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RuinEarth: Refugee-Part One

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    Posted: July/24/2008 at 2:45am
This is a sci-fi/fantasy story in a long running series of stories. It also lead to a novel.

RuinEarth: Refugee
By Joshua Fowler

The arid expanse of land rolled out before me. It was better than where I had been. The Vampire Controlled state of Florida. But it wasn’t much better either. This was New Republic Controlled land. The government that had taken over almost half the world. They said they would help us from the vampires. We believed them. We were wrong.
     Vampires took control of a lot of the world. It was a sad thing. I wish I could say that the New Republic tried to stave off their control. But the N. R. just sat back and watched from a distance. The worst was when the sun disappeared.
     They destroyed it. The vampires. The only light on Earth is man made or the lonely remnant of the sun, the Hope Star. But it isn’t that large and only gives off a quarter of the sun’s rays. Not even enough to make the vamps fear it.
     The New United States. That was what they called this nation. It wasn’t much different than the old one. Nothing changed much after the Cataclysm. The day the whole world suffered earthquakes and the oceans rose. Most of the continents were splintered and countries disappeared. They were replaced by new ones or powerful ones that had survived. I can’t even begin to tell you how large China is now. Australia is an island chain for God’s sake.
     I stopped walking for a minute to take a cloth towel from a rucksack I carry on my waist. I grabbed an elastic band also. I grabbed my long brown hair and cinch it back. I then wrapped the cloth around my head, leaving only room for my eyes.
     “How much further, do you think, Lucinda?” Someone asked behind me. I turned and looked at a thin man. He is shorter than me and has patches of gray in his hair. A beard covers his chin. Gray hair and he isn’t even nineteen. Large saucer-like eyes look at me imploringly.
     “Not much further.” I lie. I wasn’t sure where Drue was meeting me. I just walked and usually I came upon her. Drue was like that.
*   *   *
     I met Drue three years before in what once was the state of Mississippi. It’s now a land called Gaul. I was there to find supplies for a group of mercenaries that were hellbent on overthrowing N. R. control. They didn’t succeed, if that tells you how powerful the N. R. is.
     I was coming out of a supply tent when I heard a disruption coming from outside. I looked up the row a couple tents and saw a man and a woman arguing. I could just hear what they were saying.
     “I gave you your fortune, now leave.” The woman yelled.
     “You gave me nothing, witch.” The man replied, saying witch like a curse. The woman turned red with fury. Then, a silver wolf came out of her. It wasn’t a real wolf but magic. Her guardian spirit. It reminded me about something I had read in an ancient book I had found. Something called a patronus. But this was different because it was solid and went after the man. He looked at it. The wolf snarled, it’s teeth dripping with saliva. The man swore at the woman and turned and ran away. The wolf walked back to the woman. She pet him and he disappeared as if he was never there. I walked over to her.
     “What was that all about?” I asked.
     “One of Colonel Dark’s men. Wanted a fortune for his majesty the king of vampires.” She replied. Colonel Lionel Dark. The man responsible for the sun’s demise, for everything vampire related. I had never met him before. If I had, one of us would be dead. Most likely, me.
     “Are you alright?”
     “Of course. That man was a peon. He wouldn’t have dared threatened me. He’s just worried that the grand poo-pa of vampires will have him executed for the fortune I gave him.” She answered. I nodded my head. The poor man, he probably would not make through the night. Vampires knew things others did not and Dark would know what had happened almost immediately.
     “My name is Lucinda.” I said and extended my hand. She shook it, firmly.
     “Could you tell me my fortune?” I asked hesitantly. Did I really want my fortune?
     “Sure. Step in.” She said and pointed to the tent. I followed her inside. The inside of the tent smelt of jasmine and a smoke filled the tiny space. She went over and blew out a candle. The smoke ended.
     “It’s just for show. But I can tell that you wouldn’t be fooled by such carnival theatrics.” She replied after she blew the candle out. She motioned to a chair and I sat. She reached for my hands and I slipped my gloves off. She took my hands gently and pressed on the palms. A strange sensation came over me. I could feel the magic and it wasn’t just a trick. Drue was the real deal.
     “I feel a lot of pain flowing from you. You have seen a great many horrible things.” I made no comment. She was correct. I had seen a lot of horrible things. Too many. I could feel her thumbs caress my palms, going in circles. Daddy, don’t go. Don’t leave us. I have to honey. I drew my hands away from her.
     “No, I don’t want you fishing for memories like that.”
     “I am sorry. It is what came forward when I delved into your sub-conscience. It will not happen again.” Drue replied and reached for my hands again. I gave them freely.
     “See that it doesn’t.” I said. She pressed her thumbs into my palms and I squirmed a little. It felt strange. I felt her magic come up and out of her. It radiated from her body, floating around the room, settling all around me. It pressed against me finding my weak points, trying to find and entrance to my soul. Images started to appear to me. People alive and dead floated through my mind. I smiled as I saw faces I had not seen in many moons. Then a darkness filled the tent as the lanterns hanging from the ceiling blew out.
     “Lucinda. Lucinda, could it really be you.” Drue said but it wasn’t her voice. She was talking in my Aunt Pauline’s voice. I instinctively pulled my hands back but she wouldn’t let go and I couldn’t fight her.
     “Lucinda, I can’t believe it is really you.” Drue/Aunt Pauline said.
     “It is.”
     “It has been so long. I have missed you, child.”
     “I have missed you, too.” Lucinda watched as Drue’s hands went still.
     “I need to tell you something.”
     “Your father is alive.”
     “That isn’t possible. We buried him.”
     “You know what he is now, child.” Drue/Aunt Pauline replied. Lucinda stared a Drue. Not dead but that could only mean . . .
     “He’s a vampire.”
     “No, I don’t believe you.”
     “It is true.”
     “How can you say these things?”
     “A spirit can not lie, child.”
     “It just can’t be true.”
     “Just because we wish for something not to be true, does not make it any less truer.” Drue/Aunt Pauline said.
     “Where is he?”
     “That I do not know. But I have the feeling you will meet him again someday.”
     “No. I don’t want to see him like that.” But deep inside Lucinda knew that that wasn’t true. She wanted to see her father again even if he was a monster.
     “I must go, child.”
     “No. Wait.” But the lanterns flicked back on and Drue stared at her with her own eyes.
     “What happened?” She asked.
     “Nothing at all.”
     “Nothing at all.” I repeated and removed my hands. I never told Drue what had happened. I didn’t plan on it.
*   *   *
     “Are you sure, we are going the right way?” The grey-haired man asked me.
     “So, where is she then.”
     “Why? You have a hot date or something?” I replied.
     “No. But it is getting cold.”
     “Bundle up”
     “Your welcome.” I said with as much sarcasm as I could lace a comment with. He just stared at me and took out a wrap for his head. He turned it around and around, covering everything but his eyes. He stood there looking at me and I grinned and shook my head.
     “You’ve never been out here before, have you?”
     “What exactly are you doing out here?”
     “I need a soothsayer. You said you knew one.”
     “I do. But what do you need one for?”
     “None of your business.”
     “Fine. I don’t really want to know anyway.” I said and kept walking. He groaned and followed.

     I decided to take a rest in a dip in the sands. It was cooler closer to the ground but it was better than the driving wind that had picked up an hour before. I sat down and picked out my water canister from my pack. My companion laid out looking up at the sky. Not much to look at the sky. It is the color of a bruise, dark blue. The only light was in the west. The Hope Star, as it had come to be called. The small piece of the sun that didn’t get destroyed. How it glowed, no one knew.
     “How much longer is this going to take?”
     “As long as it takes.” I said.
     “You know, you’re not a very good guide. No wonder you don’t have many clients.” He replied. I kept quite. I wasn’t in the mood to argue with the man.
     “You never told me your name.” I said.
     “Nero. What a strange name.”
     “It’s a family name.” He replied.
     “It’s nice.”
     “You don’t need to all of a sudden be pleasant toward me.”
     “I’m not.” I replied. I sat there watching the moon, which was quite visible all the time. I heard something behind me. A scratching noise. I turned toward Nero just as hands shot from the sands and grabbed him.
     “Sanders ”
     “What the hell?” He screamed, struggling against them. He tried to wrench free. I could see more rising from the barren earth. They were tall and had punched in noses. Their eyes shown white and there skin was almost transparent. They were Sanders. Vampires that lived in the grounds of the wastelands. I reached for my weapons. My .98 Service revolver was hanging off my belt. I grabbed it and shot at the closest Sander. It hissed at me and went back into the sand. My gun was filled with solar bullets. Concentrated solar energy. There wasn’t many left in the world. A Sander grabbed me from behind and I greeted it with a swift palm into it’s nose. It released me grabbing it’s delicate appendage. I looked over at Nero but he was gone. Then I heard it. A low growling sound.
     “What the . . . ?” I said under my breath. All the Sanders turned at the sound. A wolf stood to the right of where Nero had been. Its blue eyes bore deep into mine and I had to turn my head. I turned back as it lunged for the closest Sander. It’s teeth ripped at the vampires throat. Blood sprayed on the ground seeping into the sand. The other Sanders disappeared below the ground. I looked at the wolf as it grew bright with some inner light. It contorted in a strange way, like it had ants underneath its hide. It was transforming. I grabbed my gun, not wanting to be unprepared for whatever it was becoming. The light disappeared and a naked and pink Nero stood there. He looked at me and mumbled something, then he collapsed.
     “Oh, my God.” I yelled and ran to his side. I grabbed a wool blanket from my rucksack and threw it over him. He was laced in a clear liquid, almost sweat but more viscous. I knew from experience that it was the solid form of magic. Nero, my client, was a shape shifter. I heard noise behind my and swung my self around, my .98 Service ready. Drue stood there with a smile on her face. I thanked the heavens.

     “How long will he stay like that?” I asked Drue, as I pointed to Nero’s body sleeping in a corner of her tent. The two of us had carried him into the tent.
     “As long as it takes his body to repair. It takes a large amount of magic to shape shift.” She replied.
     “I didn’t even know he was a shape shifter until the wolf attacked the Sanders. He didn’t mention it.” I said.
     “Nor would he have. Being a shape shifter, especially a lycanthrope is dangerous. Vampires use them as slaves and lovers. Just as they use my kind, witches as slaves.” Drue explained. I nodded my head. I knew all about the slaves. I had seen the camps before. We turned at the sound of Nero moving. He sat up and looked at us. He wrapped the blanket around him.
Reading: The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan & Urban Gothic by Brian Keene

That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons even death may die.
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