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Acherontia Atropos (Part 18)

For one long moment, my world ended and I was empty. The only thing 
that existed was the sound of my hoarse screams.

Then, suddenly, miraculously, I was on my feet and pressing myself against 
the invisible wall. "You're dead." I heard myself snarling. "I'm going to take 
you to hell!"

Kalin smiled at me. "Amusing." was all he said, but his eyes were filled 
with cold rage. "Carmen, love?"

I glanced over to where Carmen and Quatre were. She had his pants down 
around his ankles and her head was in his lap, though she looked up when 
Kalin said her name. Quatre was smiling like a lobotomy patient. I looked 
away. I didn't want to remember seeing Quatre like that. My eyes slid past 
Trowa and Cheree. I didn't want to know. I hoped that neither of them 
would be able to remember what had happened later.

It was kind of funny that I was still thinking in terms of "later."

Carmen came up to stand just behind Kalin's elbow. She was licking her 
lips and she slowly slid her hands around his waist, then down to his groin. I 
felt sick, a real accomplishment considering how pissed off I was. "Yes?" 
she purred.

"Our guest is refusing our hospitality." he said. "So let's dispense with the 

Great. Life couldn't get much worse, though. Heero was dead, Wufei, 
Trowa, and Quatre were probably going to be next...who was I to get left 
out? Why would I even want to be?

Heero was dead...

"Thank you." she breathed, and let go of him. I watched her walk toward 
me, and suddenly, I was grinning again, and I wasn't even sure why. "My..." 
she said "I haven't even given you something to smile about yet."

I pushed my hand against the barrier as hard as I could, trying to find a way 
out. "Step inside, Carmen, and then I'll really have something to smile 

She waggled a finger at me. "Naughty, naughty." Gag me. She giggled. "I'm 
going to have fun draining you dry before my master embraces you." 

"Funny. I'm not." Backed away from her slowly. Each step set my arm 
burning again. Carmen took a quick trip over to Kalin's chair. She shuffled 
around behind it for a moment, then came back out with a very large, very 
unfriendly looking black knife, and something that made my eyes light up--
my gun. The only problem was that she had it and I didn't. Never a good 

All I wanted was my gun. I was going to kill them all. Then, it didn't really 
matter what happened.

Carmen stopped just outside the boundary of my invisible prison. She set 
the gun down on the ground. I had a feeling she was teasing me. "Come 
forward." she said, "and put your hand back up against the circle."

Rule number one when you're being held captive by the servants of 
darkness: don't cooperate. Stall. Anything. "Why?" I asked.

Carmen drew the black knife across her breast, leaving a thin, shallow cut. 
Blood welled out of it almost immediately, and she wiped the flat of the 
blade across the blood. Abruptly, Kalin was standing beside her. He bent his 
head and delicately lapped at the welling blood. Carmen's eyes slipped shut 
and she panted, mouth slack.

I wanted to throw up.

Finally, Kalin drew back. Carmen wasn't bleeding any more. She focused 
on me again. "To syphon power into my master, there must be a mixing of 
my blood and yours. Hold your hand out."

"Let me think about that." I paused. "How's 'no' sound?"

She smirked. "Try again."

I made a big show of thinking. "How about 'fuck you' then?"

Carmen's smile got bigger. "Promise?"

Oh gross...

Kalin laughed. "Give her your hand, or I will have Cheree kill one of the 

My eyes flicked over to Cheree, who was tracing bleeding designs on 
Trowa's chest with her fingernails, and Wufei, who was steadily dripping 
blood on the ground. Quatre was just laying there, still smiling, his pants 
around his ankles. It seemed to me that killing them outright would be 
doing them a favor. We were all going to die tonight, anyway. I might as 
well try to make it quick. "Go for it." I said. 

I don't think that was the answer they were expecting. There was a moment 
of shocked silence before Kalin spoke. "Cheree, release that boy from your 


"Do as I said." He never took his eyes off of me. Trowa suddenly stiffened, 
his eyes widening. A soft, pained moan escaped from his lips as he tried to 
push Cheree away with the arm that she had dislocated. I couldn't 
understand how he could even move, let alone stay quiet...but then again, it 
was Trowa. "Carmen, pick up the boy's gun." Kalin said. "And shoot that 
young man in the knee."

Oh god...with the kind of bullets that were loaded in my gun, Trowa 
wouldn't have a leg left after he got hit. I licked my lips. Killing outright 
was one thing, torturing was another. At least when the vampires had him 
under, he wasn't feeling pain. "Let's not be too hasty. Why don't you just 
come and get it, huh?" Trowa was still struggling against Cheree, even 
though she held him pinned to the ground with no effort. She seemed to be 
enjoying herself.

Carmen picked up the gun. "We're not stupid."

"Could have fooled me." I muttered. "Fuck." I staggered forward and 
slammed my hand against the wall. My ribs and my other arm screeched in 
protest. Fuck. 

"Wise." Kalin said. Carmen put the gun back down. I stared at it as hard as I 
could while she came up to the circle and sliced my palm open with the 
black knife. It didn't really hurt, especially compared to every other injury I 
had, but there was something wrong with it. I jerked away, reeling 
backwards to hit the back wall of the circle. The impact sent me into a 
round of coughing, and I slid to my knees, my good arm clutched around 
my chest.

I was being attacked on a level I couldn't even understand; the cool power 
that was always with me was being pulled at, and my entire body burned 
with it. I pulled my head up in time to see Kalin lick the blade of the knife.

My mouth filled with blood, and suddenly I was face down on the ground, 
trying to curl into a little ball as if that would help the pain. It hurt, oh god, 
it hurt, on a level beyond just the physical. The pulling I'd felt before was 
nothing now. I was being drained away, bled to death, and every droplet 
burned like acid. I couldn't hear anything but my own harsh breathing. 
"Help me..." I whispered raggedly. "Help me...god, help me..." There was 
no one else to appeal to. I kept whispering like a broken record as more and 
more of my blood and life ran out into the ground. Slowly, I rolled to my 
side, trying to take some of the pressure off of my lungs. Kalin and Carmen 
were on the ground now. They both seemed to be enjoying themselves a 
great deal. I let my eyes close.

Someone help me...

Help me...

The last reserves of my power flowed out into the ground, searching, 
obeying me in its own way. The were Trowa and Wufei and Quatre...there 
was Cheree...none of them would help. Cheree was strong, I didn't have 
enough power left to take her over or break her hold. Heero...I couldn't 
make myself touch Heero. The power ranged further, stretching itself 
thinner and thinner as it drained slowly away.

Suddenly, it was had found what I was looking for. There was a 
corpse, less than a week old, buried under a tree a short distance beyond the 
clearing. Eagerly, the power leapt into it, filling it up, replacing the vital 
spark of life with something darker, and knowledge flooded into me.

"Ayako..." I whispered, interrupting my own litany. "I call you. Come to 
me, Ayako..."

The last of my energy dried up. I opened my eyes, feeling as if my vision 
were oddly doubled. My sight was almost completely dark, but at the same 
time, I could feel where the zombie, Ayako, was. She was coming. A pale 
face wavered up in the darkness; it was Kalin. He was smiling, saying 
something, but it didn't matter; I couldn't move, I could barely feel. The 
only thing I could hear was the sound of my own heartbeat, and the 
unhealthy bubbling noise that each breath I took made. A hand jerked my 
head roughly back, exposing my neck, and I coughed more blood out.

It seemed a little funny. I would have thought that after all the bleeding I'd 
been doing, I wouldn't have enough blood to be worth drinking. Obviously, 
the vampire disagreed. There were lips on my neck, and the sharp press of 
pointed teeth. I could feel the zombie at the edge of the clearing. She 

I couldn't send her after the vampires. They would rip her apart. I at least 
wanted to take one of the bad guys with me.

"Carmen." I whispered. "Kill her." Kalin didn't even twitch. Perhaps he was 
ignoring me, or maybe he couldn't hear past his own blood lust. I felt Ayako 
move through the trees to the edge of the clearing, and walk slowly up 
behind Carmen as Kalin's fangs sank into my neck. Then she reached and 
tore into Carmen's throat, and I could feel the warmth of blood rushing over 
my hands...

Carmen let out a shrill scream that was abruptly cut off. Kalin threw me 
away and turned, one hand clutching his throat. He was too slow. I felt 
Ayako's hands pull Carmen's neck apart, completely severing her head. The 
force of Kalin's shove sent me rolling out of the circle; it was gone with 
Carmen's death.

Power, stronger even than I'd felt the night of Yan's death, tore threw me, 
filling me until I thought I would burst. I sent it out into the ground; into 
Ayako, into Cheree, destroying her hold on Quatre and Trowa, into 
anything it could possibly fill. I heard Wufei yell something, and I could 
hear Cheree shrieking.

That all retreated into the background as Kalin's hand closed around my 
throat. I didn't have the strength to even pretend to fight back. 

"I'll kill you!" Kalin hissed. His hand tightened around my throat, but it had 
none of the strength I associated vampires. He seemed to be having serious 

So instead of having my throat neatly crushed, I was going to have to go 
through the messy process of being strangled. Wonderful. I couldn't fight 
back, either way. 

With a purely internal sigh, I turned my gaze towards Heero's corpse. I'd be 
joining him shortly, it seemed. Black specks began to dance in front of my 

Heero's shoulder moved. At first, I thought it was a hallucination, wishful 
thinking...but no. My eyes widened as he pushed himself up into a sitting 
position, then rolled to his feet, the stake still impaling him. Blood flowed 
sluggishly down his shirt, making it slick and black. He staggered a few 
steps forward, then reached up and jerked the stake from his chest, almost 
falling to his knees.

Oh my god...he wasn't dead...

Somehow, I found the strength to reach up and grab Kalin's wrist. He was 
still stronger than me, even in his seemingly impaired state...but I gained 
enough slack the I managed to pull a small amount of fresh oxygen into my 
laboring lungs. Heero was moving forward again, his face set like stone. 

Kalin was so intent on trying to strangle me that he was ignoring his 
surroundings entirely. Heero slammed into him, half by design, and 
knocked him away from me. Kalin yelled loudly as Heero fell on top of 
him, trapping him face down against the grass. With a harsh growl, Heero 
raised the stake that he still held in his hands and shoved it through the 
struggling vampire's back with strength that I hadn't even thought him 
capable of, pinning the shrieking monster to the ground. But it just wasn't 
enough--the bastard wouldn't die.

Heero had his hands full as it was...I gasped in a breath. "Ayako, bring me 
my gun."

Dirty tennis shoes and stained socks appeared in my vision almost 
immediately. The scent of week old death shoved itself into my nose, and a 
thin, delicate hand that was covered with blood and had bits of flesh stuck 
under the fingernails reached down to put my gun in my hand. It took 
everything I had, but my hand closed around it. I lifted my arm a little, 
leveling the gun at Kalin's head. 

"I am..." I began to say. I was interrupted by a bout of coughing. More 
blood. The vampire's struggles suddenly ceased, and he turned his head to 
look at me. His eyes were wide, frightened. I tried again. "I am Shinigami." 
I croaked.

"No..." he whispered, like I had just claimed to be Satan himself.

"You are dead." I choked out. I emptied the gun into his head and kept 
squeezing the trigger even after it clicked empty. When I was done, there 
wasn't enough left to fill a sandwich baggy with, and most of the remains 
were splattered over Heero and I.

The empty Browning dropped from my hand as sudden peace washed over 
me. I couldn't hear Cheree shrieking any more, but I could still hear Wufei 
cursing, though his voice was calmer. It was over. It had to be over.

Heero half fell off the corpse, one hand covering the hole in his chest. He 
crawled over to me. I dredged up a small smile. "Ninmu kanryou." I 

He snorted, and pain flashed over his face for a moment. "How badly are 
you hurt?" he asked.

My vision was beginning to white out at the edges. "Hurt?" I asked. "Who 
said anything about hurt? I'm just fine...I feel like I could beat you at a game 
of basketball now." It was nice that he'd be around for it. More than nice. 
The horrible emptiness I'd felt was gone. "What about you?" I said.

"I'll live."

I smiled and let my eyes close. "That's good."

"Duo?" I dimly heard Heero's voice say. "Duo?" 

It was a nice sound to hear. I carried it with me as I fell into 
unconsciousness. I was tired. 

It had been a long day.

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