Arik's Awakening (Part 1)
What he saw could not be possible, yet… As he hovered near a distant corner of the ceiling, there was no doubt what he saw was quite real.
Two human trespassers had crossed into his domain? How? One was a skittish, light-haired male and the second an unconscious female with long red hair. She looked harmless enough, but the male was alert and brimming with curiosity. A need burned within Arik to learn more about them, yet it would be impossible to examine them without approaching much closer.
It was impossible to fathom that he was awake, aware and moving at all in this moment. Like the flip of a switch, conscious thought had begun to invade his mind mere minutes ago. It had happened so suddenly that it truly baffled him. Drifting off into a state of true sleep had taken more years than he could count in comparison—possibly decades, if he recalled. It had been a slow and painful demise at the time. It begged the question that was plaguing him now. How had he awakened in an instant?
He’d sensed their presence in a dreamlike state, then just like that, all of the systems within him began firing up. His mind immediately shifted into overdrive on high alert. Questions were assaulting his mind at a rapid pace. Who were these people? How in the world did they gain entrance into the fortress? How?! Where were his brethren..?
His kin—those who dwelt within the sanctuary, where were they? Together they had been imprisoned within these wretched catacombs, but how long ago had that been? It had been far too long since he’d had the strength or willpower to seek them out. Extending his senses as far as they could reach, he felt not even a flicker of energy rebounding off of the winding halls above or below him. Perhaps they were still sleeping then? The emptiness in the air gave no real answer about that. But, no matter… He had a much bigger problem to contend with first. What to do with these trespassers?
Should he smite them down for merely breaching the walls of the fortress? Surely others of their kind could gain entry as well. Ironically enough, it wasn’t the human population of the earth that even concerned him. They could be dangerous creatures when they gathered in great numbers, but it was not likely these two posed much of a threat in that manner. Perhaps they were simple explorers out on an adventure, however… No average human being should have the ability to gain entrance into his domain at all. How could they possibly be here when neither he, nor his brethren, could ever get out?
It was for him alone to decide, he supposed. He must weigh out the matter for himself. Obviously, it was going to require much closer inspection than this.
Should he reveal himself to them? Question them, perhaps? Or, simply destroy them without a moment’s thought to the contrary? The weight of another two murders on his conscience… That did not sit well with him at all.
Were he within his favored corporeal form, he knew without a doubt he’d be sighing in consternation over the conundrum before him. While the thought of adding one more death to the pile that burdened him was troubling enough, there were questions that must be answered here. That, if nothing else, held him in limbo.
How had they gained entrance into the fortress? That question alone must be answered. He had always believed it to be impossible. However, with each passing year and the increase of technology, perhaps they’d finally devised a means of compromising the barrier that surrounded and protected the Kindred from destruction. More importantly than that though? Did they have a means of getting back out? That information could be incredibly useful to him.
With each passing second, Arik felt the renewal of energy vibrating within him. From the depths of sleep only moments ago, he now felt as vibrant and alive as ever. Something was powering his internal systems to give him a strength that he had not known in an eternity. The ability to materialize into physical form was suddenly his once more—if only to interrogate the invaders firsthand before deciding what to do with them.
Testing his abilities, he sent the smallest flare of an energy pulse overhead to dim the fluorescent glow of light. He was intent to set the male on edge, yet the man barely glanced around at the disturbance. No change of expression overcame his features. How odd…
Descending gradually from the ceiling where he hovered, he studied the man’s unwavering expression of disinterest. He seemed to have no reaction at all to being thrown into darkness. Still, Arik could see he was reacting quite strongly to his presence as he neared the two of them. Although he had not moved a muscle in response, he could sense his increased heart rate, accelerating the closer he got. The temperature of the man’s skin was rising, just as it had when he’d spied his own reflection in the mirror.
No sound… No breath… Yet, he knows I am here…
“If I increase the luminosity, will you begin to scream in terror,” Arik whispered in a ghostly echo as he hovered five feet in front of the man. Within the cavernous room, he allowed his voice to echo and carry enough for effect. He loved it!
The man’s eyes widened a fraction and he blinked, obviously having heard the disembodied voice carrying around the room. Still, his shock was not nearly as great as Arik would have imagined. Seeing him hitch one-hundred and eighty degrees to bolt for the door would have been more delightful to witness.
Rather than respond to the intimidating tactic, the man slowly side-stepped to walk cautiously around him. He continued on a slow path down the hall, further into the fortress. He was nearing what was once a large sitting room. Following at a slight distance, Arik wondered what the man intended to do.
The human was able to sense his presence, somehow. He’d made every effort to walk around him, rather than drifting directly through his essence.
Does he have no sense of self-preservation? Stupid creature! They all were. Arrogant, right to the bitter end…
A small hiss of laughter sounded in the distance as Arik’s gaze flew up in disbelief. That was by far the most puzzling response he would have imagined from the man in this moment. Someone in the depths of hell should be ready to collapse with insanity, not snickering out loud in laughter.
“It was what you said,” the human remarked quite abruptly. “Your tone was perfect to induce terror. The words, however…” He half-shrugged and turned to find the only semi-clean area on which to place the woman he’d been carrying. As an afterthought, he added, “Spirits do not frighten me.”
No? Arik doubted that could possibly be true. Still, he was engaged watching the man wind his way around the room, moving as thought it were fully bathed in light.
“Your words reminded me of something out of a horrible novel I might have read—not that you could possibly understand that, I’m sure.” With that, the man turned back from his perusal of the room to say, “I apologize for the spiritual reference though. It’s the best I can come up with to explain what I’m seeing.”
With every word the man spoke, an arc of electrical impulses were firing off within Arik. The longer he continued to listen to this nonsense, the faster his temper was flaring dangerously out of control. The sharp rise of emotions he was experiencing was something he hadn’t felt in a very long time. There was a chaotic swirl forming in the air around himself. It had been centuries since he could remember feeling something so violent rising within him. His body was preparing—but for what? Battle? Destruction?
Kyle turned his head sharply and released a long suffering sigh, oblivious of the warning signs in the air around him. Grimacing slightly, he calmly lowered the woman’s feet to the floor to momentarily flex the muscles of his stiff arm. He was by no means an athlete, he knew.
“I warned them I was not the right person for this job,” he complained in discomfort. As he stretched some circulation back into his limbs, he took the time to reach his mind out into the darkness. The intensity of emotions he felt emanating from the being were overwhelming. He began to release a calm, soothing energy of his own in response, but the move was very badly timed.
Arik instantly sensed all of his safeguards coming online as the first sign of a mental assault reached his keen senses. In the blink of an eye, he was suddenly whole and fully formed, standing on two feet for the first time in over a millennium. He could feel the energy pulsing within the center of his being. It was a delicious sensation!
Two steps brought him within reach and he ripped the unconscious woman from the man’s light grasp. With that, he released a controlled burst of energy that sent the man back ten feet until he was pinned quite effectively against the far stone wall.
Arik released a satisfied breath to see the man firmly secured and held immobile, constricted from all but breathing. A sense of strength and control over his abilities washed over him. At once, he was reminded of who he truly was in this universe. He stretched the bounds of his aura outward, firmly blocking himself from any further mental assaults.
The dawning of awareness came over him slowly that the man pinned against the wall was speaking to him. His voice was pitched and stuttering. The heat coming off of him was palpable. Arik could sense everything in vivid detail and for the barest of moments he was distracted by the overwhelming nature of it. He’d forgotten how different everything looked to him in this form. He could fairly hear the man's heart beating as he his breathing became slightly erratic. No doubt he did want to flee for the door now! It was far too late for that move, however.
"I wasn't—it wasn't an attack! I can't attack! I don't attack!" Flinching in place, Kyle strained against the invisible bonds that held him in place. The strength of their hold was unbreakable. He could merely listen to the raging thoughts of the now fully formed man. It was the only defense he possessed.
Spririt? What an abhorrent name! Angel? Guardian? Sentinel? Arik listed as he shook in rage against each and every single one of those abominable titles. Perhaps demon, devil or fallen… Any of those terms might have fit far better than anything that could possibly be revered, but even those terms were reserved for the races of beings he wanted no part of on earth. That ship had sailed long ago!
"Shit!" Kyle grunted and forced himself to relax against the restraints. "If Demon or Fallen would have pleased you, I would have used those words. They didn't tell me—"
With a flick of his eyes, Arik silenced the man from speaking another word. The bond he’d placed over the man’s mouth would ensure he said nothing more. It was satisfying to see that he was now fully subdued in apparent shock over his predicament. Fear was an emotion could truly appreciate. For the moment, his ire was spent and he backed up ever so slightly to turn his attention to a more pressing matter.
Lowering his gaze to an old armchair, he nodded his chin and watched every last microbe blow away from the surface of it with little more than a thought. As if holding a child in his arms, he carried the woman over and laid her gingerly down upon it. There he left her to return to his captive.
His vivid blue eyes regarded the man with great suspicion as he viewed him. He’d been out of touch with the world of mankind for a very long time, so he'd forgotten some things about them until just this very moment. The nuance of communication, for instance… This man had been speaking to him as though he could hear the very thoughts in his head. He was a mind reader of some sort.
He approached him slowly, one measured footstep at a time as a light sweat broke out over the man’s skin. His eyes closed briefly, snapping them shut for an instant as if to block out any negative images he wasn't prepared to see. Arik had seen his eyes though, taking note of the peculiar color of them. Eyes that were as black as the midnight sky. Iridescent to the strangest degree. They were such eyes as he had never seen on any of the humans who inhabited the planet.
No, they weren't the eyes of a human. They were the eyes of the Greys. Yet, this man held no other resemblance to those foreign entities. The attempt of a mental invasion of his mind, however? That was a trick that only the Greys possessed. So, what was he?
Pressing forward, leaning down over him, Arik warned, "If you lie to me, I will spit you out of existence. Do we understand one another?"
The briefest flinch was all he received as he raised the luminescence by several sharp degrees. The man's eyes closed tighter as he started to tremble. Not in fear though… This time it was from pain… He was as disarmed by light as any of the Greys when it shone so bright upon them. Good! If he was distracted by pain, he'd be less likely to attempt any more of the mind tricks their kind possessed.
"Are you human," he asked with great interest. Withdrawing the bond that prevented him from speaking, Arik awaited the answer that would either prolong the inevitable or immediately sign his death warrant.
"I am not," the man admitted as his eyes squeezed tightly shut.
"Is she human?” Arik flicked his head in the direction of the woman.
"No,” he answered without hesitation. Then, he said the one thing Arik had not expected to hear. "She is yours."