Blood in Siberia
Chapter 6: Don't Go Looking For Trouble
"Fuck!" I yelled, as I pulled over. Again.
Flipping on the emergency lights, I turned the inside light on, roughly unfolded the map, and used my cracked magnifying lens to find where the hell I was this time. So far I've been driving for over six hours. Six hours on a trip that was supposed to be four! I've run into dead ends, roads that didn't exist, and several that, by the looks of things, hadn't been used in years! To say I was pissed off didn't even begin to cover it. I was pissed off two hours ago! But now... there wasn't a word in existence that could describe what I felt.
"It says it right here!" I yelled to no one. "It says it right here on the god damn map!"
Try as I might, I couldn't remember any unusual twists or turns from the last time I came out here. Of course, I was laid out on the back seat with my face in my uncle's crotch, while Wufei kept me alive by licking me to death. But I figured I'd at least be able to remember something about the drive. I guess I was out of it more than I thought.
Turning on my brights, I looked around the area slowly for any street signs. There weren't any. I was also looking for the road that was supposed to lead me straight to the motel. According to the map, I was, maybe, ten minutes from Yantis. It didn't help that I was so ticked off I couldn't see straight, or that there wasn't anyone or anyplace around to ask for directions. The only thing I had to keep me company all night were the sheep, and they weren't very helpful. In a fit of insanity, I stopped and asked them for directions. Only one answered, but I didn't know if his pissing on the fence meant east or north. 
Glancing over the area, I made up my mind. "Fuck it." I turned off my brights, the emergency lights, and the inside light. Throwing the map and the lens to the side, I stomped on the gas and drove off road. If the map was right, I'd either have to run into the road that was supposed to lead me to Yantis, or I'd see Yantis myself after ten minutes.
I started to despair after five. I've been driving for so long that I felt I would never get out of my car again. Then I smelled something. It took me a moment, but I was able to identify that it was the smell of something that had been burnt. Not just buildings either; flesh. I sped up, and as I got closer, the smell got worse, and worse, and worse.
I parked right outside of the dirt road that served as a parking lot for the motel. I thought it over, and decided to leave the gun in the car. I doubted anything survived this, and if it did, I bet Trowa changed that. Then I turned my brights back on, and got out of the car to survey the damage. I had to use my shirt to cover my nose and mouth. I damn near puked from the smell. But once I got myself together, I walked into the debris. "Holy mother of God..."
When Trowa said that they had been attacked, he should have said that they had been annihilated. There were burnt bodies everywhere. Hands that were once so pale and graceful were crisped, reaching out to me as if I could save them. Some of the bodies were contorted in impossible positions. Others were nothing more than a pile of dust inside of the clothes they were wearing. The motel itself was a wreck. It looked as if it was completely knocked off of its foundation. I couldn't imagine how the hell those shape-shifters could have done that, unless one of their animals was a damn Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"Hell, where to start?" I asked myself as I looked around. Everything was in such disarray, that there was no way I would be able to figure out what happened in a reasonable amount of time. Shit. Well, I guess I'll do the best I can. Between me and Trowa, we should have a clear picture.
Heh. Trowa. Won't he be pissed when I tell him I came here after all.
Deciding to start where I was, I squatted, and reached for a piece of cloth that used to be a shirt. Thinking nothing of it, I let my shields down and touched it. That was a big mistake.
It felt like I was being electrocuted. In a way, I guess I was. When the first zap hit me, my body stiffened to the point where I could've doubled as a surfboard. Small trembling ran throughout me, and my teeth clenched together. Despite how hard I tried, I couldn't let go. However, the pull was strong enough to bring me to my knees. The ground, and everything on it, was saturated with the emotions and agony of the victims. Strangely though, I couldn't feel any essences of the vampires. I didn't feel a personality, love, hate, or even their names. They didn't leave a signature like the werewolves did. The only thing I did feel from them, were their highs.
Trowa wasn't joking when he said that they were so stoned, they couldn't get away. Almost all of the vampires could see the shape-shifters coming, but I couldn't get a good view. The visions of them were warped by kaleidoscopes of colors, shapes and sounds. But this was what I was able to see; at first, there were four of them. The Alphagué appeared to be a large shadow behind the other three. Then one of the shape-shifters just... vanished. The other two had the feel of bitterness, and hard times. Some of the vampires thought they were vampires. Some thought they were human, and some thought things that made no sense to me. But none of the pictures I saw were dependable. The only thing I was able to make out for certain, were the fires. The shape-shifters didn't do that. When the sun's rays touched the vampires, they bursted into flame.
I didn't know how long I was stuck in my trance, but when I felt its influence waning, and it wasn't because of me, I knew I was in trouble. I first became aware of the roughness of the ground under my knees, and the sensation of the wind blowing against my body. Then I regained my hearing, my eyesight, and lastly, my sense of smell. I slowly turned my head to look around. Nothing had changed. So I tried to reach out with my mind's eye again, but I couldn't focus.
It was taking me a moment to get myself grounded. It would've been better if I was able to get away from the soiled ground, but I didn't have the strength. So I remained kneeling, as my body continued to tremble from the shock. In an effort to calm down, I took deeper, faster breaths. Because of the acrid air, that proved to be another big mistake.
My stomach lurched, and I dropped on all fours as I threw up over a toasted pair of shoes. I got a good whiff of funky shoe odor, and that, combined with the air, had me spewing like a damn sprinkler all over again. At one point, I vomited so hard it came out of my nose! But when my body paused, I started to breathe out of my mouth. That seemed to do the trick.
I stood up on wobbly legs, and started to make my way to the car. I didn't think I would make it. I felt very dizzy, weak, and shaky. But why? Looking myself over, I saw the reason. The entire front of my shirt was saturated with blood, and as I walked, I could see it dripping in fat, healthy droplets. Shit! I followed the path of blood up my neck, chin, and then face.
I had a massive nosebleed. Terrific. First the upchucking, and now this.
Remembering those god-awful videos in health class, I sat down on something lumpy, pinched my nose closed, and bowed my head to stop the nosebleed. While I did that, I mentally went back over what I saw from the vampires, and tried to arrange it into some type of order. I couldn't. Then I tried to see each vision separately by holding each image up to the moonlight. I twisted it, turned it, stretched it out, and shrunk it. I imagined it in color and in black and white. I brushed away the flowers and put in dust. I removed the fires and replaced the flames with sunlight. Then I was able to see...
The first two shifters were male. White. Leathery skin, hard eyes. They looked like people who spent half of their lives in prison. I wasn't able to get a feel of what their animals were.
The third one disappeared from the vision. I didn't have a clue what that meant.
The Alphagué was literally, a big blur.
That was it. I'd lost too much blood. I slumped to the side and was out before I hit the ground.
Thankfully, I was unconscious for only twenty minutes. When I woke up, it was still night, and it didn't look like the sun was due to rise soon. I sat up slowly (the lumpy thing kept shifting), and waited for the dizziness to pass before I looked around. When I tried to stop my nosebleed earlier, I just sat my ass down without looking at what I was sitting on. Staring me right in the face was a creature I recognized from the vampires' visions.
It was one of the shape-shifters.
This one had dusty blond hair that was oily and greasy. His face was golden brown, with lines that came from being in the sun too long. His hard blue eyes and his mouth were wide open, as if he was appalled that I was sitting on him. Oh yeah, he was very dead. He was facing me, but I was sitting on his ass. "What is it with werewolves breaking necks?" I asked out loud.
That question quickly went in one ear and out the other. I absolutely freaked! "Holy hell!" I screamed. I shot off of the body like a fire was lit under me, and ran around in a little circle, scratching and smacking myself as if I had shape-shifter cooties. "Oh my god oh my god!" I kept screaming, torn between whether or not I should strip butt naked. I did not want to get into my car with shifter germs on me, but I didn't want my bare ass on the seat either!
I stopped acting like an idiot when I saw something move in my peripheral vision. I waited with baited breath to see if it would move again. It didn't. Then I slowly approached the spot where I saw the movement from. Stepping closer, I could see that it was nothing more than a heap of clothes. Prodding the clothes with my foot revealed nothing but dust (which made me sneeze), and air. Satisfied, I started to head back to my car when I felt something very, very wrong.
'Danger!' The word echoed in my head. 'Danger!'
I knew my ability had short-circuited, but it was still functioning somewhat. So, not wasting any time, I hobbled to my car, got in, and started the bad boy up. I leaned over and got Howard's gun out of my glove compartment. When I sat back up, I saw a man, with black hair and eyes, squatting on the hood of my car. Holy--
I didn't have enough time to finish my curse. I threw myself to the side and out of the car, right when the shape-shifter put his fist through my window and headrest. I rolled on my back, took aim, and fired two shots. The shifter jumped straight up, making himself obscure in the night sky. Shit! Then I heard the air whistle as he came back down, and realized too late that he was about to come down on my head.
"Shit!" I swore aloud. I fired another two shots, and turned to run out of the way.
It was a futile attempt. He landed on my back, and I hit the ground hard. The force of my fall made the gun fly out of my grasp. Automatically, I flipped myself on my back to fight him. I was surprised when the move threw him off of me, but that didn't stop me from making it to my feet. I expected more... strength, from him perhaps? A harder challenge? I was especially surprised when I punched him in the face. His head snapped back, hard, and blood trickled from his mouth. He wiped it away with his hand, looked at it in shock, then at me. He was just as surprised as I was.
Then he looked at me. I mean, really looked at me, as if figuring out that I wasn't what I seemed... oh shit. That wasn't good news.
"You're not human," he said, in a voice that matched his appearance. Hard. Rough. Worn.
I didn't answer. Instead, I took another swing at him, but missed. He jumped back, and in two seconds, changed into his animal. Holy hell. He was a bobcat.
Bobcats were like housecats on steroids. They were wild, nimble as all get-out, and dangerous little things even though they were a foot high. I stared at his claws, and his large, pointy teeth, and knew I was going to lose this fight. Feverishly, I glanced around for the gun. I didn't see it. Then I sighed in resignation. God. Who knew my last day on earth would suck so bad?
The bobcat, sensing my defeat, slowly stalked his way towards me. It seemed he was going to enjoy this. I however, was so pissed off that I had my ass kicked all day, that I grabbed a huge rock by my foot. The bobcat stopped. Well, this was it. I was going to die. But at the very least, I was going to put one of his fuckin' eyes out!
With a war cry that sounded somewhat manly, I launched myself at the bobcat. He, in turn, launched himself at me. Then the unmistakable sound of a gun being discharged broke through my rage. I dug my heels hard into the ground, and watched, in horror, as the head of the bobcat exploded. Because of the momentum, the body continued to fly through the air. Unfortunately, I was in the way. The body hit me square in the chest, then thumped heavily on the ground. I stood there, in shock, as I registered that there was now fresh blood, and bits of brain, splattered across my face.
Hmmm... okay. Either I could pass out, or I could throw up. Which should it be?
Well, everyone thought that I was too skinny. Guess I'll pass out.
And I did exactly that.
"Is he awake yet?" I didn't recognize the small, high-pitched voice.
"Almost. His eyes are fluttering." I didn't recognize that high-pitched voice either.
"Do you really think he's the Untouchable?"
"He has to be!" said another... high-pitched voice. "I heard rumors that the Shenlong Packmaster chose a human, with a tail!"
Silence. "Well, he has a tail."
"But it's attached to his head."
Silence again. "Well, humans are strange."
A dozen or so voices murmured their agreement. I decided it was time for me to wake up.
I slowly opened my eyes, but I had to blink them several times to focus. Once they focused, I blinked them several more times to correct my vision. When that didn't work, I blinked again in shock at the things standing on my chest.
They were just how they were pictured. They had small, pointy hats, that were in colors of red, blue, green, yellow or purple. A bit of hair peeked out from under their hats. Some had brown hair, other's white. Their tunics, covered mostly by their beards, were held in place with their belts. Their pants snugly fit their stubby legs. All of them wore black clogs. They ranged in size too, from six inches to about nine. But what I thought was most interesting, was that each one had a wooden pipe. They were smoking as if there was no tomorrow.
Then I realized something had changed. It took me a moment to decipher what it was. It was me. I was comfortable. There was a large quilt that had been thrown over me, and it was wonderfully soft and warm. There was a softness under my head that could only be a pillow, and although I couldn't tell what I was laying on, whatever it was kept me from the chill of the ground.
"Wow, look at his eyes," one of the gnomes said. "They're purple!"
"No they're not," another said. I recognized the voices. They were the first and third voices I heard. "They're cobalt blue."
"No, they're purple!"
"Shhh," I said softly, causing the gnomes to jump in surprise. "You're both right." Hell, I'd say they were neon pink just to shut them up.
"Wow," the first one said. "He spoke to us!"
"Are you going to have us punished for touching you?" The smallest gnome asked. His voice was so high-pitched, he sounded effeminate.
"No, of course not," I told him as sincerely as I could. "You all saved my life."
"Well, we didn't save your life," the second gnome said. "Gus Gus was the one that stopped the shape-shifter." He pointed to his left, out of my line of sight.
I slowly turned my head, and my eyes widened in surprise. Standing next to my gun was who I guessed was Gus Gus. He was the tallest gnome at twelve inches. I was assuming that he was the only one able to hold the Magnum without tipping over. The problem I had though, was that Gus Gus seemed mentally... er... slow, if the vacant smile was anything to go by. Gus Gus was also cross-eyed.
"Gus Gus good," Gus Gus said. "Gus Gus stop bad gnome."
Dear god and all the saints in heaven.... "Gus Gus is very good," I told him with as much sincerity as I could muster. I was ready to shit a brick. His cross-eyed ass fired a gun?! "Gus Gus did a very good job."
His smile became even bigger. I started to feel better myself for making him happy. "And the rest of you did a good job as well," I told them, smiling even more at their obvious joy. "You all helped save my life, believe it or not. I could have died from being sick, but you're taking good care of me."
"You bet we are!" the second one said, full of happy energy. "And we won't let anything happen to you, will we?"
There was a chorus of 'no's.' I smiled tiredly at them.
The second one clapped his hands. "Okay. You all have work to do. Get to it."
The gnomes, in their cheerful, squeaky voices, cheered, and scurried off of me to do whatever they were supposed to be doing. The second one, obviously the leader, remained standing where he was. "What's your name?" I asked.
His little eyes widened. "I am called Gob." 
"Oh." Now it was my turn for my eyes to widen. I recognized the title. "I'm lucky to be in your care, then." His chest puffed out a bit. I wanted to laugh. These guys were something else. "Gob, can you tell me what happened here?"
The gnome frowned. "The vampires were attacked at sunrise by a werewolf and two shape-shifters. There were originally three, but the third one was sent off to do something. He turned into a hawk, but I don't know if that's his animal." I nodded my understanding. He continued. "It was the bobcat, and the other shape-shifter was a lynx. Shortly after the attack started, the werewolf left. When the attack was over, the bobcat and the lynx left also, to do some hunting."
I glanced over to Gus Gus. He had stepped up to my head. With one hand he dragged the Magnum, and with the other he was petting my hair. My discomfort level rose a bit because I couldn't tell where he was looking. "Purty tail," he said in his... special voice. "Purrrrty."
God. I was going to kick Wufei's ass.
"Many hours ago, the Alphagué Trowa came by." The King of Gnomes got my attention back with Trowa's name. "He roamed the area and was planning to set a trap for the lynx and bobcat. He could tell they were near." The gnome shook his head to himself. "The lynx, full of himself for his success with the vampires, smelled him and went to attack. That's when the werewolf killed him." He pointed to the dead body. "The Alphagué Trowa used the lynx to set the trap. He rubbed his scent into the lynx, so that when the bobcat returned to eat the lynx, his scent would get on the coat of the bobcat."
That was kind of... gross. Quatre wasn't kidding when he said shape-shifters could really give a damn about each other. Yikes. "How is that a trap?" I asked hoarsely. I didn't see how passing on your body odor was a better trap than digging a hole and covering it with sticks.
"The other Alphagué would've smelled it on the bobcat, and would've killed him for being in contact with another werewolf."
Oh. "Well, wouldn't the bobcat smell the scent on the lynx?"
"Of course he would!" he said in surprise, as if I was dumb for not knowing that. "But he wouldn't be able to resist the meat."
That brought it together for me. "Ohhhh..." I could still feel Gus Gus' little hand trailing through my hair. It, unfortunately, felt really, really nice. "Gus Gus, stop. You're putting me to sleep."
"Sleep good for Purty," he said, still petting me. "Sleep good."
"He's right. You should sleep now," Gob said, climbing down. "We've contacted the Alphagué Trowa. He'll be here to get you soon."
The gnome disappeared, leaving Gus Gus as my only company. That should have made me nervous. It really should have... but my worries were fading away because I was toasty warm, with a shootin' tootin' gnome watching over me. The others came back to clean away the blood on my face with little cloths, and as they did that, the smallest gnome started to sing a song about the secrets of the Earth.
There was still one more shape-shifter out there, and an Alphagué on a mission, but right now I felt as safe with these gnomes as I would if they were giants.
 When I drove out to Pike Creek for the first time, this happened to me. I got SO lost that I was going ape-shit. Texas is really bad about not having street signs, and Pike Creek is one of those places where you won't see another soul or gas station for MILES. There was a point where all I saw were sheep. I got so pissed off that I pulled over to ask the sheep for directions. (At this point I had lost my damn mind). In answer, the sheep peed.
 Gob is the king of gnomes in pagan folklore. Gotta love the pagans!