of everything the elders had intended to gain from this mission. They were all going to lose if this continued much longer. The woman would most certainly lose her life, then the elders would lose what they'd wanted and he'd most likely be killed off as well. Hell! Even his sister was going to pay the ultimate price for his failure.
"You're liable to kill her with another blast like that, you Fuck!" Losing the tight reign he normally kept on his temper, Kyle held the woman to himself and shifted from one wall to the other at a dizzying pace with each fractional movement that Arik made. "I cannot take you with me when I leave," he insisted as he halted, ready to begin skipping around the room once more should Arik make another move against him.
The unfortunate thing about it all was that he could not take this woman with him when he left. No matter what Arik decided to do, it was forbidden for anyone to bring her back to the surface. There had to be some way to convince Arik that this was no more than a stalemate.
The lines on the demon's face did not cease their pulsing radiance, but Arik was no longer moving. His eyes narrowed on the woman Kyle held in his arms as if realizing what he'd very nearly done. A measure of reason seemed to register on his face, although his posture remained stiff with imminent threat. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking. Damn the demon and his mental shields!
Arik felt paralyzed. He literally could not move as the facts began playing themselves out in his mind. He'd lost it—simply lost it in a fit of rage. It was the same mistake he'd made a thousand times, losing himself in a moment of uncontrollable fury. The last time should have been the last… What he had done then had been beyond anyone's comprehension, but this?
Human! She was human!
He had nearly killed another human… He was radiating with fury, but this time it was directed solely at himself. Had she been hit with the glass, the woman would surely be dead. That was not the thought overriding his ability to think, however. He had her! She was in his arms! Just as surely as he'd brought her here today, he was capable of taking her away from him now…
The need to regain possession of her held Arik's complete attention. He would quit breathing if only this abomination of creation would simply put her back down.
"Let her go," he demanded, licking his suddenly dry lips. He leveled him with the deadliest stare he could muster—this creature that he now considered his mortal enemy.
"I don't think so," Kyle countered without hesitation.
Arik felt a sense of desperation rising within him to the point of hysteria. He was no fool. They could both wink right out of this chamber to parts of the world unknown and there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening. Every fiber of his being was alight with anxiety at the thought of this woman being taken from his sanctuary.
It didn't even matter which of the Kindred she was. It had been far too long since he'd been this close to one of his own kind. The drive to protect and possess her was all that he could think about. Her mere presence! That was what had brought him back from the verge of extinction. He could not lose her now.
Kyle watched the demon standing completely immobile before him. His body was pulsing with energy, yet it was the woman his eyes were upon—not him. A dawning of awareness had his head rising and his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
"Drop your shield," he offered after a moment of deliberation.
"What?" Arik's face stiffened further.
"Show me what is in your mind," he insisted. No matter what the elders had said, he was not leaving this woman alone with a madman bent on destruction. Prepared to issue a threat of his own, even if he was incapable of carrying it out, he held the woman closely and moved as if to take a step backward in warning.
"Don't!" Arik's hand reached out at once, his face completely unreadable. His eyes had widened, then all at once the protective barrier surrounding him was dropped.
Kyle felt the return of the Kindred's heightened emotions, momentarily unprepared for the overwhelming nature of them. The pain… The desperation… Of every thing he'd expected the demon to be feeling, the one thing he'd not expected was the all-encompassing sense of fear that had taken hold of him.
With carefully measured steps, Kyle slowly moved forward. He handed her over as gently as possible, surprised to see the demon slowly cradle her as he folded her in his arms.
"Arik," he finally said his name. "She's been heavily sedated. It's doubtful she'll awaken for some time. I'm told she is considered extremely dangerous, so guard yourself. Outside of that," he shrugged and stepped slowly back, "I can tell you little about her."
Although he appeared to be listening, Arik's eyes were looking down on the woman. The pulse of energy within him had ceased it's rhythmical movement and the glow of the veins in his skin had dimmed almost completely.
"The Elders wanted you to have her, but I will be back. You can count on it."
With those words, Kyle felt himself being whisked out of the underworld. In moments, he found himself standing above ground once more, unable to believe he'd managed to accomplish his goal—and survive being spit out of existence… As the demon had promised…